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Helping Airlines to Understand the European PBN Mandate

Dec 19, 2018
GUEST BLOGGER – Víctor Álvarez, Service Adoption Expert at ESSP SAS (EGNOS Service Provider)

Victor Álvarez

Victor Álvarez is a Service Adoption Expert within the Service Adoption and User Support Department of the European Satellite Services Provider's (ESSP) Service Provision Unit, located in Madrid, Spain. His role is to promote the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS), and its use and applications within civil aviation, and to provide support to operators who make use of it (or want to make use of it).

EU Space Week Recap

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the 2018 EU Space Week, a series of workshops, conferences, and sessions organised by the European GNSS Agency around three EU Space Programmes: Copernicus, EGNOS[i], and Galileo. During its 3rd day, I paid particular attention to a presentation by EASA, titled ‘When PBN-IR opens the doors for a larger EGNOS deployment[ii].’

It is important to note that earlier this year, the European Commission issued its Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/1048 of 18 July 2018, laying down airspace usage requirements and operating procedures concerning Performance-Based Navigation; or the PBN Implementing Rule (IR) as known to most.

PBN Implementing Rule

The PBN IR mandates the implementation of Air Traffic Service (ATS) routes and Instrument Approach Procedures (IAPs) in accordance with a harmonised and agreed set of PBN specifications and functionalities. When looking at the specific case of IAPs, the requirement is for airports and air navigation service providers to implement Required Navigation Performance (RNP) approach to Lateral Navigation (LNAV), LNAV/Vertical Navigation (VNAV), and Localizer Performance with Vertical Guidance (LPV) minima at all instrument runway ends, or RNP Authorization Required (AR) as required by obstacles. The deadline is set for 3 December 2020, and extended to 25 January 2024 in case of instrument runway ends already served by other Precision Approach means like ILS.

The Implementing Rule is much more than that though, and actually says that by 6 June 2030, the normal procedures offered to airspace users have to be PBN, leaving conventional-based procedures (ATS routes and IAPs) as contingency mode operations only. The exceptions are CAT II and CAT III landing systems, which can remain in service, unaffected by the regulation.

The PBN IR also pursues, among other objectives, a smooth rationalisation of ground based radio navigation aids.

Mandate on Airspace Users

Surprisingly for many people, the Regulation did not pose any mandate on airspace users. However, listening to EASA and later reading the text very carefully, I can understand the reason for that.

The answer is within the Preamble of the Regulation, and in particular, Paragraph (3). This paragraph provides references to many other EU legislative materials that, when analysed, state it is the responsibility of operators to ensure its aircraft are equipped and its crews are qualified for the area and type of operation they expect to fly. Indeed, references are so numerous and complete that all operators flying inside EU are impacted:

  • For EU operators, Part-ORO states in ORO.GEN.110 (d), “The operator shall ensure that its aircraft are equipped and its crews are qualified as required for the area and type of operation.”
  • For foreign operators (TCO – Third Country Operators), PART-TCO states in TCO.205, “When undertaking operations within the airspace above the territory to which the Treaty applies the third country operator shall equip its aircraft with and operate such navigation, communication and surveillance equipment as required in that airspace.”
  • And yet, all of them are affected by the Standardised European Rules of the Air (SERA) which states in SERA.5015 (a) that “Aircraft shall be equipped with suitable instruments and with navigation equipment appropriate to the route to be flown and in accordance with the applicable air operations legislation.”

Therefore, although no specific mandate exists on airspace users, the obligation is there due to the fact they have to be equipped in accordance to the requirements of the routes they expect to operate. In the future EU environment where PBN will become the primary means of operation, the deadline is set for 6 June 2030.

i By the end of 2018 the number of LPV procedures in Europe is 487, with an additional 105 LNAV/VNAV where EGNOS is authorised as source of vertical navigation, serving a total of 314 different airports.

ii This and other presentations from the EGNOS Safety Of Life session are available here.

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