Woodrow Bellamy III

[Avionics Today 05-26-2015] China’s Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC) has unlocked a new capability for reducing delays and increasing efficiency at the country’s most congested airports that could be ready for live operational use by the end of this year. A recent flight demonstration by Honeywell and Hughes Aerospace showed the benefits of the SmartPath Ground Based Augmentation System (GBAS) for next generation GPS-based precision landings.
A cockpit display shows the GLS approach into Pudong Airport used during the April flight demonstration. Photo: Hughes Aerospace.
Using a China Eastern Airlines Airbus A321 and a Shangdong Airlines Boeing 737-800, flight crews demonstrated the first ever Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) instrument approaches in China at the end of April. To enable these precision landings, SmartPath’s four ground-based antennas take an aircraft’s GPS signals and sends them to a single box located on the airport, which then correlates the signals for a high degree of integrity before beaming it back up to the aircraft for precision landing guidance.
“The CAAC, knowing that they needed to have some very flexible alternatives to the legacy [Instrument Landing System] ILS, they asked us to do some very innovative approaches with the system,” said Brian Davis, vice president of airlines, Asia Pacific at Honeywell Aerospace. “Honeywell and our partner Hughes Aerospace, we actually designed and created the flight paths into Pudong airport, not only for the standard approaches but we did four very flexible innovative approaches that have never been done by a commercial airline before. The first one was what we called a displaced threshold, the second was a variable glide-path.”
Hughes Aerospace CEO Chris Baur also noted that the demonstrations were done in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC), providing a real world flight environment for the airline pilots.
“We built GLS approaches to all of the runways at Pudong,” said Baur. “We built GLS approaches to 35L and 35R and 17L and 17R. Then we did something that hasn’t been done anywhere before where we built multiple GLS approaches to one runway. For Runway 35L, we built a straight-in GLS approach and variable geometric path approaches, one with a 2.8 degree flight path angle and one with a 3.2 degree flight path angle.
Baur said the team also built two non-linear curved path, or XLS, approaches for Runway 35L, and the approach was flown to an automatic landing in IMC conditions. The trial flights provided a demonstration that exploited all of the benefits of the SmartPath technology, such as the ability to merge GLS with Required Navigation Performance (RNP) procedures to create a custom path to the runway based on the type of aircraft being flown.
Hughes Aerospace CEO Chris Baur and the flight crew from Shangdong Airlines that performed the precision landings demonstrations. Photo: Hughes Aerospace.
Davis says the implementation of the new procedures at Pudong can provide a model for dealing with wake turbulence issues from different aircraft as well. With heavier aircraft such as Boeing 747s, 777s or Airbus A380s dispersing an enormous amount of wake turbulence from the wings, aircraft in trail behind them are often forced to maintain very lengthy separation distances. An airport as busy as Pudong can face huge efficiency challenges when this happens.
“The variable glide-path allows the SmartPath station to send a signal to the aircraft that will allow it to fly a 2.8 or 2.9 or basically any glide-path you would like. It allows pilots to fly a much shallower glide-path than they would with an ILS,” said Davis. “SmartPath allows for up to 26 different approach combinations. That means for the same runway you can have an approach at a 2.8 degree glide-path. That’s where you bring the A380s and the Boeing 777s in. To the exact same runway, you can actually have the SmartPath station send a signal on a different channel to the smaller aircraft that will allow it to come in at a 3.1 degree glide-path, for example, so wake turbulence always disperses downward. If we bring those larger aircraft in at a shallow glide-path and the smaller aircraft in at a steeper glide-path, that means the 737 and A320 are always above the wake turbulence footprint of the larger aircraft.”
SmartPath has already been deployed in Australia, Brazil, Germany, Spain and Switzerland, and CAAC sees it as one of the key tools for managing future increases in air traffic. The International Air Transportation Association (IATA) expects China to have 415 million air travel passengers annually by 2016, which would be second only to the United States in domestic passenger volume.
According to Davis, the majority of aircraft coming off of production lines today are equipped with Multi-Mode Receivers (MMR) capable of performing GBAS landings and the localizer guidance and glide slope guidance for a SmartPath approach looks the same to a flight crew as if they were flying an ILS approach.
Going forward, the new procedures must now be certified by the CAAC and Air Traffic Management Bureau.

“We should have this station up and certified by the end of 2015, or the early part of 2016 with many airlines ready to fly the new GBAS procedures shortly thereafter,” said Davis.

