A NOTAM is a notice, distributed by means of telecommunication. The NOTAM contains information about a change in aeronautical facilities, services, procedures or hazards, the timely knowledge of which is essential to personnel concerned with flight operations. NOTAM was created more than 60 years ago. It is based on structured messages with a free text component. An example is provided below:
Due to the currently limited information filtering capabilities of the text NOTAM format, PreflightInformation Bulletin (PIB) that pilots have to consult before the flight is in the range of 10-50 pages for a flight. In consequence, most info given in flight paperwork is a hazard for the user. Yet the probability of pilots not being aware of important and pertinent NOTAM is increasing.
Annex 15 Human Factor Consideration
Annex 15 mandates that Human Factors principles shall be taken into consideration during the organisation of aeronautical information services. Due consideration shall be given to the integrity of information where human interaction is required and mitigating steps are taken where risks are identified.
Digital Pre-flight brief
With the release of the digital NOTAM, it will become possible to take into consideration human factors in the design of the pre-flight briefing process, such as:
- prioritise information by criticality;
- organise information by item concerned (runway, gate, etc.);
- use upper/lower case as appropriate;
- embed graphics where appropriate (“a picture is a thousand words”) or even do a full graphical PIB;
- better filtering capabilities compared to what can be currently achieved (this will stop the information overload and the time spent on analysing irrelevant information).
This includes the provision of digital/graphical briefing packages for upload on Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) devices. The data will be refreshed just before departure, for example using airport wireless connections. The main advantage will be that much more data will be available for the pilot, in case that a change in flight circumstances requires a radical from the gate.
Data usage phases
Because of the changes required in the data processing capabilities of the end users, the realisation of the Digital NOTAM benefits will take place in three phases:
- Short term (2012-2017) – the most visible benefit will be the improved quality of the aeronautical data provided by NOTAM.
- Medium term (2017-2020) – the most visible benefit will be the increased ability of pilots, dispatchers, and air traffic controllers to exploit/maximize the opportunities offered by the timely information available in digital format The current text-based Pre-flight Information Bulletins (PIB) and similar material will be enhanced and progressively replaced with graphical views.
- Long-term (after 2020) – a significant group of end users will have the capability to receive and use digital NOTAM on board, in “installed” EFB (class 3) devices and navigation displays (available on the latest aircraft generations), through updates at the gate and in-flight data link.