Minister urges faster fog landing system change

The State Government is urging Perth Airport and AirServices Australia to speed up installing a landing system that will virtually eliminate travel chaos caused by fog.

Responding to Perth Airport's timetable of up to three years for the installation, Transport Minister Dean Nalder said he "encouraged Perth Airport to work with Air Services Australia to expedite the works if possible".

The airport plans to install a CAT111b system that will allow landings in almost zero visibility.

Perth Airport only has a CAT 1 system, which restricts operations in fog. Under CAT 1, pilots must be able to see the runway from a height of 61m with forward visibility of 800m.

The new system would reduce that visibility height to 15m and forward visibility to 75m, almost eliminating diversions.

Perth Airport is responsible for the necessary runway and taxiway lighting upgrades. AirServices has to modify, recalibrate and test the system's avionics.

Perth Airport said the design and installation of the high-intensity lighting would take 18 months and the Airservices work another 18 months.

However, a former AirServices executive said there was no reason why the projects could not be done at the same time.

Fog affects Perth Airport up to nine times a year but it is also forecast up to 65 times a year.

The alternative airport is Adelaide, because of customs requirements.

For international carriers, the diversion to Adelaide is expensive. Flight and cabin crews often run out of duty hours, meaning an additional 12-hour delay.

One Emirates diversion to Adelaide in 2012 cost the airline an estimated $500,000.

_Geoffrey Thomas _

The West Australian

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