– See more at: http://www.aviationtoday.com/av/commercial/China-Eastern-Shangdong-Demonstrate-GBAS-at-Pudong_85121.html#.VWXotflVikq

| Aviation Week & Space Technology           May 12, 2015

China leapfrogged its international peers in late April with what is arguably the world’s most advanced display of a precision navigation capability—satellite-guided curved approaches with multiple glideslopes that seamlessly terminated in automatic landings.

The one-day demonstration on April 29 took place at Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport using a China Eastern Airlines Airbus A321 and a Shangdong Airlines Boeing 737-800 with senior officials from China’s Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC) and air traffic management bureau onboard. Anchoring the capability is a Honeywell SmartPath ground-based augmentation system (GBAS) that has been operating at the airport since January.

The approaches at Pudong demonstrated key benefits of a digital GBAS landing system (GLS), including the ability to merge the GLS with satellite-based required navigation performance (RNP) procedures for a customized 3-D path to the runway. RNP provides the aircraft with narrow horizontal and vertical paths into the vicinity of an airport, where GLS provides the precision guidance to landing. The SmartPath system, the first certified GBAS landing system to be installed in China, uplinks digitized approach paths and correction factors to GPS signals to allow an aircraft equipped with a multi-mode receiver capturing GPS signals from space and the GLS information from the ground station to fly as many as 26 approaches to multiple runways. A GLS can replace or augment traditional instrument-approach architectures that use analog horizontal and vertical guidance transmitters placed at each runway end to transmit a straight-in path to the runway, typically at a 3-deg. glideslope. Those systems are costly to maintain and require flight inspections on at least a semi-annual basis.

A GLS approach into the Pudong Airport as seen on the primary flight display of an aircraft participating in a late-April demonstration of satellite-guided curved approaches. Credit: Hughes Aerospace


Navigation procedure developer Hughes Aerospace drafted eight approaches for Pudong in partnership with Honeywell. Included are GLS procedures for Runway 35L that offer a traditional straight-in approach with 3-deg. glidepath, a curved approach that mates with an RNP arrival and intersects a straight-in GLS final, a straight-in approach with 2.8-deg. glidepath and a straight-in approach with a 3.2-deg. glidepath and a 3,517-ft. displaced threshold. RNP approaches with curved paths can be used to join with a GLS approach closer to the airport, saving track miles and fuel compared to legacy approaches, or to avoid noise-sensitive areas.

Chris Baur, president and chief executive of Hughes Aerospace, says choices for glidepath angle potentially could allow airports to increase runway throughput by mitigating wake turbulence concerns. For example, the arrival rate could be increased by having a heavy aircraft fly an approach with a lower glidepath while a lighter aircraft uses the steeper glidepath approach with displaced threshold.

SmartPath, to date the only FAA-certified GLS on the market, is installed at several airports worldwide, including Newark (New Jersey), Houston, Frankfurt and Sydney, where a growing number of aircraft equipped with multi-mode receivers (MMR) can access the capability. The systems are currently approved for Category 1 instrument approach minimums (aircraft must be in visual conditions at 200 ft. above the runway to continue the approach), but the FAA and others are working toward Cat. 2 (100-ft. minimums) and Cat. 3 capability (50-ft. minimums or less, including autoland) in the next several years. The FAA says Cat. 3 operations could be available in the U.S. in 2018.

A handful of airlines globally are beginning to use GLS as an alternative to a straight-in legacy instrument landing system (ILS) with a 3-deg. glideslope, particularly as newer aircraft are available from the factory with the option. Boeing says it has more than 1,000 GPS-equipped in-service aircraft, with the number growing by 25 per month. The airframer says one-third of all new 737s are being delivered with the MMRs, which are standard equipment on the 747-8 and 787.

Delta Air Lines conducted its inaugural GBAS landing with a Boeing 737 at Newark Liberty International Airport on Feb. 18, joining United Airlines and British Airways, which were already flying the approaches there. The FAA says United is averaging 65-70 GBAS landing system (GLS) approaches at Newark and Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport each month with a portion of its 737 and 787 fleets. United has 95 737s and 14 787s with MMR avionics, and is selecting the option for all new 737s.

