I was hoping someone could provide me with an estimate of what percentage of aircraft are equipped for RNAV (Area Navigation). I'm more interested in commercial aircraft, but business and general aviation would be nice to know too.

This is for my own curiosity, so speculation is perfectly fine.

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    $\begingroup$ It's probably close to 100% in commercial aircraft, at least for practical purposes: RNAV is a broad term and in many contexts it's informally used to mean GPS, even if that isn't really correct. For example, GPS instrument approach plates are titled "RNAV (GPS)". $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Feb 6, 2015 at 17:29
  • $\begingroup$ Which part of the world are you interested in? $\endgroup$
    – DeltaLima
    May 29, 2015 at 22:35
  • $\begingroup$ I guess if I had to choose it would be the U.S. And Europe. $\endgroup$
    – David
    May 30, 2015 at 8:46

1 Answer 1


Use of RNAV began in late 1960’s . Some airlines began exploring RNAV systems

  • KLM/SwissAir/SAS/UTA had a cooperative effort

  • Swissair became responsible for the development of a database to support this effort

In June 1973, National Air DC-10 equipped with Collins ANS-70 conducted RNAV operation, including approaches in VMC, with database.

In January 1983, the Federal Aviation Administration revoked all RNAV routes in the contiguous United States due to findings that aircraft were using inertial navigation systems rather than the ground-based beacons, and so cost-benefit analysis was not in favor of maintaining the RNAV routes system.

RNAV was reintroduced after the large-scale introduction of satellite navigation.And, since 1990 it is there in almost all the planes you see. So, as a rough estimate it would be more than 90%. Because, most of the pre-1990 planes have either been upgraded or grounded.

Sources: Wikipedia, Federal Register, This Article.

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    $\begingroup$ To The downvoter please explain your reason, so that I can improve $\endgroup$
    – anshabhi
    Jun 2, 2015 at 16:37
  • $\begingroup$ So when you say satellite navigation, that's doesn't mean ADS-B right? $\endgroup$
    – David
    Jun 2, 2015 at 18:53
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    $\begingroup$ @David: Satellite navigation means GPS. ADS-B is not a navigation, it is a system for reporting position via radio. And note, that pre-2000 GPS with the ~100m error (selective availability) was completely sufficient for en-route navigation (though obviously not for approaches). $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Jun 3, 2015 at 14:15
  • $\begingroup$ No I don't mean ADS-B. It was not even in air near the 90's! $\endgroup$
    – anshabhi
    Jun 3, 2015 at 14:17
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    $\begingroup$ Alright thanks everyone :) $\endgroup$
    – David
    Jun 3, 2015 at 14:31

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