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FAA NextGen

FAA NextGen and RDU

Part of the Federal Aviation Administration's Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), Required Navigation Performance (RNP) is a Performance Based Navigation (PNB) procedure which aircraft may use for arrival approaches to airports. It is designed to improve safety, provide standardization of aircraft routing in the air and promote fuel efficiency. RNP utilizes the Global Positioning System (GPS) to create accurate and repeatable arrival corridors to airport runways. The preciseness of GPS, which allows far greater accuracy than current radar arrival control technology, enables the FAA to more efficiently control planes in the air and bring them safely into the airport. This accuracy allows aircraft to approach an airport in a faster, more direct route reducing fuel use which, in turn, reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

RNP arrival routes have been developed and approved by the FAA for use at RDU. Although approved routes exist here, their use is infrequent. Currently, less than one RNP approach, on average, is being flown into RDU per day. Most aircraft today do not possess the equipment necessary to use NextGen technology. It is not anticipated that significant growth in the use of RNP at RDU will occur in the foreseeable future. The basic reason for this is that the FAA operational procedure which requires multiple miles of separation in the air between those aircraft which use RNP and those aircraft which possess no NextGen equipment and must use current approach technology. A further impediment to widespread use of RNP is the fact that general aviation aircraft are not required to use NextGen technology. Until such time as the majority of aircraft are NextGen equipped, and flight crews are trained, significant use or RNP at Raleigh-Durham will be constrained.

RNP is part of the FAA's Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen). According to the FAA, NextGen will relieve air traffic congestion, allow more direct routing of flights, reduce flight delays and promote fuel efficiency. The FAA's NextGen Implementation Plan anticipates that by 2018, the use of NextGen procedures will provide $22 billion in cumulative benefits to the traveling public, aircraft operators and the FAA. NextGen is also predicted to reduce flight delays by 21 percent. By 2020, all commercial aircraft will be required to be capable of utilizing NextGen procedures.

NextGen procedures and their use are governed by the Federal Aviation Administration. The control of aircraft in flight and on the ground is vested exclusively in the FAA. The FAA, however, cannot control the number of flights or the time of day of aircraft operations. Federal law preempts any local government agency, such as the Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority, from implementing any action that is intended to control the routes of aircraft in flight.


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