From the number of phone calls and e-mails over the past few weeks, it looks like quite a few pilots are still running into some problems figuring out the FAA’s new NOTAM format. We thought we’d offer a little help.
On October 1, the FAA published Order 7930.2N, a revision to the NOTAM formats we’ve all been using for decades. The goal is to bring the U.S. into better alignment with international procedures published by the International Civil Aviation Organization (IACO) in Montreal.
While some of the changes may appear as simply semantics, but they all are designed to make the NOTAMs easier to be read and understood to anyone anywhere on the planet. For instance, the new order demands that NOTAMs must have one of the following keywords as the first part of the text. So keep an eye out for these. A keyword is used to make it easier to sort and locate the specific data needed — RWY, TWY, APRON, AD, OBST, NAV, COM, SVC, AIRSPACE, ODP, SID, STAR, CHART, DATA, IAP, VFP, ROUTE, SPECIAL SECURITY or (O)other.
Additionally, all NOTAMs are required to have an expiration date. In the past, for instance with long construction projects, we were able to issue a NOTAM with no expiration date because the ending was uncertain. The FAA now requires an expiration date unless it is a NOTAM that is permanent and will eventually be published. NOTAMs can now be either permanent (PERM) for permanent changes or estimated (EST) for NOTAMs with uncertain ending times. NOTAMs with known ending times can still be issued as before and will automatically time out.
Here’s one that has caught a number of people. When you see EST in a NOTAM, it refers to “estimated time of cancellation,” not “Eastern Standard Time.” If a NOTAM is “EST” it will have to be canceled or replaced. If it has not been canceled or replaced at the stated expiration time it will continue to be in effect until canceled or replaced.
The ability to issue pilot reported condition (FICON) (braking action report) has also been added. A number of terms used for condition reporting have also changed; i.e. THIN, DRY, WET, etc. And finally, “Personnel and Equipment Working” is now replaced with “Work in Progress.” A more detailed list of abbreviations can be found in Chapter 3, section 3 of the 7930.2N.