Air New Zealand is now able to operate its first required navigation performance approach after receiving clearance to operate Boeing 737-300s into Queenstown, where aircraft must operate around the mountainous terrain surrounding the airport on New Zealand's South Island, writes John Croft.

The aircraft use GPS navigation and approved avionics to stay within a 0.3nm (0.55km) wide pre-programmed corridor during its descent. This is the first time the type has received approval for RNP, says the Seattle, USA-based procedure designer Naverus.

The airline says the RNP clearance, which allows it to fly a series of tracks on different headings during the descent to the runway will, at Queenstown, "dramatically" reduce the number of scheduled services that it has to cancel because of weather. Before RNP the crew had to have visual contact with the runway at 2,629ft (801m). The RNP approach has reduced the decision height to 1,253ft for runway 23 and 1,136ft for runway 05.

Source: Flight International