SNOWTAM and NOTAM Issuance Guidelines for Business Aviation Operations
02 August 2023| By Just Aviation Team
The Flight Team at Just Aviation diligently analyzes NOTAM and SNOWTAM information, enabling proactive identification of potential closures. This empowers us to offer alternative airport options or adjust departure schedules accordingly, prioritizing the safety and efficiency of our private jet clients.
Notice to Airmen (NOTAM), also referred to as Notice to Air Missions, is a crucial document that provides detailed information about aeronautical facilities, services, procedures, and potential hazards. It is especially important for personnel involved in business aviation operations to stay informed through NOTAMs about critical updates in a timely manner.
Safety and security regulatory compliance for SNOWTAM and NOTAM issuance focus on providing surface condition reports to address potential risks associated with weather conditions and flight operation; snow, ice, slush, frost, and standing water on operational runways.
NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) for Business Operations
NOTAMs serve as a communication tool to inform aviation personnel, including those involved in business jet operations, about crucial information related to aeronautical facilities, services, procedures, and potential hazards. These notices aim to enhance flight safety by ensuring that pilots, air traffic controllers, and other stakeholders in business aviation are aware of any changes or operational restrictions that may impact their operations.
NOTAMs consist of alphanumeric codes that convey specific information. The codes follow a standardized format to ensure clarity and consistency across the business aviation community. These codes include information about airport closures, temporary flight restrictions, runway obstructions, navigational aids status, airspace restrictions, and other relevant details specifically applicable to business jet operations.
For instance, a NOTAM might contain the following code: “D1234/23 – RWY 27 CLSD EXC ACFT WITH WINGSPAN < 79 FT.” In this example, “D1234/23” represents the NOTAM’s identification number, while “RWY 27 CLSD” indicates the closure of Runway 27. The subsequent statement “EXC ACFT WITH WINGSPAN < 79 FT” clarifies that the runway closure only applies to business jets with a wingspan less than 79 feet.
SNOWTAM for Business Operations
SNOWTAMs are a specialized subset of NOTAMs that focus specifically on surface condition reports related to snow, ice, slush, frost, and standing water on operational runways. These reports are vital for pilots and aerodrome operators involved in business aviation to assess potential hazards and make informed decisions regarding flight operations.
SNOWTAMs are issued by aerodrome operators when significant changes occur in the surface condition of runways due to the presence of water, snow, ice, slush, or frost. Each new surface condition report triggers the issuance of a new SNOWTAM, rendering the previous one invalid. It’s important to note that SNOWTAMs have a maximum validity period of eight hours to ensure up-to-date information is available for flight planning purposes, specifically tailored for business aviation operations.
A SNOWTAM may include information such as “SNOWTAM 1234/23 – RWY 09 FICON (M)4/3/2 – ICE BA GOOD, SNOW DEPTH 4MM, BRAKING ACTION MEDIUM, FRICTION COEFFICIENT 0.4.” In this example, “SNOWTAM 1234/23” represents the SNOWTAM’s identification number. The subsequent information “RWY 09 FICON” indicates the focus on Runway 09 specifically for business jet operations. The code “(M)4/3/2” denotes the surface condition with a layer of ice at a medium thickness. The report also provides additional details such as the snow depth, braking action, and the friction coefficient, which helps business jet pilots assess the runway’s condition accurately.
In Which Cases NOTAM Decoder is Applied in Business Aviation?
The application of a NOTAM decoder in business aviation is crucial for efficiently accessing and interpreting operational information contained in NOTAMs. It is particularly relevant in the following scenarios:
As part of pre-flight planning in business aviation, flight crews and NOTAM managers utilize a NOTAM decoder to retrieve and analyze relevant NOTAMs. This process ensures that they are aware of any potential operational impacts that may affect their business jet flights. Access to current NOTAMs can be obtained through airport Flight Briefing Facilities available to all aircraft operators. Additionally, some companies may have tailored access systems that provide access only to NOTAMs relevant to their specific business aviation operations.
State and Government Officials’ Flights
Business aviation often involves flights carrying state and government officials. NOTAMs are issued for these flights, containing critical information related to security measures, airspace restrictions, or any specific procedures that must be followed during the operation. Utilizing a NOTAM decoder helps business jet operators and crews understand and comply with the specific requirements associated with these flights.
Runway and Taxiway Closures
In business aviation, efficient flight planning is essential to optimize schedules and minimize delays. NOTAMs regarding runway and taxiway closures play a vital role in this process. A NOTAM decoder allows business jet operators to access real-time information about such closures, enabling them to plan alternate routes, adjust arrival or departure procedures, and ensure smooth operations.
Navaids are critical for navigation during flights. When a navigational aid becomes unserviceable, NOTAMs are issued to inform pilots and operators. In the context of business aviation, NOTAM decoders help identify and understand NOTAMs related to non-operational Navaids, such as VOR (VHF Omni-directional Range), ILS (Instrument Landing System), or DME (Distance Measuring Equipment). This information allows business jet crews to adjust their navigation plans, select appropriate alternate procedures, and ensure navigational accuracy.
Unserviceable Obstruction Lights
Maintaining situational awareness of obstacles and their lighting status is paramount in business aviation. NOTAM decoders assist in interpreting NOTAMs that highlight unserviceable obstruction lights. These lights can be present on tall structures, buildings, or construction equipment near airports. By accessing and comprehending the information provided by the NOTAM decoder, business jet pilots can plan their approaches, departures, and taxiing maneuvers safely, even in low-light or reduced-visibility conditions.
