Category: Briefings (page 1 of 30)

New NAT Contingency Procedures for 2019

Starting 28th March 2019, there will be some changes to the contingency and weather deviation procedures on the NAT. ICAO has published a new NAT Ops Bulletin with all the details.

Before, there was a lot of confusion around the wording of these two procedures – but ICAO has now made this much clearer, and they have even included a little graphic to help us understand how it will work.

Thing is, it’s still a little clunky. So we decided to make our own version!

Click on the image to open larger version.

What’s new?

The simple answer is this: contingency offsets that previously were 15 NM with actions at 10 NM are basically now all 5 NM offsets with a turn of at least 30 degrees (not 45 degrees).

Rarely do we see ICAO oceanic contingency procedures undergo a formal revision. The last time a major revision occurred was in 2006 when ICAO standardized a 15 NM offset executed with a turn of at least 45 degrees. Prior to that, the North Atlantic and the Pacific had used different offset distances and a 90 degree turn.

Where and when?

A trial implementation is scheduled to begin in the North Atlantic High Level Airspace (NAT HLA) and New York Oceanic West (WATRS) starting 28th March 2019. ICAO is expected to formally publish the Standard in an update to PANS-ATM (ICAO Doc 4444) on 5 November 2020.

Why?

To support reduced separation being implemented in conjunction with Advanced Surveillance Enhanced Separation (ASEPS), Space Based ADS-B surveillance. The details for the ASEP trial can be found in NAT OPS Bulletin 2018-006 Trial Implementation of ASEPS using ADS-B.

Old version vs New version – full wording

Here’s the old version, as per the latest version of the NAT Doc 007, paragraph 13.3. (Note – this will be valid UNTIL 27 March 2019):

The aircraft should leave its assigned route or track by initially turning at least 45° to the right or left whenever this is feasible.

An aircraft that is able to maintain its assigned flight level, after deviating 10 NM from its original cleared track centreline and therefore laterally clear of any potentially conflicting traffic above or below following the same track, should: 
a) climb or descend 1000 ft if above FL410 
b) climb or descend 500 ft when below FL410 
c) climb 1000 ft or descend 500 ft if at FL410

An aircraft that is unable to maintain its assigned flight level (e.g due to power loss, pressurization problems, freezing fuel, etc.) should, whenever possible, initially minimise its rate of descent when leaving its original track centreline and then when expected to be clear of any possible traffic following the same track at lower levels and while subsequently maintaining a same direction 15 NM offset track, descend to an operationally feasible flight level, which differs from those normally used by 500 ft if below (or by 1000 ft if above FL410).

Before commencing any diversion across the flow of adjacent traffic or before initiating any turn-back (180°), aircraft should, while subsequently maintaining a same direction 15 NM offset track, expedite climb above or descent below the vast majority of NAT traffic (i.e. to a level above FL410 or below FL290), and then maintain a flight level which differs from those normally used: by 1000 ft if above FL410, or by 500 ft if below FL410. However, if the flight crew is unable or unwilling to carry out a major climb or descent, then any diversion or turn-back manoeuvre should be carried out at a level 500 ft different from those in use within the NAT HLA, until a new ATC clearance is obtained.

And here’s the new version, as per the NAT OPS Bulletin 2018-005 Special Procedures for In-flight Contingencies in Oceanic Airspace (Note – this will be valid FROM 28 March 2019):

If prior clearance cannot be obtained, the following contingency procedures should be employed until a revised clearance is received:

Leave the cleared route or track by initially turning at least 30 degrees to the right or to the left, in order to intercept and maintain a parallel, direction track or route offset 9.3 km (5.0 NM).

Once established on a parallel, same direction track or route offset by 9.3 km (5.0 NM), either: 
a) descend below FL 290, and establish a 150 m (500 ft) vertical offset from those flight levels normally used, and proceed as required by the operational situation or if an ATC clearance has been obtained, proceed in accordance with the clearance; or 
b) establish a 150 m (500 ft) vertical offset (or 300 m (1000 ft) vertical offset if above FL 410) from those flight levels normally used, and proceed as required by the operational situation, or if an ATC clearance has been obtained, proceed in accordance with the clearance.

Note. — Descent below FL 290 is considered particularly applicable to operations where there is a predominant traffic flow (e.g. east-west) or parallel track system where the aircraft’s diversion path will likely cross adjacent tracks or routes. A descent below FL 290 can decrease the likelihood of: conflict with other aircraft, ACAS RA events and delays in obtaining a revised ATC clearance.

So to reiterate, the important change is that contingency offsets that previously were 15 NM with actions at 10 NM are basically now all 5 NM offsets with a turn of at least 30 degrees (not 45 degrees).

