NAT Region: Implementation of Performance-Based Communications and Surveillance (PBCS)



11 December 2017

Subject: NAT Region: Implementation of Performance-Based Communications and Surveillance (PBCS) – 29 March 2018.

This Bulletin is based on the outcome of the 51st Meeting of the ICAO NAT Implementation Management Group (NAT IMG) held in Santa Maria 13-16 November 2017.


ICAO provisions relating to PBCS are contained in Annex 6 Parts I and II as well as in Annex 11, Annex 15, PANS-ATM (Doc 4444) and PANS-ABC (Doc 8400).  These provisions provide the foundation for the implementation of reduced lateral and longitudinal separation. Related guidance material is provided in ICAO Doc. 9869 Edition 2, 2017 PBCS Manual. [1]

RLatSM Phase 2

By previous agreement, advance notification of RLatSM Phase 2 implementation should be provided in two AIRAC cycles. This advance notice cannot be the case given that the current date for implementation is to take place on 4 January 2018. Therefore, the implementation date has slipped to 1 February 2018.  Operators are advised to watch for the publication of related AICs.

Operators are also advised to monitor for the publication of two important documents:

  • NAT OPS Bulletin on RLatSM Phase 2
  • NAT OPS Bulletin – RLatSM Special Emphasis Items (SEI) 

Regarding gross navigational errors (GNEs), operators’ attention is drawn to Attachment B of this Bulletin.

PBCS Implementation

Planning for PBCS implementation has been underway for some time with the objective of commencing implementation on 29 March 2018 and establishing the level of readiness to do so.

The IMG noted that:

“There was only limited quantifiable information available at the time of the meeting to assess the airspace users’ PBCS authorizations level. It was noted that one of the reasons for unavailability of this information was the slow process for developing and implementing States’ PBCS authorization regulations and procedures. At the time of the meeting, only Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States had published their regulatory material. Iceland and Portugal informed that they were aligning their PBCS authorization processes with those developed by other NAT regulators.

Therefore, in order to support the implementation of NAT SPG Conclusions 53/11 and 53/12, the NAT IMG invited the United Kingdom to conduct a theoretical operational impact assessment per various potential PBCS readiness percentage levels (e.g. 90%, 80% etc). Concurrently, IATA was requested to provide estimates for the expected PBCS authorisations readiness level of their member airlines for 29 March 2018. The airlines’ readiness estimate and the operational impact assessment would be presented to the NAT Safety Oversight Group/17 (SOG/17) 27 November-2 December 2017 for a first analysis. The operators’ readiness assessment should continue beyond the NAT SOG/17 with an invitation to States to report to ICAO EUR/NAT Office their readiness to issue PBCS authorisations before 29 March 2018 (or after).

The NAT IMG was informed by Canada and the United Kingdom that due to the different operating environment in the Gander and Shanwick OCAs, different implementation paths might need to be considered to ensure accommodating non-PBCS authorised users without penalizing them unintentionally.  Canada and the United Kingdom would implement PBCS on 29 March 2018 or, if further delay of PBCS implementation is determined necessary by NAT SPG, continue for a limited period of time (transition period to be determined) the RLatSM and RLongSM trials using the current monitoring programme based on PBCS requirements as agreed at NAT IMG/50 (para 4.66 of NAT IMG/50 report refers). During the same period, the airspace users having PBCS authorisations would be required to declare their capabilities in the flight plan. This information would be used to gather statistical data on the level of airspace users’ PBCS authorisation readiness. Regardless of the outcome above, Iceland, Portugal and the United States would continue with their PBCS implementations as planned on 29 March 2018.[2]

The NAT IMG noted this information and agreed that any decision to continue the RLatSM and RLongSM trials for a limited transition period would need to be coordinated and approved by correspondence by the NAT SPG prior to 15 December 2017.

Bulletin complied by P. R. Ingleton, IBAC
8 December 2017 

Attachment A – Excerpts from ICAO PBCS Manual
Attachment B –  Most Prevalent Causes of Gross Navigational Errors


[1] Excerpts of importance to Operators regarding required operational approvals are provided at Attachment A to this Bulletin.

[2] Editorial Note: PBCS implementation in these airspaces will not be mandated.  Reduced separation will only be applied between PBCS-qualified aircraft.



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