Oceanic air traffic controllers now have an “efficiency toolkit” that reduces capacity constraints and increases flexibility in North Atlantic airspace.
In March 2011, NAV CANADA and NATS implemented an important procedural change known as Reduced Longitudinal Separation Minimum (RLongSM). This allows properly equipped aircraft to fly on tracks across the Atlantic with a separation of five minutes, versus the traditional 10 minutes for non-radar airspace. This increases in-trail capacity at preferred altitudes and provides more flexibility to perform climb/descend throughs.
Another major gain in flexibility was made in March 2012, when NAV CANADA extended surveillance coverage to 1.3 million square kilometres of airspace over the North Atlantic (from the north eastern coast all the way to 38 degrees west longitude).
The additional coverage, made possible through ADS-B and VHF radio installations in Greenland, reduces the safe separation standard for appropriately equipped and certified aircraft from approximately 80 nautical miles to 10 nautical miles initially.
Implementing ADS-B over the North Atlantic required a major upgrade to our oceanic air-traffic system, Gander Automated Air Traffic System (GAATS). The upgraded system, GAATS+, provides advanced air-traffic flow management and a clearer picture of current and planned traffic in the world’s busiest oceanic airspace.
With GAATS+, Gander oceanic controllers now have the tools to provide aircraft with more cost-effective flight profiles, including earlier climbs to more fuel-efficient altitudes.
What do you need to know?
New tools increase capacity and flexibility in oceanic airspace, so there’s a good chance that all you need to do to get your preferred altitude is ask.
On our end, we’ve launched a new initiative called the Gander Oceanic Flight Level Initiative, Go-Fli. Using the Request Monitor tool in GAATS+, air traffic controllers check for available flight levels and notify pilots when a climb becomes available via the IFSS or CPDLC.