April 12, 2021
The North Atlantic Operations and Airspace Procedures Manual (NAT Doc 007) was revised, with significant changes to communications mandates.
The entire NAT now requires two long-range communications capabilities, one of which must be based on fully functioning high frequency (HF) technology. HF may serve as a backup to Controller Pilot Data Link Capabilities (CPDLC). Previously, Shanwick Radio was the only region that required HF communication capabilities.
The NAT Implementation Management Group recently examined allowing more communications through satellite-based voice communications (sat voice), but determined it was unacceptable as a standalone backup to CPDLC, and may not be considered a primary form of communication.
“Some pilots get the impression if their HF is inoperative, they can use sat voice and cross the NAT,” said Mitch Launius founder of and instructor at 30 West IP. “This revision very clearly states you must have a fully functioning HF radio upon entering the NAT. If the HF fails while crossing, sat voice can be used as a backup.”
Pilots shouldn’t look for a way around the requirement, or rely on the waiver process outlined in the Manual. “The language couldn’t be clearer – a fully functioning HF is mandatory for the entire the airspace,” said Launius.
A few other changes, published in NAT Bulletins and other notices, impact NAT procedures.
NAT Bulletin 2018_003 Rev. 1 includes expanded use of half-degree waypoints. Previously these were only allowed in PBCS tracks, and were designated daily. Now, half-degree waypoints can be assigned anywhere in the NAT at any altitude. ATC also may reroute operators into half-degree waypoints via voice or ACARS, and whole and half-degree waypoints can be mixed on routes.
Pilots were also recently advised of the termination of the temporary suspension of the Data Link Mandate, which had been temporarily halted due to the global pandemic.