Automatic measuring of upper wind: Belgocontrol enhances security of approaches at Brussels Airport

Too strong a tailwind at high altitude can lead to an aircraft’s non-stabilized approach and can provoke a missed approach with overshoot (go-around procedure). In order to limit that risk Belgocontrol has developed a new tool that informs pilots and air traffic controllers on upper winds.

Upper wind is often stronger than wind measured at ground level. If certain conditions are met (tailwind landings), the wind imposes a higher descent rate with the risk of a non-stabilized approach and the necessity to overshoot (missed approach).

The wind direction and force at approach are presently transmitted automatically and in real time to the control tower by aircraft approaching Brussels Airport via the Belgocontrol radars. Before, those data were communicated via radio contact between the pilot and the air traffic controller on an ad hoc basis.

The new tool that Belgocontrol has developed offers a better overview of the upper winds: the wind parameters are calculated by extraction of the mode-S radar data of the aircraft. That way accurate real-time wind measures can be obtained for various altitudes. Over 90% of aircraft landing at Brussels Airport are equipped with mode-S technology, allowing those data to be automatically transmitted.

Crucial information for both air traffic controllers and pilots

For the past several months the new application has been tested at the Brussels Airport control tower. It will be fully operational at the beginning of December. It will offer the air traffic controllers a better and real-time overview of the situation at high altitude. That way, they will be able to guide the aircraft even more effectively in their landing. Thanks to the permanent observation of the evolution of the upper winds the security of the operations will be increased.

Within a few months Belgocontrol will provide the data on approach wind direction and force to both pilots and airline companies via the ATIS messages. Those coded messages contain crucial information on an airport, like meteorological data, runways in use, available approach and all other information the pilots need. Thanks to the new Belgocontrol tool pilots will be informed systematically and well in advance of the exact upper winds situation around Brussels Airport, even before they start their descent towards the airport. That will also contribute to improving security. ​

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About skeyes

skeyes ensures the safety and efficiency of air traffic in Belgium 24/7. The skeyes air traffic controllers manage over 3,000 aircraft every day, which makes up over a million flight movements per year. The autonomous public company is active at the heart of Europe, in one of the busiest and most complex sections of airspace of the continent. skeyes is active at Brussels Airport and at the airports of Antwerp, Charleroi, Kortrijk, Liège and Ostend. Thanks to its CANAC 2 control centre skeyes manages the flight movements above Belgium and a part of Luxembourg up to an altitude of 7,500 metres (*). The company relies on its nearly 900 experienced staff members who are at the service of their customers: airline companies, airports, the aviation sector and the authorities. skeyes also develops innovating services regarding drones and contributes to a sustainable future of the aviation sector, among other things with respect to the environment.

skeyes is a member of FABEC, a joint airspace block (Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland) with the aim of improving air navigation efficiency in the heart of Europe in the framework of the Single European Sky.

(*) The upper airspace of the Benelux countries and North West Germany is managed jointly with the EUROCONTROL centre in Maastricht. 


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