Tap Air Portugal A330 neo taking off.

Press Release: TAP approved for RNP AR approaches at FNC and PDL

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Press Release hub banner blue with title in red white and blueThanks to NAVBLUE’s expert support, TAP Air Portugal has received approval to fly RNP AR approach procedures at two major airports in the country: Madeira International Airport (FNC) and Ponta Delgada-João Paulo II Airport (PDL).

NAVBLUE supported TAP Air Portugal with the implementation of RNP AR upgrade retrofit, including any prior aircraft modifications required to be RNP AR compatible. 

Required Navigation Performance with Authorization Required (RNP AR) is a Performance Based Navigation (PBN) navigation specification, allowing navigation accuracy down to 0.1NM, and performing turns after the final approach point: trajectories can be better tailored to the operational environment, reducing minimas whilst maintaining safety.  

For these two airports RNP AR bring specific benefits: 

  • Madeira International Airport: Madeira is well known for its complex approach, with a late turn in final, quite often with strong lateral winds. This approach is challenging to fly manually. RNP AR allows pilots to fly the approach with the autopilot. This reduces workload and improves situational awareness by allowing the pilots to concentrate on monitoring the flight and getting ready to perform a go around if needed. This translates into enhanced safety, and improved efficiency as go-arounds are less likely. Efficiency is also improved by the better minima brought by RNP AR (400 feet and 800 feet lower Decision Height (DH) than conventional approaches for runways 05 and 23 respectively), which reduces the risks of diversions and cancellation. 
  • Ponta Delgada-João Paulo II Airport: RNP AR brings the same benefits as for Madeira, by improving safety and efficiency, replacing conventional approaches and their high minimas, therefore reducing the risk of diversion. For instance runway 12 has a LNAV only RNP approach and RNP AR allows to halve DH from 600 down to 300 feet; runway 30 has NDB and ILS approaches and RNP AR allows to improve the missed approach and offers options to reduce track miles while providing a Continuous descent approach and almost matching the ILS minima.

NAVBLUE supported TAP Air Portugal in obtaining operational approvals for RNP AR at both these airports, including the Flight Operational Safety Assessment (FOSA), for the airline’s A320s and A330s.  

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TAP Air Portugal operates multiple aircraft types (A320ceo, A320neo, A330ceo, A330neo) with different system configurations (FMS & TAWS). For RNP AR 0.1 procedures, the safety assessment must demonstrate that every individual configuration complies with the specific requirements of RNP AR, which sometimes requires a significant test campaign and demonstration exercise. Thanks to its expertise on Airbus systems, NAVBLUE was capable of optimizing the simulator sessions, ensuring quicker and cost-effective delivery for the airline. 

NAVBLUE also supported TAP Air Portugal through crew training services composed of ground training and simulator training and Navigation Database Validation. 

In the scope of the RISE (RNP Implementation Synchronised in Europe) project in 2017, NAVBLUE designed RNP AR procedures for these two airports. 

Marc Lemeilleur, CEO of NAVBLUE says: “We are always proud when one of our customers obtains RNP AR approval thanks to our team’s expertise. With RNP AR approach procedures, TAP Air Portugal will now benefit from optimized operational efficiency and enhanced safety when approaching Madeira and Ponta Delgada airports”. 

TAP Air Portugal is the state-owned flag carrier airline of Portugal, headquartered at Lisbon Airport, which also serves as its hub. The airline operates on average 2,500 flights a week to 90 destinations in 34 countries worldwide. The company has an Airbus fleet composed of A319, A320, A321 and A330. 

About NAVBLUE: NAVBLUE is a leading services company, wholly owned by Airbus, dedicated to Flight Operations & Air Traffic Management Solutions and services for airlines, airports and Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs), on the ground and onboard. NAVBLUE combines aircraft manufacturer expertise, flight operations know-how and agile development to enhance operational efficiency, optimize resources and increase productivity, for a safe and sustainable aviation. 

NAVBLUE delivers a reliable, optimum and customized user experience to more than 500 customers worldwide, in a range of areas, including digital cockpit operations, Operations Control Centre (OCC) systems, Flight Ops Engineering, Performance Based Navigation (PBN) and Air Traffic Management (ATM). 

NAVBLUE employs 465 employees spread across the world, with offices in Canada, France, Poland, Singapore, Sweden, Thailand, UK and US and representatives in several other countries across the globe.  

Featured image credited to Airbus