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Costs of fog-busting system 'relatively low' says Aurigny

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THE additional investment in ‘fog-busting’ technology to a planned $60m. fleet of new aircraft for Aurigny is ‘relatively low’, according to the company.

The ATR with ClearVision which came to Guernsey in the summer. (Picture by Steve Sarre, 21793792)

The airline said that the ClearVision Enhanced Flight Visual System was a ‘useful bonus’ to its fleet renewal project but was only a small part of its business case, which was focused on cost-saving and reliability.

ClearVision uses an external camera to display an augmented outside view in a head-mounted visor worn by the pilot. It is designed to improve the pilot’s vision.

‘Aurigny’s investment in ClearVision is relatively low given its “launch customer” status. If we were buying the ATRs without the ClearVision technology the price would not be hugely different,’ said an Aurigny spokesman. ‘The main benefits from renewing the fleet will come from the reduced maintenance costs. It is certainly not an “either/or” decision with a decision to improve the runway.

‘Whilst the business case for renewing Aurigny’s ATR fleet is entirely sound without the benefits of the EFVS, it is appreciated that there is great interest in the advantages it would bring.

‘The reduction in the weather requirements for landing with EFVS will reduce circling times and diversions to other airports, both of which have knock-on effects far beyond the flights directly affected.’

A spokesman for ATR said: ‘ClearVision is an option with our latest Standard 3 avionics suite, which is also standard on all new ATR 72 600 aircraft.

‘Yes, there is an additional cost for this extra. However, it would be offset by the benefits delivered by the system, which would lead to less delays, diversions and cancellations.

‘Based on a study conducted between September 2015 and August 2016, the ClearVision Enhanced Vision System would have allowed 50% of Guernsey’s forbidden landings during this time. This could have a significant positive financial impact.’

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He also confirmed that every new ATR came with Cat 1 and Cat 2 instrument landing systems. ATR had opted to develop ClearVision rather than Cat 3 to reduce runway visual range for different approach types rather than just ILS.

Guernsey Airport has a Category 1 ILS, which is the basis of the decision height at which the pilot must either go for landing or go around.

The Aurigny spokesman also said that while a Cat 2 ground-based system would permit operations in similar weather to the ClearVision success, the landing success rate for landings would be lower for Cat2 operations.

Upgrading to Cat 3 with suitably equipped aircraft would give a 100m visibility improvement over Cat 2.

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However, this would be offset by the need for an expensive expansion of the airport, including extending the runway, and might not be possible technically.

Route de Plaisance might need be diverted through the adjacent residential area or run through a tunnel and a number of houses removed, said the spokesman. Meanwhile, operators would need to invest in new aircraft more expensive than the ClearVision-equipped ATR600, while new technology could be used at any airport.

‘In addition, it must be remembered that the ATR fleet renewal project will be commercially funded by the airline, whereas any airport upgrade project will need to be paid for from public funds,’ added Aurigny.

Will Green

By Will Green
Business Editor

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