Communication in Aviation

If you’re a frequent air traveller then you must have experienced the delays and cancellation of flights due to bad weather.

To us it is easily conveyed through calls or messages from the airlines but what about those aeroplanes which are still in the sky preparing to land or are on their way to destination?

Obviously there is Air Traffic Control room to take care of such situations but just think about the number of flights to be informed and this passing of information to take place in the form of text messages is a tedious task. If for a second, this is ignored then what if the pilot is informed about problem but due to different ethnicity they may not understand each other.

And in such situation the person in ATC room doesn’t have enough time to dedicate more than a minute or two to this. So now what?

The solution for this problem was NOTAM.

Notice to Airmen abbreviated as NOTAM is a notice filed with an aviation authority to alert pilots of potential hazards along a flight route or at a location that could affect the safety of the flight.

It is done in two steps:

  1. NOTAM is filed with an aviation authority to alert pilots about any en route hazard.
  2. Authority in turn provides means to disseminate relevant NOTAM to the pilot.

There are different version of NOTAM based on their usage.

  • BIRDTAM: when there is a passage of flock of birds in airspace
  • SNOWTAM: notification of runway status w.r.t. snow, ice and standing water
  • ASHTAM: notification of significant change in volcanic ash or dust contamination.

There are many other reasons to use NOTAMS like in case of temporary erection of tall obstruction, inoperable lights on tall obstruction, military exercises or flight of important people.

There are various sites which allow airline dispatchers, pilots and airport authority personnel to search for active NOTAMs.

There are also apps and websites available to decode NOTAMs.

For more information regarding NOTAM decoding please go through this link:

PS: NOTAM is not actually a two-step procedure but for better understanding I had broken it in two steps 🙂

Enjoy Learning!!


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