What is a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM)?

A Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) is a notification from an official body alerting airspace users to hazards along their route, both in the air and on the ground within the National Airspace System. It’s a critical component of any flight planning, whether you’re an airline, airport, or drone pilot.

A NOTAM contains timely knowledge that’s essential to personnel concerned with flight operations, which could include:

  • A closed aerodrome

  • A closed taxiway

  • Construction cranes

  • Maintenance on a navigation aid

  • Hazards such as flocks of birds

  • Closed airspaces

  • Change to facilities

  • Change to services

  • Changes to procedures

As of December 2, 2021, the FAA has changed its use of the term Notice to Airmen to Notice to Air Missions. The acronym NOTAM remains unchanged.

According to the FAA, “A NOTAM is a notice containing information (not known sufficiently in advance to publicize by other means) concerning the establishment, condition, or change in any component (facility, service, procedure of, or hazard in the National Airspace System) the timely knowledge of which is essential to personnel concerned with flight operations.”

In short, a NOTAM is a notification from an official body alerting airspace users to hazards along their route, both in the air and on the ground.

NOTAMs are traditionally available in a text-heavy format that makes extensive use of contractions. It was invented in the 1920s and designed to be read by humans. Because of this, the NOTAM data available today isn’t easy for machines to read.

Here are examples of NOTAMs:

F0397/22 NOTAMN Q) EGTT/QRDCA/IV/BO /W /000/080/5000N00514W003 A) EGTT B) 2203250830 C) 2203251400 E) DANGER AREA EG D005A PREDANNACK ACTIVATED F) SFC G) 8000FT AMSL

Here's an example with contractions:

A0594/22 NOTAMN Q) OMAE/QRDCA/IV/BO/W/000/120/2432N05509E005 A) OMAE B) 2203100200 C) 2203110900 D) DLY BTN 0200-0900 E) DNG AREA OMD 24 ACT. F) SFC G) 12000FT AMSL

Here’s an example of a US NOTAM:

10/325 NOTAMN Q) ZNY/QMMXX/IV/NBO/A/000/999/4038N07346W005 A) KJFK B) 2110310824 C) 2207302300 E) TWY KE SFC PAINTED HLDG PSN SIGNS FOR RWY 13R/31L NORTH SIDE FADED

Different types of NOTAMs

Here’s a list of the different types of NOTAMs.

Trigger NOTAM

A Trigger NOTAM alerts people of changes to the Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP), which is a local rulebook for each country.

AIPs are kept up-to-date by regular revision on a fixed cycle. The AIRAC (Aeronautical Information Regulation And Control) cycle is used to communicate significant changes. A single cycle is 28 days, and a double cycle is 56 days.

A Trigger NOTAM typically includes brief descriptions of the changes, the effective date and times, and the identification of the amendment or supplements to the AIP.

Here’s an example of a Trigger NOTAM:

R0348/22 NOTAMN Q) LFXX/QRTTT/IV/NBO/W /000/999/4555N00029W314 A) LFBB LFMM LFFF LFRR LFEE B) 2203082000 C) 2203100400 ) TRIGGER NOTAM - AIP SUP 021/22 WEF ON 08 MARCH 2022 : 'POKER 2022-01' EXERCISE REQUIRING THE CREATION OF MANY TEMPORARY RESTRICTED AND DANGER AREAS. F) SFC G) UNL FDC NOTAM (Flight Data Center NOTAM)

FDC (Flight Data Center) NOTAM

The aviation industry is highly regulated, with rules that cover required altitudes, speeds, waypoints, minimum crossing altitudes upon arrival, and other factors. Sometimes these regulations must be changed outside of the 28- or 56-day AIRAC chart publication cycle.

When that happens, an FDC NOTAM is issued that contains the regulatory changes. FDC NOTAMs are regulatory in nature and must be obeyed. FDC NOTAMS are specific to the US.

Here’s an example of an FDC NOTAM:

!JFK 02/009 JFK TWY K1 HLDG PSN SIGN NORTH SIDE FOR APCH END RWY 04L NOT STD 2202010746-2212312300

Note that the FAA will transform this NOTAM to an ICAO format as part of the NOTAM Modernization initiative.

TFR (Temporary Flight Restriction) NOTAM

TFRs are a type of FDC NOTAM. They inform of restrictions on an area of airspace due to the movement of government VIPs, special events, natural disasters, or other unusual events within airspaces. An aircraft is not allowed to fly through the TFR area and must change its flight path to avoid it. TFRs are regulatory in nature and must be obeyed.

Here’s an example of a TFR:

FDC 1/1632 ZAN AK..AIRSPACE ADAK ISLAND, AK..TEMPORARY FLIGHT RESTRICTIONS SEMISOPOCHNOI ISLAND VOLCANO WI AN AREA DEFINED AS 10NM RADIUS OF 515548N1793600E (ADK083138) SFC-FL200 VOLCANIC ACT. PURSUANT TO 14 CFR SECTION 91.137(A)(1) TEMPORARY FLIGHT RESTRICTIONS ARE IN EFFECT. PILOTS ARE ADZ TO EXER EXTREME CAUTION WHEN OPRG NEAR THIS TEMPORARY FLIGHT RESTRICTED AREA, PARTICULARLY WHILE DOWNWIND FM THE VOLCANO. CK CURRENT CENTER WX ADVISORY (CWA), SIGNIFICANT METEOROLOGICAL INFO (SIGMET) AND PILOT REP (PIREP) INFO. ANCHORAGE /ZAN/ ARTCC TEL 907-269-1103 IS THE FAA CDN FACILITY. 2109212000-2209212000

BIRDTAM (Bird NOTAM)

BIRDTAMs advise airspace users of nearby flocks of birds. Birds can have significant consequences on an aircraft if one gets caught in an engine.

