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Fog procedures must be changed at Abu Dhabi airport

Fog procedures must be changed at Abu Dhabi airport, pilots say
Naser Al Wasmi

ABU DHABI // Fog procedures must be made more effective in the capital if passengers’ plans are not to be derailed by inclement weather at Abu Dhabi International Airport, according to pilots.

The airport is equipped with the Category IIIb Instrument Landing System (ILS), considered the best radio beam transmitter guidance system to help pilots land in low visibility conditions. The equipment has been proven to help planes land safely with a runway visual range of 46 metres.

However, according to a veteran Etihad pilot, the General Civil Aviation Authority allows aircraft in the UAE to land only if visibility is at least 75 metres, despite the airport being equipped with a system that allows for a shorter range.

“Operation in fog needs very precise instrument landing systems. This is one part and we have it,” said the pilot, who asked not to be named. “The second part is having a system that allows the air-traffic controller to control the traffic on the ground, which I haven’t seen.”

At other airports, Jersey in the Channel Islands, for example, the facility is equipped with only a Category I ILS, permitting planes to land at 61-metres visibility.

Decreasing the landing limit, the pilot said, had created the bottleneck scenarios and resulting delays experienced in Abu Dhabi over the past few days.

When an aircraft lands in low visibility it also needs to be guided to docking areas and gates, resulting in scenarios where passengers are sometimes left waiting in parked planes.

He said that when planes taxi to their parking positions they are directed by the air-traffic controller, a sometimes difficult task when they cannot see the aircraft.

“Most of the airports that have to deal with fog conditions have this radar, but in Abu Dhabi whenever I’ve landed and I ask somebody about this radar I never get an answer. So I don’t know.”

Another concern, he pointed out, was that the airlines flying in and out of Abu Dhabi were growing faster than the airport itself.

Another pilot, who has worked for an Arabian Gulf airline since 2008, said that taxiing was just as important to maintaining schedules at airports as was landing.

“The ILS system can be fully functioning, but if the taxi system is down the problem of delays will remain.”

He said that other airports, even those without equipped radar systems for taxiing, have some sort of system where they are able to offload passengers.

In Abu Dhabi there have been cases where passengers have been kept waiting in landed aircraft – without any definite disembarkation time – for more than 12 hours.

thenational.ae/uae/transport … pilots-say
gulfbusiness.com/2015/01/us-prec … LOJuYd1X7I

I opened the hotel curtains in Dubai one morning only to find I could not see the building across the street.
Low visibility just slows things down. period.
ATC must allow a little extra distance between landings because aircraft that have just landed slow more than normal in order to see the taxiiway exit which means they are on the runway a bit longer than usual.
After clearing the runway aircraft taxi a lot slower than normal, no different than driving your car in heavy fog or heavy rain.
All of this adds to a backlog of aircraft.
Yes, ground radar would help. I’m surprised Abu Dhabi does not have it.
Don’t kid yourself, the desert does get some nasty weather. We flew past Doha one evening and they were below minimums due to blowing dust. Actually I’ve seen that all over the Middle East.
by the way I put my pants on before opening the curtains.

In the description of the issue the sentence reads; “help planes land safely with a runway visual range of 46 metres.”

Is the writer confused about Decision Heights and Runway Visual Range? Or is their nomenclature different?

They will have to take a real good look into this being one of the world’s busiest airports now they cannot afford to have a fatality or a aircraft incident. The amount of heavies that touch down there, and depart is unreal reminds me of Heathrow airport in the UK. Wouldn’t this be up to the owners or the Management of the airport running it to asses this problem or even come across this as they built the airport before it was opened. :unamused:

I recently was in Dubai airport awaiting my A388 Emirates flight to YBBN/NZAA EK435 we were delayed considerable for twenty minutes due to the fog. But the pilots insisted on departing. I am not sure if these big A388’S have the ability to take off in fog or land but this is a growing concern for this airport on the ground. If this is the case and what you sate here why don’t the airline operators take it up with the Airport Management and the civil aviation authority in Dubai about these concerns. Yes It has become a popular hub now for stop overs on the way to the UK.

I wondered about the 46 meter thing too but put it down to it being an article written by the non-aviation press. Whether feet or meters I’ve always seen both DH and RVR minimums rounded off.