GE Deploys First Public Use RNP Flight Path In Alaska


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GE Deploys First Public Use RNP Flight Path In Alaska

By Daniel Baxter
May 6, 2011 - GE Aviation’s PBN Services on Wednesday deployed the first public-use Required Navigation Performance (RNP) procedure in Alaska at Deadhorse.

The optimized instrument approach procedures will increase schedule reliability into Deadhorse while reducing fuel burn, CO2 emissions and flight time.

GE’s timely deployment of beneficial RNP procedures underscores the value of third-party navigation procedure designers to the U.S. airspace modernization effort.

Required Navigation Performance (RNP) is a type of performance-based navigation (PBN) that allows an aircraft to fly a specific path between two 3-dimensionally defined points in space.

RNAV and RNP systems are fundamentally similar. The key difference between them is the requirement for on-board performance monitoring and alerting. A navigation specification that includes a requirement for on-board navigation performance monitoring and alerting is referred to as an RNP specification. One not having such a requirement is referred to as an RNAV specification. 

“The rapid publication of the Deadhorse RNP procedure illustrates GE’s ability to work with the FAA and to employ advanced technology to deliver airspace modernization benefits today,” said Steve Forte, PBN Services general manager. “GE is ready to utilize its resources to deliver RNP programs that yield both economic and environmental benefits for airline operations in the U.S.”  

The Deadhorse procedures became available for public use just four months after GE submitted documentation to the FAA for processing, transmittal and publication. Last August, with the publication of an RNP instrument approach at Bradley Intl. Airport at Windsor Locks, Conn., GE became the first commercial third-party to deploy a public instrument flight procedure in the U.S.  

Deadhorse is located more than 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle and is an important staging point for personnel and equipment bound for Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay and North Slope oil operations. The airport has approximately 189 arrivals per week, including commercial service, air taxi, and general aviation operations. However, due to inclement Arctic weather, it’s not uncommon for ground-based navigation aids to go out of service causing flight delays and cancellations.


The RNP procedures, which will save qualified operators up to four track miles compared to existing RNAV arrival procedures, allow the use of onboard technology to follow a precise path, independent of aging ground-based navigation beacons. When the ground-based system is out of service, the Deadhorse RNP procedures will enable qualified aircraft to land during low visibility weather conditions that previously would have prevented them from landing – on average, 26 days a year.  

RNP procedures, an advanced form of Performance-based Navigation, can be deployed at any airport, allowing aircraft to fly very precise paths with an accuracy of less than a wingspan. This precision allows pilots to land the aircraft in weather conditions that would otherwise require them to hold, divert to another airport, or even cancel the flight before departure.

In addition, since the procedures are very precise, they can be designed to shorten the distance an aircraft has to fly en-route, and to reduce fuel burn, exhaust emissions and noise pollution in communities near airports. Because of RNP’s precision and reliability, the technology can help air traffic controllers reduce flight delays and alleviate air traffic congestion.

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