By introducing new virtual navigation points Air Traffic Control the Netherlands (Luchtverkeersleiding Nederland, LVNL) is switching entirely to innovative satellite navigation. This means that aircraft will no longer navigate from and to take-off and landing runways using physical beacons on the ground, but a signal from satellites instead. This is a major step forwards by LVNL in terms of modernising Dutch airspace.
As Michiel van Dorst, CEO of LVNL, explains, “Switching to satellite navigation will give LVNL greater flexibility as regards flight path design which, in turn, will mean that airlines can fly more efficiently. This will result in a reduction in fuel consumption, noise nuisance and will contribute to the future redesign of Dutch airspace. We are implementing this innovation for the Netherlands, our customers and for people who live close to airports.”
Satellite navigation involves aircraft pilots using pre-programmed points in the navigation computer. This has a number of benefits. When the Instrument Landing System of a runway is not available, for example during maintenance, aircraft can use satellite navigation to land, if there is sufficient visibility, on runways which produce the least noise pollution. This approach means we reduce noise nuisance for residents under the flight paths to the Aalsmeerbaan, Buitenveldertbaan and Zwanenburgbaan runways. Precision approaches will also be available on a number of runways where instrument approach was not yetavailable.
The fact that LVNL is no longer dependent on navigation beacons on the ground when designing new flight paths makes it possible to design more efficient flight paths. Routes that will be designed in the future will enable aircraft to fly more precisely to airports in the Netherlands, where possible avoiding residential areas. In addition to this, aircraft will be able to descend more smoothly using less engine power and that will reduce noise pollution as well.
In the future the switch will also make it possible to implement changes resulting from the redesign of Dutch airspace, which is going to take place in the coming years. Satellite navigation is also in line with the plans of the European Commission to improve the connection between all air spaces in Europe and, by doing so, substantially shorten the routes between countries.
Back-up navigation beacons
Now that satellite navigation is the norm, various navigation beacons on the ground will be decommissioned. This has sustainability benefits because it reduces energy consumption, maintenance costs and the number of survey flights.
LVNL will still continue to invest in navigation beacons on the ground to ensure that aircraft that are unable to use satellite navigation can continue to navigate safely. The navigation beacons on the ground also serve as one of the backup systems in the event of any malfunction in the satellite navigation system. Of the nine so-called ‘VOR’ (VHF Omnidirectional Range) beacons which are currently still spread across the Netherlands, the beacons at Rotterdam, Schiphol, Eelde and Maastricht will remain in use. Together they will provide national coverage. The beacons at Eelde and Rotterdam were recently renewed and the beacon at Schiphol is going to be renewed in the near future.
Satellite navigation is being introduced throughout the world in stages and in Europe the process is being stimulated by European legislation. LVNL is one of the leaders in Europe in terms of switching to satellite navigation and decommissioning navigation beacons on the ground.
The introduction of satellite navigation is part of the programme of LVNL and Schiphol with measures to reduce noise nuisance, of which details can be found on the minderhinderschiphol.nl website (in Dutch only). The aim of this programme is to improve the living environment in the area around Schiphol. The development of satellite navigation is being partly financed by the Connecting Europe Facility.