Weather deviations

If you have to deviate from your assigned track due to anything weather-related, there’s a whole different procedure to follow. Again, the NAT Ops Bulletin has all the details for this, but the bottom line seems to be:

For deviations of less than 5 NM, remain at the flight level assigned by ATC.

For deviations of 5 NM or more, when you are at the 5 NM point initiate a change as follows:

If flying EAST, descend left by 300ft, or climb right by 300ft.

If flying WEST, climb left by 300ft, or descend right by 300ft.

In other words – SAND! (South of track = Ascend, North of track = Descend; Up/Down by 300ft)

But remember, going right is probably better – it gets you out of the way of all the SLOP offset traffic that might be coming at you from the opposite direction!

Turnback procedure

In both the NAT Ops Bulletin and the new NAT Doc 007 which will take effect from 28 Mar 2019, ICAO has left out any specific reference to how to divert across the flow of traffic or turn-back procedure, and instead simplified it to just “proceed as required by the operational situation”. Turning back would assume you either employ the 5NM offset as per the new contingency procedure, or else get a new revised clearance.

Bottom line

If you operate in the NAT HLA, we recommend you read and review the NAT Ops Bulletin in its entirety. It’s relatively short but, beginning 28 March 2019, the procedures are expected to be implemented. You might want to prepare changes for your Ops Manuals and checklists too.

Make sure you stay tuned to OPSGROUP for changes that may occur as we approach 28 March 2019!

Mitch Launius is an International Procedures Instructor Pilot with 30 West IP and can be contacted through his website, www.30westip.com

Further reading:

  • On Nov 1st we had a call with 140 OPSGROUP members about upcoming changes on the NAT in 2019, and how we can effect change. OPSGROUP members can find the PDF notes of this in your Dashboard.
  • A big thing driving the ASEPS trial is the rollout of Space-based ADS-B, which is scheduled to complete its deployment by 30 Dec 2018, giving us worldwide, pole-to-pole surveillance of aircraft. For more on that, and how it will affect operations on the NAT specifically, read the article by Mitch Launius here.
  • Use our quick guide to figure out where you are welcome on the NAT, depending on what equipment and training you have.

Don’t alpaca your bags for Lima – tech stops forbidden!

What the expanded airport should have looked like in 2018.

For 10 years SPJC/Lima’s Jorge Chavez airport has been desperately waiting for a promised US$1.5bn expansion.

With the rapid growth in the airline industry in Peru over the past few years, it seems the airport authorities are starting to struggle to provide enough capacity, and they are now trying to make it as difficult as possible for anything other than the commercial airlines to operate there!

In AIC (10/18), which has been in effect since Aug 2018, the airport has said that no more technical stops will be permitted at the airport. It also outlines significant slot/time restrictions for GA/BA operations.

Why they are doing it?

According to the AIC:

“In order to optimize the use of airport resources, ensure the safe provision of air traffic services and ensure the balance between demand and available capacity, the DGAC has been implementing capacity management measures.”

You can find the full information here but we have listed the main operational details below.

  • Tech stops are “forbidden” for “commercial flights and general, national and international aviation” effective 15 August 18.
  • Maximum stay of 2 hours on the civil apron for GA/BA flights. This is counted “from the time of placing chocks.” After two hours, the aircraft must be transferred to another apron, parking area for aircraft or hangar, or must go to a suitable alternate airport. The recommended airport to re-position to is SPSO/Pisco. It has an ILS and a 9900’/3000m runway. It is 115nm away, and open H24.
  • General aviation flights are limited to two operating periods every day. “Flights must perform their take-off and landing” between 0000L-0430L (0500UTC-0930UTC) or 1300L-1859L [1800UTC-2359UTC ]. The 2-hour maximum ground time still applies, and coordination of ground services should be pre-planned in advance to comply.

For non-scheduled flights, they’ve issued a NOTAM restricting all ops to between 1100-2000L (1600-0100Z) or 2300-0800L  (0400-1300Z):

A4677/18 - IN ORDER TO REDUCE TFC CONGESTION, NON-SCHEDULE FLIGHTS ARE NOT 
ALLOWED TO ARRIVE IN SPJC DURING THIS BLOCK OF TIME. STS EMERG, SAR, HUM, 
HOSP, MEDEVAC AND STATE ARE EXCLUDED. DLY BTN 0100-0400 AND 1300-1600, 
07 NOV 13:00 2018 UNTIL 02 APR 16:00 2019. CREATED: 07 NOV 06:53 2018

The authorities seem intent on enforcing these rules. One local handler has told us – “The Peruvian FAA is being very strict with the AIC. They are rejecting landing permit requests for fuel stops at SPJC.”

If you have any further knowledge or recent experience to share, please let us know!

Extra Reading:

Venezuela crisis: the impact on international ops

All operators, in particular those with an N-reg on the tail, should be aware of the rapidly deepening political and economic crisis in Venezuela.

