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New RNP Paths At Queenstown, NZ, Will Streamline Air Traffic Management

GE Aviation Helps Airways New Zealand Redesign Airspace For Projected Growth

Performance-Based Navigation (PBN) Services will assist Airways New Zealand in a redesign of the Queenstown airspace that will accommodate expected traffic growth of 40% at the Queenstown airport over the next five years. New PBN arrival and departure paths will improve both air traffic flow and access to all operators.

Using Required Navigation Performance technology (RNP), GE Aviation, in conjunction with Airways New Zealand, will redesign, validate and deploy approach and departure procedures for runways 23 and 05. RNP paths will be individually optimized for each participating airline in order to maximize fuel savings and reductions of CO2. Airways New Zealand will redesign conventional procedures to better accommodate non-RNP traffic. Together, the integrated paths will enable a more streamlined air traffic management process at Queenstown.

A key benefit of PBN paths is the opportunity to continuously improve deployed paths. Because PBN doesn’t rely on static, ground-based navigation aids, there is flexibility to redesign the PBN paths initially deployed at Queenstown to accommodate changing airspace needs.

The airport, known for its complicated approach through the snow-covered mountains of New Zealand's Southern Alps, accommodates a variety of aircraft on any given day – from airline jets and turboprops, to tour operators and helicopters and even gliders. The airspace redesign will allow Airways New Zealand to significantly increase capacity - from five operations per hour to 12 or more- while lessening the complexity of air traffic management for controllers. Furthermore, New Zealand’s aviation regulatory body, CAA New Zealand, recommends that all scheduled jet operations be conducted using the RNP procedures, and believes the safety case has already been made1. By harmonizing the new RNP paths with other paths, Queenstown air traffic control staff will be able to focus on the key task of separating and segregating inbound and ground traffic in a non-radar environment.

“Airways New Zealand has been an advocate for RNP in Queenstown since GE-designed paths were first deployed there in 2004,” said Giovanni Spitale, general manager for GE’s PBN Services. “Our team is pleased to work with the progressive people at Airways New Zealand to continue improving airline operations into the region and overall airspace management for the Queenstown air traffic controllers.”

Queenstown was one of the first success stories showcasing the benefits RNP implementation can yield at a terrain-challenged airport. Since the first GE-designed RNP paths were deployed there for Qantas in 2004, two other airlines have begun RNP operations at Queenstown to improve schedule reliability and access. “The implementation of a PBN-based ATM plan was a natural progression to our airspace modernization efforts,” said Airways New Zealand’s General Manager ANS, Lew Jenkins. “We have seen first-hand the immense benefits an RNP program produces for both jet operators and ATC. We are looking forward to implementing this project so all operators in our airspace can benefit from the RNP paths.”

Initial RNP tracks were primarily implemented at Queenstown to serve as a mechanism for one aircraft to maneuver through the mountainous terrain on a reliable, repeatable flight path. With this next evolution of paths, Airways New Zealand and GE are working together to solve the capacity constraints while maintaining the benefits of RNP already realized at the airport.

RNP procedures, an advanced form of PBN, can be deployed at any airport, allowing aircraft to fly very precise paths with an accuracy of less than a wingspan. This precision allows pilots to land the aircraft in weather conditions that would otherwise require them to hold, divert to another airport, or even cancel the flight before departure. In addition, since the procedures are very precise, they can be designed to shorten the distance an aircraft has to fly en-route, and to reduce fuel burn, exhaust emissions and noise pollution in communities near airports. Because of RNP’s precision and reliability, the technology can help air traffic controllers reduce flight delays and alleviate air traffic congestion.

FMI: www.naverus.com

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