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Notice to Airmen

Introduction:

  • Aeronautical Information information is disseminated to pilots through the Airmen's Information System when information is predictable however, the Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) system is necessary when information is either time-critical, temporary in nature, or not sufficiently known in advance to permit standard publication
    • When data appearing in a NOTAM is printed correctly in a publication or on a chart, or when a temporary condition is returned to normal status, the corresponding NOTAM is canceled. NOTAMs are eligible to 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, prior to departure, pilots must become familiar with all available information concerning that flight, including NOTAMs
  • NOTAM information is aeronautical information that could affect a pilot's decision to make a flight and includes changes to:
    • 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, ILSs, 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 Airmen System for disseminating aeronautical information is made up of two subsystems:
    • The Airmen's Information System (AIS), and;
    • The National Notice to Airmen 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 Airmen System:

      • The National Notice to Airmen (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:
    • Due to the changeable nature of the NAS components, and frequent processing of NOTAM information, it is recommended, that while en route, pilots contact ATC or FSS and obtain updated information for their route of flight and destination
      • Pilots should be particularly vigilant when operating at locations without an operating control tower
      • Dynamic situations, such as snow removal, fire and rescue activities, construction, and wildlife encroachment, may pose hazards that may not reach the pilot prior to arrival/departure
    • If a NAVAID fails or is removed from service prior to all airspace and procedural dependencies being removed, a NOTAM is published to inform pilots of the NAVAID being Unserviceable (U/S)
      • Pilots must check NOTAMs to ensure any NAVAID required for the flight is in service
      • There can be considerable time between the NAVAID being U/S and ultimately its removal from the charts, which, during the transition period, means a NOTAM is the primary method of alerting pilots to its unavailability
      • It is recommended that pilots using VFR charts should regularly consult the Aeronautical Chart Bulletin found in the back matter of the appropriate Chart Supplement U.S. This bulletin identifies any updates to the chart that have not yet been accounted for because of the extended six-month chart cycle for most VFR charts
    • Pilots should be alert for NAVAIDs having a dissimilar identifier from the airport(s) they serve and to use the Chart Supplement U.S. to identify the correct NAVAID NOTAM file. Flight planning should include review of NAVAIDs that aren't included for the departure/destination airport but may be part of the route of flight
    • Charts may indicate a NAVAID's unavailability by depicting a crosshatch pattern through the frequency, which indicates its shutdown status

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
  • NOTAMs contain the elements below from left to right in the following order:
    • 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. 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
    • NOTAM (D) information includes such data as taxiway closures, personnel and equipment near or crossing runways, and airport lighting aids that do not affect instrument approach criteria, such as VASI
    • 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.
  • Flight Data Center (FDC) NOTAMs:

    • FDC NOTAMs are issued by the National Flight Data Center and contain information that is regulatory in nature pertaining to flight
    • Contain such things as amendments to:
      • Published instrument approach procedures and other current aeronautical charts
      • Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR)
        • Pilots should read NOTAMs in their entirety as some TFRs may allow pilots to fly through the flight restriction should they request permission to do so and subsequently receive it
        • Pilots are encouraged to use online preflight resources as they provide graphics and plain language interpretations for TFRs 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 (discussed in Chapter 15):
        • 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:

    • (a) Distributed to more than one country, they are published in ICAO format under guidelines established in Annex 15. 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. For the most part, International NOTAMs 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. When possible, the U.S. International NOTAM will be linked to the appropriate U.S. Domestic NOTAM
    • 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 should ensure they review those NOTAMs contained under the ARTCC location (for example, ZDC, ZOB, etc.) that the flight is operating within as they can include NOTAMs relevant to all operations, including 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: