Area Navigation (RNAV)

RNAV is a navigation system that enables aircraft to navigate using onboard sensors and computers to determine the aircrafts location and follow a defined path. It enables pilots to fly more precisely and accurately to their destination compared to traditional methods.

This introduction to RNAV will discuss the principles and benefits of this navigational system and how it affects the aviation industry.

Definition of RNAV

Area Navigation (RNAV) is a navigation technique used by pilots and air traffic controllers, which allows an aircraft to navigate between two points along a specific path. It uses an on-board navigation system designed to be capable of determining the aircraft’s position relative to the reference coordinates set by the pilot or air traffic controller. The four fundamental building blocks of RNAV are Global Positioning System (GPS), VOR/DME, RNAV sensors and navigation databases.

GPS provides location data in latitude, longitude and altitude. The location data is combined with navigation databases stored in computer memory in order to create a navigational plan that is safe and efficient. Navigation databases contain information such as terrain, airspace, airports and other navigational aids. This information is used to accurately navigate the aircraft using tables, charts or electronic maps created by the navigator or pilot with software installed in the flight management system (FMS).

VOR/DME systems provide appropriate references that allow accurate positioning of the aircraft along its route of flight and ensures they adhere to established airways. Furthermore, RNAV sensors measure an aircraft’s speed, altitude and heading from external references derived from GPS satellites , Doppler radar or inertial guidance systems. Finally, special computers are used to integrate all these systems for keeping track of position at all times during flight.

Benefits of RNAV

RNAV (Area Navigation) is the term commonly used to describe a new system of air navigation that allows aircraft to fly almost any route desired or required. RNAV technology makes flying more efficient, reduces fuel consumption, and reduces emissions. It also enables aircraft to fly at optimal altitudes, which further improves fuel efficiency and noise reduction benefits.

These advantages can be summarized as:

  • Increased flexibility – The RNAV system enables more precise routes which are easier for pilots to follow and can improve airspace utilization. This increase in flexibility saves time and money for the user by allowing them to reach their destination faster and with greater accuracy.
  • Improved safety – The precision of RNAV helps pilots avoid hazardous weather conditions with greater confidence, while also reducing the chance of entering areas of restricted or prohibited airspace.
  • Lowered costs – By reducing annual flight time and fuel costs, operators benefit from improved efficiency when utilizing an RNAV system. The reduced costs can then be reflected in lower fares for passengers.
  • Reduced stress on infrastructure – With less traffic in congested airspace, operators can save both money and wear-and-tear on shared comms systems.
  • Greater reliability – With automated back-up systems in place aircraft can often complete their flight without any manual intervention from ground controllers or other staff resources. This reduces delays in completing a flight plan and improves customer service levels throughout the aviation industry.

RNAV Requirements

RNAV (Area Navigation) is a navigation technique that uses electronic signals from on-board avionics units to guide a pilot along a desired trajectory in three-dimensional space. In order to be able to successfully use Area Navigation, certain criteria must be met, and this section will look into these requirements in more detail.

Aircraft Equipment Requirements

Area navigation is a technology that provides aircraft the capability to fly precise courses between two points. RNAV is intended to provide flexible airspace management and reduce the reliance on ground-based navigational aids. Aircraft equipped with area navigation systems must meet certain requirements based upon the type of operations being conducted.

General aviation aircraft must have GPS/RNAV receivers available for navigational use. The primary equipment requirements for general aviation operators include:

  • Avionics receiver capable of using GPS/RNAV sources,
  • An approved attitude indicator, and
  • At least two independent VOR/DME receivers OR ADF receivers in addition to an approved area navigation system installed in accordance with Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR)s Part 23, or 25 when specified.

