Southwest scores RNP success at Denver

Southwest Airlines is flying fuel efficient and environmentally friendly Required Navigational Performance (RNP) approaches at Denver International Airport reducing flying by 3-5 miles during a visual approach and up to 20 miles during an instrument approach each time they are flown.

These flights follow highly predictable paths and allow descents at idle power from high altitude cruise, which is the quietest and most fuel efficient way for an aircraft to arrive. Working closely with local and regional Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and DIA officials, major contributions have been made to the development of those procedures as part of an ongoing major redesign of the airspace at DIA.

RNP procedures at DIA have the potential to save Southwest Airlines an estimated 20 gallons of fuel per flight on visual approaches and more than 90 gallons of fuel per flight on instrument approaches. The carrier has committed a substantial amount of resources toward engineering and computer modelling, as well as flight simulator and flight trials, to support the advancement of RNP approaches.

“Southwest is playing a major role in supporting FAA development of RNP procedures, which benefit the industry as a whole, as well as the communities we serve,” said Rick Dalton, Southwest Airlines Director of Airspace and Flow Management. “These efficient RNP approaches reduce noise and carbon emissions, allowing carriers to pass on efficiencies to their Customers, and the current successes of this program could not have been achieved without the support and leadership of the Denver TRACON, the Denver Air Route Traffic Control Center, and Denver International Airport.”

Southwest is a nationally recognized leader in RNP implementation and is working alongside the FAA, airport officials, and industry stakeholders as the lead carrier to develop and implement more than 150 RNP procedures for public use at 40 airports across the nation. RNP Authorization Required (AR) procedures are high-performance, GPS-based, continuous-descent approaches that improve safety, reduce carbon emissions, and are designed to conserve fuel characteristics that exist in an airline’s fleet.

“Cooperation between carriers and the FAA is vital for the success of NextGen across the system,” Dalton said. “Southwest looks forward to continued partnerships with the FAA and airport officials as we work toward a modernized air traffic control system by continuing to develop RNP procedures.”

In 2011, Southwest Airlines began flying RNP routes at 11 airports across the country after retrofitting 345 737-700 Boeing aircraft with advanced avionics and training nearly 6,000 Pilots and 200 Dispatchers. Today, Southwest Airlines continues to support the development of RNP procedures, with the goal of operating RNP approaches at all 96 airports it currently serves.

Denver International Airport is the 13th-busiest airport in the world and the fifth-busiest airport in the United States. With more than 50 million passengers traveling through the airport each year, DIA is one of the busiest airline hubs in the world’s largest aviation market.

Posted in Airlines, Airports, CAAs/ANSPs, Navigation, News Tagged with:

Comments are closed.