The FAA has put out its roadmap for the future of aerial navigation, and the bottom line for general aviation pilots—today's avionics equipment will continue to serve GA pilots well into the future, thanks to AOPA advocacy.
The Roadmap for Performance-Based Navigation is an air carrier-driven plan to tighten navigation tolerances and increase airspace capacity. It creates a system in which an aircraft must meet specific avionics capabilities (Required Navigation Performance or RNP) to use airways and arrival and departure procedures in busy terminal airspace (Class B). AOPA battled to make sure that VFR aircraft would be exempted from RNP requirements, that IFR aircraft could participate using today's IFR-certified GPS receivers, and that RNP will provide benefits for GA pilots.
"AOPA members have already made a huge investment in IFR-certified GPS technology and that must be protected," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "Because this concept for the future is being driven to serve the airlines, it is vital that we continue to press for general aviation access without additional equipment."
"If you've already invested in an IFR-certified GPS, you're set for RNP operations down to nonprecision approaches," said AOPA Senior Director of Advanced Technology Randy Kenagy. "For precision approaches, your trusty ILS or new WAAS receiver will do just fine for years to come."
AOPA also obtained commitments from the FAA to quickly establish transition routes through Class B airspace and reduced minimum altitudes on existing airways where current terrestrial navaids push them excessively high. Additionally, the FAA finally said "yes" to AOPA efforts to change the way minimums are established for both precision and nonprecision GPS approaches. That will mean more approaches with lower minimums.