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L888 Western China Route ‘The Silk Road’

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Presentation on theme: "L888 Western China Route ‘The Silk Road’"— Presentation transcript:

1 L888 Western China Route ‘The Silk Road’
Madame Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, Thank you much for your invitation to be present today for your Users Workshop. QANTAS is the second oldest airline in the world, and the oldest English speaking airline. Today, QANTAS has a fleet of nearly 200 aircraft and operates worldwide. Our Asia to Europe route is one of our most important, and has always been called the Kangaroo Route. Today I will talk of the major initiative by QANTAS to introduce a new route from Asia to Europe via China. This new route has been named The Silk Road because it closely follows the traditional route between Asia and Europe. Captain Murray Warfield General Manager Regulatory & Industry Affairs QANTAS Airways Ltd.

2 L888 - Background 1993 - Asia to Europe routes. BACKGROUND
In 1993, QANTAS was concerned about the available routes to Europe from Asia. The routes were few, and had numerous operational restrictions. Historically, the available routes had been developed in the days of the B707 and early B747 which required a refuelling stopover in the Middle East. However, with the introduction of the B , these stopovers were no longer required.

3 Basically, QANTAS flew to Europe via a limited route network - shown very roughly here.
The prime route was via the Middle East, with another route through Afghanistan and the CIS States. Although the main axes are shown in this diagram, QANTAS has nearly 40 different routes available each day between Asia and Europe. We plan to fly the most efficient, and this is usually determined by the current upper wind data.

4 L888 - Background 1993 - Asia to Europe routes. Challenges:
Political Tensions However, there were challenges with these routes. All of the available routes to Europe transited close to regions where there were real and potential conflicts around India and Pakistan, Afghanistan, the USSR, Iran, Iraq and Israel. Ten years ago, there was the Iran - Iraq War, and the Russian conflict in Afghanistan. Since then there has been the heightened tension between India and Pakistan. And of course, we are all aware of the current situation in Afghanistan.

5 L888 - Background 1993 - Asia to Europe routes. Challenges:
Political Tensions Inefficient route network Enroute congestion Commercial requirement for non-stop flights The old network routes were also very inefficient now that aircraft could fly non-stop. Although fuel was cheap in the Middle East, it was still more economical for us to overfly than land and refuel. Traffic congestion enroute meant that aircraft were often required to cruise at altitudes as much as feet below optimum levels for many hours. Because of this, London bound aircraft frequently had to carry out an expensive diversion to Frankfurt and refuel. A study completed in 1991 showed that traffic congestion and inefficient Air Traffic Management procedures cost QANTAS approximately AUD 10M per annum. There were also frequent breakdowns in Air Traffic Control separation between aircraft. And, of course, when considering Asia to Europe traffic, the commercial reality was that passengers wanted to fly non-stop.

6 L888 - Background Need to improve route network : Safety Economical
Clearly, there was a need to improve the route network to Europe for both Safety and Economical reasons.

7 L888 - Background Need to improve route network : QANTAS Route Study
Safety Economical QANTAS Route Study In 1994, QANTAS undertook a study of routes between Asia and Europe based solely on concomitant meteorological data. The focus was on route options between Bangkok and cities in Europe. The study showed that the optimum routes to Europe and return passed just to the north of the Himalayas and through The Peoples Republic of China.

8 The study initially assumed there were no political or geographical limitations between Asia and Europe. Tracks were developed based on the 85% statistical monthly weather data. In this example, Bangkok to London is considered. Notice that the optimum track is common from Bangkok until approximately 30 North. Further North, there is a monthly spread caused by the prevailing jet stream wind. So, from this study we knew the IDEAL track. However, as you may notice, the track passes directly over the Himalyas. This would present operational problems when planning for engine failure and depressurisation driftdowns. We then moved the route due North from Bangkok to 30 North, and recalculated. This allowed us to avoid the Himalyan region. These recalculated routes are the more Northerly ones on the chart. Similar work was undertaken in each direction for London, Frankfurt, Paris and Amsterdam. Other cities including Copenhagen and Moscow were also considered, however, they were adequately covered by routes to the four main destinations.

9 All of this data was then rationalised into the final route proposal.
From this chart, we proposed two routes within China - one for Northbound traffic and one for southbound traffic. Across Kazakhstan and Russia there was a network of routes established - depending on the season and city pair.

10 L888 - Background Need to improve route network : QANTAS Route Study
Safety Economical QANTAS Route Study China - Depressurisation problems Safety Heights > 20,000’ High Navigation accuracy required Weather forecasting The terrain across the Tibetan Plateau in China presented unique challenges because the safety heights are above 20,000ft for large distances. Further work was required to define the exit routes required in the event of a depressurisation or engine failure. This work was done and Boeing showed that with the navigation equipment in the Boeing 747 ‘Classics’ and the s, the proposed routes could not be flown due to the Certification of the navigation equipment. These aircraft use inertial systems which had a certification of 3 + 3T nautical miles per hour - where T is navigation time in hours between updates from ground navigational aids. As there are no suitable navigation aids in Western China, there was NO WAY we could consider the route and be able to plan the escape routes.

