Air Baltic to introduce PBN approaches in Riga in 2013

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Latvian flag carrier Air Baltic intends to develop satellite-based approach procedures at its base at Riga airport in a bid to improve its environmental performance.

The airline has joined forces with Airbus-subsidiary Quovadis and Latvia's air navigation service provider, Latvijas Gaisa Satiksme, in a project dubbed "Arrival Modernization for Better Efficiency in Riga" (AMBER) to introduce performance-based navigation (PBN) procedures at the Baltic base.

The satellite-based approaches will be developed and tested in flight simulators over the next months. But Air Baltic plans to validate the routings in 100 flights on its Bombardier Q400s over the summer.

The carrier says that the trajectories will shorten the current approach patterns by up to 30nm (56km) and reduce noise levels in residential areas, especially the coastal tourist resort of Jurmala northwest of the airport.

The shorter arrival routing should lead to lower fuel consumption and could cut CO2 emissions of a Q400 flight by up to 300kg, the airline says.

While the approaches will be validated by the turboprop type, Air Baltic also plans to employ them on its ordered CSeries narrowbodies, which are scheduled to enter the fleet in 2015.

Other airlines will be able to use the approaches, provided their aircraft are appropriately equipped and their pilots trained.

The project is sponsored by the EU's Single European Sky undertaking and part of the co-operation with the US FAA under the "Atlantic Interoperability Initiative to Reduce Emissions" scheme.