Notice to Air Missions

Introduction:

  • Aeronautical information is disseminated to pilots through the Airmen's Information System when information is predictable
  • The NOTAM system provides pilots with time critical aeronautical information that is temporary, or information to be published on aeronautical charts at a later date, or information from another operational publication
    • The NOTAM is cancelled when the information in the NOTAM is published on the chart or when the temporary condition is returned to normal status
    • NOTAMs may be disseminated up to 7 days before the start of activity
  • Pilots can access NOTAM information via FSS or online via NOTAM Search at: https://notams.aim.faa.gov/notamSearch/
  • NOTAMs are then published online

NOTAM Content:

  • In accordance with 14 CFR 91.103, Preflight Action, directs pilots to become familiar with all available information concerning a planned flight prior to departure, including NOTAMs
  • Pilots may change their flight plan based on available information
  • Current NOTAM information may affect:
    • Aerodromes
    • Runway, taxiway, and ramp restrictions
    • Obstructions
    • Communications
    • Airspace
    • Changes in the status of navigational aids, landing systems, or radar service availability
    • Status of navigational aids or radar service availability
    • Hazards, such as air shows, parachute jumps, kite flying, and rocket launches
    • Flights by important people such as heads of state
    • Military exercises with resulting airspace restrictions
    • Inoperable lights on tall obstructions
    • Temporary erection of obstacles near airfields
    • Passage of flocks of birds through airspace (a NOTAM in this category is known as a BIRDTAM)
    • Notifications of runway/taxiway/apron status with respect to snow, ice, and standing water (a SNOWTAM)
    • Notification of an operationally significant change in volcanic ash or other dust contamination (an ASHTAM)
    • Software code risk announcements with associated patches to reduce specific vulnerabilities
    • Other information essential to planned en route, terminal, or landing operations

NOTAM Dissemination and Availability:

  • FAA NOTAM Search
    FAA NOTAM Search
  • National Notice to Air Missions System for disseminating aeronautical information is made up of two subsystems:
    • The Airmen's Information System (AIS), and;
    • The National Notice to Air Missions System
    • Airmen's Information System:

      • The AIS consists of your usual charts and publications and is disseminated by the following methods:
        • Aeronautical charts depicting permanent baseline data:
          • IFR Charts-Enroute High Altitude Conterminous U.S., Enroute Low Altitude Conterminous U.S., Alaska Charts, and Pacific Charts
          • U.S. Terminal Procedures-Departure Procedures (DPs), Standard Terminal Arrivals (STARs) and Standard Instrument Approach Procedures (SIAPs)
          • VFR Charts-Sectional Aeronautical Charts, Terminal Area Charts (TAC), and World Aeronautical Charts (WAC)
        • Flight information publications outlining baseline data:
          • Chart Supplement U.S. (formerly Chart Supplement U.S.)
          • Pacific Chart Supplement
          • Alaska Supplement
          • Alaska Terminal
          • Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM)
    • National Notice to Air Missions System:

      • The National Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) system makes information available in printed form through subscription from the Superintendent of Documents, from an FSS, or online at PilotWeb (www.pilotweb.nas.faa.gov), which provides access to current NOTAM information. Local airport NOTAMs can be obtained online from various websites. Some examples are www.fltplan.com and www.aopa.org/whatsnew/notams.html. Most sites require a free registration and acceptance of terms but offer pilots updated NOTAMs and TFRs
      • Disseminated by either the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) or Military:
    • Destination Update:

      • Pilots should also contact ATC or FSS while en route to obtain updated airfield information for their destination. This is particularly important when flying to the airports without an operating control tower. Snow removal, fire and rescue activities, construction, and wildlife encroachment, may pose hazards to pilots. This information may not be available to pilots prior to arrival/departure
    • GPS NOTAMs:

