GE Aviation has released a study that illustrates the potential for significant economic and environmental benefit from using technology that allows aircraft to fly precisely-defined trajectories without relying on ground-based radio-navigation signals.
The study - Highways in the Sky – found potential for significant economic and environmental benefit from using Required Navigation Performance (RNP) landing approaches. RNP allows aircraft to fly more accurate paths by using GPS and onboard computer technology. It means shorter, more consistent and more efficient flight paths which can reduce flight delays and help alleviate air traffic congestion.
The study focused on 46 mid-sized US airports and found that RNP deployment would save 12.9 million gallons of jet fuel a year, worth $65.6m, and 274.6 million pounds of CO₂ emissions, equal to the carbon absorbed by 1.3 million trees. ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organisation, believes that efficiencies made possible by RNP can cut global CO₂ emissions by 13 million metric tons per year.
RNP is already being tested and implemented in some places. In Brisbane, trials have demonstrated that RNP instrument approach procedures saved aircraft operators 882,000 pounds of jet fuel a year, even though only 18% of the aircraft were capable of flying the procedures. Based on the results, Airservices Australia is implementing RNP at 28 airports across Australia which it expects will save operators nearly 86 million pounds of jet fuel each year.