It is remarkable that it is only recently that the possibility of ILS errors has been communicated - especially when you consider the venerable age of instrument landing system technology (developed in the early 1930s). Category III was achieved in the late 1960s - yet problems appear only now?

The problem with ILS errors, as with all ground and airborne failures, is the lack of freely available incident data.

ILS is a mature technology, but as with all technology, as it advances, some of the more basic lessons need to be relearned.

Unfortunately, it is not always possible to learn lessons from incidents due to the lack of availability of data and the unwillingness of operators to share that data.

The UK has a mandatory occurrence reporting system which was extended some time ago to include ground engineering failures. But the volume of data is small, giving the impression that incidents are rare - which is not the case. Access to what little data exists is possible - but with restrictions, and under supervision. Many countries do not even record such data and rarely make it available if they do.

One wonders why? Aviation claims to be safety conscious, but actually maintains a "safety culture" more fitting to the Cold War years. It is time the walls were knocked down and the culture of secrecy banished to the past where it belongs.

Kim O'Neil Managing Director, Advanced Aviation Technology, Compton, UK

Source: Flight International