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1. The flight of an aircraft culminates in a landing at an airport. While approaching the

airport, the aircraft takes a path in line with the runway and from a certain distance begins to
descend until it touches the ground at a point near the runway threshold. When visibility is good,
whether in the day or at night, this operation is carried out by visual observation of the ground
and the landing lights etc. The landing is then performed under `visual fight rules (VFR)'
conditions. Usually this is taken to indicate a horizontal visibility of 5 km or more and ceiling of
300 m. Whenever the conditions are not satisfied, the landing is under `Instrument flight rule
(IFR)' conditions.

2. Special aids are provided at airports to enable the aircraft to execute landings under bad
visibility. Such aids have to provide information to the aircraft about its exact position in relation
to a desired path of descent. This implies that information both about any deviation of the
position in the vertical and horizontal positions of the aircraft is to be given.

3. Two major types of aids are ILS/MLS and the Ground Controlled Approach (GCA).
There is a fundamental operational difference between these two. The former presents the pilot
with information about his position in relation to a prescribed approach path, continuously, by an
instrument carried in the aircraft. The GCA (or more particularly, its component, the precision
approach radar) employs operators on the ground who determine the position of the aircraft and
instruct the pilot on the course he is to follow, i.e. they exercise control, through the pilot, on the
movement of the aircraft.


5. They are two classes of approach under the IFR.

(a) Non precision approach e.g. NDB, VOR etc.

(b) Precision approach e.g. GCA, ILS.

6. During World War II RAF was faced with a problem of recovering its bombers arriving
after long bombing missions when the weather at base had deteriorated. Therefore, RAF set out
to develop a blind landing system called the ILS. The system however failed in its objective of
providing blind landings but turned out to be an instrument approach to landing, an aid that
ultimately received ICAO's blessings in 1946.

7. Thereafter succeeding generations of equipment showed improved performance until

1971 when after incorporating the latest development in solid-state circuitry the integrity of the
system was considered to be sufficiently high for coupled approaches and landings with suitably
equipped aircraft.


8. The ILS comprises of following three components:

(a) The localizer transmitter: Which gives guidance in the horizontal plane along the
extended runway centerline.

(b) The glide path transmitter: Which provides the approach guidance in the vertical

(c) Marker beacons: They are two or three in numbers and they provide range
checkpoint i.e. gives an indication of distance to run to the approaching aircraft.

9. The localizer operates in the VHF band (108-112 MHz) and consists of a transmitter with
an antenna system. The radiation of the antenna has two lobes, one with a predominant
modulation of 90 Hz and the other with a predominant modulation of 150 Hz. Along one line the
two signals are equal and this equi-signal course is aligned with the center line of the runway.

10. The antenna array by means of which this pattern is obtained consists of a minimum of
seven, or sometimes eight, Alford loops, placed on a line at right angles to the extended
centerline of the runway and about 300 m from the end of the runway. These loops make up three
arrays, two sets of three loops each on either side and the remaining one (or two) in the center.
The former are allied side-band loops and the latter the carrier antenna. The carrier, modulated to
the same depth by sinusoids of 90 Hz and 150 Hz, is fed to the central antenna, which has
symmetrical polar diagrams. The combined field pattern of the central and side band antennas
has 90 Hz modulation predominant on one side and 150 Hz modulation on the other. 90 Hz
predominates the left hand side of the approach path and the 150 Hz to the right called the yellow
and the blue sectors respectively.

11. An aircraft on final approach will detect more of the 90 Hz and less of 150 Hz tone if it is
to the left of the centerline and vice versa. On the centerline the modulation depth of each tone
will be equal and on either sides the difference in depth of modulation between the tones should
be proportional to angular displacement. (Diagram)
The Glide Path

12. The principle of operation is very similar to that of the localizer. The system, which
operates in the band 329.3-335 MHz, employs two antennas, which have vertical polar diagrams.
The upper lobe is modulated by 90 Hz and the lower lobe by 150 Hz modulation. The line along
which the two signal modulations are equal in depth defines the centerline of the glide slope.

