Whenever you are planning to fly your Drone, you are required by the Air Navigation Order to check for NOTAMS. It is a simple process and one designed to keep you and other airspace users safe.
What is a NOTAM?
A NOTAM is a 'Notice to Airmen' –it is a notice that contains pertinent information, to help increase Air Safety for all that use it, from Drone Operators to Military Pilots. They indicate the real-time status of the National Airspace System (NAS) impacting every user.
NOTAMs concern the establishment, condition, or change of any facility, service, procedure or hazard in the NAS.
They can be issued as one of the following....
- Warning -Operators are made aware of a particular activity being undertaken at a defined place and time
- Avoid -Which must be adhered to, this is required by law. ( Air Navigation Order, Article 239)
NOTAMs are issued (and reported) for a number of reasons, such as:
- Hazards such as air shows, parachute jumps, kite flying, etc.
- Flights by VIPs such as heads of state (sometimes referred to as Temporary Flight Restrictions, TFRs)
- Closed runways
- Inoperable radio navigational aids
- Military exercises with resulting airspace restrictions
- Temporary erection of obstacles near airfields (e.g., cranes)
- Passage of flocks of birds through airspace (known as a BIRDTAM)
- Notifications of snow, ice, and standing water (a SNOWTAM)
The majority of NOTAMs that are issued are warnings, and it is the responsibility of the Drone Operator to ensure that all NOTAMs are checked before conducting each flight to ensure that there are no NOTAMs to affect.
How do I check for NOTAMs?
You can easily check for NOTAMs at the website address below. It is a free service that is run by donations, so if you do use the service, consider sending a donation via the home page. 👍
The Map of the UK's NOTAMs generally looks like the image below. The UK is a bustling country when it comes to airspace, and there is usually something happening only within a few miles of wherever you are based.
This particular website allows you to zoom further down into the area that may be of relevance to yourself. Also, on the right-hand side, you can choose to view all of the Aerodrome traffic Zones (ATZ) and Military Aerodrome traffic Zones (MATZ), which can be invaluable in finding out who's airspace you may be in.
Below is an example of a NOTAM at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire on 02 Jul 2022 from 18:45 GMT (19:45 BST) TO: 02 Jul 2022 19:30 GMT (20:30 BST)
The NOTAM is also in place between the Surface and 4000 feet due to an airshow. Furthermore, it also tells us it is valid for 2 nautical miles from the coordinates provided as Latitude and Longitude. It also provides you with a contact number, should you need to contact the organiser regarding the NOTAM.
This NOTAM is a warning, so it is advisory that you don't fly your aircraft in this area, during these times. If you need to operate your drone, we advise you to call the number provided on the NOTAM to seek permission.
Lastly, you can also see the Oxford Airport ATZ and RAF Brize Norton MATZ and where their border lies. ( blue circles)
If you are flying close to an ATZ or an MATZ you may need to unlock your DJI aircraft, find out how by clicking this link.
Submit your own NOTAM
It is possible to submit a NOTAM for approval by National Air Traffic Services (NATS), should you require it for your drone operations.
There is a standard format that is used as outlined below:
- A) Reference Number which you create
- B) Location in Text + Grid or Lat/Long
- C) YYMMDD Start (Specify Local Time if required, or it will be published in GMT)
- D) YYMMDD End (Specify Local Time if required, or it will be published in GMT)
- E) Activity, Airspace Requested and Contact Details
You should then submit the NOTAM request to email@example.com
Or alternatively, call them on +44 (0)20 8750 3775 for Non-Permanent NOTAM Proposals.
Some software designed for drone operations does already include all the information in regards to NOTAMs, but the website http://notaminfo.com/ukmap is useful for checking in advance on mobile or a desktop; it can be accessed from any device with an internet connection.
You should always check for NOTAMs, even as a hobbyist flyer as you don't always know what might be happening in the airspace around you.
Checking for NOTAMs only takes a few minutes, and it can provide valuable information.