FAA to release easier-to-read notams

September 12, 2013

The FAA Safety Team is advising pilots of several changes to the format of notices to airmen and the contractions used in notams. The revisions, which take effect Oct. 1, were "designed to harmonize the U.S. system" with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards "and make notams more easily read," the FAA said.

The most significant changes will affect notams about field conditions (FICON notams), the FAA said. During periods when field conditions are not being reported, a FICON notam may be originated for a pilot-reported condition, with the words "pilot reported" preceding FICON. The notam’s expiration time must not exceed 12 hours.

The FAA notice detailing the changes contains a list of reportable surface contaminants and explains the presentation of items including the notam’s effective time and expiration, and units of measurement used (for example, when a measurement in feet is given, "500 will change to 500FT"; when a measurement in miles is given, "5 will change to 5NM").

The new format will add runway lengths and declared distances to information about runways with displaced thresholds so pilots will not have to calculate the new distances.

Changes have also been made to the presentation of altitudes, with affected altitudes shown between lower and upper limits. For example, "1000/BLW will change to SFC - 1000FT."

Newly included in notam content will be information affecting Traffic Information Service and Flight Information Service broadcasts (TIS-B and FIS-B). TIS-B information augments automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) data in equipped aircraft. TIS-B collects and displays weather and operational information.

AOPA urges members to review the changes before the Oct. 1 effective date. See the FAA Safety Team’s notice for details.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz | Aviation Writer

Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.