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Air New Zealand will fly its first RNP enabled flight from Sydney to Queenstown tomorrow, after becoming the first Airbus operator in the world to have an entire Airbus fleet enabled by Required Navigation Performance (RNP).
RNP enables specially trained pilots to fly to lower altitudes with a more precise and efficient route into the airport, saving fuel and emissions and helping reduce the impact of bad weather on services.
The airline has fitted the new technology onto its fleet of 13 A320s, which operate services across the Tasman.
Air New Zealand A320 RNP Project Manager Captain Philip Kirk says the airline received its RNP certification for the A320 fleet from the Civil Aviation Authority on 18 September following the successful completion of a comprehensive nine month trial programme.
Captain Kirk said the first service using the new certified technology, which is one of the latest developments in aircraft navigation, would operate between Sydney and Queenstown this Saturday 18 October.
Flight NZ832, captained by A320 Captain Greg Pringle, will depart Sydney on Saturday at 10:00 local time and arrive in Queenstown at 1500 local time.
Air New Zealand last year introduced RNP onto six of its Boeing 737 aircraft operating domestically into and out of Queenstown, with more than 138 services enabled so far by the new technology.
Captain Kirk says its introduction on the A320s will provide more reliable services for customers between Australia and Queenstown, which is subject an average 36 days a year to low cloud conditions that can impact on services.
Air New Zealand operates up to nine return trips a week using the A320s over the peak winter season.
“RNP has been fantastic news for our domestic customers and we expect it to deliver similar results for our Australian customers, particularly during the very busy ski season when the weather conditions can be a little more challenging for our operations,” says Captain Kirk.
“RNP also offers a range of commercial and environmental benefits. Because of its high precision capability it can reduce noise emissions and significantly reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions by using much shorter, curved approaches to airports.”
At this stage Queenstown is the only New Zealand airport at which RNP is used.
Captain Kirk said Air New Zealand will be working with regulatory bodies over the coming year to investigate how it can use the technology to reduce fuel consumption and emissions on A320 services into other airports.