Southwest Airlines celebrates 'Green Tuesday' with RNP demo
Adding a different green tinge to St Patrick's Day, Southwest Airlines has flown an RNP (Required Navigation Performance) procedures roundtrip between Dallas Love Field and Houston Hobby. The flight achieved a major milestone in the airline's quest to become the first airline to fly RNP procedures at every airport it serves.
The demo flight by Southwest is the result of two years of work and a partnership with the FAA, plus work with industry partners. RNP is satellite-based navigation and is one of the cornerstones for the FAA's Next Generation Air Traffic Control system (NextGen), bringing together the accuracy of GPS (global positioning system), the capabilities of advanced aircraft avionics, and new flight procedures.
"RNP allows aircraft to fly more precise, direct, and accurate paths, reducing emissions and saving on fuel," said Southwest Airlines executive vice-president and COO, Mike Van de Ven. "This is a milestone in the six-year plan to implement RNP procedures across the Southwest system and assist the FAA with NextGen initiatives."
In support of the FAA's Roadmap for Performance-Based Navigation, Southwest is investing $175 million during this six-year project to implement RNP procedures, retrofit aircraft, and train its pilots. The initial investment will provide long-term benefits to reduce industry air traffic congestion and increase aircraft efficiencies.
The recent roundtrip RNP demo flight between Dallas Love Field and Houston Hobby produced preliminary results which showed: an estimated carbon reduction of 904 lb of CO2 per roundtrip flight between the two airports; an estimated carbon reduction in one year of flying RNP procedures on the route could reach approximately 8,420,000 lb of CO2, equivalent to removing 699 passenger cars from the road for one year; fuel savings of 8%, which translates to approximately 43 gallons (US) of fuel per roundtrip flight between Dallas Love Field and Houston Hobby; and fuel savings in one year of flying RNP procedures between the two airports could effect approximately 400,000 gallons (US) of fuel savings.
"The data collected is extremely promising for just one roundtrip flight, and we are excited to implement additional flights at airports across our system," said Jeff Martin, senior director of flight operations and Southwest's RNP Lead. "This has been a true collaborative effort between nearly every department at Southwest and our many industry partners.