Establishment Figure

“It’s just a win, win, win across the board.” That’s how Stephen Martin, a support manager at Denver’s Terminal Radar Approach Control Facility, describes the effects of NextGen’s “EoR” at Denver International Airport (DEN) since it was first introduced two years ago, writes Julie Holley.

EoR is short for Established on Required Navigation Performance (RNP). Air traffic controllers and pilots began EoR operations at Denver during independent widely-spaced approaches in March 2015. Since then, use of the Performance Based Navigation (PBN) procedures has been on the rise. The NextGen Advisory Committee’s Joint Analysis Team (JAT) — operational and analytical experts from the FAA and aviation industry — has deemed EoR an important enabler for increased use of efficient PBN approaches.

RNP is an Area Navigation system that includes onboard performance monitoring and alerting capability. RNP AR allows controllers to more efficiently sequence aircraft as they approach the runway to land.

Normal simultaneous approaches on parallel runways require that aircraft on downwind to the airport are separated 1,000 feet vertically or 3 nautical miles laterally when turning to align with the runway centerline. To meet these guidelines, aircraft must fly farther downwind before turning into to the final approach.

With EoR, aircraft are considered “established on” an RNP approach or stabilized and therefore not required to maintain this separation even when landing near other aircraft on parallel runways. This means planes can turn to align with the runway much sooner, reducing passenger time, track miles, fuel burn, aircraft exhaust emissions, and noise while maintaining safety and capacity.

According to a recent analysis by the JAT, EoR increased utilization of RNP AR visual approaches at DEN by 12 per cent, from 5.8 to 6.6 per cent of arrivals. The study found the time saved increased from 211 to 282 hours annually.

An additional waiver is under consideration which would allow controllers to use the procedure during instrument meteorological conditions on independent dual and triple Instrument Landing System approaches. Aircraft could avoid flying an extra 15-20 miles before turning into the final approach. If approved, JAT analysis projects EoR would enable an increase of up to 7.1 per cent of arrivals using RNP AR approaches.

In addition to increased efficiency, EoR’s precise navigation procedures provide safety and reliability because the path to the runway does not change. “We say these aircraft are essentially on a rail. They fly the same track around this corner every time,” according to Nick Tallman, an air traffic control specialist and a member of the FAA’s PBN policy and strategic planning team.

Although very receptive to EoR, it took time for controllers at Denver to develop trust in the procedure according to Martin. “Controllers are accustomed to issuing a clearance for each of the turns in the curved approach,” he said. “Now controllers monitor to make sure there are no deviations from the procedure.”

Decreased pilot-controller interaction increases safety by lowering the risk for errors. “You went from having to make four transmissions and then ensure that four readbacks are correct to issuing one clearance and having to ensure one readback is correct,” said Martin.

With EoR, planes can turn to align with the runway much sooner, reducing passenger time, track miles, fuel burn, aircraft exhaust emissions, and noise.
According recent JAT analysis, EoR increased utilization of RNP AR visual approaches at DEN by 12 per cent, from 5.8 to 6.6 per cent of arrivals.
Time saved increased from 211 to 282 hours annually.
An additional waiver is under consideration for independent dual and triple Instrument Landing System approaches.
JAT analysis projects this would enable an increase of up to 7.1 per cent of arrivals using RNP AR approaches.

DEN provided ideal conditions to test EoR due to the number of aircraft equipped for the procedures and trained pilots flying into the airport. Having six runways available helped too, according to Martin. “We could segregate aircraft for the approaches, so controllers got to see it in use without having to worry about sequencing other aircraft to that runway at the same time,” he said. “Once the controllers got comfortable, it gained momentum and they became a normal part of operations.”

Denver was one of the first sites to prove the concept. EoR has also been tested in Seattle. The goal is to create a national EoR standard for independent dual and triple approach operations by June 2018 that can be applied to airports with similar configurations across the country.

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