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Ep 19 – North Atlantic, More Changes!

CRM, Podcast | January 31, 2020

Hello and welcome to podcast number 19.

First, I would like to thank Scott Macpherson, Founder of, for taking on the host duties for the last podcast. I very much enjoyed his podcast and thanks to Kurt Edwards for taking the time to talk with Scott. If you have any comments about the podcast, please send us an email or leave a review. On the Apple podcast app, tap on then scroll to the bottom and click on ‘write a review’.

There are more changes for the North Atlantic that become effective January 30, 2020. The North Atlantic has had many changes over the last few years and this continues with increasing the size of airspace where FANS 1/A, or equivalent equipment is required.

The NAT OPS Bulletin 2017-001 Revision 04 provides graphical information on the expanded vertical and horizontal boundaries of the North Atlantic Datalink Mandate airspace or NAT DLM. The bulletin also describes the policy for flight planning into NAT DLM airspace and operating procedures.

The objectives of the North Atlantic Datalink Mandate are to increase communication, surveillance and air traffic control intervention capabilities in the NAT region. The NAT is the busiest airspace in the world, so the NAT DLM has been designed and implemented to reduce the risk of a collision and provide an acceptable level of safety.

ADS-C provides capabilities for aircraft monitoring by ATC and adherence to the cleared route. ADS-C is also invaluable for search and rescue operations.

The North Atlantic planning group has set goals for the expansion of the datalink required area which are 95% of aircraft operating in that airspace to be equipped with FANS 1/A, ADS-C and CPDLC systems by 2020. So of course, that is now so we’ll see how well they achieve their goal.

What are the NEW boundaries of the NAT DLM airspace?

 The NAT has evolved through multiple phases. Phase 2A started in 2015 making FL 350 to FL 390 tracks designated as NAT datalink within the Organized track system.  Phase 2B, commenced in December 2017 and added the entire NAT region to the applicable altitudes of FL 350 to FL 390.

Now Phase 2C starts on the 30th of January 2020 and expands the applicable altitudes to FL 290 to FL 410 throughout the ICAO NAT Region.  290 and 410 are included altitudes in the final phase.

So, 290 to 410 in the entire ICAO NAT Region. As a reminder, the ICAO NAT region includes:

  • Bodo, Gander, Reykjavik, Santa Maria, Shanwick and Sondrestrom Oceanic
  • Now New York is included in the NAT region but NY Oceanic East is not included in the NAT DLM. Neither is NY Oceanic West which is WATRS airspace. More about that in a minute.

The NAT OPS Bulletin clarifies this month’s phase 2C implementation by listing the airspace that is not Included in Datalink Mandate Airspace, even thought this airspace is part of the ICAO NAT region.

The airspace not included is:

  • Airspace north of 80° North which has unreliable geostationary satellite coverage;
  • New York Oceanic East. This FIR is east of the Bahamas and south of the common NAT tracks;
  • Airspace that is NOT included in the NAT DLM is where ATS surveillance service is provided by radar, multilateration and/or ADS-B, and VHF voice communications. Multilateration is the technique that estimates the location of an aircraft by the time difference between signals arriving at multiple base stations. To simplify this last bullet point a bit; if you are under any form of surveillance and using VHF to communicate with ATC, then the airspace is NOT NAT DLM.

There are other areas not included in the datalink mandate which are specific to certain ‘T’ routes as radar coverage is expanded in those areas. Refer to the bulletin for specifics on this.

If you are NOT equipped with the required equipment by January 30th, what are your flight planning options?

Simply put, you cannot operate in NAT DLM airspace, however you may request a climb or descent through datalink airspace but you may not receive clearance to do so in a timely fashion.

In order to flight plan through datalink airspace your aircraft requires the following equipment and associated approvals which includes crew training:

  • FANS 1/A (or an equivalent), CPDLC and ADS-C. The NAT also requires RNP 4 or RNP 10 capability.

Let’s talk about failures.

I briefly covered the new NAT contingency procedures in a previous podcast but the important number to remember is 5NM which is the offset distance if you don’t have a clearance. In the case where you have lost FANS or CPDLC or ADS-C or RNP 4 or 10, you should have some time to notify ATC and get a revised clearance before your navigation capabilities degrade to an unacceptable level.

