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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.


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 closer look.

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.

Airspace-related keywords:

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 keyword.
  • 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 level (AGL).

Service-related keywords:

  • 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.

Miscellaneous keywords:

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 'AD' keyword.)
  • (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 Agreement exist.


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 (e.g., IAD)
  • Keyword (one of the 12 described)
  • Surface identification (if appropriate to the subject of the D NOTAM)
  • Condition being reported
  • Effective time(s) of the condition (reported as WEF or 'when in effect')

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.

Pointer NOTAMs

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 0802141400-0802141830

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 exercise (PJE).

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.


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, which can be used for credit in the FAASafety Team's new Pilot Proficiency (WINGS) program.

Check it out and fly safely!

Susan Parson is a special assistant in Flight Standards Service's General Aviation and Commercial Division.

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