SNOWTAM (Snow NOTAM)

A SNOWTAM is issued to notify airspace users of the presence of, or the removal of, hazardous conditions due to snow, ice, slush, or the resulting standing water on the runways, taxiways, and aprons of the aerodrome. A SNOWTAM is valid for 24 hours. A new one is issued whenever there is a significant change in conditions.

ASHTAM (Ash NOTAM)

An ASHTAM advises users of an operationally significant change in volcanic ash or other dust contamination that can affect an airspace and aircraft flying through them.

Class I NOTAM

Class I NOTAMs are normal NOTAMs that are issued via telecommunications.

Class II NOTAM

These are normal NOTAMs that aren't issued via telecommunication. Instead, they’re published in the AIRAC chart publication cycle, which is updated every 28 days.

NOTAM FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about NOTAMs.

Who needs access to NOTAMs?

Pilots are required to review all NOTAMs affecting their flight route before take-off.

NOTAMs are a part of a pilot’s flight bag, which is a set of documents pilots are required to have before their aircraft sets off on its planned route.

How do NOTAMs apply to Navigational Charts?

When it comes to navigation there are many different types of charts and procedures that are used by pilots. Examples include Terminal Area Charts, Sectional Charts, Departure Procedures, Standard Terminal Arrivals, En Route Low Altitude, En Route High Altitude, and Instrument approach plates to name just a few.

These are usually published on a 28-day cycle. Changes are incorporated into newly published charts. However, there are times when issues occur that must be relayed to the users of these products immediately. When this happens a NOTAM is issued.

Who issues NOTAMs?

NOTAMs are submitted by an authority such as aerodrome, ANSP, military, or aviation authority. The general public isn’t allowed to submit an NOTAM. Instead, they can advise the local Flight Service Station (FSS) of an issue.

For example, a local skydiving company would call the FSS and notify them of the time and location of the skydiving activity. Based on that information, the FSS would issue a NOTAM.

The skydiving company can also submit a NOTAM to a country’s aviation authority if they believe an issue can affect flight paths. The aviation authority will then review it and officially issue a NOTAM if they think it affects flights in that aviation authority’s airspace.

How is a NOTAM issued?

In the US, the FAA Federal NOTAM System (FNS) publishes worldwide NOTAM data. Authorized administrators (usually Air Traffic Control) can publish their NOTAMs via the FAA NOTAM Manager, a Web-based user interface application that lets people manage their NOTAMs. These NOTAMs can be accessed by NOTAM Manager users once they’ve passed an approval process.

What does a NOTAM look like, and how do you decode one?

See the FAA site for examples of NOTAMs.

Each NOTAM is allocated an identifier that consists of a letter, a four-digit number, and a two-digit year number. For example: A0123/17.

The identifier starts with one letter. The following number has four digits and starts from 0001. It increases consecutively for each series. Each number resets at the beginning of the year, meaning that on January 1st, each series will have a 0001 NOTAM.

The following table explains some of the most common components of a NOTAM.

Significance
Code
Meaning
Series and Number
J0174/17
J0174 issued in 2017
Nature of the NOTAM
NOTAMN
New NOTAM
FIR
EGTT
London FIR
Qualifiers
Q
RT
Temporary restricted area
CA
Activated
Traffic
IV
IFR and VFR traffic affected
Purpose
B
NOTAM selected for PIB entry
O
Scope
AW
Aerodrome and Warning restriction that affects both aerodrome and en-route operations
From Flight Level
0
Surface
Up to Flight Level
15
FL015
Center Coordinates
5126N00013W
51°29′ N 000° 13′ W
Radius of the area affected
1
1 Nautical Mile
Location Indicator
EGLL
London Heathrow
Valid from
1707010800
08:00 UTC 1 July 2017
Valid to
1707172200
22:00 UTC 17 July 2017
Time schedule
0800-2200
Daily between 08:00 and 22:00 UTC
NOTAM description
RESTRICTED AREA (TEMPORARY) AT WIMBLEDON. […]THESE RESTRICTIONS ALSO APPLY TO THE OPERATION OF SMALL UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS. 2017-07-0012/AS6.
Textual description of NOTAM
Lower limit
SFC
Surface
Upper limit
1500FT AMSL
Up to 1500 feet Above Mean Sea Level

Where can I find NOTAM data?

Finding a single source for all NOTAM data globally is complicated. There are barriers to entry for certain providers, and NOTAMs are often published in inconsistent data formats. The Laminar Data Hub provides a single source of global NOTAM data. Find out more about how you can access NOTAM data using the Laminar NOTAM API.

Resources

Displaying NOTAMs, restrictions, and significant weather explains how various notifications work.

EUROCONTROL Guidelines for Operating Procedures for AIS Dynamic Data (OPADD) describes operating procedures for AIS Dynamic Data.

This article about NOTAMs from Cirium explains how NOTAM data is spatially enriched.

FAA Order 7930.2S prescribes direction used to format and distribute information regarding unanticipated or temporary changes to services, components of, or hazards in, the National Airspace System (NAS).

See examples of NOTAMs

Article critical of NOTAMs: Notams (code7700.com). This article details complaints about NOTAMs.

Notice To Airmen (NOTAM) | SKYbrary Aviation Safety is a valuable resource for NOTAMs.