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On April 08th, 2021, ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) kicked off a project to eliminate old or very old notams which currently make up about 20 percent of the notams that are available.

The project has been titled NOTAM2021 with the end goal of eliminating old NOTAMS that are still in circulation. Current notams are defined as notams that are less than three months old, old notams are more than 3 months old but less than one year and very old notams are more than one year old. In 2020 1.7 million notams were issued, up from 250,000 in 2000.

This unique problem of excessive notams came to light when Air Canada flight 759 from Toronto Pearson Airport to San Francisco International airport on July 7th, 2017, was cleared to land on runway 28R but instead lined up with a parallel taxiway on which four fully loaded and fueled passenger aircraft were stopped awaiting takeoff clearance. Runway 28L was notamed closed, however it was buried in 30 pages of notams, many of them old notams. The NTSB noted that the failure to see this notam was the primary cause of this serious incident which came within seconds of being one of the greatest aviation disasters in history.

A typical 3-hour flight can generate 30 pages of notams when you include FIR notams, enroute divert airport notams along with the normal departure/arrival/alternate notams including FDC notams.

A typical 12-hour flight can generate more than 120 pages of notams, ten notams per page, which equals 1,200 notams and if it takes five seconds to read each notam this equates to around 1 hour 40 minutes which most flight crews do not have that much time to read and understand each notam. Thus, important and safety critical information is missed.

Image below illustrates the volume of notams on a typical airline flight from Munich to Singapore. 24 of the 120 pages consists of the flight plan, weather, and the graphical weather charts while the remaining 96 pages are all notams.

The project will have regular status updates going forward, with the first update due by the end of June. For a more in-depth discussion of the excessive notam problem please refer to the link below.

Link to video:

Flight Pro’s Global Trip Support (GTS) team is available 24/7 to offer further guidance and provide assistance updating your aircraft profile.


Written by: Brad Asselin, Director, Weather & Flight Planning Services

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