Tag Archives: RNAV

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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Forget NextGen: ICAO looks to promote PBN to rest of the world

It’s easy to get caught up in NextGen and SESAR, and forget that satellite-based navigation is (and will increasingly be) a topic globally. While the U.S. and western Europe surely have the most congested airspace, there’s no doubt that efficiency in flight movements is an issue anywhere that radar is in use.

With this in mind, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) persuaded some of its key member-associations to sign a declaration earlier this month, calling for the worldwide adoption of Performance-Based Navigation (PBN) procedures. (This phrase seems to be gaining ground as an umbrella term for concepts and procedures that include RNP and RNAV — both more widely used in the U.S.)

ICAO’s press release — including the declaration text — can be found here; it’s interesting who was invited to sign the document:

  • Roberto Kobeh González, Council President, ICAO
  • Alexander ter Kuile, Secretary General, CANSO (Civil Air Navigation Services Organization)
  • Capt. Carlos Limon, President, IFALPA (International Federation of Airline Pilots’ Associations)
  • François Gayet, Chairman, ICCALA (International Coordinating Council of Aerospace Industries Associations)
  • Matthew S. Zuccaro, President, IFHA (International Federation of Helicopter Associations)
  • Giovanni Bisignani, Director General and CEO, IATA (International Air Transport Association)
  • Marc Baumgartner, President & CEO, IFATCA (International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Associations)
  • Donald D. Spruston, Director General, IBAC (International Business Aviation Council)
  • Angela Gittens, Director General, ACI (Airports Council International)
  • William R. Voss, President & CEO, Flight Safety Foundation

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Southwest full steam ahead on RNP upgrade

An interesting story — and admirable reporting — from Henry Canaday at Airline Procurement Magazine about Southwest Airlines’ commitment to Required Navigation Performance:

Jeff Martin, senior director-flight operations at Southwest, says RNP has been pursued in four “swim lanes” via FAA, pilots, aircraft and airports. Application for RNP Operation Specifications recently was submitted to FAA and Martin is hoping for approval in May or June.

Training and certification of 5,600 pilots has begun and will finish in 2010. Initial training enabled the airline in January to activate its automatic throttles and vertical navigation, bringing the first benefits from RNP: More efficient continuous descent approaches.

Southwest’s 300 737NGs need very little modification for RNP. Modification has begun on 737 Classics and should be completed by 2013. The carrier has developed RNP procedures for William P. Hobby and Dallas Love Field and is working with additional airports, Naverus and FAA to develop procedures for other destinations.

Martin aims to have the majority of SWA’s network using RNP by 2012 but admits this is a very ambitious goal. Other airlines–American, Continental and Alaska, for example–are moving forward with RNP, but not in such a visible and fleetwide fashion.

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NetJets, FAA sign NextGen agreement

From Aviation Week:

NetJets Aviation Inc. has signed a wide ranging agreement with the FAA that will place the fractional jet operator in the forefront of the transformation of the U.S. air transportation system under the NextGen modernization program.

NetJets officials and FAA managers from a range of the agency’s functional areas will meet later this month to begin working out the details. NetJets plans to run some test programs in various parts of the U.S. by equipping some of the 550 to 600 aircraft it manages for fractional owners in the U.S. with the required avionics. Tests may involve the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS), Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast, area navigation (RNAV) and Required Navigation Performance (RNP) and possibly the use of electronic flight bags.

More here…

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Grab bag: RNAV approaches, DFW taxiway opens, more…

A few small items to round out the week, none of which merits a full post on its own:

  1. 38 Part 139 airports have gotten new RNAV approaches for Christmas, bringing the total number around the U.S. to 425. Among the beneficiaries:  SeaTac and Washington Dulles, who went from 1 to 6 approaches and 2 to 7 approaches respectively. (You may remember that both airports inaugurated new runways last month.)
  2. DFW officially and ceremoniously opened its new southeast perimeter taxiway this week. Airport execs have said that once the three remaining portions are completed, DFW will have raised its capacity by 30 percent with no new runways.
  3. The FAA broke ground on a new national ATC command center yesterday near Warrenton, VA. It’s planned that the Potomac TRACON will also move in when the building is completed in 2011.

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FAA’s Sturgell on NextGen: “We’re making solid progress”

A dispatch from Oshkosh, courtesy of Aero-News Network, quotes Acting FAA Administrator Robert Sturgell on NextGen:

“I can say that we’re making solid progress. The foundational technologies are either already in place or will be soon enough. They include WAAS, which provides increased airport access in reduced visibility conditions. We’ve published over 1,000 WAAS LPV procedures and we now have more of them than ILS procedures.

“RNP/RNAV are also making a difference. Look at what’s going on at DeKalb Peachtree Airport in Atlanta. The new RNP procedure will support IMC operations to runway 2R to a 340-foot decision height. This mitigates obstacles on the approach path and de-conflicts traffic flows around Peachtree and Hartsfield.”

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