IndiGo is adding RNP AR upgrades to its fleet of A320neos. (Airbus)
IndiGo, India's largest airline, is adding Required Navigation Performance with Authorization Required (RNP AR) upgrades to some of its A320neo aircraft.
NavBlue, an Airbus Services company that supplies flight operations and air traffic management IT technologies, is providing the RNP AR upgrade for IndiGo's A320s to provide the Indian carrier's pilots with the ability to "navigate mountainous areas or other challenging airspaces with precision and predictability," according to a Feb. 15 announcement on the upgrade. RNP AR is an advanced Performance Based Navigation (PBN) approach procedure that requires operators to obtain prior authorization from a civil aviation authority. The advanced navigation technique enables an aircraft to fly a pre-determined path between waypoints by placing an aircraft’s airport approach on a curved, precise path where the descent and positioning are constantly augmented by satellite-based navigation signals.
Ronojoy Dutta, CEO of IndiGo, said the upgrade will enable IndiGo pilots to "safely through challenging terrains like curvy or hilly areas during the takeoff or landing. We believe this will enhance operational safety of the aircraft while also improving efficiency in the long run."
Kathmandu is one of the airports where IndiGo sees the RNP AR upgrade providing some immediate benefits, as the mountains and terrain surrounding the airport can make the approach and landing process more challenging. The Performance-Based Navigation (PBN) upgrade being added to the A320neos allows navigation accuracy to 0.3NM and below, and turns after the final approach point, according to NavBlue.
NavBlue describes its RNP AR upgrade as an "end-to-end" solution, that includes support for the upgrade on the aircraft, procedure design, and navigation database validation along with support for flight crew training.
IndiGo is also purchasing NavBlue's Receiver Autonomous Integrity Monitor (RAIM) prediction service that allows pilots to use the latest available GPS satellite constellation information for calculating the mask angle, fault detection, selective availability, and baro-aiding aspects of using the RNP AR upgrade on a per-flight basis.
"For challenging airports where RNP AR approaches or departures are in use, along-track predictions use the real mask angle to account for terrain screening," according to NavBlue.
The RNP AR upgrade for IndiGo comes following the release of their Feb. 4 third-quarter fiscal year 2022 earnings results, with the airline reporting its first quarterly profit—1.3 billion rupees—in two years. IndiGo also expects to replace the majority of its in-service A320ceo fleet with A320neos by the end of 2022.