Benefits from Performance Based Navigation (PBN)

Benefits for Navigation and from an Airspace, Airports & ATM persepective.

The principal benefit derived from PBN is the transition to a total RNAV environment. This will lead to flight efficiency and allow optimisation of the airspace including reduced holding containment areas. Without the constraints of navigating via fixed, ground-based aids, the airspace designer has a powerful tool in terms of positioning of routes and instrument flight procedures in relation to areas of congestion or population density.

Of concern to the industry is the potential cost from proliferation of regional and State navigation specifications. PBN brings about a more disciplined approach through a limited set of specifications which are globally applied. The aircraft and equipment manufacturers therefore have greater certainty in their market place and can anticipate a tangible return on their capital investment in the aircraft’s performance capability.

From an aircraft operator perspective, certain carriers have long claimed that their fleet capability far exceeded anything the airspace could offer by way of capacity and environmental benefits. So with the modern air transport aircraft having this enhanced performance and functionality, PBN starts to harness that aircraft capability. For those with less well equipped aircraft, pressure to upgrade or be faced with exclusion from certain routes or procedures, has to be applied as an incentive rather than as a threat to their business.

What PBN can offer is:

  • Predictable and repeatable path trajectories moving to a systemised environment with designed interactions;
  • Closer spaced routes; 
  • Curved path transitions;
  • Greater tactical flexibility through parallel offsets; and
  • Higher integrity from RNP which brings greater assurance to the safety equation and reduces flight crew workload.  

From an airspace and airports perspective the envisaged benefits of PBN include: 

  • Increase in capacity in controlled airspace; 
  • Greater access to airports, especially for General Aviation (GA) aircraft which have traditionally been limited to higher operating minima due to their basic equipment; 
  • Improvement in safety through onboard monitoring and performance alerting to the flight crew; and 
  • Reduction in the effects that flights have on the environment from more efficient routes, more accurate path keeping for noise abatement and, in conjunction with other airspace initiatives such as increased Transition Altitude (TA), the increased use of Continuous Climb Operations (CCO) and Continuous Descent Operations (CDO).
  • Increase in capacity in controlled airspace; 

From an ATM service provider perspective the envisaged benefits of PBN include:

  • Reduced service cost through reduced navigational infrastructure, increased systemisation and increased controller productivity;
  • Improvement in safety through the introduction of flight path monitoring tools and alerting to controllers; and
  • Improvement in the quality of the service to meet new airspace-user requirements.

The navigation infrastructure is a key element in PBN and the transition to an RNAV environment is linked to a move towards a space-based navigation environment (Global Navigation Satellite System – GNSS) and a move away from dependence on traditional ground-based navigation infrastructure such as VOR and NDB facilities. This in turn will allow rationalisation of infrastructure leading to savings from capital investment; maintenance and spectrum utilisation with commensurate savings passed onto the operators through reduced navigation services charges and a requirement to carry less equipment.