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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 Gold pg 1-9]

  • Performance-based surveillance (PBS). ATS surveillance services and capability based on performance requirements for air traffic service provision, aircraft and flight operations along an ATS route, on an instrument approach procedure or in a designated airspace.
  • Surveillance performance requirements are allocated to system components in an RSP specification in terms of surveillance 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 Gold pg 1-11]

  • Required surveillance performance (RSP) specification. A set of requirements for air traffic service provision, aircraft capability, and operations needed to support performance-based surveillance within a defined airspace.
  • The term RSP is used in the context of a specification that is applicable to the prescription of airspace requirements, qualification of ATS provision, aircraft capability, and operational use, including post-implementation monitoring (e.g. RSP 180 refers to the criteria for various components of the operational system to ensure an acceptable surveillance capability for the controller is maintained).

[ICAO Gold Appendix D, Paragraph D.2.3.2] The analysis of actual communication performance (ASP) is based on the measurement of the transit times of the ADS-C periodic and event reports between the aircraft and the ANSP ground system. This is measured as the difference between the time extracted from the decoded ADS-C basic group timestamp when the message originated from the FMS and the time the message is received at the ANSP.

The ANSP is the Air Navigation Service Provider, which is defined as “An organization responsible for the provision of air traffic services.” The ICAO Gold manual doesn’t define the term any further but uses ANSP as an entity other than an Air Traffic Service Unit (ATSU) leading one to believe an ANSP is the same unit that has a radio operator taking voice position reports.

[ICAO Gold paragraph b)] RSP 180 includes an accuracy requirement on the “position at time” based on the prescribed RNP/RNAV specification and a +/- one-second accuracy on Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). It also includes a time requirement from when the aircraft is at the compulsory reporting point to when the report is received by the controlling ATS unit.


Figure: Examples of Applying RCP and RSP Specifications (From ICAO Gold, Tables 2-3 and 2-4)


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 Global Operational Data Link Document (GOLD), International Civil Aviation Organization, Second Edition, 26 April 2013

Revision: 20150722