Emirates Flight Operations has developed a new navigation technique that allows additional cargo to be carried into Kabul International airport. This innovation missed-approach procedure replaces an older technique that required cargo bound for Kabul to be offloaded in Dubai during low-cloud or poor visibility weather conditions at destination.
In addition to increased facilitation of trade to and from Afghanistan, the procedure has also resulted in more streamlined cargo operations to Kabul, increased customer satisfaction, and enhanced fuel efficiency.
Kabul airport is situated in a wide valley at an elevation of 5,800 feet and is surrounded by mountains that are over 11,000 feet tall. The airport has a number of constraints associated with it because of the challenging terrain, Air Traffic Control (ATC) and other security requirements.
Why a new approach
Kabul airport’s primary Runway 29 has two established missed-approach procedures with one of them requiring that an aircraft be able to climb at a steep angle when cloud cover is lower than 1,200 feet. Previously, whenever meteorological reports predicted cloud cover below this level at Kabul airport, cargo was offloaded in Dubai to make the aircraft lighter to ensure that in the event the aircraft had to execute a missed-approach at Kabul airport, it could achieve the required climb gradient. However, this measure often resulted in cargo not arriving on time at Kabul leading to other associated costs for both Emirates as well as the customer.
In order to optimise cargo loads without compromising on safety, Emirates Flight Operations Support developed a new missed-approach navigation procedure with an easier climb gradient for Kabul airport’s Runway 29 taking advantage of the Boeing 777 aircraft’s superior navigational accuracy. The team worked with a specialist flight design agency, DFS Aviation Services, with regulatory credentials to analyse the terrain around the airport and develop a new procedure that could be implemented without delays in working with the local ATC.
Once the initial design was ready, it was coded into the Emirates Flight Management System and tested on flight simulators to confirm theoretical performance calculations as well as ensuring that the aircraft would indeed be able to clear any obstacles in the case of a go around.
Emirates is now able to carry significantly more cargo into Kabul leading to lower cost, more efficient operations. Optimising payload and minimising chances of aircraft return to Dubai has also resulted in important savings in fuel costs as well as lower carbon emissions.
In addition, Emirates has also used advanced technology to put together detailed guidance for pilots to operate to Kabul’s Runway 11 ensuring a level of safety and efficiency. Similar technology has also enhanced operational efficiency at other airports such as Seychelles, Addis Ababa, Eldoret and Basra.
Emirates operates a daily flight into Kabul International airport on its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. The new solution has given Emirates the capacity to carry an additional 250 tonnes of cargo into Kabul during low-cloud conditions.