LAN and Iberia contribute to South American projects on greener flight paths and climate change impacts
Tue 28 Feb 2012 – LAN has carried out Latin America’s first continuously guided flight from take-off to landing using Performance-based Navigation (PBN) technology. The flight from Cusco, access point to the popular tourist site of Machu Picchu, to the Peruvian capital Lima charted a highly efficient and predictable flight path as part of the Green Skies of Peru project. The GE-designed PBN departure, en-route, arrival and approach procedures will save participating airlines on average 19 track miles, 6.3 minutes, 450 pounds (204kg) of fuel and 1,420 pounds (644kg) of CO2 emissions per flight. Meanwhile, Iberia is to participate in a European climate change research project to measure air quality at cruising altitude on flights between Spain and South America.
The Peru project is a collaborative effort involving LAN, GE Aviation, air navigation service provider CORPAC and regulator DGAC, and follows a 2009 GE-IATA collaboration that designed and deployed Required Navigation Performance (RNP) approach procedures for LAN at Cusco to improve access into the airport, which is flanked by the Andes Mountains. Prior to the RNP paths, it was typical for one or more of the airline’s 15-21 daily scheduled flights to be delayed or diverted due to poor weather and low visibility.
RNP is an advanced form of PBN technology that allows aircraft to fly precisely-defined flight paths using satellite-based technology without relying on ground-based radio-navigation signals. These paths can be designed to shorten the distance an aircraft has to fly en-route, so reducing fuel burn and emissions, as well as noise pollution in communities near airports, says GE.
Since last year, RNP operations have also been deployed on flights to Cajamarca, Arequipa and Juliaca but, in all cases, only for landings. This was the first time the technology had been applied to a complete flight from take-off to landing.
Deploying a continuous PBN city pair flight path creates additional predictability and continuity throughout the flight, compared to a single PBN arrival or departure path, while solving operational challenges at the individual airports.
Following the Cusco-Lima demonstration flight, a formal trial will get underway to validate the benefits and the paths under various operating conditions and finalise the deployment plan.
“Operational excellence, passenger service and environmental protection are the pillars of our sustainability strategy, as reflected in this initiative,” said LAN Peru CEO Jorge Vilches. “At LAN Peru, we have made a great effort to properly train our pilots, to equip our A319/320 aircraft with state-of-the-art technology, to obtain DGAC certification for these types of operations, and to design and deploy these highly-specialised procedures in collaboration with GE Aviation. This is undoubtedly big news for our country, and will be of great benefit to all our passengers.”
Iberia, meanwhile, has been selected by the European Research Infrastructure consortium to measure atmospheric air quality on South American routes under the IAGOS – Integration of Routine Aircraft Measurements into a Global Observing System – project. The two sides have signed a memorandum of understanding to install devices that measure the chemical composition of air samples at cruising altitude on one of the airline’s Airbus A340-300 aircraft.
Commercial flights allow large numbers of observations to be made at high altitudes, which would be beyond the scope of dedicated research aircraft or other means. The findings will contribute to further scientific understanding of the impact of aviation on climate change, said Iberia.