Denver's new STARs showcase NextGen potential

December 19, 2012

New RNAV arrival procedures at Denver International Airport are benefiting from the efficiencies of performance-based navigation without curtailing general aviation’s access to the airspace or satellite airports. The modernization effort—a product of agency-industry collaboration—is an example of solutions made possible by the next generation of air traffic control technology, AOPA said.

Sixteen new standard terminal arrivals based on area navigation with required navigation performance (RNAV RNP) were implemented in Denver, Colo., in November. The arrival procedures, eight for use when aircraft are landing to the north, and eight when they are landing to the south, were designed by Jeppesen in a collaborative effort with the FAA, Denver International Airport, and other stakeholders.

The RNAV STARs will result in fewer miles flown in the Denver terminal area, reduced fuel consumption, reduced pilot and controller workloads, less greenhouse gas emission, and “minimized noise footprints” in the vicinity of Denver, Jeppesen said in a news release.

“Performance Based Navigation is one of the pillars upon which NextGen and SESAR (Single European Sky ATM Research) will be built, but these future air traffic management systems cannot be implemented by government alone,” said Jeppesen President and CEO Mark Van Tine. “Successful implementation requires cooperation and collaboration by numerous stakeholders, as was the case with this project. I am proud that Jeppesen played a lead role in helping DEN continue to improve operational efficiency.”

GA access preserved

AOPA has long urged that NextGen initiatives and airspace redesigns incorporate the view that programs to advance efficiency must produce their benefits without imposing a burden on other airspace users.

“What was accomplished in Denver tells the story of a collaborative industry-agency effort, forwarding NextGen and adding efficiency in the metroplex while not negatively impacting general aviation or satellite airports,” said Heidi Williams, AOPA vice president of air traffic and modernization services.

“Maintaining access within the metroplex is a priority for our members. That is the good news for general aviation in this story,” she said.

Van Tine, introducing a seven-minute, 50-second video that explains the new Denver RNAV STARs, notes that performance-based navigation “offers great promise for transforming the aviation industry.” The technology is “fundamental” to NextGen and capable of functioning efficiently under conditions—such as bad weather—that today can cause “massive system disruptions,” he says.

During the project, Jeppesen staff created draft procedures that were submitted for stakeholder evaluation and additional refinement, while working to ensure “that the project accounted for all airspace users, RNP- and non-RNP capable alike,” Jeppesen said.