Air carriers must have onboard at least one separate avionics receiver powered by its own reliable source of electrical power that is capable of operating both RNAV issued routes and special area navigation (RNAV) operations in high density air traffic areas as specified in Part 91 Section 91.423 (conducted under Parts 121, 125 and 135). This receiver must be listed on the aircraft’s Type Certificate Data Sheet or equivalent document by its model number authorized by the FAA Technical Center (AVN TC). Additionally, the IFR navigation system installed on board must include any appropriate:

  • Barometric altitude encoder(s),
  • Distance measuring equipment (DME),
  • Instrument landing system (ILS),
  • Automatic direction finder/navigation radio system located within 200 nautical miles of its destination airport; OR an airborne automatic dependent surveillance broadcast out unit for en route operations when specified by either alternative A or B below:
  • Alternative A: Multiple redundancies; that includes two IFR navigation systems and two independent DME sources within 200 nautical miles from the destination airport; or
  • Alternative B: One FMC receiving input data from three external sources including baroaltitude encoder(s) as well as a minimum of three additional sources received simultaneously through at least one suitable system other than IRU satellite based augmentation system or Wide Area Augmentation System installation allowing commercial operations with a single FMC installation certified capability when required by ATO authorization); OR APT RVSM capable installations meeting the applicable technical order requirements allowing commercial operations in RLAT U airspace requiring such capability under ATO authorization when RVSM altimetry has been adopted and established over part of an area where noncompliance may not be tolerated due to overflux keeping all such instrument approaches away from specific congested air traffic patterns areas falling within extraordinary airspace control measures who require more stringent control specifications related to aircraft using navigational paths traveling along designated routes falling outside standard AIRAC cycle as tolerated during transition period until fully implemented according to regional increments regarding forthcoming international conventions consequently provoking strictly monitored implications from relevant CAR applicable regional clauses considered alike this proposed amendment setting proper precedent pre litigated during normal policy ruling procedures explicitly legislated accordingly via international governing accord as derived directly from enforcement council articulation even fostering criteria mandated regarding uncertain preconditions not yet validated but still accepted despite lack thereof submited factual information propitiating legally binding resolutions but only pending further final ratification still pending due current ambiguity mitigating compliance issues subject ongoing deliberations intercontinental legal framework working commissions annually reviewed status updating periodically released guidelines regardless otherwise admissible resolutive measures consequently reflecting imminent provenance unequivocally hereby declared beyond questioning doubt new act amending initial conditions taking into careful considerations previously mentioned facts always implicit stipulations attached hereto without questioning intrinsic validity thereof following conventionally accepted code translated verbatim below documented extensively taking into careful consideration several aspects considered carefully before judgement strictly maintained quasi judicial terms hereby detailed legislation announcing forthcoming change foreseeable circumstances indicating incummendable probabilities tending towards higher percentages favorability leading directlty thereto aforementioned permanent arbitration magistrates therefore thereeby definitively declared law enacting consequential supplements activities mandatory pursuant thereto regular rules protocol constituently recognized albeit presently suspended due formal modalities reiterated article Annex Six accords preceding second pillar accords solemnly exercised because article Eight affirmation irrevocably stipulated therein related parties groupement notified conclusively pursuant wholly applicable annex conventions embody therein specifying unambiguously formula baselined originally presented embodying forthrightness uncompromising character mainly conveyed remote applicability inherent volatility mirrored past experiences requesting good faith participation attending agreeents universally incorporated laws set fourth hereinabove each measured reached majority votes beholden previous resolution declared effective midnight UTC forthwith revoked renewal superseding oblivion enduring enumerations therein henceforth defined binding nomenclature perforce condition stated accordingly.

Navigation Database Requirements

The Area Navigation (RNAV) system provides aircraft with the capability to fly user-defined routes within the coverage of ground or satellite navigation aids. A navigation system requires a navigation database for providing all relevant airports, routes, airspace and other obstacles. It is important to load the appropriate navigation United Flying Together Coair database into your aircraft in order to ensure correct flight path prediction and route guidance.

It is also important to ensure that you have the most up-to-date information available, as new elements may be added or existing elements may be modified during the course of each six month period. The navigation database typically contains ground-based navigational aids and services, such as VOR, NDB, and DME; airspace boundaries; obstacles; aeronautical waypoints; and airports. Airlines use dedicated databases developed by certain companies depending upon their hardware requirements.

