An Airbus A321 operated by Swedish charter airline Novair has achieved a world first by flying a seamless continuous descent approach required navigation performance (RNP) letdown to the instrument landing system at Landvetter airport.

The achievement has just been revealed by Sweden's air navigation service provider LFV, which led a team integrating the satellite-guided RNP and ILS systems.

"This is a major breakthrough, demonstrating that green approaches can now be carried out independent of weather conditions," said LFV.

Since the 7 April flight the operational trial, known as the Vinga project, has continued its validation process on ordinary Novair operations.

Although the marriage of RNP with ILS is one outcome, it is not the sole objective of Vinga. The project is a total operations exercise in minimising all emissions and noise nuisance, whether on the ground or in the air, on departure and approach, and it is backed by the Single European Sky research project, SESAR.

The Swedish Transport Agency is responsible for regulation of the airborne procedures, which is categorised by the International Civil Aviation Organisation as an RNP-AR (required navigation performance - authorisation required) procedure.

Other partners in the Vinga project are the airport operator Swedavia, Airbus subsidiary and performance based navigation specialist Quovadis, and Airbus itself as the airborne systems integrator.

Quovadis' Paul-Franck Bijou points out that getting a barometric VNAV descent profile to intercept perfectly with the geometric descent profile presented by the ILS was, technically, the most difficult challenge for his company and Airbus.

Essentially, however, it only takes is a software upgrade to the flight management system with no additional hardware needed.

Airbus estimates a carbon dioxide saving of 1t per airport visit when Vinga RNP procedures are followed, and noise is also reduced.

Novair's operational flights at Landvetter will use the new procedure for more than 100 flights before September this year during which measurements will be taken to validate the procedure.

Source: Flight International