Southwest Airlines is implementing PBN across its entire network
Fri 14 Nov 2008 – The aviation industry must accelerate implementation of advanced airspace management technologies to counteract pressure from a public increasingly concerned about the environment, delegates to a Seattle conference on Performance Based Navigation (PBN) were told earlier this week. PBN relies on GPS guidance and advanced flight management systems to guide aircraft on very precise vertical and horizontal tracks, enabling them to take more efficient routes and save both fuel and emissions.
Chris Manning, a former chief pilot with Qantas, said the airline had seen clear benefits since implementing PBN in 2006 but the aviation industry as a whole had been slow to adopt it and the lack of full implementation was costing the sector more than $8 billion a year.
“If you are not involved in PBN in the next five years, you are going to be left behind,” said Ian Brinkworth of Qantas.
By the end of 2010, Airservices Australia, the country’s air navigation service provider, plans to complete a national PBN network, Peter Curran, the agency’s manager of National ATC Service Capability told delegates. In the Brisbane Green Project trial that began in 2007, Airservices Australia, in partnership with Qantas and Naverus, validated that air traffic management can successfully accommodate mixed PBN and non-PBN traffic, he said.
Capt. Philip Kirk of Air New Zealand said his airline wants to develop a national PBN network similar to the one being deployed in Australia.
Also speaking at the PBN Summit, David Behrens, Director Safety, Infrastructure and Strategy for the International Air Transport Association (IATA), predicted environmental benefits, even more than fuel, will accelerate the pace of change. Fuel savings and the environment are inextricably linked, he said.
In a major ‘green’ initiative, Southwest Airlines is implementing PBN across its entire system. Naverus, the leading developer of Required Navigation Performance (RNP) services and sponsor of this year’s PBN Summit, is designing RNP procedures that will save fuel and result in reducing Southwest’s CO2 emissions by an estimated 155,000 tonnes per year.
Jeff Martin, the airline’s Senior Director of Flight Operations, stated Southwest was 100% committed to PBN. He said the airline is currently training pilots and upgrading aircraft, and predicted Southwest would fly its first PBN flight between Dallas and Houston early next year.
WestJet, which operates a PBN network to 21 Canadian airports, is seeing environmental and reliability benefits, according to the airline’s Technical Pilot, David Deere. He said the carrier receives a substantial environmental tax credit from the Canadian government each year as a result of the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions enabled by PBN.
Steve Forte, Naverus CEO, told conference attendees that public concerns over global warming and the environment are forcing airlines to look for new ways to reduce their carbon footprint. “The time to adopt Performance Based Navigation is now,” he said. “The only question is ‘how much gas are we going to waste between now and then?’”.
New PBN-based procedures are an integral part of the FAA’s NextGen airspace modernization programme and of similar efforts around the world, including Europe’s SESAR project.
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