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New ’sky highways’ slash travel time

Update: August, 19/2016 - 10:00
Route map of the new parallel north-south flight paths, launched yesterday. Photo courtesy of Việt Nam Air Traffic Management
Viet Nam News

HCM CITY — The Việt Nam Air Traffic Management (VATM) yesterday launched two so-called sky highways on the country’s north-south route that shortens travel time between Hà Nội and HCM City by about 10 minutes.

Flights in the two opposite directions will fly separately on two one-way paths instead of the previous two-way path, which will help shorten flight time by reducing traffic conflicts in the air.

The system, which uses advanced area navigation (RNAV5) in accordance with International Civil Aviation Organisation standards, is used in most developed countries. It gives priority to long-distance state-of-the-art flights at optimal altitudes.

Phạm Việt Dũng, general director of VATM, said that in the past flights on the same path changed altitudes frequently to give way to flights coming in the opposite direction.

The two new sky highways, which have a straighter flight path than previous ones, are also expected to help pilots and air traffic controllers. 

According to VATM, the north-south air route in Việt Nam is one of the world’s busiest routes, with almost 700 flights a day, accounting for 35 per cent of the country’s total flight routes.

The Việt Nam Flight Information Region, which connects the economic zones of West and Southwest Asia as well as East and Northeast Asia, is one of the busiest flight areas in the world, with more than 2,000 flights a day. The number is expected to increase by more than 17 per cent in subsequent years.

Golden route

A few years ago, Việt Nam planned to launch a direct Hà Nội-HCM City air route over Việt Nam, Laos and Cambodia under a proposal from former pilot Mai Trọng Tuấn in 2009.

According to Tuấn, planes would fly between Hà Nội and HCM City over Laos and Cambodia, rather than over the ocean, following Việt Nam’s S-shaped coastline.

The three countries agreed in principle to create favourable conditions for a direct air route connecting Hà Nội with HCM City, flying through the airspace of the three countries.

Tuấn told the Civil Aviation Authority of Việt Nam that a direct air route along the 106th eastern meridian would reduce the distance between Hà Nội and HCM City from 1,200 km to 1,000 km.

Flight times would be reduced from 105 minutes to 80 minutes, saving 5,000 litres of fuel per trip.

However, research was suspended after several seminars were held on the planned route. Experts said that it was too expensive to fly over Cambodia and Laos because of the high transit fees charged by the two countries. — VNS

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