Pudong airport deploys low-visibility landing system

The Category-III instrument landing system enables pilots to land even if the visibility is lower than 175 meters.

Shanghai Pudong airport will be able to handle aircraft landing in ultra low visibility on one of its runways from today to minimize the impact of weather on flights.

The airport will become the first on the Chinese mainland to deploy the Category-III instrument landing system, which enables pilots with the necessary qualification to land even if the visibility is lower than 175 meters and the landing height lower than 15 meters. The northern runway of Hong Kong International Airport has also been equipped with the Category-III landing system.

Usually, pilots can land or take off manually when the visibility is 800 meters.

The world’s highest-level ILS system has been deployed on 34L, or No. 2 Runway, near the T2 Terminal at Pudong airport. The system requires a major upgrading of navigation lights, signs and monitoring systems for the runway from the previous Category-II landing system which ensured a minimum visibility of 350 meters, the Shanghai Airport Authority said. A test landing was conducted in March 2017 to verify the new system.

“The operation capability of Pudong airport can be largely improved under fog, haze and other bad weather with low-visibility,” an official with the authority said.

The ILS, also known as “blind landing” system, enables pilots to conduct an approach to land even if they are unable to establish visual contact with the runway. The system provides precise guidance with radio signals and strong lighting systems.

Pudong airport is more likely to be hit by heavy fog in summer or low cloud cover in winter than Hongqiao airport, the city’s other air traffic hub, leading to mass flight delays and cancellations.

During the most recent fog weather on January 16, 24 flights scheduled to land at Pudong airport had to be diverted to nearby airports in neighboring cities.

However, the effect of the Category-III ILS on Pudong airport will take time because most domestic airlines are training their pilots with the Category-II system, Liu Zhenxu, a China Southern Airlines captain, told Shanghai Daily.

But Shanghai-based Spring Airlines has begun preparations for training its pilots for the Category-III landing, said Zhang Wu’an, vice president of the airline.

Ti Gong

The Category-III instrument landing system has been deployed on the 34L, or the No. 2 runway, near the T2 Terminal, at Pudong airport.