Technical Overview: Navigation

Overview of Mandates and Deployment Activities

Navigation improvements worldwide are currently deployed as benefit-driven, which means no firm mandates to equip aircraft in a certain manner other than through the deployment of advanced navigation services, including routes and approaches that equipped operators can use. The deployment is based on the Performance Based Navigation (PBN) framework that was developed in the United States in the early 2000s and which the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) accepted, recently including through Resolution 37-11 that requires all states to develop plans for PBN deployment.

  • Europe: The European Union is scheduled to complete its navigation rule-making during summer of 2017. The draft regulation, subject to much debate, requires air traffic service providers to (1) deploy PBN APV that conform to the requirements of RNP APCH at all IREs, which are not served by precision approach procedures before 30 January 2020; (2) PBN SIDs/STARs and ATS routes as required to meet locally defined performance objectives that conform to the RNAV 1 specification or the RNP1 specification including the use of additional functionalities, as of 6 December 2018; (3) PBN requirements for the transition between the en route network and the SIDs/STARs to be consistent with the SIDs/STARs served and (4)PBN requirements in support of rotorcraft operations in conformity with the RNP 0.3 specification.
  • United States: The FAA has deployed the most extensive navigation infrastructure that fully utilizes PBN capabilities. A detailed overview of the current infrastructure is available in the PBN NAS Navigation Strategy 2016. FAA data shows that between 2009 and 2016 the number of published RNAV approaches increased from 3,659 to 5,795 and the number of RNP approaches increased threefold from 125 to 391. FAA data also provides an overview of the advances made in expanding the RNAV route structure.

Current Equipage Trends

  • The degree of PBN capability varies across the general aviation fleet, but it is prolific across all types of aircraft. The most comprehensive overview of current equipage is published by the FAA in the agency’s 2016 PBN Navigation Strategy (see Table 1 in the document).

Examples of Benefits

  • Deployment of advanced navigation procedures enables more direct routing, shorter approach procedures, and the deconfliction of airports in congested airspace (e.g., TEB from other New York airports).
  • Improved navigation capability (in combination with data link services) has allowed the reduction of oceanic separation from 100 nm between aircraft in 2005 to 30 nm. As of 2013, nearly 50 percent of aircraft are flying 30 nm separation using RNP4 with FANS 1/A communications capability in oceanic airspace.
  • General aviation has directly benefited from WAAS-enabled approach procedures that allow for vertical guidance and the safety benefits provided by stabilized approaches being flown across the fleet. As of May 25, 2017, there are 3,794 Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) Localizer Performance with Vertical guidance (LPV) approach procedures serving 1847 airports. 1088 of these airports are Non-ILS airports.

Other Data Sources