There are shortages of food and many basic goods across the country. Since the start of 2018, there have numerous reports of boats full of starving Venezuelans, many of which left the country illegally, turning up on the shores of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao. The U.N. is now warning of a humanitarian “catastrophe”, as worsening food shortages have seen looting and protests escalate throughout 2018.

In recent months, Colombia has tightened controls along it’s border with Venezuela, to try to curb the flow of thousands of migrants seeking to escape.

Here’s a summary of the current situation:

SVMI/Caracas Airport

  • The airport is located in an extremely high-risk area for armed robbery and kidnappings. Before suspending all flights to Venezuela in Aug 2017, Avianca hired bodyguards after shots were fired during a robbery of a bus carrying its crew. Some other carriers took to flying crew to spend the night in neighbouring countries, rather than risk staying overnight anywhere in Caracas. In Feb 2018, Ecuadorian state airline Tame joined Avianca in a long list of airlines that no longer operate to the country, including: Aerolineas Airlines, United Airlines, Aeromexico, Lufthansa, Alitalia and Air Canada. Most reports estimate that international traffic in Venezuela has dropped by around 65-75% since its peak in 2013.
  • Reports of airport officials detaining some passengers for long periods, often demanding bribes and confiscating personal items. The US have warned that “security forces have arbitrarily detained U.S. citizens for long periods”, and that “the U.S. Embassy may not be notified of the detention of a U.S. citizen, and consular access to detainees may be denied or severely delayed.”
  • Colombia’s pilots’ association says its members who have flown to Venezuela have had to deal with contaminated fuel and hours-long delays as the National Guard pulls suitcases off flights to loot them.
  • On Aug 8, 2017, a Venezuelan lawyer was shot dead at a ticket counter at SVMI/Caracas airport. In 2016, an Egyptian visitor was killed walking outside the airport between terminals after arriving on a flight from Germany.
  • Frequent power and water cut across the country. The airport suffered power cuts in Dec 2017 and again in Mar 2018, forcing the suspension of all ops for several hours each time.

Travel advice   Most western countries are all now advising “all but essential travel”. A large majority of airline carriers have now stopped operating to Venezuela, for a mix of reasons – not least because onward payment of ticket monies have been stopped by the Venezuelan government. The US describes the greatest current risks as social unrest, violent crime, pervasive food and medicine shortages, and the arbitrary arrest and detention on U.S. citizens.

Sanctions   Both the EU and the US have imposed sanctions on Venezuela, with specific restrictions on President Maduro himself. This creates an uncertain situation for foreign aircraft operating in Venezuelan airspace. So far there have not been any reported cases of any retaliatory sanctions, such as grounding of foreign aircraft, although with the crisis worsening, such measures are not out of the question.

Notable withdrawals   In 2017, the UK Foreign Office followed the US in withdrawing family of personnel from their respective embassies. This is a common precursor to a deeper security risk, and in the last 5 years we’ve seen this pattern in Libya, Syria, and Yemen. Then in Jan 2018, IATA closed its offices in Venezuela. They said that the exchange controls the government placed on taking money out of the country effectively left it with a debt to IATA of $3.8 billion, which it refused to pay.

Flight Ops   See below on overflight. There were interruptions to Notam and Metar service throughout 2017. At one point it appeared that SV** had lost its connection to the international AFTN system.

Opsfox   The most recent Opsfox reports are not encouraging. The latest report from Jan 2019 says the following:
– Airport feels tense. Military presence has increased, nobody hanging around in the terminal, and foreign maintenance providers were evacuated last week.
– The whole runway surface has worsened, with big potholes and loose asphalt; taxiways are worse, and mostly unlighted.
– We had four police officers riding along on the hotel shuttle.
– Poor ATC, transmissions are very weak, sometimes unable to read even with max volume.
– There’s no money to change. Only option for hotel was to pay in cash. Watch out for massive charges if paying by card.
– Seems like an external military invasion may be coming soon.
If you’ve been through recently, add your report.

Overflight   Operations through Venezuelan airspace do not require an overflight permit, and so there have been no incidences recorded of US aircraft being denied a permit. However, on several occasions in 2018, Venezuela arbitrarily closed its airspace to overflying aircraft for short periods. A common problem with Venezuelan overflight is the denial of airspace entry due to unpaid navigation fees, which is why checking this in advance is recommended. This may be a tool used to deny US aircraft entry in the future. Plan operations through the SVZM/Maiquetia FIR with caution. To be clear, we do not assess any risk to en-route aircraft, but be mindful of the fact that if you do enter SVZM airspace, you may end up diverting to an Venezuelan airport. Right now, that’s not ideal.

