The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has asked GE Aviation to expand required navigation performance (RNP) at China’s Jiuzhai Huanglong Airport. The program, which is intended to simplify pilot and controller workload, will include seven more airlines and extend RNP capability to the mountainous airport’s instrument landing system (ILS).

The latest airlines to benefit from RNP capability will be Air China Chongqing, Chongqing Airlines, West Air, Chengdu Airlines, Hainan Airlines, Lucky Air and Xiamen Airlines. In an earlier phase of the work that started in 2011, GE prepared Air China (Chengdu), China Eastern, Sichuan Airlines and China Southern to use the RNP technology.

“Key to the airlines’ operational efficiency at the airport is the RNP to ILS procedure, which enables lower landing minima and additional predictability for all-weather operations,” said Alan Caslavka, president of GE Aviation’s Avionics & Digital Systems division. “The procedure also connects to a required navigation performance-authorization required missed approach, providing a fully contained and guided flight path in the event of a go-around.”

Under a CAAC mandate, Jiuzhai and five other Chinese airports became RNP-capable as of April 1. The particular operational challenge at Jiuzhai is navigating through the complex terrain of the Min Shan mountain range.

In a similar project, GE and Airways New Zealand recently completed the redesign of airspace around Queenstown, more than doubling the airport’s capacity. The main new feature is the use of RNP flight paths to allow concurrent arrivals and departures.

This work builds on GE’s long experience with flight management systems. The company has been selected to develop the FMS for Boeing’s new 737 Max narrowbody and, at the same time, it is working with Thales to provide the system for the rival Airbus A320neo. It is also developing the FMS for Boeing’s new KC46 tanker platform and is developing an upgraded FMS for the P8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft for both the U.S. and Indian navies.

“The key for us with FMS is that we have a 4-D capability with 0.1 accuracy for RNP,” Caslavka told AIN. “Right now our focus is on continuing to evolve the functionality that FMS offers and developing an architecture to which we can readily add software and hardware capability and new features.”

Digital Efficiency

Meanwhile, GE is building on the new integrated digital service joint venture that it launched with Accenture last December. The partners are looking to help airlines achieve greater efficiency from areas such as improved aircraft utilization. This involves achieving a high degree of integration between the operational centers handling maintenance and aircraft recovery.

The new venture taps Accenture’s experience in enterprise resource planning and GE’s experience in flight operations analysis. “We are providing the capability to monitor aircraft data in real time and also coordinate with operators’ ground services networks after the aircraft lands by communicating data from quick access recorders,” explained Caslavka. “It means you can more accurately predict aircraft availability and if you can do that you can more efficiently schedule repairs and predict what you will need from a spares perspective.”

The new joint venture is increasing its employee-count to around 100 by year-end. Here at the Paris Air Show it is expecting to announce its launch customer. 

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