Britain’s National Air Traffic Services (NATS) is stepping up operating trials aimed at making greater use of both en route and terminal area airspace. New procedures being evaluated include the use of parallel offset tracks in place of radar headings alone; closer spacing of parallel routes with autonomous operations; and the use of precision area navigation (PRnav) procedures for terminal area control.
The FAA has begun redesigning high-altitude airspace above FL390, and among the first beneficiaries will be Rnav- and RNP-equipped business jets that routinely operate at those altitudes.
The FAA is proposing numerous revisions to instrument flight rules and procedures to reflect technological advances intended to “facilitate the transition from ground-based navigation to new reference sources,” principally GPS and enhanced vision systems. The notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) cuts a 60-page swath through the Federal Register, affecting Parts 1, 71, 91, 95, 97, 121, 125, 129 and 135.
In her final speech before the Washington Aero Club last month, former FAA Administrator Marion Blakey chided the airlines for causing most of their own delay problems with flight schedules that “are at times out of line with reality.”
The pilot’s decision to rapidly maneuver the helicopter at a high density altitude near steeply sloping terrain was the cause of a fatal air-tour helicopter crash on Aug. 10, 2001, according to the NTSB’s final report. The pilot and five passengers were killed and one passenger was seriously injured when the Papillon Airways AS 350 hit terrain during an uncontrolled descent near Meadview, Ariz.
At the FAA’s two-day New Technology Workshop last month, the focus was sharply on the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NGATS). The key enablers to get there, according to Nick Sabatini, FAA associate administrator for aviation safety, will be “performance-based” navigation and Internet-like access to critical information such as near real-time weather.
Dramatic reductions in approach minimums at terrain-challenged airports are among the more spectacular results of applying RNP-Rnav. But more widespread benefits are promised when procedures based on the capabilities of modern aircraft supersede those that tie the airplanes to expensive ground navigational aids.
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