Avoiding Venezuela  If you elect to avoid SVZM airspace…

To the west:
– via Colombia (SKED/Bogota FIR) – permit required for all overflights.
– watch out if planning a flight through the TNCF/Curacao FIR – although a permit to overfly is not required here, they have started denying entry to non-IATA members if they have not prepaid for navigation fees in advance. More on that here.

To the east:
– via Guyana (SYGC/Georgetown FIR) – permit not required
– via Suriname (SMPM/Paramaribio FIR) – permit required
– via French Guyana (SOOO/Rochambeau FIR) – permit required unless operating a GA aircraft under 12.5k lbs.

For more detailed info on each country’s specific permit requirements, take a look here.

If you need a tech stop and previously used/considered SVMI, then look at alternatives like TNCC, TTPP, SBEG, SMJP. Use the OpsGroup planning map to figure your best alternate options.

Malaysia shuts down plans for ILS approach at Singapore’s Seletar Airport

Update Jan 8: Latest in the ongoing debacle at WSSL/Seletar: Malaysia have now agreed to cancel the restricted airspace they imposed to the north of the airport, and in return Singapore will suspend the ILS procedures it had planned to implement. These measures will be in place for one month, starting Jan 8, to give both countries time to try to find a more permanent solution to the dispute.

The new ILS approach on RWY 21 at WSSL/Seletar airport was due to take effect on 3rd Jan 2019, but Malaysia have effectively killed it. They claim that the ILS approach –most of which lies within Malaysia’s airspace to the north of the airport– would impose height restrictions around the Pasir Gudang industrial area, and would stunt growth in the area.

Malaysia decided to create a no-fly-zone across an entire chunk of airspace just across the border from Singapore, up to 6000ft. This ultimately would have made RWY 21 ILS approaches at WSSL/Seletar impossible.

Malaysia WMFC/Kuala Lumpur restricted airspace as per Notam A4018/18

Singapore and Malaysia’s foreign ministers met on Jan 8 to discuss this mess; Malaysia agreed to cancel the restricted airspace they imposed, and in return Singapore agreed to suspend the ILS procedures.

The two countries have been locked in a wider ongoing dispute over airspace sovereignty, with Malaysia saying it wants to take back airspace delegated to Singapore under an agreement in 1974. But with the recent turn of events at Seletar, there is now a tangible impact to flight operations.

Discussions between the two countries will continue throughout January, but don’t plan on making use of the ILS approach any time soon.

In other news: The night curfew at Seletar is going ahead as planned. Authorities have now published AIP SUP 86/2018 which confirms that with effect from 1st Jan 2019, the airport will be closed to all flights (except medevac and emergency diverts) nightly from 22-07 local time.

Further reading:

  • AIP SUP 79/2018, the official announcement by the Singapore CAA about the new ILS on RWY 21. The instrument approach chart can be found here.

Istanbul Mega-Airport opening soon – but not for everyone

In Short: The switch from LTBA/Istanbul Ataturk to LTFM/Istanbul New Airport has effectively been postponed until sometime in early March 2019 – although no official date has been given yet. LTFM “officially” opened on 29 Oct 2018, but since then it’s only been available to Turkish Airlines – everyone else has to carry on using LTBA.

Istanbul’s new mega-airport, which has been plagued by construction issues and delays, officially launched operations on 29 October 2018, to coincide with Turkish National Day celebrations – even though it wasn’t completely ready in time.

Authorities initially said that all scheduled airline and charter flights would have to switch over from using LTBA/Istanbul Ataturk to LTFM/Istanbul New Airport on 29 October 2018. Then they published AIC 07/18 which pushed that date back to 30 December 2018. And then, in the week before that was due to happen, they published this Notam:

A7542/18
A PHASED TRANSFER FROM ISTANBUL ATATURK AIRPORT (LTBA) TO ISTANBUL AIRPORT (LTFM) WILL TAKE PLACE. ISTANBUL AIRPORT (LTFM) WILL ONLY BE USED FOR PRE-AUTHORIZED TURKISH AIRLINES FLIGHTS, UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. 24 DEC 13:35 2018 UNTIL PERM. CREATED: 24 DEC 13:37 2018

So for now, only Turkish Airlines are allowed to operate to LTFM. Local reports suggest that it won’t be until March 2019 before all the other airlines and charter operators can start using it too. When that happens, LTBA/Istanbul Atatürk will be closed to all scheduled airline and charter flights, but will remain open for general aviation and business flights.

So that’s good news for GA/BA! There’s nothing to say that you can’t use the new airport, but it’s quite a way out of town (39km/24 miles) when compared to the old one.

Into the future there is talk about the old airport becoming a park, but there are still no firm plans for that yet, according to the FBO reps we spoke to on the ground.

Do you know more? Let us know!

First look at NAT changes for 2019

Starting 28th March 2019, a new trial will be implemented on the NAT called ASEPS (Advanced Surveillance Enhanced Procedural Separation) using ADS-B in the Shanwick, Gander and Santa Maria FIRs.

