Aviation Safety Letter 2/2005

Take Five... for safety: NOTAM

Every pilot planning a flight knows that it is necessary to check for aviation weather information. An equally important part of flight planning is to obtain all pertinent NOTAMs. Which NOTAMs should be checked? Is it sufficient to verify only the NOTAMs for the departure and destination aerodromes? Some believe it is enough; however, it is not.

An example is the visit of the American President, 30 November to 1 December 2004. Pilots planning to depart from or land at the Ottawa/Rockcliffe airport (CYRO) were not aware of the large areas of restricted airspace in the Ottawa region if they only checked the NOTAMs for CYRO. The information regarding the restricted airspace was disseminated and stored under the NOTAM files for the Montréal FIR (CZUL), the Toronto FIR (CZYZ) and the Ottawa/MacDonald Cartier Airport (CYOW). A NOTAM issued under NOTAM file CYND, for Ottawa/Rockliffe and other aerodromes in the area, made reference to the Montréal FIR NOTAM.

Canadian Aviation Regulation (CAR) 602.71 requires that, "the pilot-in-command of an aircraft shall, before commencing a flight, be familiar with the available information that is appropriate to the intended flight." Further, A.I.P. Canada (AIP) section RAC 3.3 indicates there are three categories of NOTAM files: National NOTAMs, FIR NOTAMs and aerodrome NOTAMs. In addition, AIP section MAP 5.6.8, titled NOTAM Files, describes the type of information disseminated in each category. Before commencing a flight, pilots must ensure that each NOTAM file category has been reviewed in order to be familiar with all NOTAM information appropriate to the intended flight.

So what is the big deal if all pertinent NOTAMs are not checked?

Aside from breaking the law, going against the statements in the AIP and poor flight planning practices, in some instances where the restricted airspace is patrolled by armed interceptor aircraft, an unwary pilot who violates the airspace just might experience a "close encounter" of the worst kind. Think about it!!

Where can you find the NOTAM file for an aerodrome? In the Canada Flight Supplement, (CFS) Aerodrome/Facility Directory, Section B. See example below:

NOTAM file for an aerodrome

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