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Global Aviation Upgrade Trial comes to Christchurch Airport

A trial to bring a global aviation navigation upgrade programme to the South Island has been announced in Christchurch today by Airways New Zealand, Board of Airline Representatives New Zealand (BARNZ), Christchurch Airport and New Southern Sky.

The 12-month arrivals-only flight paths trial will commence later this week and is part of a nationwide programme called New Southern Sky, which the NZ Civil Aviation Authority is implementing across New Zealand airports to bring this country in line with the new global standard for satellite-based navigation systems, known as Performance Based Navigation (PBN).

The implementation of PBN flight paths are part of an international industry and government initiative required at all major airports in New Zealand. PBN informed flight paths in other parts of New Zealand and the world contribute to international aviation carbon dioxide emission reduction proposals and are aligned with the Government’s National Airspace and Air Navigation Plan.

Rhys Boswell,  Christchurch Airport General Manager Strategy and Sustainability, said the trial was a significant step towards implementing modern flight navigation systems.

“Performance Based Navigation means moving away from current ground-based navigation aids and procedures, to a more accurate satellite-based system using the performance and capabilities of equipment on board the aircraft,” Boswell said.  “Christchurch is a growing hub for major international airlines and it is important that we continue to modernise our systems to support the management of growth in travel, trade and tourism.”

The purpose of the trial is to gather data to compare with and add to accumulated information, including noise monitoring,  to inform the implementation of PBN at Christchurch over coming years. The trial flight paths have been developed following research, noise monitoring and industry input, and the trial partners will work with local residents and businesses to gather feedback on the impacts.

Tim Boyle, Manager of Future Systems for Airways New Zealand, says the trial flight paths will operate within the existing approved noise contours for Christchurch Airport.

“The new technology will allow for shorter, more direct flight paths, which lowers fuel burn and exhaust emissions. This should be beneficial to the air quality in areas near the airport. There will also be a significant improvement in air traffic management meaning more efficient arrivals and departures to avoid ‘stacking’ aircrafts in a holding pattern. More efficient take-off and landing should also reduce overall noise levels for more people.”

The PBN trial will only apply to scheduled passenger aircraft arrivals.  The flight paths will be trialled by a quarter of all jet arrivals into Christchurch. 

The trial will collect technical data (including noise monitoring) and community feedback, to help determine the best balance of safety, airspace management and environmental benefits such as noise reduction for communities, and fuel and carbon emission savings.

Justin Tighe-Umbers, Executive Director of BARNZ, added: “New Zealand, along with the rest of the world, has benefited from greater connectivity and convenience in air travel, which has increased the number of airlines and passengers flying into New Zealand. These upgrades are critical to ensure our airports continue to operate in the most safe, efficient and environmentally sustainable way as they look forward to welcoming more aircraft and passengers.”

The Christchurch trial will commence on Thursday, 9 November.   For detailed information please visit