Southwest details RNP program

Washington DC
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Southwest Airlines will invest $175 million during the next six years to implement required navigation performance (RNP) procedures at the 64 airports the carrier serves, having received US FAA approval to conduct such operations.

Rollout of RPN, which relies on satellite-based navigation instead of ground-based systems, will begin late next year, likely at Dallas and Houston airports, Southwest senior director flight operations Jeff Martin said during the ATW-Leeham Company Eco-Aviation conference in Washington, DC, today.

Southwest’s Boeing 737-700s are equipped to operate RNP procedures and classic airplanes will be modified to be RNP-capable, Martin says.

By 2015, the carrier estimates the new procedures will reduce emissions by 156,000 metric tons per year and result in $25 million in fuel savings per year.

“Hopefully the rest of the industry will follow once we prove the business case,” he adds.

In addition to readying aircraft, the airline will train more than 5,700 pilots in 18 months, begin developing charted procedures with partner Naverus and request the US air traffic control system (ATC) adopt RNP procedures.