Boeing received FAA approval as a third party developer of Required Navigation Performance - Authorization Required (RNP AR) solutions for 787 operators, the company said Wednesday.
The approval is a compliment to the 787 avionics suite, with displays, communications/surveillance systems and the pilot control system developed by Rockwell Collins and the flight control electronics and navigation systems provided by Honeywell. According to a Boeing spokesperson, the company will make an announcement in the near future of its first airline to receive regulatory approval to fly RNP AR procedures on 787s.
In 2011, when the 787 entered into service, a team of Boeing avionics engineers described RNP as the "global benchmark for all future navigation," and described how the evolution of air traffic management operations worldwide is increasing the reliance on RNP for improving airspace design and management. They also predicted unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and sport aviation aircraft would eventually begin flying RNP AR procedures as well.
With air traffic estimated to grow over the next decade, and a healthy 787 order backlog, RNP AR procedures are likely to become standard for current and future 787 operators.
Third-party developers of RNP AR flight procedures--such as Boeing--face a complex process obtaining FAA-approval, mainly because developing and publishing public flight procedures require government oversight, according to the agency. Until 2007, third-party RNP AR developers were only developing special flight procedures, where as approval for airlines to use these procedures commercially requires government approval.
"It’s a complicated, rigorous process – very detailed and thorough. Regulators are diligent in ensuring that the airplane is capable and has the necessary equipment, that the operator is capable of flying the procedures, that the operator has training, flight procedures and navigation database processes in place -- and that these are working together properly," Elizabeth A. Holleman, a spokesperson for Boeing told Avionics Magazine.
Currently, the RNP approval is only applicable to the 787-8 Dreamliner, however Boeing is looking to add the capability to the larger 787-9 and 787-10 variants in the near future.
Related: Commercial Avionics News