Tag: NAT (page 1 of 3)

Your top three PBCS questions answered

PBCS has been an ongoing PITA for some time now. We wrote about it back in March. Here are the top three questions we’ve had on it since then – and now we finally have some answers!

Question 1: What happens if I still haven’t received my updated A056 LOA?

After the PBCS tracks were introduced in March 2018, the FAA published a Notice requiring all N-reg operators to update their A056 LOA authorization – regardless of whether or not they intended to fly these PBCS tracks. For private (Part 91) operators, the deadline to submit the application was 30th September 2018.

There was a barrage of applications, and the FAA still seem to have a bit of a backlog, as even now some operators have still not received their updated approvals.

The FAA’s unofficial policy is that as long as you have applied for a revised LOA, you can continue to use your old authorization after September 30th, while you wait for the new one to be issued.

Bottom line: This means you are allowed to keep flying in the North Atlantic, just not on the PBCS tracks.

Question 2: What about that problem with aircraft with Honeywell systems installed?

Back in March, a latency timer issue with certain Honeywell FMS systems meant that there were bunch of aircraft which weren’t able to get the PBCS approval.

In June, Honeywell issued a service bulletin fix for the issue, available at varying times for different aircraft. Since then, the FAA has been issuing the updated A056 LOA approvals to those aircraft with the Honeywell systems that reflect the new capabilities but the still don’t meet the PBCS requirement of RCP240 due to the latency timer issue.

Bottom line: Now those affected aircraft are able to receive the updated A056 LOA approvals, just with a PBCS restriction – meaning they can continue to operate in the North Atlantic, just not on the PBCS tracks.

Question 3: What the heck is PBCS anyway?

PBCS stands for ‘performance-based communication and surveillance’.

PBCS involves globally coordinated and accepted standards for Required Communication Performance (RCP) and Required Surveillance Performance (RSP), with the goal being to allow the application of reduced lateral and longitudinal separation to aircraft which meet the criteria.

To be PBCS compliant, you basically need CPDLC capable of RCP240 and ADS-C capable of RSP180; this effectively means having a 4 minute comms loop, and 3 minute position reporting.

PBCS has been implemented in various different chunks of airspace around the world, but most notably in the North Atlantic, where the three core daily NAT Tracks are assigned as PBCS tracks between FL350-390. To fly those, you will need to be PBCS compliant (read above) but also have RNP4 (the rest of the NAT only requires RNP10).

Feeling queasy? That’s okay, reading about PBCS makes us feel that way too. If you’re still hungry for more though, check out our recent article on all things PBCS!

More questions? Get in touch!

NAT Circle of Entry 2018

For the latest changes and updates on the North Atlantic, including our most recent Guides and Charts, use our NAT reference page at flightservicebureau.org/NAT.

Updated Oct 15, 2018: Updated RNP requirements for the PBCS Tracks, updated entry requirements for the NAT Tracks.

Confused and overwhelmed with the changes on the North Atlantic of late? Especially with PBCS, RCP240, RSP180, RLAT, RLong, and all that? Yep, us too.

So, we drew a circle. Tell us if this helps. Click on the circle to download the more detailed PDF.

Download the NAT Circle of Change 2018 PDF.

To help ease your NAT Headache further, these goodies will probably also be useful:

PBCS – What, Where and How

In Short: The performance-based communication and surveillance (PBCS) framework allows for higher safety standards and more efficient airspace use. If your aircraft already has the equipment and you cross the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans often, it’s worth looking into getting your regulatory approval.

PB… what? It’s a good question. We have so many acronyms in aviation, it’s easy to forget what this one stands for and what it really means. So, let’s try and get to the bottom of it.

What is PBCS?

Official answer:

The ICAO performance-based communication and surveillance (PBCS) framework ensures that emerging technologies for communication and surveillance fully support ATM operations and are implemented and operated safely.

In plain speak:

With the technology already available on many aircraft and in the Air Traffic Control facility, aircraft can now fly closer than ever before, especially over non-radar oceanic airspace.

There are two key buzz words, so let’s define them. They are interlinked with RNP – Required Navigation Performance.

