NOTAM Upgrade Coming, Possibly In Your Lifetime

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Pilots have long been frustrated by the FAA's Notice-to-Airmen system, which conveys vital safety-of-flight information formatted for teletype machines, cluttered with archaic acronyms, distributed via hard copy and lacking graphics. Now the FAA says that by 2009, NOTAMs will be reorganized into a single federal system that is compliant with international standards. It will take another decade for the system to incorporate full digital and graphic capabilities, the FAA said on Monday. Those capabilities will be required for the Next Generation Air Transportation System, FAA officials said. According to the Aeronautical Information Management (AIM) unit, which is part of the FAA's Air Traffic Organization, NOTAM users have complained that the notices include too much data with not enough meaningful information, they should be easier to read and to find, they use too many data formats, local NOTAMs are not electronically distributed, and the messages are not always distributed in a timely manner. Barry Davis of the AIM unit said there is "a lot of work" to do, and appealed for continued customer feedback. He can be reached at (202) 267-9201.