Jan. 4, 2019

ICAO’s European/North Atlantic Office recently published two bulletins that decrease separation of some operations in the North Atlantic (NAT) airspace and revise contingency procedures for that airspace.

NAT OPS 2018_05 describes an upcoming trial of Advanced Surveillance-Enhanced Procedural Separation (ASEPS) using ADS-B in the Shanwick, Gander and Santa Maria Oceanic Control Areas. The trial will begin on or soon after March 28, 2019. Review NAT OPS 2018_05.

“This trial will provide real-time surveillance in the North Atlantic airspace for the first time,” said Mitch Launius, owner and instructor at 30 West IP. “This is a major safety improvement in the airspace.”

Launius explained no special letter of authorization or other approval is needed for ASEPS operations, nor do aircraft need to be ADS-B compliant to operate in the NAT airspace.

To participate in the trial, however, eligible flights must meet the following requirements:

  • RVSM/HLA approval
  • ADS-B, with dedicated 1090 Mhz out capability
  • Aircraft meeting specifications for RNP 4
  • Aircraft meeting the specifications of RCP 240 and RSP 180

All operators in the NAT airspace should clearly indicate equipment and capabilities in their flight plan to facilitate proper air traffic control and separation, since the changes are not restricted to a defined area, particular tracks or specified altitudes.

Launius also cautioned the trial does not change current strategic lateral offset procedures, which remain unchanged since implemented in 2004.

However, the trial does change contingency procedures for the NAT airspace.

“Operators should review NAT OPS Bulletin 2018_005 Special Procedures for In-Flight Contingencies in Oceanic Airspace and become familiar with the changes, make necessary revisions to checklists and operations manuals and conduct pilot training,” said Launius.

Launius emphasized these changes to contingency procedures apply only to NAT airspace, not to Pacific or other regions, though a single ICAO standard for contingency procedures is expected in November of 2020.

All operators conducting flights in the NAT airspace are encouraged to review these short NAT OPS Bulletins, which become effective on or soon after March 28, 2019, and make appropriate changes to their own operating procedures and international training programs.

The North Atlantic Operations Manual (NAT Doc 007) has also been reissued to reflect these bulletins but will become effective on March 28, 2019.

Review NAT OPS 2018_05.

Review NAT OPS 2018_06.