Gol’s GPS landing system serves as forerunner to RNP

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Gol's decision to equip its aircraft with GPS landing system capability is the first step for the carrier in developing a Required Navigation Performance (RNP) programme once Brazilian regulators authorise RNP operations.

Gol in January plans to begin installations of sensors supplied by Rockwell Collins to support GPS landings as well as vertical situation displays on its fleet of 109 Boeing 737 narrowbodies. Honeywell is supplying the hardware for the displays while Boeing is providing the software, Gol VP technical Fernando Rockert de Magalhaes tells ATI.

The GPS landing system will allow Gol to perform continuous ascents or descents through the plotting of curved segments in a single procedure while the vertical situation displays allow for pilots to monitor the position of the aircraft in relation to the ground and identify ground relief and obstacles.

de Magalhael says that Brazil has not yet officially authorised RNP operations within the country, but expects the necessary approvals will be issued by the end of 2010, which is the same time period Gol expects to complete installations of the GPS and vertical situation display equipment.

Gol is interesting in using RNP the procedure gains regulatory approval. de Magalhael says RNP is more complex than the initial GPS landing procedures Gol plans to initially employ. GPS is one element of RNP, which also uses other signals to allow aircraft to operate along a pre-defined flight path with a specific degree of lateral accuracy.

By the time Brazilian authorities approve RNP operations de Magalhael says Gol will be prepared for the procedures.

Gol estimates it will take roughly four days to equip its 737s with the vertical situation displays and the sensors to handle GPS landings, and de Magalheal notes the installations are being completed while the aircraft undergo heavy maintenance. The carrier is performing the installations at its hangar located at Belo Horizonte airport.

New aircraft delivered to Gol in 2010 and beyond will already feature the GPS sensors and vertical situation displays. The carrier plans to add nine aircraft to its fleet next year.