Compliant aircraft will see a reduction in longitudinal separation to as close as 14 NM. This is not restricted to particular tracks or altitudes, just between properly equipped aircraft – you’ll need RVSM/HLA approval, ADS-B, and to be fully PBCS compliant (that means meeting the specifications of RNP4, RCP240 and RSP180). Read this ICAO Bulletin for all the details.

When the ASEPS trial starts, there will also be some changes to the contingency and weather deviation procedures. Before, there was a lot of confusion around the wording of these two procedures – this has now been made much clearer, and they have even included a nice little graphic to help us understand what to do. Read this ICAO Bulletin for all the details.

ICAO have published all these changes in their updated NAT 007 Doc valid for 28th March 2019.

Further reading:

  • On Nov 1st we had a call with 140 Opsgroup members about upcoming changes on the NAT in 2019, and how we can effect change. Opsgroup members can find the PDF notes of this in your Dashboard.
  • A big thing driving the ASEPS trial is the rollout of Space-based ADS-B, which is scheduled to complete its deployment by 30 Dec 2018, giving us worldwide, pole-to-pole surveillance of aircraft. For more on that, and how it will affect operations on the NAT specifically, read the article by Mitch Launius here.
  • Use our quick guide to figure out where you are welcome on the NAT, depending on what equipment and training you have.
  • All the big changes on the NAT in 2018 are covered on our page here.

Why, How and Where should you SLOP?

In Short: Strategic Lateral Offset Procedures (SLOP) costs nothing and increases flight safety. If the airspace permits it, you should be “randomly” offsetting, especially across the North Atlantic. Left is for losers – don’t SLOP left of track.

We had a discussion in OpsGroup recently about SLOP (Strategic Lateral Offset Procedures) and it elicited some interesting responses, as well as some confusion.

So – Why, How and Where should you SLOP?

Why?

GPS technology allows modern jets to fly very accurately, too accurately it turns out sometimes! Aircraft can now essentially fly EXACTLY over an airway/track laterally (think less than 0.05NM), separated only by 1000FT vertically. A risk mitigation strategy was proposed over non-radar airspace to allow pilots to fly 1-2 nautical miles laterally offset from their track, randomly, to increase flight safety in case of any vertical separation breakdown.

How did we get here?

Navigation paradox

What we just described is known as the navigation paradox. The research shows that “increases in navigational precision” actually increases the collision risk – huh?

Here are some interesting stats to consider:

  • In a simulation, aircraft cruising at random altitudes have five times fewer collisions.
  • During a 2000 study, it was shown that hemispherical cruising altitude rules resulted in six times more mid-air collisions than random cruising altitude non compliance.
  • If more randomness was applied to the hemispherical cruising level model, the navigational paradox risk could have been largely reduced and up to 30 midair collisions avoided (up to 2006). Including the tragic GOL 2006 accident.

So we get it; the rules of the air, sometimes inject risk to flight safety due to their lack of randomness.

A way to reduce risk and inject randomness?

It was 2004 when SLOP was adopted in the most congested non-radar airspace in the world, namely the North Atlantic.

Although the Navigation Paradox is the reason SLOP was introduced and continues to be implemented, there are some nice risk mitigation side-effects too: wake turbulence reduction (at times), contingency buffers if you experience severe turbulence and can’t maintain altitude (“level busts”), etc.

SLOP therefore reduces the risk between traffic which is not operating in accordance with the correct air traffic control clearance or where an error has been made in the issue of an air traffic control clearance.

Still, there is a large number (>40%) of aircraft not adopting these procedures even though they are now mandatory on the NAT.

If >40% of pilots are using SLOP 0 (meaning no offset at all), what does that matter? That means half the flights are operating over the same lateral paths and all it takes is one minor vertical deviation for there to be a significant loss of separation.

The daily NAT track message always reminds pilots to employ SLOP procedures:

FOR STRATEGIC LATERAL OFFSET AND CONTINGENCY PROCEDURES FOR OPS IN NAT FLOW REFER TO NAT PROGRAMME COORDINATION WEBSITE WWW.PARIS.ICAO.INT.
SLOP SHOULD BE STANDARD PROCEDURE, NOT JUST FOR AVOIDING WX/TURB.
How should you SLOP?

