DALLAS, March 25, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) is flying fuel efficient and environmentally friendly Required Navigational Performance (RNP) approaches at Denver International Airport (DIA). RNP approaches can reduce flying by 3-5 miles during a visual approach and up to 20 miles during an instrument approach each time they are flown at DIA. These flights follow highly predictable paths and allow descents at idle power from high altitude cruise, which is the quietest and most fuel efficient way for an aircraft to arrive. Working closely with local and regional FAA and DIA officials, major contributions have been made to the development of those procedures as part of an ongoing major redesign of the airspace at DIA.
"We are very grateful to Southwest for their partnership with us, the FAA and others who were instrumental in the design and implementation of this essential phase of NextGen at DIA," said Denver's Manager of Aviation, Kim Day. "In fact, our team composed of representatives from Southwest and other airline partners, consultants, DIA and FAA was recently honored by the Air Traffic Association for the unprecedented partnership that redesigned Denver's airspace. Many thanks to Southwest for their continued collaboration and support!"
RNP procedures at DIA have the potential to save Southwest Airlines an estimated 20 gallons of fuel per flight on visual approaches and more than 90 gallons of fuel per flight on instrument approaches. The carrier has committed a substantial amount of resources toward engineering and computer modeling, as well as flight simulator and flight trials, to support the advancement of RNP approaches."Southwest is playing a major role in supporting FAA development of RNP procedures, which benefit the industry as a whole, as well as the communities we serve," said Rick Dalton, Southwest Airlines Director of Airspace and Flow Management. "These efficient RNP approaches reduce noise and carbon emissions, allowing carriers to pass on efficiencies to their Customers, and the current successes of this program could not have been achieved without the support and leadership of the Denver TRACON, the Denver Air Route Traffic Control Center, and Denver International Airport." Southwest is a nationally recognized leader in RNP implementation and is working alongside the FAA, airport officials, and industry stakeholders as the lead carrier to develop and implement more than 150 RNP procedures for public use at 40 airports across the nation. RNP Authorization Required (AR) procedures are high-performance, GPS-based, continuous-descent approaches that improve safety, reduce carbon emissions, and are designed to conserve fuel characteristics that exist in an airline's fleet.