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NTSB says Notams are "just a pile of garbage" [video]

NTSB Board Chairman, at the Air Canada 759 hearing into the SFO attempted taxiway landing explains that NOTAMs are "just a pile of garbage that no one pays any attention to" "written in some kind of language that only a computer programmer would really understand. Just pages and pages and pages of irrelevant material, the important stuff gets buried." ( More...

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wingbolt 26
I have known that NOTAMS were garbage for years. But a United States Governmental Official making a valid point has me perplexed and worried. What could possibly be next?
bentwing60 15
"But a United States Governmental Official making a valid point has me perplexed and worried". Winner, bar none!
wingbolt 3
All kidding aside, most NOTAMS that are airport specific are actually issued by the controlling agency over the airport itself, not the FAA. I would be the last person to ever give the FAA a break but it’s the format itself that they are responsible for.

The actual culprit in this is the airport itself. As they continue to grab every tax dollar they can get their hands on and fleece the American taxpayer as they continue to make in my opinion unnecessary airport changes. All the concrete in the world won’t help ORD or ATL when the weather goes down.

I went into KCI once and 2 of the 3 runways were closed for construction and at that time the airport was a ghost town. Every taxiway closely associated to the closed runways had a NOTAM issued for it. It would have better and safer if there was one blanket statement that said “you better watch your @ss because a bunch of crap is tore the he** up”.

To add another wrinkle to it when these NOTAMS make it to the ATIS it becomes a safety issue in its own right. 250 Knots below 10,000 feet equates to just slightly over 4 miles a minute. A single pilot CJ4 will cover 12 miles during a 3 minute ATIS while trying to listen to 2 frequencies. And if you miss something in the ATIS it’s another 12 miles for each retry. It’s a huge safety issue when in flying in high density areas.

At one time the controller handbook set a max limit for the ATIS at 3 minutes. Some are now going past 4. My first child was born in 1982 and for her first birthday we purchased a toy that had a pullstring on it to teach her animal sounds. The voice on it was many times better than the voice on the ATIS frequency. I have also been told that the actual weather portion of the ATIS is a cut and paste so we end up with all the crap at the end that has nothing to do with the issue at hand. I have absolutely no interest in the sea level preassure in Denver.

A flood of calls to the Aviation Safety Hotline might make some awareness to the issue. I doubt it will change anything.
bentwing60 2
wb., I'd say you have a better grasp of the NOTAM system than many and I agree with all your points. Might help some if the circus barker types slowed down the bark to a pace that allowed one to write down a pertinent piece of data without missing the rest of the ATIS., then we might not have to listen to it again. Moved to RBD yet? Cheers.
wingbolt 2
Haven’t been back to Dallas for quite some time. As far as I know the increased fees at DAL have been delayed. Probably not stopped but only delayed.
Atanu Dey 1
What could possibly be next?

The end times. Apocalypse. God alone knows what else.
bbabis 17
Pretty much how everyone in the aviation industry feels except the FAA. They want to say everything so they can always say, "WE told you so."

Also, let's work on getting audiobooks off ATIS broadcasts!
bartmiller 15
No argument that a briefing presents a ton of NOTAMs, most of which are irrelevant.

Though the ForeFlight EFB app does a nice job of presenting the runway status NOTAMs clearly. And separating them by category. Hopefully other EFBs, like Jepp, do the same.
geroldn 15
As a private pilot in Vermont, I routinely get NOTAMS about military air space in North Korea and Syria, as well as volcano activity in Japan; this for a 200 mile flight in New England. What I really need to know (does the airport I'm going to have fuel? are the runways open? is the instrument landing system operational for my flight?) is buried together in 20 pages of NOTAMs.
Birds? - there are always birds at airports.
Mowing? - there is always mowing in summer.
Towers? - there are always unlit towers, that's why I don't fly at 100' above the ground.
Chart corrections? - don't need them for Seattle or Phoenix, I'm in Vermont... the list goes on.
ADXbear 29
DUH... what do you think us dispatchers have been coping with for decades.. its way past time to revamp the NOTAM system that makes them practical for everyone to read and comprehend Quickly.. as we flight plan, and the data we send to the crews..

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

ToddBaldwin3 3
I don't think I've seen that many down votes since Mr. Hartman graced these pages with his presence.
bentwing60 8
You, sir, are a twit. ADXbear is spot on, and from a pilots standpoint, try sortin that stuff out after you have changed alternates, maybe twice!
geroldn 8
The issue is they are only 90% 'garbage' and that the 'garbage' hides the relevant notices. AND what is relevant for one pilot is not relevant for the other pilot.
I don't understand what NOTAMs have to do with this incident. Open your eyes WATCH WHERE YOU ARE LANDING !!! All the rest are excuses for sloppiness!
Randy Brown 4
All the FAA is doing with NOTAMS is covering their @$$. They are mind numbing to read because there is so much irrelevant information. Human nature is to gloss over such a pile of garbage. It takes a clear mind, a lot of time and dedication to find the needles buried there. It’s like saying here’s a pile of sand pan carefully through it it MAY contain gold.
robert cook 4
Wow, even the NTSB can see the FAA is BROKEN! They could not fix the class Three medicals,some bureaucratic Doctors know more about your health and require expensive tests that your own doctors think are a waste and keep pilots grounded. Aircraft are required to meet type certificates the were written 50-60-70 years ago and by god don't allow modern technology get in the way. Oh and think about it this a GPS for your car costs $140.00 +- but one for your aircraft cost $15.000.00 +- thousands then pay for the install. The Pilot population is falling like a rock (GEE I wonder why?). Soon at this rate there will be very few American pilots in the Airlines.
Evey Pilot and A&P or AI agree the FAA isn't Happy :), till your UNHAPPY:( says a mouthful about the FAA). The Notam issue is only one more stick on the funeral fire for aviation in America unless Congress cleans house and gets some common sense management in there. If they don't I hope you like boating.
John Wilson 3
Much of the NOTAM “junk” (100-foot crane) is the result of our legal system. If you can’t demonstrate “well, we TOLD them” after some doofus hits the thing, the lawyers & their multi million lawsuits will swarm big time.
dasflies 1
Bingo. So I think the fix is organizing the information better to show the really important stuff at the top.
scoutpilot 5
The NTSB comment is unfair to garbage
w2bsa 2
I use NOTAMS to know when I can fly model airplanes. Yes, folks it’s there. There is so much shorthand garbage in there that just simply trying to find out if I can fly that day because there has been a Security zone set up gets ridiculous. For safety, this information has to be put into plain English and tailored for route and airport.
I agree with the Chairman. There is most certainly some very important information in the NOTAMS that I need to know. But the Goobledeygook I have to go through to find that information is unacceptable.

