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Rotorhead's opinion on NOTAMs?

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Rotorhead's opinion on NOTAMs?

Old 29th Mar 2019, 22:01
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Germany
Posts: 15
Rotorhead's opinion on NOTAMs?

I am doing some academic research on the NOTAM system but being an aeroplane pilot myself, I am wondering how do helicopter pilots see the system and its problems. Do you check the NOTAMs before your fight? Do you find NOTAMs about fireworks and obstacles at low level useful? If you could change the system what would you improve? I would be very interested to hear your opinions on this.
studcapt is offline  
Old 29th Mar 2019, 22:36
  #2 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 404
I'd prefer more plain English and less encoding. In this day and age of high speed communications, saving a few characters here and there is not worth the possibility of misinterpreting the NOTAM. Yes, I know it's a badge of honor and very manly to be able to decode this crap...but in the 21st century it's just dumb.

Also, pointer NOTAMs are stupid, dangerous and a huge pain in the you know what. Again, if the machines can figure out where to put the pointer NOTAMs they can copy and paste the original just as easily.

Finally, I'd like to see NOTAMs that have locations or regions on them be easily view-able that way on a chart. No reason Foreflight et al couldn't do that for us. It's all well and good to see a Lat/Lon or other position reference in the NOTAM, but it would be instantly clearer if, say, that crane or other obstruction became a dot on the chart.
aa777888 is online now  
Old 29th Mar 2019, 22:47
  #3 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: UK
Posts: 126
NOTAM in the U.K. is stuck in the dark ages! The only approved site is NATS and the content takes quite some time to travel through. The sidebar functions are useful in selecting what you need (Area brief, Narrow route etc), but the end results are an immediate put off and realistically leads to aviators skimming through which leads to errors.

SOP for my company is that NOTAM must be checked and almost all do this. The degree to which they are checked would vary IMHO due to the time it realistically takes to finger through. The way in which the NOTAM is written is backward. Iíd much prefer straight text, to the point.

There is a very handy website called NOTAM info. Itís not approved but is exactly what is required! A graphic representation set upon a google maps base. A route can be checked in a fraction of the time it would on the official site and the dimensions understood on D/R/P areas etc. By clicking on the tabs throws up the actual NOTAM, a straight forward text would improve this feature further.

Hot_LZ is offline  
Old 29th Mar 2019, 23:16
  #4 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Germany
Posts: 798
Well, in my world I donˋt have time to plan a flight.
The call comes in, either me - or when I ˋm the Copilot, my college rush to the helicopter and start it, while the Copilot collects further details on the mission.
So most preflight planning is done at the beginning of the shift, for an area about 60 miles around station.
I use an App for Notams, which shows the new ones, after the last collection, in a different color, so checking doesn’t take that long.
(VFRiNOTAM von ifos GmbH
https://itunes.apple.com/de/app/vfri...386986079?mt=8 only Germany, Switzerland)
Nice feature of the app, a mapview is incorporated so a check, where a special event takes place is easy.
What is a pain in the a.. are the obstacle lighting warnings.
So many windmills, where the lights don’t work - for long time. Page over page useless information, I have to look out anyway. (and even with working lights, the new led type ones have a wave length, not supporting NVGs.....
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Old 29th Mar 2019, 23:57
  #5 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 1,628
Well there is a problem here in the UK that IMHO most pilots for whatever reason dont bother to look at them. EG load lifting across The Derwent reservoir, Notam in place as well as notifying RAF, well bugger me have a close call with a low flying Tornado flying underneath me. So begs the question what is the point !
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Old 30th Mar 2019, 00:17
  #6 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2002
Location: "Deplorable but happy as a drunken Monkey!
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I have to look out anyway. (and even with working lights, the new led type ones have a wave length, not supporting NVGs.....
Now there is an interesting safety issue for the Authorities to deal with.

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Old 30th Mar 2019, 07:58
  #7 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: HLS map - http://goo.gl/maps/3ymt
Posts: 372
Originally Posted by Flying Bull View Post
I have to look out anyway. (and even with working lights, the new led type ones have a wave length, not supporting NVGs.....
Exactly the same in parts of the U.K. Some are visible to the naked eye only, some are visible to NVG only (this baffles me more), some are strobed in unison and some fixed (except for the strobing caused by the blades turning)...
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Old 30th Mar 2019, 12:12
  #8 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Australia.
Posts: 272
He or she who uses NVG and doesn't regularly have a look under them for such lighting is a fool...or poorly trained.
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Old 30th Mar 2019, 12:24
  #9 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Germany
Posts: 798
Originally Posted by the coyote View Post
He or she who uses NVG and doesn't regularly have a look under them for such lighting is a fool...or poorly trained.
must be a fool or poorly trained with my 1.300 hrs NVG - and counting up.
You have hardly time to look underneath every five seconds or so, if youíre fighting your way to safe someoneís life at night in sh... weather.
Sometimes hard enough to spot the bloody powerlines, you know they must come ..., going Vtoss or below but the tailwind with 30 kts gusting 45 is pushing you in their direction with a groundspeed of about 80 isch...
The lights have to work with NVGs!!!
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Old 30th Mar 2019, 15:14
  #10 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: HLS map - http://goo.gl/maps/3ymt
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Originally Posted by the coyote View Post
He or she who uses NVG and doesn't regularly have a look under them for such lighting is a fool...or poorly trained.
We digress from NOTAMS, but iíll bite. My point was simply that the logic of lighting obstacles is somewhat nconsistent. If you donít have the luxury of NVGs, most donít, and someone has gone through great expense to put a light on top of a wind turbine which can only be seen on NVG... have they too been poorly trained? Or are they just being set up to fail? Why not just make them broad spectrum that can be seen in the near IR spectrum & visible light. Simples.
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Old 30th Mar 2019, 16:12
  #11 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: SW England
Age: 65
Posts: 1,241
Back to the original topic - I think the NOTAM system in the UK is flawed-but-functional and I'm aware it's under review. It has to get a complex, continuously-changing mass of information across in timely fashion, and inevitably it has faults and weaknesses. I was concerned to read a CHIRP from a corporate operator a few months ago, suggesting that as it's illegal(!) to fly below 300ft AGL (500ft AGL inside controlled airspace) there was no point promulgating any information below those heights. CHIRP were good enough to publish our response that a broad range of emergency service, para-public and infrastructure-related operators (pipeline, powerline, USL, Lighthouse Support etc) do operate legally in that airspace, and restricting their access to safety-critical information simply for the benefit of corporate ops would be contrary to best practice in flight safety terms.

