Today’s ATC environment is rapidly changing. The Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) is the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) plan to modernize the National Airspace System through 2025. Through NextGen, the FAA is developing a roadmap of new technologies and procedures to support greater capacity and less congestion. Performance-based navigation (PBN) is helping the FAA chart a course toward achieving NextGen goals.
The demands on our nation’s airspace and the complexity of aircraft are increasing and may result in increased flight delays, choke points, and passenger inconvenience, particularly during unpredictable weather. For example:
- The FAA predicts that passenger demand for air transportation will increase an average of 3.4 percent each year through 2017, totaling one billion passengers in that time period.
- General Aviation will grow, with the piston aircraft fleet increasing at an average annual rate of 1.4 percent, and business jets growing at an average rate of 4 percent per year.
- Growth in scheduled and general aviation aircraft will increase point-to-point and direct routing, increasing the need for greater system flexibility to handle peaks in traffic demand, convective weather, military operations, and security needs.
- By 2017, traffic will peak at the nation’s busiest airports, at a level 30 to 40 percent higher than today.
- The introduction of very light jets and the operation of unmanned aircraft will create new complexities.
- High fuel costs are pushing air carriers to find new ways to combat inefficiencies.
What is performance-based navigation?
PBN establishes precise approach, arrival and departure procedures at airports. It increases efficiency by providing smoother traffic flow, saves fuel, and benefits the environment by reducing the effect of aircraft noise and emissions. Allowing aircraft to fly the same path consistently lets the FAA design procedures that avoid noise-sensitive areas. The FAA and the aviation community are working together to make performance-based navigation a reality.
The aviation community is using the FAA’s Roadmap for Performance-Based Navigation to leverage advances in flight deck navigation capability to meet the demands of future air travel. A government and industry effort, the Roadmap focuses on the acceleration of two key elements of performance-based navigation at U.S. airports: Area Navigation (RNAV) and Required Navigation Performance (RNP). RNP is RNAV with the addition of an on board performance monitoring and alerting system.
What is RNP?
RNP is RNAV with the addition of an on board performance monitoring and alerting system. It takes advantage of an airplane’s onboard navigation capability to fly a more precise flight path into an airport. RNP increases airport access during marginal weather, thereby reducing diversions to alternate airports. Flying straight down the middle of a flight path means that people on the ground perceive less jet noise and experience fewer engine emissions.
The FAA has authorized a total of 37 RNP procedures at 17 airports. In 2006, the FAA published 28 RNP Special Aircraft and Aircrew Authorization Required (SAAAR) procedures at 14 airports. The FAA plans to publish at least 25 more RNP approach procedures in FY 2007.
What is RNAV?
Area Navigation (RNAV) enables aircraft to fly on any desired flight path within the coverage of NAVAIDS, within the limits of the capability of self-contained systems, or a combination of both capabilities. RNAV aircraft have better access and flexibility for point-to-point-operations.
To date, the FAA has authorized 155 RNAV procedures at 38 airports and plans to publish an additional 42 procedures by the end of FY 2007.
What’s in the Roadmap?
The Roadmap for Performance-Based Navigation addresses five key areas:
- Expediting the development of performance-based navigation criteria and standards.
- Introducing airspace and procedure improvements in the near-term.
- Providing benefits to operators who have invested in existing and upcoming capabilities.
- Establishing target dates for introducing navigation mandates for selected procedure and airspace, taking benefits and costs into consideration.
- Defining new concepts and applications of performance-based navigation for the mid-and far-term, building synergy and integration among other capabilities toward the NextGen goal.
The Roadmap details the FAA’s transition plans in three time periods:
- Near Term: Today-2010
- Mid-term: 2011-2015
- Far-term: 2016-2025
ASIG Helps Operators Accelerate Their PBN Operational Plans
In order to help accelerate PBN, the FAA is allowing consultants such as ASIG - to help airlines through the approval process and develop actual flight procedures. In addition to helping operators develop and implement their approval packages for RNP SAAAR, ASIG designs, certifies and manufactures STC’s and Installation Kitting for avionics suites across numerous classic and contemporary aircraft type/model/series capable of RNP SAAAR flight procedures for operators using FAA criteria, allowing our customers to extend the safe and cost efficient in-service life spans of otherwise antiquated airframes, avoiding the enormous fiscal burden of widespread fleet replacement programs. ASIG provides products and services to a variety of customers, including Dassault Aviation, Air Transport International and AStar Air Cargo to name a few. As the FAA continues to develop and implement RNP procedures in accordance with the agency’s Flight Plan goals, ASIG will continue to be engaged as an industry partner and co-collaborator in the development and maturing of future technologies.
In our next edition of Wired, we’ll expand on the future of COTS & Open Source technologies and how today’s integrated avionics capabilities are rapidly meeting and exceeding tomorrow’s operational requirements. We’ll also update you with the FAA’s most recent list of airports with authorized RNAV procedures and those planned for approvals by the close of FY07.
Until next time stay 5x5, Mission Ready & Wired!
To learn more about our approach to aircraft modernization or the products and services available from Avionics & Systems Integration Group (ASIG), please visit us online at http://www.asigllc.com/, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact us direct at 866.890.ASIG .