It's way past time to fix this system.
thebigt2 notams have 2-3 word summary on right column to allow quick scanning for important ones. Super handy.
Joseph Adams 3
If you think we have it bad, hop over to Eurocontrol and take a glance at the UK's active NOTAMs. It is not inconceivable to see references to leaky kitchen faucets.
bartmiller 3
That's awesome. (In the most depressing sort of way.)
Joseph Adams 1
Some of them border on the hilarious.

A really good interactive map:
Concur NOTAMS are a waste
AndreV 1
In this day and age there shouldn't be a reason why we can't upload up to the minute NOTAM information to an airliner "on the fly"! (no pun intended). Providing the ability to present up to the minute info to the crew that is relevant to the arrival airport and/or alternates while en-route so that it can briefed before the approach phase commences should be a priority for any OEM and for the airlines!
Dennis Rhodes 1
Thats the understatement of the year! Glad to see an FAA official has finally realized that. All they are is a CYA for FAA. Please revamp for some valid info that the pilot can actually use.
Robert Fleury 1
What are we all talking about here? I haven't been around for a while but I have just listen to the SFA D-ATIS frequency spelling loud and clear "runway… closed, taxiway… closed, etc. How can anyone rely on a NOTAM read in an office 9, 10, 15 hours before arriving at a destination. If I'm not mistaking, that's w3hat the ATIS system was developed for: "live" situations at an airport that may affect flights operations.
bentwing60 1
Because those NOTAMs have an effective date, and when that effective date is for an extended period of time they will no longer be part of the ATIS. Depends on the facility, but some of those NOTAMs may be significant on a 200 & 1/2 day, maybe not so much in the case of a marginal or VFR day. Especially local NOTAMs. No broad dissemination.
Robert Fleury 1
Understood. No visual approach at night maybe without ILS monitoring?
steve lowy 1
What do Notams have to do with this instance of the pilot lining up and trying to land on the taxiway!
skylab72 1
Gray hair perspective might see the NOTAM "system" as a pre-digital attempt at information automation that is currently swamped for lack of bandwidth since it was built for two orders of magnitude or less demand. However, the challenge remains in a fundamental conflict in the mission of the FAA, promote aviation or safeguard the flying public. This a government agency folks, how can they possibly have effective problem-solving transparency, and not scare the $hit out of the geese???
I'm glad to finally hear someone say it. NOTAMs are an classic example of TOO MUCH INFORMATION, kind of like the "agreements" you "accept" when installing software; do you really read all of that? They key to effective NOTAMs is coding them so that they can be accurately displayed based on the airports and route in the flight plan and the only abbreviate to the extent it is faster and easier to read. And chart NOTAMs should be coded so that they can be displayed graphically. Jeppesen and others have certainly tried to display NOTAMs intelligently, but they can only do so to the extent that the underlying data supports it.
AAaviator 1
Here Here!!
jagerardi 1
They might be garbage, but I don't know a single pilot that doesn't pay them heed.

James Ring 2
Which ones? There are so many, nobody reads them all. I'm looking at a briefing I got for a 200 mile flight the other day and there are hundreds of them.
gatorbuc99 -9
I couldn’t disagree any more w/ the chairman, and I’m surprised at his unprofessionalism in stating “[NOTAMS]...are just a pile of garbage nobody reads”. What an ABSURD statement.

That’s a different conversation than pursuing a revamp of the system in the pursuit of improvements, a goal that should be sought in every facet of aviation.

Digging through some extraneous information to find what you need really isn’t that much to ask. It’s certainly not gonna work if you overlook something that results in an incident when the investigators throw FAR 91.103 at you.

Fly safe, people.
Dale Hill 2
I think that statement is misinterpreted. They have become a pile of garbage no one can decifer or even reads them all. There’s no time to read every single one. If you tell me that you read every single one I would question your honesty. Most everyone might scan them all but will only refer back to them as needed. Most pick and choose what they need rather than reading every single one. There needs to be a overhaul of the notams simplifying only essentials. There’s so much crap masking the important stuff. Most pilots have developed they’re own technique of scavenging through the garbage.
In aviation the important stuff is in the smallest print and hardest to find
Dennis Wilt 0
I couldn't agree more. Just too much extraneous stuff that is not pertinent to my flight. You have to dig to get the really important NOTAMs. Many people just don't bother, and that can cause big problems.
bruce barton -1
The notam system like EMR electronic medical records at your hospital is kindly delivered by and for trial attorneys ready to get the pilot and medical pro, alike. When you read Notams about heliports hundreds of miles away remember that!


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