Aviation Week & Space Technology
Feb 19, 2016
A new breed of procedure designers is mapping fast lanes above and beyond.
Building highways in the sky requires getting your feet dirty. Luckily, I wore boots the day I accompanied a team from Hughes Aerospace Corp. through the ranchlands of Cisco, a tiny rural town smack dab in the middle of Texas. Today’s job: validating a slate of new performance-based navigation (PBN) procedures that Hughes built for the operators of a new airport in Cisco. At the edge of the Angle R property, adjacent to an approach path, a tree limited the minimum altitude for a certain approach; its height had to be verified for a final data package to be sent to the FAA for approval of the procedures.
What is unusual at Gregory Simmons Memorial Airport is that the owners, with a small fleet of Cessna and Bombardier business jets, did not look to install any land-based instrument approaches: They jumped right into the future. That future will largely consist of approaches and departures defined by global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), GNSS augmentation systems, GNSS-based landing systems, or required navigation performance (RNP) avionics—rather than procedures linked to traditional land-based systems such as VORs or instrument landing systems. Along with lower costs—no ground infrastructure has to be purchased and maintained—PBN is more efficient, allowing for more direct routes, safe passage around obstacles and an associated reduction in fuel burned and carbon emissions. (more…)