All pilots are expected to check Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) before flight. Failure to do so can have serious safety repercussions. Infringements of temporary restricted airspace will result in CAA investigation and may result in prosecution. Accessing NOTAMs forms a part of all glider pilot training. Any pilot who is unsure about how to check NOTAMs is advised to discuss the matter with his or her CFI or with another experienced pilot.
Primary source of NOTAM information
The primary source of NOTAM information is the NATS Aeronautical Information Service (AIS) web site. Access to the AIS site is available to all pilots, although on-line registration is required before you can use the site. Other, more easily accessible web-based options are available. These use the same data as the NATS AIS site.
The NATS AIS web site contains many facilities but it is not always clear how best to obtain the information that you require. There is a user guide published on the AIS site. If in doubt, refer to the detailed AIS guide.
Should the NATS AIS web site be unavailable for any reason, a pre-prepared PIB can be downloaded for the London and Scottish Flight Information Regions (FIRs). These pre-prepared briefings will not be as up to date as the ones above which are prepared on-demand. The pre-prepared briefings should therefore only be used as a contingency measure.
Web-based, easy to interpret NOTAM information
There are other websites that incorporate NOTAM information into visually rich and quite advanced flight planning tools that can be tailored for a particular flight. An example is ‘Skydemon’. Other (free) examples are ‘AirspaceAvoid’ and ‘Notaminfo’. Users of all NOTAM websites are urged to satisfy themselves that the NOTAM information they are referring to is up to date.
Restricted Areas (Temporary) are a regular feature within UK airspace. A common example of a RA(T) is when an air display needs protection from other activity. The RA(T) will be notified in advance through NOTAM and all pilots must comply with the requirements. Usually that means avoiding a specific volume of airspace for a particular period. RA(T)’s are also notified through Temporary Airspace Restrictions listed within specific Aeronautical Information Circulars (AIC) on the NATS AIS website.