On 21 September 2010, a Qantas Airways operated, Airbus A330-200 aircraft, registered VH-EBM, was being operated on a scheduled passenger service from Perth, Western Australia to Melbourne, Victoria.
During the flight, the weather conditions at Melbourne Airport deteriorated and the flight crew were required to conduct a Category III instrument landing system (ILS) approach and autoland. The weather continued to deteriorate. Low Visibility Procedures were not active when the aircraft landed at 2354, and the critical areas around the ILS ground based equipment were not protected from potential signal interference. After landing, the crew advised air traffic control that that the runway visual range at the touchdown area was down to between 300‑400 m.
Low Visibility Procedures represented the activation of additional procedures at the aerodrome for the restriction of access to the aerodrome movement area by vehicles and pedestrians, and the management of ground traffic, including taxiing aircraft, when the Runway Visual Range was reported as 800 m or less.
In November 2010, Airservices Australia issued a Safety Bulletin to pilots to clarify when the ILS would be protected from signal interference.
This incident highlights for Air Traffic Controllers and aircraft operators that the time required by the airfield operator to secure the critical and sensitive areas of the Instrument Landing System for Low Visibility Procedures can be lengthy. In addition, the incident demonstrates the importance of air traffic control providing timely and current information to flight crew, including the update of the Automated Terminal Information Service, regarding deteriorating weather conditions.