Delta is using the approaches in Houston as well as in Newark, and has a fleet of 42 GLS-equipped 737s. The carrier is investigating GLS for its Airbus fleet. In total, the airline plans to have 177 aircraft equipped for the approaches by 2019, according to the FAA. A growing number of international airlines also are using the capability at Newark and Houston. Emirates conducted its first GLS landing in Houston in December with an Airbus A380, one of 57 GLS-equipped A380s at the time. The carrier also uses the approaches at Frankfurt, Sydney and Zurich. Lufthansa made its first GLS landing in Houston in December with one of 12 equipped A380s that also use the approaches at Sydney and Frankfurt. Cathay Pacific made its first GLS landing in Houston, with a 747-8, at the end of January. The FAA says Virgin Atlantic is also planning to seek operational specification approval for the approaches into Newark. Other carriers purchasing GLS-equipped aircraft include Air Berlin, Qantas, Swiss, TUIfly and various Russian airlines.

Next steps for Pudong include CAAC certification of the GLS at the airport, an inaugural process that may allow for quicker installations at other airports in the country.



| Aviation Daily

A China Eastern AirlinesAirbus A321 and a Shandong Airlines Boeing 737-800 flew a series of instrument approaches to the Shanghai Pudong International airport on April 29 using a Honeywell-built ground-based augmentation system (GBAS) and instrument-approach procedures developed by Hughes Aerospace, marking the first public demonstrations of the technology in China.

The Honeywell SmartPath GBAS landing system (GLS)—which augments GPS signals to boost accuracy to required levels—is the first certified system to be installed in China. One GLS, which can output guidance for up to 26 approaches to any runway, replaces traditional instrument-approach architectures that require horizontal and vertical guidance systems to be placed at each runway end. The single system covers approaches for all four runways at Pudong and saves on a variety of regular inspection and maintenance costs.

SmartPath, to date the only FAA-certified system on the market, is installed at several airports around the world, including Newark, Houston, Sydney and Frankfurt. The GLS is currently approved for Category 1 (Cat 1) instrument approach minimums (aircraft must be in visual conditions at 200 ft. above the runway to continue the approach), but the FAA and others are working toward Cat 2 (100-ft. minimums) and Cat 3 capability (50-ft. minimums or less, including autoland) in the next several years. The FAA says Cat 3 operations could be available in the U.S. in 2018.

Other “firsts” on April 29 include the demonstration of curved approaches that connect to the GLS, and approaches with lower- or higher-than-standard glideslopes, including a 2.8-deg. flight path angle (FPA), a 3.2-deg. FPA and the standard 3.0-deg FPA. The 3.2-deg. FPA approach also included a displaced threshold of 1,072 ft., an offset that could help avoid the potential for wake turbulence during parallel runway operations, Hughes Aerospace CEO Chris Baur said.

Hughes, which is partnered with Honeywell on the project, is one of three FAA-certified third-party providers of NextGen procedures. Baur said the company built eight approaches into Pudong. The two commercial aircraft each flew 4-5 non-revenue approaches in instrument weather that day, he said.

Next steps for Pudong include certification at the airport by the China’s Civil Aviation Administration (CAAC) and Air Traffic Management Bureau, a process that may allow for quicker installations at other airports in the country.




ORLANDO, FL (March 5, 2015)Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. company, (NYSE: TXT), has contracted Hughes Aerospace Corporation to develop performance based navigation (PBN) procedures for use by operators flying Bell helicopters with advanced onboard navigation systems in China. The selection process for the first location in China is underway.

“Performance based navigation is a real win for our operators in China,” said Chris Jaran, vice president and managing director for Bell Helicopter in China. “PBN allows our customers safer and optimized access to airspace, allowing them to fly more direct approaches and departures helicopters are suited for, rather than having to fly circuitous IFR-based or fixed wing aircraft patterns.”

Performance-based navigation (PBN) is a general term that defines navigation performance requirements for an air traffic route, instrument procedure, or defined portion of airspace. PBN provides safer and improved access to airspace, reducing the possibility of Controlled Flight into Terrain (CFIT), and improves all-weather helicopter navigation. Satellite-based navigation delivers lower approach minima resulting in fewer weather-related delays and diversions, fuel savings due to less flight time through optimized routing and more reliable, repeatable flight paths.

“The flexibility PBN delivers to operators translates into less fuel burned and time in the air, effectively increasing the number of flights a helicopter can perform before requiring maintenance,” said Hughes Aerospace President and CEO Chris Baur. “We look forward to working with Bell Helicopter and their customers in China to provide safety and reliability enhancing PBN products and services.”


