Frontier Airlines became the first Airbus operator in the U.S. approved to fly public-use precision approaches into airports surrounded by challenging terrain, Airbus subsidiary Quovadis said last week. Frontier should see operational benefits with its Airbus A320s, including a reduction in diversions caused by bad weather, as well as lower fuel burn and lower emissions.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration granted the Denver-based carrier operational approval for required navigation performance with authorization required (RNP AR) 0.3 for public procedures, which requires that an aircraft fly within a radius of a pre-defined flight path into an airport of just three-tenths of a nautical mile. The FAA or an approved third party designs RNP public procedures for use by qualified aircraft, as opposed to “tailored” procedures designed for and available only to sponsoring carriers. According to the FAA, there are 113 airports in the U.S. with RNP procedures.
The FAA has approved Quovadis, based in Toulouse, France, to provide RNP AR consultancy services. The company assisted Frontier in meeting the requirements of advisory circular (AC) 90-101A, Approval Guidance for RNP Procedures with Special Aircraft and Aircrew Authorization Required. The AC recommends that carriers develop aircraft qualification, operations and maintenance documentation for RNP, and train aircrew and dispatchers to use the procedures, among other measures. Aircraft generally must carry multi-mode navigation receivers, including GPS, dual flight management computers and RNP-capable displays to meet the performance requirements.
Quovadis said Frontier is the first U.S. operator to have its aircraft fitted with an Airbus RNP AR 0.3 modification that complies with the FAA guidance. A subsidiary of Republic Airways, Frontier flies 16 A320s, 37 A319s and three A318s.
The airline will continue working with Quovadis to obtain operational approval for RNP AR navigation accuracy performance below the 0.3 nm value, the parties said.