[photopress:air_RNP_Lhasa.jpg,full,alignright]First of all what is RNP? It stands for Required Navigation Performance which uses GPS (global positioning system) and sophisticated avionics to ensure that aircraft stay on precise, pre-programmed paths. Air China A319s will use this capability to guide its planes through Himalayan mountain valleys when arriving and departing the airport at Lhasa. The illustration shows the runway there and the fact you need all the help you can get.
It has already been used this month making it the world’s first Airbus plane to use RNP in revenue service. Now it is being extended through the Airbus A319 fleet.
Naverus makes the system and has worked with Airbus, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Air China to make this new safety measure work.
In addition to providing navigation solutions for terrain challenged airports, RNP can also be used to increase safety and operational efficiency while minimizing aircraft emissions and noise at any airport.
There is a further benefit which is not widely understood. It is possible, using meteorological information, to plan a flight path to use the minimum of fuel to get from A to B. As the price of fuel rises and as the protests against the so-called greenhouse effect become louder so it will be important for a commercial aircraft to use the least possible amount of fuel. Systems to fly aircraft in this way to some extent have been in use with some airlines for several years. Now RNP takes it to a new level.