In general, landings at Brussels Airport are most often on runways 25L and 25R, with an approach over Flanders. In less frequent wind conditions, however, runways 07L, 07R and 01 are used for landing.
On 13 December 2018, Federal Minister of Mobility suspended an instruction to use satellite guidance to land on runways 07.
Municipalities on the eastern outskirts of Brussels such as Kraainem or Wezembeek-Oppem would have preferred the procedure called PBN (Performance Based Navigation). Indeed, if the landings in 07 are facilitated, it means that aircraft will use less runway 01, responsible for “their” nuisance. This is the thesis developed by the motion voted by the municipal council of Kraainem. “We are therefore concerned that without this PBN procedure, there is a risk of over-use of Runway 01 at landing,” it says.
However, this satellite guidance had been implemented explicitly in a temporary way, because of maintenance on ground beacons between November and December. Four weeks of work that disabled this beacon used for landings on 07. PBN was the most natural replacement option, all the more natural as it offers a series of advantages that plead for its permanent use. According to some sources, this is also what Skeyes (formerly Belgocontrol) and the airlines would have liked.
Nevertheless, satellite guidance is considered safer and is becoming more widespread internationally. “Satellite procedures will soon be mandatory anyway,” said Skeyes’ spokesman Alain Kniebs. Satellite guidance is indeed much more precise, which made it one of the solutions presented in his time by the federal government to reduce noise pollution in the skies of the capital. On the other hand, PBN allows landing with continuous descent from higher altitudes and does not require an increase of engine power during approach. The PBN option is, in a nutshell, safer, quieter, less polluting and less kerosene-consuming.
Why not maintain this approach? “The demand of Belgocontrol was for temporary use of these procedures. We gave a positive response to this request. We thus remained consistent with what we had announced“, answers the cabinet of François Bellot. The minister specifies that the obligation to use PBN will be effective from 2020. To elected officials of Kraainem, “PBN procedures do not consist of instructions to use one runway or the other, he replies. There is, therefore, no mechanical effect of transferring aircraft from one runway to another.”