Air China A319 completes RNP-AR validation flight at Ali Airport, China

The A319 ready to fly operationally to Ali, one of the world’s highest airports

28 May 2010 Press Release

An Air China A319 today successfully completed a validation flight utilizing tailored Required Navigation Performance - Authorisation Required (RNP-AR) procedures at Ali Airport in the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China. The RNP validation flight is essential for the entry into service of Ali Airport, which is to be officially opened for operations soon. The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has decided that the Airbus A319 will be the first aircraft to fly to and from Ali Airport in view of its proven performance on high altitude flights. Statistics indicate that over 80 percent of the commercial flights to and from Tibet are flown by Airbus aircraft, most of them being A319s.

Today’s RNP validation flight is a joint activity performed by the CAAC, Air China, Airbus and QUOVADIS, a 100 percent subsidiary of Airbus specialised in providing RNP services. RNP represents the most modern navigation technique, allowing aircraft to fly precisely along a predefined route using state-of-the-art onboard navigation systems and the Global Positioning System (GPS). The benefits of RNP include improved precision of flight operations, increased access to airports, particularly in low visibility conditions, whilst requiring fewer ground-based instrument landing aids, lower flight time and fuel consumption, and lower noise and emissions.

At an elevation of 4,274 metres (14,022 feet), Ali Airport is one of the highest airports in the world. Along the route to and from Ali spans a sparsely populated plateau at an altitude of up to 5,000 metres, and mountains over 7,000 metres high. The weather conditions in the area make it challenging for flight, the precision and reliability enabled by the RNP navigation technique allowing pilots to land the aircraft in conditions that would otherwise require them to hold, divert to another airport, or even to cancel the flight before departure.

“Building Ali Airport in Tibet is a major project of CAAC to boost the development of the Tibetan area. The success of the RNP test flight today helps further strengthen our confidence in the smooth operation of the airport,” said Wang Changshun, Vice Minister of CAAC.

“Airbus has been cooperating with CAAC and Chinese airlines on RNP projects for a long time and Airbus experts have worked together with CAAC and Chinese experts in Ali for the preparation of the airport. We are proud to see that the Airbus A319 has been selected to be the first aircraft to fly to and from Ali. As a leading aircraft manufacturer, Airbus is committed to providing its customers with the most modern and comprehensive product line and the best services,” said Airbus China President Laurence Barron.

“QUOVADIS is pleased to work with CAAC and Air China, both leading actors in RNP implementation to provide Ali procedures. QUOVADIS’ mission is to provide safe and efficient RNP procedures that meet the operational needs. In this project we benefit from the high altitude operation experience of Air China and CAAC, together with our expertise in RNP procedure design and aircraft knowledge,” said Paul-franck Bijou, CEO of QUOVADIS.