The FAA’s new website for researching notices to airmen, designed to eventually replace the existing PilotWeb notam page, received its finishing touches in October, and AOPA urges pilots to give the updated briefing resource a try.
The updated Notam Search website became available in November 2013, offering several features not available on PilotWeb, which will be discontinued in September 2016.
"The FAA is working to fundamentally change the way notams are originated, stored and disseminated with a goal of making it easier to create and receive notams," said FAA Manager of National Aeronautical Data Scott Jerdan. "In collaboration with the RTCA NOTAM Improvement Panel, the FAA has worked to implement the Pilot’s Bill of Rights legislation resulting in notam system modernization and the provision of tools that enable notam users to more easily search and receive only notams which are pertinent to them."
Improvements available on the new site—which is considered an official source for notam information, satisfying one part of the preflight regulatory requirements—include a capability to filter long lists of notams that frequently appear, even for short-flight briefings. Graphical construction notices and letters to airmen also can be found by searching under airport identifiers, said Rune Duke, AOPA director of government affairs for air space and air traffic.
"Additional links to WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) status or graphical temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) can be found quickly using the External Links tab located in the upper right-hand corner of the page," he said.
AOPA has been involved in the site’s development, now in its final phase, as a participant in the Notam Improvement Panel that was established under a provision of the 2012 Pilot’s Bill of Rights. AOPA worked with the FAA and other stakeholders to identify shortcomings of the existing notam retrieval system and find solutions.
"The main goal of the Notam Improvement Panel was to consolidate the information on that site and present it in a user-friendly manner," Duke said, noting that "approximately 1.5 million notams will be issued this calendar year, making the U.S. the leading issuer of notams in the world."
The site offers pilots help decoding notam contractions via an external link tab. Another feature provides plain-language, fully deciphered text for notams accompanied by a letter D within a green circle. The "D" indicates that the notam is digital. Approximately 55 percent of all notams are now digitally issued. The FAA’s goal is to increase that number each year, Duke said.
"The FAA transitioned to ICAO contractions on Nov. 1, so pilots may see some unfamiliar contractions—which makes the plain-language translation that much more helpful," he added.
A Flight Path search capability allows a user to receive all notams along a designated route of flight. The notams can then be sorted or filtered.
Pilots can create a website profile and save their most frequently used searches, speeding up the briefing process.
Have you ever wanted to check to see when a notam was issued or canceled? An improvement to the website will allow users to do that through an enhanced archive search function.
The new site includes how-to videos, with narration becoming available soon. A user's guide and a "What's new" section under the Help tab can assist new users in taking advantage of the site’s greater functionality.
A disclaimer on the website is similar to that which appears on other FAA sites, alerting pilots that other preflight information is necessary to meet requirements of 14 CFR 91.103 (such as weather information).
More improvements are planned, and users are encouraged to weigh in on the site's utility via the Feedback tab. All feedback is reviewed by the Federal Notam System team.
"The new Notam Search website offers tremendous capabilities, and can really cut down on the frustration of reading pages of notams," said Duke. "I encourage all pilots to explore what it has to offer."