Knowing Your NOTAMS:
As more and more pilots move to using 21st century technology to obtain weather briefings, more and more pilots will have to decipher the abbreviations used in NOTAMs (Notices to Airmen) on their own. Of course, a fair number of pilots will still choose to have their 21st century technology translate the NOTAM for them, but many others find it faster to read the shorthand version of the NOTAM as it is transmitted.
It really isn’t an overly daunting task to read NOTAMs in their raw format, and for those who do so, it’s good to know about new abbreviations as they’re added. It’s also important to know where to find a comprehensive list of the abbreviations. See the FAA’s website for a list of current NOTAM abbreviations.
One new abbreviation that hasn’t made it to the FAA’s NOTAM lexicon yet that you may see is “FICON”. It is the abbreviation for “Field Conditions”. The reason given for its inception is so that pilots and dispatchers can more easily find, in a lengthy list of NOTAMs, any information pertaining to an airport’s surface conditions.
“Field condition” (FICON) NOTAMs are used to report surface contaminants on runways, taxiways, and aprons/ramps.” JO 7930.93, October 20, 2011.The FICON abbreviation is placed immediately following the airport surface to which it applies, i.e a runway, ramp or taxiway. Here are some examples of how you will see “FICON” used as we embark into another season of winter weather conditions:
!HFD HFD TWY ALL FICON PTCHY THN PACKED SN BA FAIR WEF 1201201650
!HFD HFD RWY 11/29 FICON THN PTCHY PSR BA POOR
!BAF BAF RWY 15/33 FICON PTCHY THN WSR
!OQU OQU RWY 16/34 FICON PLW 100 WIDE RMNDR 1/2 IN SIR
“Note: PLW/swept are used when indicating that a portion of a surface has been plowed or swept and is either bare or has depth, coverage, and conditions different than the surrounding area. When known, the surrounding area items will be specified as RMNDR and listed after the plowed information. Plowed/swept is omitted when the entire runway, taxiway, ramp or apron has been plowed.”
!BDL BDL RWY 6/24 FICON 5 IN SIR
!IJD IJD RWY 9/27 FICON 1 IN RUF IR
!OXC OXC RWY 18/36 FICON 1/2 IN SIR
!BDL BDL RWY 1/19 FICON 1 IN SLR
A list of NOTAM contractions may be found in the AIM (Aeronautical Information Manual) Table 5-1-1, and a comprehensive list of FAA contractions and abbreviations may be found in the current version of FAA Order JO 7340.
Article by: Terry Keller Jr.