The Federal Aviation Administration is modernizing its Notices to Airmen, including the consolidation of NOTAMs on one system (FAA Photo)
The Federal Aviation is looking to modernize its Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs), including finishing the consolidation of the legacy United States NOTAM System (USNS) and the newer Federal NOTAM System (FNS), an FAA official said on Nov. 18 at the agency's Data Optimization Summit in Washington, D.C.
“We have two systems, and we should have one,” said Abigail Smith, the FAA's director of technical training. “We also have a requirement to have a single place for people to originate NOTAMs and a single place for distribution of NOTAMs. That’s a lot of technology work to untangle the spaghetti.”
A report by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in 2017 suggested that USNS could not handle the volume of NOTAMs–about 145,000 on an average month. At the time, the FAA had begun the move to FNS and was generating about 80 percent of NOTAMs on FNS, the report said.
"The need to move from an analog, text-based NOTAM system towards a digital automated system that
provides timely, accurate, harmonized aeronautical data/NOTAMs in standardized formats was evident," according to the report. "This major change will provide digitized NOTAMs that are standardized and parsed for automated
systems in an enterprise architecture with SWIM [System Wide Information Management]connectivity, resulting in improvements to efficiency and safety of the NAS [National Aerospace System]."
Through NOTAMs, the FAA updates aeronautical charts and data every chart cycle of 28 days.
“When NOTAMs got started, it was the age of the teletype in the 1920s," Smith said on Nov. 18.
"While technology and flight operations and all the rest of the aviation industry has moved on, this format has kind of stayed static," she said. "We’re at this crossroads time and a really important opportunity because there are so many things changing at such a great speed, that we make sure that pilots, dispatchers, controllers and anybody that needs aeronautical information and notices to airmen can get it in a relevant and timely way.”
Another part of the NOTAM modernization effort includes the Aeronautical Information System (AIS) Reform Coalition, which asked the FAA about a year ago to help provide a one-stop shop for updated aeronautical information.
Chaired by Heidi Williams, the director of air traffic services and infrastructure at the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), the coalition also includes the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, the Air Line Pilots Association, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the International Air Transport Association, Airlines for America, Airports Council International, American Association of Airport Executives, the National Association of State Aviation Officials, the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, Jet Blue, United Airlines, Delta Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and American Airlines.
The FAA has said that it will sunset its legacy internet NOTAM search system, Pilot Web, in January next year, as the system is not in compliance with ICAO standards and does not allow pilots to sort and filter NOTAMs by category.
The agency is moving early next year to put in place the NOTAM Search System, "a modern, web-based search site that allows for easier sorting, filtering and keyword searches," according to NBAA.