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Evolution of Aircraft Landing Assistance Devices

The most tedious tasks for a pilot to perform are to make a soft landing and to do it safely. Initially pilots used to land on open fields and used to maneuver the plane in a direction that gave them a better angle relative to the direction of the wind. Aides to the landing have been developed to help find the right course and landing to make sure of the landing. 

In the later 1920’s, airports began using lamps, when the landing grounds were marked by rotating so they can be found after sundown. In early 1930, airports installed the early forms of approach lights. Both projects have demonstrated the proper angles of descent, and if the pilots hit the targets. Their approach paths were drawn to the glide path or glide. Air Mail Service intermediary, landing grounds that were established near the route used electric rotating lights and beacons that have been placed on the outside of the field. 

Evolution of Aircraft Landing Assistance Devices picture
The XS-1 in which then - Capt. Charles Yeager "broke" the sound barrier on October 14, 1947Credits: NASA Photo

Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) used the best features of both radio beacons and approach lights with a higher frequency of the transmissions. The tests of these systems began, and the Civil Aeronautics Administrations (CAA) has authorized the installation of this system in six locations.

Nine CAA operating systems and 10 other sites were being constructed in 1945. 50 others were being built. The American Army has submitted an ILS with a higher frequencies to reduce the static and more right to set up courses, called Army Air Force System instrument approach Signal Set fifty-one. The Organization of International Civil Aviation (ICAO) adopted this standard for the army to all member countries in 1949. In the 1960's, the first of the ILS equipment for landing totally blind became available. 

The development radars during the Second World War, led to developing a new beam precision landing aids approach. In 1948, a distance measuring equipment (DME) is used to provide data on the plane distance from the ground. Installation of other radars continued with air-road type of radar surveillance and the airport surveillance radars, which were installed in a number of airports in the mid-1950s. These air traffic controllers contributed with their work. 

Microwave Landing System (MLS) were developed in the 1980's. These systems would allow pilots to choose a course best suited to their model of aircraft. Having different modes of landing can help reduce the noise around the airports and keep smaller aircraft away from larger aircraft. In the U.S. the FAA has stopped the engineering of MLS in 1994. The FAA has considered the use of technology that is based on global positioning systems (GPS) instead of the microwave system. GPS uses satellite for navigation between the airports; it is extremely accurate. 

Lighting still plays an important role in the landing. Approach modern lights can be directed to take into account all barriers near the airports that the pilots might need to avoid before starting its approach to the runway. Lighting can be fixed at different angles for larger aircraft, as these cockpits are much farther from ground level and the angles of descent are different to the pilots of those planes. Those pilots flying in the fields with no other staff can turn landing lighting off or on themselves or can change the brightness by tuning the radio to a designated frequency and by clicking on its transmitter.

Read also: History of Ornithopters and Helicopters
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