As news about precision area navigation (more commonly referred to as PRnav) in Europe starts showing up in the aviation press, chief pilots and maintenance managers are asking how it will affect them and–perhaps more to the point–what it will cost. The short answer is that PRnav in Europe will affect operators as much as they choose to let it. The concept, which is intended to improve track-keeping accuracy in terminal airspace, is completely voluntary at this point and likely to stay that way for the predictable future.
“Existing conventional navigation systems will be available until 2010 at least, so there is no reason for anyone to worry about PRnav,” said Terry Symmans, Eurocontrol’s PRnav program manager, who spoke at a recent European airspace user session.
PRnav will filter across Europe in the next year, initially appearing in 13 countries that have agreed to participate. Unlike reduced vertical separation minimums in Europe, which require participation by everyone, individual countries can choose to use PRnav or not. Upgrading business aircraft to meet PRnav standards will require software updates to the FMS, and avionics manufacturers have started investigating what will be needed. Symmans said several business jets have been identified as “PRnav ready,” including the Bombardier Global Express, Learjet 60 and Dassault Falcon 50EX.