Providing online training for business aviation professionals globally.


Ep. 9 – New North Atlantic Contingency Procedures effective March 28, 2019

Author: Brent Fishlock

Today’s topic is Performance Based Communication and Surveillance, known as PBCS, and is applicable to management, pilots, and maintenance personnel, as well as Flight Coordinators support staff.

(1:30) PBCS consists of a communications side, which is “required communications performance,” or RCP, and a surveillance component which is referred to as “required surveillance performance,” or “RSP.” PBCS is applicable in the North Atlantic on the Q, R, and S tracks from flight level 350 to flight level 390 as of March 2018. The oceanic areas included are Gander, Reykjavik, Santa Maria, and Shanwick.

(2:14) ICAO’s plan now incorporates communications using CPDLC, or Controller Pilot Data Link Communications, and surveillance using Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Contract, or ADS-C. ADS-B is the broadcast version, and will be mandatory in the US in certain domestic airspace as of January 1, 2020.

(2:40) Both RCP and RSP will have a designator number attached, such as RCP 240 or RSP 180. The designator number is the maximum time allowed in seconds for the completion of the connection by the system. If the connection and response is not complete after the designated time, then the equipment and user who initiated the connection is required to revert to an alternative method. The alternative method could be HF radio position reports or satellite phone communications, among others.

(3:15) North Atlantic rules are changing on a fairly regular basis as aircraft spacing is decreased using satellite based communication, navigation, and surveillance, referred to as CNS. Refer  to the blog for up to date information.

(3:36) Aircraft equipped and approved for CPDLC and capable of RCP 240 (which is 240 seconds to complete the connection,  and RNP 4, and ADS-C with RSP 180 capability may be eligible for approval to operate in areas where Performance-Based Communication and Surveillance is now required).

So, with oceanic procedures changing, how are crews are handling it?

(3:55) Business aviation makes up about 5% of the Atlantic crossing traffic, but accounts for 12% of the errors according to the National Business Aviation Association website.

What are the benefits of PBCS?

(4:33) PBCS allows for reduced longitudinal and/or lateral separation for compliant flights in oceanic airspace. The tracks that require PBCS are the core tracks from Flight Level 350 to Flight Level 390 where the optimum flight planning routes exist. Aircraft that do not have PBCS authorization that will be required to fly routes outside of the PBCS tracks.

So, how does ATC know that you and your aircraft are approved for PBCS?

(5:12) ATC will base aircraft separation solely on filed flight plan codes. In field 10 of the flight plan, insert “P2” to identify an aircraft’s RCP 240 capability; in field 18 of the flight plan form, file “SUR slash RSP 180” to indicate RSP 180 capability.

(5:53)  Your operation must obtain approval from your Regulator to be eligible for PBCS operations. A requirement to watch out for is that authorization may be specific to each individual airframe. From a maintenance perspective, the Master Minimum Equipment List and the minimum equipment list may require changes as a part of Regulatory approval. The Original Equipment Manufacturer or the holder of installation approval for the aircraft must demonstrate compliance.

(6:19) Maintenance procedures related to Performance-Based Communication and Surveillance are related to the maintenance of data link communication systems. Aircraft will have CPDLC with Required Communication Performance 240 second capability, and ADS-C with Required Surveillance Performance 180 second capability installed.

(7:09) The flight crew is in the aircraft preparing to depart. Verify that all required communications and surveillance equipment is functional. Verify that an MEL has not rendered your PBCS required equipment inoperable.

How does a pilot know if the PBCS related equipment is functioning properly?  

(7:35) A PBCS failure is defined as anytime the aircraft is no longer capable of meeting the Required Communications Performance or Required Surveillance Performance specification prescribed for the area of operations. Aircraft installations can vary, but the flight crew may not be provided with the number of seconds the communications and surveillance systems are taking to complete their tasks. Therefore, there may be no specific indication to the crew that the required designator number is being complied with or not.

Examples of failures or alerts could include:

  • Failure of CPDLC communication,
  • Loss of ADS-C logon and the inability to reconnect,
  • And connectivity loss of CPDLC or ADS-C

What do you do if you experience a failure of a related PBCS system?

(8:23) If you experience a failure related to either CPDLC or ADS-C, refer to your aircraft’s checklist and notify ATC. You may receive clearance to exit the PBCS tracks.

PBCS has a failure monitoring component written into the regulatory text. What is Failure Monitoring?

(8:50) Regulatory language states that the operator shall establish procedures to report problems identified by the flight crew or other personnel to the regional PBCS monitoring entities. Communications Service Providers and Satellite Service Providers will also notify the appropriate Air Traffic Service unit of any aircraft failures impacting PBCS operations.

In the News

(‘In the news’ is a segment of the podcast where we change topics for a few minutes to talk about other events in business aviation.)

(9:24) Crew Resource Management is changing in Canada in 2019. Advisory Circular 700 dash 042 which is effective January 31, 2019 contains many changes to the way business operators are required to train their people.


Brent Fishlock is a technical advisor for Currently an airline pilot, he also has an extensive background in corporate aviation.

aviation professional

Engaging and Effective Online Training. Logo
Get a free topic

Required fields are indicated with a red star.

Request a free demo

Required fields are indicated with a red star.