The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has made progress in delivering some of the operational improvements that are envisioned by the NextGen ATC modernization effort. But to demonstrate those improvements sooner, the agency has also made “trade-offs” that could limit their overall benefit to airlines in the coming years, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
Required Navigation Performance
Delta Air Lines has awarded Innovative Solutions & Support a $60 million contract to outfit its fleet of 182 MD-88s and MD-90s as well as several flight simulators with standardized glass cockpits.
In an effort to deliver operational improvements more quickly, the FAA has made “trade-offs” in establishing performance-based navigation (PBN) procedures that could limit their benefits in the near term, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
Is the FAA’s billion-dollar-a-year NextGen program devolving into a patchwork of technology demonstrations, refined routings to discrete airports and reduced aircraft separations over mainly water? Is the agency’s promised comprehensive overhaul of the National Airspace System chasing its predecessor grand vision—Free Flight—into oblivion?
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.
At ICAO’s General Assembly of world aviation nations in 2010, individual member states were requested to commit to national performance based navigation (PBN) implementation plans covering their en route and terminal airspace, plus approach procedures with vertical guidance (LPV/APV) for all their instrument runway ends–as primary or back-up for precision approaches–by 2016, with 70 percent completion targeted by 2014.
GE Aviation is designing and deploying the first required navigation performance-authorization required (RNP-AR) to instrument landing system (ILS) flight procedure in China for Air China Southwest. The two merged technologies will provide more efficient routing and improved access for flight operations at Xi Chang Airport in south-central China. RNP paths rely on satellite-based navigation technology, not ground-based navigation aids.
China’s Chengdu Airlines has begun operations with Thales’s T3CAS traffic and collision avoidance system. The system includes TCAS (traffic and collision avoidance system), TAWS (terrain awareness warning system) and transponder functions in one six-MCU line replaceable unit.
GE Aviation has received the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) seal of approval as a qualified instrument flight procedure (IFP) design organization. The endorsement will assist countries in identifying IFP companies as they move forward with performance-based navigation (PBN). GE is one of five companies to receive the endorsement.
The Chicago Area Business Aviation Association’s ATC Executive Committee said last week that its regular sessions with the FAA’s local airspace and air traffic division personnel are again ready to bear fruit. A CABAA spokesman said the pieces are in place to release a number of new RNAV departures from Chicago-area satellite airports specifically designed for general and business aviation aircraft some time next year.