Crews using the new Gander Oceanic Transition Area (GOTA)—an extra flight information region (FIR) boundary adjacent to the North Atlantic airspace and inland fixes into the U.S.—can expect air traffic system updates that began last spring to continue throughout the remainder of this year. The continuous improvements in GOTA, created within the Gander oceanic control area, are the result of new flight data processing and datalink capabilities that include the establishment of new smaller sectors in eastern Canada for improved service.
Crews can expect more fixes within the Gander FIR as a whole eventually to reduce track spacing from the current one degree to the new half-degree spacing required to implement reduced lateral separation minimums (RlatSM), according to Mark Miller, senior manager of technical planning at Universal Weather. Trials on those new North Atlantic tracks will begin first between FL350 and FL390 and later at all altitudes above FL290.
To make room for more aircraft per hour, Nav Canada has also created a number of new North Atlantic routes to access the North Atlantic Tracks (NATs). Gander will also issue new controller pilot datalink communication routings active on the NATs via notams, although not every new routing will be active all the time. Miller emphasized that unless crews include the new routes when they file a flight plan the system will kick back the entire flight plan. Flight management systems must also be kept updated to uplink flight plans and should guarantee all new waypoints will be usable, something that also allows crews to see potential issues downstream at destination airports.