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THE PREMIER APPROACH: North Atlantic Airspace in 2021


Lost in the wake of the spread of COVID in early 2020, the final phase of the North Atlantic Datalink Mandate (NAT DLM) was imposed on January 30. As global traffic rapidly fell off shortly after, Shanwick Oceanic (EGGX) began issuing NOTAMS to delay its implementation. Now as we begin to slowly roll out of the pandemic, the final exemption issued by EGGX expired as of February 25, and they have advised there will be no further extension. Following this, flights lacking CPDLC capability will now be further restricted across the NAT DLM region for planning between FL290-FL410, barring a few exceptions. For operators frequently transiting the Atlantic, ensuring your fleet is equipped with FANS 1/A and ADS-C is now more important than ever.

Background

Improved safety across North Atlantic airspace was the chief goal of the mandate. Collision risk could be reduced as ADS-C capability allows for more accurate monitoring by ATC. As well, search and rescue operations are greatly helped in the ability to locate aircraft in the event of an accident. In addition, CPDLC capability greatly enhances air/ground communication. The NAT DLM went into effect beginning in 2015, and a phased-in approach was used to allow operators time to equip aircraft. With each phase, more and more airspace and flight levels were closed to non-complaint aircraft. As a result, the percentage of equipped aircraft significantly increased since initial implementation. ATC also now has increased ability to reduce vertical and lateral separation of flights.

Equipment Required for NAT DLM Airspace

Aircraft planning to enter Atlantic Oceanic airspace from FL290-FL410 must have FANS 1/A CPDLC and ADS-C data link systems. If equipped, Item 10a/10b in the ICAO filing needs to reflect at least one of following from each category:

Required CPDLC FANS 1/A Equipment (Field 10a)

J2 – HFDL
J3 – VDL Mode A
J4 – VDL Mode 2
J5 – Satellite Inmarsat
J6 – Satellite MTSAT
J7 – Satellite Iridium

Required ADS-C Equipment (Field 10b)

D1 – ADS-C FANS-1/A
G1 – ADS-C ATN

Airspaces Falling Outside of NAT DLM

Operators not meeting the CPLDC/ADS-C requirements now face significant challenges for crossing the Atlantic. For the most part, non-compliant aircraft will need to plan for FL280 and below. Though, climbing through NAT DLM airspace can be evaluated on a tactical, case-by-case basis. Exempt aircraft will be flights filing STS/FFR, HOSP, HUM, MEDEVAC SAR or STATE. Otherwise, the chart below outlines airspace where non-compliant can plan levels between FL290-FL410.

Northern boundary: 65N000W – 67N010W – 69N020W – 68N030W – 67N040W – 69N050W – 69N060W – BOPUT.
Southern boundary: GUNPA (61N000W) – 61N007W – 6040N010W – RATSU (61N010W) – 61N020W – 63N030W – 62N040W – 61N050W – SAVRY

In addition to the area noted above, areas not falling in NAT DLM airspace are:
• Airspace north of 80°N
• KZNY East FIR
• Tango routes off the coast of Portugal

The complete bulletin can be found on the ICAO website.

If you have any questions or need to make an update to your aircraft profile, the Global Trip Support (GTS) team at Flight Pro International has you covered!

FLY HIGH, FLY FAR!

Written by: Greg Garner, Sr. Meteorologist & Flight Planner

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