NAT Ops Bulletin #2020-001 Explained

Nothing all that new in this bulletin. Basically, this is a combination and update of the four previous NAT Ops Bulletins covering ACARS Datalink receipt of oceanic clearance in the Gander, Reykjavik, Shanwick and Santa Maria FIR’s. Specific OCA procedures are combined into this one document are Gander, Reykjavik, Shanwick and Santa Maria. This is a good procedural review for ACARS Datalink oceanic clearance in the NAT HLA.

Here are some of the highlights in a timeline format:

Pre-Flight

Flight Plan Block#18

  1. Ensure “RMK/AGCS Equipped” if your FMC does not have an Oceanic Clearance Request page, (Non-623 Compliant)
  2. Gander provides a service specific to aircraft not equipped with an Oceanic Clearance Request page. This service needs to be set up in advance with your communication service provider and NavCanada. Aircraft registration occurs twice per month on the 1st and 15th day. Once complete, Expect to receive an ACARS data link oceanic clearances automatically.
  3. Ensure that the highest usable flight level is indicated, i.e. ”RMK/Highest FL410”
  4.  

Oceanic Clearance Request Timing

  1. Enough time should be allowed to request, receive, and understand the oceanic clearance (or amended clearance) well before reaching the OEP. 
  2. The “Rule of Thumb” is:

60mins prior to OEP if airborne

45mins prior if on the ground at a nearby airfield 

30mins prior to OEP, revert to voice

15mins prior to OEP, ACARS Datalink clearance is not available

 

Note

Shanwick

  1. Due to the short flying times between Scottish and Irish aerodromes and the Shanwick OCA boundary, pilots should request and receive an Oceanic Clearance prior to departure. Check local documentation and AIPs for details on specific frequencies and telephone numbers

Gander

  1. Flights departing from airports less than 45 minutes flying time from the OEP should request clearance 10 minutes prior to start up.Departures from Gander (CYQX), Goose Bay (CYYR), and St. John’s (CYYT); oceanic clearance will be sent at the same time or with a departure clearance.
  2.  

Reykjavik

ACARS Datalink clearance is not available for flights departing from airports in Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands. 

Santa Maria

  1. ACARS Datalink clearance is not required for flights departing from airports in the Azores either via data-link or voice. The oceanic clearance to those flights will be provided by ATC via Santa Maria Radio, VHF or CPDLC route confirmation before leaving RADAR/ADS-B surveillance coverage.

 

WARNING
  1. Flights must not enter SHANWICK FIR without an oceanic clearance.
  2. All other NAT HLA FIR”S, adopt a “Lost Comm” strategy and continue to negotiate your oceanic clearance.

 

CAUTION
  1. An oceanic clearance from Gander OCA while in the New York OCA, any modifications in accordance with the oceanic clearance should be executed while within Gander Domestic airspace.
  2. If the flight planned route does not contain a waypoint on the Reykjavik OCA boundary then the Entry Point should be the next flight plan waypoint before the Reykjavik OCA boundary. Exceptions to this are the waypoints EPMAN, DARUB, JULET and LT.
  1. The flight level contained in the ACARS data link oceanic clearance IS NOT a clearance to climb.
  2. Pilots must request ALL level changes with ATC and not change flight level upon the receipt of the oceanic clearance.
  3.  

Request Format

ACARS Datalink clearance must contain all the following information:

• Oceanic Entry Point, OEP

• ETA for the OEP

• Requested Mach Number

• Requested Flight Level

• The highest acceptable Flight Level which 

can be attained at the OEP (via free text)

Expected Clearance Request Responses 

1.Expect one of these responses in 5mins or less. If not received…revert to voice procedures including full route readback and TMI number.

Gander

“IF NO CLEARANCE RECEIVED WITHIN 30 MINUTES OF OCEANIC ENTRY POINT REVERT TO VOICE PROCEDURES END OF MESSAGE.”

