Blog What Is The Instrument Landing System?

What Is The Instrument Landing System?

When a pilot operates an aircraft, they must have the skill and capability to safely and effectively conduct landing procedures to finalize a flight operation. While they will have ample training on their way to earning a pilot license, modern technology has allowed for pilots to be assisted in the endeavor of landing to increase safety. This technology comes in the form of the instrument landing system (ILS), which allows for an aircraft to conduct a precision approach when landing on a runway. To do this, the ILS utilizes electronic glide slope guidance and tracking guidance.

For a standard instrument landing systems, four main components are used, those of which are the localizer, glide slope, market beacons, and approach lights. The localizer is a component that assists landing by offering course guidance on the centerline of the runway. This means that the localizer will determine guidance in terms of adjusting azimuth left or right of the extended centerline. Meanwhile, the glide slope allows for vertical guidance toward the touchdown point to be established, and it will usually be at a slope of around 3 degrees in comparison to the horizontal. Marker beacons are an external fixture from the instrument landing system, consisting of physical beacons that provide a pilot with accurate range indicators as the aircraft approaches the final approach path. The final element is the approach lights that line the runway, ensuring a smooth transition between instrument flight and visual flight.

While instrument landing systems are very useful for any type of landing with the guidance they provide, they are most beneficial in instances where visibility is poor as a result of weather phenomena or other situations. In these situations, the instrument landing system can help a pilot ensure that they are directing the aircraft in the right direction to make a clean landing, and once they are close enough to the runway, the marker beacons and approach lights will most likely provide visual guidance. Even during daylight hours, approach lights can still be quite beneficial for safe landing.

The instrument landing system will always be present in the cockpit in an area accessible to the pilot, and the display will usually be the same instrument as the VOR. It therefore has a vertical localizer needle for guidance on adjusting left and right and a second, horizontal needle that represents the glide slope in relation to the aircraft itself. While some ILS indicators feature needles that move similarly to an automobile wiper, others will have needles that adjust across the display rectilinearly. Either type will have a center dot, and that can be thought of as the aircraft itself while the needles are indicative of the glide path’s relative position.

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