Just before Christmas I was in China for my 44th visit since helping to launch RNP operations in China beginning with the Air China Boeing 757 in Lhasa in November of 2004. Click here to see a photo. The occasion for this visit was to kick off our brand new training course, “PBN 201: Integrating PBN into Air Traffic Management”. PBN technology is endorsed by international organizations and regulatory agencies globally and is recognized as the enabler of more consistent and efficient operations at remote and busy terminal environments. In consideration of these benefits, the global expansion of Performance-based Navigation (PBN) is continuing to increase. A number of countries have done a remarkable job preparing PBN deployment plans and with trial deployments to gain experience and validate results for stakeholders. These same countries are then moving rapidly toward broad deployment with the idea of multiplying the benefits at an exponential rate through a network deployment of PBN infrastructure across the country. With expansion of PBN procedures at mid to high traffic airports, transformations in air traffic management concepts and techniques are needed to address a mixture of PBN and traditional operations.
China is an excellent example of a country that is remarkable in their PBN plans and progress with deployment, particularly with RNP. The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) and Air China had their first introduction to PBN during a visit to Boeing in the early part of the last decade. During that visit, they had a briefing on the aircraft capability and a simulator demonstration of the RNP operation in Juneau that had been pioneered by Alaska Airlines in the mid-1990’s. That introduction to RNP led to the launch of their first RNP deployment in Lhasa, Tibet which went into service with an Air China 757 in May 2006. Success led to success and today there are over a dozen airports equipped with RNP procedures flown by all four of the major airlines in China and an increasing number of regional operators.
There is one common theme for all of the RNP deployments at China airports to date, and that is to reduce the risk of operations at some of the most challenges airports in the world. The majority of the work has been in the Tibet Autonomous Region, Yunnan Province, and Sichuan Province. In most of this region, the average terrain elevations are 15,000’ and current RNP operations ensure predictable, reliable airline operations to airports in Tibet like Bangda with an elevation of 14,200’ and Ali, with an elevation just over 14,000’. With these extreme airport environments, the China RNP deployment strategy is understandable. Other countries that are actively deploying RNP have also focused on high-risk airports as a first step in deployment. What we have seen in other countries however, is a transition very quickly to an RNP deployment schedule that focuses on air traffic operational efficiency.
Being at the forefront of the global PBN transformation, GE is focused on developing and delivering air traffic management solutions that improve aircraft operations and the air traffic control workload. The PBN 201 course was created to address the need for ATM transformation associated with wide implementations and to help participants understand what’s required for successful PBN integration in a wide-variety of environments, including busy terminal areas.
The PBN 201 course builds on the real-world example of the pioneering work of the Brisbane Green RNP Project and highlights the results of this trial in an environment of medium density traffic with various levels of aircraft capability. Details on practical integration of PBN into the ATM system, including technical training requirements, project management and existing regulatory and guidance material was covered in the course.
We had a lot of positive feedback from the participants in the course and we expect to offer the course again in the future as part of our effort to support the deployment of PBN infrastructure in the various world regions.