By Adam Dillin, C.M., A.C.E, Airport Planner, North Dakota Aeronautics Commission
A successful flight, and sometimes the very safety of crew and passengers, depends on pilots receiving timely information about any disruptive or hazardous circumstances at the airports they plan to use. This is typically accomplished through the issuance of the recently renamed Notices to Air Missions (NOTAMs), formerly Notices to Airmen. As a fundamental part of their training, pilots are intensively drilled in the use of NOTAMs. However, for the benefit of any North Dakota airport staff that may not be familiar, this article may serve as a quick introduction.
What is a NOTAM?
All public airports are required to promptly notify pilots when circumstances exist that may impact aircraft at or near their airfield. Common issues are runway closures, construction, wintry surface conditions, failed lighting, hazardous obstructions, and inoperative fuel systems. Issuing NOTAMs in a timely manner can help prevent accidents and legally protect the airport.
What does a NOTAM look like?
The graphic in this article breaks down the components of a typical field condition NOTAM that an airport might issue to advise pilots of hazardous winter conditions. Please note that all NOTAM times are published in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), also known as “Zulu.”
Are there guides for NOTAMs?
NOTAMs are often complicated and loaded with acronyms and abbreviations. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has some helpful references that can break down the details. A short primer is the NOTAM 101 presentation, found at the FAA’s NOTAM Modernization webpage at faa.gov/about/initiatives/notam/. To dig into the many different terms and examples, visit faa.gov/regulations_policies/ and search for Advisory Circular 150/5200-28F Notices to Airmen (NOTAMS) for Airport Operators, the draft Advisory Circular 150/5200-28G, and Order 7930.2S CHG 2 Notices to Air Missions (NOTAM). Also available is the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM), which features a handy summary in Section 5-1-3. If your airport isn’t sure if a situation warrants a NOTAM or doesn’t know how to write it up, you can always chat with a Leidos briefer for help (see below).
How can my airport issue NOTAMs?
Getting a NOTAM out to pilots is quick and easy and can be done either online or via telephone. To submit online, airports utilize the FAA websites of either NOTAM Manager or ENOTAMS II. To issue a NOTAM via telephone, airport staff can call the Leidos Outage Reporting and Notice to Airmen Line at 1-877-4-US-NTMS (1-877-487-6867) and follow the prompts to speak with a live briefer. Once filed, it takes mere moments for the NOTAM to be published for pilots across the country and around the world. Please note that airport personnel must be officially registered and authorized before they are able to submit any NOTAMs for your facility.
How do I register to file NOTAMs? To get registered as an authorized NOTAM issuer for your airfield, use the “New User Registration” link on the NOTAM Manager or ENOTAMS II websites. Or you can contact Leidos via phone at (817)541-3461.
How do I check my airport’s NOTAMs?
It is a good idea to regularly check your airfield’s published NOTAMs to make sure that pilots are getting up-to-date conditions as well as to clear out old or incorrect information. To check your NOTAMs online, go to notams.aim.faa.gov/notamSearch/ and simply enter your airport’s name or identifier.
I hope this article has helped to provide some insights into the NOTAM system. And thank you to all the hard-working airport personnel around North Dakota that help to keep our airfields safe!