Commercial, Embedded Avionics

EASA Proposes New PBN Regulation

By Woodrow Bellamy III  | April 6, 2015
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[Avionics Today 04-06-2015] European aviation safety officials have proposed changes to existing regulations surrounding Performance-Based Navigation (PBN) safety rules. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is offering modifications to existing regulations that the agency views as financially and administratively burdensome to aircraft operators. 
Computer rendering depicting a Required Navigation Performance (RNP) approach procedure. Photo: FAA.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) defines PBN as the performance requirements for aircraft navigating on an Air Traffic Services (ATS) routes, terminal procedure or in a designated airspace. PBN is comprised of Area Navigation (RNAV) and Required Navigation Performance (RNP) flight procedures, each of which describe an aircraft's capability to navigate using performance standards. RNAV enables aircraft to fly any desired flight path with the coverage range of ground- or space-based navigational aids. RNP is RNAV with the addition of onboard avionics-enabled performance monitoring and alerting capabilities. 
According to an Opinion released by EASA on modernizing PBN-related safety regulation, the agency performed a risk assessment and concluded that most PBN operations are considered to be a normal aircraft navigation mode for today's commercial and non-commercial air operators. The agency is looking to reflect this in its regulation of PBN operations, and remove the administrative burden caused by the requirement for Specific Approval (SPA) procedures for PBN. 
During a recent interview with Avionics Magazine, Chris Baur, president and chief executive officer of Hughes Aerospace, said that operators all over the world are seeing the benefits of PBN, though most of the regulations associated with PBN are geared toward commercial air carriers.
"Today PBN implementation and regulation is a bit more centric to the airlines than it is to general aviation and commercial business aviation, but I see that will probably change," said Baur. 
EASA specifically notes in its newly proposed rules that the overall modernization of PBN regulation are particularly "beneficial for General Aviation operators." 
The Opinion specifically states that EASA is proposing to remove the need for SPA for the "vast majority of existing PBN applications." Among the proposed changes, there are four specific objectives, including the following:
1. EASA will propose new rules on pilot training, which are an essential requirement to removing the red tape of SPA for some PBN operations. 
2. Eliminate the specific operational approval for most PBN operations for commercial air transport, Specialized Operations (SPO), Non-Commercial Operators of Complex (NCC) and Other-than-Complex (NCO), motor-powered operators. 
3. Incorporate the latest developments around PBN flight technology, including RNP 2, advanced RNP and RNP 0.3 in the fourth edition of ICAO Doc 9613. 
4. Introduce necessary changes for matters "other than PBN," including transportation of dangerous goods, cockpit upper torso restraints and privileges for pilots with Instrument Ratings (IR). 
While the new regulatory approach was developed for European flight operations, EASA also states within the Opinion that the newly proposed rules are harmonized with the ICAO subgroup on PBN's (PBNSG) recent discussions around modernizing the organization's regulatory approach toward PBN operations. ICAO is also looking at changing its own requirements that prohibit certain PBN operations without obtaining SPA. 
EASA did not respond to inquiries to comment on when the newly proposed rules would become official regulations adopted by the European Commission, however the Opinion states that it is "harmonized with the parallel ICAO initiative and both should become applicable in 2016. This will significantly reduce resources spent for non-safety-related tasks by the industry and authorities."

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