[Avionics Today 08-12-2015] Operators using Myanmar's two busiest international airports, Mandalay and Yangon, can finally begin using Performance Based Navigation (PBN) practices after the country's civil aviation authority approved and validated their first ever GPS-based procedures, which were badly needed in the country. Both airports have now unlocked the use of PBN, after flight validations were completed at the end of July through collaboration between experts from Hughes Aerospace and Honeywell.
Chris Baur, CEO of Hughes Aerospace, working with a team of Myanmar pilots to implement the country's first PBN procedures. Photo: Hughes Aerospace
Using a Cessna Caravan equipped with a retrofitted Garmin G1000 avionics package, Chris Baur, CEO of Hughes Aerospace, lead a team of Myanmar pilots through the first-ever PBN validation flight in Myanmar.
"The Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) of Myanmar wanted to implement their first ever [Global Navigation Satellite System] GNSS procedures starting with the main airport of Yangon. They wanted a GNSS procedure to both ends of the runway and then [Standard Instrument Departures] SIDS and [Standard Terminal Arrival Routes] STARS, based on GNSS," Baur told Avionics Magazine. "The government was eager to get them implemented, and derive the benefit of having SIDS and STARS, which they haven’t had before. The traffic there is definitely growing quite quickly, so this should help to address that growth."
Airlines and operators flying into both Mandalay and Yangon can begin using the new procedures immediately, Baur said. Operators will not be required to become certified or undergo any training there, as the majority of international carriers flying with modern aircraft have the avionics equipage and pilot training necessary to fly PBN procedures.
Like the rest of the country, Myanmar's airspace was ruled by a military junta until 2012 and had never undergone modernization of its aviation infrastructure. Over the last several years though, the Myanmar government has been rapidly modernizing its economy, and its airports.
"Their initial excitement was to get into the PBN global movement and do this with GNSS approaches," said Baur. "When we did the flight validation, we brought all of our own flight validation equipment and put it in their aircraft and conducted the flight validation and recorded the flight tracks. The aircraft flies the procedure and then we record the aircraft’s position independent of the aircraft system to validate it. What you’re mainly looking for, aside from recording flight tracks, is the 'flyability' of the procedure, ensuring that the aircraft is able to maintain the descent or maintain the crossing restrictions."
While the initial benefits will mainly be around the safety and flight operational efficiency of aircraft flying into and out of Yangon and Mandalay, implementing PBN also serves as a foundation to manage future air traffic growth in the region. The Airbus Global Market Forecast for 2015-2034 has predicted that the Asia-Pacific region will lead the world in air traffic by 2034.
Myanmar is the second major GNSS procedures project that the Hughes-Honeywell partnership has completed this year, following the implementation of GBAS approaches in China early this year. Honeywell, like most other major U.S.-based suppliers, sees Myanmar and the greater Asia-Pacific region as a major area of growth for the global aviation industry. Growth begins with projects such as the recently completed ones in Myanmar, and continues with aircraft equipage and air traffic management modernization, according to Michael Underwood, director of business development at Honeywell Aerospace.
"We view the aviation ecosystem in the Asia Pacific as a high growth region," said Underwood. “As such, we’re working across the full spectrum to help move and modernize not just the airplane fleets but the overall aviation infrastructure."
Beyond Myanmar, Honeywell and Hughes are in similar talks with other Asian-Pacific countries for aircraft navigation modernization projects.
"We recently opened discussions with the civil aviation authority of Sri Lanka to talk about their PBN needs. They heard about what we have done in Myanmar," said Underwood. "We’ve had similar discussions in Indonesia, the Philippines, so we’re very active in that region and working to help modernize the air traffic infrastructure there."