ATM Modernization, Business & GA, Commercial

ERAU to Study Precision Landings at Small Airports

By Tish Drake | November 1, 2012
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A team of researchers at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has received funding for a project to assess the performance of pilots when they land small airplanes at small airports using an approach normally employed at airports with longer runways. The results could help shed light on the feasibility of letting small aircraft use GPS-aided approaches for small airports, according to the university.

In the project, funded by FAA and sponsored by the MITRE Corp., instrument-rated pilots from central Florida will conduct approaches and landings using a Level 6 Cessna flight simulator that can replicate low-visibility conditions. The research, led by Michael Wiggins, professor of aeronautical science, will take place at Embry-Riddle’s campus in Daytona Beach, Fla., beginning next summer.

The purpose of the research is to see if precision approaches normally used to land on longer runways can be used for landing at the shorter and narrower runways found at small airports.

In the study, pilots of small planes will simulate GPS-guided approaches down to the minimum altitude they can fly to in poor visibility and land using various simulated runway and lighting conditions.

The project will help researchers evaluate different runway and lighting conditions at smaller airports and assess the feasibility of letting the GPS instruments guide small planes to lower altitudes in conditions of poor visibility.

Pilots for the project will be recruited beginning in the spring of 2013.

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