Joint Release

Satellite-based instrument landing system introduced at Sydney Airport

2 Jul 2014

A new aircraft landing system known as SmartPath has been brought into service at Sydney Airport – the first of its type in the southern hemisphere.

The SmartPath technology (otherwise known as a Ground Based Augmentation System, GBAS), is a precision approach and landing system allowing suitably equipped aircraft to land within one metre of the runway centre line in low visibility conditions.

Airservices Acting Chief Executive Officer, Mark Rodwell, said that the technology improves the accuracy of aircraft positioning and can reliably guide aircraft along a predictable, precise landing path by correcting Global Positioning System (GPS) errors and transmitting data directly to an aircraft’s flight management system.

“By integrating SmartPath and other GPS-based operations with air traffic management, Airservices is focused on delivering new satellite-based performance-driven air navigation systems for the 21st century,” said Mr Rodwell.

If required SmartPath is capable of providing up to 26 simultaneous instrument approaches within a 42km radius from the airport. The system will also reduce maintenance and provide more efficient calibration than traditional instrument landing systems (ILS).

Airservices used its own extensive experience in satellite navigation technology to partner with Honeywell Aerospace in developing the SmartPath system. Honeywell is the world’s first and only GBAS supplier to have achieved system design approval by the US Federal Aviation Administration.

“The air travel industry in Australia has grown exponentially over the years driven by both outbound travel and local domestic demand and Sydney Airport remains the busiest in the country,” said Brian Davis, vice president, Airlines, Asia Pacific, Honeywell Aerospace.

“Honeywell’s GBAS is a cost-effective and easy-to-install solution that has a number of potential benefits.”

In conjunction with Qantas, Airservices began an operational test and evaluation of the Honeywell SLS-4000 GBAS in December 2012. This allowed suitability equipped Boeing 737-800 and Airbus A380 aircraft with qualified flight crew to fly SmartPath approaches.

“Technology leadership is in Qantas’ DNA and we’re delighted to have played our part in making GBAS a reality in Sydney,” said Gareth Evans, Qantas Chief Financial Officer.

“We expect GBAS to deliver real benefits for Qantas customers as well as important operational benefits for Sydney Airport as a whole.”

As part of the trial Qantas conducted more than 750 GBAS approaches, on top of more than 2000 approaches the airline made during an earlier trial of a prototype system between 2006 and 2010 at Sydney Airport.

“We’re proud to be the first airport in Australia to install and use this technology,” said Sydney Airport Chief Executive Officer Kerrie Mather.

“This revolutionary technology does the work of six separate instrument landing system units. It’s an additional layer of safety that more and more airlines will take advantage of as new aircraft models such as Airbus A380s and Boeing 787 Dreamliners go into service.”

Airservices continues to work with the airline industry to encourage fitment of SmartPath-capable avionics while offering the industry the benefits of the new system.

Media inquiries

  • Airservices Media – 02 6257 2828
  • Honeywell Media – +65 6249 9168
  • Qantas Media – 0418 210 005
  • Sydney Airport Media – 02 9667 6470