Consider some best practice advice:

  • LEFT IS FOR LOSERSnever offset LEFT. On bi-directional routes a LEFT offset will INCREASE collision risk rather than decrease it. There are areas in the NAT Region where bi-directional traffic flows are routinely used. And there are times when opposite direction traffic may be encountered in any part of the Region. Once upon a time (between introduction of RVSM and pre-SLOP, it was ok to go LEFT, not anymore!)The only exception would be in certain airspace where ATC request you to SLOP LEFT (e.g. China).
  • The system works best when every 2 out of 3 crossings you fly, you apply an offset. Shanwick says this generally means at least 1 out of 3 aircraft are slopping.
  • You don’t need to ask ATC for approval; you can SLOP from the NAT entry point to the NAT exit point.
  • Only offset if your FMC has the function to do so – do not do it manually.
  • Good airmanship applies here. What’s happening around you? Who is above, below and near you on the same track. Co-ordinate on 123.45 if needed.
  • 2nm RIGHT is the maximum approved SLOP.
  • Flip a coin to decide like some do! Captain is PF? 1R going west; First Officer 2R going east etc. Studies show that on the NAT, 40% do 1R and only 20% go 2R. Don’t be afraid to go the full 2R!
  • If you are overtaking someone, the ICAO guidance in NAT DOC 007 is to apply SLOP so as to create the “least amount of wake turbulence for the aircraft being overtaken”.

Where though?

Our friend Eddie at Code 7700 gave a great comprehensive list so here it is verbatim.

  • Africa, almost all remote locations employ SLOP. Check the Jeppesen Airways Manual / Air Traffic Control / State Rules and Procedures – Africa) to be sure. Rule of thumb: if you are in radar contact, you probably should not SLOP.
    • One notable exception where they don’t want you to SLOP is in the HKNA/Nairobi FIR. The AIP states: “SLOP is not applicable in the Nairobi FIR due to efficient surveillance and communication systems.” (We do remind you however that recently in the Nairobi FIR, a 767 and 737, both at FL370 came a little too close for comfort).
  • Australia is another special case. You may only offset in the OCA, and, if you’re still on radar, then you need to tell ATC, both when starting the offset, or changing it. Within domestic CTA airspace, you must fly centerline. (According to Australian guidance in Jeppesen Pages).
  • China, on routes A1, L642, M771, and N892 (according to China guidance in Jeppesen Pages). In some areas they employ their unique SLOP offsets, but do allow the standard 1 nm and 2 nm offsets.
  • New York, Oakland and Anchorage Oceanic FIRs (according to U.S. FAA guidance).
  • Oceanic airspace in the San Juan FIR (according to U.S. FAA guidance).
  • North Atlantic Track Region: SLOP is mandatory (according to the North Atlantic Operations and Airspace Manual).
  • The Pacific (including the NOPAC, Central East Pacific (CEP) and Pacific Organized Track System (PACOTS) (according to U.S. FAA guidance).
  • South Pacific airspaces (according to U.S. FAA guidance).
FAQ:
  • Should I SLOP crossing the Atlantic even if I’m on a random route or above the published NAT FL’s?

Yes! You should especially do it then. There is a higher chance of opposite direction traffic. That extra mile or two (randomly selected of course) could be a life saver!

  • What about micro-slop?

That is lateral offsets between 0 and 1 nm (0.1 etc). ICAO mentions “LOP provisions as specified in ICAO PANS-ATM Doc.4444 were amended 13 November 2014 to include the use of “micro-offsets” of 0.1 Nms for those aircraft with this FMS capability. Appropriate guidance for the use of this amended procedure in the North Atlantic is under study and hence pending.”

We have been advised that the USAF is doing this trial over the NAT in the coming months but at this stage it is NOT APPROVED. Most FMC systems can’t micro-offset yet anyway.


We might have missed something or maybe we didn’t cover your specific question?

Drop us a line and will do our best to answer.

Bottom line, SLOP costs nothing but increases flight safety.

The Impact of Space-Based ADS-B on International Operations

I can distinctly remember the build up to and roll out of GPS navigations systems. Like so many of us, I was excited to see this new technology integrated into my cockpit. The idea that I would have the capability to accurately determine my position anywhere in the world was exciting!

It’s hard to overstate the significance of GPS navigation on the international operation of aircraft, particularly when operating in oceanic airspace. Today we are about to reach a similar milestone that could be even more significant – the introduction of a Space-Based Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (SB ADS-B) monitoring system.

When SB ADS-B completes its deployment (scheduled 30 December 2018), we will achieve worldwide, pole-to-pole surveillance of aircraft. This goes beyond a pilot knowing his or her own location. This opens up the ability for ATC to locate any ADS-B equipped aircraft anywhere in the world. With the US and EU ADS-B requirements approaching in 2020, aircraft that operate internationally will almost certainly be ADS-B equipped.

A brief history of Space-Based ADS-B

SB ADS-B technology has been placed into service by a commercial company, Aireon, and not a governmental entity, which has enabled it to be brought to operational status in a much shorter timeline than most other government implementations.