Bell, Hughes Explore PBN for Operators in China by Kerry Lynch –

March 5, 2015, 11:24 AM

Bell Helicopter, teamed with Hughes Aerospace, is exploring the development of performance-based navigation (PBN) procedures for Bell operators in China equipped with advanced navigation systems. PBN defines navigation performance requirements for air-traffic routes and instrument procedures. The procedures would enable the helicopter operators to optimize access to airspace, flying more direct approaches and departures than they would otherwise under IFR-base routes or those designed for fixed-wing aircraft, said Chris Jaran, vice president for Bell Helicopter in China. “The flexibility PBN delivers to operators translates into less fuel burned and time in the air, effectively increasing the number of flights a helicopter can perform before requiring maintenance,” added Hughes Aerospace president and CEO Chris Baur.



Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Woodrow Bellamy III

[Avionics Today 12-23-2014] A new consortium formed by the Single European Sky ATM Research Joint Undertaking (SESAR JU) will perform more than 200 demonstration flights at airports throughout Europe to validate new approach and landing technologies. The new consortium, called Advanced Approaches for all Airports (A3), is looking to use the demonstration flights to develop new approach and landing solutions that will increase air traffic throughput while also reducing aircraft emissions and noise over communities located near airports throughout Europe.
Computer rendering of an RNP approach into an airport runway. Photo: Hughes Aerospace.
NetJets Europe is leading A3’s demonstration flights, named the Augmented Approaches to Land project (AAL). The project will use advanced approach and landing procedures based on five different technologies; curved Required Navigation Performance paths (RNP), Ground and Satellite-based Augmentation Systems (GBAS and SBAS), Synthetic Vision Guidance System (SVGS), and Enhanced Flight Vision System (EFVS).
These different approaches provide benefits for operators with more efficient flight paths into airports, as well as the airport itself, as they eliminate reliance on inflexible ground-based Instrument Landing System (ILS) equipment. GBAS systems are designed for aircraft equipped with GPS landing system technology, which most current production Airbus and Boeing airplanes feature.
“It will demonstrate that augmented vision and satellite-based augmented navigation can improve the access while reducing the environmental impact of all types of airspace users into all types of airports,” said Jean-Phillippe Ramu, SESAR project manager, second in command Gulfstream V/550 at NetJets Europe. “We believe that the project will show what will be the approach and landing operations of tomorrow.”
One of the more progressive aspects of the demonstration will be the trials that feature the use of synthetic vision technology. SVGS technology, such as Honeywell’s SmartView system, provides a three-dimensional view of an airborne aircraft’s surrounding terrain, obstacles, airports and runways. Honeywell has applied for a Supplemental Type Certificate for SmartVision Lower Minimums (SVLM) that, if certified, would allow pilots to navigate using synthetic vision down to a 150 feet decision height with visibility as low as 1,400 feet.
Curved noise abatement Required Navigation Performance (RNP) procedures with transitions to satellite navigation based approaches (GBAS and SBAS) will be demonstrated during the trials. A3 also has a goal of developing and publishing new airport procedures during the demonstration period.
Deploying more Performance Based Navigation (PBN) procedures, such as those mentioned above, is one of the top goals of the overarching Single European Sky project in Europe and the NextGen Air Traffic Management (ATM) modernization project in the United States. During a recent interview with Avionics Magazine, Chris Baur, president and CEO of Hughes Aerospace Corp., discussed the benefits of eliminating operator and airport reliance on ILS equipment. In 2013, Hughes lead the effort to establish the first public RNP procedure at the world’s busiest airport, Chicago O’Hare.
“There’s really no business case for legacy navaids anymore. Its just a horrific expense, you have to constantly calibrate them, validate them, maintain them, and you’re limited as to how you can operate,” said Baur, who is also a commercial airline pilot.
“Everything with these legacy navaids is also linear you have to fly out to catch your radio beam and track it inbound. The GBAS, the [GNSS Landing System] GLS approaches, the RNP approaches, the PBN catch all eliminates all of that,” he said.
Honeywell and Elbit Systems will be supplying the avionics for the demonstrations, while Dassault Aviation andAirbus will provide airframe manufacturer and aircraft systems support. Lufthansa and Swiss Airlines will also participate in the demonstration flights, which will occur at small and medium airports including Perigueux, Bergerac, Bordeaux, Ostrava and Bremen, as well as large airports Frankfurt and Zurich.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Woodrow Bellamy III

