Runway 12 ILS guides first approaching aircraft


The Runway 12 Instrument Landing System guided its first approaching aircraft here, Sept. 15.

The internationally standardized system assists pilots during the final approach for landing.

“It’s really necessary when there’s bad weather which we have during monsoon season,” said Capt. Chance Landreth, 355th Operations Support Squadron Airfield Operations Flight commander. “This is a big deal because we had the system for Runway 30, but not for Runway 12, which is our primary runway."

The ILS provides approaching aircraft with horizontal and vertical guidance relative to the centerline and the threshold of the runway for an accurate landing approach. The upgrade enables D-M to redirect approaching aircraft depending on weather without having to utilize a runway that employs a primitive approach system.

The airfield operations flight previously used the GPN-22, which is a precision approach radar that pilots used as a navigation aid to land on the runway.

“Now with an ILS, the pilot can do everything from the cockpit himself,” said Master Sgt. Christopher Byrne, 355th OSS air traffic control and landing system section chief. “He doesn’t need any interaction with the ATC to land his aircraft.”

The GPN-22 previously needed an air traffic controller using the radar to direct aircraft in for approach landings in the event of inclement weather or low-visibility situations.

“We’re now going to [decommission] a piece of equipment that has become almost obsolete in the Air Force,” said Master Sgt. Laurel Maples, 355th OSS NCO in charge of airfield systems. “This is more up-to-date technology and it will allow all of our aircraft to get as close to the runway as possible during inclement weather.”

The final steps of the ILS installation process were capped off with a commissioning flight, which occurred late last month.

“They fly multiple approaches and make sure the equipment is calibrated properly and safe to use,” Maples said. “The technicians will apply specific adjustments to make sure that the system’s outgoing data is being received correctly by the approaching aircraft.”

After successful testing and calibration, the system is fully operational thanks to units across D-M AFB.

“This was a 10 year team effort from inception to actual employment,” Landreth said. “The 355th Civil Engineer Squadron laid all of the foundations down to put the equipment in place. The 355th Logistics Readiness Squadron helped out with storing the equipment while we planned the installation. This system is made up of a lot of other systems talking to each other, so we had to thank the 355th Communications Squadron for their hard work as well.”