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Boeing awarded $3.1M Greener Skies contract from FAA

Boeing has received a $3.1-million research task order award for “Greener Skies Initiative 2” from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to maximize performance-based navigation (PBN) capabilities across the United States. The Boeing team will evaluate current precision navigation procedures and analyze new procedures to advance the use of flight deck and air traffic control capabilities in the national airspace system for an improved air traffic management system.

The Initiative builds on the success of the Greener Skies Over Seattle project, which demonstrated Alaska Airlines’ ability to cut fuel burn and reduce emissions by 35% compared to a conventional landing using precision navigation called Required Navigation Performance (RNP).

Required Navigation Performance (RNP) is a GPS-based navigation technology that enables aircraft to fly precise and predefined paths to closely spaced parallel runways. The result is more efficient departure, en-route and approach profiles and a reduction in fuel usage, emissions and noise. The research will help create new procedures in flight deck and air traffic control ground-based systems, which will lead to new reduced separation criteria and increased safety margins.

The procedures will be tested at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Seattle’s Boeing Field for future implementation at capacity-constrained airports across the United States.

The contract is a task order award under the FAA’s Systems Engineering 2020 (SE-2020) contract. Boeing will lead an industry consortium consisting of SE-2020 team members Adacel, Airbus, Cessna and Honeywell. Boeing’s Air Traffic Management team draws on expertise from across Boeing, including Commercial Airplanes, Flight Services, including Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen, Boeing Research and Technology and Boeing Defense, Space & Security.

Boeing, Alaska Airlines, the Port of Seattle and the FAA began the Greener Skies partnership in 2009. In 2010, the FAA approved Greener Skies as an official FAA project.

Separately, the consensus of the international aviation Industry leaders who had gathered in Seattle for the fifth annual Global PBN Summit was that PBN will produce major environmental and economic improvements if communities, airlines, airports and air navigation service providers collaborate to implement them.

PBN unleashes the full potential of current-generation aircraft to fly precisely-defined paths without relying on ground-based radio navigation signals. Required Navigation Performance (RNP), an enhanced mode of PBN, guarantees the aircraft does not stray from the path and enables additional navigational flexibility, such as the ability to follow curved paths.

At the Summit, Captain David Newton, Senior Manager of NextGen/Airspace at Southwest Airlines, illustrated for participants how Southwest has already realized fuel savings from implementing RNP approaches at 16 airports around the country, for a total of 5,800 RNP approaches in 2011. Newton noted that recent successes in other places such as Brisbane were a testament to what can be done.



Similar GPS approach type was tested in 1982 and was so successful that it stopped further development and installation of MLS, for curved approaches. Some 30 years latter, we are still giving away $$$ to duplicate the same tests.

About 90% of all ground guidance systems stopped working in Africa in the last 30 years. Everybody is doing approach on GPS, for lack of other ground based systems. It is not 100% legal but there's no other choice. Considering that mostly very old aircraft are used in that area, the accident rate, without ground based guidance systems, is still reasonable.

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