[Avionics Today 12-3-2014] Hughes Aerospace and Honeywell Aerospace have announced a partnership with Myanmar’s Department of Civil Aviation to bring Performance Based Navigation (PBN) procedures to the nation’s busiest airports. In recent years, both companies have embarked on a global initiative to assist airports with redesigning the airways within their airspace to allow them to move away from legacy ground-based navigation aids and forward to PBN procedures. The satellite procedures enable shorter and more direct routes as well as more efficient takeoffs and landings that help operators reduce fuel burn and CO2 emissions.
Computer rendering of an RNP approach into an airport runway. Photo: Hughes Aerospace.
Hughes Aerospace President and CEO Chris Baur, an air transport, business jet, helicopter and General Aviation (GA) pilot with more than 35 years of commercial and military flying experience, will be traveling to Myanmar to perform a flight validation of the new takeoff and landing routes. Myanmar’s two main international airports, Yangon and Mandalay could use the new procedures to reduce overload in air traffic, as they currently handle a combined three million passengers annually. Hughes, in partnership with Honeywell, has helped to lead some of the biggest airspace redesign projects throughout the U.S., Europe and the Middle East, leading the transition into this new global era of taking advantage of onboard equipment to fly safer and more efficient landings and takeoffs.
“In Myanmar, we were early to go into the country and show them what the benefits are, we’re working with them right now doing some validation of the procedure concepts that they came up with at Yangon and Mandalay,” Baur told Avionics Magazine. “Yangon is their capital and busiest airport. I’ll be going over myself in January to meet with the directorate general and his staff and fly the procedures.”
The Myanmar airports are part of the Asia-Pacific region, which is currently experiencing some of the fastest increases in demand for air transportation services. As that demand continues to rise, civil aviation authors face the challenge of safely increasing capacity, efficiency, and access, particularly in regards to some of the terrain-challenged airports in the region. Currently, Hughes and Honeywell are among third-party developers of PBN procedures that are certified by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to help the international aviation community transition to a global performance-based airspace.
“Utilizing our combined expertise in PBN procedure design, process and quality control, navigation database creation, and Flight Management Systems, our team is reviewing and validating a number of new [Global Navigation Satellite System] GNSS-based departure and arrival procedures developed by the Myanmar Department of Civil Aviation,” Brian Davis, vice president of the Asia Pacific airlines division at Honeywell, told Avionics Magazine.
“Beyond Myanmar, we are active in numerous projects all around the world to promote, support and enable the global movement to adopt PBN for enhanced aviation safety and efficiency,” Davis added.
The main benefits of PBN procedures for airlines are their ability to address current limitations of air transportation capacity. Some of the specific advantages include, “better access to terrain/airspace-challenged airports; parallel runway, converging and adjacent airport operations; lower Minima resulting in fewer weather-related delays and diversions; reduced flight time due to optimized routing; and more reliable, repeatable flight paths,” said Davis.
Hughes and Honeywell also recently introduced PBN procedures in the Philippines. In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines’ Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport in Tacloban as well as surrounding areas. The Typhoon knocked out the airport’s sole ground-based navigation aid, causing them to make a transition to PBN and switching to satellite-based technologies that use area navigation procedures in order to enable a lowering of the approach minimums that were in place using the legacy aids prior to the occurrence of the disaster.
“We made the offer of providing them with the flight procedures at no cost. We subsequently got a license to be a third-party public procedure design organization by the government of the Philippines and we presented our procedures to the director general of the Philippines,” said Baur, adding that the airport and airlines that fly there are now developing the new procedures.
“When you look at the [VHF Omnidirectional Range] VOR approach that was there before, the VOR was destroyed by the Typhoon. The GNSS procedure that we built that was GPS-based, provided them with lower minimums than the VOR and obviously its Typhoon-proof, there’s nothing on the ground for them to maintain and they’re going to get more benefit out of it — and in the process we made the approach and the transition much more efficient, which reduced the amount of track miles that the aircraft would fly so it reduced the environmental impact as well as the fuel used by the aircraft used to service Tacloban,” Baur said.
Now, Honeywell and Hughes are bringing their integrated CNS approach to deploy PBN with a focus on the inter-relationship between Air Traffic Control (ATC) engineering, Safety Management Systems (SMS) and flight operations to the two busiest airports in Myanmar. According to Baur, the majority of aircraft flying into both Yangon and Mandalay airports in Myanmar have the onboard FMS and GPS technology required to fly the new more efficient procedures.
“We work with differential GPS, which is really the future,” said Baur, adding that most GPS systems have about a 10 meter accuracy in measuring the position of the aircraft along its flight path during an approach to the airport. “If you can augment the GPS signal, you can bring the accuracy down consistently. One way that it’s done is through space-based augmentation, or SBAS, which in the U.S. they would call WAAS. That’ll bring the accuracy down to one to two meter accuracy as you know you can develop a three-dimension path in space, and [Localizer Performance with Vertical guidance] LPV approach and that LPV approach will give you essentially what a CAT I [Instrument Landing System] ILS would without the ground-based infrastructure,” said Baur. “The other part of differential GPS is GBAS, or Ground-Based Augmentation. GBAS takes the GPS constellation and brings it down to a 10 centimeter accuracy.”
Bauer said the Honeywell-Hughes partnership will have more announcements about new PBN projects throughout the Asia-Pacific region and other parts of the world in early 2015.

