“Stealthy buildings” prevent aircraft landing interference

Airbus has developed a way to make “stealthy buildings” that don’t interfere with aircraft landing systems and so can be placed closer to runways.

The European aircraft manufacturer, working with its parent company EADS, has designed specially shaped aluminium panels that bend incoming radio waves and direct them away from the runway.

Until now, the large facades of airport buildings could disrupt instrument landing systems (ILS) that allows aircraft to land in reduced visibility, by reflecting the system’s radio waves onto the runway.

Airbus ProSky, the company’s air traffic management subsidiary, will now sell this technology assisted by technical support from EADS Innovation Works.

Airbus ProSky CEO Paul-Franck Bijou said in a statement: ‘By designing buildings that do not produce reflections, up to 100 square kilometres of non-buildable airport land worldwide could potentially be transformed into space available for construction, such as terminal buildings, maintenance hangars, or even outside airport boundaries like exhibitions centres, hotels and multi storey car parks.’

Using conventional stealth technology to absorb the radio waves would have been too expensive, so the Airbus researchers used the principle of diffraction to bend waves in the direction they wanted.

The company used ELISE, an advanced ILS simulation tool developed by Airbus Engineering, EADS Innovation Works and the French Civil Aviation University ENAC, to demonstrate that they would only need to treat the top 10 metres of a building in order to make it “stealthy” to ILSs.