SmartPath tech makes landing paths clearer at Sydney Airport

Airservices has introduced SmartPath technology at Sydney Airport to allow for accurate aircraft landing during poor weather conditions.

Aircraft landing in Sydney Airport are now able to do so with improved precision, especially during low visibility conditions.

Government-owned air navigation service provider Airservices has introduced a landing system known as SmartPath technology, or ground based augmentation system, to allow suitably equipped aircraft to navigate via satellite technology rather than radio-based instruments — currently the standard used at airports around the world — to land within one metre of the runway centre line in low visibility conditions.

SmartPath is also capable of providing up to 26 simultaneous instrument approaches within a 42 kilometre radius from the airport. The system will also reduce maintenance and provide more efficient calibration than traditional instrument landing systems.

Airservices acting CEO Mark Rodwell said that the technology improves the accuracy of aircraft positioning and can guide aircraft along a predictable, precise landing path by correcting Global Positioning System (GPS) errors, and transmitting data directly to an aircraft's flight management system.

"By integrating SmartPath and other GPS-based operations with air traffic management, Airservices is focused on delivering new satellite-based performance-driven air navigation systems for the 21st century," he said.

A Qantas spokesperson said that since 2006 the system has been trialled by Qantas on its Boeing 737-800 and Airbus 380 aircraft, and up until May 2014, Qantas flew around 2,500 landings using the SmartPath system.

"The system was formally commissioned at Sydney Airport on 29 May 2014 and we are now operating 40 SmartPath landings a day, significantly more than any other airline," said the spokesperson. "Over time, it should result in far fewer flight diversions in the event of bad weather and poor visibility."

Airservices partnered with Honeywell Aerospace to develop the SmartPath system, and Sydney Airport is the first in Australia to install and use it.

"This revolutionary technology does the work of six separate instrument landing system units," said Sydney Airport CEO Kerrie Mather. "It's an additional layer of safety that more and more airlines will take advantage of as new aircraft models such as Airbus A380s and Boeing 787 Dreamliners go into service."