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Improved Air Traffic System Benefits Travelers, Airlines and DEN

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Upgraded FAA system will save fuel, cut emissions and reduce travel time in low-visibility operations

DENVER – Oct. 26, 2018 – Denver International Airport (DEN) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have successfully launched an upgrade to the use of satellite-based air traffic management at DEN that will help airlines save fuel, cut travel times and reduce miles flown while improving the efficiency of final approach patterns for incoming planes in low-visibility operations.

This upgrade expands the availability and effectiveness of NextGen navigation procedures that have been in use at DEN since 2013, using the precision of NextGen technologies to enable a new and even more effective operating concept. DEN is the first airport in the country to leverage the precision of NextGen navigation technology in this new and exciting way.

Since 2010, DEN has worked closely with the FAA, to implement NextGen, which is an umbrella term for the FAA’s ongoing, wide-ranging transformation of the National Airspace System. Last week, DEN began implementing enhancements to the Required Navigation Performance (RNP) component of NextGen which is designed to improve the efficiency of final approach paths toward airports, particularly in bad weather and low-visibility situations.

The streamlined approach paths are expected to help airlines cut fuel usage by roughly 900 pounds per flight, reduce emissions, shorten travel times by 10 minutes and reduce the reach of aircraft noise in surrounding communities.

On October 10, 2018, utilizing the precision of NextGen RNP technology, DEN conducted triple simultaneous approaches with two aircraft using RNP technology and one aircraft using an instrument landing system. Without RNP technology and this new, expanded application of it, the aircraft would have to spend more time on the approach to landing, especially in low-visibility weather. The upgraded system uses satellite-generated data and sophisticated monitoring equipment in the aircraft cockpit to improve the precision of final approach paths. This precision permits airlines to conduct simultaneous approaches at minimal distance from the airport and provides the same precise and efficient path to the runway regardless of weather conditions.

“For many years, Denver International Airport has worked in collaboration with the FAA and our airline partners to develop and implement leading edge technology to more effectively utilize airspace,” DEN CEO Kim Day said. “I am very proud that DEN continues be a leader in the NextGEN technology to make air travel more efficient and decrease our carbon footprint, while increasing the capacity of the National Airspace System.”

A working group composed DEN staff, FAA officials in Denver and Washington, D.C., and representatives from several airlines including United, Southwest and Frontier collaborated to design and produce the system enhancement. The system upgrade was developed at DEN and will be expanded to airports across the country.

For more information on the FAA NextGen system, visit www.faa.gov/nextgen.


Denver International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world. DEN is the primary economic engine for the state of Colorado, generating more than $36 billion for the region annually. For more information visit www.FlyDenver.com, check us out on YouTube and Instagram, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Sign up for DEN’s monthly newsletter Nonstop News.


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Denver International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world. DEN is the primary economic engine for the state of Colorado, generating more than $36 billion for the region annually. Follow us on socials!