Navigation Database requirements vary depending on aircraft type and model along with operating area covered. Here are some of the common Navigation Database requirements:

  • Aircraft’s Physical Location/Area
  • Minimum Altitude Requirements
  • Geographical Coverage
  • Airspace definitions
  • Radio Navigation Aids (VOR/NDB/DME)
  • Root Waypoints
  • Airports and Obstacles Data
  • Required Avionics System

Navigation System Requirements

Area Navigation (RNAV) is an innovative technology that enables pilots to optimize the flight profile, saving them time and money on trips. RNAV systems have many requirements which must be satisfied to ensure that aircraft remain in designated flight paths at all times and meet preset minimum requirements for navigational performance.

Operators must employ a number of techniques to meet the necessary navigation system requirements, including:

  • GPS
  • Ground-based Augmentation Systems (GBAS)
  • VHF Omni-Directional Range/Distance Measuring Equipment (VOR/DME)
  • MLS (Microwave Landing System) or GBAS data link as primary navigation sources.

In addition, aircraft must be equipped with INS/IRS navigation systems to provide enhanced precision guidance when operated in marginal weather or remote areas where standard navigational routes are not available. It is important to load the appropriate navigation United Flying Together Coair database into your aircraft in order to ensure correct flight path prediction and route guidance. Navigational information can also be supplemented by conventional radar vectoring and additional required items like two VHF communication systems with a minimum of 8.33 kHz channel separation capability and an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT).

Moreover, it is important for pilots to make sure they adhere to altitude constraints established by RNAV systems. Aircraft should not exceed recommended operating altitudes along routes or climb too high too quickly as this could put them into uncontrolled airspace without proper clearance from air traffic control authorities.

By adhering to these important navigation system requirements, operators ensure that their aircraft stay safely in their desired area of operation at all times during flight maneuvers.

RNAV Procedures

RNAV (Area Navigation) is a type of air navigation that allows aircraft to operate more efficiently and safely in modern airspace. It is one of the most important tools for navigating in today’s aviation industry.

In this section, we’ll discuss the different RNAV procedures and how they work:

Pre-flight Planning

Prior to a flight, the pilot must plan for how they will maneuver in different parts of the airspace. Pre-flight planning is key to successful navigation and traffic separation. For RNAV operations, pilots should consider the following points during pre-flight planning:

  1. Select appropriate navigation or performance specification: In order to fly an RNAV route or procedure, proper equipment must be installed on board the aircraft and checked for accuracy prior to each flight.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the specific characteristics of each area navigation (RNAV) procedure: Navigation database information must be read thoroughly in order to understand any restrictions associated with a certain area navigation (RNAV) procedure prior to flying it.
  3. Establish as defined an entry and initial segment as possible: Prior to beginning descent along a particular avenue of approach, pilots should review sequence of fixes that line up in their data.
  4. Familiarize yourself with the nature of altitude constraints: Understanding altitude restriction parameters is vital in order for the aircraft not to exceed those restrictions during descent or climb out from a particular segment of an RNAV Procedure.
  5. Choose appropriate aircraft operating speeds: Consideration must be given when choosing between en route, arrival, terminal cruising speeds as well as other factors depending on airline policy when deciding on airspeed when executing a chosen RNAV Procedure.

Flight Execution

Once a flight’s RNAV procedure has been planned and approved, the pilot can begin execution. There are several important steps that must be taken during flight:

  • Prior to departure, the pilot must enter all waypoints or en route coordinates into the navigational system. This creates a computer-generated course for the aircraft to follow during its journey.
  • The RNAV system should be set up and thoroughly checked prior to takeoff.
  • Once in flight, all navigation must be monitored continuously and any deviations corrected immediately. Special attention should be paid to altitude restrictions in order to ensure adherence at all times.
  • When approaching an intermediate point, speed adjustments may need to be made in order to remain on track as well as altitude adjustments if an airspace has been penetrated inadvertently.
  • Approaching the destination requires particular precision; aided by ground tracking features, such as DME or GPS receiver systems that offer high accuracy positioning information.
  • If flying via RNAV approach procedures, projectted track and distances remaining need special attention; care needs to be taken when crossing boundaries of Radar Coverage in order not to inadvertently cross into prohibited airspace or land without clearance due to incorrect navigation information being provided by the aircraft navigational equipment.

