ACI and CANSO provide guidance on PBN implementation – need more?

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ACI partners with CANSO for aviation noise reduction guidance

Airports an Air Navigation providers write pamphlet on PBN introduction

Local and Global experience the basis for advice

Optimistic guidance vs. FAA experience

“By introducing the Performance Based Navigation concept, ACI World and CANSO’s guidance outlines its use as an effective noise mitigation technique.


“ACI World has announced a new partnership with the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) in order to deliver guidance material for airports working to reduce aviation noise and emissions, titled ‘Use of Performance Based Navigation (PBN) For Noise Management’.

In collaboration with aviation industry partners, ACI and CANSO have worked to identify opportunities that enable airports to enhance operational efficiency and capacity whilst maintaining the highest level of safety.

The guidance has been developed by CANSO’s Performance Based Navigation Workgroup and international contributors from ACI. The publication combines extensive expertise and experience from across the industry, exploring the role of operational improvements – like performance-based navigation – in reducing aircraft noise and emissions.

Angela Gittens, ACI World’s Director General, said: “If our industry is to grow while continuing to manage and minimise its impact, then effective collaboration and stakeholder engagement is key. ACI welcomed the opportunity to work with CANSO on creating guidance for our members in implementing measures to improve efficiency and safety while also reducing aviation-related noise and emissions – and, importantly, creating dialogue with the noise-affected communities surrounding our airports to explain those improvements.”

Using an advanced, satellite-enabled form of air navigation, Performance Based Navigation (PBN) is a concept that enhances aircraft routing and procedures, enabling aircraft to fly a precise vertical and lateral flight path. The concept offers a number of operational benefits – these include enhanced safety, increased efficiency and reduced cost.

ACI and CANSO’s outlined best practice demonstrates how PBN can contribute to the reduction of aircraft emissions and concentration of aircraft noise, making it vital for managing aviation’s potential impact on communities.

The new guidance material provides an insight into how PBN can facilitate improvements to the sustainability of aviation, strategies for implementation and recent case studies on it being used as an effective noise mitigation technique.

Director General of CANSO, Simon Hocquard, said: “Managing aviation-related noise and emissions is a complex issue and requires the whole aviation industry to work together to improve performance, from CANSO Director General Hocquardaircraft design, trajectory and speed, to optimal flight routing and seamless ground-to-air operations. For its part, ATM is helping to optimise the use of airspace and ensure safe, efficient and effective airborne operations by championing the latest best practice and technologies. CANSO is honoured to work alongside ACI in determining how ANSPs can further support efficient operations for airports, airline operators and States, and ensure we are socially and environmentally responsible in everything we do.”

CANSO members


CANSO has 93 aviation authorities, including the FAA, NAV Canada, NATS and many of the world’s governmental and private air navigation providers (curiously EUROCONTROL is not) as members. ACI World brings great knowledge of the intersection of PBN and local communities. Given that wealth of experience, the pamphlet“Use of Performance Based Navigation (PBN) For Noise Management” is expressed in terms which can best be described as detailed as to operational benefits and unduly optimistic as to community reaction.

Probably the best bit of advice from the CANSO/ACI World paper, p.15, is

PBN procedures. Care needs to be taken to minimise jargon and to convey complex concepts in simple terms. Experience has shown that graphical presentations over recognisable basemaps (i.e., with identifiable roads, landmarks, etc.) are most effective.”

Attachment I[1] to this post reflects some of the extensive experience, good and bad, which the FAA has had with implementing NextGen, PBN, RNP, etc. It is fair to say one of the biggest problems with the outreach sessions with the public has been the degree to which the technicians had difficulties communicating with the affected citizens.  

The attendees at these public meetings have anxiety before they enter the room; they all fear that these ATC changes will destroy their property values. The FAA representatives speak the language of their professions filled with acronyms and technical terms—neither of which are easily translatable into plain English.

ACI CANSO summary

These CANSO/ACI World words of advice must be carefully adhered to by the speakers. TRANSPARENCY should include recognition that while PBN will lower environmental impacts on a macro basis, the same precision will result in “channelization” noise impact, particularly where the tracks intersect on arrivals. While the booklet recognizes that noise will be a problem, the discussion does not adequately warn of the possibility of severe reactions.

These two charts are used in the pamphlet to show how PBN can be used to avoid noise sensitive areas, BUT they also illustrate how the precision in flying the ATC routes and intersections can increase the noise generated at points in the patterns. The presentations must make it clear that, while PBN will lower noise on a macro basis and even in specific areas over neighborhoods, the new “aerial roads” will concentrate impact under the new lines:

ACI PBN Channelization


The joint article does not fully recognize the impact of RNP out at 8-10 miles, typically rural properties used to zero. Should this small delta be acceptable in determining affected areas? These sections of land experience a high flight frequency of only 45 dnl operations are being highly annoyed. Should policy be adjusted to reflect this range of noise disturbance?  The authors, at Resource appendix 3. PBN Airspace Design Guidance Document p. 14, do admit that there might be some value for  altitude based priorities, and the same logic might be applied to the rural low threshold to 45 DNL level area.

