Required Navigation Performance
FOLLOWING THE BEST PATH
As the global air transport sector addresses industry-wide challenges in eco-efficiency and airspace capacity, Airbus is working to advance flight procedures that optimise air travel and further reduce aviation’s impact on the environment.
Required Navigation Performance (RNP) represents the latest in navigation techniques, allowing aircraft to fly precisely along a predefined route using state-of-the-art onboard navigation systems and the Global Positioning System (GPS) – resulting in improved efficiency, capacity and environmental performance for the global air transportation system.
This flight procedure is particularly suited to areas where operations are limited by terrain, infrastructure availability or airspace constraints (such as parallel, converging or adjacent airport operations). Flexible flight paths allow aircraft to be directed around obstacles or restricted noise areas – even on final approach – while keeping the most direct routing possible.
PRECISION AND ACCESS
Additional benefits of RNP include improved precision of flight operations and increased access to airports – particularly in low visibility conditions; while requiring fewer ground-based instrument landing aids, decreasing flight time and fuel consumption, and reducing noise and emissions.
Required Navigation Performance approaches and associated procedures can be performed by any Airbus aircraft equipped with GPS and the second-generation flight management system (FMS2).
A DEDICATED OPERATION
To further develop and market these advanced procedures, Airbus launched its QuoVadis subsidiary in 2009. Based in Toulouse, France, this operation supports airlines, airports, air navigation service providers and authorities in RNP deployment, and sells related services – with offerings that range from procedures design, testing and flight operations packaging, to RNP training.
QuoVadis opened an office in Beijing, China during 2010 to manage navigation projects and sales for this region's rapidly growing aviation sector. As a further step, Airbus signed a cooperation agreement for RNP procedure design with the Toulouse-based French Civil Aviation University (ENAC) and CGx AERO in SYS – a specialist in aeronautical and geographic information systems based in Castres, France.
In May 2011, the Airbus subsidiary was chosen to help implement the first full RNP network for the enhanced operations of Tibet Airlines – which flies to some of the world’s highest-elevation airports. Working in cooperation with this carrier and the Chinese Civil Aeronautics Administration, Quovadis is responsible for procedure designs, operational approval support, navigation database validation and “Receiver Autonomous Integrity Monitoring” (RAIM) prediction
QuoVadis also is supporting the development of a full Performance-Based Navigation (PBN) network – which includes RNP operations – at 11 airports in the Philippines, in cooperation with the French Civil Aviation Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).
This programme aims at building on CAAP’s expertise in various domains for safe and efficient PBN implementation, which includes procedure design, obstacles data survey training and training for air traffic controllers and flight safety inspectors.
Upon the project’s completion, the entire region will benefit from the advantages of increased air traffic management capacity, while also reducing emissions through shorter tracks. In addition, it will help transform Philippine airspace into one of the world’s most advanced PBN-optimised areas.
In May 2012, an Etihad Airways A330-200 performed the first RNP approach to Abu Dhabi International Airport – marking the beginning of full RNP implementation throughout this United Arab Emirates-based airport’s entire terminal airspace. Partners in this project include Quovadis – which designed the new approaches – along with Etihad Airways, Abu Dhabi Airport Company (ADAC), UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) and ADAC’s Air Traffic Controllers.
Improving navigation performance
Alan Pardoe, Head of A330, A340 and A350 XWB Marketing, discusses the benefits of Airbus’ suite of navigation and avionics improvements to increase eco-efficiency.