Tag Archives: RNP

Airbus enters RNP game with ‘Quovadis’

Airbus press release:

From July 2009, QUOVADIS, a new 100 percent subsidiary of Airbus, based in Toulouse, will sell and provide ‘Required Navigation Performance’ (RNP) services to authorities, airlines and airports, ranging from RNP procedures design, testing and flight operations packaging, to RNP training.

To support QUOVADIS, Airbus has signed a cooperation agreement for RNP procedure design with the French Civil Aviation University (ENAC) in Toulouse, and CGx AERO in SYS, a specialist in aeronautical and geographic information systems based in Castres, France.

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EXPLAINER: Avionics at the leading edge of performance navigation

Aviation International News has an outstanding wrap-up of the state of flight management systems (FMS) that offer  easy pilot control and core capabilities that set the stage for performance-based navigation (PBN).

Flight management systems have never been considered simple pieces of equipment, but the technology is quickly evolving beyond basic navigation and performance functionality to include a host of new capabilities that hold the promise of changing the way pilots fly for the better.

Absent from some of the latest integrated avionics systems are the bezel-mounted control display units (CDU) flight crews have known since the 1970s. Instead, many modern business jets and some of the latest airliners are integrating FMS controls with the flight displays and cursor control devices (CCD), allowing pilots to point and click their way through a variety of menus or drag and drop any portion of their flight route (a technique known as “rubber-banding”) to include or modify a waypoint. The changes are resulting in cockpits that are more intuitive than those of the past–and even those of the present, in many cases–while packing more capability than ever before.

At the same time, hardware and software upgrades available from FMS manufacturers are opening the possibilities for complex, curved RNP (required navigation performance) procedures and the latest WAAS LPV (lateral precision with vertical guidance) approaches. The changes expand the operational capabilities of properly equipped airplanes today while serving as a cornerstone for future operations in so-called NextGen airspace.

Required navigation performance will be a key element of NextGen airspace. The benefit of a so-called RNP SAAAR [special aircraft and aircrew authorization required] approach is that it can carve out a highly precise, curved path through the sky that usually results in lower landing minimums–sometimes much lower. But gaining approval is a costly and complex endeavor requiring submittal of monthly operational reports to the FAA, pilot simulator training and operations manual revisions. Considering that fewer than 100 RNP SAAAR approaches have been published so far, most operators probably won’t go to the trouble of gaining approval until their home airport has an RNP approach. But as more RNP procedures are created, operators who forego such approvals will be at a disadvantage compared with those who are SAAAR compliant.

To assist operators seeking to upgrade to RNP capability, Honeywell has launched Go Direct, a consulting service designed to help business jet operators take advantage of new RNP SAAAR procedures the FAA is adding at scores of airports around the U.S. The agency plans to publish 60 new RNP SAAAR procedures per year for the next two years. Some airports scheduled to receive an RNP approach in the next 12 months include Teterboro, N.J.; Aspen and Eagle, Colo.; Monterey, Calif.; and Scottsdale, Ariz. If your home airport or an airport you use often offers an RNP SAAAR approach, the approval can mean the difference between landing or having to execute the missed approach and consider other options.

The major advantage RNP procedures have over other types of approach is their tighter lateral boundaries, which allow the creation of curved pathways through mountain valleys or by using so-called radius-to-fix (RF) turns to avoid terrain or obstacles. The RNP SAAAR approach to Atlanta DeKalb-Peachtree Airport (PDK) is a good example of the benefits RNP can provide. The approach to PDK’s Runway 2R incorporates a continuous descending turn designed to avoid the tall towers that block the straight-in approach to the field. Due to the east-west flows at nearby Hartsfield-Jackson International, a straight-in ILS or WAAS LPV approach to this runway would be hard to implement, even if the obstacles southwest of the airport were removed.

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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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