What is Performance-based Navigation?

Guides · 3 min read · Dec 03, 2021
performance based navigation

Performance-based navigation is a modern method of air navigation services in the commercial aviation industry. In the early days, aircraft navigation specifications were defined as sensors and identification signals such as beacons and waypoints.

A navigation requirement where onboard navigation performance monitoring and alerting systems are installed is called required navigation performance (RNP). In contrast, the navigation system that does not require such specifications is called area navigation specification (RNAV).

In PBN specifications, the choice of navigation sensors and onboard equipment must be used to meet the performance-based requirements. Performance-based navigation is an initiative of ICAO intended to standardize navigation performance in the whole world. This standardization is designed to enhance air space usage to reduce operating costs and time. 

How navigation performance is enhanced using PBN concept?

The performance-based navigation concept is based on three basic components known as The Navigation Specification, the navigation aid infrastructure and, navigation application. The navigation specification identifies performance requirements in terms of precision, integrity, and continuity for intended operations in a specific airspace.

Navigation specifications also describe the process of achieving performance requirements by identifying the requirements of proposed navigation performance. Additional requirements for PBN are pilot training, knowledge, and operating certificate.

The Navaid infrastructure describes the ground equipment requirements or, if used, space-based navigation requirements such as GPS. Appropriate Navaid infrastructure is essential for complying with PNB requirements. Navigation application is the application of navigation specification and Navaid infrastructure in combination with ATS routes and instrument flight rules in the context of airspace utilization.

PBN includes En-route applications, terminal airspace applications and, approach applications. Sophisticated approach systems such as instrument landing system ILS, microwave landing system MLS, and Global Navigation Satellite Systems landing system GLS are not part of the PBN concept because they are not based on area navigation techniques.

A visualisation of an aircraft's flight route from Europe to Holguin.

Ground and space based navigation aids

The ground and space-based navigation aids are named Navaid Infrastructure. These navigational aids are mentioned in Navigation Specification. Ground-based navigation aids are navigation systems based on the ground and provide navigational services visual flight rules VFR operations. It includes Very High-Frequency VHF Omnidirectional Range (VOR) and Nondirectional Radio Beacon (NDB).

Furthermore, there are three types of VOR navigational stations, including VOR, VOR plus distance measuring equipment VOR-DME and, VOR plus military tactical air navigation system vortac (used for military applications only). Satellite-based navigation systems include GPS navigation using GNSS satellites.

Crew and aircraft operating requirements

To comply with the PBN concept, an aircraft must meet the specific requirements where RNAV and RNP precision must be 95 percent of the total flight time. Required navigation performance is a system that requires equipment installed on aircraft to carry onboard performance monitoring and alerting systems.

The PBN concept also includes navigation specifications that define flight crew and aircraft requirements that are essential to carry out navigation applications inside a specific airspace concept.

In both RNP and RNAV navigation specifications, numerical designation defines lateral navigation accuracy in terms of nautical miles. It must be accomplished for at least 95 percent of the flight time operating within specific airspace.

This information is mentioned in ICAO Doc 9613, named Performance-based Navigation Manual. FAA mentions the same information in AC 90-105 named Approval Guidance for RNP Operations and Barometric Vertical Navigation in the United States National Airspace System and remote and Oceanic Airspace.

A central view of an aircraft's cockpit with a functioning instrument panel and navigation systems.

What are advantages of PBN?

PBN marked a transition from sensor-based to performance-based navigation; it has several benefits over the sensor-specific mechanism of improving airspace and obstacle clearance standards, including the elimination of the requirement to retain sensor-specific routes and operations, as well as the expenses involved with them. It also eliminates the requirement for every new adaptation of navigation systems to build sensor-specific procedures, which would be prohibitively expensive.

It explains the usage of RNAV and RNP systems by offering a restricted set of navigational criteria designed for worldwide usage. PBN makes the operating clearance task quicker for carriers and can provide operational advantages such as enhanced safety, flight efficiency, airspace availability, expenses reductions, and decreased effect on the environment such as reducing noise and greenhouse gas pollution.

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Aeroclass Team
A team of professionals with a deep passion for the aviation industry bringing you the newest and the most striking industry-related news and content.

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