Tracking the NAT Track Changes

By Rebecca Lougheed

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Big news from the NAT. From March 1, FL330 and below will no longer be part of the NAT Organised Track Structure (OTS).

What does this mean?

It means operators will have the flexibility to file random routes at FL330 and below when flying between Europe and North America.

Particularly for operators unable to file routes across OTS tracks with active flight levels, this means much greater flexibility in choosing their own trajectory.

Why is this helpful?

NATS quoted a study which suggested every extra minute over the ocean equates to about £51, or $70. It might not be the most radical change, but it is a step towards further improving the efficiency for operators, and ultimately to reducing fuel burn and CO2 emissions with it.

Why now?

It comes down to the introduction of ADS-B. This allows controllers to receive updates every 7-8 seconds instead of every 840 seconds (14 minutes).

What about the rest of the tracks?

This change forms part of NATS 2030 NAT vision, and more improvements can be expected. Unfortunately, it isn’t a direct result of their NAT tracks NIL experiment and abolishment of all the OTS isn’t on the cards anytime soon.

However, studies from the ‘OTS Nil’ trial are being reviewed and there are plans to simulate further OTS Nil on busier traffic days to see if viable, useful, doable…

What do you need?

If you want to fly at FL330 or below (down to FL285) then remember you are still in the NAT HLA, just not on the OTS, so the same HF, long range nav and comms requirements apply, as do datalink mandates.

This is our NAT Airspace Circle of Entry 2021 – easily check what you need for Nav, Comms and ATC Surveillance depending on which bit of the NAT you will be flying through.

Anything else?

Unfortunately no, that’s the news for now. Any questions on this feel free to direct them to us at team@ops.group

If you want to read the “official” NATS notice then you can do so here. We don’t yet have a reference for the official NAT Docs.


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Rebecca Lougheed

Rebecca Lougheed

I am an OPSGROUP team member, an A340/A380 pilot, and interested in all things flight ops, cats and beer related. Based near an undisclosed airfield in England. Question for us? Write to blog.team@ops.group.

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