      • The FAA issues information on the status of GPS through the NOTAM system. Operators may find information on GPS satellite outages, GPS testing, and GPS anomalies by specifically searching for GPS NOTAMS prior to flight
        • The NOTAM system uses the terms UNRELIABLE (UNREL), MAY NOT BE AVAILABLE (AVBL), and NOT AVAILABLE (AVBL) when describing the status of GPS. UNREL indicates the expected level of service of the GPS and/or WAAS may not be available. Pilots must then determine the adequacy of the signal for desired use. Aircraft should have additional navigation equipment for their intended route. NOTE−Unless associated with a known testing NOTAM, pilots should report GPS anomalies, including degraded operation and/or loss of service, as soon as possible via radio or telephone, and via the GPS Anomaly Reporting Form. (See 1−1−13.)
        • GPS operations may also be NOTAMed for testing. This is indicated in the NOTAM language with the name of the test in parenthesis. When GPS testing NOTAMS are published and testing is actually occurring, ATC will advise pilots requesting or cleared for a GPS or RNAV (GPS) approach, that GPS may not be available and request the pilot's intentions. TBL 5−1−1 lists an example of a GPS testing NOTAM
  • FAA NOTAM Search
    FAA NOTAM Search

NOTAM Content:

  • Searched by either searching for an airport or center
    • Example: Boston International Airport: KBOS
    • Example: Miami Center: ZMA
  • NOTAMs are available through Flight Service Station (FSS), private vendors, and many online websites
  • Service A - information received wireless
  • Service B - communications and received via telephone
  • Service F - regular information via telephone
  • NOTAM Composition:

    • Composition reads, in order from left to right:
      • An exclamation point (!)
      • Accountability Location (the identifier of the accountability location)
      • Affected Location (the identifier of the affected facility or location)
      • KEYWORD (one of the following: RWY, TWY, RAMP, APRON, AD, COM, NAV, SVC, OBST, AIRSPACE, (U) and (O))
      • Surface Identification (optional-this shall be the runway identification for runway related NOTAMs, the taxiway identification for taxiway-related NOTAMs, or the ramp/apron identification for ramp/ apron-related NOTAMs)
      • Condition (the condition being reported)
      • Time (identifies the effective time(s) of the NOTAM condition)
  • Altitude and height are in feet mean sea level (MSL) up to 17,999; e.g., 275, 1225 (feet and MSL is not written), and in flight levels (FL) for 18,000 and above; e.g., FL180, FL550. When MSL is not known, above ground level (AGL) will be written (304 AGL)
  • When time is expressed in a NOTAM, the day begins at 0000 and ends at 2359. Times used in the NOTAM system are universal time coordinated (UTC) and shall be stated in 10 digits (year, month, day, hour, and minute). The following are two examples of how the time would be presented:
    • !DCA LDN NAV VOR OTS WEF 0708051600-0708052359
    • !DCA LDN NAV VOR OTS WEF 0709050000-0709050400

NOTAM Classification:

  • NOTAM information is classified into four categories:
    1. Domestic, or NOTAM (D)
    2. Flight Data Center (FDC) NOTAMs
    3. International NOTAMs
    4. Special Activity Airspace (SAA) NOTAMs
    5. Military NOTAMs
  • Domestic, or NOTAM (D):

    • NOTAM-D
      NOTAM D
    • Contains information for all navigational facilities that are part of the National Airspace System (NAS), all public use aerodromes, seaplane bases, and heliports listed in the Chart Supplement U.S.
    • This type of NOTAM will be omitted during a standard briefing unless requested
    • U.S. NOTAM (D) information includes taxiway closures, personnel and equipment near or crossing runways, and airport lighting aids that do not affect instrument approach criteria (i.e., VGSI)
    • NOTAM (D) are categorized by subject; for example, APRON (ramp), RWY (runway), SVC (Services), etc
    • There are several types of NOTAM (Ds):
      • Aerodrome activity and conditions, to include field conditions
      • Airspace to include CARF, SUA, and general airspace activity like UAS or pyrotechnics
      • Visual and radio navigational aids
      • Communication and services
      • Pointer NOTAMs. NOTAMs issued to point to additional aeronautical information. When pointing to another NOTAM, the keyword in the pointer NOTAM must match the keyword in the original NOTAM. Pointer NOTAMs should be issued for, but are not limited to, TFRs, Airshows, Temporary SUA, major NAS system interruptions, etc.
    • All NOTAM (Ds) are required to have one of the following keywords as the first part of the text:
      • RWY: Runway
      • TWY: Taxiway
      • RAMP: Ramp
      • APRON: Apron
      • AD: Aerodrome
      • OBST: Obstruction
      • NAV:Navigation
      • COM: Communications
      • SVC: Service
      • AIRSPACE: Airspace
      • (U): Unverified
      • (O): Other information
  • Flight Data Center (FDC) NOTAMs:

