Most people in aviation have heard about the FAA’s vision for the future of national airspace management and control called NextGen (Next Generation Air Transportation System).
The goal of the NextGen initiatives is to create capabilities that make air transportation safer and more reliable with increasing the capacity of our airspace and reducing aviation’s environment impact.
In part two of this Duncan Intelligence series about NextGen, we outline NextGen aircraft systems and technologies and their European counterparts.
March: NextGen FAQs
April: NextGen Systems/International Implementation
In the FAA’s NextGen Implementation Plan Document (dated March 2011), the FAA outlines NextGen today as encompassing the following aircraft systems and technologies:
ADS-B—Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast. ADS-B is an aircraft and satellite-based transmission system that can be broken into two primary functions: ADS-B Out and ADS-B In.
An aircraft equipped with ADS-B Out sends GPS-derived position and velocity data from the aircraft to other aircraft, ground vehicles, and ground stations for the purpose of ATC (Air Traffic Control) and coordination. ADS-B In is the ability of an aircraft to receive information from other aircraft transmitting data and from the ATC ground infrastructure.
RNAV/RNP—Area Navigation/Required Navigation Performance are part of a Performance Based Routing system, including ITA (Initial Tailored Arrival)
Both RNAV and RNP are types of navigation that allow an aircraft to fly a specific path between two points in space. The main difference between the two is that the RNP specification for the on-board navigation equipment requires performance monitoring and alerting.
WAAS—Wide Area Augmentation System with LPV (Localizer Performance with Vertical Guidance) approach procedures
WAAS uses a network of more than 25 precision ground stations to provide corrections to the GPS navigation signal. It is designed to provide the accuracy, availability, and integrity necessary to allow flight crews to rely on GPS for all phases of flight, from en-route through GPS precision approaches for all qualified airports within the WAAS coverage area.
FANS/CPDLC—Future Air Navigation System and Controller Pilot Data Link Communications
FANS uses digital CNSes (Communications and Navigation Systems), including GPS and surveillance improvements. The combination of improvements in communication, navigation, and surveillance allow authorities to reduce separation distance between aircraft, allowing aircraft to fly at their most favorable altitudes and consume less fuel.
CPDLC is a means of communication between a controller and a pilot using a datalink. CPDLC is like texting; ATC and the flight crews exchange text-based messages instead of voice communications that are currently used in the flight decks.
While NextGen is a US-based initiative, Europe has been running a parallel initiative called SESAR (Single European Sky ATM Research).
Referenced below are the NextGen systems from the US with the equivalent or similar systems from Europe.
ADS-B—Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (Out and In). In Europe, the terminologies are essentially the same.
RNAV/RNP—Types of Performance Based Navigation, Area Navigation/ Required Navigation Performance, including IAP (Instrument Approach Procedures). B-RNAV (Basic–RNAV) defines European RNAV operations. P-RNAV (Precision RNAV) defines European RNAV operations where waypoints are located below MSA (Minimum Sector Altitude) or MRVA (Minimum Radar Vectoring Altitudes).
WAAS—Wide Area Augmentation System with LPV. Throughout Europe, the system is known as EGNOS.
EGNOS—European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service is the European system. Like WAAS, EGNOS augments the GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo satellite systems by reporting on the reliability and accuracy of the position data.
FANS—Future Air Navigation System. In Europe, the terminologies are essentially the same.
ATN-B1 (CPDLC). In Europe, as of January 28, 2021, in order to be able to use ATN-B1 in specific areas of EASA airspace (France, Switzerland, Maastricht-Upper Airspace Command), each aircraft must go to the Logon List Dashboard maintained by OneSky, and the operator must enter the requested aircraft-specific equipment to get approval to operate ATN-B1 in those regions
When it comes to NextGen, there is always more to learn and understand. Duncan Aviation has updated their Straight Talk Book about Airspace Modernization. It gives an overview of NextGen, providing simple explanations. It can be downloaded here: www.DuncanAviation.aero/resources/straight-talk/airspace-modernization#