Notices to Aviation (NOTAM)
A NOTAM is a notice containing information concerning the establishment, condition or change in any aeronautical facility, service, procedure or hazard, the timely knowledge of which is essential to personnel concerned with flight operations. It will cover notifications of temporary information (usually of less than 90 days duration), or permanent information not yet included in the AIP.
As the commander of an aircraft you shall take all reasonable steps to satisfy yourself, before the aircraft takes off, that the flight can safely be made, taking into account the latest information available as to the route and aerodrome to be used, the weather reports and forecasts available and have contingency plans with alternative courses of action which can be adopted in case the flight cannot be completed as planned. As part of this requirement, this means that NOTAM must be checked before every flight. You should always carefully check the dates and times (which will be in UTC) of the NOTAM to determine whether they are relevant to the time at which you are flying and then carry out a compressive brief of any AICs or documents that may be referred to in the NOTAM.
There are currently 18 NOTAM series in use in the UK Each series covers a specific content; they can be found in the UK AIP at GEN 3 .1 (Aeronautical Services) table 22.214.171.124. For example, a NOTAM relating to London Heathrow will be an A series NOTAM, a similar one for Birmingham (as in example 3) would be a C series. Unusual Aerial Activity (UAA), as in example 1 below, is notified using an H series NOTAM as it relates to a navigation warning. The establishment of a volume of Restricted Airspace (Temporary) (RA(T)) or a Temporary Danger Area (TDA) would be promulgated by a J series NOTAM as in example 2.
A NOTAM comprises several Fields (A-G) and a Q Line. The NOTAM is constructed in accordance with Operating Procedures for AIS Dynamic Data (OPADD) defined in ICAO Annex 15.
The NOTAM’s Q line is a coded line that contains the reference FIR and a series of letters denoting the type of activity. It also contains the central point in Degrees and Minutes and the radius in nautical miles (NM) of an area that encompasses the entire activity. Therefore, on some VFR Moving Maps, an activity area such as a polygon is sometimes depicted instead as an even larger circle. The Q line is used for Aeronautical Information Management purposes and by flight planning software to display NOTAM and show relevant NOTAM that affect a planned route.
The fields (all or some which may be used depending on the NOTAM series being used) relate to:
|A||ICAO code for FIR or aerodrome|
|B||Start time in UTC|
|C||End time in UTC|
|E||Free text field describing the activity (in accordance with OPADD)|
|F||Lower level of activity|
|G||Upper level of activity|
All NOTAM use UTC. Care must be taken in the summer months due to the one-hour time difference in the UK between UTC and local.
Below is an example of a NOTAM which we have decoded in blue. You will notice that there are elements that are not de-coded, these are ‘internal’ references and /or codes used by the issuer.
EGTT-London FIR Lat/long-52O05N 000O19W
A) EGTH B) 2009270800 C) 2009271830
A) 4 letter airport ID for Old Warden. B) NOTAM valid from time 20-year, 09-month, 27-date, 0800 time (UTC). C) NOTAM valid to time 1830 UTC on 27 Sep 2020.
D) 0800-1245 1730-1830
D) Periods of activity, 1st activity period is 0800-1245, 2nd activity period is 1730-1830
E) AIR DISPLAY WI 3NM RADIUS 520512N 0001907W (OLD WARDEN AD, BEDFORDSHIRE). SEE SEPARATE J SERIES NOTAM FOR DETAILS OF RA(T) AT SAME LOCATION. FOR INFO 01767 627920. 2020-09-0091/AS1
E) Detail including lateral dimensions, reference to separate NOTAM detailing type of airspace, RA(T) and phone number for further info.
F) SFC G) 3400FT AMSL
F) Lower limit-surface. G) Upper limit-3400 feet above mean sea level.
Q) EGTT/QRTCA/IV/BO /AW/000/035/5205N00019W004
A) EGTH B) 2009271245 C) 2009271730
E) RESTRICTED AREA (TEMPORARY) AT OLD WARDEN. RESTRICTION OF FLYING REGULATIONS HAS BEEN MADE UNDER ARTICLE 239 OF THE AIR NAVIGATION ORDER 2016. AIC M061/2020, WHICH INCLUDES A CHART, REFERS. NO ACFT IS TO FLY WI THE AREA BOUNDED BY A STRAIGHT LINE BETWEEN 520258N 0001553W AND 520225N 0002056W THENCE CLOCKWISE BY THE ARC OF A CIRCLE OF 3 NM RADIUS CENTRED ON 520512N 0001907W TO 520258N 0001553W. EXCEPT ACFT FLYING IN ACCORDANCE WITH A PERMISSION OF THE FLYING DISPLAY DIRECTOR AT OLD WARDEN AERODROME WHO MAY BE CONTACTED ON TELEPHONE NUMBER 01767 627918 OR 07875028876. THIS RESTRICTION OF FLYING ALSO RELATES TO THE OPERATION OF ALL UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS. 2020-09-0034-AS6. F) SFC G) 3500FT AMSL
In the example above, the NOTAM relates to the RA(T) at Old Warden on 27 September 2020 between 1245 hours UTC and 1730 hours UTC. The RA(T) has been established within a D shaped area as defined in the NOTAM and displayed in that chart in AIC Mauve 061/2020 from the surface to 3,500 feet above mean sea level. The NOTAM states that no aircraft may fly in the airspace except those with a permission; details of how to obtain a permission to enter the RA(T) are also included. Good practice would be to also read the AIC as part of the pre-flight briefing process. This was issued as a J series NOTAM.
