PBN Brings Safer Flying To San Francisco

 - March 23, 2012, 11:46 AM
Airspace changes to improve efficiency and safety

NextGen’s Performance Based Navigation (PBN) is at the heart of new airspace designs for Northern California. The new routes will improve the flow of air traffic into and out of San Francisco International, San Jose, Sacramento and Oakland.

The efficiencies of PBN translate into both safer operations thanks to their predictability and reduced carbon emissions thanks to shorter total distances being flown. Less complex airspace also translates into safer operations for controllers and pilots.

The initial aspects of the FAA’s work will include creating optimized profile descents (OPD) and new PBN-based departure procedures into these four hub airports, as well as separating the arrival flows into separate lines to reduce congestion. The agency will also be creating a high-altitude holding area east of San Francisco that controllers can use when weather reduces any of the airport’s arrival rates. This tool will create more predictability for air traffic controllers and pilots and allow aircraft to hold at higher altitudes, where they burn less fuel.

The FAA is looking at a high-altitude route to skirt the northern boundary of the Edwards AFB Range complex. The agency also plans a new route that Los Angeles-bound aircraft will join while still at high altitude offshore in Oakland Center’s airspace.