  • RSP – Required Surveillance Officially known as “surveillance data delivery”, often stipulated in the Airplane Flight Manual. Basically, how often does the aircraft send its position to ATC/ground station. There are two specifications, RSP180 and RSP400. The numbers indicate the maximum number of seconds (180 or 400) for the transaction to occur.
  • RCP – Required Communication ICAO has two specifications, RCP240 and RCP400. Again, the numbers indicate the maximum number of seconds (240 or 400), or “transaction time” taken for the controller to issue an instruction to the crew and for them to receive a response. This could be via CPDLC, HFDL, VDL or SATCOM.

So, we have a loop here, C-N-S. Communication, Navigation and Surveillance. An aircraft sends surveillance information to ATC about where it is; the aircraft stays within confines of RNP navigation requirements and ATC communicates with the aircraft within the required transaction times.  Pretty easy!

But why do we need PBCS?

The take away? If all given aircraft in a certain airspace have a lower RSP value and a lower RCP value, we can start putting these aircraft closer together.

Essentially – performance-based separation minima. This allows aircraft to be separated safely according to technological capability rather than “one-size-fits-all” prescriptive distances.

What are the differences from PBN?

They are similar but there are notable differences. In a simple sense, the PBN (RNP/RNAV) only requires that the operator obtains approval because it focuses on how the equipment works. PBCS (RSP/RCP) however requires the involvement and approval of the air traffic service provider because it’s a two-way communication and surveillance effort. There are dependencies and complexity with the equipment standards on both ends.

In this graphic you can see a high-level summary of who is responsible for what:

Where is it in place?

Currently PBCS is in effect in one form or another in the following FIR’s

  • NZZC/Auckland Oceanic
  • NFFF/Nadi
  • KZAK/Oakland Oceanic
  • PAZN/Anchorage Oceanic
  • WSJC/Singapore
  • VCCF/Sri Lanka
  • NTTT/Tahiti
  • RJJJ/ Fukuoka
  • KZNY/New York Oceanic
  • CZQX/Gander
  • EGGX/Shanwick
  • BIRD/ Reykjavik
  • LPPO/Santa Maria Oceanic

The Air Traffic Service providers of China, Brazil and Indonesia have also shown interest to introduce PBCS in the future.

Specifically, PBCS is being used between FL350 and 390 on certain “half” NAT tracks as we have written about before.

What do I need to do?

Requirements vary from state-to-state on the exact procedure for obtaining approval. It’s important to note that not all aircraft are automatically PBCS ready (refer to your aircraft manufacturer and your airplane flight manual).

The FAA has outlined its approval process here and has a handy powerpoint document here.

An important element is to prove that you have signed the “PBCS Global Charter” which can be found at the FANS Central Reporting Agency (CRA) website.

When a PBCS authorization is obtained an operator is required to file both P2 (indicating RCP240) in item 10 and SUR/RSP180 in item 18 of the flight plan, in addition to the J codes for CPDLC and D1 or G1 for ADS-C in item 10.

The correct filing of these two codes will indicate to any ATM ground systems applying performance-based separation minima that the aircraft is eligible for these minima and that the crew have received the relevant training in order to safely operate using the reduced separations.

Will you notice that PBCS standards are being applied to your flight?

Ok this is the funny part of this story. The short answer, probably not.

While it may be easier for RCP240/RSP180 approved aircraft to obtain optimal flight profiles, especially during high traffic periods, and particularly for NAT flights using the OTS, the application of these standards is generally tactical in nature for ATC. An aircraft may not have performance-based separation applied at all on an individual flight, or possibly may never have had it applied to any of its flights. Even if a you have RCP240/RSP180 approvals, if the aircraft nearby does not also have the approvals, the separation standards cannot be applied!

What if I don’t have RCP240 and RSP180 approval?

If you do not have RCP240/RSP180 approvals you will always have the larger separations, e.g. 10-min, applied, and not be eligible for the lower standards in cases where it may be beneficial.

The only airspace that has implemented tracks that will require PBCS to file is in the NAT OTS. There are still non-PBCS tracks in the OTS for which PBCS approvals are not required.

All other airspace in which performance-based separation minima are currently applied will allow aircraft with and without RCP240 and RSP180 approvals to enter and use the airspace in a mixed-mode operation.

Will I be penalized if I don’t have it?

Probably not in the short term. In the future as more and more airspace corridors become PBCS only, then it is possible you may be subject to reroutes, delays or the requirement to fly outside of certain flight levels.

So, our conclusion?

PBCS is a great step forward in maximizing efficiency in a busier airspace environment thanks to the advent of better technology. If you fly the NATs often and have an aircraft capable of PBCS certification standards, then yes – do it! The approval process is not overly burdensome, and many modern transatlantic jets already meet most of the technical requirements.

