SAA: New departure and approach techniques

South African Airways (SAA) is set to roll out a new and efficient technology for departure and approach procedures in its flights that promise to enhance safety and save fuel, thanks to a partnership with Quovadis, a subsidiary of Airbus ProSky.

SAA announced yesterday that it has received authorisation from the South African Civil Aviation Authority to deploy the new Required Navigational Performance – Authorisation Required (RNP-AR) procedures in its flights.

SAA said the new RNP-AR procedures will provide shorter flight paths allowing a reduction in flight time and fuel burn on each approach and departure track. This will provide an opportunity for immediate benefit with SAA aircraft potentially saving over 600 000kg of fuel per year.

The national carrier added that the approval, which is the first in Africa, paves the way for further developments that could enhance safety and increase operational efficiency throughout SAA’s route network.

SAA said the benefits of the new procedures, which put SAA on a select list of premier airlines with cutting-edge technology and operational capability, include improvement in safety, decreased operational costs, increased scheduling integrity with direct impact on on-time performance, increased revenue, and reduced environmental impact. The use of the new technology can further decrease travelling time on trips to and from Cape Town, for instance, by 5 – 10 minutes.

Following an approval by the South African Civil Aviation Authority, SAA is now using the new flight procedures in all weather conditions on flights into and out of Cape Town International Airport. The new procedures, RNP-AR procedures utilize advanced on-board navigation technology and space based GPS signals to achieve the enhancements in safety and efficiency.

“Once the technology is rolled out onto SAA’s regional and international network, the long term benefit is not only a substantial saving in fuel costs but also a significant improvement in flight safety, particularly when flying in areas with limited ground-based navigational infrastructure,” said Captain Johnny Woods, Head of Flight Operations and Chief Pilot at SAA.

“This milestone signifies South Africa’s readiness for a wider Performance Based Navigation deployment in line with recommendations set out by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). We are thus grateful for the great support from Quovadis, Airbus and Boeing and look forward to future implementations and procedure design,” said Capt. Woods.

Explaining RPN-AR in its website Quovadis lists the following under the theme Performance Based Navigation Benefits:

  • Curved flight path after the final approach
  • Reduces frequency missed approach
  • Allows operation of specific procedures/routes using the aircraft’s Autopilot and Floght Management System in a fully automated guidance
  • Optimizing trajectory is a key point for fuel and flight time reductions
  • Increase takeoff weight (Payload or fuel) due to avoidance of in performance calculation
  • Flexible flight paths allowing an aircraft to fly around obstacle, noise sensitive area, including the final approach
  • Final approach track is no  longer limited to straight line alignment with the runway axis

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