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Airport upgrade to use satellites for ground navigation

Airport upgrade to use satellites for ground navigation

Phnom Penh International Airport’s navigation system will be upgraded today with the instalment of a new satellite-based system that aims to improve efficiency and reduce fuel usage, an aviation official said.

Chhun Sivorn, director of the Air Navigation Standards and Safety Department of the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation, said besides ground navigation, the airport will be able to provide performance-based navigation (PBN), a concept developed by the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization.

“We are going to implement the PBN in Cambodia on 25 July,” Sivorn said.

Under the system, navigation doesn't need to rely on ground facilities with beacons. When a plane departs Bangkok to Phnom Penh, if it is equipped with PBN, “the aircraft [is] navigated by the satellite in space”, he said. The move saves money and the human resources needed to maintain ground facilities, he added.

It also saves fuel, as it allows the aircraft to choose shorter routes, skipping over beacon-based facilities.

The airport will still use ground facilities for older aircraft without the necessary PBN equipment, he said. Siem Reap will get its upgrade in December, while Sihanoukville will follow next year. The project is part of a Japanese-funded initiative for new air traffic management systems in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

Launched in January 2011, the project lasts until January 2016, on a budget of around 500 million yen ($5 million).

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