13. The glide path antenna ideally should be located at the touch down point but the antenna
is mounted to the side of the runway and the distance being related to the obstacle clearance
limits, which is generally 150 m from the center line and 300m up wind from the runway
threshold. (diagram)

14. There are generally three types of glide path antennas currently in use.

(a) The null reference - It is the simplest of the three and is used on relatively
unobstructed sites.

(b) The M array - This type has a third antenna. The signal pattern is less susceptible
to reradiate ground reflections.

(c) The sideboard reference - This type of the antenna is designed for the sites where
the terrain falls away in the vicinity of the airfield.
To ensure that the signals appear to be originating from the runway centerline the antennas are
stepped towards the runway such that the upper antenna is slightly closer to the runway than the

The Marker Beacons

15. ICAO specifies a minimum of two marker beacons on the approach path; a third beacon
may be added whenever required due to operational procedures at a particular site. These are
called outer, middle and the inner markers. These markers operate on a frequency of 75 MHz and
radiate fan like pattern upward to a minimum of height of 3000 ft. The outer market is situated
between 3-6 NM from the runway threshold (generally 4.5 NM) on the extended centerline and
is modulated by 400 Hz signals of two dashes per second continuously. Middle marker is placed
at approximately 3500 ft and is modulated with 1300 Hz coded with alternate dots and dashes.
The inner marker when present is placed between 250 to 1500 ft from runway threshold and is
modulated by 3000 Hz frequency coded by six dots per second.

16. Their location selected is such that at outer marker height, distance and aircraft
equipment functional checks may be made. Middle marker indicates the imminence of visual
guidance and that the aircraft has reached the CAT I decision height. The inner marker when
fitted indicates aircraft is passing CAT II decision height.

17. At some places there is co-located small NDB with the markers called the locator. These
are low powered NDBs often have a range of 25 NM. These markers are then called the locator

Localizer and Glide Path Coverage

18. Localizer: The coverage of the localizer beams extends from the transmitter to 25 NM,
10 degrees either side of the centerline. Also up to a range of 17 NM from the antenna, the
coverage widens to 35 degrees either side of the centerline. The coverage extends to 7 degrees
vertically. The maximum strength of the signal is directed on the centerline up to a distance of 10
NM. These signals are protected from interference by other stations up to a distance of 25 NM to
a height of 6250 ft on the extended runway centerline. (diagram)
19. Glide Path: The coverage of the glide path transmitter beam extends from the transmitter
to a distance of 10 NM and 8 degrees either side of the runway centerline. The vertical coverage
of the transmitter can be given by the formula 0.45 X GP angle to 1.75 X GP angle above the
surface. Thus for a three degree glide path the coverage will be from 1.35 degree above the
surface to 5.25 degrees above the surface. (diagram)

Site Effects in the ILS

20. The localizer and glide-slope courses are affected by the nature of the site on which they
are installed. The operation of both these facilities being continuous wave, the presence of
surface irregularities, hills, vegetation as well the nearby location of other aircraft affect the equi-
signal course. So long as this does not introduce sharp bends, the course may still be `flyable'. In
difficult locations, it may be necessary to use special arrays, which radiate as little energy as
possible in directions other than those required.

DME with ILS

21. In some installations DME is frequency paired with ILS in order to give the approaching
pilot a distance to run indication. This is particularly useful when the approach path crosses an
estuary or the open sea where it would otherwise be impossible to install the appropriate 75 MHz
markers. In this service, the 50 microseconds DME delay is modified so that zero distance
indication is given as the aircraft reaches the runway touchdown point.

