Flight delays caused by winter fog at Canberra Airport should be fewer soon with a nearly completed $6.5 million project to install a new runway lighting system set to give pilots more visibility.
The Airport said the new lighting system would assist both landing and departing aircraft and make services more reliable for passengers, especially in foggy and rainy weather like Canberra experienced on Wednesday, although no flights were affected then.
With new touch down and runway centreline lights and enhanced back-up reliability, it would allow pilots get their planes closer to the runway during attempts to land.
The Airport said that at present, pilots can go as low as 200 feet above the runway before deciding if they had enough visibility to land but the new Category II lighting system allowed them to get just 100 feet off the ground, much closer to the runway and lights, making landing for pilots much easier and more likely.
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For passengers, this meant more aircraft could land, saving time and increasing safety in adverse weather, it said.
Managing Director of Canberra Airport, Stephen Byron said that with more domestic and international flights leaving and arriving into Canberra daily, the Airport was constantly trying to improve the reliability of arrivals and departures.
“This runway and taxiway improvement will save time and enhance safety in low-visibility weather situations like Canberra’s winter time fog,” he said.
Canberra Airport is fog-bound about 12 to 16 days a year but an Airport spokesperson said there were only three to five ‘really bad’ days when fog lingered until after 10:30 am and even midday, with 30-40 flights affected at worst on some days, plus flow-on delays.
The Airport said the airfield lighting upgrade – a collaboration with airlines, Airservices Australia, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and contractors – began last November and would make the Airport’s main runway a full Category II, internationally-compliant, low-visibility operation by mid-July 2018.
The project was the latest in Canberra Airport’s “A Minute Matters” initiative, which strives to move passengers quickly through the airport and on and off flights.
“We know guests will be comfortable in our terminal, but they also want to get to their destinations without cancellations or delays, and this is another way for us to show them we understand every minute matters,” Mr Byron said.