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Optimized Profile Descent (OPD)

Learn about optimizing noise and emissions reductions for arrivals to MHR.

The Optimized Profile Descent (OPD), originally referred to as the Continuous Descent Approach (CDA), is a method of operating an aircraft on approach that optimizes noise and emission reduction by minimizing changes in thrust through use of a favorable initial Flight Path Angle (FPA) and by strategic flap/landing gear management. Quite simply, use of an OPD produces the lowest possible single-event noise levels on the ground during approach in areas beyond 7 nautical miles from the runway landing threshold. An important side benefit is that the OPD has the potential to reduce fuel consumption, reduce pilot workload, and save time – features that will make its use at airports nationwide more likely.

Over nearly a three-year period, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and UPS worked closely with Sacramento County Airport System to design, test, and, ultimately, implement the OPD at Mather Airport.  When the OPD has been flown, the measured single event aircraft noise levels of UPS aircraft were reduced. The reduction was achieved by optimization of UPS’ OPD procedure, rigorous pilot training, adoption of the OPD as UPS’ default procedure for Mather arrivals, assistance by the FAA air traffic controllers, and advocacy for the procedure by Sacramento County Airport System. However, there remain some airspace constraints that have limited the ability of FAA, UPS and Sacramento County Airport System to effectively fully implement the OPD in order to maximize its benefits. Therefore, Sacramento County Airport System is working with the FAA, UPS, and community representatives to resolve these constraints in order to facilitate consistent use of OPDs at Mather. As use of the OPD increases, we would expect to see lower single event noise levels.

Mather Airport CDA