22. ILS Indicator: ILS uses a VOR left/right deviation indicator incorporating an additional
needle. This needle is inoperative when the indicator is displaying VOR information. The
indicator is a five-dot indicator, dot 1 being the outer edge of the center circle. The vertical
pointer indicator needle indicates its position with regards to the glide slope centerline. Both the
needles remain in the central position when the ac is on the centerline of the localizer and the
glide path or when the receiver is switched off and no signal is received. The bottom left of the
dial is coloured blue and the bottom right is yellow. This indicates to the pilot the localizer sector
he is in. (diagram)


1.5 DOTS



23. There are two OFF flags one each for localizer/VOR and the other for glide slope. They
fall into view in the windows and needles centralize when:

(a) The ground or airborne equipment is switched off or has failed.

(b) The aircraft is out of the service area or the signals received are too weak.

With both the OFF flags off and the needles in central position indicates that the aircraft is on
localizer and on glide slope.

Localizer Indications
24. Localizer indications are given by the vertical pointer. The coloured sector at the bottom
tells you which sector you are in, and the needle's deflection tells you which way to turn and
your horizontal deflection from the centerline. As per the fig given below both aircraft A and B
are in blue sector and the needle is indicating left turn. Now the indications are given as per the
sector the aircraft is in and not as per the heading of the aircraft. As in this case, aircraft B is on
the right side of the centerline and will have to reverse the indications. The indications are
`WHAT TO DO' when you are flying to the location in the approach direction and `WHAT NOT
TO DO' when you are flying away from it.

25. On the deviation scale the centerline beams is 5 degrees wide i.e. two and half degrees on
either side of the centerline. On a 5-dot indicator, each dot represents 0.5 degrees. On a 4-dot
indicator, each dot represents 0.6 degrees. (diagram)

Glide Path Indicator

26. Glide path indications are given by the horizontal pointer. If the aircraft is below the glide
path, the needle goes up indicating the pilot to come up to come on the glide slope. Unlike the
localiser, this indication is true irrespective of the heading the aircraft is maintaining. Ref. to the
fig. given below (diagram).






27. Full deflection of the needle indicates that the aircraft is 0.7 degrees above or below the
glide path. A half full-scale deflection is regarded as the maximum safe deviation below the glide

Marker Beacons

28. When the aircraft over flies the marker an audio visual warning is given in the cockpit.
Marker beacon is selected ON by a wafer switch, which has three positions OFF-ROUTE-
LANDING. When over flying the outer marker a blue light flashes in the cockpit and audio tone
of two low-pitched dashes per second are heard. When over flying the middle marker amber light
lights up and alternate dots and dashes are heard. When over flying the inner marker white light
flashes and six high-pitched tones are heard in the headphones.

ILS Monitoring

29. The localizer and the glide path transmitters are monitored automatically by monitoring
equipment, which is located in the area of guaranteed reception within the service sector. Any
one of the following circumstances triggers it.

(a) Localizer shift of more than 35 ft from the centerline.

(b) Glide slope angle change of more than 0.075 x basic glide path angle.
(c) A reduction in power output of 50% or more in any transmitter.

30. Under these three circumstances these monitors are activated and provide a warning to a
designated control point and cause any of the following to occur before a standby transmitter is
brought to use.

(a) Cessation of all radiations

(b) Removal of the indent signal and the navigational component i.e. localizer or the
glide path.

(c) If the ILS is CAT II or CAT III then the monitor may permit operation to a lower
category i.e. CAT I or CAT II.

Airborne Equipment

31. ILS airborne equipment consists of the following three separate receivers to receive the
marker, localizer and glide path guidance signals.

(a) The channel control box. This is the box or the instrument on which we tune the
localizer frequency. This instrument is common for both LOC and VOR.

(b) The marker receiver. It is a boat shaped antenna fitted on the belly of the
aircraft. It is a simple receiver tuned to 75 MHz whose output is fed to the aircraft
intercom system and the marker indicator lights on the pilot’s instrument panel.

(c) VHF localizer receiver. The localizer signals are horizontally polarised and the
localizer antenna is generally situated at the nose cone of the aircraft. The signals from
this are filtered and the 90 and 150 Hz components which drive the vertical needle of the
ILS indicator, the OFF flag indicator and the station identification signal are sent to the
ILS indicator and the intercom set.

