Jetstar is equipping its fleet of A320 and A321 aircraft with the latest satellite-linked landing and navigation system to improve safety and on-time performance.
Aircraft fitted with the system known as Required Navigation Performance (RNP) can safely navigate around cloud shrouded mountains, through valleys and over high terrain when low visibility would normally close an airport.
Unlike conventional satellite navigation systems, RNP keeps aircraft within a tight block of predetermined airspace, allowing pilots to track around ground-based obstacles in times of poor visibility or bad weather.
Year-long trials of the system at Coolangatta, Brisbane, and at New Zealand’s worst weather affected airport, Queenstown showed that aircraft equipped with RNP had deviated less than an average of 0.01 nautical miles off course during instrument assisted landings.
Before the Queenstown RNP trials the minimum conditions for instrument landings were 15 kilometres of visibility and 2700 feet of cloud.
Based on the trial findings and in consultation with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and its New Zealand counterpart, the Civil Aviation Authority, the minimum for RNP assisted approaches at Queenstown has been reduced to 3 kilometres of visibility and 400 feet of cloud.
After an earlier series of trials at Brisbane Airport involving Qantas aircraft, Air Services Australia reported that 4,200 minutes of flying time and 17,300 nautical miles was saved during 1,612 RNP assisted approaches. As a result more than 200,000 kg of jet fuel was saved and carbon emissions were reduced by 650,000 kg.
Jetstar now has CASA approval to conduct RNP approaches at Brisbane and the Gold Coast, and is in talks about other airports.
Jetstar Group CEO Bruce Buchanan said the technology made flight safer, faster and more efficient.
“Innovation is key at Jetstar, because it’s a smart way to deliver a better service and also keep costs down. This new navigation aid reduces the time spent circling due to bad weather, which helps passengers arrive on time and cuts our fuel use.
“The Queenstown trial proved the real worth of the system allowing flights to operate through 90 per cent of the peak winter ski season when the airport would previously close for up to 25-days a year,” Mr Buchanan said.
“It also puts us ahead of competitors in the Australian marketplace.”
The Jetstar Group is one of Asia Pacific’s fastest growing airline brands with one of the most extensive ranges of destinations in the region. It is made up of Jetstar Airways (subsidiary of the Qantas Group) in Australia and New Zealand, Jetstar Asia in Singapore, Jetstar Pacific in Vietnam, and Jetstar Japan in Japan. Jetstar branded carriers operate up to 4,200 flights a week to more than 75 destinations. The Jetstar Group carried more than 34 million passengers in financial year 2016.