There are many notable events that occurred in 1921 – WWI officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Berlin, Babe Ruth broke the career home-run record, John Glenn was born – and a code-infested aeronautical message system was created called Notices to Airmen, or NOTAMs.
Almost a century later, the NOTAM system has remained largely unchanged. These messages provide time-sensitive information regarding airport conditions, runway/taxiway closures, navigational systems information, and even wildlife hazards, around the airport. The Jet Linx Flight Team, including pilots, flight planners, and flight controllers, rely heavily on the accuracy and timeliness of NOTAMs on a daily basis.
The vast majority of NOTAMs begin with an exclamation point and an airport location, or in the example above: !OMA. The airport identifier is known as the “accountable” location.
After the location, you will see a couple of numbers followed by a slash and then a couple more numbers. This is the official NOTAM number. The first two numbers (“09” in the example above) mean that this NOTAM was created on the 9th month of the year, or September. The 2nd number after the “/” means that it was the 56th NOTAM issued in the month.
The next part of the NOTAM will include the “affected” location. In this instance, the affected location is OMA, or Omaha Eppley Airfield, the same as the “accountable” location.
Next is the “type” of NOTAM. There are 12 types, or keywords. These keywords assist pilots and operations personnel in filtering and searching for specific types of NOTAMS, and include: RWY (Runway); TWY (Taxiway); APRON (Ramp); AD (Aerodrome or Airport); OBST (Obstruction); NAV (Navigation Aids); COM (Communications); SVC (Services); AIRSPACE (Airspace); OPD (Obstacle Departure Procedure); SID (Standard Instrument Departure); and STAR (Standard Terminal Arrival).
The next part of the NOTAM is the explanation of what is going on. For this example, it is telling us that Taxiway Y (Yankee) is closed, alerting the crew and planning team of important information.
The final part of the NOTAM includes the time that the NOTAM is in effect, displayed in the same format – year, month, day, and then Zulu time. For the example above, Taxiway Yankee will be closed in 2019, September 6 at 1730 Zulu until 2019, September 6 at 2130 Zulu.
Effective times are vital when it comes to airport and runway closures that may affect an aircraft’s scheduled mission. Using NOTAM information, the Jet Linx Flight Team and pilots work together to identify potential closures and develop a viable solution, such as departing earlier or later, or selecting an alternative airport. This helps our Flight Team ensure the safest and most efficient way of getting our private jet clients to their destination.
While intelligible to aviation professionals, there remains a push to make NOTAMs easier to read through a better, more collaborative exchange of critical information.