- Landing to the north at PDK is challenging especially at night and during poor weather conditions because of numerous TV antenna towers along the approach path.
- PDK averages about 230,000 operations per year and is essential for business aviation operators due to its proximity to Atlanta.
- A special satellite-enabled procedure is allowing NetJets and other approved operators access to the airport on this approach during times of low visibility.
- Performance Based Navigation (PBN)
- Addresses ways to leverage emerging technologies, such as satellite-based Area Navigation and Required Navigation Performance, to improve access and flexibility for point-to-point operations.
Arriving at DeKalb-Peachtree (PDK) airport near Atlanta from any direction and landing to the north is especially challenging for pilots because of numerous TV antenna towers along the approach path that might not be visible at night or in low visibility conditions.
"The towers can be seen in visual meteorological conditions but it's difficult," said Richard Buergel, director of flight technical programs for NetJets, the largest shared-ownership aircraft operator in the world. "At night, they tend to blend in with the city lights, and in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) they can't be seen at all. It is a challenge to land in these conditions."
PDK averages about 230,000 operations per year. The development of the airport's Required Navigation Performance-Authorization Required (RNP AR) instrument approach is a huge safety improvement for aircraft that are certified and for those operators such as NetJets with approval to fly RNP AR instrument approaches when landing to the north.
An early partner with the FAA in testing and advancing other NextGen concepts such as the Wide Area Augmentation System, NetJets owns and operates more than 700 aircraft, from light jets to large-cabin, long-range business jets. Clients purchase fractional shares that translate to a guaranteed number of flight hours per year, in 25-hour increments. NetJets then provides its owners with their preferred jet anywhere in the world with as little as four hours' notice.
Located just 8 miles from Atlanta, PDK is an essential airport for business aviation operators in the metroplex, a metropolitan area with multiple airports and complex air traffic flows. In October 2007, NetJets flew the first RNP AR approach designed for PDK. The approach was flown in visual meteorological conditions in a Gulfstream G550.
RNP AR is a satellite-enabled precision approach that requires onboard aircraft navigation performance monitoring and alerting capability. This allows the pilot to make sure that the aircraft stays within a specific flight path. There are two levels of RNP AR: RNP 0.3/RNP 1.0 and RNP less than RNP 0.3/1.0. An RNP value of 0.3 means that the aircraft must remain within 0.3 nautical miles to the left or right of the runway's centerline, 95 percent of the time. NetJets is approved for RNP AR to 0.3 on final approach and RNP 1.0 on a missed approach. There is an RNP AR approach to runway 21L but 3R is the greatest value runway for an Instrument Flight Rules RNP AR approach.
"The Gulfstream G450 and G550 have been approved for RNP AR since 2008, and [in 2016] NetJets received FAA approval for RNP AR on the Bombardier Global 5000 and 6000," Buergel said. "In 2017, NetJets will start working on RNP AR approval for the Bombardier Challenger 350, Challenger 650, and Cessna Citation Latitude."
NetJets, which logged 4,906 arrivals into PDK in 2014 and 2015, has benefitted greatly from the airport's RNP AR approaches. At night or in IMC, the RNP AR approach to runway 3R is the only option for a straight-in instrument approach.
RNP AR's implementation at PDK is a significant benefit for business aviation operators such as NetJets that rely heavily on the airport for access to the Atlanta metropolitan area. For pilots who need to make a precision approach to PDK at night or in low-visibility conditions, the RNP AR approach to runway 3R offers a significant advantage.