(d) VHF glide path receiver. The glide slope signals are horizontally polarised and
are received by the flush mounted or the fork antennas mounted in the cockpit center
window. The channel control box automatically tunes the glide slope frequency when the
LOC frequency is tuned on it. The glide slope signals are used to drive the horizontal
needle on the cross pointer indicator and the OFF' flag indications.

Frequency and Frequency Pairing

32. The transmission frequencies for the localizer and glide path are as follows:

(a) Localizer. Localizer transmits in VHF band from 108.0 - 112.0 MHz at odd first
(b) Glidepath. Glide path antenna transmits on VHF band 20 spot frequencies starting
from 329.3 and 335.0 MHz at a spacing of 300 KHz e.g. 329.3, 329.6.

Frequency Pairing

33. In order to reduce the work load of selecting two different frequencies and to eliminate
the possibility of selecting a wrong frequency, the localizer and glide path are frequency paired
i.e. for each one of the 20 LOC spot frequency there is one glide path frequency allotted to it.
E.g., 110.3 MHz is paired with 335.0 MHz.

ILS Categories

34. As the improvement in the ILS progressed guidance down to the surface became
possible. Therefore, a system of categories was established to define the capability of a particular
ILS. E.g., CAT I - An ILS capable of providing accurate guidance from the coverage in elevation
and azimuth. Therefore, the improvement in the airborne equipment side by side with ground
equipment was necessary. An aircraft may be certified to an appropriate category from the
following classification.

CAT I DH - 200 ft RVR 550 m

CAT II 200ft - 100 ft 350 m
CAT IIIA 100 - 50 ft 200 m
IIIB 50 - 0 ft 100 m
IIIC 0ft Nil

.Reference point (datum). It is a point at a specified height usually around 50 ft located

vertically above the intersection of the runway center line and ILS landing threshold through
which the downward extended path portion of the ILS glide path extends.

False Glide Path

36. Due to inherent metallic structures at the point of transmission and the propagation
characteristics of the antenna the radiated lobes are repeated several times above the true
centerline, which produces several other false glide paths. These false glide paths are dependent
upon several other factors like design of transmitting antenna, obstruction around the transmitter,
transmission power etc. (diagram)
150 Hz

90 Hz




The false glide paths are however not dangerous because:

(a) The first glide path does not occur until above 6 degrees.
(b) False glide paths always occur above the true glide path.
(c) It is a normal practice to intercept the glide slope from underneath - very unlikely
that pilot would miss the true glide slope and continue flying parallel until next is
(d) With the recommended localizer coverage of 7 degrees in elevation and glide path
of 1.75 x Glide path angle the signals being received are likely to be weak and OFF flags
may appear.
(e) Cross check of incorrect glide path can be done by checking the height and
distance to go to runway threshold.

Back Beams

37. Normally, the localizer transmissions are directed in the direction of approach. However,
usually there is some amount of overspill of radiation behind where the signal can be received.
There are some localizers, which are designed to radiate a back beam. The localizer back beam:

(a) Can be used for overshooting the precision runway.

(b) Can provide back course approach to reciprocal runway.
(c) Is less accurate than front beam.
(d) Range check markers are not available.
(e) They are not checked for accuracy.
(f) Needle sense is reversed.

Limitations of ILS

38. Instrument landing system has four major limitations.

(a) The cost of installation is high, more so in mountainous and other difficult areas.
(b) It is a permanent fixture and cannot be moved from one runway to another.
(c) Unpredictable bends may occur in localizer and glide slope beams.
(d) The landing rate is kept low to minimize interference. There may also be
restrictions of vehicle movement on the ground.

