The following two papers were presented at a joint Royal Aeronautical Society/Royal Institute of Navigation conference on ‘European Navigation into the 21st Century’ on Tuesday 12 February 1991.
The existing system of point-source radio navigation aids deployed throughout the European Region (e.g. VOR, DME, NDB), is inherently inflexible and suffers from a number of problems which degrade its efficiency; providing little scope for route capacity expansion. Area Navigation (RNAV) is seen to offer the answer to many of these deficiencies. Many aircraft are already fitted with RNAV – a system of navigation that allows track maintenance to defined levels of accuracy without the need to overfly point source aids. However, the full benefits of RNAV, including the introduction of more direct fuel efficient routes, arrivals and departures, and substantial increases in route capacities made possible by the application of reduced lateral and vertical separation criteria, cannot be fully realized until virtually all aircraft are equipped to a precision RNAV standard, and minimum aircraft systems performance specifications are introduced. This is unlikely to be practicable before 1998.
Timescales have been established for the progressive implementation of RNAV capability. High levels of cooperation between European states should ensure that operational implementation is achieved in a coordinated, efficient, orderly and safe manner. Certification and operational standards are being developed jointly and European guidance material, developed under the auspices of ICAO, is soon to be adopted by ICAO RGCSP for global application. Appropriate legislative amendments are being developed in the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe. All the present indications are that the implementation of RNAV in Europe will proceed successfully on an evolutionary basis, between now and the turn of the century.