Cranfield announces new radar and withdraws ILS

Cranfield Airport has announced that it is constructing a new radar at the Bedfordshire airport, which will be the first on-site radar facility in 30 years.

The radar from Easat Radar Systems Limited is part of a range of planned upgrades to the airport’s technical capabilities, to enhance operations and support the aviation research that takes place at Cranfield University.

The airport management team says that construction of the 38-metre mono-tube radar tower will commence in 2024 and it is expected to become operational in 2026.

In addition to enhancing the airport’s capability to actively, rather than passively, detect aircraft, the radar is also designed to support the integration of Unmanned Air Systems, add the airport operators. Funding for the radar was secured from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

“This exciting news builds on the exceptional work of the Air Traffic Control personnel at Cranfield, who for many years have safely supported the operations at Cranfield in and around the Airport,” commented Rob Abbott, Cranfield airport’s director.

“Cranfield is one of the few remaining ‘procedural only’ controlling units and this addition will greatly increase understanding of the air traffic in the local area, further enhancing air safety. It will also be pivotal in developing the Air Navigation Service Provider’s ability to support research in critical areas, including unlocking the potential of Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Urban Air Vehicles.”

The news of the new radar installation comes at the same time that the airport has confirmed the withdrawal of its Instrument Landing System (ILS).

According to an Airspace Change Proposal (ACP) entered with the CAA, the failure of the glidepath to runway 21 has resulted in a requirement for total replacement of the equipment, which the airport operators say is beyond its intended operational lifespan and is also beyond economic repair.

The airport operators have therefore concluded that it shall be removed from service and the associated ILS approach is to be withdrawn.

The news of its removal is a blow for nearby flight schools delivering Instrument Rating (IR) training programmes, who will now be forced to travel further to find an ILS-equipped airport that accepts IR training flights – a dwindling resource in southern England.

Author: FTN Editor

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