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Flight Over The High Seas

Introduction:

  • International law recognizes the right of aircraft of all nations to fly in airspace over the high seas
  • By convention, procedures for international flight are prescribed and certain nations have agreed to provide air traffic services in designated airspace over the high seas

Naval Aircraft:

  • Naval aircraft should operate in accordance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) procedures presented in OPNAVINST 3770.4 and DoD FLIP General Planning, which address the use of airspace by U.S. military aircraft and define due regard operations for military aircraft
  • During flight operations at sea, tower or radar control by a ship, Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility (FACSFAC) or other suitable agency, shall be used to the maximum extent practicable
    • The degree of control shall be appropriate to the nature of the operation, classification of airspace, number of aircraft involved, and the requirement to coordinate aircraft ingress and egress to/from the operating area
  • When operating offshore within domestic Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) boundaries, airspace of the Hawaiian Islands, and the San Juan domestic control area, Navy policy is to use domestic air traffic control services and procedures to the maximum extent practicable consistent with mission requirements

C-130 Flying Over The Ocean
Figure 1: C-130 Flying Over The Ocean

NOTE:
When radar control of fixed-wing aircraft is being provided by a Navy ship or shore station in airspace managed by a FACSFAC, continuous two-way communication is required between that ship or shore station and the FACSFAC. Also the FACSFAC must maintain two-way communication with the appropriate FAA facility as required


North American Route Program:

  • The latest version of Advisory Circular 90-91, North American Route Program (NRP), provides guidance to users of the National Airspace System (NAS) for participation in the NRP
  • All flights operating at or above FL 290 within the conterminous United States and Canada are eligible to participate in the NRP, the primary purpose of which is to allow operators to plan minimum time/cost routes that may be off the prescribed route structure
  • NRP aircraft are not subject to route-limiting restrictions (e.g., published preferred IFR routes) beyond a 200 NM radius of their point of departure or destination

Conclusion:

  • The NRP is a tool for route planning purposes and aircraft participating in the NRP remain limited to a route of flight that can be conducted in accordance with the communication and navigation equipment on board the aircraft
  • The North American Route Program is a joint venture between the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and NAV CANADA

References: