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£500k system that helps aircraft land in bad weather to be installed

Bosses at George Best City Airport have revealed plans to install a £500,000 electronic guiding system to help planes land during poor visibility.

Earlier this week several flights in and out of the east Belfast airfield were either cancelled, delayed or diverted because of low-level fog.

More than a dozen flights — and around 12,000 people — were affected.

It then emerged that one of the runways in operation does not have an Instrument Landing System (ILS) which allows planes to land during bad weather. Pilots use visual flight rules — basically, looking out the window — when flying in and out of the airport.

It is understood it will cost more than half a million pounds to install an ILS at George Best Belfast City Airport.

The Civil Aviation Authority, which is responsible for keeping airports in check, has said it was not uncommon for smaller airports to not have an ILS.

But both Southhampton and Liverpool John Lennon Airport, which are similar in size and have roughly the same yearly passenger numbers as the east Belfast airfield, do have the systems in place.

Around 2.6 million people pass through the doors each year at Belfast City Airport. Last night a spokesman from the airport confirmed there were plans to install the guiding system on the runway.

He explained board members have been discussing putting one in place but that it was not “operational” at this time. He also said he understood it would cost “in excess of half a million pounds”.

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