How RNP has improved flying in and out of Queenstown
10 Mar 2016
Did you know?
Required navigation performance (RNP) defines the accuracy of the GPS equipment on an aircraft and allows airspace and flight routes to be designed in a new way. This is called performance-based navigation (PBN) and it allows an aircraft to fly a specific path between two 3D-defined points in space.
An RNP value of 10 means that a navigation system must be able to calculate its position to within a circle with a radius of 10 nautical miles. An RNP value of 0.3 means the aircraft navigation system must be able to calculate its position to within a circle with a radius of 3 tenths of a nautical mile.
Airways introduced new flight routes based on PBN principles at Queenstown Airport in 2012 allowing aircraft to use this new GPS technology more efficiently, replacing the traditional point-to-point routes.
Queenstown Airport’s RNP Authorisation Required (AR) approaches have a minimum value of 0.15. This allows RNP AR enabled aircraft to fly day or night on very precise paths through congested airspace, mountainous terrain, extreme weather and around noise sensitive areas with an accuracy of 280 metres.
All four airlines operating into Queenstown – Air New Zealand, Jetstar, Qantas and Virgin Australia – operate RNP AR on their jet services and have gone through an extensive testing and proving phase with their respective Civil Aviation authorities to gain the authorisation to fly RNP AR approaches in Queenstown. They have also gone through rigorous in-house training and have specially trained pilots to operate into Queenstown.
The introduction of performance-based navigation and RNP AR technology has dramatically improved the reliability of jet services and has increased airspace capacity and operational efficiency at Queenstown Airport. Airways Air Traffic Controllers can now manage more than double the air traffic – up to 12 aircraft per hour compared to the previous five per hour – with no requirement to tactically separate arrivals from departures.
Performance Based Navigation (PBN), along with RNP AR-capable aircraft, have been key enablers for introducing after-dark flights into Queenstown.