Ultimately, reduced separation standards mean more great air-to-air views. So, pack your camera!

You were in a 4G inverted dive with a Mig 28? -Yes, ma’am. -At what range? -Um, about two meters. -Eh, lieutenant, what were you doing there? -Communicating. Keeping up foreign relations.

Did we miss something, or does something need more explaining? Let us know!

Extra Reading:

North Atlantic 2018 Operational Changes – Shanwick, Gander, Iceland, Santa Maria, New York – and the NAT HLA

We’ll use this page for NAT changes, including EGGX/Shanwick, CZQX/Gander, BIRD/Iceland, ENOB/Bodo, LPPO/Santa Maria, and KZWY/New York Oceanic East.

2018

Here are the latest important changes for the NAT. These are also published in the latest edition of NAT Doc 007, August 2018.

  • 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.

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 FSB to figure out where you are welcome on the NAT, depending on what equipment and training you have. Valid January 31, 2018.

Free for OpsGroup, or you can purchase a copy here.

 


2017

Lots of important changes in 2017

  • 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:  is now defined as greater than 10nm (used to be 25nm)
  • Contingency Procedure: Published January 2017, a new turn-back (180) procedure is introduced – turn back to parallel previous track by 15nm.
  • Datalink Mandate Exemptions: Phase 2B of the Datalink mandate started on December 7, 2017 (FL350-390). Exempt: Radar airspace, Tango Routes, airspace north of 80N, and New York OCA.

2016

  • 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.

2015

  • 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 (ie. all NAT Tracks 350-390) now planned for December 2017.
  • SLOP Offsetting right of track by 1nm or 2nm became Mandatory.

 


Feb 1st, 2018: FSB updated the full NAT Crossing Guide “My first North Atlantic Flight is tomorrow“.

– What’s different about the NAT, changes in 2018,2017, 2016, 2015, NAT Quick Map
– Routine Flight Example #1 – Brussels to JFK (up at 5.45am)
– Non Routine-Flights: No RVSM, No RNP4, No HF, 1 LRNS, No HLA, No ETOPS, No TCAS, No Datalink – what you can do and where you can go
Take a look.

 


New CPDLC procedure on the NAT

There’ll soon be a new CPDLC procedure on the NAT, designed to prevent pilots from acting on any old CPDLC messages that might have been delayed in the network.

ICAO have published a new Bulletin for all the NAT Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSP’s) to use as a basis for implementing this new procedure. They recommend that all aircraft should receive a message immediately after they enter each control area telling them to “SET MAX UPLINK DELAY VALUE” to a certain number of seconds. The idea is that this will prompt the pilot to enter the specified latency value into the aircraft avionics, so that it will ignore/reject any old CPDLC messages.

So far, only Iceland’s BIRD/Reykjavik FIR have implemented this procedure, effective May 24. All other sectors of NAT airspace (Gander, Shanwick, Bodo, Santa Maria, New York Oceanic) are busy writing their own AIC’s and will implement later in the year. 

So when entering the BIRD/Reykjavik FIR, expect to receive a CPDLC message from ATC instructing you to “SET MAX UPLINK DELAY VALUE TO 300 SECONDS”. A copy of their AIC with more guidance can be found here.

The latency monitor function varies from one aircraft type to another: some just automatically reject old CPDLC messages, some will display a warning to the pilot that the message has been delayed, some have deficient equipment, and some do not have the message latency monitor function implemented at all.

Because of this, ICAO note that “it is impossible for ATC to tailor the uplink of the message… to different aircraft types. It has therefore been decided among the NAT Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) to uplink this message to all CPDLC connected aircraft immediately after they enter each control area. An aircraft may therefore receive this message multiple times during a flight.”

So here’s the lowdown on what you need to do:

1. Work out in advance what kind of message latency monitor function your aircraft has, and what it is designed to do when it receives the CPDLC message “SET MAX UPLINK TIMER VALUE TO XXX SECONDS”.

2. When you receive this message, respond with the voice message “ACCEPT” or “ROGER”. If your aircraft has a functioning message latency monitor, punch in the specified number of seconds. If you don’t have functioning equipment, respond with the free text message “TIMER NOT AVAILABLE”.

