Remember that big NAT military exercise a couple of years ago? And then the one that happened last year (Formidable Shield) around May time?
Well, now Atlantic Thunder is happening, which means once again large parts of North Atlantic airspace will be closed to all flights for several hours at a time.
Not quite as big as Formidable Shield though, but still big enough to have a conference about it.
They are holding one so you can find out exactly what the deal is.
Join it by visiting the Eurocontrol NOP page and find the link there under ‘latest news’. They have one before each of the days where the most impact is expected, so the first takes place on September 6th at 14:30 UTC (and then on the 8th and the 10th).
The Event itself.
Atlantic Thunder will take place from September 1-12, but the main exercise takes place on the Sep 7 (or Sep 9 or 11 if it doesn’t go ahead on Sep 7).
The official PDF issued by Shanwick is available here, and has lots of lists of everything closed and when…
We prefer pictures though.
So first up, danger area EGD701 –
This area is tricksy because as you can see, it is made up of loads of smaller bits that can be activated at different times (and to different levels). They affect a bunch of the routes out of the NAT HLA, and potentially both the EGGX/Shanwick and EGPX/Scottish FIRs.
Initially it will be closed 1-6, and then on the 12th as well. The timings are annoying. Sometimes it is FL200, sometimes it is FL270, but then bits of it, between 1400-2359, are shut to FL UNL.
Like we said, tricksy.
But then there is Configuration 2 which involves the closure of EDG701 and also EGTHUN1 and EGTHUN2, which is a bigger area looking like this –
Of course, they only publish the exact timings and configurations 24 hours in advance so you’re going to have to keep your eyes out for Notams and info on those.
Routing around the closed airspace.
Aeronautical Information Messages (AIM) will be issued prior to the start of each exercise, which will include suggested routings for flight planning around the closed areas.
Traffic overflying around these closed areas can expect to get 30NM separation if in NAT HLA airspace (FL285-420), or 60NM separation if flying at lower levels.
More on the topic:
- More: Operation Orion: French Airspace Closures
- More: NAT Basics: An Unofficial Checklist For Pilots
- More: NAT Conundrums: Volume II
- More: May’s Military Exercises in Europe
- More: Tracking the NAT Track Changes