Sept. 20, 2013

As part of its ongoing improvement efforts, the FAA will introduce a revised format and contractions in its notices to airmen (NOTAMs) on Oct. 1.

More improvements are on the way, said Bob Lamond, Jr., NBAA’s director of air traffic services and infrastructure who is a member of the RTCA Tactical Operations Committee working group dedicated to evaluating the current system and recommending improvements that efficiently communicate pertinent NOTAM information to pilots.

Describing the effort as a “work in progress,” the upcoming changes will harmonize the U.S. system with the International Civil Aviation Organization standards. The biggest changes can be found in field condition (FICON) NOTAMS. When the field is not monitored, aviators can file a PILOT REPORTED FICON using the predetermined list of reportable runway contaminants.

All NOTAMs will clearly state their lifespan with effective and expiration times. Pilots will no longer have to guess the units of measurement; FT, LB and NM will define numbers as appropriate. Affected altitudes will be defined by lower and upper limits such as SFC – 1,000FT or SFC – UNL (unlimited). Changes to useable runway length and declared distances will be spelled out, as will the new reports for ADS-B’s flight information service and traffic information service (TIS-B).

The 2012 Pilot’s Bill of Rights authorized the NOTAM Improvement Program, which was incorporated as part of the tasking for the RTCA’s Tactical Operations Committee, which also has groups working on the minimum operating network of VORs and enhancing airspace, procedures and aircraft operations at specific locations/geographical areas.

As dictated by the Pilot’s Bill of Rights, the improved NOTAM system will provide pertinent and timely information relevant to the route of flight that pilots can prioritize with filters that align with their unique flight profile. Current, as well as expired, NOTAMs will be digitally formatted and stored in a searchable database/archive. A primary goal of this effort is to decrease the overwhelming volume of NOTAMs for flight planning, while still providing pilots pertinent information on their route of flight.

A user-friendly format is another goal of the NOTAM improvement group. Additionally, how the system delivers its information, from formats to the devices that can access it such as tablets and smart phones is also a focus of the effort, Lamond added.

A clearer picture of the NOTAM improvements to come will be seen when the FAA presents a briefing on the system during the NBAA 2014 Schedulers & Dispatchers Conference, Jan. 14 to 17 in New Orleans, LA.