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US Aerial Surveillance Impaired Off The East Coast Until October 1st Due To "Military Activities"

Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog, 

A notam issued Sept. 1 announced that, beginning Sept. 2, both ADS-B surveillance and TCAS may be unreliable in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, as well as in airspace extending approximately 200 nautical miles off shore. The situation is expected to last through Oct. 1 as a result of military exercises in the area.

 

But similar military exercises in the past have caused no interference with civilian ADS-B or TCAS, and AOPA is asking the FAA to explain both why the notam was issued so late and what has changed to raise these new concerns.

 

“We are working to get answers for our members,” said Rune Duke, AOPA director of air traffic and airspace. “This notam has caused considerable alarm and much confusion, while giving pilots little time to prepare. The long duration, ambiguous language, and short notice of this notam are all cause for serious concern. We have spoken with representatives of the FAA and the Department of Defense and will continue to pursue this until we get the answers pilots need.”

 

– From the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association release: AOPA Seeks Answers About ADS-B Notam

This is not my area of expertise, so I encourage readers to do their own research and decide for themselves whether or not this concerning. Given the fact so many people are extremely skittish about “something happening” this month, I thought it was curious enough to share.

In a nutshell, it appears that aerial surveillance across much of the East Coast will be impaired until October 1 due to “military activities.” We learn from the NBAA (National Business Aviation Association) that:

TCAS, ADS-B Unreliable in Southeast U.S. Beginning Sept. 2

Sept. 1, 2015

 

Due to military activities, the TCAS and ADS-B surveillance may be unreliable in the airspace over Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, and extending approximately 200 nautical miles offshore, from 1 a.m. EDT (0500z) Sept. 2 until midnight EDT (0459z) on Oct. 1.

 

Pilots are advised that the traffic alert and TCAS may fail to establish tracks on nearby aircraft and may fail to receive traffic alerts (TA) or resolution advisories (RA). Operators should be aware that tracks may first appear within close proximity to their aircraft, and may immediately go into TA/RA status.

 

Pilots are advised to maintain an increased visual awareness in this area. If operators believe that an aircraft should have triggered an alert, the incident should be reported to air traffic control as soon as possible.

 

This is due to a late notice Department of Defense exercise, and NBAA has voiced its concern to the FAA that these sort of significant impact tests need much more notice to operators in the NAS.

The NOTAM numbers are as follows:

  • 5/2817 New York Center (ZNY)
  • 5/2818 Washington Center (ZDC)
  • 5/2819 Jacksonville Center (ZJX)
  • 5/2820 Miami Center (ZMA)
  • 5/2834 NY Oceanic (ZWY)

Text from the ZNY NOTAM:

 

FDC 5/2817 (KZNY A0369/15) ZNY VA..SPECIAL NOTICE…DUE TO MILITARY ACTIVITIES ON 1030/1090 MHZ, THE TRAFFIC ALERT AND COLLISION AVOIDANCE SYSTEM (TCAS) AND AUTOMATIC DEPENDENT SYSTEM BROADCAST (ADS-B) SURVEILLANCE MAY BE UNRELIABLE IN THE AIRSPACE OVER THE STATES OF VIRGINIA, NORTH CAROLINA, SOUTH CAROLINA, GEORGIA, AND FLORIDA, AND EXTENDING APPROXIMATELY 200NM OFFSHORE. PILOTS ARE ADVISED THAT THE TRAFFIC ALERT AND COLLISION AVOIDANCE SYSTEM (TCAS) MAY FAIL TO ESTABLISH TRACKS ON NEARBY AIRCRAFT AND MAY FAIL TO RECEIVE TRAFFIC ALERTS (TA) AND/OR RESOLUTION ADVISORIES (RA). FURTHER, PILOTS ARE ADVISED THAT TRACKS MAY FIRST APPEAR WITHIN CLOSE PROXIMITY TO THEIR AIRCRAFT AND MAY IMMEDIATELY GO INTO TA/RA STATUS. FALSE ALERTS ARE NOT EXPECTED TO BE GENERATED BY THIS MILITARY ACTIVITY AND ANY ALERTS SHALL BE TREATED AS REAL. PILOTS ARE ADVISED TO MAINTAIN AN INCREASED VISUAL AWARENESS IN THIS AREA. IF THE PILOT BELIEVES THAT AN AIRCRAFT SHOULD HAVE TRIGGERED AN ALERT, THE INCIDENCE SHOULD BE REPORTED TO AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL AT THE EARLIEST OPPORTUNE MOMENT. SFC-FL500 1509020500-1510010459

Apparently, this is concerning enough that AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) is asking for answers. From AOPA.org:

September 4, 2015 

By  Elizabeth A Tennyson

 

AOPA is trying to get to the bottom of ambiguous notam language and determine why the aviation community was given just one day’s advance notice of military exercises that could make Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) and TCAS unreliable along a significant portion of the East Coast for a month.

 

A notam issued Sept. 1 announced that, beginning Sept. 2, both ADS-B surveillance and TCAS may be unreliable in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, as well as in airspace extending approximately 200 nautical miles off shore. The situation is expected to last through Oct. 1 as a result of military exercises in the area.

 

But similar military exercises in the past have caused no interference with civilian ADS-B or TCAS, and AOPA is asking the FAA to explain both why the notam was issued so late and what has changed to raise these new concerns.

 

“We are working to get answers for our members,” said Rune Duke, AOPA director of air traffic and airspace. “This notam has caused considerable alarm and much confusion, while giving pilots little time to prepare. The long duration, ambiguous language, and short notice of this notam are all cause for serious concern. We have spoken with representatives of the FAA and the Department of Defense and will continue to pursue this until we get the answers pilots need.”

 

The wording of the notam has led many general aviation pilots to believe that ADS-B-based traffic information might not be available to them. But the notam does not specify any interference with 978 MHz ADS-B systems, which are most commonly used by light GA aircraft.

 

As a result pilots should continue to have access to TIS-B and FIS-B services. The greatest impact will be on aircraft using 1090 MHz ADS-B systems or TCAS, which are primarily used by larger, faster aircraft operating in the flight levels. Air traffic controllers will help ensure separation between military and civilian traffic during the exercises, and no delays or reductions in ATC services are anticipated.

At the very least, this is certainly something to be aware of... especially inlight of Chinese warships in The Bering Sea for the first time ever.