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In May 2017, a crew reviewed the following NOTAM information:


Using this information, the crew formed a mental model of how the runway was closed, but unfortunately, their understanding of the NOTAM information did not reflect the actual partial closure. The aircraft landed partially outside the intended confines of the runway, striking 7 temporarily installed runway edge lights and sustaining substantial damage.

While the NOTAM wording has since been adjusted to improve understanding in similar cases, NOTAMs are alphanumeric messages and have limitations. Had the crew been provided an illustration to support their understanding of the situation, the outcome would quite likely have been different.

Modernizing how we relay critical information to pilots, ATS and other professionals involved in flight operations.

Visual Supports for Situational Awareness

The use of illustrations can go a long way to improve situational awareness, helping to prevent outcomes like the one above. While a NOTAM contains text only, there is another mechanism that can include detailed information and illustrations to help pilots form more accurate mental models. That mechanism is an AIP Supplement, and it is part of Canada’s Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP Canada).

AIP Canada contains information on airspace, airways, navigational aids, air traffic control procedures and aerodromes, critical to pilots and other aviation professionals, including creators of third-party aeronautical products. It is the official state source of aeronautical information and is updated every 56 days.

AIP Supplements, like NOTAMs, are used to make temporary changes to the information contained in AIP Canada. While NOTAMs are used for dynamic changes and are limited in message length, AIP Supplements are used for longer-term changes (3 months or more) or shorter events where the inclusion of an illustration or additional details are necessary to convey more accurately what’s going on.

Mitigating Risks through Modernization

Airport construction projects can create several dynamic changes to surfaces, services, and procedures, often requiring dozens of NOTAMs relating to the activity, which can be difficult to accurately visualize.

To help mitigate the risks of complex closures or changes to procedures that could easily be misunderstood in a NOTAM, an improved AIP Supplement for Aerodrome Construction template is now available to aerodrome operators, featuring a standard format and chronological order of information, making it intuitive and quick to find information. See an early example of this type of AIP SupplementOpen a new window.

But our efforts are for more than just airport construction.

NAV CANADA is working to modernize how AIP Supplements are published to increase their effectiveness and make them an option in situations where NOTAMs used to be the only choice. Other changes you can expect in the coming months include:

  • Frequency. To allow for information changes to be relayed in a timelier manner, AIP Supplements will be updated on the website every 14 days, instead of every 28 days.  Information will be made available further in advance of the effective date in cases where enough notice is provided to NAV CANADA.
  • Standardization. To ensure consistency and improve usefulness, in addition to the new AIP Supplement for Aerodrome Construction, all AIP Supplements will be standardized in content, layout, and graphics.
  • Website Updates. To improve the overall user experience when accessing AIP Supplements, the website will undergo a number of updates, including improvements to search functionality.

As NAV CANADA starts publishing AIP Supplements more frequently, you can expect an increase in use and, over time, a reduced reliance on NOTAMs. Sign up for the Aeronautical and Service Updates newsletter, which can help you stay up-to-date on new AIP Supplements, AICs and more.

With increased insight into AIP Canada and its various associated products, be sure to incorporate it into your next briefing to ensure you get the full picture before taking to the skies.

Fly Safe.