3. If anything goes wrong, revert to voice comms.

Back in November 2017, we reported on an equipment issue with Iridium satcom that prompted a ban by a number of Oceanic ATC agencies. Some aircraft were receiving massively delayed clearances sent by ATC via CPDLC – and one took the instruction and climbed 1000 feet, even though the message was meant for the flight the aircraft operated previously.

Although the bans were dropped after Iridium fixed the problem at ground level (by ensuring the system no longer queued CPDLC uplinks for more than five minutes), this new CPDLC procedure on the NAT should ensure this kind of situation doesn’t happen again. It’s officially being brought in as one of the safety requirements for the roll-out of reduced lateral and longitudinal separation minima across the NAT, which is predicated on Performance Based Communication and Surveillance (PBCS) specifications – that means having CPDLC capable of RCP240 (4 minute comms loop), and ADS-C capable of RSP180 (3 minute position reporting).

Further reading:
ICAO NAT Bulletin 2018_002: CPDLC Uplink Message Latency Monitor
Iceland’s AIC on the new CPDLC procedure for the BIRD/Reykjavik FIR
– The latest PBCS rumours and facts
The latest NAT changes, including EGGX/Shanwick, CZQX/Gander, BIRD/Iceland, ENOB/Bodo, LPPO/Santa Maria, and KZWY/New York Oceanic East.
IRIDIUM satcom fault fixed

My first North Atlantic Flight is tomorrow – NAT Ops Guide (Updated 2018)

For the latest changes and updates on the North Atlantic, including our most recent Guides and Charts, use our NAT reference page at flightservicebureau.org/NAT.

Of all the hundreds of questions we see in OPSGROUP, one region stands out as the most asked about – the NAT/North Atlantic. So, we made one of our legendary guides, to get everything into one PDF.  It’s called “My first North Atlantic Flight is tomorrow” – and now we’ve updated it for 2018!

Contents:

  • 1. What’s different about the NAT?
  • 2. Changes in 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015
  • 3. NAT Quick Map – Gander boundary, Shanwick boundary
  • 4. Routine Flight Example #1 – Brussels to JFK (up at 5.45am)

  • 5. Non Routine-Flights: No RVSM, No RNP4, No HF, 1 LRNS, No HLA, No ETOPS, No TCAS, No Datalink – what you can do and where you can go
  • 6. Diversion Airports guide: Narsarsuaq, Sondy, Kef, Glasgow, Dublin, Shannon, Lajes, Fro Bay, Goose Bay, Gander, St. Johns
  • 7. Airport data
  • 8. Overflight permits – routine and special

  • 9. Special NAT procedures: Mach number technique, SLOP, Comms, Oceanic Transition Areas, A successful exit, Screwing it up, Departing from Close Airports
  • 10. North Atlantic ATC contacts for Shanwick, Gander, Iceland, Bodo, Santa Maria, New York – ATC Phone, Radio Station Phone, AFTN, Satcom, CPDLC Logon codes; and adjoining Domestic ATC units – US, Canada, Europe.
  • 11. NAT FPL Codes
  • 12. NAT Flight Levels
  • 13. Flight Plan Filing Addresses by FIR
  • 14. Links, Questions, Guidance

Excerpt from the Routine Flight #1:

 

Buy a copy ($20)   Get it free – join OPSGROUP

To get your copy – there are three options:

  1. OPSGROUP Members, login to the Dashboard and find it under “Publications > Guides”. All FSB content like this is included in your membership, or
  2. Join OPSGROUP with an individual, team, or department/airline plan, and get it free on joining (along with a whole bunch of other stuff), or
  3. Purchase a copy in the Flight Service Store!

2018 Edition: New NAT Doc 007 2018 – North Atlantic Airspace and Operations Manual

For the latest changes and updates on the North Atlantic, including our most recent Guides and Charts, use our NAT reference page at flightservicebureau.org/NAT.

2018 version – NAT Doc 007

The 2018 version of NAT Doc 007, North Atlantic Airspace and Operations Manual, was published in January 2018 by ICAO/NAT SPG.

Download the original document here (PDF, 5mB), and see also:



2018
 is off to a flying start again with NAT changes – these are the latest important changes. These are also published in the latest edition of NAT Doc 007, January 2018.

  • PBCS From March 29th 2018, PBCS is a requirement for the NAT Tracks between FL350-390 – RCP240 and RSP180. Read more about PBCS in our article.
  • 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.

