LISBON, PORTUGAL — TAP Air Portugal has received approval for RNP AR Approach operations to two major Portuguese airports. RNP AR approach procedures for both airports were designed by NAVBLUE, a Toulouse-based Airbus subsidiary with offices in Canada and United Kingdom.

NAVBLUE supported TAP Air Portugal for fleet retrofit, crew training, operational approvals, and navigation database validation. TAP Air Portugal has received approval for Madeira International Airport and Ponta Delgada-João Paulo II Airport.

Required Navigation Performance with Authorization Required (RNP AR) is a Performance Based Navigation (PBN) navigation specification, allowing navigation accuracy down to 0.1NM, and performing turns after the final approach point: trajectories can be better tailored to the operational environment, reducing minimas whilst maintaining safety.

The benefits of RNP AR tor these to airports are as below:

Madeira International Airport: 

Madeira is well known for its complex approach, with a late turn in final, quite often with strong lateral winds. This approach is challenging to fly manually. RNP AR allows pilots to fly the approach with autopilot. This reduces workload and improves situational awareness by allowing the pilots to concentrate on monitoring the flight and getting ready to perform a go-around if needed. This translates into enhanced safety and improved efficiency, as go-arounds are less likely. Efficiency is also improved by the better minima brought by RNP AR (400 feet and 800 feet lower Decision Height (DH) than conventional approaches for runways 05 and 23, respectively), which reduces the risks of diversions and cancellation.

Ponta Delgada-João Paulo II Airport: 

RNP AR brings the same benefits for Madeira, by improving safety and efficiency, replacing conventional approaches and their high minimas, therefore reducing the risk of diversion. For instance, runway 12 has an LNAV-only RNP approach, and RNP AR allows to halve DH from 600 down to 300 feet; runway 30 has NDB, and ILS approaches, and RNP AR allows to improve the missed approach and offers options to reduce track miles while providing a Continuous descent approach and almost matching the ILS minima.

NAVBLUE supported TAP Air Portugal in obtaining operational approvals for RNP AR at both airports, including the Flight Operational Safety Assessment (FOSA), for the airline's A320s and A330s.

TAP Air Portugal operates multiple aircraft types (A320ceo, A320neo, A330ceo, A330neo) with different system configurations (FMS & TAWS). For RNP AR 0.1 procedures, the safety assessment must demonstrate that every individual configuration complies with the specific requirements of RNP AR, which sometimes requires a significant test campaign and demonstration exercise.

NAVBLUE also supported TAP Air Portugal through crew training services composed of ground training and simulator training, and Navigation Database Validation. NAVBLUE designed RNP AR procedures for these two airports in accordance with the RISE (RNP Implementation Synchronised in Europe) project in 2017.

TAP Air Portugal operates, on average, 2,500 flights a week to 90 destinations in 34 countries worldwide. The company has an Airbus fleet composed of A319, A320, A321, and A330 airplanes.