Flying the ILS approach

39. Ideally ILS approach may be conducted only if all four electronic components of the
system are operating and receivable on the aircraft. These four-localizer, glide slope, outer
marker, and middle marker are supplemented by the Approach Lighting System (ALS). The
important thing to understand is that you may not descend to "full ILS" minimums if your
aircraft is not equipped with all the four components or if all of them are not working properly or
if the transmitters on the ground are not working. The localizer is the backbone of the ILS, when
it is inoperative, the approach is impossible.

40. Lack of an approach lighting system raises the minimums a bit. An outer marker receiver
not working reduces minimum even further. Without a glide slope, you are automatically pushed
into the `non-precision approach' category.

Flying the Localizer

41. It is the same receiver and the same indicator, which is in use for VOR navigation, but
some important electronic changes take place when you select a localizer frequency. First, the
CDI becomes more sensitive, since the localizer course is only about 5 degrees wide-this means
that the needle moves much more rapidly and the displacements are much larger. Second, the
Omni Bearing Selector (OBS) is cutout of the system. The CDI is now responsive only to a left-
of-course or right-of-course signal, or a blend of the two, which gives you an on-course

42. If the CDI points to the left, you should fly to the left to get back on centerline. When it
moves off to the right, turn to the right. The CDI will always show you which way to turn to get
back on course as you are flying toward the runway on the front course (during a normal
approach), or away from the runway on the back course (executing a missed approach).

Tuning the ILS Receivers

43. To make use of a system of navaids, first set up the localizer frequency on the VOR
receiver, and listen for the identification. When the localizer frequency is selected, it will
automatically tune the glide slope receiver, a completely separate unit. If you are reasonably well
lined up for, the approach, the localizer, and glide slope needles will come alive when the
frequency is selected. The ILS signals are directional in nature and are not very strong except on
the approach course.

44. The 75 MHz marker beacon receiver is a single-frequency, non-tunable radio. Make sure
that the receiver is tuned on. (Check the blue [OM] and amber [MM] marker beacon lights to
identify these markers as you pass overhead).

45. Although not a requirement or an official component of the ILS, compass locators are
installed at many airports. The locator is a low-powered NDB sited at the same place as the
marker, providing navigational guidance to the marker. It also serves as an additional indication
of passing the marker. A radar position is also acceptable.

Initial Approach

46. ILS approach chart indicates several points from which flights are normally cleared to the
LOM to begin the ILS approach. Each of these initial approach routes has its own course to the
LOM, a specified distance, and a minimum altitude and lowest safe altitude from VOR.

47. Some initial approach routes are nearly lined up with the localizer course, and do not
require a procedure turn. You are expected to proceed as charted. Once cleared for the ILS
runway approach you are on your own. The localizer is intercepted from a direction away from
the extended centerline.

48. The localizer needle (CDI) signal is narrow, but as you get closer to the centerline, the
CDI will begin to centralize.

Procedure Turn and final approach

49. CDI starts moving toward center during turn inbound. Inbound to the airport, the CDI is
what to do. Turn left when it is off center to the left and vice versa. The airplane is set in
approach configuration, at approach airspeed, only to reduce power a bit to establish a rate of
descent with that will keep the glide slope needle in center.

50. Inbound to the marker, the glide slope indicator begins to move from its full `UP'
position. As soon as the glide slope needle centers, power is reduced and descent commenced. At
the Decision Height (DH), landing is continued or missed approach executed. At DH if the
runway is visible, and ac is in a position to make a normal landing approach is continued for a

Localizer Back-Course Approach

51. The localizer indicator works in reverse and it is not a "precision" approach. It offers
minimums much lower than either VOR or ADF.


52. The shortcomings of the instrument landing system gave rise to a new approach and
landing system called the MLS or the microwave landing system. The principle drawbacks of
ILS were:

(a) Approaches were confined to a single path.

(b) The number of channels was limited.

(c) The quality of guidance signals was dependent on the nature of the terrain. The
siting of ILS at some airports could be both difficult and expensive and at few airports

(d) STOL aircrafts and the helicopters had to fly the patterns flown by the large fixed
wing aircraft.

