FAA Announces First RNP Approach

WASHINGTON - In a speech today at the
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Aviation
Summit, FAA Administrator Marion C.
Blakey announced, “Within a month, we
will approve the special approach
procedures for equipped aircraft to use
RNP for San Francisco International
Airport.”

RNP, which stands for Required
Navigation Performance, is an important
step in moving the U.S. from an
exclusively ground-based navigation
system to one located within the
aircraft itself. Through the use of
onboard technology, pilots will be able
to navigate aircraft to any point in
the world using only geographical
coordinates.

“RNP is a major leap forward in safety
and efficiency,” Administrator Blakey
said. “By providing pilots precise
guidance to all runways, RNP can help
prevent two major causes of accidents—
controlled flight into terrain and loss
of control.”

In addition, RNP will enable pilots to
land in weather conditions that would
ordinarily require diversion to
alternate airports. In poor weather at
San Francisco International Airport,
RNP procedures will open up another
runway at the nation’s ninth-busiest
airport. Alaska Airlines, which uses
these procedures at seven Alaskan
airports, reports significant safety
and economic benefits.

Because of its high degree of
precision, RNP allows for more
efficient use of airspace. According to
Blakey, “Put simply, RNP will allow us
to fly more planes, closer together,
and more safely than ever before.”

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Blakey also noted that data link went
operational with American Airlines in
Miami en route airspace on Oct. 7. Data
link - effectively e-mail for pilots
and controllers - frees up voice
frequencies and reduces delays. 
In remarks to leaders of the commercial
aviation industry, the FAA’s 15th
administrator touched on the themes of
her term. She told the group she is a
firm believer in “letting the data
drive you.” She intends to look at
the “hard numbers” and make decisions
based on “what is really there, not
what you would like to be there.”

“Second, I will work to provide
consistency and predictability when it
comes to the way the FAA works with the
airline industry.  There should be no
significant variations from region to
region, or from field office to field
office.”


The new administrator’s third key theme
is placing “a strong emphasis on the
international role the FAA and our
aviation industry can play.” She
said, “We must step up our efforts in
global leadership - in technology, in
aviation standards, and last but not
least, in raising the safety bar
throughout the world.”

Acknowledging the financial
difficulties the airline industry is
facing, Administrator Blakey said, “As
far as safety and efficiency and the
recovery of this industry are
concerned, simply put, I believe the
most important thing the FAA can do is
do our job - and do it extremely well.”

Safety is the top priority. “People
will only fly if they feel safe ... and
they will only return to the skies if
they are confident in the system.”
Blakey highlighted steps the FAA is
taking to enhance the air traffic
control system through better
technology and better efficiency and
said, “We remain committed to new
technologies and new infrastructures
that will affect the bottom line and
will mean huge savings for the
industry.”

She noted that the FAA’s work on
airspace redesign and on relieving
bottlenecks is already bringing U.S.
airlines savings of $117 million a year.

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