We use a combination of programmes like NOTAM Info and RunwayHD to obtain a visual indication of where NOTAMs exist, backed-up by a daily check of the AIS site for our FIR (EGTT) for comparison. It is essential when using proprietary programmes to ensure that any filters they may put in place (eg Airfield Restrictions, Airfield Comms) are checked and set up so as not to miss anything relevant. We've also found that the cross-check with AIS has helped disencopulate the occasional oddity, such as Coningsby airspace restrictions appearing in Gloucestershire. Even AIS themselves have had the odd human error - inevitable when humans are in the loop, even with checks and balances.

Like Flying Bull, our task requires that we check our planned operational area rather than a straightforward point-to-point route. We are also frequently re-tasked while airborne; it's sometimes possible for us to go straight to the new area but often we'll go for a refuel and a re-plan, which gives us the chance to check/update the nav warnings. There is usually someone back in the office who is capable of checking NOTAMs, updating the CADS (UK low-level airspace users programme for improving SA, paid for by the military) and passing us the information - luxury! If we have to do the NOTAM update ourselves in flight we use RunwayHD, which requires us to climb to a safe height and share the lookout task while the new info is assimilated. I like what Flying Bull's chosen programme does in highlighting new information - must see if we can persuade Airbox to include that.

I find that submitting information for inclusion in NOTAM works well in the UK, with a simple standard format. Like Hughes500, I've also had people (civ and mil) fly through our NOTAM'd area - unprofessional. Our Training Captains and TRE on line checks/ OPCs make sure our pilots observe airspace restrictions (I might even have picked a task area with that in mind in the past...), we can only hope that other operators do the same.

Going back to the original post - do I check before every flight? Yes - and I use whatever means is available to update that information as the day goes on. Do I find info about fireworks and low-level obstructions helpful? The former was good to know during emergency services days, the latter is essential. What would I change? Right now, nothing - the AIS system works both for whole-FIR and for the rare occasions when I do a narrow route, although I struggle to see why warnings about Iraqi/ Kashmiri/ wherever airspace still make their way into UK-specific information. I have the luxury of no longer working in a time-critical emergency service, so can afford not to get airborne until all the information has been checked. For the future, a means of displaying continuously-updated aviation warnings in graphical format in every cockpit, de-cluttered in some magical way to allow every last tall crane along the Thames to be avoided whilst allowing the crew to maintain SA, would be the ideal. We'd have to pay for it, of course - so it ain't going to happen on anything other than a geological time-scale until someone famous dies as a result of inaction on this topic.
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Old 30th Mar 2019, 22:05
  #12 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Germany
Posts: 15
I have to say I find your feedback very interesting, the NOTAM issue is really a global one and it is difficult to see how a future system could solve the situation. Integrating NOTAMs into avionics displays is an old idea which risks cluttering the displays. On the other hand adding a dedicated screen to show NOTAMs is probably something the industry wouldnt want to do. I am very much concerned about those of you operating at lower levels, especially with the future integration of drones into the air traffic system. The industry is gradually realizing that a new operational concept is needed but we lack the idea of what it should look like. Such discussions are often heavily dominated by airlines and ansp's , forgetting that these might be the majority of users, but not the only users. Thanks a lot! your feedback was very helpful!
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Old 31st Mar 2019, 00:27
  #13 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: After all, what’s more important than proving to someone on the internet that they’re wrong? - Manson
Posts: 1,506

I have been using it for years now in about 30 different countries - helicopter and VFR. It is not USA centric like a lot of other offerings.

Web based & iOS & Android.

Works pretty well - geographic NOTAM location - click on the button - eh viola!!

NOTAM Report example

Gets my vote.
RVDT is offline  
Old 31st Mar 2019, 16:17
  #14 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Canada
Posts: 1,052
I find it less than helpfull when one airport publishes 4 seperate NOTAM stating that 4 approaches are not available. So you have to look at pubs and by process of elimination determine what is available.
Would it not be simpler and much more informative to publish a NOTAM stating which approaches are available with, perhaps, a note of what is U/S.
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