Air Berlin to start routine satellite-based landings at Bremen

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German carrier Air Berlin is to use satellite-based approaches for normal flight operations to Bremen, following approval of the navigational system installed at the airport.

Air Berlin conducted its first post-certification landing in Bremen on 9 February.

The ground-based augmentation system corrects signals to GPS satellite data, providing greater navigational accuracy and allowing the airline's Boeing 737s to use the system for landings with runway visual range of just 550m (1,800ft).

Air Berlin has been working for several years to gain clearance to use the system. Its 737s have been delivered fitted with the required avionics for the Category I approaches since mid-2007, and trials started the following year.

"In the future, [this system] will play a central role in the on-board navigation of our Boeing fleet," said the carrier's Boeing fleet technical pilot Tim Techt.

Germany's air navigation services supervisory authority has certified the Honeywell ground station at Bremen as a primary landing system, usable independenly of the instrument landing system.

Air navigation service DFS said a single system could support up to 26 arrivals on various runways, and added: "Weather and obstacles have no negative impact on the system, and the equipment does not need to be surrounded by a protected area to prevent possible interference by taxiing aircraft at the airport.

"On top of that, the system does not need to be checked by flight inspection as often as an ILS. This makes it much more cost-effective."

Work is continuing to enhance the capability to meet more demanding Category II and III standards.