“Any time somebody publishes a procedure I celebrate it, it’s a victory, it’s what the aviation community is gradually moving toward,” said Baur. “Most of the world is evolving and the low-hanging fruit seems to be GNSS approaches, GPS-based [Standard Instrument Departures] SIDs and [Standard Terminal Automation Replacement Systems] STARs.”

– See more at: http://www.aviationtoday.com/av/topstories/83657.html?hq_e=el&hq_m=2993025&hq_l=11&hq_v=0bcf5e07bd#.VIHOQDHF-Ag


Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Juliet Van Wagenen

[Avionics Today 11-26-2014] Honeywell Aerospace and Hughes Aerospace will assist Myanmar’s Yangon and Mandalay international airports to develop satellite-based navigation technologies for optimizing takeoff and landing routes. Performance-based Navigation (PBN) procedures, made possible by satellite technologies, allow for shorter and more direct routes and more efficient takeoffs.

Yangon and Mandalay are Myanmar’s two main international airports, capable of handling more than 3 million passengers each annually. This is the first step in an effort to improve procedures at Myanmar airports by the Department of Civil Aviation, which plans to install PBN procedures at other international and domestic airports in the country.

“These new PBN instrument flight procedures will transform Myanmar’s existing airspace, supporting not only safer, all-weather access but improved reliability and growth opportunities for the future,” said Chris Baur, president and CEO of Hughes Aerospace.



Hughes Aerospace


Chicago’s O’Hare airport recently implemented its first RNP (required navigation performance) instrument approach. The satellite-based precision approach is part of the new generation of GPS approaches popping up at airports around the nation and the world. Chris Baur, president and CEO of Hughes Aerospace, the company that developed the approach, told Examiner on Wednesday that the new approach is an environmentally friendly alternative to current land-based approaches.

Instrument approaches are the procedures used by pilots to locate the landing runway when the weather precludes a visual approach. At large airports like O’Hare (KORD), the typical method of tracking to the runway involves an ILS (instrument landing system) approach. ILS approaches use land-based transmitters to send signals to the pilots that bring the airplanes to the touchdown point on the runway both laterally (with a localizer) and vertically (with a glideslope). This requires two separate transmitter facilities for each runway that utilizes an ILS. This can be cost-prohibitive for small airports.

RNP approaches utilize satellite navigation technology instead of ground-based navigational facilities. The aircraft’s flight management computer is programmed to fly a predetermined course along a series of waypoints, locations on a map that do not have to coincide with any geographic feature, toward the runway. Because the airplane is following GPS waypoints, approaches can easily be planned to avoid terrain features or noise sensitive areas. They can also be developed over water where land-based facilities are impractical. At some airports, RNP approaches even follow a curved path to the runway using RF (radius to fix) segments, such as this approach at Atlanta’s Peachtree-DeKalb airport (KPDK).

The RNP, required navigation performance of the approach, determines the accuracy of the approach and has an effect on the minimums, how low the pilot can go without seeing the runway. The required navigation performance for approaches can be as low as 0.1. This means that an airplane’s navigational system must be accurate to with 0.1 nautical mile radius 95 percent of the time. This is referred to as performance-based navigation (PBN).

