South African Airways (SAA) Becomes First A330 Operator to Receive FAA Approval for RNP

South African Airways (SAA) has received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to operate Required Navigation Procedures, Authorization Required (RNP AR) procedures in the United States (US) with their long-haul Airbus A330 fleet. SAA becomes the first A330 operator to receive this approval in the US.

The approval grants authorization to all public RNP AR procedures in the US, as well as the more challenging approaches into New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK). The curved approaches into JFK are specially designed to avoid the highly populated communities of the New York area, reducing noise impact while increasing access to the busy landing runways.

A great benefit of these procedures is the significant reduction of workload for flight crews, as the aircraft is fully guided by its automatic flight system during RNP AR approaches.

Capt Sandy Bayne, SAA head of flight operations, said, "Introducing RNP AR approaches to JFK will make it easier and safer for our pilots to operate these challenging approaches on arrival of our long-haul flights from Johannesburg. It is a great enhancement to our operations in the US, and we are proud to be the first Airbus A330 carrier to receive approval."

Airbus ProSky supported SAA in getting this approval, collaborating closely with the FAA to demonstrate SAA’s compliance to the stringent aircraft and operating requirements.

Don-Jacques Ould-Ferhat, head of operations at Airbus ProSky, said, "We are very proud of building a successful partnership with South African Airways and the FAA on implementing advanced PBN technologies. After Airbus Prosky supported SAA to become the first Airbus operator of RNP AR on the African continent a couple of years ago, today is another landmark for SAA in advanced technologies on their Airbus long-haul fleet. SAA is becoming the first Airbus A330 operator flying RNP AR approaches in the US."

The FAA said they continue to welcome opportunities for capable operators to enjoy the safety and efficiency benefits of NextGen operations such as RNP AR approach procedures.

SAA has also been granted approval to conduct RNAV Visual approaches to JFK’s International Airport with both their A330 and A340 fleets. RNAV Visual approaches have similar benefits as RNP AR approaches, with less demanding aircraft and aircrew requirements, but can only be operated in fair weather conditions. Currently there are more than ten operators equipped with and operating the RNP AR mod on their A330 fleet. RNP AR MOD was certified by EASA in 2007, based on FAA AC 90-101. The new MOD (with FMS R1A) became certified in 2014 based on EASA AMC 20-26 and FAA AC 90-101A.

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