Use of Raytheon's precision runway monitor (PRM) radar to reduce airport delays is set to increase after resolution of a series of issues.

Minneapolis and Philadelphia airports will publish PRM approaches to their closely spaced runways on 3 June, and systems are to be operational at seven airports worldwide by year-end.

The PRM at Sydney's Kingsford Smith Airport is to become operational in June, and is expected to reduce weather-related delays by 80%. The system was installed six years ago, but its use was delayed over aircraft noise concerns. The Australian government has approved full operation following an environment impact study.

In the USA, PRM use for simultaneous independent approaches to closely spaced parallel runways in instrument conditions had been hindered by aircrew worries over collision avoidance systems. But Raytheon programme manager Gene Austin says studies show they need not be disabled during PRM use.

At Minneapolis, the PRM will allow simultaneous independent approaches to runways 1,035m (3,400ft) apart. At Philadelphia and New York Kennedy, with a 3° approach offset, the system will allow simultaneous operations to runways 914m apart.

A new simultaneous offset approach procedure has been developed for San Francisco, where the parallel runways are just 229m apart, and is close to being approved for use elsewhere, says Austin. The procedure allows independent approaches by using the PRM to keep aircraft 914m apart until the missed approach point, when aircraft close to land visually.

Raytheon has a US Federal Aviation Administration contract to supply six PRMs, and is urging the FAA to buy radars for 12 other airports. Austin says the airports' savings would total almost $270 million a year.

Source: Flight International