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Airways Southern PBN Implementation

Airways Southern PBN Implementation –
An Airspace Transformation

12 February 2013

Airways New Zealand has implemented Performance Based Navigation procedures into Queenstown Airport, in a redesign of the Queenstown airspace that is improving air traffic flow and efficiency, doubling airspace capacity and vastly simplifying controllers’ workload.

The new procedures were introduced into the Queenstown airspace on November 15 last year, as part of Airways Southern PBN Implementation project. The challenge was to deliver a much safer and far more efficient Air Traffic Management system in extreme terrain rich airspace where no full surveillance was available.

Why Queenstown, and why now?

Over a million people a year fly into Queenstown, with passenger numbers increasing by 30% in the past three years. Queenstown has some of the most challenging terrain in the world – the high terrain, extreme weather and significant local tourism related traffic flows call for unique ATM solutions.

Airways has responded to the town’s strong growth to ensure Queenstown’s skies remain safe and cope with the larger numbers. The application of Required Navigation Performance Authorisation Required (RNP AR) procedures allows aircraft to fly very precise paths with a high level of accuracy - improving efficiency and safety and enabling jet operations to continue in a range of weather conditions.

About the implementation project

The completion of the Southern PBN implementation project is a significant milestone for Airways. The project took more than two years to complete, from the concept being proposed in its first draft, to the effective date of 15 November 2012.

As traffic continued to build into Queenstown, it became clear that a clean sheet approach was needed to enable sustained growth. The project was established to redesign the entire Queenstown ATC system using a full suite of PBN based procedures. The aim was to simplify controllers’ tasks, provide consistent and predictable flight paths, release controlled airspace back to uncontrolled where possible, and increase take-off payloads where possible.

Airways engaged a wide group of stakeholders during the implementation project – including key airlines, the Civil Aviation Authority, the Queenstown Airport Company, general aviation users, operational ATCs and procedure designers GE Naverus.

Extensive trials and staff and pilot training were required during the project. The use of Airways’ Total Control simulator allowed the concept to be trialled and developed to its final state, and played a critical part in training the Queenstown ATC staff.

Evidence of PBN success in Queenstown

The aviation sector has already reaped enormous benefits from the Southern PBN Implementation in the short time it has been in action.

• Queenstown Airport Company Limited can now handle up to 12 aircraft per hour, compared to the previous five hours in poor weather, in this extreme mountainous terrain
• All airlines operating in Queenstown are benefiting from dramatically reduced delays – from 2000-2600 minutes a month to only around 400 minutes a month (based on December 2012 data)
• The reworked RNP AR departures have provided a large increase in take-off payload – about 1700kg off runway 05
• Airways can safely manage more than double the traffic with no requirement to tactically separate arrivals from departures.

Airways has calculated the following possible savings per year, based on December 2012 data:

• Reduced delays: 19,200-28,800 minutes
• Reduced fuel usage: 480,000-720,000kg
• Dollars saved through reduced fuel and reduced delays: $630,000-$950,000
• CO2 saved: 2,000,000-2,250,000kg

What next for Airways New Zealand?

Airways aims to achieve a nationwide rollout of PBN procedures by 2015.

PBN procedures are already in place at Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland airports and have delivered significant operating benefits, specifically to airlines though shortened tracks between departure point and destination.


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