Wednesday, January 27, 2010

This post is for you Lou...Use of a satellite telephone for normal oceanic position reports/requests has finally been approved!

Inmarsat-3 providing satcom service for aircraft
TWA Captain Lou Burns indicated to me in a private e-mail he remains interested in the latest developments in flying the North Atlantic.  One of the latest improvements that just happened in September 2009 is the ability to use satellite telephones to deliver the normal position reports and requests formerly given by High Frequency (HF) radio.  We no longer have to endure the some times tedious effort required when using the HF radios.  The quality of the reception by the phone is far superior to that of the HF radio which makes it much easier to fully understand clearances. It is definitely a work load reducer for the crew.

The following appears in the latest version of the North Atlantic Minimum Navigation Performance Operations Manual edition 2009:

"6.1.14 Following successful trials, SATCOM ATS air/ground voice may now be used for any routine, non-routine or emergency communications throughout the NAT Region. State AIPs contain the necessary telephone numbers and/or short-codes for air-initiated call access to aeradio stations and/or direct to OACs. Since oceanic traffic typically communicate with ATC through aeradio facilities, a SATCOM call made due to unforeseen inability to communicate by other means should be made to such a facility rather than the ATC Centre, unless the urgency of the communication dictates otherwise...." 

Well Lou, it finally happened.  It is now possible to use satellite phones to make normal oceanic position reports and requests. 
In my next post, I will discuss automated oceanic position reports.