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Qantas says it avoided 50 weather-related diversions at Queenstown Airport, including the winter blasts of snow on July 24 and August 14, thanks to innovative navigation technology.
The Australian airline entered its eighth year of operating required navigation performance (RNP) flights on Friday.
RNP enables aircraft to fly flexible and precise flights paths which increase safety and efficiency. It reduces fuel consumption and carbon emissions on take-off and descent.
Captain Alex Passerini, Qantas technical pilot in technology development, said RNP-enabled Boeing 737-800 aircraft allowed pilots to navigate the Wakatipu's mountainous terrain and challenging weather conditions safely. Together with other new technology, such as "heads-up" displays, the carrier can operate to a lower minimum altitude on approach to Queenstown than any other airline.
"Along with the USA, Canada and China, the Australia-New Zealand region is leading the way in pioneering this important technology and Queenstown has now been doing so for seven years," Capt Passerini said.