MATS manages the various aeronautical navigational aids in use within the Malta FIR, with the ILS (Instrument Landing System) and PAPI (Precision Approach Path Indicators) owned by MIA plc, whereas the VOR (VHF Omni-directional Range), DME (Distance Measuring Equipment) and NDB (Non Directional Beacon) belong to MATS.
During the approach segment of a flight pilots are given specific radar headings, more commonly called “Vectors”. These vectors help to establish flights on a specific leg of the approach, which are as follows:Navigational Aids are essential in guiding aircraft to their destination, irrespective of whether they are enroute or in terminal areas. The more important landing navaid is the ILS, composed of a localizer, a glide path and DME (or inner / middle / outer markers in many installations). The localizer guides the aircraft along the centre of the runway, whereas the glide ensures that the aircraft is descending safely along the path to touchdown at an angle of 3 degrees. The DME gives the slant distance from touchdown. The PAPIs are sets of red and white lights along the side of the runways that provide a visual guide to the pilot prior to touchdown.
Other navaids are used to help aircraft calculate their position in space. These include the NDB and VOR. An NDB is basically a beacon that transmits the coded site indicator, and the VOR assists with the bearing of the aircraft along the air route.
All navaids are calibrated regularly according to ICAO recommendations by means of a flight check. Landing and departing aircraft depend a lot on the prevailing weather conditions around the area, particularly so the smaller aircraft. For this reason, meteorological information is critical to the controller, and each position is provided with a dedicated display giving the prevailing parameters. The main source of information is offered by Automated Weather Stations on the airfield, collecting information from various sensors on wind, pressure, humidity, temperature, luminous intensity, runway visibility, and incorporating weather reports / warnings generated by the Meteorological Office of MIA. As part of the system, pilots can listen in to airfield information messages and meteorological updates on dedicated frequencies and services (ATIS and VOLMET respectively).