A Global Initiative

Christchurch’s PBN approach flight paths are part of a global move toward Performance Based Navigation.

This uses the accuracy of satellite-based navigation and creates shorter, curved approaches to the runway, resulting in fuel and carbon emission savings and fewer miles being flown by aircraft over residential areas.

This technology also allows for a more gradual continuous descent, with the aircraft engines operated at reduced power settings, meaning aircraft on a PBN approach generate less noise than on other less efficient flight paths. This almost eliminates the traditional step-down approach, where aircraft descend in steps separated by intervals of level flight and engine thrust. The traditional step-down approach, which largely relies on ground-based navigational aids, is noisier, less fuel-efficient and less environmentally friendly than the continuous descent using PBN technology. The difference showing the side elevation of the two approach profiles is shown in the diagram below.

PBN Approach
In 2007, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) passed a General Assembly resolution calling on member states to complete an implementation plan for PBN by 2009.

New Zealand is implementing PBN at all its international airports.

Our government agreed in August 2011 to the development of a National Airspace Policy and a National Airspace and Air Navigation Plan which, in early 2014, became the New Southern Sky programme (administered by the NZ Civil Aviation Authority.) The implementation of PBN is a key component of this programme.