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Instrument approaches are nothing new in the aviation industry; planes have been able to operate in rain or shine for decades. Landing instrument aids help align the airplane with the runway and proper descent path, and let the pilot take command at some point prior to touching down. Since the 1970s and 80s, airplane manufacturers have worked with airlines to improve jets’ ability to land automatically, aiming to make low-visibility airport operations safer and smoother, reducing strain on pilots but also alleviating weather delays.

In this crazy aviation video, watch an Airbus approach and autoland at Auckland International airport (AKL), breaking through the cloud ceiling barely 50 feet above the runway. How do we know the pilots used autoland? Airbus systems sound three “pings” as the aircraft slows down after landing, indicating the autopilot system being disconnected. At larger airports affected by low-lying fog, flight delays are often caused by ATC limiting the number of aircraft movements. In low visibility, autoland helps minimize diversions and prolonged holding patterns.

When’s the last time you landed in thick fog? Tell us your experience in the comments, below.

Know before you go.

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