Brazil Assists Argentina in Developing New Air Navigation Procedures
By Nelza Oliveira/Diálogo June 28, 2017Nearly 20 service members from the Brazilian Air Force (FAB, per its Portuguese acronym) took turns from March 20th to June 10th to assist Argentina in updating its air navigation procedures and restructuring its airspace. “Project PBN Argentina” resulted in the creation of 64 Instrument Flight Procedure (IFP) aviation charts for various airports in Argentina, including the most heavily trafficked ones, such as Ezeiza International Airport, and Jorge Newbery Regional Airfield, both in Buenos Aires. The charts apply the concept of Performance-Based Navigation (PBN), using procedures that redesign the flight routes to be shorter and more direct, guided by satellites and digital communications. Major General Luiz Ricardo de Souza Nascimento, the head of the Operations Division of Brazil’s Department of Airspace Control (DECEA, per its Portuguese acronym) said that it all started during the last general assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization, a specialized United Nations agency responsible for promoting the secure and orderly development of civil aviation around the world, at the end of September 2016, in Montreal, Canada, when the Argentine Air Navigation Company (EANA, per its Portuguese acronym) sought out representatives from DECEA to probe the possibility of the project. “Everything moved very quickly from there. They [EANA representatives] were here [Rio de Janeiro] in December  and we quickly got to work. And we have already delivered everything that we had agreed on. There are 64 air navigation procedures using the most advanced techniques in the world that are now available to the Argentine people and society,” Maj. Gen. Luiz Ricardo said. “We have various bilateral agreements with other nations from a technical and training standpoint. It’s quite common for our Air Space Control Institute in São José dos Campos, São Paulo, to receive people from other countries for training in various courses. But this is the first time that Brazil has struck a partnership in the area of air navigation at this volume, and involving the deployment of a team from one country to another,” Maj. Gen. Luiz Ricardo added. Brazilian expertise With more accurate routes and shorter distances, the use of PBN navigation in different parts of the world has shown to be more effective and advantageous than conventional forms of navigation. It provides a series of benefits, such as reductions in fuel costs and polluting gas emissions. In Brazil, the development of PBN charts began in 2009. FAB has confirmed that Brazil is part of the group that is furthest along in the implementation of this system, alongside the United States, certain nations in Europe, and Japan. This type of navigation is already in use in the airspace over Brasília, Recife, Belo Horizonte, and the Rio-São Paulo hub. The Institute of Aviation Cartography (ICA, per its Portuguese acronym), a DECEA body, is working on its implementation in the southern part of the country. The timeline also calls for its implementation in Brazil’s northern and northeastern regions, which cover more territory and have less air traffic. Project PBN Argentina uses computational software, such as Flight Procedure Design and Airspace Management (FPDAM) and Global Mapper, which are both used by Brazil. Over the course of Project PBN Argentina, a team made up of two procedural developers and one cartographer from ICA was sent to Buenos Aires every two weeks. The agreement between both countries did not include financial resources, but the Brazilian team’s travel, lodging expenses, and per diem, which are normally paid to service members on these kinds of missions, were covered by EANA. “This is a state partnership. You could say that it was a zero-cost project for them because the bids they received from outside companies were quite large. But this was a learning experience for us, a good professional enrichment opportunity for my personnel,” Maj. Gen. Luiz Ricardo underscored. In addition to producing aviation charts, the Brazilian professionals held a final hands-on training for the Argentine technicians. “The teamwork between the Brazilian and Argentine institutions is hugely important, and it sets an excellent example of the benefit to the entire South American region. ICA is offering firm support to EANA in drafting new IFPs at different airports in Argentina,” said Rodrigo Devesa, the head of EANA’s Department of Airspace Design, in a FAB press release at the start of the project. “ICA personnel are working in a highly committed and professional way, creating a very nice work environment, and not only are they performing specific design and mapping tasks, but they are also sharing their experiences, opinions, and work policies, in addition to supporting EANA’s design department in resolving certain technical issues,” Devesa concluded. Air traffic flow in South American airspace Maj. Gen. Luiz Ricardo explained that Project PBN will have a positive impact in optimizing air navigation in South America. “In the end, our larger strategic objective is this: To improve navigational conditions for the entire region, using quite modern technology with procedures that are adequate from a technical, security, and accessibility standpoint.” “A plane that’s circling, that can’t land, whether due to the weather or the airport’s capacity, costs everyone lost time, and it is reflected in the price of the ticket, in fuel costs, and in higher CO2 emissions in the environment – a universe of negative factors that our personnel can reduce,” he outlined. In order to exemplify the operational gains, Maj. Gen. Luiz Ricardo described the case of an airport in Argentina’s interior which had an annual average of more than 60 percent of planes not able to land, mainly due to weather conditions. According to him, after the airport began working with PBN, the average dropped to five percent. The assessment of the work was so positive that, soon after PBN Argentina, a new project in the area of air navigation was initiated with the neighboring country, this time to assist Argentina with Air Traffic Flow Management involving 16 Brazilian professionals. The first team of service members was sent to Buenos Aires on June 12th. “For 10 years we’ve had our Air Navigation Management Center, and Argentina wants to adopt this expertise in their own country. This is to say that there is already another project based on this same relationship, on this same agreement, which we had with Project PBN Argentina,” Maj. Gen. Luiz Ricardo said. “We’re going to help them draft regulations on air traffic flow. We will set the whole theoretical foundation needed to apply them to related services, mainly identifying the bottlenecks in air navigation at Argentina’s large airports, and in that nation’s airspace,” he concluded.