Performance-based navigation—a combination of RNAV and RNP

FAA’s plan to modify the NAS builds on PBN and its flexibility as a cornerstone.

Pro Pilot staff report

PBN-RNP provides improved terrain/obstacle avoidance with greater system accuracy requirements.

The RNAV (RNP) Y Runway 13R approach at PSP (Palm Springs CA) is about as cool as they come, spiraling down through the valley, but the real business application of PBN lies in approaches like the EWR (Newark NJ) RNAV (RNP) Z Rwy 29, which will help maximize arrivals and departures in peak traffic times.

No doubt, though, improved all-weather capability and enhanced terrain avoidance come to mind when the value of PBN is questioned.

To take advantage of the enhancements coming to the NAS, operators will have to invest in hardware and training. While many business aircraft currently in service already have RNAV capability, the stricter requirements of RNP may necessitate upgrades or replacement.

Improved efficiency, reduced minima and better lateral routing abilities are among PBN’s significant advantages.

Training too will be an issue. Just like recent mandates for RVSM training, the crew’s knowledge of PBN/RNAV/RNP must be considered in both initial and recurrent training programs.

Another possible financial advantage, though, may be realized in the training environment—many air carriers have now removed legacy approach procedures, like the NDB, from their ops specs since implementing PBN.

Removing these types of approach can reduce training footprint, allow better focus on current instrument procedures and ultimately reduce the cost of training for operators who no longer need the capability.

Certainly the advantage of dismissing nonprecision approaches (without glidepath information) is a positive outcome which, according to industry studies, will likely reduce CFIT accidents.

Flightplan filed

PBN accuracy provides for reduced separation and improved runway availability at high density airports with parallel runways.

PBN/RNAV/RNP are key components of NextGen, which is FAA’s flightplan for the future.

While PBN is only a part of the greater NextGen package, the advantage to employing the latest technology to increase efficiency in the NAS is clear and the enhanced safety offered by these initiatives is obvious.

Navigating through the progression of NextGen implementation between today and 2025 is a challenging process, but with a roadmap to implementation, efficiency and safety are advanced significantly.



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