ICAO has noted that "one of the major operational constraints of today is that aeronautical information is usually provided on paper". It goes on to say "The implementation of the Digital NOTAM will provide the means to create truly temporal electronic databases and form the foundation for the creation and maintenance of the universal operational airspace situation picture available on the ground and in the air."
From the above - and the fact that it is aligned with two ICAO strategic objectives
- Enhance global civil aviation safety
- Efficiency improvements
It is clear that the introduction of Digital NOTAM should be progressed as quickly as practical whilst ensuring safety of operation and backwards compatibility to existing systems for the foreseeable future.
With this is mind, EAD is implementing step by step the Digital NOTAM function considering in a first phase to reuse as much as possible existing functionality and gradually introducing new functionality and new technology. This gradual approach is designed to minimise the impact of the change on the critical production process and reduce costs of both development and user training.
To read more about the Digital NOTAM concept: http://www.eurocontrol.int/aim/public/standard_page/xnotam.html
The EAD Digital NOTAM is built around "Data Events" which are a series of discrete different events which need to be notified to pilots to inform them during their pre-flight preparations about things that might affect their flight decisions.
Some examples are:
- Published special activity area - activation
- Published ATS airspace - activation or deactivation
- Ad-hoc special activity area - creation
- Ad-hoc ATS airspace - creation
- Route portion closure
- Route portion opening
The overall objective of the implementation is to extend the current traditional NOTAM input and distribution to:
- Permit NOTAM to be proposed electronically
- Create a digital version of the NOTAM information that is identical in factual content to the traditional NOTAM
- Update the Static Data held in the EAD database with the temporary data from the NOTAM.
- Distribute the Digital NOTAM
- Visualise Digital NOTAM.
The implementation encompasses the introduction of new workflows aiming to reduce the amount of data to be manually entered by the NOTAM Office whilst still permitting the NOTAM Office to have control of the NOTAM distributed in their name.
Both the data originators and the NOTAM office will use the same forms for entering details of proposed NOTAM. However data originators will only have a subset of the forms available to NOTAM Office staff.
Data will be entered nearer to its source. NOTAM data originators at Airports and other locations will use a dedicated user interface to directly enter data of proposed NOTAM. They will do so using a subset of NOTAM options tailored to their requirements and will only be permitted to do so on a subset of the objects stored in the EAD Database based upon their area of responsibility.
The NOTAM Office will review these proposals making any changes they feel necessary before publishing the NOTAM. The NOF also have the opportunity to reject the NOTAM proposal and inform the proposer of the reason for rejection.