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New system provides pilots accurate guidance at night

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Instrument landings frequent

By MAUREEN ROSE
Gold Standard Acting Editor
maureen.a.rose2.civ@mail.mil
Godman Army Airfield on Fort Knox recently completed installation of a new system designed to improve safety for pilots and aircraft. The Instrument Landing System is a precision instrument guidance system that uses VHF transmitters to send signals to approaching aircraft. Comprised of two components, the system employs a Localizer and Glide Slope to emit electronic signals which give pilots accurate electronic guidance to align their aircraft with the runway as well as to the safest glide path for landings when they must be done via instruments due to poor visibility. With those signals relayed to the aircraft, pilots can align their aircraft with the runway with surgical precision in their instrument-landing approach.
In the past, explained airfield manager Art Smaagaard, with the older nonprecision guidance systems, once aircraft reached 500 feet, pilots should have been able to see runway and approach lights in use at that time. If they couldn’t see the lights, they had to be diverted to the Louisville airport, which affected about 6 percent of flights on instrument landings. With this ILS, pilots should be able to see the runway and approach lights at a lower decision height of 250 feet and land without being diverted to Louisville. Smaagaard said he anticipates that 99 percent of all flights on instrument approach would be able to land using the new ILS and only a fraction of 1 percent would require diversion.
“You can see why they call it a precision instrument approach,” said Smaagaard, the airfield manager.
That improved instrumentation capability is important, he added, because the bulk of air traffic at Godman AAF is at night and frequently during instrument weather conditions because Fort Knox is home to so many Army Reserve aviation units. One of the most common transient flights is one whereby Kentucky Air National Guard C-130 pilots fly out of Louisville, dropping a parachute sandbag to practice their landings to the Assault Strip before flying out to western Kentucky and then returning to Louisville. This prepares the KYANG C-130 Flight Crews to perform many worldwide humanitarian flights and troop resupply missions involving the dropping of supplies in areas where the planes can’t land.
Godman AAF is a legacy airfield that was built in the late 1930s in preparation for World War II, so it was naturally designed for World War II aircraft. Although it was the first airfield in Kentucky, Godman’s runways are too short for many newer large jet-powered aircraft. However, it can accommodate the C-130s, and the C-17, Hercules lll, the work horses of many ANG and USAF units.
The new ILS, which is functional now, won’t be used until the Flight Information Publication (Known as a FLIP book to pilots) is updated so all pilots will have the correct frequency information, approach plate and diagram of the airfield. Smaagaard indicated the updated FLIP book containing the new ILS instrument approach should be published in July.