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RNP: Three Little Letters That Mean Big Things for Modern, Eco-Friendly Flying

Where: Lima, Peru
March 20, 2012 at 3:32 PM | by | ()

"Terrain challenged" isn't exactly what you want to hear about the airport where your flight will be landing, but thanks to technology (thanks, technology!), it's now a cause for excitement rather than worry. Add this acronym to your travel vocabulary: RNP, or "Required Navigation Performance."

RNP is the hip, new navigation system that uses satellites and 3D calculations to devise the best route into an airport. Alaska Airlines, Southwest, Qantas and a couple others are old hats at using RNP by now, but LAN only made the switch in February to using the technology for the entire flight.

The lucky inaugural RNP route: Cusco-Lima, Peru. Though passengers onboard were more concerned with taking snapshots of the dramatic Andean scenery out the window, the pilots up front were enjoying 30.5 km shorter flying distance, 6.3 fewer minutes in the air, 644 kg less CO2 released into the air and 67.5 gallons of fuel saved—and that's just on a single flight!

So how does RNP benefit you, the passenger? Simple: it allows your flight to fly when maybe a plane using the old ILS, terrestrial-based navigation system can't. This means a decrease in delays and flight cancellations, less flight time total and flying safely despite low visibility and dramatic terrain.

So how will you know if your flight is using RNP? Well, you could ask the Captain or First Officer, but here's some South American airports where your LAN flight may have it:
· Cusco, Peru
· Lima, Peru
· Santiago, Chile
· Cajamarca, Peru
· Arequipa, Peru
· Juliaca, Peru
· Temuco, Chile
· La Serena, Chile

Temuco, Chile

Cajamarca, Peru

RNP is just one step towards making air travel as eco-friendly as possible. Hanging out at LAN's HQ in Santiago, Chile recently and chatting with Diego Convalia, Senior Fuel Manager and LAN pilot, we learned that not only is LAN at the forefront with installing winglets on their planes (4% reduction in fuel consumption right there), but they've even reduced the weight of each flight attendant service cart by 8 kilos. Small things add up, of course. Diego also brags: "we're the best at washing our engines."

Things have been very exciting lately for LAN Airlines. They completed their first biofuel flight full of paying passengers, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is on its way down to the FIDAE Airshow to hang out with its future airline and—what we're concerning ourselves with here—they're moving ahead with RNP. 2012 is turning out to be quite the year, and we're only three months in.

[Images & video: LAN, Airplane photo: Jaunted]

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