Required Navigation Performance (RNP) Is Spreading

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A system devised by Alaska Airlines and Boeing to help improve accessibility to notoriously difficult airports in the 50th state could soon help ensure better on-time performance on Lower 48 milk runs (relatively speaking). After experimenting with Required Navigation Performance (RNP) systems at some of the U.S.'s tougher airports (Palm Springs and San Francisco among them) the FAA has decided the system can be implemented by any airline that has the right equipment and training. "It's a game changer," FAA Administrator Marion Blakey told The Wall Street Journal. RNP harnesses the on-board computing power of modern flight management systems and avionics with GPS technology to allow aircraft to be programmed to fly a specific route into and out of an airport. The route includes specific climbs and descents and deviations around obstacles, all controlled by the electronics. It eliminates the need for the traditional straight-line ILS approach that doesn't work well at some airports.