Michael Bailey Deputy editor

Michael has been a business journalist for 12 years. He has extensive experience editing magazines covering funds management, commercial property and the travel industry. In 2011 he won a Citi Excellence in Financial Journalism award for a BRW cover story on economic indicators.

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Sydney Airport will be fine in fog – next year

Published 28 May 2013 10:29, Updated 29 May 2013 09:19

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Sydney Airport will be fine in fog – next year

The fog which currently shuts down Sydney Airport for an average nine hours per year won’t be a problem once infrastructure upgrades have been completed. Photo: Colleen Petch

Fog at Sydney Airport, which by 9.30am today had caused 27 international flights and one domestic flight to divert, will, by this time next year, cause virtually no disruption – thanks to upgrades of runway lighting and landing-instrument technology, an Airport spokesperson claims.

As the Sydney fog caused delays which had a domino effect throughout the country for business travellers, the spokesperson said upgrades had been completed in March on the “instrument landing system” used by Airservices Australia – which runs air traffic control at all major Australian airports.

Sydney Airport Holdings is also installing high-intensity lighting at the heads of its three runways.

Taken together, the Airport hopes these measures will allow it to be upgraded to a Category II airport by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority within the next few months.

A Category II landing service enables pilots to approach the runway at a lower altitude than is allowed under Sydney’s existing Category I rating. That means landings can take place in lower cloud conditions.

The upgrades may not completely eradicate diversions due to fog – the spokesperson pointed out that diversions were the pilot’s call – however, pilots will be able to land with as little as 350 metres of visibility.

The Airport spokesperson said Sydney Airport was only affected by visibility low enough to require Category II infrastructure for an average of nine hours per year. Many European airports subject to snow and sleet carry Category III infrastructure.