The first U.S. airline to fully equip its fleet and train pilots for GPS-guided required navigation performance (RNP) procedures has already seen “a decent payback” on its investment. “We’re hooked,” said Bill Ayer, chairman of Alaska Airlines parent company Alaska Air Group. “We think this is great technology because it has provided tangible benefits of improving safety and reliability and real financial return.”
Required Navigation Performance
Brazil’s aviation authority (ANAC) approved the country’s first Required Navigation Performance (RNP) approaches at Santos Dumont Airport (SBRJ) in Rio de Janeiro on May 7. The validation flight on May 5 was conducted in a Gol Airlines Boeing 737 that also delivered overall RNP operational approval to Gol.
Just because there’s no FAA regulation requiring Part 91 operators to complete an official international training program before they blast off to other parts of the planet doesn’t mean skipping such a program is a good idea, even if it is legal.
GE Aviation and Chile’s LAN Airlines recently conducted the first flight in Latin America using precise performance-based navigation (PBN) procedures from takeoff to landing.
Embraer announced at the Singapore Airshow that it has made substantial interior improvements to the Legacy 600/650 family, which will be available for aircraft produced this year. “Key to this is our effort to reduce cabin sound levels, which set a new benchmark for the Legacy 600 and 650 class of aircraft,” said Embraer Executive Jets president Ernie Edwards.
With the award last summer of a $160 million contract to provide avionics for the U.S. Air Force KC-10 Extender aerial refueling tanker, Rockwell Collins (Booth Q79) became the primary avionics supplier for all USAF tankers. The U.S. manufacturer recently completed a fleetwide update of systems on the KC-135 Stratotanker, and will provide flight deck displays and other systems on its replacement, the KC-46A.
The FAA has issued a proposed plan to transition the national airspace system (NAS) to a performance-based navigation system that relies on GPS and “area navigation everywhere and required navigation performance where beneficial,” instead of defining airways, routes and procedures using VORs and other legacy navaids. A minimum operational network of VORs and an “optimized network” of DMEs would be retained, and this drawdown would be complete by Jan. 1, 2020.
With demonstrated benefits of reducing track miles, mitigating noise and lowering fuel burn and emissions, performance-based navigation (PBN) procedures are being adopted on a worldwide basis. But 15 years after Alaska Airlines flew the first procedures, widespread implementation of PBN is uneven and its benefits largely unrealized.
The U.S. FAA has asked the committee advising it on implementation of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) to outline more specifically the steps needed to begin ATC modernization.
Million Air Dallas completed the validation flight requirements to obtain authority to conduct RNP-AR (formally SAAAR) approaches in its Gulfstream G450. The Dallas FBO developed its own RNP-AR program without the help of any consultants, it added.