International Airspace Top 10 FAQ’s

Where is WATRS Plus Airspace located?

The West Atlantic Route System, “WATRS” is an extensive network of routes connecting the USA and Canada with the Bahamas and the Caribbean Islands. This structure is based upon 50/50NM separation and utilizes RNAV-10 and RNP-4 navigation specifications. The airspace affected are Atlantic West portion of New York, Miami Oceanic and the San Juan CTA/FIR. http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ato/service_uni....

How many minutes prior to entering Oceanic/Remote airspace, should I have my Oceanic Clearance on request?

Generally speaking, 60 minute prior to oceanic entry. When using datalink clearance delivery procedures (AFIS or CPDLC) the request should be sent between 30-90 minutes prior. Revert to voice procedures at 30 minutes prior to oceanic entry. If using only voice procedures, begin NLT 40 minutes prior. Wen departing from a airport close to the oceanic entry (less than 30 minutes) request oceanic while on the ground. When entering Reykjavik from the Scottish or Stavanger FIR’s, then the clearance should be requested 20 minutes before the Oceanic entry point ETA.  NAT Document #007, Chapter 5, Paragraph 5.1. AC 91-70A, Appendix 2, Page 7.

When should we a revised ETA be passed to ATC?

ICAO modified Annex 2 with Amendment #43 in 2012 with a greater than 2 minute/120 second threshold so as to be consistent between voice and ADS-C reporting. That being said, some regulators describe this reporting requirement as "3 Minutes or greater" vice the “Greater than 2minutes” found in Annex 2. It is the same threshold… just described from the other end of the number line. estimate time error of 3minutes or greater. Occurs when an aircraft’s reported actual time of arrival, ATA is 3 minutes or more before/after the estimated time of arrival, ETA. NAT Doc#007 Paragraphs 5.1.7, 11.7.14. FAA ORDER 7110.82D, AC 91-70A Appendix 2, Page 8


Where can I find information from the FAA on “International” NOTAMS?

FAA Notices to Airmen, Domestic/International, Part three. Here’s a link: https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/notices/

Is there a route from Florida along Cuba to Cancun that is Class I Navigation airspace?

This basically comes down to a question of what is the Standard Service Volume, SSV for the ground based Navaids involved. SSV is dependent on power output of the facility and the altitude of the aircraft. High VOR's are listed to have a SSV of 130NM between FL180 and FL450. HH NDB's have a SSV of 75NM. DME has a SSV of 199NM. Using these mileages, the critical part comes in when crossing the Yucatan Channel between Cuba and Mexico. The shortest route I could find is Gerona NDB (UNG) along UR519 to Cancun VOR (CUN), 227NM between navaids. I cannot find any reference to extended range capabilities of CUN or UNG.  227NM is the mileage listed on the chart along UR519. As an alternate route I would offer UCY, UR506, NUDAL. It is the next best distance at 252NM. Both routes are longer than 205NM (130+75), This would be legal as a Class One routing by 22NM and 47NM. 14 CFR 91.511

Where do I find the Definition of “Special Areas of Operation” Airspace? 

From the FAA aviation safety inspector’s (ASI) Handbook, (FAA Order 8900.1, Volume.4, Chapter 1, Section 2, Paragraph 4-24).
Examples of special areas of operation include the following:
Areas of Magnetic Unreliability (AMU) and Polar operations
North Atlantic Minimum Navigation Performance Specification (NAT/MNPS) airspace
Central East Pacific (CEPAC) airspace
North Pacific (NOPAC) airspace
Pacific Organized Track System (PACOTS)
West Atlantic Route System (WATRS) and the Caribbean Sea
Gulf of Mexico control areas (Gulf routes)
Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum (RVSM)
Required Navigation Performance (RNP)-10,4 ect.

Examples of special Navigation Equipment include the following:
Area Navigation (RNAV)
Inertial navigation or reference systems INS, IRS or GPS

Many Jeppeson charts have TERPS or PANS-OPS notated in the lower left margin. If there is no criteria noted i.e. it’s blank do I assume it is a PANS-OPS procedure?

If not annotated on the chart look in the Air Traffic Control section of the Jeppesen Airway Manual and look up the country rules and procedures for the country you operating in.  Specifically, look in the Procedure Limitations and Options section of the countries rules and procedures to determine what criteria they use in the development of procedures. The source document of course is the country’s Aeronautical Information Publication.

I know that there is a FAR that I need HF radios to operate internationally. But, I can get a waiver and be legal, right?

No, is the short answer. 14CFR91.511 provides for no more that a 30min gap of VHF radio coverage IF in specifically defined regions. The issue becomes one of VHF coverage and the requirement for two-way radio communication in an IFR procedurally controlled environment. Canada for example; the problem of non-HF equipped aircraft flying through Gander Oceanic Airspace has become a matter of concern. Depending on altitude and route of flight, it is possible to traverse some portions of the Gander OCA area with only VHF, however, for flights outside of theses areas or at altitudes that do not provide the ability to have two way VHF contact, regulations and guidelines have been published by both Transport Canada and ICAO. The minimum altitude for continuous VHF coverage across NAT is considered to be FL300 
Because VHF coverage is limited; aircraft must be equipped with an approved and serviceable HF radio capable of two-way radio communication with ATS from any point along the route during flight. VHF only “Special Use Routes” are established to proceed across the Atlantic without HF radio subject to the following restrictions: Below FL195; routing Iqaluit (Frobay) – Sondre Stromfjord – Keflavik; FL250 or above; routing Goose VOR – Prins Christian Sund (or Narsarsuaq) – Keflavik. Canadian Aviation Regulations CAR,602.39, NAT Document #007 Paragraph, 4.2.19 and 6.1

Are the Wake Turbulence Category’s in FAA different from ICAO?

Yes, and getting more different. ICAO Document # 8643 defines “Super Heavy” (A-380) 1,200,000LBS MTOW or more, “Heavy” Above 300,000LBS MTOW “Medium” between 300,000 and 15,500MTOW, “Light” below 15,500MTOW.

The FAA’s “Pilot/Controller Glossary” defines only Heavy, above 300,000lbs MTOW, Large 41,000 to 300,000 MTOW and Small under 41,000MTOW. In actual operation, the FAA currently uses six (6) wake turbulence separation categories based primarily on weight: Super (A380), Heavy, B757, Large, Small+, and Small. In October 2012 a joint program was launched between FAA and Eurocontrol called “RECAT” revising wake turbulence categories to gain capacity. RECAT applies across the breadth of the current six wake-turbulence aircraft separation categories: super (A380), heavy (B757), large, small+ and small. RECAT will place aircraft into six categories labeled A through F for both departure and arrival separation. In addition to aircraft weight, the new categories will consider certified approach speeds and wing characteristics, along with special consideration given to aircraft with limited ability to counteract adverse rolls. The Airbus A380, for example, becomes a category “A” aircraft, while a Cessna Citation Mustang is listed as a category “F.” A Mustang following an A380 will be separated by 8 nm on approach under the new standards. FAA SAFO #12007, 10/18/12

What document defines "Class Two Navigation" for the FAA?

Any navigation that is not Class One. FAA Order 8900.1 Volume 4, Chapter 1, Section 4, Paragraph 4-76B.