EXPLAINER: The state of performance-based navigation

FlightGlobal’s Aimée Turner has an excellent, multi-part overview of what’s happening in the fast-moving world of performance-based navigation (PBN). The centerpiece is this article, which brings home the point that all industry players — airframers, ANSPs, regulators, airlines — must pull together in order for the hoped-for cost and carbon savings to emerge. And even that may not be enough:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) influential report on Aviation and the Global Atmosphere said in 1999 that improvements in air traffic management and other operational procedures could reduce aviation fuel burn by up to 18%. The influence of ATM over CO2 emissions was estimated at 12%.  [..]

Phil Stollery, chairman of the [Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation] environment working group, frames those IPCC figures, however, in light of a recent CANSO study that has given the industry much greater clarity in terms of ATM’s potential contribution to the efficiency debate.

Stollery explains that efficiency in this sense is the difference between the exact point-to-point distance of a flight at the most fuel efficient altitude and speed, and the actual flight mileage flown.

“One of the things we wanted to do was to put the record straight. The IPCC report estimated that ATM had an influence over 12% of system inefficiencies and our report reflected back on that. We reckon that between 1999-2005, improvements allied to a better overall assessment, as well as the introduction of initiatives such as RVSM, generated a 4% improvement in system efficiency and that on average the global ATM system is operating at around 92% efficient today,” he says.

That is 4% down with 8% still to go.

“Of the remaining 8%, half is locked up in interdependencies. The other half, 4%, we have set at the goal to recover, which amounts to an ambitious target considering forecast growth.”

The same piece also features an excellent sidebar explaining PBN, RNAV, and RNP concepts – it’s one of the best we’ve seen.

Separately, the series also features an article about Southwest Airlines’s efforts to aggressively adopt PBN technology and procedures.


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