Understanding Required Navigation Performance

Technology is modernizing airspace to make flights more direct and efficient.

Required Navigation Performance (RNP) technology is at the forefront of the technological changes in aviation. As this technology grows and becomes more widely used, it is important to understand how it can affect your day-to-day life.

While RNP is similar to Area Navigation (RNAV), it requires equipment for on-board navigation, performance monitoring, and alerting capabilities. Depending on what the navigation equipment is capable of, aircraft are given different levels of RNP certification.

Aircraft Qualification

In order for an aircraft to be RNP approved, you should have both qualification and operational documents from the manufacturer certifying your aircraft’s navigation system RNP approval and capability. Approval can be part of the aircraft certification for new aircraft or the operator can prepare an itemized list along with the manufacturer documents for an existing aircraft (see AC 90-101A and AC 90-15A for information on RNP approval guidance).

Airplane Navigation

Benefits of RNP

While RNP can be expensive to implement, it also offers many benefits. RNP technology offers more direct and precise navigation from start to finish, and it can help to decongest the airspace making takeoffs and landings easier and faster. Simplified flight paths mean aircraft are saving both time and fuel. In addition, air traffic control can better monitor the airspace allowing for condensed communications, optimized descent profiles, reduced environmental impacts, and increased airspace and operational utilization. The combination of navigation performance monitoring and alerting GPS allows greater access to the airspace through more efficient aircraft spacing, more accurately defined zones, and increased parallel flight tracks.


The FAA’s Next Generation Airport Transportation System (NextGen) program, first outlined in 2003, is modernizing the United States airspace. It’s satellite based system is more accurate than the previous ground based system and can track up to 1900 aircraft at a time. It has already been implemented in many airports across the country and companies have already started noticing the benefits of operational efficiency and reduced fuel burns. The FAA expects to see an increase in benefits over the coming years as they work to fully implement the NextGen program.

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