11 L888 - Background B747-400 FANS - 1 Revised QF route analysis
The breakthrough came with Boeing’s development of the Future Air Navigation System (FANS-1) Avionics package for the Boeing in 1994. The FANS-1 package provides three main benefits: for the first time, data-link information is provided to the aircraft in place of voice communication, the addition of Global Positioning System (GPS) updating of the flight management computer, a surveillance capability which allows the aircraft to send detailed electronic information to air traffic controllers With the FANS-1 avionics package, the new routes were not only theoretically possible - but quite feasible.

12 L888 - Background QANTAS Route Study Work commenced 1994
Presented to industry : IATA RCG Accepted by industry. Work commenced 1994 The Qantas study was then refined to account for the extremely high terrain and some realistic border crossing points between China and Kazakhstan. The study showed that the proposed could save up to 50 minutes of flight time compared to the earlier routes to Europe. This is significant when your airline flies between Asia and Europe up to eight times per day. The extremely high terrain also presented operational challenges relating to weather forecasting. This region of the world is rarely flown by any aircraft, and historical data was almost non-existent. What information we could find indicated that mountain wave activity was a definite possibility, and that jet stream winds greater than 150 knots would be common during the Northern winter period. Hence the shorter flight times. However, this was not considered a limiting factor at that stage. The plan was to approach China, Russia and then Kazakhstan. Our first visit to China was in 1994. There has been a great deal of work done since 1994, and I must acknowledge the great support, enthusiasm and professionalism of the specialists at Air Traffic Management Bureau (ATMB) of the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC). The ATMB, was keen to equip with the modern Communications Navigation Surveillance/Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) equipment, and this equipment was installed during 1999.

13 L888 - Today ICAO Route designation - 1999
Workstation installation Controller training AIP Supplement - April 2000 Testing - April 2000 First Flight - 23 June 2000 Regular Flights - March 2001 ICAO issued the route designation L888 in 1999. ARINC workstations were installed at Beijing and four remote centres early in As well as the operational workstations, repeater displays were installed at military installations near each of the air traffic centres. These were required for military surveillance as there were no radar facilities in the remote Western regions of China. Controller training was undertaken by AirServices Australia in both Australia and Annapolis at ARINC Headquarters. This was a special task because the ARINC workstations require considerable manual messaging compared to The Australian Advanced Air Traffic Control System (TAAATS). The AIP Supplement for L888 was issued in April 2000. Equipment and procedural testing was some of the most thorough ever undertaken for the opening of a new route. The first flight, QF2, left London on 23 June 2000 travelling to Sydney via Bangkok The second flight took place on 26 June from Frankfurt to Sydney via Singapore.

14 PR China So, this is L888. This slide depicts the actual route - in blue, and the exit routes in case of depressurisation - in black. The Air Traffic Control centres equipped with the CNS/ATM workstations are Kunming, Chendu, Lanzhou and Urumqi. The allowed emergency diversion airfields are Kunming, Xichang, Chendu, Urumqi and Kashi. You can see from this diagram the depressurisation exit routes are quite complex. We did some special work with the Flight Management Computer to ensure that the system was simple to use for crews.

15 Here are a couple of photos from along the route.
Th terrain is rugged, and we have seen ground conditions ranging from snow blizzards to duststorms. You may be able to see from this photograph the mountain ranges and adjacent valleys. For our emergency planning in case of a depressurisation or engine failure, we have planned the escape routes along these valleys. One of the prime aims of the exercise is to gather actual data regarding the weather forecasting.


17 Weather and Climate No previous history Jetstream winds - 150knots
High mountainous terrain New Zealand Metservice study Safety precautions Airport reports The first challenge to gathering data was that there is no available. Statistical studies indicate a likelihood of severe turbulence and mountain wave activity. These same studies also indicate similar - or worse - conditions over Afghanistan. However, we now have almost fifteen years’ experience of flying over Afghanistan, and have never had a problem. However, QANTAS decided to take the precautionary path, and met with the New Zealand Metservice who were keen to complete a research project on the subject. The very strong jetstream winds in Western China combined with the extensive areas of high mountainous terrain presented a unique situation. As a safety precaution until we were satisfied that the forecasts were accurate, QANTAS decided to NOT fly along L888 if there was severe turbulence forecast or during night time hours. To assist New Zealand Metservice, our flightcrew complete a comprehensive meteorological observation proforma for each flight and this is sent to Metservice immediately after each flight. We have found the forecasting to be conservative, and over twelve months we have not had a single turbulence related report. In the future we expect to fly during night time, and expect the forecasting to become less conservative based on real feedback from our operations. We also needed to ensure that up to date forecasts and reports were available for all of our diversion airports in China. This took some work with the Chinese authorities - who were keen to assist - and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Flight crew access this information direct.

