Air New Zealand (ANZ) has installed required navigation performance (RNP) technology on its Airbus A320 fleet, two years after introducing it on its Boeing 737 fleet and saving around NZ$3 million ($1.89 million) from the programme.
The initiative has been used over 2,100 times to assist domestic arrivals and departures into Queenstown, one of New Zealand's most challenging airports due to its mountainous terrain, the carrier says in a statement. At least 150 of those services would have been cancelled, delayed or diverted without RNP, it adds.
"In the past two weeks we've used RNP around 50 times, enabling at least 15 flights that would previously have been disrupted by the wintery weather. Yesterday's inclement weather conditions required the use of RNP, which enabled us to get our customers into and out of Queenstown unhindered," says ANZ general manager for airline operations David Morgan.
"The introduction of RNP onto our A320s means Australian customers will be able to rely on Air New Zealand flights arriving and departing as scheduled with fewer weather-related disruptions."
RNPs enable specially trained pilots to fly to lower altitudes with a more precise and efficient route into the airport, helping reduce the impact of bad weather on services, says ANZ. Its high precision also reduces noise emissions and can significantly reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions by using much shorter, curved approaches to airports.
Around 80 ANZ pilots have been trained and this has saved the airline NZ$3 million as it had fewer disruptions, says ANZ. It has also had "significant environmental, fuel and operational benefits", it adds.
The airline is working with regulatory bodies to investigate how it can use the technology to reduce fuel consumption and emissions on A320 services into other airports. Work is underway with the Australian Civil Aviation Authority to gain regulatory approval to operate RNP into both Brisbane and the Gold Coast, and the airline is already using RNP at Port Vila in Vanuatu, it adds.