Communications, Navigation & Surveillance (CNS)

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Updated PBN Roadmap Brings Benefits

Feb. 27, 2017

The FAA recently issued its updated 15-year roadmap showing how and when performance-based navigation (PBN) procedures will be deployed across the National Airspace System (NAS), as the agency moves toward full implementation of the NextGen ATC network.

The recently released document, titled “PBN NAS Navigation Strategy 2016,” updates the agency’s initial 2006 PBN strategy document and incorporates recommendations from the joint industry/regulatory Performance-Based Operations Aviation Rulemaking Committee, which includes NBAA.

Ernie Stellings, NBAA’s senior manager of air traffic services, said the updated roadmap offers a detailed progression plan toward full implementation of NextGen, including defined milestones, time frames and costs.

“All operators will benefit from greater efficiency and better management of traffic flows,” said Stellings, who added, “Widespread deployment of PBN procedures offers promise for operating into the smaller airports favored by business aircraft operators, especially during inclement weather.”

PBN also enables trajectory-based operations, thereby transitioning the management of air traffic from a distance-based system to a time-based and speed-based one. One significant step in this process took place earlier this year with issuance of ATC speed clearances in five-knot increments, rather than 10-knot increments. This seemingly minor change improves efficiency by enabling controllers to meter the separation of aircraft as far as 500 miles away from their destinations.

Additional benefits include providing controllers with greater flexibility in accommodating user-requested routings, with preferences adjusted to maintain efficiency based on predicted demand. PBN also grants ATC greater flexibility in routing aircraft away from weather without reducing system capacity or implementing ground delays.


The FAA’s near-term PBN strategy includes deployment of GPS-enabled RNP enroute procedures and RNAV STARs and SIDs at many airports.

Through 2021, the FAA’s focus will be on increasing published RNAV approaches, with an emphasis on improving the infrastructure needed to support those operations. That includes wider deployment of LPV approaches at smaller general aviation airports, and LNAV/VNAV minima.

These efforts will establish the foundation for more widespread use of PBN-centric routing in the roadmap’s second phase (2021-2025), including the continued reduction of ground-based navigational systems such as VOR stations “and, to a lesser extent, the number of Category I ILSes,” per the agency. Efforts will also focus on shoring up the system’s defenses from disruptions to the national GPS network.

“By 2030, PBN procedures and flexible routing will be the standard method of navigation throughout the NAS during normal operating conditions,” the FAA predicts. “The number of VORs and ILSes in the NAS will be reduced as a result of rationalization.”

“It’s important to note that this roadmap is a living document,” concluded Stellings. “It will be revised every two years to confirm that the stated priorities continue to accurately address the evolution of the system.”

Review NBAA’s PBN resources at


This article originally appeared in the January/February 2017 issue of Business Aviation Insider. Download the magazine app for iOS and Android tablets and smartphones.