- Datalink Mandate. Datalink is currently required between FL350-390 in the NAT region. From 30th Jan 2020 this mandate will be extended to between FL290-410, and will include the Tango Routes. There are exempted areas: North of 80N, Surveillance airspace (where ATC can see you on radar or ADS-B), and New York Oceanic East. If you have ADS-B and VHF, Gander will accept you on a line RATSU 61N20W 63N30W 62N40W 61N50W SAVRY or north of. Aircraft without datalink can request to climb/descend through datalink mandated airspace, but will only be considered on a tactical basis – most likely you’ll get stuck under FL290. Read the ICAO Bulletin for more info.
- Micro-SLOP ATC don’t seem to like the term, but that’s basically what it is. Before, you could only SLOP centreline, 1NM or 2NM to the right. But from Aug 2019, Gander, Shanwick, Santa Maria and Bodo started allowing offsets right of centreline in tenths of a nautical mile up to a maximum of 2NM. From 12th Sep 2019, Iceland and New York Oceanic will allow this too. Check out our article for more info.
- ASEPS. Reduced longitudinal separation (down to as close as 14NM) has been happening since April 2019 in Gander, Shanwick, and Santa Maria. But from Oct 2019, lateral separation will be reduced to 19NM from the previous PBCS limit of 25NM for compliant aircraft. To be able to get this reduced separation, you’ll need ADS-B and to be fully PBCS compliant (i.e. meet the specs of RNP4, RCP240 and RSP180). Read the ICAO Bulletin for more info.
- OWAFS Operations Without a Fixed Speed. In other words, you get to decide how fast you fly. It’s been happening in the Shanwick, Santa Maria, and New York Oceanic FIRs since Apr 2019. Iceland say they will start doing this some time around Oct-Nov 2019. You get a normal oceanic clearance, with a fixed Mach Number, like you always did. But then somewhere after the Oceanic Entry Point, you may get a CPDLC message saying RESUME NORMAL SPEED. You should reply with WILCO. What that means is: Fly ECON, or a Cost Index with Variable Mach. You can fly within 0.01 up or down of your cleared Mach, but if it varies by 0.02 or more you must advise ATC. Read the ICAO Bulletin and check out our article for more info.
Here are the latest important changes for the NAT. These are also published in the latest edition of NAT Doc 007, August 2019.
- PBCS From March 29th 2019, there may be more than just three daily PBCS tracks. They will continue to be only FL350 to FL390 inclusive and only on the designated tracks during the period the tracks are in effect. There may be days where there are no PBCS tracks, 3 PBCS tracks, 5 PBCS tracks, potentially even all the tracks.
- Contingency Procedures From March 29th 2019, new contingency and weather deviation procedures were introduced. For contingencies, you now turn at least 30 degrees and offset by 5 NM. For weather deviations, you now do your 300ft up/down offset when 5 NM away from track. More info here.
And there will be more! Keep an eye on this page, we’ll keep it updated.
The NAT used to be simple. Fill your flask, fire up the HF, align the INS and away you went.
Now, it’s a little more complicated. Basic Instruments are not enough. Use this quick and dirty guide from OPSGROUP to figure out where you are welcome on the NAT, depending on what equipment and training you have. Valid May 20, 2019.
- PBCS From March 29th 2018, PBCS is a requirement for the daily mandated PBCS NAT Tracks (right now, that the 3 core tracks each day) between FL350-390. PBCS for the NAT means having both RCP240 (4 minute comms loop) and RSP180 (3 minute position reporting). If you’re missing approval for either, then you can fly anywhere other than along the core NAT tracks FL350-390. Read more about PBCS in our article, and check out the NAT Circle of Change for an easier graphical representation.
- RLAT From January 4th 2018, Shanwick and Gander increase the number of RLAT tracks – most tracks between FL350-390 will now be RLAT – 25nm separation between them.
- SLOP – Offsetting is now mandatory. Choose 0, 1, or 2nm right of track. We think 1 or 2 is best. Consider the recent A380 story.
- TCAS 7.1: From January 1st, 2017, TCAS 7.1 is required throughout the entire NAT region.
- Cruising Level: Effective 2017, you no longer need to file an ICAO standard cruising level in NAT airspace.
- Gross Nav Error: This is now defined as greater than 10nm. Everywhere else in the world, it’s 25nm.
- Datalink Mandate Exemptions: Since Dec 2017, datalink now required throughout the NAT Region from FL350-390. Exempt areas: Tango Routes, airspace north of 80N, Surveillance airspace, Blue Spruce routes, and New York OCA.
- Confirm Assigned Route Introduced August 2016, you will see this message when you enter NAT airspace with datalink, and you should reply with the planned route in NAT airspace. Designed to catch errors.
- NAT HLA The airspace formerly known as MNPS. Changed February 2016. NAT HLA = NAT High Level Airspace. Now includes Bodo Oceanic, and aircraft must be RNP 4 or RNP10. Previous MNPS approvals good through 2020.
- RLAT Started December 2015, spacing on the NAT Tracks reduced to “Half Track” (30nm) for 3 core tracks. RLAT=Reduced Lateral Separation Minima. Next phase of this (ie. all NAT Tracks 350-390) was introduced in Dec 2017.
- SLOP Offsetting right of track by 1nm or 2nm became Mandatory.
We have published a completely updated and even more awesome North Atlantic Plotting & Planning Chart!
The new chart shows all the new rules and requirements in graphical format – as well as updated airport data, costs, and fuel pricing, and new waypoints and corrections from previous edition. We’ve also included our very own Circle of Entry – easily check what you need for Nav, Comms and ATC Surveillance depending on which bit of the NAT you will be flying through. Check it out!
More on the topic:
- More: Planning for “ATC Zero” events in Oceanic Airspace
- More: July 2020 North Atlantic Ops Update
- More: North Atlantic expanded data link mandate
- More: Covid impact on North Atlantic diversion airports
- More: Oceanic Plotting: Classic Navigation meets New Age Tech
- Latest: Planning for “ATC Zero” events in Oceanic Airspace
- Latest: Understanding the EU travel ban
- Latest: Call for volunteers from OPSGROUP: We need flight ops people
- Safe Airspace: Risk Database
- Weekly Ops Bulletin: Subscribe
- Membership plans: Why join OPSGROUP?