Aviation News

September 6, 2010

Air Berlin Testing Satellite-Aided Noise Abatement Procedures for Approaches to Frankfurt

Air Berlin Airbus A320 D-ABDJ

An Air Berlin Airbus A320 (D-ABDJ) approaches Madrid. (Photo by Gordon Gebert)

Air Berlin on Monday announced that it is validating new noise abatement approach procedures as part of a joint research project conducted by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH and Fraport AG.

On Monday, one of Air Berlin’s Boeing 737-700s will be carrying out 13 different approaches at the DLR research facility at Braunschweig-Wolfsburg Airport (BWE) , while noise measurements are recorded on the ground.

Effective noise abatement can be achieved on the one hand by noise avoidance, and on the other by noise transfer.

To this end Air Berlin, the second largest German airline, is testing curved approaches to avoid over-flying residential areas in future. The research flights in Brunswick will be simulating approaches to Frankfurt am Main airport. The volume of air traffic at Germany’s busiest airport does not permit reduced-noise approaches to be tested there.

Noise transfer, however, is possible by delaying the descent. This will involve Air Berlin’s Boeing adopting a steeper glide slope than the typical one of three degrees. Not only will the noise levels be measured during the validation flights, but the impact of the noise control procedures on the aircraft and the operational procedures carried out by the crew will also be scrutinized.

Air Berlin will be using the new GLS (Global Positioning and Landing System) for these validation flights in Brunswick, and in contrast with the conventional instrument landing system, which only permits straight approach paths, GLS also enables the aircraft to skirt residential areas and to fly steeper approaches.

Satellite navigation means not only that the noise experienced in residential areas near the airport can be reduced, but also that Air Berlin can achieve greater cost efficiency. GLS can also allow accurate approach flights to be carried out without an instrument landing system even in poor visibility or at airports located in difficult terrain. This renders holding stacks or diversions to nearby airports unnecessary.

“The more weather-independent and flexible we can make our flights, the more stable our flying schedules will be,” said Christoph Debus, Air Berlin’s Chief Commercial Officer. “That means even greater reliability and comfort for our passengers. Furthermore, GLS allows us to reduce our fuel consumption and consequently our environmental impact.”

After the German Federal Aviation Office granted the airline permission for category 1 approach flights in November 2009, Air Berlin became the only airline in the world with approval to use the new satellite navigation system for normal flight operations.

Since June 2007, all type 737-700 and 800 Boeings delivered to Air Berlin have been equipped with GLS. By 2013 the airline’s entire Boeing fleet should be operating with the global positioning and landing system.



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  • Satellite navigation means not only that the noise experienced in residential areas near the airport can be reduced.