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The North Atlantic (NAT)

Region Updates

The North Atlantic (NAT) region continues As of February 2015, the NAT Data Link
to be one of the most active regional oceanic Mandate (NAT DLM) within the NAT region
airspace sectors with over 400,000 operations became effective. This mandate requires all
recorded on the NAT tracks during 2014. The aircraft operating on the North Atlantic track
International Civil Aviation Organization system to be ADS and CPDLC equipped
(ICAO) office in Paris coordinates over 15 between the altitudes of FL350-390. Future
meetings yearly to support this level of activity. expansion, in December 2017 and January
In addition, IFALPA representatives devoted 2020, will require ADS and CPDLC in all NAT
over 60 volunteer days in 2014 to attend 11 airspace and altitudes.
different NAT communications, operations Secondly, improved communications and
and safety meetings. position reporting between ANSP and aircraft
IFALPA’s focus is primarily twofold: (1) will allow initiation of a Reduced Lateral
monitor reported NAT deviations and errors to Separation Minima (RLatSM) trial. Scheduled
verify protocol compliance while maintaining to begin in November 2015, evaluations will be
the highest level of safety, and (2) ensure future conducted on reducing lateral spacing to 30
plans to increase traffic levels with reduced NM between Oceanic tracks. IFALPA has
separation minima. worked diligently to ensure proper ATC, and
Firstly, on the safety front, human errors of pilot procedures are developed and
Captain Mike Hynes all types continue to be the primary causal communicated to stakeholders. A key
Regional Vice President factor observed in NAT Oceanic deviations. provision, supported by IFALPA, is the
North Atlantic (RVP NAT)
These deviations include: incorrect air traffic increased use of “route” uplinks directly to the
control handoffs, flight crews continuing on aircraft Flight Management Computers (FMC).
original flight plan routings instead of ATC However, a remaining concern is the inability
issued track changes, misunderstandings of many FMCs to display the full thirteen-digit
during communications amongst radio latitude and longitude coordinates utilized in
operators, air traffic controllers and flight Oceanic airspace. FMC software configura-
crews, and failure to properly follow company tions result in various levels of truncation or
Oceanic procedures. rounding of entered coordinates for display to
IFALPA has long supported the increased the flight crew. Potential errors can only be
use of Automatic Dependent Surveillance avoided by strict verification of coordinates by
(ADS) and Controller-Pilot Data Link the flight crew. Alternative solutions continue
Communications (CPDLC) to improve the to be evaluated by ANSPs, operators and
level of safety throughout the Oceanic airspace. regulators.
The increase use of these systems by operators While the number of observed errors
and Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) continues to remain low (99.99% level of
has resulted in a number of ATC interventions safety), the potential of catastrophic
which precluded potential deviations and consequences of an undetected error requires
actual loss of traffic separation. all users to maintain a high level of vigilance
when operating in Oceanic airspace.
ISSUE 2 | 2015 InterPilot | The Safety and Technical Journal of IFALPA
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