Although Aireon was initially established in 2012 to provide civilian surveillance services, the disappearance of Malaysia Flight 370 changed the industry. The inability to locate the aircraft forced industry regulators to consider how improved aircraft tracking might have helped to resolve the location of the aircraft in distress and prevent a future disaster. In response to this concern, ICAO created a standard for aircraft tracking designated as the Global Aeronautical Distress Safety System (GADSS). Aireon responded by creating a low-cost tracking solution based on aircraft ADS-B equipage utilizing the SB ADS-B network to meet that tracking requirement faster and cheaper than many of the alternatives.

This implementation takes advantage of the same ADS-B 1090ES systems already installed in most aircraft, not requiring any additional investment or modification from operators who currently comply with ICAO ADS-B approved 1090ES systems. Compare this to the evolving and evasive FANS 1/A+ requirements that have placed many operators in the position of having to upgrade aircraft (at great expense) only to find they are not PBCS and/or U.S. domestic compliant. Quite a contrast.

What are the benefits?

The primary advantage of the introduction of surveillance into oceanic operations will be a reduction in separation. Initially, this will be applied to in-trail spacing (longitudinal separation) and potentially reduce that separation to as close as 14 Nautical Miles (NM). The current longitudinal standard for data link approved aircraft is 5 minutes or approximately 50NM. The introduction would significantly increase the capacity of the most fuel-efficient routes and altitudes. The trial implementation is not expected to be restricted to specified tracks or altitudes, just between properly equipped aircraft.

Another key advantage of SB ADS-B is that the system is based on an active constellation of 66 low earth orbit satellites with geo-synchronous orbits that provide worldwide coverage. The system will also have 9 backup satellites available in orbit as well. The information on worldwide aircraft location will be in the system, it’s just a matter of having it sent to ATC control panels that are properly equipped to display the information. The SB ADS-B system operates independently from the ADS-B ground stations and can provide a direct data feed to air navigation service providers (ANSPs).

The primary targets for Aireon SB ADS-B services are ANSPs such as the FAA, EASA, Africa’s ASECNA, South Africa, New Zealand, Singapore, etc. This brings tremendous value to areas like Africa and Southeast Asia where ANSP’s face unique challenges involving infrastructure. Placing a network of ground-based ADS-B receivers in remote areas can expose them to vandalism or theft. As an example, a recently installed ILS system in Benin, Nigeria was stolen!

What does my aircraft need to be compliant?

In order for SB ADS-B separation reduction to be applied, aircraft will be required to be ADS-B and fully PBCS compliant. The controlling agency will determine eligibility based on the flight plan filing codes for ADS-B and PBCS. Let’s recall that the PBCS requires FANS 1/A+ approval with RCP240, RSP180, and RNP 4 capabilities. Just add ADS-B, NAT HLA, and RVSM equipage and approval and you’re ready! That is a lot of approvals, plus let’s not forget, TCAS Version 7.1 and Enhanced Mode S Transponder equipage is required as well.

Where will it be implemented?

Initial trial use of SB ADS-B for surveillance and separation will begin in Canada’s Edmonton Flight Information Region (FIR) in the first quarter of 2019. This will be followed by a planned trial launch in the North Atlantic (NAT) on 29 March 2019. The NAT oceanic surveillance trial program will be employed in both in Gander and Shanwick’s oceanic FIRs. Santa Maria will also introduce ADS-B separation standards, but that program will initially be limited to ground-based ADS-B operations.

We anticipate a mid-December 2018 release of a North Atlantic Ops Bulletin detailing the trial implementation which will be referred to as “Advanced Surveillance-Enhanced Procedural Separation” (ASEPS). This is to be followed by ICAO publishing the associated standards for ASEPS in a 5 November 2019 update to Procedures for Air Navigation Services – Air Traffic Management (PANS-ATM) Document 4444. This would move the ASEPS program beyond trial use and allow implementation of ASEPS based operations worldwide.

The final specifics involved in the trial program will be detailed in Canadian and United Kingdom Aeronautical Information Publications (AIPs), most likely involving a release of Aeronautical Information Circulars (AICs) to formally initiate the trial programs.

The NAT HLA does not anticipate requiring ADS-B for airspace entry but simply employing it as available. The impending U.S. and EU ADS-B requirements in 2020 will help ensure common equipage.

The introduction of ASEPS reduced separation standards in oceanic and remote regions will also impact contingency procedures for operators in the NAT HLA. To address this concern ICAO has created new contingency procedures for oceanic and remote operations which will also be identified in the November 2019 update to Procedures for Air Navigation Services – Air Traffic Management (PANS-ATM) Document 4444.

We expect the mid-December release of an additional North Atlantic Ops Bulletin detailing the trial implementation of these new contingency procedures in the NAT HLA airspace to be implemented with ASEPS. These new contingency procedures will initially only be used in the NAT HLA but, after the ICAO approval in November 2019, they may be implemented in other oceanic regions as well.

