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New RNP Flight Path Designed by GE Aviation Debuts at Bradley International

American Airlines Flight 1916 on Thursday became the first US flight to use a publicly available, commercially designed instrument flight path in its touchdown at Bradley International Airport. Naverus, a part of GE Aviation, designed the path, which incorporates Required Navigation Performance technology (RNP), a core component of the FAA’s NextGen airspace modernization plan. (Earlier post.)

RNP paths can be custom-tailored to reduce airport congestion, shorten trip distance, reduce an aircraft’s time in flight, and create community-friendly flight trajectories that lessen the effect of aircraft noise.

The new landing procedure, which became a permanent fixture at Bradley Airport, allows pilots to use onboard technology to follow a precise track, independent of aging ground-based navigation beacons that limit where the aircraft can go. As a result, the Bradley procedure will enable airliners to land on Runway 15 during periods of low clouds and visibility that previously would have stopped them from landing there.

Over the next 20 years, airspace and airlines around the world will fundamentally change from how we operate today. This new procedure is a critical step to help implement NextGen modernization. American Airlines, which has long been a pioneer with RNP and RNAV, is very excited to work with GE and usher in a new era for US aviation.

—Captain Brian Will, American Airlines’ Director – Airspace Modernization and Advanced Technologies

The inaugural flight using the newly-approved approach to Bradley International Airport’s Runway 15 was American Airlines Flight 1916, which arrived from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. Captain Will was at the controls of the Boeing 737 NG, which carried as a passenger GE Aviation Systems Technical Fellow for Air Traffic Management, Steve Fulton, a long-time champion of RNP who developed the world’s first RNP flight paths in the mid 1990s.

GE is a leader in RNP, deploying effective RNP procedures around the world and is the first third-party procedure designer to publish a public RNP procedure in the US. In Canada, China, Australia, New Zealand, Peru and now, the United States, GE’s RNP procedures are in regular daily use.

GE is working with the FAA and other regulatory bodies and navigation service providers around the world to develop the capability for aircraft to share optimized flight trajectories with air traffic control in real time, and to negotiate modifications to those trajectories when necessary. This ultimately will allow airlines to plan each and every flight to operate on the most efficient flight path with the least possible environmental impact.

Navigational and operational capabilities such as these will make air traffic management more efficient by helping airlines plan more direct routes, decreasing airspace congestion, saving fuel and reducing commercial aviation’s greenhouse gas emissions—which have increased 80 percent over the past 20 years. Without new RNP flight paths and other essential upgrades, FAA estimates that by 2015 the current air traffic control system will be unable to handle the 50% increase in airplanes and passengers expected over the next decade.

RNP procedures can provide different benefits, depending on their design. GE specifically designed the Bradley Airport RNP approach to provide pilots with continuous vertical guidance to Runway 15 while allowing them to land when the cloud ceiling is as low as 350 feet above the ground. Prior to the new RNP approach, the existing instrument approach procedure for the runway provided no continuous vertical flight guidance and was of no benefit to airlines when cloud ceilings were lower than 1,000 feet above the ground. It’s anticipated that the new RNP approach will improve the utility of Bradley’s Runway 15 and provide pilots and controllers with additional navigation flexibility during periods of adverse weather or winds.




For God's sake, just do it already! They have been talking about getting this fixed since they tried to hire me to do this back in the late 80's.

We could cut down on flight time, congestion and cut about 20% fuel usage if these morons would quit whining about it and do the damn thing already.



I agree with DaveD. It seems to me that there are many people employed to work on a problem, and few that work on solving the problem. This is my primary complaint about government, especially our newer, bigger government. I don't see very much effort towards increasing efficiency.


DaveD is correct. Similar satellite based navigation, approach/landings were done and positively tested in 1982. The safety argument has been going on for 28 years. Many would be surprised to learn the huge number of flights operating on satellite data only in many countries where ground based systems have failed (or not certified) or non-existent.

Basically, all commercial flights (and private) could fly and land safely without ground based fixed navigational aids. Curved approaches could spread the noise around over wider areas. Airstrips and airways use could be increased. Eventually, every aircraft will regularly transmit their exact position to air traffic control units (almost anywhere on the globe) without the need for expensive ground radars.

The new EU satellite system will increase reliability and precision above current ground based systems. Closing down grounds based systems will save a few $$B a year worldwide and could offset most of the cost of the new EU system currently going up. Poor countries would get free satellite based system and flight safety would be the same every where. A clear improvement for 80%+ of the globe.

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