a.k.a New Opportunities To Avoid Mistakes' on the
By Inez Kennedy
permission from the
FAA Aviation News
Demand for aviation to perform at
unprecedented levels of safety has never been higher. The NOTAM
(Notices to Airmen) system is used to disseminate information on
unanticipated or temporary changes to components of or hazards in the
National Airspace System (NAS). Looking through the lens of runway
safety, NOTAMs truly are new opportunities to avoid mistakes on the
runway. The constantly changing information they provide on such
things as runway closures, construction projects, runway lights out of
service, and maintenance crews and equipment helps reduce the
potential for human error. In particular, two types of NOTAMs, Distant
NOTAMs (D NOTAMs) or Local NOTAMs (L NOTAMs), can help pilots lower
their risk of being involved in a runway incursion.
D NOTAMs contain
information on en route navigational aids, facilities, services,
procedures, and civil public- use airports listed in the
Airport/Facility Directory, and are widely disseminated through
telecommunication. Conversely, L NOTAM information, such as taxiway
closures and runway lighting, is required only to be distributed
locally. At first glance, this distinction may seem inconsequential.
But the risk is significant.
For example, if you
were flying from Maryland to Wisconsin, and did not request L NOTAM
information from the Automated Flight Service Station or Flight
Service Station (AFSS/FSS) that has responsibility for the airport
concerned, you would not find out about construction personnel or
equipment on a runway in Wisconsin from your pre-flight briefing in
Maryland. L NOTAMs are not entered into a central database. As a
result, if you do not check for updated information en route, you
increase your risk and the risk of others on the surface of being
involved in a runway incursion.
FIVE RUNWAY SAFETY GUIDELINES TO KEEP IN MIND WHILE USING NOTAMS:
Obtain a complete pre-flight
briefing, including all NOTAMs.
pilot-in-command has the primary responsibility of ensuring that all
current NOTAM information is received during a pre-flight briefing.
Automated Flight Service
Station/Flight Service Station (AFSS/FSS) personnel provide D NOTAMs
and L NOTAMs during standard, abbreviated, and outlook briefings,
when pertinent to the flight. L NOTAMs are not available when you
use Direct User Access Terminal Service (DUATS) for a pre-flight
As noted above, L NOTAM
information for non-local AFSS/FSS areas must be specifically
requested directly from the AFSS/FSS that has responsibility for the
airport concerned. Facility specific toll-free telephone numbers are
available in the
Airport/Facility Directory or by dialing 1-800-WX-BRIEF.
Because NOTAM data constantly
changes, pilots should contact AFSS/FSS en route to obtain updated
It is also important
to note that the NTAP (Notices to Airmen Publication) is issued every
four weeks. When NOTAMs are published, they are no longer provided
during a briefing. Therefore, it becomes the responsibility of the
pilot to specifically request this information. By requesting NOTAMs,
the opportunity for human error decreases and the pilot makes the
runway a safer place for all.
Inez Kennedy is the Air Traffic Representative )AFSS) in the FAA's
Office of Runway Safety.