    • FDC NOTAMs are issued when it is necessary to disseminate regulatory information. FDC NOTAMs include NOTAMs such as:
      • Ammendments to published instrument approach procedures and other current aeronautical charts
      • Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) restrict entrance to a certain airspace at a certain time, however, some TFRs provide relief if ATC permission is given to enter the area when requested
        • Online preflight resources for TFRs provide graphics and plain language interpretations
      • High barometric pressure warning
      • Laser light activity
      • ADS-B, TIS-B, and FIS-B service availability
      • Satellite-based systems such as WAAS or GPS
      • Special Notices
    • Must be requested during weather briefing
      • Only unpublished given (it is assumed the pilot has the NOTAM publications available)
    • FDC NOTAMS include the following:
      • Interim IFR flight procedures:
        • Airway structure changes
        • Instrument approach procedure changes (excludes
      • Departure Procedures (DPs) and Standard Terminal Arrivals (STARs)
        • Airspace changes in general
        • Special instrument approach procedure changes
      • Temporary flight restrictions:
        • Disaster areas
        • Special events generating a high degree of interest
        • Hijacking
      • Flight restrictions in the proximity of the President and other parties
      • 14 CFR part 139 certificated airport condition changes
      • Snow conditions affecting glide slope operation
      • Air defense emergencies
      • Emergency flight rules
      • Substitute airway routes
      • Special data
      • U.S. Government charting corrections
      • Laser activity
    • Security NOTAMS:
      • U.S. Domestic Security NOTAMS are FDC NOTAMS that inform pilots of certain U.S. security activities or requirements, such as Special Security Instructions for aircraft operations to, from, within, or transitioning U.S. territorial airspace. These NOTAMS are found on the Federal NOTAM System (FNS) NOTAM Search website under the location designator KZZZ
      • United States International Flight Prohibitions, Potential Hostile Situations, and Foreign Notices are issued by the FAA and are found on the Federal NOTAM System (FNS) NOTAM Search website under the location designator KICZ
  • International NOTAMs:

    • International NOTAMs are published in ICAO format per Annex 15 and distributed to multiple countries
    • International NOTAMs issued by the U.S. NOTAM Office use Series A followed by 4 sequential numbers, a slant "/" and a 2−digit number representing the year the NOTAM was issued
      • International NOTAMs basically duplicate data found in a U.S. Domestic NOTAM
    • Not every topic of a U.S. Domestic NOTAM is issued as an International NOTAM by the U.S. The U.S. International NOTAM will be linked to the appropriate U.S. Domestic NOTAM when possible
    • International NOTAMs received by the FAA from other countries are stored in the U.S. NOTAM System
    • The International NOTAM format includes a "Q" Line that can be easily read/parsed by a computer and allows the NOTAM to be displayed digitally:
      • Field A: ICAO location identifier or FIR affected by the NOTAM
      • Field B: Start of Validity
      • Field C: End of Validity (both in [Year][Month][Day][Hour][Minute] format)
      • Field D: (when present) Schedule
      • Field E: Full NOTAM description
      • Field F: (when present) Lowest altitude, or "SFC"
      • Field G: (when present) Highest altitude, or "UNL"
      • For more on International format, please see Annex 15
  • Military NOTAMs:

    • NOTAMs originated by the U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine, or Navy, and pertaining to military or joint-use navigational aids/airports that are part of the NAS. Military NOTAMs are published in the International NOTAM format and should be reviewed by users of a military or joint-use facility
    • This includes GPS testing which can be found here

Conclusion:

  • Pilots are encouraged to provide PIREPs, even when the weather is not significant
    • This is especially significant when the weather is different from reported
  • Air traffic control may also request PIREPs to help build situational awareness for themselves and other pilots in the area
  • ARTCC NOTAMs. Pilots should also review NOTAMs for the ARTCC area (for example, Washington Center (ZDC), Cleveland Center (ZOB), etc.) in which the flight will be operating. You can find the 3 letter code for each ARTCC on the FAA's NOTAM webpage. These NOTAMs may affect the planned flight. Some of the operations include Central Altitude Reservation Function (CARF), Special Use Airspace (SUA), Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR), Global Positioning System (GPS), Flight Data Center (FDC) changes to routes, wind turbine, and Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS)
  • Although sometimes non-intuitive, NOTAM information is transmitted using standard contractions to reduce transmission time
  • Note that the Notice to Airman Publication (NTAP) has been discontinued in favor of web services
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References: