September 30, 2019

Canada is transitioning to the ICAO NOTAM format; here’s 3 things you should know.

In October 2019, NAV CANADA will transition to the ICAO NOTAM format, a significant change that will impact NOTAM users. It is important that everyone understands and prepares for the coming change.

A notice to airmen (NOTAM) is a memo that informs pilots of important updates and potential hazards to note for a specific flight – anything from nearby construction cranes to rocket launches. Currently, all NOTAMs in Canada are distributed in what’s called the Canadian domestic NOTAM format.

Starting October 10 2019, NAV CANADA will begin distributing all Canadian domestic NOTAMs using the ICAO format, putting Canada in line with the international standard. This change means pilots who fly international routes don’t need to familiarize themselves with the Canadian domestic NOTAM format anymore. It’s the first step towards improving how pilots retrieve NOTAMS, with added functionality such as advanced search and filtering to come.

More details and information about the transition to the ICAO NOTAM format can be found on the NAV CANADA ICAO NOTAM web page. Below, we summarise the three things you should know to prepare you for the October 10th changes.

1. The Canadian domestic NOTAM format will no longer be used.

All Canadian domestic NOTAMs will be distributed in ICAO NOTAM format only.

There are some differences between the Canadian domestic NOTAM and the ICAO NOTAM; however, the information contained remains the same. The following three examples show NOTAMs written in current Canadian domestic format and in the corresponding ICAO NOTAM format. As you can see from the highlighted NOTAM information, most of the content in the Canadian domestic NOTAM format also appears in the ICAO NOTAM format, which divides the information into eight standardized sections.

2. You’ll need to access NOTAMs on CFPS.

NOTAMs will no longer be accessed on NAV CANADA’s Aviation Weather Web Site. As of October 10th, in order to access NOTAMs from a NAV CANADA web site, you’ll will need to go to NAV CANADA Collaborative Flight Planning Services (CFPS). The NOTAM retrieval tool is available on a section of CFPS – a new tab called “Weather” – which does not require a login (you will still need a CFPS account to file flight plans online.) This tab includes certain weather products such as METAR and TAF, so that weather information and NOTAMs can be recalled with a single query. You can even type in an origin and destination to get information for your entire flight path.

If you use a third-party tool to access NOTAMs, they will also switch to the ICAO format at this time.

3. NOTAMs will now be geographically-referenced.

A key difference between the ICAO NOTAM format and the previous approach is that NOTAMs will now be geographically-referenced, rather than based on NOTAM Files. Georeferencing is a process that determines a NOTAM’s impacted location based on geographic coordinates, and will be done for National, FIR and Aerodrome NOTAMs.

Using CFPS, you will be able to search for NOTAMs by entering an Aerodrome ID, NAVAID, FIR, or geographic coordinates, with an optional desired radius around these points of interest. You’ll will also be able to enter a flight route and receive all NOTAMs which geographically intersect the route. NOTAMs for an aerodrome will no longer be associated to another aerodrome’s NOTAM File, and the concept of a NOTAM File will cease to exist.

For details on these changes and other important information, visit

One Comment

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