Post-flight Procedures

After completing your Area Navigation (RNAV) flight, there are some post-flight procedures that should be taken as a matter of good practice. These steps help ensure the accuracy of the position reports and ensure continuity of aircrew navigational knowledge between flights.

  1. Analyze and record any observed errors in position reports or navigation. Any discrepancies should be noted and discussed with other crewmembers. In addition, record any changes to the aircraft performance or navigational system that were noted during navigation such as set-up errors, GPS anomalies etc.
  2. Save all current flight plan data including route information, performance data and fuel used for reference on future flights. This will assist in planning more efficient missions as well as setting up more accurate check points that can be used for comparison with other recorded data generated during flight operations such as GP-Logs etc.
  3. Record navigational techniques exhibited while performing your RNAV procedure and review the skill requirements needed for successful execution of RNAV routes in instrument conditions so that similar operations can be accomplished during future flights with a greater degree of confidence. Note post-flight any standard operating procedures amended or revised since the last checks were completed so that amendments can made if necessary before upcoming flights or if Operational Approval Requests need to be submitted to authorities for approval due to changes required in flying particular routes or airspace segments.
  4. Prior to undertaking any subsequent area navigation flight, review related navigational publications carefully like aeronautical information publications (AIP), international NOTAM’s, standard instrument departure (SIDs), terminal arrival areas (STARs) dg approach plates ensuring factual accuracy is maintained and any irregularities are addressed before take off thereby enhancing safety margins when undertaking subsequent tracks in accordance with published nav aids.

RNAV Challenges

RNAV is a key navigation system that allows pilots to plan their flights from point-to-point with the help of onboard navigation equipment. It is a complex system and provides numerous challenges.

In this post, we will be discussing the challenges associated with RNAV, and how to best navigate through them:

Weather Challenges

RNAV is extremely useful in navigating efficiently around obstacles and for shorter routes, however weather patterns may present some challenges for applications of the navigation system. Low lying clouds or fog can reduce the accuracy of readings from terminal-based navigation systems. Onboard systems are capable of providing higher accuracy readings than terminal-based systems, but may still be unable to provide reliable data when experiencing certain weather conditions such as heavy snowfall or turbulence caused by strong winds.

Additionally, areas with extreme terrain or weather conditions such as thunderstorms may cause difficulties with GPS signals that increase total flight time and trail times. Inclement weather also has the potential of making some parts of a route unreachable, leading to possible unsafe operating conditions.

When using RNAV as a tool for navigation, pilots must factor in changes in weather patterns and total route time when filing a flight plan containing alternate routes for different conditions. Keeping up to date with the most current wind forecasts and accurate airspace data are essential tools in planning a safe flight and should be considered when mapping out a trip on an RNAV system. The FAA provides extensive resources on its website regarding flight plan filing procedures and recommended navigational practices to ensure all operations are conducted safely under all possible circumstances.

Airspace Challenges

Area Navigation (RNAV), sometimes referred to as GPS navigation, has become increasingly prevalent in aviation over the past decade. With this comes a variety of airspace challenges that must be addressed and accounted for when using these navigation systems in air operations. This can include considerations such as proper equipment and procedure installation, type-specific route clearances, and terrain/obstacle avoidance procedures.

In addition to these operational concerns, RNAV systems present an array of airspace related issues which could potentially impact aviation safety. These can include airspace definitions, route clearances for other aircraft users such as military operations or heliports, errors in coding route structure by airports or navaids along the flight path, special use airspace restrictions or unusual traffic patterns at certain locations, etc. Each pilot should take into account any of these potential problems before entering the airspace with their GPS system turned on.

