Airline Says The Procedures Could Initially Save $16 Million
Southwest Airlines' Pilots began using Required Navigation
Performance (RNP) flight procedures Tuesday at 9 airports
nationwide, with two more to follow this week. RNP is
satellite-based navigation that brings together the accuracy of
GPS, the capabilities of advanced aircraft avionics, and new flight
procedures. The airline's pilots and dispatchers now follow these
new flight procedures to fly specifically designed satellite-based
navigation approaches to many airports. The primary airports with
efficient RNP procedures include Birmingham, Boise, Los
Angeles, Chicago Midway, Oakland, Oklahoma City, West Palm Beach,
Raleigh-Durham, and San Jose. Amarillo and Corpus Christi are set
to begin RNP approaches on January 14.
Southwest said in a news release Tuesday that the program to
reduce environmental impact with a more efficient operation, and to
assist the FAA with NextGen initiatives, is the culmination of a
four-year project with partners Boeing, GE, and Honeywell. "RNP
sets the stage for Southwest to continue doing its part to conserve
fuel, improve safety, and reduce carbon emissions and Greenhouse
gases, while simultaneously taking advantage of the
high-performance characteristics that exist in an airline's fleet,"
said Captain Jeff Martin, Southwest's Vice President of the
Operations Coordination Center. "The efficiencies RNP introduces
help Southwest be a good neighbor while also maintaining our low
With RNP/NextGen procedures designed at 11 Southwest airports,
the Company's projected savings is $16 million a year, with an
anticipated savings of more than $60 million per year once all
Southwest airports have efficient RNP procedures.
"RNP is a significant step in the future for the NextGen Air
Traffic Control system," said Mike Van de Ven, Southwest's
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. "This
milestone culminates substantial efforts by our Company working
with the FAA to position Southwest as a leading participant in a
modernized air traffic control system."
In addition to modifying 345 Boeing 737-700s with new flight
display software and ensuring that all new aircraft are RNP ready,
this cross-company effort involving Technology, Maintenance &
Engineering, and the Operations Coordination Center also featured
intense training efforts to support achieving this milestone.
"I am very proud of our Flight Operations Team for the design,
training, and implementation of NextGen procedures, including
training more than 5,900 Pilots to fly Primary Flight Display
Navigation Display (PFD/ND) procedures," said Captain Chuck Magill,
Vice President of Flight Operations. "This extensive training
allows us to capture RNP procedures as well as provide flexibility
in any new aircraft platform we might use in the future."