3. MLS is more reliable than ILS since it is less susceptible to the propagation disturbances
caused by snow build up or by vehicle movements and building perturbations. MLS uses the
principle of Time Reference Scan Beam or also known as TSRB. (It is developed by the United
States and has been approved by the ICAO.

54. This system is an air-derived system in which the ground-based equipments transmit
position information signals to a receiver in the landing aircraft. The angle measurements are
derived by measuring the time difference between successive passes of highly directive narrow
fan shaped beams. Distance measurements are obtained from a suitably located DME. All angle
and auxiliary data functions are accommodated on the same assigned channel by a system of
time division multiplexing. The angle functions radiated within the TSRB format are azimuth,
elevation, missed approach azimuth, flare and 360 azimuth. (diagram)
55. The time division multiplexing technique allows all functions to take place on a single
channel. There are a total of 200 channels allocated, which are spaced 300 KHz apart in the
frequency band between 5031.0 MHz and 5090.7 MHz. Lateral sweep of MLS is 40 degrees
either side of center line and vertical sweep of 1 to 20 degrees above the horizon up to 20000 ft
AGL extending to a distance of 20 NM. In addition to the positional information, the TSRB
format provides for the transmission of data at two levels i.e. basic and auxiliary.

(a) Basic data. It is designed for all system users and gives information on basic
system parameters e.g. minimum selectable glide slope, azimuth coverage limits etc.

(b) Auxiliary data. It is intended for more highly equipped aircraft and gives such
information as runway conditions and siting data in a form which allows simple
processing for presentation of standard displays. Auxiliary data format requires an
airborne processor capable of handling 64 bit words.


56. Compared to the instrument landing system the microwave landing system has the
following advantages.

(a) Currently all MLS CAT I approaches permit a DH of 150 ft with RVR of 1600 ft,
whereas in ILS CAT I DH is 200 ft with RVR 1800 to 2400 ft. Lower approach minimum
permitted by MLS results in increased traffic flows and reduced flight delays.
(b) MLS has 200 channels and provides precision position locating capability and
approach flexibility in a volume of airspace. ILS has 20 channels available with localizer
and glide slope signals providing single direction precision approach for landing aircraft.

(c) Insensitivity to geographical site, which enables it to be, established where an ILS
installation cannot be accommodated.

Flight safety

57. ILS/MLS approach is to be only undertaken if the weather is within the minima of the
captain of the aircraft and with fully serviceable equipment on board. The Ground Equipment
should meet the necessary specifications as laid down by ICAO.

58. The following points should be kept in mind while using the above aid.

(a) A pressure Altimeter/Glide slope check is mandatory at the LOM/DME fix on the
inbound (as specified in the landing chart) to check the accuracy of Glide Slope

(b) In case of making an approach in weather below minima (this situation will only
arise if diversion/enroute weather is also within minima or fuel for diversion is not
sufficient) the same should be informed to ATC. In addition, if the accuracy of airborne
equipment is suspected ATC should be informed. In both these cases ATC automatically
monitors the flight path of the aircraft on the precision radar and passes instructions as

(c) In no case Aircraft should descent below the DA (DH) with the R/W not in
contact. The missed approach should be initiated with sufficient anticipation to prevent
aircraft going below the DA (DH) if sufficient visual references have not been

(d) The correct selection of the frequencies and the interpretation of the instruments
prevent any mishaps when flying the ILS/MLS.


59. With improvements in ILS reliability from solid state to digital technology and with a
decrease in ILS sitting problems, ILS is now looking more competitive with MLS, which may
delay the widespread introduction of MLS until some extended future date. The schedule for
MLS phase in however is largely subject to user acceptance. Many users are resisting MLS now
because they feel that the existing ILS serves them adequately.
60. Lastly the existing ILS system will remain in place during the phase in of MLS. Currently
ICAO requires the continuation of ILS until the year 2000, which is likely to be extended to