18 Validation 12 Months 4 Main tracks Daily Flight Plans:
Fuel (Maximum Payload) Time Cost (Fuel, Crew, Overflight Charges) Of course, the most important phase of any decision making process is the validation phase. To validate this work, QANTAS ran daily flight plans in each direction between 4 city pairs for 12 months. These plans calculated the minimum fuel or maximum payload, minimum time and minimum cost plans. Minimum cost plans include fuel, crew and overflight costs in the calculation. QANTAS has one of the few flight planning systems capable of producing minimum cost flight plans.

19 Here is the daily plot of flight time along the four major axes to Europe for flights between Bangkok and London. From this, you may be able to see that L888 is the light blue line. When it is the least value of the four routes, then we probably flew that route on the day.

20 This is the same graph for London to Bangkok.
The validation process proved that L888 is a viable route economically. We already knew that it was an outstanding route from a Safety point of view. This has been reinforced since September 11th, and the subsequent closure - again - of Afghan airspace.

21 The L888 FIRSTs First CNS/ATM Route over land.
Simulator configured as an aircraft for trials. Flight Management Computer configured for Escape Routes. Weather forecasting validation. The development of L888 has been a long and exhausting process. Along the way, we have had a few FIRSTs. L888 is the first designated CNS/ATM route over land. This is a great credit to the Chinese, who are very proud of the achievement and intend to introduce more routes as soon as they gain more experience with the equipment and procedures. Secondly, during the testing phase, we configured the flight simulator as a `live’ aircraft. Controllers on the ground in China used their equipment to control the simulator on the ground in Sydney. This not only did a thorough check of the communications, but was invaluable for refining crew and controller procedures. Thirdly, we worked closely with the manufacturers to get the most from the flight management computer. Due to the complexity of the escape routes along the route, we wanted a near paper free flight deck and maximum use of automation. The result was a database with all of the escape routes along with minimum safe altitudes. This database is displayed o the navigation display on the flightdeck.If there is a problem requiring descent, our crew only need to turn towards the nearest off track point, couple the autopilot and the aircraft will carry our the descents and tracking to the nearest diversion airport. This has not been done before. And, of course, I have already mentioned the research work being undertaken with the New Zealand Metservice.

22 The Benefits Improved Safety, Reliability and Integrity.
China has CNS/ATM technology. QANTAS has route optioning. Competitive environment established between States. The benefits of the work are improved safety because of the more reliable and much more accurate systems being used. China has entered the world of CNS/ATM and is continuing to modernise its entire air traffic control system. QANTAS now has another option for the flight planning system to choose from on flights to and from Europe. And finally, there is now the potential for a competitive environment between various States. Prior to L888, QANTAS was committed to flying over a number of States no matter what. Overflight charges have often been increased without any operational benefit and we had no option but to pay. Now - with the capabilities of the flight planning system - in particular the ability to calculate minimum cost flightpaths - we can avoid the costly countries. Interestingly, some States have already noticed a decrease in QANTAS flights. This has the potential to result in much more economical flights in the future.

23 The Problems Bureaucratic. Regulatory. Competitive.
This process has taken more than seven years. Clearly, some of the problems related to various bureaucracies. However, I must say that it has been an absolute pleasure to work with the professionals in CAAC. Another issue has been the lack of UP TO DATE Regulations to handle the new technology. For example, the regulations still talk about old radio aids, and Dead Reckoning navigation. Today’s has a highly sophisticated and accurate navigation suite on board, but the capabilities can not be fully utilised because of the regulatory limitations. When appropriate regulations are introduced, we will be able to refine the escape even more, and I believe, have an even safer operation. The third problem we have had to deal with is the interference from some of our competitors who are unable to fly the route. This also delayed the regular use of the route.

24 The Future - Safe and Seamless Air Traffic Control across all regions.
- Move towards `FREE FLIGHT’ 4D Flight: Flex Tracks Dynamic Rerouting User Preferred Trajectories Finally, the future. What we want as an airline, is an increase in flight safety and a seamless air traffic control system across the world. We are working towards what is called `Free Flight’ which is the freedom to operate in four dimensions inflight. This will all take more time, and be accomplished by a step by step process. An extremely important aspect of this future is accurate weather forecasting. Airlines can assist in this way by providing actual data to enable mathematical models to be refined. The future of aviation is closely linked to meteorology. We look forward to working more closely together during this next century.

25 Any Questions??

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