Baur says the new approach has several advantages over traditional ILS approaches. The RNP approach uses GPS satellites so there are no “costly ground based Infrastructure, architectural weakness and repetitive flight inspections” that are required of traditional ILS facilities. This can reduce costs for maintaining the approach.

Ground-based facilities are also subject to interference from local weather conditions. Baur notes that snow from the infamous Chicago winters can accumulate on antennas and cause a degradation of the navigation signals just when accuracy is needed most. “In the event of the loss or degradation of the ILS, traffic flows and arrival rates can be maintained” with RNP approaches, Baur says. This can translate into fewer delayed or canceled flights for airline passengers. Baur also points out that, because RNP approaches are designed with the stabilized approach concept in mind, they will likely result in fewer missed approaches or “go-arounds.”

“Collectively this reduces the overall environmental impact to the airport and surrounding community,” Baur says.

There are some disadvantages to RNP approaches as well. RNP approaches require special pilot and aircraft certification. Baur notes that many, but not all, modern airliners are equipped with avionics that are capable of RNP approaches. Manyairlines have already incorporated RNP approaches into their training programs. Many, if not most, private airplanes are not equipped to fly RNP approaches. This means that smaller aircraft flying into smaller, rural airports cannot benefit from RNP approaches where their value could be greatest.

Further, RNP approaches are nearly, but not quite, as accurate as an ILS. An ILS typically has minimums of 200 feet and ½ mile visibility, but can go even lower in some cases. This means that the airplane can descend as low as 200 feet above the ground without making visual contact with the runway. The RNP approach at O’Hare has minimums of 330 feet and ¾ mile visibility. In most cases, the higher minimum will not make a difference, but in a snowstorm or fog, the extra 130 feet might make the difference between landing and going around.

In spite of the drawbacks, Baur feels that RNP and PBN are the future of aviation. “Today most of the major US Airlines and many of the foreign airlines have received authorization for RNP AR [arrival] procedures, as well as many corporate operators,” he says. “I feel RNAV (RNP) as well as RNP AR will continue to grow and provide benefits. The number of participating operators will also increase with improved access through avionics.”

Hughes Aerospace has already developed RNP approaches in numerous countries around the world. Baur notes that the approaches would be valuable to airports that are concerned with terrain, noise abatement, airspace restrictions or maintaining arrival rates in the event of a disruption of ground-based facilities. They are also an alternative to the high cost of traditional ground-based approach facilities. As technology improves as entry costs for RNP-capable avionics improve, RNP approaches will become more and more common around the world.


Hughes Aerospace Corporation and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) worked closely with stakeholders to design and implement the first Required Navigation Performance (RNP) Instrument Flight Procedure at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. This cornerstone of Performance-Based Navigation (PBN) technology provides the public with an environmentally friendly approach procedure that is purely satellite based and does not require the installation or maintenance of costly ground navigation equipmentChicago Chart
Hughes Aerospace led the effort to deliver this technology by designing the procedure as well as performing the Instrument Flight Procedure Validation activities in their own aircraft. Additionally, Hughes Aerospace will maintain the procedure in accordance with its FAA approved maintenance program.
PBN utilizes RNP technology to transform how airplanes navigate the sky. The FAA, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and regulators worldwide are addressing the impact of air traffic growth by implementing PBN capabilities and efficiencies while simultaneously improving safety, reducing aircraft environmental impact and increasing user access.
“We enjoyed the opportunity to work closely with the FAA and various stakeholders to bring this technology to O’Hare, the traveling public and the Air Transport industry,” said Chris Baur, Hughes Aerospace President & CEO.
“With the majority of the operators at O’Hare equipped and certified for RNP AR, we are excited to see this new procedure providing benefits immediately,” said Jeff Witt, Managing Director of Navigation Services at Hughes Aerospace.
Hughes Aerospace Corporation possesses licenses and certifications from several countries throughout the world for Instrument Flight Procedure Design and is endorsed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) as an Instrument Procedure Design Organization for both Performance-Based Navigation (PBN) and Conventional instrument flight procedures. Additionally, Hughes Aerospace participates with the ICAO Performance-Based Navigation “Go-Team” as a stakeholder in the Global PBN Movement.
For questions about this release, please contact Alyce Shingler at info@hughesaerospace.com
For more information from the FAA on NextGen, visit http://www.faa.gov/nextgen/