It had been part of the landscape for almost 30 years, but is now obsolete. The beacon in Cagnes-sur-Mer was the final guidance point for aircraft approaching from the West, so whenever weather conditions allowed, planes could avoid flying over the town of Antibes. The number of planes flying over the town fell from 74% in 1996 to just 14% this year. However, since January 2019, all aircraft landing at Nice Côte d’Azur Airport have been required to have technological equipment compatible with a GPS system, which replaces the service provided by the beacon. The decision was therefore made to definitively withdraw the beacon, with clear environmental benefits.
“As long as the beacon is in service, the Western approach route remains subject to certain weather conditions, because the final guidance point is a visual one. And whenever the beacon was inoperative due to servicing or repair, planes had no choice but to fly over the old town of Antibes. That’s why 14% of planes still fly over Antibes. By doing away with the beacon, the guidance system becomes 100% satellite-based, meaning we will make it even easier to fly around the Cape of Antibes and reduce traffic over the town even more, especially compared to periods when the beacon was inoperative,” explained François Janin, Head of Environmental Studies and Relations with Local Residents, Aéroports de la Côte d’Azur. For the record, 220 planes flew over Antibes in 2022 due to beacon failure or maintenance.
Before shutting down the beacon, the airport and the air navigation services carried out a 7-day trial phase last June, which proved conclusive: no deviation from routes, no increase in the number of planes flying over Antibes, and most importantly, a controlled noise level of around 61 dB measured by the Cape of Antibes noise sensor.
From 1 January, planes will only fly over Antibes on final approach from the West if visibility is less than 10 km and there is cloud cover under 2,500 feet (762 metres).