The FAA announced on Monday (Jan. 30) it has added 11 airports to the list of destinations that offer Optimized Profile Descents (OPDs). The procedure enables landing aircraft to maintain a constant descent profile, rather than the traditional “stair-step” format. By eliminating the need to repeatedly descend, then power up to level off (frequently several times per landing approach), OPDs are expected to save 90,000 gallons of fuel annually on average. That’s the equivalent of the fuel used by 62 Boeing 737s flying between New York and Cleveland, according to the FAA. The new procedures will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 27,000 tons annually.
The newly added air traffic control procedures serve Orlando, Florida; Kansas City, Missouri; Omaha, Nebraska; Reno, Nevada; and six airports in South Florida. The procedures serving the 11 new cities join 53 existing cities, including Atlanta, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Las Vegas, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and more for a total of 64 locations.
Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolan said, “We are investing across the entire system to provide passengers with the best travel experience. The era of choppy descents is coming to an end, providing a smoother landing and saving fuel in the process.”
The FAA is a little misleading on this. These descent procedures don’t start until reaching FL 240 in CLE. When descending into CLE, ATC starts you down about 250-300 miles out and still uses step downs until either FL240 or within the last center frequency before approach control. The descent profiles still do not allow flight idle power otherwise the descent would be much steeper. So for the FAA to claim big fuel savings in turbine aircraft on these descent profiles is a bit disingenuous.
OPD sounds like simulated engine-out landings with pax!
OPDs are nothing new. And by the way, if you think an OPD is a simulated engine out landing with pax, you’re dealing from the point of view of a Cessna 150 pilot with carb ice problems on a moist day. The best OPD ever was the old profile descent from point east into Denver Stapleton. Worked like a charm.
“you’re dealing from the point of view of a Cessna 150 pilot with carb ice problems on a moist day”.
Point of correction… It’s a 182.