The performance-based navigation technology was used on a LAN airliner that flew non-stop Thursday from Cusco, near Peru's Machu Picchu tourist attraction, to Lima in a landmark demonstration of the gadgetry's capacity to reduce costs and increase efficiency.
GE Aviation, which developed the technology, said the demonstration marked a major departure in an international effort to wean airspace management from outmoded infrastructures which, in some industry analysts' view, no longer match the sophistication of modern aircraft.
The Green Skies of Peru project is a collaboration of LAN, GE Aviation, Peru's air navigation service provider CORPAC and regulator DGAC.
The project is touted as a system that provides "a highly efficient, predictable flight path throughout the entire flight."
This contrasts with older systems that depend on a single performance-based navigation path for arrival or departure. The system can also solve operational challenges at individual airports, saving time and cost.
"GE and the Green Skies of Peru team have demonstrated that future air traffic management concepts are attainable today," said Giovanni Spitale, general manager of GE Aviation's PBN Services. "PBN programs like this take dedication and teamwork to ensure that benefits are achievable by all stakeholders."
The company says GE-designed PBN departure, en route, arrival and approach procedures will save participating airlines on average 19 track miles, 6.3 minutes, 450 pounds of fuel and 1,420 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per flight.
The new flight paths enable increased capacity at Lima's Jorge Chavez International Airport, a major regional hub, while helping reduce the carbon footprint at Cusco. LAN flies the route 11-17 times a day, depending on the season, using its Airbus fleet.
The highly accurate paths also provide capable-aircraft with precise lateral and vertical arrival and departure guidance and improve the air traffic management variance and flow for controllers, benefiting all airspace users in the region.
LAN Peru Chief Executive Officer Jorge Vilches said introduction of the new technology was "big news for our country and will be of great benefit to all our passengers."
Since the demonstration flight, LAN is examining the system's workability under various operating conditions before finalizing deployment.
In 2009, GE, in collaboration with IATA, designed and deployed Required Navigation Performance approach procedures for LAN at Cusco to improve access into the airport that is flanked by the Andes Mountains. Before the RNP paths, it was typical for one or more of LAN's scheduled flights per day into Cusco to be delayed or diverted due to poor weather and low visibility.
Since the RNP paths have been in use at Cusco, LAN has reduced cancellations from 12 to five, flight delays by 45 percent and un-stabilized approaches by 94 percent per month on average.
During the first year of RNP use at Cusco, more than 30,000 of LAN Peru´s passengers avoided flight cancellations or delays, thanks to the technology. With the success of the Cusco paths, LAN selected GE Aviation in 2010 to develop an RNP program at five other airports it serves including Lima.
RNP, an advanced form of PBN technology, allows aircraft to fly precisely defined flight paths without relying on ground-based, radio-navigation signals. RNP paths can be designed to shorten the distance an aircraft has to fly en route and to reduce fuel burn, exhaust emissions and noise pollution.
Because of RNP's precision and reliability, the technology can help air traffic controllers reduce flight delays and alleviate air traffic congestion.
GE has designed and deployed more than 345 RNP flight paths around the world since 2003.
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