SEATTLE, Nov. 15, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Alaska Airlines' sister carrier, Horizon Air, has received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to begin using its proprietary Required Navigation Performance (RNP) instrument approach procedure at Friedman Memorial Airport near Sun Valley. The procedure is expected to reduce weather-related diversions by 95 percent allowing Horizon to have the best access to Sun Valley of any airline. It is projected to reduce diversions for Horizon from an average of 40 to 50 per year down to one to two estimated diversions per year.
RNP technology allows aircraft to follow precise three-dimensional curved flight paths through difficult terrain using a combination of onboard navigation technology and the Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite network. It allows aircraft to fly safer flight paths, provides more reliable landings, and eliminates reliance on ground-based navigation aids. This enables pilots to navigate aircraft more precisely and efficiently, while also being able to fly to lower altitudes in to airports where limited visibility upon approach is common due to weather and characteristics of the terrain.
"Friedman Memorial Airport is located deep in a valley with surrounding mountain peaks. As a result, instrument approaches used by pilots are often hampered by low cloud ceiling and extensive visibility requirements, resulting in a higher than average percentage of flight cancellations or diversions," said Cody Hargreaves, RNP engineer at Alaska Airlines who was integral in the approval and implementation of this approach. "The RNP approach Horizon uses will increase safety in this challenging environment and will drastically reduce the number of diversions."
This effort, which has been in development for more than 10 years, will allow Horizon to deliver more reliable service for its valued customers. Additionally, the company expects to save up to $600,000 a year by completing flights that would have would have otherwise been diverted or cancelled due to weather. Alaska and Horizon Air are the only major U.S. carriers with a fully RNP-equipped fleet and fully-trained flight crews.
"Just in time for the ski season and holiday travel, the expected improvement in reliability this brings to our airport during inclement weather will greatly benefit our customers traveling to the area as well as local residents," said Chris Pomeroy, airport manager at Friedman Memorial Airport. "This is a fantastic complement to the other recent facility improvements, including our newly renovated passenger terminal and new concessions."
Horizon's seasonal service from Seattle to Sun Valley, Idaho will resume Nov. 23, just in time for the 81st winter season opening at the ski resort on Thanksgiving Day. Beginning Dec. 16, Horizon Air will inaugurate daily direct service from Los Angeles, and will begin twice weekly direct service from Portland, Oregon on Dec. 17.
Since 1996, Alaska has been using similar RNP approach procedures across 65 percent of the airports it serves in the state of Alaska, as well as San Diego; Pullman, Washington; Palm Springs, California; and later this month in Mammoth Lakes, California.
Alaska Airlines, together with its regional partners, flies 32 million customers a year to more than 110 cities with an average of 970 daily flights throughout the United States, Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico and soon Cuba. With Alaska's global airline partners, customers can earn and redeem miles to more than 800 destinations worldwide. Onboard, customers are invited to make the most of their flight with amenities like power outlets at every seat, streaming entertainment direct to their device, Wi-Fi and an inspired food and beverage selection featured on most flights. Alaska Airlines ranked "Highest in Customer Satisfaction Among Traditional Carriers in North America" in the J.D. Power North American Airline Satisfaction Study for nine consecutive years from 2008 to 2016. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan also ranked "Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Airline Loyalty Rewards Programs" in the J.D. Power Airline Loyalty/Rewards Program Satisfaction Report for the last three consecutive years. Alaska Airlines is a subsidiary of Alaska Air Group (NYSE: ALK). Learn more on the airline's newsroom, blog, alaskaair.com, @AlaskaAir, facebook.com/alaskaairlines and linkedin.com/company/alaska-airlines.
SOURCE Alaska Airlines