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RNP Save Story: Horizon Passengers Hit the Slopes

Mar 21, 2017
By: Stacy Honda, Marketing Manager

Reduction in Flight Cancellations Saves Vacations for Hundreds

Less than 2 months after receiving approval from the FAA to begin using its proprietary Required Navigation Performance (RNP) instrument approach procedure at Friedman Airport near Sun Valley, Idaho, Horizon Air (a subsidiary of Alaska Airlines) was able to give its passengers what they wanted – an arrival just in time to get in a few runs on the slopes. This was achieved despite the snowy weather conditions. Geared up for ski season, Horizon Air is able to employ its RNP technology at 2 airports, Friedman Memorial at Sun Valley, Idaho and Mammoth Lakes, California.

RNP enables certified aircraft and specially trained pilots to follow precise three-dimensional curved flight paths through difficult terrain using a combination of onboard navigation technology, Global Positioning System (GPS), and in Horizon Air’s case, Universal Avionics SBAS-FMS. This system allows aircraft to fly more reliable approaches to lower weather minima and safe landings. It also eliminates the reliance on ground-based navigation aids.

Cody Hargreaves, RNP engineer at Alaska Airlines, who was an integral part of approval and implementation of this type of approach, explains just what this means to Sun Valley; “Friedman Memorial Airport is located in a deep valley with surrounding mountain peaks. As a result, instrument approaches used by pilots are often hampered by low cloud ceiling and extensive visibility requirements, resulting in a higher than average percentage of flight cancellations or diversions. The RNP approach Horizon uses will increase safety in this challenging environment and will drastically reduce the number of diversions.”

“Just in time for the ski season and holiday travel, the expected improvement in reliability this brings to our airport during inclement weather will greatly benefit our customers traveling to the area as well as local residents,” said Chris Pomoroy, Airport Manager at Friedman Memorial Airport. Since the ski season began, Horizon Airlines has benefited from over a dozen “saves,” preventing diversions and flight cancellations at these two airports by using these proprietary RNP approach procedures. The RNP effort, which was in development for over 10 years, has already started to pay off for Horizon Air and its customers.

Read the full article here: SatNav News, Volume 59, Fall/Winter 2017.

RNP approach procedures is a game changer…” – Steve Bush, Technical Pilot, Horizon Air

 Horizon Air

1 comment

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  1. Perry Solmonson | Mar 21, 2017

    Horizon Air began the journey towards RNP with Universal Avionics in 1997. 20 years ago there were so many aspects of navigation data bases, air worthiness issues, operating procedures as well as MEL and Emergency/Abnormal manual updates to consider for FAA approval. Universal worked closely with Horizon and the FAA throughout the years to eventually create clear guidance material and Operations Specifications that made sense. 

    In addition to the obvious benefits of lower approach minimums, Horizon also realized through FOQA data significantly reduced unstabilized approaches, as well as reduced TAWS alerts over rapidly rising terrain. 

    It has been a long time in the making, and the benefits now realized from RNP technology have proven the wait was worth it. Universal has been a terrific partner in this aspect of NextGen development. Horizon would not have the capabilities they have today without Universal!

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