China Eastern Airlines has completed a performance-based navigation validation flight at Lhasa Gonggar airport in a Boeing 737, the first demonstrated required-navigation performance (RNP) approach for the 737 at an airport greater than 10,000ft (3,050m) above sea level.

Lhasa Gonggar is in the Tibet autonomous region of China.

Designed by GE Aviation subsidiary Naverus, the procedure was developed to allow China Eastern's 737 fleet to access the 11,690ft altitude airport in the Himalayan mountains with greater reliability in both day and night and lower-visibility conditions.

Without RNP, access is limited to day-time operations in good weather, says Naverus, forcing the airline to divert or cancel many of its daily operations into Lhasa.

Earlier this year, Naverus also assisted China Eastern with RNP validation for its fleet of Airbus A319s at Lhasa and Yushu airports. The company has also designed and validated RNP procedures at several other Chinese airports, including Linzhi, Bangda and Jiuzhaigou.

Source: Flight International