And there will be more! Keep an eye on the FSB NAT Changes page, we’ll keep it updated.

 


Feb 2nd, 2018: FSB updated the full NAT Crossing Guide “My first North Atlantic Flight is tomorrow“.

– What’s different about the NAT, changes in 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, NAT Quick Map
– Routine Flight Example #1 – Brussels to JFK (up at 5.45am)
– Non Routine-Flights: No RVSM, No RNP4, No HF, 1 LRNS, No HLA, No ETOPS, No TCAS, No Datalink – what you can do and where you can go
Take a look.


PBCS: New rule on the NAT from March 29, 2018 – RCP240 and RSP180

Update March 16th, 2018: PBCS is turning into a PITA. After OPSGROUP input, we have an update on the latest status including rumours of delays, A056 LOA’s, and Aircraft that have failed to comply with PBCS.

For the latest changes and updates on the North Atlantic, including our most recent Guides and Charts, use our NAT reference page at flightservicebureau.org/NAT.

ICAO is introducing another acronym in the North Atlantic Region. This time, it’s PBCS (Performance Based Communication and Surveillance), and from March 29th 2018 you will need to be compliant if you want to fly on the half-tracks between FL350-390.

Initially, there will only be a maximum of three daily tracks where you will need to be PBCS-compliant between FL350-390. These will likely be the same tracks as we currently see being assigned as ‘half-tracks’ each day.

This requirement will eventually be extended to all the NAT tracks between FL350-390, but we understand that will only happen when the filing of PBCS designators on flight plans reaches the 90% mark, or 28th March 2019 – whichever comes first. Either way, the ‘transition period’ for this PBCS implementation is set to last six months, so the roll-out of the requirement to all the tracks won’t happen until Oct 2018 at the earliest!

But from March 29th 2018, Shanwick and Gander will basically just continue the concept used in the RLatSM trial – whereby daily tracks spaced at less than 60nm from an adjacent track will be specified as a ‘PBCS Track’ and will be notified in the Track Message Remark-3.

So what is PBCS?

PBCS is the thing that will replace two trials in the NAT which are both coming to an end on March 29th:

  • RLATReduced Lateral Separation Minimum: where a reduced lateral separation of 25 nm has been implemented on the tracks between FL350-390 (so now there are extra “half tracks” each day, spaced by one-half degree of latitude)
  • RLong – Reduced Longitudinal Separation Minimum: in the Shanwick Oceanic Control Area (OCA), longitudinal separation has been reduced to 5 minutes between aircraft following the same track.

When these trials end, PBCS standards will be introduced to continue to allow the application of both reduced lateral and longitudinal separation for aircraft that meet the Required Communication Performance (RCP) and Required Surveillance Performance (RSP) specifications.

How do I comply with PBCS standards?

To operate on the PBCS tracks between FL350-390, you will need to be RNP4 compliant, with CPDLC capable of RCP240, and ADS-C capable of RSP180.

But watch out! Some aircraft do have ADS-C and CPDLC but have never demonstrated RCP or RSP, and have no statement of compliance (e.g. most Honeywell Primus aircraft and several early Boeing aircraft). These aircraft may struggle to get approval to operate in PBCS airspace. Which brings us neatly on to…

Do I need PBCS approval from my state of registry?

PBCS approval will differ depending on which country operators are from.

For UK operators, check the requirements here.

US operators will need to update their LOA for Data Link Communications (A056). The FAA have published a new guide, which tells operators exactly what they need to do to get this authorisation, namely:

  1. Submit an AFM Statement of Compliance for PBCS, showing exactly what data link communication systems you aircraft has, along with the selected performance
  2. Since July 2016, various oceanic FIRs have been collecting data on whether certain aircraft meet RSP and RCP criteria. You need to make sure your aircraft isn’t already listed as having failed to meet these criteria, by checking here: https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/separation_standards/pbcs_monitoring/

What new codes do I need to put down on my flight plan?

  • FANS 1/A CPDLC equipped aircraft planning to operate in the NAT HLA shall insert the appropriate designator (J2, J3, J4, J5 and/or J7) in Item 10a of the flight plan.
  • FANS 1/A CPDLC RCP 240 compliant aircraft intending to operate in the NAT HLA shall insert the designator P2 in Item 10a of the flight plan.
  • FANS 1/A ADS-C compliant aircraft planning to operate in the NAT HLA shall insert the designator D1 in Item 10b of the flight plan.
  • FANS 1/A ADS-C RSP 180 compliant aircraft planning to operate in the NAT HLA shall insert SUR/RSP180 in Item 18 of the flight plan.
  • RNP 4 compliant aircraft planning to operate in the NAT HLA shall insert PBN/L1 in Item 18 of the flight plan.

