Air New Zealand, with the assistance of Naverus, part of GE Aviation Systems, recently implemented improved Required Navigation Performance (RNP) procedures that allow the airline’s aircraft to operate into Queenstown when, previously, adverse weather would have prevented some services.
RNP is a form of Performance-based Navigation that ensures the aircraft precisely follows a carefully designed path that can provide navigational flexibility, such as custom-tailored, curved paths through mountainous terrain or congested airspace.
Air New Zealand began flying Naverus-designed RNP paths in its fleet of Airbus A320s and Boeing 737 back in 2007. Initially Air New Zealand was approved to fly RNP 0.3, which means the aircraft is constrained to within 0.3 nautical miles of the centerline of the designated path.
However, last month, the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand approved Air New Zealand to begin flying RNP 0.1, which means the aircraft is constrained to within one-tenth of a mile of the designated path. The greater navigational precision of RNP 0.1 allowed Air New Zealand to land its Boeing 737s when the cloud deck was as low as 600 feet above the ground – or 423 feet lower than they could land when they were flying the RNP 0.3 procedures. RNP 0.1 allowed Air New Zealand’s Airbus A320s to land when the cloud deck was even lower, just 400 feet above the ground.
Once approved for RNP 0.1, Air New Zealand worked with Naverus to update navigation charts to enable the airline to operate the new lower arrivals during the busy Queenstown Winter Festival and school vacation season. Naverus completed the chart update in just a few days, in time for the festival and school vacations. The new paths will help reduce the number of diversions during the busy winter months.
“By implementing this new level of RNP procedures, Air New Zealand is able to further reduce the impact of weather on our flights at Queenstown, providing an enhanced service to our customers,” said Air New Zealand General Manager Airline Operations Captain David Morgan.
“Naverus is committed to helping airlines improve their operations,” said Naverus General Manager, Steve Forte. “When a progressive, committed operator like Air New Zealand comes to us for special assistance, we go out of our way to try and help,” he said.
In addition to RNP procedures at Queenstown, Air New Zealand also flies Naverus-designed RNP procedures at Brisbane and Gold Coast in Australia.