Honeywell, Boeing trial CAT III GBAS landing

In an industry first, Honeywell and Boeing demonstrated how an aircraft can use Honeywell’s next-generation, precision navigation and landing technology to perform safe and successful airport runway approaches and landings in weather conditions with a ceiling allowing no decision height and a minimum runway visual range of as low as 150 feet or Category III.

Honeywell and Boeing have successfully demonstrated how airports that experience frequent visibility issues such as low cloud cover or fog will be able to implement future Honeywell SmartPath versions that enable these Category III (CAT III) landings to reduce delays and diversions due to bad weather.

“Today’s airspace is crowded and on track to be even more crowded in the next 10 years. Airlines and airports need a more efficient and modern system to handle the influx of planes during approach and landing, specifically when the weather gets bad and pilots are operating in CAT III conditions,” said Bob Smith, chief technology officer, Honeywell Aerospace. “Honeywell has invented and tested a precision landing system that will not only alleviate crowded approaches and landings at airports, but will also give pilots the ability to land when they can’t see the runway, keeping airports and flights running efficiently.”

Using Honeywell’s SmartPath Ground-Based Augmentation System (GBAS), Boeing used its ecoDemonstrator 787, a flight test airplane that in 2014 served to assess more than 25 technologies to reduce aviation’s environmental footprint, to complete 12 CAT III approaches and landings at Boeing’s test facility in Moses Lake, Washington. The aircraft also used Honeywell’s Integrated Navigation Receiver (INR), a navigation receiver that integrates the instrument landing signal, VHF omnidirectional range marker beacon and GBAS landing system navigation signals into a compact and more efficient unit.

“Using the capability of today’s aircraft and the precision of global-based navigation, airlines can now land in very low-visibility weather conditions,” said Jeanne Yu, director of Environmental Performance at Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “This improves operational efficiency, saves fuel and reduces carbon dioxide emissions.”

To successfully complete the CAT III approaches, which involve performing landings automatically in difficult conditions including fog, clouds, rain or other weather phenomena, Honeywell upgraded the software of the 787 INR and SLS-4000 SmartPath GBAS to support the additional CAT III monitoring and availability requirements.

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