Does anyone, besides me, think the Notam system is a mess? One of our senior staff members planned short VFR hop from Frederick to Ocean City, NJ. It’s about 130 nm as the buzzard flies but there were, get this, 73 pages of Notams. I didn’t think our aviation system was that decrepit but so it was. There was all the usual foolishness about towers 7 miles from the airport, 150 feet agl, that had been unlit for months.
The ever-popular 26N RWY 6/24 PAEW ADJ [translated - Ocean City, NJ, runways 6 -24 personnel and equipment working adjacent]. Almost every airport has that Notam. It is very popular with airport managers who can put virtually anything into the system and leave it there for as long as their lawyers tell them. Something insignificant might change and the airport could get sued for something. News flash – Any society that needs disclaimers has too many lawyers.” ~Erik Pepke.
But there was one sleeper buried in all the meaningless drivel that WAS important. 26N AD CLSD- translated means the aerodrome (AD) is closed (i.e you can’t land here – Jack !) Seems like we could have put that into plain English at the top of the heap but the Notam trolls prefer to pounce when you least expect it!
It would seem that the system really isn’t there for safety and to notify pilots of operational issues. Perhaps I’m a bit cynical but it sure appears that it’s there more to protect the authorities from any conceivable threat for failure to warn. This keeps officialdom off the hook because of FAR 91.103 that states “Each Pilot-in-Command shall, before beginning a flight, become familiar with all available information concerning that flight.” Everything – no matter how obscure.
On a recent VFR flight I called FSS to check TFRs and Notams and was advised, after considerable non-pertinent ones, that operations on Runway 26 were dangerous. “Dangerous? ”
I asked, “How so?” The briefer responded ” Doesn’t Say.”
Hmmmmm. “Is the runway closed?” ” No”
“I’m confused,” I opined. ” Well, I think there’s work being done on the airport and the tower doesn’t want anyone to get hurt.”
FAA has been promising to fix this over-warning, under-informing system for years but never quite gets the jobs done. There is always some constituency that just has to have a particular Notam. Apparently there is no common sense left on how to manage it.
Alas, that shortcoming may not be unique to aviation!