Airlines report benefits of performance based navigation

Airlines that take full advantage of Performance Based Navigation (PBN) routinely accrue benefits of reduced fuel burn and greenhouse gas emissions, improved schedule reliability and increased safety.

That was the message from airline users of PBN to more than 150 aviation experts who gathered at the Naverus Performance Based Navigation Summit that concluded Tuesday.

On the second day of the conference, speakers from Qantas, WestJet, Air New Zealand and Air China described the results their organisations are achieving today from PBN and encouraged aviation organizations worldwide to accelerate deployment.

“If you are not involved in PBN in the next five years, you are going to be left behind,” said Ian Brinkworth, of Qantas, which began flying PBN procedures in 2006.

Qantas said it is saving fuel and enhancing safety at 15 Australian airports. By the end of 2010, Airservices Australia, the country’s air navigation service provider, plans to complete a national PBN network, said Peter Curran, the agency’s manager of National ATC Service Capability.

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.

The United States will soon have an even larger PBN project as Southwest Airlines rolls out PBN routes at every airport it serves.

Jeff Martin, Senior Director of Flight Operations at Southwest, said the airline is currently training pilots and upgrading aircraft. He predicted Southwest would fly its first PBN flight between Dallas and Houston early next year. The company’s PBN initiative is a direct fit with the FAA’s NextGen airspace modernization programme, he said.

WestJet Technical Pilot David Deere said the airline 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.

The airline’s PBN capabilities allowed it to operate a normal schedule at the resort destination of Kelowna during a busy holiday season when other airlines had to divert aircraft for two days due to poor visibility.

“That one instance helped pay for our PBN implementation,” Deere said.

Air China enhances safety and access at high-altitude airports using tailored PBN procedures that Naverus designed. Without PBN, access to these airports would be severely limited by weather, terrain and limitations of ground-based navigation facilities, said Capt. Chen Dongcheng, deputy director of the Air China Southwest Flight Training Center.

When the Summit opened Monday morning, Naverus CEO Steve Forte told participants that public concerns over global warming and the environment are forcing airlines to look for new ways to reduce their carbon footprint. “It’s clear from what we’ve seen at this conference over the last two days that we can use PBN to stop wasting fuel right now,” he said.

More details about the 2008 PBN Summit are available at the conference website:

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