Qantas has launched required navigation performance proving flights at a number of airports in Western Australia and Queensland as part of the carrier's ongoing use of RNP technology.

Broome, Kalgoorlie, Karratha and Mount Isa are the latest airports to join the RNP programme, with trials set to continue through to 2010. Qantas launched RNP procedures into and out of Queenstown airport, New Zealand, in September 2004. Two years later it added domestic RNP procedures at Alice Springs, Ayers Rock Uluru, Canberra, Gold Coast, Hobart, Sydney and Townsville. Cairns in Queensland was also part of the programme, but RNP approaches and departures to that airport were dropped after a year following complaints by local residents about noise caused by the new approach procedures.

Qantas says that in conjunction with Airservices Australia it has undertaken extensive environmental assessments in the latest cities to ensure the trials are not detrimental to the environment or local residents.

Qantas 737-800
 © Andrew Hunt/AirTeamImages

RNP uses the GPS navigational capabilities of the airline's Boeing 737-800s to optimise flight approach and departure tracks and reduce fuel consumption and emissions while "enhancing safety and providing access to airports in reduced weather conditions", says Qantas chief pilot Chris Manning. RNP offers more reliable and predictable flightpaths, time and fuel savings, shorter route distances, reduced emissions and noise, according to Manning. Qantas has 34 737-800s in its fleet.

Source: Flight International