Perhaps the greatest disappointment of this otherwise useful paper is its failure to recognize or address that the impact of channelization may require the definition of another metric moving from a cumulative analysis to a more single event assessment. The intensity and frequency of RNP flights might well merit development of new measures. Given the prominence of both organizations, a mention of a need to search for new standards would have created considerable momentum.


Attachment I


·       UK Learns From FAA NextGen Implementation Experience And Maybe Will Teach US

{very instructive, full text below}

·       Court Of Appeals Okays FAA NextGen Tracks: A Decision Of Process And The Post, Not One Which May Address Channelization, The Real Issue

·       Congressional Fix To NextGen ATC Implementation Uses Poor Process Rather Than Early Technical Intervention


UK Learns From FAA NextGen Implementation Experience And Maybe Will Teach US

Government gives green light to modernise UK airspace

Clearer about RNP impact

Adds layer of Independent Review

Will it work???

For years there have been stories of designing the technology and then implementing the ATC architecture for NextGen. Thus, it is surprising that the UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) and Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAAJUST announced a National Air Traffic Service’s (NATSAirspace Modernisation [UK spelling; one of many] Proposal (AMP).

The space-based technology and systems like Performance Based Navigation (PBN) are similar to the FAA’s basic implementation plan. Perhaps having observed resistance by the neighbors to the MetroPlex implementation, the DfT, CAA & NATS chose to preface their explanations of the AMP with a high level of disclosure of  the concentrated noise impact of PBN.

The AMP review process included a new procedure which may also increase the public’s acceptance.

  1. Here are the CAA’s and NATS’ disclosures.

According to research conducted by NATS, flights in UK airspace are forecast to grow from 2.25 million per year in 2015 to 3.25 million in 2030 (an increase of 44 per cent).

For some, the increase in traffic may lead to an increase in noise, or the concentration of traffic can focus noise over a smaller area.

2. While it is impossible to reduce the impact of aviation noise for all communities, it is important that noise is managed as well as possible.

This document replaces the Future Airspace Strategy and sets out the ways, means and ends of modernising airspace through 15 initiatives that will modernise the design, technology and operations of airspace, initially focusing on the period until the end of 2024.

These include the removal of all fixed routes in upper airspace so aircraft can fly fully optimised routes, a fundamental redesign of the terminal route network using precise and flexible satellite navigation, and the focus on electronic surveillance solutions to improve safety and enable better integration of all airspace users.


The CAA’s materials on the AMP also made an effort to forewarn the public about the PBN impact:

For some, the increase in traffic may lead to an increase in noise, or the concentration of traffic can focus noise over a smaller areaWhile it is impossible to reduce the impact of aviation noise for all communities, it is important that noise is managed as well as possible. Airports should also consider as part of the airspace process whether they can change their airspace design to reduce noise or, more specifically, the health effects of noise.

Being clear is always a preferable tactic for the government in communicating with the public. The above CAA statement makes it clear that the ANP implementation is likely to involve some zero sum decisions between communities. It will be interesting to see whether the honest pronouncement will lead to a less contentious process or whether the advance warning will result in greater opposition by the neighborhoods which bear the impact.

  1. The new Review Process

The Airspace Modernisation Strategy has created some separation: (1) the people who have designed the ATC routes, have participated in the public meetings and made final recommendations (NATS, the airlines and the communities involved, and (2) CAA which will not participate in the initial step, but who will make the final recommendations.

Alongside this strategic airspace modernisation role, the CAA is the independent decision maker for proposals to change the design of UK airspace.  It recently introduced a new process for making these decisions that requires greater evidence, transparency and stakeholder engagement.

As part of this process, the CAA earlier this year launched a dedicated portal for proposed changes to UK airspace.  It provides communities and all interested stakeholders with a one-stop shop of information about new designs of UK airspace that might impact them and an easy way to provide their views about changes whilst they are still being designed. This forms a central element of the new airspace change process introduced by the CAA in January 2018.

The portal can be found at and exemplifies the step change in openness and transparency around the process of airspace design.

The AMP’s clearer noise impact declaration and the CAA’s role as an independent review process are intended as enhancements to the FAA’s experiences. The future meetings and decisions may provide valuable lessons for the US.




















[1] The FAA has had such adverse reaction to its presentations that lawsuits have been filed and bills altering the current review processes have been filed, but not yet passed.

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