PBN Operations

Traditional instrument rating (IR) training includes non-precision and precision approaches based around radio-aids like VOR, NDB and ILS. Real-life flying now involves all kinds of performance-based navigation (PBN) based on advanced navigation equipment for both en-route and approach phases of flight. This anachronism is being addressed by an amendment to the European regulations for pilot training and aircraft operations.

In future training and testing for an instrument rating will include PBN operations such as RNAV arrivals and departures and RNP approach operations. During annual licence proficiency checks the requirements to fly an ILS approach and a ‘non-precision approach’ are replaced with a requirement to fly ‘2D’ and ‘3D’ approaches; a ‘2D’ approach is one where there is only lateral guidance whereas a ‘3D’ approach provides both lateral and vertical guidance. These approaches could be based on any type of navigation aid, but for a pilot to maintain privileges for PBN operations one approach must be an RNP APCH.

These new requirements will come into effect in 2018. For an interim period, pilots who do not have PBN privileges will be able to operate on routes and approaches that do not include any elements of performance-based navigation but after 25 August 2020 all instrument ratings must include PBN privileges and all IR training will include PBN operations. Pilots who haven’t completed PBN training as part of their IR may have PBN privileges added to their licence on the basis of previous experience of PBN operations or by completing additional training. In either case they will need to complete a proficiency check according to the new requirements.

The good news is that, since all pilots will have been trained for PBN operations there will no longer be a requirement for aircraft operators to have specific approval for most PBN operations. The exception will be RNP ‘approval required’ [RNP AR] approaches where specific training and operational procedures are still required.

The relevant regulation are Commission Regulation 2016/539 and 2016/1199