Julian Moxon/PARIS

Eurocontrol has delayed by three months the deadline for introduction of basic radio navigation (B-RNAV) standards to European airspace after a last-minute request from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The original deadline, 28 January, 1998, has been put back to 23 April, which Eurocontrol says is the "-absolute last deadline. We will not allow any further extensions".

B-RNAV avionics are required for aircraft to navigate more precisely - within 9km (5nm) of the flightpath centreline - in European airspace, and is part of the overall tightening up of navigation standards which includes the introduction in 2001 of required vertical separation minima (RVSM).

Eurocontrol is concerned to see the B-RNAV deadline met to ensure that the RVSM and other deadlines are respected. "Any more hiccups, and we'll be sending the wrong message," it says.

IATA is understood to have requested the delay to accommodate the few remaining airlines which have failed so far to equip with B-RNAV avionics. This could be because the aircraft are too old to be worth upgrading, or face difficulties buying the navigation equipment. Eurocontrol points out, however, that more than 95% of Iata aircraft are now B-RNAV-compatible.

Source: Flight International