If I’m not eligible for PBCS, where can I go? 

ATC may allow you to do either of the following, depending on how stressed/busy they are (i.e. decided on a ‘tactical basis’):

  • You can infringe on the daily PBCS tracks between FL350 – FL390 at only one point (including Oceanic Entry/Exit Point) i.e. cross but not join an NAT PBCS track
  • You can climb or descend through levels FL350 – FL390 on a PBCS track provided the climb or descent is continuous.

In their NAT OPS Bulletin 2018_001, ICAO have published a handy little picture to demonstrate this:

 

Further information:

  • For a great FAQ on all things PBCS, check out the latest FAA document here.
  • For more info on the PBCS implementation, check out the full UK AIC here.
  • To figure out where you are welcome on the NAT, depending on what equipment and training you have, check out our quick reference guide here.
  • Special thanks go to Mitch Launius at 30westip.com for help with this post. For assistance with international procedures training for business aviation crews worldwide, and to watch an excellent webinar about all things PBCS-related, check out the 30westip.

 

More NAT half-tracks are coming

Update Jan 23: The current phase of the trial for RLatSM Tracks will come to an end on March 29, when PBCS standards will be introduced for the NAT tracks. More info on that here.

Since Dec 2015, there have been three daily NAT tracks spaced by one-half degree between FL350-390. These are officially called ‘RLatSM Tracks’ (Reduced lateral separation minima), but we all just prefer to call them ‘Half-Tracks’.

Separating flights by one-half degree of latitude rather than the standard one degree means that aircraft can be separated laterally by 25nm, which helps improve the efficiency of North Atlantic operations.

In Jan 2018 the Half-Tracks will be expanded from the three that now run each day, first by one additional track and then (maybe) to all NAT Tracks between FL350-390 inclusive. Jan 4 is the earliest day that this might happen, but because they will be decided tactically, it will most likely be the first busy day after Jan 4.

If you want to operate on the RLatSM tracks, you’re going to need CPDLC, ADS-C, and RNP4; along with the other standard pre-requisites for operating in the NAT HLA between FL350-390: an HLA approval, TCAS 7.1, RVSM approval, two LRNS, and a working HF radio. To figure out where you are welcome on the NAT, depending on what equipment and training you have, check out our quick and dirty guide here.

One thing to be cautious of when using the half-degree tracks – most aircraft FMC’s truncate lat/long waypoints to a maximum of 7 characters, so it will often show up as the same waypoint whether you’re operating along whole or half degree waypoints. So when operating on the half-tracks, just remember to double-check the full 13-character representations of the lat/long waypoints when you enter them into the FMC.

For more details about the new RLatSM procedures, have a read of the UK AIC 087/2017 here.


					
		

NAT Expanded data link mandate

It’s time for everyone’s favourite topic – DATA LINK MANDATE! New things are happening on December 7th. Don’t worry, we’ll help.

Right Now, if you’re using the NAT tracks, between FL350-390, you’re mandated to use data link services. Simply put, you must be equipped with CPDLC and ADS-C (FANS 1/A ready and able).

On December 7th 2017, the data link mandate will expand to the entire ICAO NAT Region between FL350-390, with a few exceptions. We’ve got the image below showing you the area. White routes are exempt, as well as the grey border areas (we like the Big Fish).

Exemptions:
-Everything north of 80°North
-New York Oceanic East FIR (was previously all of NY Oceanic)
-Routes T9, T213, T13, T16, T25. (see: The Tango Routes)
-The Blue Spruce Routes (white lines)
-Areas that currently have radar, multilateration (is this a word?) and/or ADS-B. (the grey areas)
Note: If any of the NAT Tracks go into the grey areas, you won’t be exempt while on the tracks.

Be ready, January 30th, 2020, all of the NAT ICAO Region will have the Data Link Mandate, above FL290, including the Tango Routes as well as those little grey areas.

To figure out where you are welcome on the NAT, depending on what equipment and training you have, check out our quick and dirty guide here.

For more details about the datalink mandate, you can read the UK AIC in full here.

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