Figure: Evolution of Surveillance, from FAA RSP Presentation.

Eddie Sez:

Most pilots who have flown internationally in the last decade or so are well acquainted with the concept of Required Navigation Performance (RNP), the idea that where you can fly will be determined on how accurately you can fly and how well the system alerts you when things are less than promised. While it isn't a perfect statement, you can think that the XX in your RNP-XX relates to that accuracy. The same concept holds true for communications and surveillance. In the case of communications, the number attached to your Required Surveillance Performance (RSP) is the number of seconds it takes for surveillance data from the CSP interface to arrive at the ATSU flight data processing system. You won’t find a lot about RSP because it is so closely related to Required Communications Performance (RCP). Does it matter? Yes, the lower the number the tighter the airspace you will be allowed to fly. Put another way: the higher the number, the more airspace around the world that will be denied you.

What follows are quotes from various sources, listed below, as well as my comments in blue.


[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]

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]

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]

[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