South African Airways contracts Quovadis to help reduce fuel burn


Airbus subsidiary Quovadis has been contracted by South African Airways (SAA) to design required navigation performance (RNP) procedures for Cape Town International Airport in an effort to reduce fuel burn and CO2 emissions.

RNP is a type of performance-based navigation that lets aircraft fly the straightest line and the most consistent radius turn route instead of traditional point-to-point leg based ADF/VOR/DME/ILS methods of zigzag navigation. The benefits are reduced fuel burn and better management of airspace.

As part of the contract with SAA, Quovadis will design RNP procedures for the Airbus A320 family (including the A319 and A321), A330 and Boeing 737-800 aircraft, the company has announced.

At the moment, SAA’s arrival procedures at Cape Town International average 70 nautical miles from approach to landing, a figure Quovadis says it hopes to reduce.
“We believe that by flying RNP-AR [authorisation required, which require approval from the airline controlling authority] procedures, we will save around 20 nm on the arrivals and 10 nm on the departure, creating important savings for the company,” said SAA head of flight operations and chief pilot Johnny Woods.
“Quovadis was the natural choice for South African Airways, not only has Quovadis broad and international recognized experience in Performance Based Navigation, but their knowledge in terms of Air Traffic Management was critical for such a busy airport. I strongly believe that introducing RNP procedures at Cape Town paves the way to Four dimensional (4D) traffic management,” Woods said.

Cape Town International is the second busiest airport in South Africa and sees more than 30 daily flights by SAA aircraft. As Africa’s third busiest airport, Cape Town International has around 100 000 operations a year. It will be the first airport in Africa to institute RNP approaches and departures.

RNP approaches can save up to 5% on fuel burn, according to Avionics News magazine. RNP flight makes use of global positioning systems to provide the appropriate level of accuracy and functions as the primary navigation data source.

At the moment the American Global Positioning System (GPS) is the only fully operational satellite navigation system, but the Russian GLONASS is being developed towards full global coverage and China’s regional Beidou navigation system is being expanded into the global Compass navigation system, which will be complete by 2020. Meanwhile in Europe, the Galileo satellite navigation system will be fully operational by 2020.

RNP approaches are a relatively new phenomenon – Alaska Airlines became the first airline in the world to use an RNP approach in 1996.