Operators prepare for changes to North Atlantic airspace

posted on 7th January 2019 by Omar
Operators prepare for changes to North Atlantic airspace

ICAO’s European/North Atlantic office recently published two bulletins explaining the decrease for some operations in the North Atlantic (NAT) airspace and revise contingency procedures for that airspace.

The draft describes an upcoming trial of Advanced Surveillance-Enhanced Procedural Separation (ASEPS) using ADS-B in the Shanwick, Gander and Santa Maria oceanic control areas. The trial will begin on or soon after March 28, 2019.

Mitch Launius, owner and instructor at 30 West IP, said: “This trial will provide real-time surveillance in the North Atlantic airspace for the first time. This is a major safety improvement in the airspace.”

The owner said that no special letter of authorization or other approval is needed for ASEPS operations and aircraft do not need to be ADS-B compliant to operate in the NAT airspace.

To participate in the trial, however, eligible flights must meet the following requirements:

  • RVSM/HLA approval
  • ADS-B, with dedicated 1090 Mhz out capability
  • Aircraft meeting specifications for RNP 4
  • Aircraft meeting the specifications of RCP 240 and RSP 180

All operators in the NAT airspace should clearly indicate equipment and capabilities in their flight plan to facilitate proper air traffic control and separation, since the changes are not restricted to a defined area, a particular track, or specified altitudes.

Mr Launius also said that the trial does not change current strategic lateral offset procedures, which remain unchanged since implemented in 2004. However, the trial does change contingency procedures for the NAT airspace.

“Operators should review NAT OPS bulletin 2018_005 Special Procedures for In-Flight Contingencies in Oceanic Airspace and become familiar with the changes, make necessary revisions to checklists and operations manuals and conduct pilot training,” he said.

Mr Launius expressed these changes to contingency procedures apply only to NAT airspace and not to Pacific or other regions but a single ICAO standard for contingency procedures is expected in November of 2020.

All operators conducting flights in the NAT airspace are encouraged to review these short NAT OPS bulletins, which become effective on or soon after March 28, 2019, and make appropriate changes to their own operating procedures and international training programs.

The North Atlantic operations manual (NAT Doc 007) has also been reissued to reflect these bulletins, but it will also become effective on March 28, 2019

Photo credit – NBAA – North Atlantic airspace