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Luxembourg says airport safe despite technical glitches

Luxembourg says airport safe despite technical glitches

by Yannick HANSEN 04.08.2021 From our online archive
Instrument landing system has had problems for two years, which came to light in audit in March
Airport worker guides a plane on the runway
Airport worker guides a plane on the runway
Photo credit: GUY WOLFF

(This story was updated with a new comment from the DAC, which said passenger safety had never been at risk, and a comment from the transport ministry)

Landing at Luxembourg's airport is entirely safe, the transport ministry said on Wednesday, despite the fact that the navigation system that guides planes to the ground under adverse weather such as fog or heavy rain has not been working properly for a period of two years.

The system – known as the instrument landing system – has had technical problems since it was replaced in 2019, an audit carried out by the Directorate of Civil Aviation (DAC) in March showed.

"The technical problems had no impact on the safety of the passenger and air freight traffic," said Pierre Jaeger, the head of the DAC.  

The audit report also showed officials had not carried out enough checks on the navigation system and downgraded Luxembourg airport's runway to CAT I landings. This means the guiding system is only authorised to guide planes to 60 metres above ground instead of guiding them to the runway.

Previously, installations at Luxembourg's sole commercial airport could guide planes down to the ground, a so-called CAT III landing - the top category.

Due to tarmac works being carried out on the runway, the airport cannot be given a higher grade even if the navigation system was working fully, the transport ministry said.  

"In case technical glitches have an impact on the safety of air traffic in Luxembourg, the DAC, in its supervisory role, will take all necessary measures to be sure that flight safety is guaranteed", Bausch said in response to an earlier parliamentary question in June.

The Air Navigation Administration, which is under the control of the transport ministry, has until 30 September to resolve the issues, Bausch said on Wednesday, which also coincides with the end of scheduled repair works on the runway which also prevent the airport from being upgraded to CAT III.

Luxembourg's airport was one of the country's key infrastructures that was affected by last month's historic floods as its kerosene supply pipeline was temporarily cut, but the authorities have since restored access to it.

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