Emma Kelly/LONDON

Eurocontrol has set a final deadline of 1 August, 1998, for operators in European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) airspace to meet basic area navigation (B-RNAV) requirements following a "very disappointing" level of compliance achieved for the 23 April deadline.

Under the April schedule, the carriage of B-RNAV equipment meeting required navigation performance 5, providing navigation accuracy of 5nm (9km) for 95% of flight time, was due to be compulsory for aircraft operating in ECAC airspace. Eurocontrol, however, was forced to set the August deadline when it became clear that many airlines would seek exemptions on that date.

"When we reviewed the situation we discovered that hundreds of aircraft would not be compliant, so all of the ECAC states have agreed on a common exemption policy," Alexander Hendriks, the head of Eurocontrol's Airspace and Navigation Division tells Flight International sister publication Air Navigation International. "Last month we informed the operators of the exemption policy and we have been flooded with exemption requests from them," he says. In total, some 300 aircraft operators, airlines and general aviation operators have requested exemption from the B-RNAV requirements for about 1,500 aircraft.

Eurocontrol has been aware for some time that the general aviation community has faced difficulties in complying, but the organisation has been disappointed with airline compliance. "Many of these are large airlines," Hendriks adds. "We started this programme in 1990. We then started talking to operators and then the indication was that the requirement would be for precision area navigation [P-RNAV]. At that time, airlines suggested that the 1998 implementation date was no problem. In 1995 we reviewed the situation and decided that B-RNAV was the requirement and not P-RNAV," he says.

An original implementation deadline of 29 January, 1998, was set, but last year this was changed to 23 April, following requests for postponement by the International Air Transport Association and the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) because of problems airlines were facing meeting the requirements.

Eurocontrol is now taking a firm stance. "There will be no exemptions after 1 August," says Hendriks. Operators complying with B-RNAV requirements have benefited from direct routes since 23 April, he adds. "We have been careful in the implementation of the exemption policy not to penalise compliant operators," he says.

The implementation of B-RNAV is intended to reduce European congestion. Aircraft fitted with navigation equipment meeting B-RNAV requirements do not need to overfly ground navigation aids.

In addition to B-RNAV requirements, operators in ECAC airspace face numerous deadlines, including 8.33kHz spacing requirements, reduced vertical separation minima implementation and airborne collision avoidance system equipment installation.

Source: Flight International