It would be important to note that the ASEPS target date for implementation, 29 March 2019, is also the target date for the expansion of the PBCS tracks in the North Atlantic Organized Track System. Add in the change in contingency procedures and that is a lot of moving parts, all happening at the same time, in the most congested oceanic airspace in the world.

One thing we don’t anticipate changing on March 2019 is strategic lateral offset procedures (SLOP). Changes may follow down the road but it’s not on the calendar now.

Let’s all get ready for a busy spring in the North Atlantic!

Mitch Launius is an International Procedures Instructor Pilot with 30West IP and can be contacted through his website: www.30westip.com

Can you track your aircraft every 15 minutes?

New ICAO requirements on aircraft tracking came into force on Nov 8. Large aircraft (over MTOW 45,500kg and with more than 19 seats) must now track their position every 15 minutes – down from the previously required 60 minutes. The tracking needs to take place in all regions where the local ATS gets position information at greater than 15 minute intervals. If you want to get into it, you can find it in ICAO SARPS, Annex 6,  Part I,  Section 3.5.

This requirement is part of ICAO’s “Global Tracking Initiative”, which came about shortly after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in March 2014.

When to track?

If your aircraft is outside range of radar, oceanic waters, remote areas, (anywhere that the ATS doesn’t get a position report in less than 15 minute intervals) you can count on needing to obtain and record your own position reports every 15 minutes (or less).

Where are these areas? ICAO is keeping a database to show where you’re going to need to make your own 15 minute records (it’s not the best tool at the moment):

click to open tool on ICAO site

How to track?

The important part of this: it must all be done automatically. You can’t just set a timer and manually record a position report. ICAO doesn’t have a preferred method for this, just as long as it’s automatic (use your ADS-B, GPS tracker, or a tracking service). It was important that ICAO keep this particular requirement in line with equipment and capabilities currently available.

Who’s watching?

ICAO has told us that although the new requirement is now in place, currently there is no requirement to share the data – unless it’s required for an incident.

Also, it is still yet to be seen if/how specific authorities will add this requirement into AIPs. For example, Canada has stated the below, but have yet to add any requirement into the Canadian Aviation Regulations:

Canadian air operators are reminded that they are subject to the laws and regulations of foreign jurisdictions and their respective civil aviation authorities (CAA) when abroad. Effective November 8, 2018, they may be subject to regulatory action by a CAA if they do not comply with ICAO GADSS SARPs requirements. CASA 09-2018

Will this be part of SAFA ramp checks?

No. We asked SAFA this very question, and here’s what they told us:

“For the time being we do not have any intention to request of ramp inspectors to perform an inspection of this new requirement.”

The future?

In January 2021, there will be a further requirement to tracking, called “Autonomous Distress Tracking”, which will require automatic position reports every minute when in a distress situation. This requirement will likely depend on new equipment, or depend on expansion of Space Based ADS-B.

ICAO is also populating a “Global Operational Directory” to help communication between OCCs and ANSPs. It’s not operational yet, but this will help when ANSPs and OCCs need to communicate. It’s free to participate, as long as OCCs share their information. More information for that is here.


For more reading of all the ICAO updates on Global Tracking Initiatives, head here.

Seletar launches new terminal on Nov 19

As WSSL/Seletar prepares to open its new $80 million terminal on Nov 19, the authorities have announced that WSSL is now a “schedules facilitated” airport.

Don’t panic – at least, not yet. This basically just means that because demand is now getting close to the airport’s capacity, all airline and charter flights must confirm their schedules with the airport in advance  – BA/GA flights don’t need to do this.

It does not mean that the airport has become slot coordinated, although that might happen at some point in the future if congestion continues to be a problem.

As for the new terminal, it looks like it will be a decent improvement on the old one…

The new facility – six times bigger than the old terminal – will be split in two, with one large section for airline flights, and another separate section dedicated for GA/BA.

Here’s a video of what the new terminal looks like!

The idea is to free up capacity at WSSS/Singapore by moving all scheduled turboprop flights to WSSL/Seletar when the new terminal opens. At the moment, the only airline that falls into this category is Malaysia’s Firefly – which currently operates 20 daily flights at WSSS – to and from WMSA/Subang, WMKI/Ipoh and WMKD/Kuantan.

Important to note – all BA/GA traffic must switch to using the new terminal when it opens on Nov 19 at midnight local time. Jet Aviation have provided a handy printout which tells you all you need to know about using the new terminal. Note that the new terminal is on the other side of the runway from the old terminal!

In other news, the ASEAN summit will be finishing up in Singapore tomorrow, Nov 15. At WSSS/Singapore, no GA/BA parking/slots are available until Nov 17, with no tech-stops or drop-and-go’s allowed either. At WSSL/Seletar, the airport will be closed on Nov 15 from 0830-1900 local time.

Did we miss something? Get in touch!

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