The North Atlantic Datalink Mandate – 2021 update

By David Mumford

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ICAO have given official confirmation that the temporary relief currently being enjoyed on the North Atlantic Datalink Mandate (NAT DLM) rules will end on February 25, 2021. That means aircraft will once again need to be CPDLC and ADS-C equipped to operate between FL290 and FL410 throughout the NAT region.

There are a few exceptions where the NAT DLM will not apply:
– Everything north of 80°North.
– New York Oceanic East FIR.
Tango Routes T9 and T290. The other Tango routes (T213, T13, T16) will all require datalink.
– ATS Surveillance airspace, where surveillance service is provided by means of radar and/or ADS-B, coupled with VHF.

The relevant ICAO NAT Ops Bulletin sets out the exempted ATS Surveillance airspace over Greenland and Iceland where you can still fly if you don’t have datalink. This area is bounded by the following:

Northern boundary: 65N000W – 67N010W – 69N020W – 68N030W – 67N040W – 69N050W – 69N060W – BOPUT.
Southern boundary: GUNPA (61N000W) – 61N007W – 6040N010W – RATSU (61N010W) – 61N020W – 63N030W – 62N040W – 61N050W – SAVRY

Here’s how that looks:

The southerly Blue Spruce routes over Greenland (linking Canada with Iceland via waypoint OZN) are not fully contained in the exempted airspace. So if you’re flying these Blue Spruce routes you will have to meet the NAT DLM requirements or fly outside of the vertical parameters of DLM airspace (i.e. below FL290 or above FL410). In other words: you need CPDLC and ADS-C to fly on the southerly Blue Spruce routes between FL290-410.

The northerly Blue Spruce routes are different (i.e the ones going overhead BGSF/Sondrestrom airport). These do fall within the exempted area of airspace – so datalink is not mandatory if you’re flying here.

It’s worth noting that aircraft without datalink can request to climb/descend through datalink mandated airspace, but will only be considered on a “tactical basis” by ATC.

Flights that file STS/FFR, HOSP, HUM, MEDEVAC SAR, or STATE in Field 18 of the FPL, will continue to be permitted to flight plan and fly through datalink mandated airspace, but may not get their requested flight levels.

For more details about the datalink mandate, check out the ICAO NAT Bulletin in full here.

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David Mumford

David Mumford

Opsgroup team member, Flight Dispatcher. International flight ops news hound.

One Comment

  • Michael says:

    We just (1st of February 2020) made a ferry flight with an old C550, not CPDLC and ADS-B equipped on the blue spruce route. Planned routing has been Keflafik – Narsarsuaq – Goose Bay. We tried to get FL430 for cruise – no chance. It will be refused by Gander and you will be forced to stay at FL270 or below.

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