Landing and Takeoff rules updated at NATO
Air Base Geilenkirchen
NATO AIR BASE, GEILENKIRCHEN, GERMANY-Following the removal of six hectares of
trees just beyond the western end of the runway, officials from the German "Amt
für Geoinformationswesen der Bundeswehr" have surveyed the remaining trees.
Based on the results, the "Amt für Flugsicherung der Bundeswehr" (AFSBw) has
issued new regulations for the Instrument Approach Procedures to the base.
These new regulations went into effect Monday morning. "Essentially, most of
the limitations we faced from the trees have been eliminated," said the base
Deputy Commander, Col. Jelle Zijlstra of the Dutch Air Force
The change in the forest now gives pilots a much better chance of landing
successfully under minimal weather conditions. Before the trees were cut,
the pilots needed to have the runway in sight at a distance of 2.4 km from
the base at an altitude of 148 meters. Now they need to have the runway in
sight at a distance of only 1.2 km from the base and an altitude of 67 meters.
Prior to the tree cutting, the visibility of the airfield lighting and runway
from the aircraft was obstructed, possibly resulting in significant jet noise
as the pilot added large amounts of power when performing a missed approach.
Now a pilot can continue flying to a point much closer to the airfield where
he can see the approach lights and the runway much more clearly to land safely.
Overall, the tree cutting has enhanced flight safety and may result in less noise
from approaching aircraft in the corridor between Brunssum and Schinveld.
Aircraft taking off from the base to the west over the Netherlands will continue
to fly the same as before, but now have a wider safety margin. The change in
restrictions applies primarily to flights on days with bad weather.
"An aircraft taking off on a wet, cloudy or icy day faced significant problems
from the trees," Col. Zijlstra said. "Safety regulations restricted how much
weight we could take off with on days with bad weather. This affected
approximately 5% of our take-offs to the west. Now that the trees are gone,
we can fly on wet days much the same as we do on clear days."
Base officials continue to make significant efforts to reduce the noise
burden on local communities.
"We observe strict quiet hour rules, we carefully limit the number of flights
over the Netherlands, we maximize the use of our flight simulator and we
send as many training flights as we can to other airfields," said Col. Zijlstra.
"We want to be good neighbours and we understand the concerns of those who live
near the base. However, we have to fly, so we make every effort to minimize the
local impact of our operations."
NATO AWACS play a key role in frequent high-visibility NATO operations and exercises,
and more than 3,000 military and civilian personnel work at the base.