Flight Planning Rule Changes for Canada: Part 2 – Future Equipment Requirements

PT 2 M minute read
Flight Planning Rule Changes for Canada: Part 2 – Future Equipment Requirements

This business aviation blog post continues from our article last week, entitled "Flight Planning Rule Changes for Canada: Part 1 – Recent Changes."

Advances in avionics and Air Traffic Control (ATC) flight data processing systems are making it possible to reduce lateral separation within the busy North Atlantic Tracks (NATs). Current Minimum Navigation Performance Specifications (MNPS) airspace will soon be modified to increase capacity at optimal flight levels.

The following is an overview of what you need to know about equipment requirements:

1. Aircraft equipment considerations

With implementation of additional Automatic Dependent Surveillance (ADS-B) and radar facilities along the east coast of Canada, Gander ATC began offering Air Traffic Services (ATS) surveillance and VHF communications, at flight level 290 and above, beginning October 2010. As of November 2012, Controller-Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) services have been offered to flights transiting Gander domestic and Gander oceanic airspace.

2. Timeframe for equipment upgrades

MNPS requirements on the NATs will go away as of 2020. At that point all aircraft operating on NATs will need to have appropriate mandated equipment and certifications. Be mindful that changes to CPDLC will be rolled out in phases, as noted in Aeronautical Information Circular (AIC) 2/14. While low-level Blue Spruce routings over the North Atlantic are not affected initially, they may be in future. It could be that aircraft using low-level routings will need to be ADS-B-equipped, but this will depend on what Gander Oceanic and Iceland Oceanic implement over the coming years. No definitive or planned actions are currently known.

3. Participating in RLatSM trials

Operators who participate in this Reduced Lateral Separation Minimum (RLatSM) trial and who will be eligible to flight-plan RLatSM tracks must be:

  • MNPS-approved
  • RNP4-approved and
  • ADS-B- and CPDLC-equipped and -certified

Required communications, navigation, and surveillance systems must be operational, and crew members must report any failure of global positioning system, ADS-B, or CPDLC equipment to ATC as soon as it becomes apparent. For flight planning purposes, ATS systems use Field 10 (equipment) and Field 18 (other information) of the standard International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) flight plan to identify an aircraft’s data link and navigation capabilities:

  • Field 10a (radio, navigation, and approach aid equipment/capabilities)
  • Field 10b (surveillance equipment/capabilities)
  • Field 18 (insert characters "PBN/" followed by "L1" for RNP4)


Stay updated on changes that are taking place, and be aware that these are staggered changes and include test periods for new RLatSM. It’s important to work with your 3rd-party provider to ensure you’re familiar with new airspace fixes and national airspace redesign filing requirements.


If you have any questions about this article or would like flight planning assistance for your next trip, contact me at markmiller@univ-wea.com.

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