airberlin debuts precision landings at Innsbruck

airberlin has become the first German airline to launch satellite-based precision landings using RNP procedures with its Boeing fleet at Innsbruck.

RNP-AR, which stands for ‘Required Navigation Performance with Authorization Required’, makes it possible for an aircraft to fly a specific path safely on approaches through mountainous terrain and to take off and land in stormy weather conditions.
To establish satellite-based precision landings as a part of regular flight operations, airberlin has been participating in a joint research project for complex heterogeneous air traffic (HETEREX) since 2009.
The aim of the research project is to create the conditions for curved approaches on takeoff and landing at German airports using the RNP procedure. In this way densely populated areas and obstacles can be avoided reducing noise and emissions pollution.
Marc Altenscheidt, airberlin captain and head of the Boeing fleet, explains: “The case of Innsbruck shows that airberlin has the operational expertise to carry out takeoffs and landings using RNP procedure at other airports.
“We have created the technical conditions necessary within the Boeing fleet and our pilots are trained in this procedure. With the new approach procedure airberlin’s Boeing fleet now has access to another potential means of taking off and landing, which further increases flight safety and the reliability of flights even in stormy weather conditions.
“It also presents new possibilities in the area of environmentally efficient flying. A particular feature in Innsbruck is that RNP-AR can also be used for difficult takeoffs. This gives us a huge competitive advantage, because airberlin can take off in fog with visibility of up to 300 metres. In such stormy conditions, other airlines have to adhere to visual flight rules in the initial part of the flight in order to fly out of the valley.”
airberlin said the RNP procedure has tremendous potential to reduce noise pollution, which has not yet been exploited to the full in Germany.
“In future, aircraft could be re-routed to avoid flying over densely populated areas close to airports, since the RNP procedure allows aircraft to make a curved final approach and the flight path does not need to be linear. In the area of fuel efficiency the approach procedure can also lead to savings due to a more efficient use of air space,” said the airline.
The German carrrier added that the RNP procedure could open up a new dimension in the discussion on aircraft routing for Berlin Brandenburg Airport.