• Benefits Study Gauges Impact of Flight Paths on Economy, Environment and Travelers.
• Highways in the Sky Reduce Flight Time, Cut CO2 Emissions, Improve Airline Efficiency.
The findings of the study, Highways in the Sky, come at a critical time in the debate on the future of our aging national air traffic control infrastructure, where additional investment is increasingly measured against proven benefits to the economy, environment and the everyday traveler. Steve Fulton, technical fellow with GE Aviation highlighted the results today at the NextGen Ahead Air Transportation Modernization conference in Washington, DC.
GE’s Highways in the Sky study illustrates the potential for significant economic and environmental benefit of near-term deployment of Required Navigation Performance (RNP) landing approaches. Although the study focused on 46 mid-sized U.S. airports, the data and analysis supports accelerated deployment of RNP at any airport. GE’s study of the 46 airports concludes that deployment of RNP instrument arrivals would annually save:
• 12.9 million gallons of jet fuel, or 527 round-trip flights from New York to Los Angeles;
• $65.6 million, a savings equivalent to the full-time salary of 1,573 middle-class jobs;
• 274.6 million pounds of C02, equal to the carbon absorbed every year by 1,384, 095 trees;
• 747 days of flight time, or roughly two years and seventeen days in the sky.
“We are facing a serious global challenge as air traffic increases and our skies become more and more congested,” said Lorraine Bolsinger, President and CEO of GE Aviation Systems. “This is an opportunity to provide tangible benefits to every stakeholder; responsible growth of an essential industry, better asset utilization, lower fuel burn and cost for airlines, greater throughput for airports and ANSPs, fewer delays for passengers, lower emissions and noise for communities and reduced dependence on foreign oil.”
RNP technology allows aircraft to fly precisely-defined trajectories without relying on outdated, ground-based radio-navigation signals. Independence from a fixed, ground based infrastructure, linked with the inherent precision of satellite navigation and advanced computer technology aboard the aircraft allow the creation of shorter, more consistent and more efficient flight paths. The consistency and efficiency of the new flight paths can reduce flight delays helping to alleviate costly air traffic congestion. ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organization, has predicted that efficiencies made possible by RNP alone can cut global CO₂ emissions by 13 million metric tons per year.
“There is no reason the U.S. aviation industry should be tied to a ground-based beacon system that was developed in the 1940s,” said Captain Brian Will, Director -- Airspace Modernization and Advanced Technologies for American Airlines. “GE Aviation’s Highways in the Sky study clearly demonstrates the tremendous benefits realized through satellite-based navigation. RNAV and RNP provide benefits to all airspace users. For controllers and pilots, we have safety benefits from reduced radio transmissions and reduced controller workload and increased pilot situational awareness. For the airport communities, RNAV and RNP can reduce both noise and emissions – this is a win-win-win scenario, everyone benefits.”
Underscoring the importance of realizing these benefits, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s annual aviation forecast predicts that domestic air travel will double in the next 20 years, reaching the 1 billion passenger mark in the U.S. alone by 2021. In addition, the total cost of all U.S. air transportation delays is estimated at $32.9 billion by the National Center of Excellence for Aviation Operations Research.
In many locations around the world, RNP is already demonstrating significant benefits. In Brisbane, Australia, government sponsored trials demonstrated that RNP instrument approach procedures saved aircraft operators 882,000 pounds of jet fuel a year, even though only 18 percent of the aircraft were capable of flying the procedures. Based on those results, Airservices Australia is implementing RNP at 28 airports nationwide which it expects will save operators nearly 86 million pounds of jet fuel each year.
Highway in the Sky Methodology
GE Aviation’s PBN Services’ analysis projected the benefits of RNP deployment at 46 U.S. airports that either have existing published RNP procedures or a significant number of arrivals of RNP-capable aircraft. A total of six models of aircraft for 12 national airlines were included in the study.
An average time savings of three minutes per flight was used to derive the average operating benefit of an aircraft flying on an RNP approach. Only direct aircraft operational savings were taken into account, which includes savings due to reductions in fuel (accounting for 41% of savings), maintenance costs and crew costs. Calculations were made using 2009 fuel prices, which have since risen significantly and can be extrapolated into further savings today. Indirect operator costs, such as on-time performance and diversions, are highly dependent on airlines and were not included in analysis, making these figures highly conservative.
GE Aviation, an operating unit of GE (NYSE: GE), is a world-leading provider of jet engines, components and integrated systems for commercial and military aircraft. GE Aviation has a global service network to support these offerings. GE Aviation Systems LLC, GE Aviation Systems Ltd, and Naverus, Inc. are subsidiaries of GE. For more information, visit us at ge.com/aviation. Follow GE on Twitter at twitter.com/GEAviation and YouTube at youtube.com/GEAviation.
GE Aviation develops and implements technologies that provide significant economic and environmental benefits to airlines, airports and the communities they serve. GE’s PBN Services is a world leader in the design and deployment of Performance-based Navigation and is working with aircraft operators and air traffic management providers in China, South and Central America, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Europe to implement PBN solutions. Learn more about GE’s PBN Services at: naverus.com/.
Ken Shapero - E: ken.shapero[.]ge.com.