What is Example 3 telling us?
A) EGBB B) 2006022259 C) 2006300559
E) BIRMINGHAM CLASS D CTR AND CTA ARE DE ACTIVATED AND RECLASSIFIED TO CLASS G AIRSPACE. PILOTS ARE RECOMMENDED TO MAKE BLIND TRANSMISSIONS WHEN ENTERING AND LEAVING THE CTR/CTA. ATC CLOSED FOR THE DURATION. CHECK SCHEDULE FOR DE-ACTIVATION TIMES.
In Example 3, the NOTAM relates to the temporary deactivation of a Class D CTR and CTA and its temporary reclassification to Class G. The start time was 2259 hours UTC on 2 June 2020 and the deactivation/reclassification took place each day from 2259 hours UTC to 0559 hours UTC up to and including 30 June 2020. Pilots were recommended to call when entering and leaving the lateral confines of the CTR/CTA to allow the Air Traffic Service Unit (ATSU) to quickly identify aircraft in the minutes running up to reactivation of controlled airspace and also to provide situational awareness to other pilots. This was a C series NOTAM as it related to Birmingham Airport.
To support the requirement of NOTAM being checked before every flight, the UK Aeronautical Information Services provided by NATS offers a range of briefing options at www.ais.org.uk. Although a number of briefings are available it is important to learn to use an efficient method such as ‘narrow route brief’ and make best use of ‘saved briefings’, which can be re-run at later dates to cut down checking time. The first five options (i.e. Aerodrome, Area, Route, Narrow Route and Point Brief) provide access to briefs which allow you to create a unique, personalised bulletin. Options 6 and 7 can be used to produce standard VFR briefs. These have fixed parameters which you cannot change; they provide NOTAM briefs for both the London and Scottish Flight Information Regions (FIRs) and Aerodromes: Option 8, the Briefing Handbook, allows for pre-flight planning/briefing to be saved for a short period of time.
1. Aerodrome Pre-flight Information Bulletins (PIB)
Delivers a briefing containing Aerodrome NOTAM (En-route and En-route Nav Warnings not included) for the selected aerodromes between the time period set. At least one aerodrome must be selected and the default time is from now until + 24 hours but may be changed by the user.
2. Area PIB
Delivers a briefing containing FIR and aerodrome/En-route NOTAM for the selected flight information regions between the time period set. At least one FIR must be selected and the default time is from time of briefing until + 24 hours but may be changed by the user.
3. Zone PIB
Delivers a briefing containing NOTAM for an area selected from map or selected Aerodromes. At least one area must be selected, currently Aerodromes need to be added manually from the Map view or in the Aerodromes section.
4. Route PIB
Delivers a briefing containing FIR and aerodrome NOTAM between the selected Departure and Destination aerodromes valid between the time period set. FIRs for En-route NOTAM can be resolved, at least ADEP and ADES FIR must be selected. The default time is from time of briefing until + 24 hours but may be changed by the user.
4. Narrow Route PIB
Delivers a briefing containing NOTAM for the selected FIR and aerodrome between the time period set. The system estimates the FIR crossed and includes the FIR NOTAM in the output. The user can also add FIR and aerodrome to be included. The default time is from time of briefing until + 24 hours but may be changed by the user. The only allowable route values are any designator in ENR 4.1 and ENR 4.4 or Lat/Long ddmm/dddmm.
5. Point PIB
Delivers a briefing containing En-route and Nav Warnings NOTAM for the selected point. To supplement with Aerodrome NOTAM a separate Aerodrome PIB should be completed
- NOTAM can be filtered to a defined radius with a Lat/Long ddmm/dddmm origin.
- For NOTAM within a specific area of interest, Zone PIB should be use.
6. Briefing Handbook
Provides access to previous briefing parameters for repeat briefings with same parameters. Provides access to an update to a previous briefing for up to 180 days after the original time.
In the event that the AIS becomes unserviceable, contingency PIB are available at https://nats-uk.ead-it.com/cms-nats/opencms/en/Briefing/contingency-pibs/ . The contingency PIBs are updated at every hour ; however, they should only be used if the AIS Website is unavailable. Always check the actual parameters which appear in the briefing ‘header’.
The CAA actively encourages pilots to use VFR Moving Maps as part of their planning methodology and when in flight; however, they should not be the sole means of planning or navigation (page 3 at https://www.easa.europa.eu/sites/default/files/dfu/GA7.pdf ). It is also important to remember that many applications are not regulated and their depiction of aeronautical information may be different to the information provided by regulated aeronautical information through the NATS AIS NOTAM website.