German carrier Air Berlin is testing new satellite-based approach procedures, including steeper glideslopes, which aim to reduce perceived noise at ground level.

Air Berlin is using a Boeing 737-700 to perform the tests at Braunschweig-Wolfsburg Airport today as part of a joint investigation by German air navigation service DFS, aerospace research centre DLR and Frankfurt Main Airport operator Fraport.

The airline is simulating 13 different approaches to Frankfurt Main - the hub is too congested to allow tests on-site - while equipment on the ground records noise intensity.

These approaches will include flying a steeper glidepath than the regular 3° slope normally used. Air Berlin will also test curved approaches for noise-avoidance.

Air Berlin GPS
 © Air Berlin

Air Berlin has been fitting satellite-based landing systems to its 737-700 and -800 fleet for three years, enabling the types to use GPS positioning for approach guidance, and all its Boeings should be equipped by 2013.

This system is also being used for the tests at Braunschweig. "The more weather-independent and flexible we can make our flights, the more stable our flying schedules will be," says Air Berlin chief commercial officer Christoph Debus, adding that the capabilities allow the airline to reduce fuel consumption.

Last year the carrier secured clearance from German authorities to conduct Category I approaches using the satellite-based landing system.

Air Berlin says the Braunschweig trials will not only examine noise levels but also the effects of the procedures on the aircraft and its pilots.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news