Reykjavik, Bodo, Santa Maria

“IF NO CLEARANCE WITHIN 15 MINUTES REVERT TO VOICE PROCEDURES”

Shanwick

“IF NO CLEARANCE WITHIN 15 MINUTES CONTACT SHANWICK BY VOICE”

Expected Clearance Received Responses

  1. If the call sign in the ACARS data link oceanic clearance is not correct, the clearance is not valid and pilots are expected to revert to voice procedures
  2. Confirm that the route coordinates received match the full Lat/Long coordinates loaded in the FMC. 
  3. If on the NAT OTS, check that the route coordinates agree with the current NAT track message. If not correct, the clearance is not valid and pilots are expected to revert to voice procedures
  4. Find the “END OF MESSAGE” notation. If not displayed, it is possible that the clearance was not complete. Check on all pages of the ACARS Datalink message. If not found, the clearance is not valid and pilots are expected to revert to voice procedures

 

Pilot Clearance Verification

  1. The ACARS data link oceanic clearance may include a reroute to an OEP which is different from the current cleared route and/or may specify an OEP which is different from the flight plan. In all cases, flights should continue to operate in accordance with the current ATC cleared route until a verbal reclearance is requested and received from ATC.
  2. The ACARS Datalink clearance will list which item/s is/are different from that requested. The terms are:
  • “Level Change” Clearance is at a level different from that requested or previously cleared.
  • “Mach Change” Clearance is at a speed different from that requested or previously cleared.
  • “Entry Point Change” Clearance is via an Entry Point different from that requested, or previously cleared.
  • “Route Change” The route contained is a change from the filed flight plan or the route in the reclearance is different from the previously issued clearance
  • “Route Amendment” The route in the clearance is different from the route in the flight plan.
  • “Route Change At {Position}” Clearance is via a single route point different from that requested or previously cleared.
  • “Route Change at Multiple Route Points” Clearance is via a route that has two or more points different from that requested or previously cleared.
  • “Request Level Change At {Position}” Pilot should request a level change at point specified.
  • “Unable to Approve Request” ATC is unable to approve request for change to clearance. This Re-clearance should be a copy of the previous clearance. Flight crews should check for any discrepancy or ATC/ field information.
  • “Clearance Limit” The clearance limit in the clearance is different from the destination in the flight plan.
  1. Upon receipt of a revised oceanic clearance, both pilots must independently verify the full latitude and longitude coordinates of “un-named” (Lat/Long) waypoints defining the route contained in the revised oceanic clearance.
  2. Amendments to the ACARS datalink oceanic clearance should be requested via voice.

Note


  1. If no Clearance Acknowledgement downlink message,CLA is received within 10 minutes of SHANWICK sending the Oceanic Clearance uplink message, Expect, “CLEARANCE CANCELLED REVERT TO VOICE PROCEDURES”
  2. If the previously issued clearance was on a NAT TRACK, the route description may change to RANDOM ROUTE, or vice versa depending on depending on the reclearance.”
  3. When verifying an ACARS data link oceanic clearance via voice the following information must be provided:
    • ETA for the OEP
    • Cleared oceanic route: Track identifier if on the OTS, or Full route coordinates if on a Random
    • Cleared oceanic flight level
    • Cleared Mach number
    • NAT TMI if on the OTS

 

WARNING

  1. Each flight level change must be specifically approved by ATC. Domestic ATC prior to the OEP, Oceanic,OCA after the OEP.
  2. A filed flight plan with a requested step climb is not a clearance to initiate the change in altitude. 
  3. The phrases “expect FLxx” or “are you able FLxx” are NOT clearances. Correct phraseology for clearances is “ATC clears....” 
  4. Conditional clearances, especially climb clearances with delayed execution, are associated with a disproportionately high error rate.
  5. With conditional climb and descent clearances, if the instruction starts with “Maintain FL XX,” the condition follows. Conditional clearances usually use the prepositions “BY” or “AT.” 

“BY” means:
“Before passing” when referring to a position 

“Not later than” when referring to a time.

“AT” means:

“After passing” when referring to a position

“Not before” when referring to a time

Clearance Acknowledgement Responses

  1. “RECEIVED CLEARANCE CONFIRMED END OF MESSAGE” If this message is not received within 5 minutes of sending the CLA, then the ACARS data link oceanic clearance must be verified via voice.

 

BottomLine
  1. 1. If you have an Oceanic Clearance Request page in your FMC, do not add “AGCS” to your flight plan

  2. 2. Give yourself plenty of time to verify and comply with the conditions of the Oceanic Clearance ATC will note changes from your request on the Oceanic Clearance

  3. 3. If any question about the clearance or requesting an amendment, revert to voice procedures
  4.  
  5. 4. The TMI and clearance delivery frequencies will take time to parse out from the messages and documentation