Australia turns to GNSS for primary navigation

Almost 180 ground-based navigation aids and associated non-precision approach procedures will be withdrawn from service this week after Australia earlier this year moved to more accurate, mandated satellite navigation technology.

The move on 26 May will see the Airservices Navigation Rationalisation Project switch-off 179 navigation aids, including non-directional beacons, VHF omni-directional radio ranges and distance measuring equipment.

Withdrawn procedures will be replaced with straight-in area navigation (RNAV) approach procedures that perform the same function. At many airports, RNAV approach procedures will be provided at both ends of the runway, essentially duplicating the navigation service.

Many of the ground-based navaids have been maintained beyond their expected operational life and advances in aeronautical technology have rendered most of them obsolete.

Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority also required from 4 February that instrument flight rules (IFR) aircraft use Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) technology as their primary means of navigation. GNSS is a key component of a long-term strategy to address growth in aviation.

Airservices consulted extensively on the changes and in May issued three types of Notices to Airmen (NOTAMS) alerting operators to the progressive shutdown from 4am (AEST) on 26 May.

Turning off the navaids will take about six weeks and the NOTAMs advise that the aids should not be used for navigation purposes even though they may still be transmitting an IDENT.

The navaid information has been removed from Aeronautical Information Publications in the 26 May edition. Where a navaid is the only service at a location, the location will be removed. In cases where other services are provided the location will remain but information relating to the navaid will be removed.

Benefits of the switch to satellite navigation include a reduced requirement to use ground-based aids, greater operational flexibility, and reduced track miles, step-down and circling approaches, as well as reduced fuel burn and flight times.

Airservices will monitor the remaining 213 navigation aids forming the industry-selected Backup Navigation Network (BNN) which will be available in the unlikely event a pilot is unable to access the satellite service.

More information about the Navigation Rationalisation Project can be found at

Posted in Avionics, CAAs/ANSPs, Navigation, News

One Response to Australia turns to GNSS for primary navigation

  1. Albert Aidoo Taylor says:

    Compliments to all the stakeholders in Australia for this giant “Kangaroo leap” forward! This action is a statement of attestation of vision, boldness, leadership and resolve, to go beyond the dreams, talks, meetings, numerous reports and experiments with technologies and operations.

    It is my hope that Africa and other developing aviation communities will leapfrog from an era of countless challenges with ground navigational aids to one that speaks boldly as has been manifestly demonstrated by Australia.

    With the advent of Space-based ADS-B being championed by Aireon, I hope to live to see a generation wherein a constellation of satellites will provide for a combined space-based data enabled communication, navigation and surveillance backbone infrastructure to the management of air traffic.
    As more private investments are being made into space travel, similar investment and ownership in backbone air traffic management infrastructure will herald a new experience in air travel once we are able to address the “phobias” which we have hidden the canopy of State sovereignty. (Albert Aidoo Taylor, Ghana)