NextGen and PBN?

The Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) is the FAA's plan to modernize the National Airspace System (NAS). Through NextGen, FAA is addressing the impact of air traffic growth by increasing capacity and efficiency while improving safety, reducing environmental impacts, and increasing user access to the NAS. To meet these goals, FAA is putting into service new Performance-Based Navigation (PBN) routes and procedures that use new technologies and aircraft navigation capabilities.

What is Performance-Based Navigation?

PBN includes both Area Navigation (RNAV) and Required Navigation Performance (RNP). It describes an aircraft's ability to navigate using performance standards. RNAV allows aircraft to fly on any flight path within the coverage of ground or space based navigation aids, within the limits of the ability of aircraft self-contained systems, or a combination of both. RNP is RNAV with the addition of an onboard performance monitoring and alerting capability. RNP allows the aircraft navigation system to monitor the performance it achieves and inform the crew if a requirement is not met during an operation. This onboard monitoring and alerting ability enhances the pilot's situational awareness and can enable reduced obstacle clearance. Certain RNP operations require advanced features of the onboard navigation function and approved training and crew procedures.


The video "FAA TV: PBN" shows how the use of PBN can increase efficiency and reduce delays. Additional information is available at the FAA website.

What will Performance-Based Navigation (PBN) do?

PBN will:

  • Increase safety through continuous descent procedures that reduce the risk of controlled flight into terrain and loss of control.
  • Improve airport and airspace access in all weather conditions.
  • Reduce delays at airports and in certain crowded airspace by applying new parallel routes; newly enabled entry/exit points around busy terminal areas; improved flight re-routing abilities, and making better use of closely spaced procedures and airspace; and de-conflicting adjacent to airport flows.
  • Increase efficiency through less circuitous routes and optimized airspace, especially at lower flight altitudes.


There are multiple benefits to PBN. RNAV and RNP provide for more efficient design of airspace and procedures which provides improved safety, capacity, predictability, operational efficiency, and environmental impacts. Improved access and flexibility help increase reliability and reduce delays by defining more precise terminal area procedures. RNAV and RNP provide environmental benefits because aircraft are able to reduce emissions and fuel consumption. RNAV procedures can provide benefits in all phases of flight, including departure, en route, arrival, approach, and transitioning airspace. A potential drawback to PBN implementation is that in some areas, it may increase noise due to concentration of flights.

nextgen and pbn

PBN's Area Navigation and Required Navigation Performance use satellite technology to be more accurate than conventional ground-based navigation. This results in shorter routes and less fuel burn and emissions. For more information and images of conventional routes compared to PBN based routes see (attached PDF Aero Q208 Boeing PBN).

There are four types of PBN procedures: RNAV Standard Instrument Departure (SID), RNAV Standard Terminal Arrival (STAR), Required Navigation Performance (RNP) approach procedures, and RNAV Routes. These procedures reduce the risk of communication errors for pilots and controllers and take advantage of the aircraft's onboard navigation system.

Other PBN categories include LNAV/VNAV and Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) Localizer Performance with Vertical Guidance (LPV) approach procedures. LPV approach procedures are beneficial for smaller airports because it enables general aviation aircraft to land in lower visibility conditions, providing more access to those airports throughout the year.

Optimized Profile Descent is a more efficient method by which aircraft approach airports prior to landing. It is designed to reduce level off during descent thus reducing fuel consumption and noise.

More information can be found at: