It would be fantastic to wave a magic wand and bring performance-based navigation to the globe in a flash.

In this ideal world, all the just-post-war ground- based navigation aids like non-directional beacons, VORs, distance measuring equipment, instrument landing systems - and all the related on-board receivers - would be scrapped, and every phase of every flight would be managed using augmented global navigation satellite systems backed up by inertial navigation. Satellite navigation is the ideal instrument for precision area navigation, so out of the window would go all the airways, and point-to-point routeing would rule.

Well, the International Civil Aviation Organisation resolved in 2007 that this should be the aim, and that states should have harmonised national plans for performance-based navigation implementation by the end of this year. Now the aviation community has used a Geneva summit on tackling aviation's part in climate change to sign a declaration declaring that they are absolutely behind ICAO and committed to accelerate the process of implementing global performance-based navigation and air traffic management.

The trouble is global air navigation service providers are almost all owned by - and their earnings plundered by - governments. So nothing happens nationally until failure to act hurts a state politically and economically. ICAO should set up sanctions.

Source: Flight International