The NAT is very busy airspace so any failures that occur must be treated correctly.

  • If you experience an equipment failure PRIOR to departure which renders the aircraft non-DLM compliant, you should re-submit a flight plan so as to remain clear of the DLM airspace.
  • If you experience an equipment failure AFTER DEPARTURE, but prior to entering the datalink airspace and the failure renders the aircraft unable to operate FANS 1/A, CPDLC or ADS-C systems, your request to operate in the NAT DLM airspace will be considered on a tactical basis. You must notify ATC of your status PRIOR TO ENTERING the airspace.
  • If a FANS 1/A equipment failure occurs while the flight is OPERATING WITHIN NAT DLM AIRSPACE, ATC must be immediately advised. You may be re-cleared so as to avoid the airspace, but you may be allowed to stay.

The key with any failure is to have a plan beforehand so it’s a non-event.

Ok aviation professionals, let’s change gears for a moment…

In the news is a section of of the podcast where I talk about other happenings in aviation. I was trolling my usual websites for all things aviation and I was lead to a Mexican handling service that is announcing that all international aircraft will be ramp checked for numerous required items upon arrival into Mexico. Other resources have said that the ramp checks are random and that not every aircraft will be checked. Either way the ramp checks have already started. The handling agency is Manny Aviation Services and I did find the announcement on the OpsGroup website which is a fantastic resource.

The provider, Manny Aviation says:

The Mexican Federal Civil Aviation Agency has not provided a checklist of items that will be checked, so it is apparently up to each inspector to determine the requirements.

The list of possible required items is long but there a few notable ones, and note that the documents must be the original documents in most cases.

The list includes:

  • Airworthiness Certificate
  • Registration Certificate
  • Worldwide and/or Mexican Insurance stating Private use, when flying as such, and Charter use when flying charter. If you are charter then it is mandatory to have both worldwide and Mexican insurance.
  • Pilot’s licenses: both sides and stating aircraft type rating.
  • Pilot ́s medical certificates: a valid document according to crew role (Pilot in Command or Second in Command).
  • If you hold a Multiple Entry Authorization or MEA, this document is required and its corresponding payment receipt.
  • For Charter operations, the following are required:
    1. Valid Air Operator Certificate (AOC): Copies are accepted considering this document might include many tail numbers. Payment receipt should also be included.
    2. FAA’s 4507 form which is the AIR TAXI OPERATOR REGISTRATION. Copies are accepted considering this document might include many tail numbers. Alternatively, the appropriate exemption document, Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity is also accepted.
    3. If holding a Mexican Indefinite Blanket Permit (IBP), this should be accompanied by the Mexican AOC, and the Yearly Verification (including payment receipt) for it to be considered valid. Copies are accepted.
  • The aircraft logbook stating the most recent information about maintenance performed on the aircraft. So perhaps a new logbook without any maintenance entries is not acceptable? Probably not the case but something to consider.


  • The authorization to operate as a mobile radio aeronautic station or an Aircraft radio station license.
  • The Aircraft Flight Manual.
  • Noise Certificate.
  • The Minimum Equipment List when the type certificate indicates it.
  • Mexican AIP.
  • The preflight checklist.
  • If the route, inbound or outbound, involves overflying the ocean, then a life raft and/or life jackets are required to be on board, according to the type of aircraft.
  • You may require a Weight and Balance Manifest.
  • A First Aid Kit.
  • Jeppesen Manuals, digital format is accepted.

…and finally,

  • If you are operating as a Private flight, it is required to present a document stating the purpose of the flight, also you must include the name of the lead passenger and declare his/her connection with the aircraft. Such as, is the lead passenger the owner or an employee, etc. The letter must also declare the relationship of the passengers with the lead passenger (family, friends, employees, etc). The attempt here is to prove there is no commercial purpose to the flight.

Also, if you plan multiple landings, inspections will apply at each landing.

I suggest checking with your Mexican handler for more information.

I’ll leave links in the podcast notes. Thanks for listening.



NAT SPG notice

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