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Pilots Flying Into Portland (PDX) Will Soon Find It Even More Efficient And Safer
By Mike Mitchell

December 11, 2012 - The Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced that pilots will start using new NextGen technology and procedures that will enable aircraft to fly more efficient, environmentally-friendly flights into Portland International Airport (PDX) beginning next year. 

The NextGen (Next Generation Air Transportation System) program uses cutting-edge technology, including new Area Navigation (RNAV) approach procedures, to create a modern, satellite-based air traffic control system, transforming the national airspace system to make it even safer and more efficient for the traveling public, airports and operators, and facilitating economic growth. 

Area navigation (RNAV) is a method of instrument flight rules (IFR) navigation that allows an aircraft to choose any course within a network of navigation beacons, rather than navigating directly to and from the beacons.  

This can conserve flight distance, reduce congestion, and allow flights into airports without beacons. Area navigation used to be called "random navigation", and hence the acronym RNAV. "These new procedures in Portland are the building blocks of NextGen," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "NextGen initiatives underway in major regions across the country are helping deliver more on-time flights for consumers, reducing fuel consumption for airlines and creating an even safer aviation system." 

RNAV enables aircraft to fly safely on any desired flight path within the coverage of ground-based or space-based navigation aids. NextGen GPS technology is the basis for new RNAV approach procedures, which replace procedures that do not have the benefit of precise, satellite-based navigation. Aircraft approaching Portland can now power back sooner, saving fuel, making less noise and emitting fewer pollutants. 

"These procedures will continue to enhance operational safety and efficiency at this important airport while improving air quality around Portland," said Acting Administrator Michael Huerta. RNAV procedures also can increase the efficiency of the air traffic control system. Aircraft using RNAV can fly more precise and predictable routes, resulting in a more efficient use of airspace and fewer pilot-controller communications. 



The FAA included the PDX Citizens Noise Advisory Committee in the design phase of the new RNAV approaches in support of the PDX Fly Quiet Program. The FAA, the Port of Portland, airlines, and local citizen groups designed six new RNAV approach procedures. The FAA designed these new approaches to link up with future arrival routes from the north, east, and south. Pilots of aircraft equipped with RNAV can begin flying these new arrival routes in 2013.
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