The FAA also encourages pilots to stay up to date on any changes to published obstacle data when navigating with RNAV systems. In addition, correct operation of RNAV equipment should be verified during every pre-flight operation with updated databases where required. Pertinent information regarding obstacles and terrain clearance criteria should be referenced prior to any sortie. As always good situational awareness is paramount when employing an Area Navigation system.

Human Factors Challenges

Human factors challenges are one of the primary challenges associated with RNAV operations. Inadequate training and lack of knowledge of the procedures may lead to wrong selections and increase risk around Flight Management Computer programming, which can affect safety. Moreover, there are risks related to air traffic controller interaction and pilot interaction.

Air traffic controllers must ensure that flight crews have access to all relevant data for aircraft navigation performance, as well as monitor clearances, arrival sequences, and other such information for safe arrival in the airport within visual flight rule conditions. Pilots must understand all relevant regulations as well as limitations set by aircraft performance related to navigation accuracy requirements on speeds and wingslows, otherwise they may be unable to maintain aircraft stability in areas where terrain clearance is critical.

Human factors challenges compound the challenges faced due to weather and technical error associated with RNAV operations. Low visibility conditions due to providing misleading Meteorological phenomenon data or incorrect computer programming can lead to runways or navigational aid misidentification errors or deviations between expected aircraft paths and planned routes. In such cases a go-around procedure is usually implemented by the Controller or Pilot-in-Command (PIC), to ensure safe passage towards a given airport within compliant parameters.

For proper sequencing on landing approaches it is essential that pilots understand complexities of their assigned track relative to surrounding terrain in order for final descent path transitions necessary for visual approaches around an airport vicinity being safely complete.


In conclusion, Area Navigation (RNAV) is a powerful tool for aircraft navigation and provides a number of advantages over traditional navigation methods. It offers greater flexibility, reliability, and accuracy, reducing flight times and fuel consumption while improving safety.

RNAV is also becoming increasingly popular in the aviation industry and is being adopted by many airlines and operators.

Summary of RNAV Benefits

RNAV routes provide significant benefits for aircraft operators, air traffic controllers and travelers. By enabling all aircraft in the terminal airspace to fly on paths with minimum guidance needed by air traffic control, RNAV allows pilots to adjust their routes quickly in order to avoid weather and terrain while offering considerable advantages over old-style National Airspace System procedures.

For aircraft operators, these benefits include greater operational efficiency, fuel savings and reduced wear and tear on their fleets. By reducing congestion in terminal airspace and enabling more direct routes that minimize flying time and fuel burn without compromising safety standards, aircraft operators can save considerably on operational costs. Pilots also gain an increased situational awareness of their environment due to the availability of numerous navigation aids and portability data link services.

For air traffic controllers, RNAV enables them to reduce congestion by utilizing existing resources more efficiently. They are also able to monitor multiple aircraft more effectively due to the reduction in operations procedural requirements related with traditional Nautical Mile system navigation techniques.

For travelers, the main benefit is improved safety as air traffic controllers are better equipped with real-time information about weather conditions along diverse routes for each craft they are managing. With fewer restrictions on airspace use by different crafts traveling close together, there is also an increased assurance of smoother travel times from one destination to another.

Benefits of Adopting RNAV

Navigation by Area Navigation (RNAV) provides several benefits over traditional ground-based navigation and guidance systems. Adopting RNAV enables airlines to realize significant cost savings through more efficient and direct routings due to superior system accuracy and better use of airspace.

Airlines can also experience an improved level of safety due to more accurate navigation and position data, allowing for safer flights at steeper approach angles and a reduction in the risk of collision with other aircraft. RNAV technology also eliminates the need for pilots to constantly monitor ground-based navigational aids, allowing them to focus on other important tasks during flight.

Finally, when combined with more precise performance monitoring capabilities such as Current Performance System (CPS), RNAV allows for better tracking of aircraft performance throughout a flight, allowing air traffic controllers to make faster decisions when traffic congestion arises. This real-time detection capability allows air traffic control personnel to identify conflicts earlier, reducing delays overall while providing a safer environment for all operations.