Implementing new flight paths at 46 US mid-size airports could reduce fuel burn, emissions, and flight time; savings of at least $65.6M/year
Airlines could save at least $65.6 million annually while reducing carbon emissions and cutting flight times by implementing new flight paths at 46 mid-size airports across the US, according to study results released today by GE Aviation.
GE’s Highways in the Sky study illustrates the potential for significant economic and environmental benefit of near-term deployment of Required Navigation Performance (RNP) landing approaches. Although the study focused on 46 mid-sized US airports, the data and analysis supports accelerated deployment of RNP at any airport. GE’s study of the 46 airports concludes that deployment of RNP instrument arrivals would annually save:
- 12.9 million gallons of jet fuel, or 527 round-trip flights from New York to Los Angeles
- $65.6 million
- 274.6 million pounds of CO2
- 747 days of flight time
We are facing a serious global challenge as air traffic increases and our skies become more and more congested. This is an opportunity to provide tangible benefits to every stakeholder; responsible growth of an essential industry, better asset utilization, lower fuel burn and cost for airlines, greater throughput for airports and ANSPs, fewer delays for passengers, lower emissions and noise for communities and reduced dependence on foreign oil.—Lorraine Bolsinger, President and CEO of GE Aviation Systems
RNP technology allows aircraft to fly precisely-defined trajectories without relying on outdated, ground-based radio-navigation signals. Independence from a fixed, ground-based infrastructure, linked with the inherent precision of satellite navigation and advanced computer technology aboard the aircraft allow the creation of shorter, more consistent and more efficient flight paths. The consistency and efficiency of the new flight paths can reduce flight delays helping to alleviate costly air traffic congestion. ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organization, has predicted that efficiencies made possible by RNP alone can cut global CO2 emissions by 13 million metric tons per year.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s annual aviation forecast predicts that domestic air travel will double in the next 20 years, reaching the 1 billion passenger mark in the US alone by 2021. In addition, the total cost of all US air transportation delays is estimated at $32.9 billion by the National Center of Excellence for Aviation Operations Research.
In many locations around the world, RNP is already demonstrating significant benefits. In Brisbane, Australia, government sponsored trials demonstrated that RNP instrument approach procedures saved aircraft operators 882,000 pounds of jet fuel a year, even though only 18 percent of the aircraft were capable of flying the procedures. Based on those results, Airservices Australia is implementing RNP at 28 airports nationwide which it expects will save operators nearly 86 million pounds of jet fuel each year.
Highway in the Sky Methodology. GE Aviation’s PBN Services’ analysis projected the benefits of RNP deployment at 46 US airports that either have existing published RNP procedures or a significant number of arrivals of RNP-capable aircraft. A total of six models of aircraft for 12 national airlines were included in the study.
An average time savings of three minutes per flight was used to derive the average operating benefit of an aircraft flying on an RNP approach. Only direct aircraft operational savings were taken into account, which includes savings due to reductions in fuel (accounting for 41% of savings), maintenance costs and crew costs. Calculations were made using 2009 fuel prices, which have since risen significantly and can be extrapolated into further savings today. Indirect operator costs, such as on-time performance and diversions, are highly dependent on airlines and were not included in analysis, making these figures highly conservative.