NOTAMs Change—and We Change With Them

Updates to the NOTAM system include one that clearly has a bunch of pilots in an uproar.

The NOTAM system offers critical data on temporary flight restrictions, airport conditions, and navaid outages that can be graphically depicted on apps such as ForeFlight.

With certain news stories, you know to prepare for flak as soon as they’re published.

So it was with our report on the latest changes to the former Notices to Airmen system of collating and disseminating critical data to pilots and other users of the national airspace system.

“All of the gender-charged hand-wringing is just that, in my estimation.”

The report mentioned a list of needed improvements to the system—including better alignment with ICAO terminology—but this was not what readers homed in on, at least in their comments.

The “big” change was to what the abbreviation “NOTAM” means so that it would broaden to all aerial ops, including drone “missions.” NOTAM now signifies “Notice to Air Missions.” NOTAM isn’t a true acronym, but it makes for a lot less work to keep the abbreviation stable while adjusting its meaning to meet the times. We have done this as an industry recently with the evolution of CAF from “Confederate” to “Commemorative Air Force.”

All of the gender-charged hand-wringing is just that, in my estimation. Be glad that it’s more inclusive. Accept the broadened base definition and move on. Keep using the same NOTAM reference and turn of phrase that you’ve always used. 

It’s a simple update to our style guide at FLYING as far as I can work out, with no change in the abbreviation “NOTAM” or to what that means. Our Google Doc is already revised to meet the new “mission.” It took me about 20 seconds. The FAA and related agencies have a little bit more work to do, but it’s not like we’re hand-setting physical type on a printing press anymore...a global “search and replace” can take care of a lot of it.

And so the change includes more folks—pilots, remote pilots, and operators—as a result. Great. Times change and we move with them.

Based in Maryland, Julie is an editor, aviation educator, and author. She holds an airline transport pilot certificate with Douglas DC-3 and CE510 (Citation Mustang) type ratings. She's a CFI/CFII since 1993, specializing in advanced aircraft and flight instructor development. Follow Julie on Twitter @julieinthesky.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Get the latest FLYING stories delivered directly to your inbox

Subscribe to our newsletter