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Required Surveillance Performance (RSP)




Figure: Evolution of Surveillance, from FAA RSP Presentation.


[ICAO Doc 9869, ¶1.1] The FANS concept, which came to be known as the communications, navigation, surveillance/air traffic management (CNS/ATM) systems concept, involves a complex and interrelated set of technologies, dependent largely on satellites.

[ICAO Doc 9869, ¶2.3]

  • To enable ATM functions within a performance-based airspace, it will be necessary to characterize the performance required for the applicable communication, navigation and/or surveillance elements. RCP will be used in conjunction with RNP and other performance-based measures.
  • For a particular ATM function, an increase or decrease in the required performance for any single element (i.e., C or N or S) may allow a trade off in required performance of some or all of the other elements, provided the target level of safety is maintained.
  • It is important that the States harmonize RCP type for the same or similar ATM functions to reduce training requirements and errors resulting from confusion in operations across airspace boundaries.
  • ICAO Doc 9689, Airspace Planning Methodology, provides considerations for assessing the risk of collision when determining separation minima within an acceptable target level of safety. The risk of collision is a function of navigation performance, route configuration, traffic density, surveillance, communication and air traffic control (ATC). Determination of separation minima allows for trade-offs.

If you want to know more about how RSP came to be, see Required Communications Performance (RCP). (You can’t have one without the other.)


[ICAO Doc 10037 Glossary] Performance-based surveillance (PBS). Surveillance based on performance specifications applied to the provision of air traffic services.

Note.— An RSP specification includes surveillance performance requirements that are allocated to system components in terms of the surveillance to be provided and associated data delivery time, continuity, availability, integrity, accuracy of the surveillance data, safety and functionality needed for the proposed operation in the context of a particular airspace concept.

The “PBS” term hasn’t advanced much, at least not in the pilot world. Where this impacts pilots is when tied to the idea of Required Communications Performance (RCP).

[ICAO Doc 10037 ¶] Performance-based communication and surveillance (PBCS) is a concept that applies required communication performance (RCP) and required surveillance performance (RSP) specifications to ensure appropriate performance levels for relevant ATM operations (e.g. application of a reduced separation minimum). Information on the performance-based communication and surveillance (PBCS) concept and guidance material on its implementation are contained in the Performance-based Communication and Surveillance (PBCS) Manual (Doc 9869).

The "PBCS" term is even newer and, as of early 2017, the new version of Doc 9869 is hard to come by. The bottom line is you need communications and surveillance to get into tighter and tighter airspace.


The ICAO Gold Manual speaks of RSP 180, 240, and 400 in the context of reduced separation minima, which leads you to believe an airplane with nothing but an HF for communications and no automatic surveillance has an RSP greater than that. As the technology goes up, the RSP goes down. And that will open up some airspace.


Figure: RSP 400 Example (From FAA RSP Presentation)


Figure: RSP 180 Example (From FAA RSP Presentation)

Note: “HMI” is defined in another ICAO manual (ICAO Doc 9869) to be “Human Machine Interaction.”

Book Notes

Portions of this page can be found in the book International Flight Operations, Part V, Chapter 1.


FAA Introduction to Required Communication Performance (RCP) and Required Surveillance Performance (RSP), Presented to SOCM/2, By Christine Falk, 8 - 10 February 2012.

ICAO Document 9869 AN/462 (Draft), Manual on Required Communication Performance (RCP)

ICAO Document 10037 AN/509 - Global Operational Data Link (GOLD) Manual, Advance edition (unedited), First Edition, 2016

Revision: 20170427