Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Modern Avionics + RNP Navigation = “Triple-Double” for Investment Returns

Welcome to WIRED!

This year the ASIG team has spent lots of time advising our readers and clients about the actual technologies and integrated systems that make up an RNP capable flight deck. However, it was recently asked of our program management team, "What do all these capital improvements really achieve other than preferred placement by ATC?" What a great question. The fact is the improvement in flight operations safety alone are reason enough to invest in the lives of your crew and passengers, just ask your Risk Managers. However, if your Financial Managers haven't yet been convinced of the overall value of the capital improvements, the following list might help those of you trying to make the case, or at least start a compelling dialogue.

  1. Safety Benefits
    1. Safer Flight for Everyone
      Safety is the first concern of every aircraft operator, air traffic manager and regulator not to mention passengers, and
RNP fits the bill. With carefully engineered landing and takeoff procedures precisely repeated every time, RNP is greatly increasing the safety of transporting people and goods by air.
  1. CFIT Reductions: Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) is the leading cause of aircraft accidents today. The vertical and lateral path guidance of RNP procedures—accurately repeated with every flight—avoids all obstacles, virtually eliminating the possibility of CFIT.

  2. Stabilized Approaches: With RNP, aircraft arrive at the runway aligned with the centerline, in the same configuration and at the same speed every time. Variations in altitude and speed are virtually eliminated, touchdowns with adequate runway to slow the plane are ensured.
  3. Safer Missed Approaches: All RNP approach procedures are designed with an automatic missed approach at any point along the path, even beyond the Decision Altitude.
  4. Safer Non-Normal Procedures: When an engine is lost, Tailored RNP takes over, allowing crews to focus on flying rather than complex emergency navigation procedures—particularly helpful in complex terrain and/or poor weather or low visibility. In some cases the Tailored RNP guidance will route an aircraft over a less obstacle-challenged path to account for degraded performance.
  5. Less Stress on Flight Crews: Pre-loaded RNP approaches and departures are much easier and more straightforward than traditional procedures.
  6. More Consistency: Operators using RNP throughout their network enhance safety by employing approach and departure procedures that are consistent from airport to airport—a key component of safe operations.
  7. No ILS Signal Distortion: Instrument Landing System (ILS) glide paths can be severely distorted by temporary obstructions such as taxiing aircraft or even snow piles near the ILS transmitter. Satellite-based RNP does not suffer from these ground-based interferences.

  • Access Benefits
    1. Go Where and When You Want - Go where passengers want to go and cargo needs to go! Reliable service rain or shine. Don't let construction or ground-based navigation outages disrupt your schedule.

      1. New Market Access: Because it can allow consistent takeoff and landing in difficult terrain and weather, RNP gives access to markets previously lacking regularly scheduled service which can be a source of high yields and passenger volumes.
      2. Lower Minima: RNP "fits" into obstacle-restricted areas, lowering landing minima (the height at which crews must be able to see the runway to carry out the landing). Lower landing minima reduce flight diversions and cancellations due to weather.
      3. Increased Reliability: RNP does not rely on ground-based navigation aids, whether radar control or radio-beacon-based. Even when those services are not present, RNP still functions normally.

  • Efficiency Benefits

    1. RNP Makes Cents for the Bottom Line: The efficiency benefits of RNP are truly compelling. Fuel, insurance, engine maintenance and disruption costs go down. Asset utilization goes up. In a tough aviation market, RNP provides a competitive edge.

      1. Lower Fuel Consumption: Because RNP shortens flight tracks and allows for Continuous Descent Approaches (CDAs) it saves fuel. Traditional procedures often involve unnecessarily long flight paths and utilize "dive and drive" descents which require higher thrust settings. RNP can be designed to take the most efficient course to the runway—day in and day out.
      2. Tax Credits: With heightened awareness of environmental concerns, some governments are offering financial incentives to go green. RNP fuel efficiency means lower emissions—which can mean environmental tax credits.
      3. Lower Insurance Premiums: Airline hull and liability insurance underwriters understand that RNP lowers risk which results in lower premiums for users.
      4. Lower Thrust, Lower Rates: By avoiding paths with onerous climb requirements RNP allows for lower thrust settings on take-off. These de-rates can be used to reduce engine power-by-the-hour maintenance rates.
      5. Reduced Variance: Traditional navigation procedures add uncertainty requiring longer block times to compensate for the outliers. RNP mitigates this, resulting in higher gate and aircraft utilization as well as increased on-time performance.
      6. Higher Crew, Gate and Aircraft Utilization: Crews, gates and aircraft are utilized at higher rates because of shorter more predictable block times.

  • Capacity Benefits

    1. Fill Aircraft & Maximize Airspace: By carefully engineering flight paths to avoid obstacles aircraft can utilize their full payload potential. Thousands of flights and years of data show that RNP operations produce extremely consistent flight tracks. This precision combined with RNP crew alerting features gives confidence to reduce aircraft separation standards, thereby increasing the capacity of busy terminal environments around the world.

      1. Increased Payload Limits: RNP operations can raise payload limits—meaning more fuel, freight or passengers—by avoiding paths with onerous climb requirements.
      2. Assured Separation Equals Airspace Efficiency: Traditional navigation procedures and radar vectoring require large distances between aircraft in terminal environments. By utilizing RNP technology, which offers precision measured in meters, the airspace in busy metropolitan areas can be much more efficiently utilized.

  • Environmental Benefits

    1. RNP is Easy on the Earth: Saving fuel means saving money, but it also means lower emissions and reduced fuel consumption — both crucial in a world with increased awareness of global warming and other environmental concerns.

      1. Lower Emissions: The combination of continuous descent approaches and shorter tracks built into RNP procedures can reduce emissions by thousands of tons per year per aircraft.
      2. Less Noise: Continuous Descent Approaches (CDAs) use lower, quieter thrust levels. Because of their precision and ability to curve, RNP paths can also be designed to avoid noise-sensitive areas.
  • Until next time stay 5x5, Mission Ready & Wired!

    To learn more about ASIG's approach to aircraft modernization programs, virtual engineering services subscriptions or other products and services available from the Avionics & Systems Integration Group, please visit us online at http://www.asigllc.com/, via email at info@asigllc.com, or contact us toll-free at 866.890.ASIG [2744].