Temporary Obstacles at Airfields
Airfields occasionally encounter temporary obstacles, such as cranes or construction equipment, that may affect business aviation operations. NOTAMs are issued to inform operators and pilots about these obstacles. By employing a NOTAM decoder, business jet operators can identify and understand relevant NOTAMs related to temporary obstacles, allowing them to plan and adjust flight operations accordingly, ensuring safe takeoffs, landings, and ground movements.
SNOWTAM’s Sections in Business Aviation Operations
In business aviation operations, SNOWTAMs consist of various sections that provide essential information about runway conditions. One of these sections is the airplane performance calculation section. It includes the following eight items (A-G), which are filled out to ensure accurate assessment of aircraft performance:
- Item A (Aerodrome Location): This item indicates the specific location of the aerodrome where the runway is located.
- Item B (Date and Time of Observation): The eight-figure date/time group in UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) format represents the month, day, hour, and minute of the observation. It is important to record the assessment date and time for each runway, particularly when reporting on multiple runways.
- Item C (Runway Designator): The runway designator is inserted, representing the numerical value that appears in the lower part of the runway identifier. Only one runway designator is included for each runway being reported.
- Item D (Runway Condition Assessment): This item provides an indication of the runway condition for each third of the runway. A single-digit code is used to represent the condition of each third. The codes are determined based on factors such as the type, depth, and temperature of contaminants present on the runway. Higher numbers generally indicate better braking action.
- Item E (Runway Coverage Percentage): For each third of the runway, this item indicates the percentage of runway coverage. Information about runway conditions is provided only for runway thirds that have conditions other than “6” (indicating dry runway) in Item D and those with conditions other than “DRY” in Item G.
- Item F (Length of Loose Contaminant): This item specifies the length of loose contaminants in millimeters for each runway third. If conditions are not reported, “NR” (Not Reported) is used. Information is provided for water standing on the runway, slushy substances, wet snow, and dry snow.
- Item G (Runway Condition Description): This item describes the condition of each third runway. It is mandatory to complete this item for each third. “NR” is used if there are no particular conditions to report. Compacted snow, dry, dry snow, dry snow on top of dry snow, dry snow on top of ice, frost, ice, slush, standing water, water on top of compacted snow, wet, wet ice, wet snow, wet snow on top of wet snow, and wet snow on top of ice are some words and phrases used to describe runway conditions.
Situational Awareness Section in Business Aviation Operations
The Situational Awareness section of SNOWTAMs in business aviation consists of 11 items (I-T) that provide crucial information regarding specific runway conditions. This section is excluded for elements where information is unavailable or when the conditions for publication have not been met.
- Item I (Reduced Runway Length): This item indicates the reduction in runway length, such as “RWY 14L REDUCED TO 3500.” It notifies pilots and operators that a portion of the runway is not available for use due to temporary obstructions or maintenance activities.
- Item J (Drifting Snow on the Runway): If there is drifting snow on the runway, this item is used to communicate the condition. For example, “DRIFTING SNOW” informs pilots about the presence of snow accumulation due to wind activity, which may impact runway operations.
- Item K (Runway Covered with Loose Sand): When the runway is covered with loose sand, this item is utilized. For instance, “RWY 14L LOOSE SAND” informs pilots about the sand covering the runway, which may affect aircraft performance and braking action.
- Item L (Runway Chemical Treatment): In cases where the runway has undergone chemical treatment, this item is used. For example, “RWY 14L CHEMICALLY TREATED” informs pilots that the runway has been treated with chemicals to mitigate ice or snow conditions.
- Item M (Snow Banks on the Runway): If there are snow banks present on the runway, this item is used to provide information. An example is “RWY 14L SNOW BANK L20 FM CL,” where “L20 FM CL” indicates a snow bank located 20 meters from the runway’s centerline. “LR” is used to indicate snow banks on both sides of the runway.
- Item N (Snow Banks on Taxiways): When there are snow banks on the taxiways, this item is used to convey the information. For instance, “TWY A SNOW BANK” indicates the presence of a snow bank on Taxiway A, which may affect taxiing operations.
- Item O (Snow Banks Adjacent to the Runway): This item refers to snow banks located adjacent to the runway as per the aerodrome snow plan. An example is “RWY 14L ADJ SNOW BANKS,” informing pilots of the presence of snow banks in close proximity to the runway.
- Item P (Taxiway Conditions): This item describes the condition of the taxiways. For example, “TWY B POOR” indicates that Taxiway B has poor conditions, such as snow, ice, or reduced friction.
- Item R (Apron Conditions): In this item, the condition of the apron is provided. For instance, “APRON WEST POOR” notifies operators about poor conditions on the western side of the apron area.
- Item S (Runway Friction Coefficient Measurement): If runway friction has been measured, this item is used. It specifies that an approved measurement device was used and indicates if there is an established program for runway friction measurement in place.
- Item T (Plain Language Remarks): This item allows for additional plain language remarks that are not covered by the previous items. It provides flexibility to include relevant information or observations regarding the runway conditions that are important for business aviation operations.
Best practices for SNOWTAM and NOTAM issuance in business aviation include timely and accurate reporting, standardized formats, precise identification, utilization of metric units, concise content, cross-checking with business operators. Following these practices ensures efficient communication of critical information, enhances situational awareness, and supports safe flight operations.
By partnering with Just Aviation, your business aviation services gain access to comprehensive knowledge of the latest NOTAMs and SNOWTAMs. Our expertise in providing clients with this crucial information ensures prompt awareness of any flight route restrictions or specific details, facilitating smooth and punctual flights.