North Atlantic Data Link Mandate – What You Need to Know

> | September 3, 2013 | 0 Comments
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North Atlantic Data Link Mandate – What You Need to Know

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) approved a Proposal for Amendment (PFA) of the North Atlantic Tracks Regional Supplement Procedures (NAT Regional SUPPS) on January 4, 2012. This mandates, in phases, aircraft equipage with Future Air Navigation System (FANS 1/A), Controller-Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) and Automatic Dependent Surveillance Contract (ADS-C) systems. Paragraphs 3.3.1 and 5.4.1 of the approved NAT Regional SUPPS amendment now call for aircraft intending to conduct operations within specified NAT airspace to be fitted with operating FANS 1/A (or equivalent), CPDLC and ADS-C.

1. Requirements are being phased in

Since February 7, 2013, new requirements have applied to specified tracks and flight levels within the NAT system. Beginning February 15, 2015, changes will apply to specified portions of NAT minimum navigational performance specifications (NAT MNPS) airspace. However, the specific airspace and flight levels that will be affected by the 2015 change have yet to be determined.

2. Understanding the reasons for regulatory changes

It’s the objective of this new plan to enhance communications and surveillance capabilities in NAT operations. This will enhance operational safety in the NAT by increasing the number and percentage of NAT flights conducted by aircraft using FANS 1/A, CPDLC and ADS-C.

3. Phase 1 implications

On February 7, 2013, carriage and operation of FANS 1/A Data Link systems became mandatory between flight levels 360 – 390 (inclusive) on no more than two NAT Organized Track System (OTS) tracks that are identified in the remarks section of NAT OTS message. During the OTS validity period, these changes will apply to flights crossing 30 degrees west longitude during published track times. Aircraft not equipped and using FANS 1/A data link will not be permitted to join or cross the specified tracks during the OTS validity period. For such aircraft, however, continuous climb or descent through the specified levels may be available, subject to traffic.

4. Know required remarks section notations

Specified tracks will be published as part of OTS Message in REMARKS. The example shown below comes from the NAV CANADA Aeronautical Information Circular 40/12.

REMARKS:

  1. TMI IS 108 AND OPERATORS ARE REMINDED TO INCLUDE THE TMI NUMBER AS PART OF THE OCEANIC CLEARANCE READ BACK.
  2. ADS-C AND CPDLC MANDATED OTS ARE AS FOLLOWS:

    TRACK B 360 370 380 390
    TRACK D 360 370 380 390
    END OF ADS-C AND CPDLC MANDATED OTS

5. Be aware of required flight plan entries

Operators planning flights within NAT airspace where the DLM is applied shall indicate FANS 1/A (or equivalent) CPDLC communications and ADS-C surveillance capabilities in the ICAO flight plan in accordance with ICAO Document 4444 (Air Traffic Management), Appendix 2 (Flight Plan). In addition, operators are reminded of NAT SUPPS, Chapter 2 requirements that all aircraft intending to operate in the NAT region shall insert aircraft registration in Item 18 of the ICAO flight plan, following the "REG/" indicator.

The appropriate equipage to be indicated in Item 10 (equipment and capabilities) of the ICAO flight plan is as follows:

  1. Item 10a. (Radio communication, navigation and approach aid equipment and capabilities)
    1. J2 (CPDLC FANS 1/A HFDL) and/or…
    2. J5 (CPDLC FANS 1/A SATCOM (INMARSAT)) and/or…
    3. J7 (CPDLC FANS 1/A SATCOM (Iridium))
  2. Item 10b. (Surveillance equipment and capabilities)
    1. D1 (ADS-C with FANS 1/A capabilities)

The following are examples of ICAO flight plans indicating the format:

  • Item 10a in FPL:

    (FPL-NXXXX-IG
    -CRJ9/M-SDFGHIJ2J5J7RWXYZ/ED1
    -CYQX1200 -N0435F410 DCT KOBEV/M078F410 DCT 52N040W 53N030W 53N020W DCT
    MALOT/N0438F410 DCT GISTI DCT LUPOR LUPOR2E
    -EINN0353 EIDW
    -PBN/A1B1 NAV/RNVD1E2A1 DOF/121205 REG/NXXXX
    EET/EGGX0211 EISN0320
    KOBEV0021 52N040W0122 53N030W0211 53N020W0257
    SEL/TEST RVR/500 PER/C RMK/TCAS EQUIPPED
    AGCS EQUIPPED E/0459 P/TBN R/U D/5 30 YELLOW A/WHITE)

  • Item 10b in FPL:

    (FPL-NXXXX-IG
    -CRJ9/M-SDFGHIJ2J5J7RWXYZ/ED1
    -CYQX1200 -N0435F410 DCT KOBEV/M078F410 DCT 52N040W 53N030W 53N020W DCT
    MALOT/N0438F410 DCT GISTI DCT LUPOR LUPOR2E
    -EINN0353 EIDW
    -PBN/A1B1 NAV/RNVD1E2A1 DOF/121205 REG/NXXXX
    EET/EGGX0211 EISN0320
    KOBEV0021 52N040W0122 53N030W0211 53N020W0257
    SEL/TEST RVR/500 PER/C RMK/TCAS EQUIPPED
    AGCS EQUIPPED E/0459 P/TBN R/U D/5 30 YELLOW A/WHITE)

6. Phase 2 implications

Firm plans and provisions for implementation of the February 5, 2015 phase of NAT DLM have not yet been developed. As noted above, however, airspace where equipage with and operation of Data Link systems will be mandated is intended to expand in Phase 2 to “specified portions of NAT MNPS airspace.” The NAT DLM Implementation Plan currently calls for the NAT SPG groups to continue discussion of the Phase 2 NAT DLM airspace boundaries in their Fall 2012 meetings and to complete their discussions during the June 2013 NAT SPG meeting.

Conclusion

Enhanced Data Link requirements are becoming a fact of life within the NAT system and will be phased in over the next couple of years. It’s recommended that operators work with their 3rd-party provider and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to equip and operate company aircraft appropriately within mandates of an evolving NAT Data Link environment.

Questions?

If you have any questions about this article or other flight planning information, contact me at jasondavidson@univ-wea.com.

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A lifelong aviation enthusiast with nearly 15 years in the field, pilot and flight instructor Jason Davidson is an expert in all areas of flight planning. Jason, who joined Universal Weather and Aviation, Inc. in 2005, has spent time on the Universal portfolio teams facilitating trips and providing quality assurance and project management duties to further improve systems within Universal. He currently serves as Flight Planning Technical Specialist, and plays a critical role in preparing the Flight Planning Team and clients for all aspects and changes regarding flight planning such as ICAO 2012. Jason has a Bachelor of Science degree in aviation from the University of North Dakota.

He can be reached at jasondavidson@univ-wea.com.

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