Know Your NOTAMs: Introducing the New 'Super D'
By Susan Parson
Reprinted with permission from FAA Aviation News
The 'D' (distant) NOTAM is changing! As part of an ongoing effort to
improve the aeronautical information management system, the FAA is making
changes that will help you find the information you need more easily. As
of January 28, 2008:
- All 'local' (L) NOTAMs will be incorporated into the new D format,
except for military 'local' (L) NOTAMs.
- The new D NOTAM definition will include information on taxiways,
ramps, and aprons.
- All D NOTAMs will include one of 12 keywords, which will make it
easier for you to sort, and spot, the specific data you need.
D NOTAM KEYWORDS
You may want to think of the D NOTAM keywords in terms of several broad
categories: Airports, airspace, services, and miscellaneous. Let's take a
Airport-related keywords: Five of the 12
D NOTAM keywords are specifically related to airports.
- AD (Aerodrome): According to its official definition, an
'aerodrome' is a defined area on land or water that is intended for
use for the arrival, departure, or surface movement of aircraft. The
'AD' keyword will thus apply to any notice concerning hazards to
aircraft operations on, or within, five statute miles (SM) of an
airport, heliport, helipad, or maneuvering area.
- APRON / RAMP: The 'apron' or 'ramp' is a defined part of a land
aerodrome that is intended to accommodate aircraft for the purpose of
loading or unloading passengers, mail, cargo, and fuel or for parking
or maintenance. The new D NOTAM format will use the keywords APRON or
RAMP for any hazard associated with this part of the aerodrome. (Note:
Although 'apron' and 'ramp' are largely synonymous, the two separate
keywords will be used for consistency with how these areas are
described in specific locations and publications.)
- RWY (Runway): This keyword applies to takeoff and landing
surfaces, along with their associated lighting and signage.
- TWY (Taxiway): The TWY keyword will be used in D NOTAMs that
address conditions pertaining to single or multiple taxiways. A D
NOTAM that uses this keyword will identify each taxi-way by letter or
by letter and number.
Two of the 12 D NOTAM keywords pertain to airspace.
- AIRSPACE: Any hazard associated with special use airspace, aerial
refueling, unmanned rockets, balloons, fireworks, parachute jumping,
sky diving, or high altitude operations will be identified by the
AIRSPACE keyword. The 'USD' and 'UAR' NOTAMs associated with Standard
Instrument Departure (SID) procedures and Standard Terminal Arrival
(STAR) procedures, respectively, will also be coded with the AIRSPACE
- OBST (Obstructions): The OBST keyword will apply to D NOTAMs on
such hazards as moored balloons, towers, cranes, stacks, etc. This
keyword will also address outages of obstruction lighting within a
five SM radius of an airport, or any outage beyond the five SM
radiuses that pertains to an obstacle exceeding 200 feet above ground
- Three of the 12 D NOTAM keywords apply to communication,
navigation, or other services.
- COM (Communications): The COM keyword will be used to report the
commissioning, decommissioning, out-age, unavailability, and ATC
frequency status of a communications outlet.
- NAV (Navaid): The NAV keyword will address the status of
navigation aids, including VOR, ILS, GPS, WAAS, NDB, TACAN, MLS, etc.
- SVC (Services): The SVC keyword will provide information on the
status of facilities and services. Examples could include fuel
availability, or service hours for a part-time control tower.
The final two of the 12 D NOTAM keywords will be used for information
that does not clearly fit into the other 10 keyword categories. Rest
assured, though, that the use of these 'miscellaneous' keyword categories
will be strictly limited:
- (O) (Other aeronautical information): The (O) keyword will be used
for aeronautical information that may be useful to pilots even though
it does not meet defined NOTAM criteria. For example, the (O) keyword
might be applied to the controlled burn of a structure near the
airport, but outside the five SM area that defines 'aerodrome.' (Note:
Any hazard within five SM of an airport would be reported using the
- (U) (Unverified Movement Area): This keyword will apply to
movement area or information that meets NOTAM criteria without having
been confirmed by appropriate authorities (e.g., airport manager). Use
of this keyword, however, is limited to cases where Letters of
DECODING THE NEW D NOTAM
All D NOTAMs will follow a set format with several specific elements:
- An exclamation point (!)
- Identifier for the accountable location (e.g., IAD)
- Identifier for the affected location or nearest public-use airport
- Keyword (one of the 12 described)
- Surface identification (if appropriate to the subject of the D
- Condition being reported
- Effective time(s) of the condition (reported as WEF or 'when in
The 'surface identification' element is used only if needed. For
example, it provides the runway identification for any runway-related
NOTAMs or the taxiway identification for taxiway-related NOTAMs. Now let's
look at a specific example, which would appear as follows:
!MIV MIV RWY 10/28 CLSD WEF 0802011200-0802121600
The (WEF) time includes both a 'start' set and an 'ending' set.
The digits in each pair always appear in the following order: Year (2
digits) - month (2 digits) - day (2 digits) - Zulu (UTC) time (4 digits).
Using the example above:
Putting it all together, the D NOTAM above advises pilots that Runway
10/28 at Millville Municipal Airport (MIV) will be closed from 1200Z (0800
EDT) on February 1, 2008, until 1600Z (1200 EDT) on February 2, 2008.
When you are looking at the NOTAMs included in your preflight briefing
package, you might notice D NOTAMs in the new format that look something
like this one: !CPR CPR AIRSPACE SEE DDY 12/045 PJE WEF
Taking a closer look:
This D NOTAM is an example of a 'pointer' NOTAM. As shown in the
example above, a pointer NOTAM is a D NOTAM that 'points' to a published D
or FDC (Flight Data Center) NOTAM. All pointer NOTAMs will include the
keyword appropriate to the condition or event in the reference NOTAM. In
this example, the affected location is Natrona County Airport in Casper,
Wyoming. The keyword indicates that the reported condition or event is
related to airspace, and that it is in effect from 1400Z on Feb. 14, 2008,
until 1830Z on February 14, 2008. The text (body) section of the D NOTAM
points to a published NOTAM, 12/045, which pertains to a parachute jumping
The purpose of a pointer NOTAM is to make pilots aware of the existence
of a condition or event that might require a lengthy description, and
'point' to the location of more detailed information. This practice is
intended to help reduce the volume of NOTAM information provided in a
standard briefing. Pilots, who will all be operating in this airspace
during the 'WEF' time, will know where to go to get detailed information,
while pilots who are not affected can move on.
SOURCES AND RESOURCES
If you were stumped by the 'PJE' notation in this particular example,
an appendix of NOTAM contractions is just a mouse click away
Another handy website to bookmark in your favorite web browser is the
homepage for the FAA's Aeronautical Information Management Service, which
This FAA AIMNEWS page provides the latest information about the ongoing
work to improve and enhance the overall aeronautical information service
for the benefit of you, the FAA's customers. It also includes downloadable
information on the new D NOTAM format that you can print and keep handy
while you get accustomed to the new structure. Similar information is
available in a short on-line course at www.faasafety.gov,
which can be used for credit in the FAASafety Team's new Pilot Proficiency
Check it out and fly safely!
Susan Parson is a special assistant in Flight Standards Service's
General Aviation and Commercial Division.