Compton beacon replacement
Some aircraft require ground based beacons to navigate. As technology has advanced, more aircraft are equipped with GPS technology which means they are reliant on the navigation beacons less and less.
The Compton ground based beacon has reached the end of its life cycle (around 15 years) and is in need of replacement. The site is therefore being taken out of service from the 16 January 2016 to enable a new beacon to be installed, which is expected to take up to 3 months to complete. The Compton beacon isn’t used frequently by aircraft at Heathrow since all aircraft using Heathrow are equipped with GPS technology. However it is used by other airports in the south east and also acts as a ‘waypoint’ for aircraft en-route traversing over the UK from one country to another. The beacon emits a signal which aircraft fly towards.
For Heathrow, there will be no impact to aircraft using the Compton departure route (SID), as during the replacement period airlines will continue to use their on board navigation equipment which they already use today to fly to the Compton SID. The on-board navigation equipment uses GPS coordinates, similar to how we use a Sat Nav to drive a car, to navigate to the way points along defined corridors.