FAA’s Leverenz touts Alaska Airlines approach ‘saves’

FAA Acting Deputy Administrator Ruth Leverenz spoke to the International Aviation Womens’ Association on Friday, and portrayed NextGen as the next frontier in a long line of historical breakthroughs. (Transcript here.) Also, she specifically highlighted Alaska Airilnes’ participation in an RNP program at Palm Springs International.

We are focusing deployment of RNAV and Required Navigation Performance, RNP, around our most congested airports. One of our earliest adopters is Alaska Airlines. With RNP approach procedures at Palm Springs on the West Coasts, Alaska Airlines reported that 10 percent of their flights were classified as “saves” in the first quarter of this year. Those are flights that would have been otherwise diverted to alternate airports because of bad weather. A “save” translates directly to savings for the carrier — emissions, time, passenger convenience.

Partnerships with operators equipped to perform these procedures are yielding the biggest benefits from increases in operational efficiency and reductions in fuel use and emissions. We are also seeing benefits today from the introduction of Optimized Profile Descents that have shown fuel savings averaging about 50 to 60 gallons of fuel for the arrival portion of flights. It reduces as much as 1,200 pounds of carbon dioxide per arrival.

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