Aircraft belonging to British Airways will no longer be affected by poor visibility at London Heathrow Airport thanks to new onboard microwave technology.

British Airways has invested £5m in the microwave landing system (MLS) which will help reduce delays caused by poor visibility at Heathrow.

BA is the first commercial airliner to invest in the onboard microwave landing system developed by Thales, which could increase the safe landing rate during periods of low visibility at the airport by more than 20%.

The news system has been installed on 29 of the airline’s Airbus A320s and A321 fleets with another 12 to be completed by the end of 2009.

British Airways director of flight operations Captain Stephen Riley said that this initiative would mean less congestion and disruption to services.

“The technology will also reduce holding times for aircraft, which will cut unnecessary carbon emissions,” Riley said.

Pilots currently use instrument landing systems (ILS) to guide aircraft onto the runway. This technology, however, is susceptible to interference from other aircraft so air traffic controllers have to increase the space between the landing aircraft to protect the ILS signals.

MLS-equipped aircraft can make their landing approaches without the need for additional air traffic spacing.

The Airbus A320 family of aircraft are the first commercial aircraft to be certificated by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to operate the new system.

By Daniel Garrun.