Many of us are not checking NOTAMS

Dale Nielsen


It appears that many of us are not checking to see if there are any NOTAMs that apply to the airports we intend to depart from or arrive at.

A Dash 8 was taxiing for departure at Conklin, AB (CET2) and while turning into position for Runway 09, one main landing gear went off of the manoeuvring surface, disabling the aircraft. The first 751 feet of the runway was closed by NOTAM.

The Gulfstream Aerospace 695B when taxiing for departure at Campbell River, BC (CYBL), backtracked approximately 300 feet onto the closed portion of CYBL Runway 11. The aircraft was notified by the Campbell River FSS that he was in the closed portion. The pilot apologized and taxied into the open portion of the runway before departing.

A spray plane departed Brooks, AB (CYBP) almost hitting a crack filling crew on the runway. The runway was NOTAMed close.

The pilot of a Cessna 172, departed the Revelstoke, BC (CYRV) Airport at 1745Z when there was a NOTAM in effect closing the runway due to snow removal until 2000Z.

A Boeing 727-223 departed Moncton, NB (CYQM) from a runway closed by a NOTAM.

A Piper Navajo PA 31 departed Stony Rapids, SK (CYSF) while a NOTAM was in effect restricting airspace within 10 miles of CYSF to fire suppression aircraft.

A Maule M7 was en route to Springbank, AB (CYBW) when the pilot diverted to Pincher Creek, AB (CZPC) due to deteriorating weather. After seeing men and equipment on the runway the pilot landed on the new taxiway instead. The runway is NOTAM’d closed for construction until the 17th of August.

The Vans RV-6A aircraft was on a VFR flight to Oshawa, ON Municipal Airport (CYOO) with a planned fuel stop at Elliot Lake Municipal Airport (CYEL). The pilot had obtained a weather briefing and fax package from Winnipeg FIC staff, but was not informed that the runway at the intended en-route fuel stop (Elliot Lake Municipal Airport) was NOTAM’d closed for drag racing. Someone from the airport contacted the pilot while the aircraft was on approach at Elliot Lake and informed him of the closure.

The pilot of a Cessna 150M aircraft attempted to land the aircraft on a closed part of the runway at North Bay, ON (CYYB). North Bay FSS staff advised the pilot to pull up and land long.

The pilot of a Cessna 172 landed at North Battleford, AB (CYQW) between 1415 - 1430z while there was a runway closure in effect as advertised by NOTAM. The pilot had not been made aware of the subject NOTAM when he was briefed by FIC.

A Cessna 152 VFR Campbell River, BC (CYBL), landed in the closed portion of Runway 11. The aircraft was very low on final approach over the top of multiple vehicles and work men operating in the closed portion of the Runway. The pilot was advised the NOTAM stating that the first 1,000 feet was closed during his initial airport advisory from Campbell River FSS.

The Cessna 172 aircraft was on a VFR flight to London, ON International Airport (CYXU). The aircraft landed on the closed portion of Runway 09. A NOTAM had been issued for displacing the runway threshold.

An Air Tractor AT-401 was inbound to Yorkton, SK (CYQV) and the pilot was given an airport advisory from Regina FSS that Runway 03/21 was closed. The pilot advised he would land on Runway 12/30. After a low pass at CYQV, the pilot reported that there were vehicles on Runway 12/30 and he elected to land on Runway 03/21. No vehicles requested or were given permission to occupy Runway 12/30. Aerodrome Safety reported that a NOTAM for line painting on Runway 03/21 and a displaced threshold for Runway 12 at Yorkton was in effect at the time of occurrence. Since the threshold for Runway 12 and about 200 feet beyond it makes up a portion of Runway 30/21, airport maintenance personnel were not in violation of the NOTAM. In fact, the pilot of the Air Tractor should have made his approach over the painting crew and landed on the 2,700 feet available to him on Runway 12.

The North Bay FIC reported that a Cessna 208 Caravan landed at Chesterfield Inlet, NU (CYCS) airport while the runway was closed as per NOTAM.

The Diamond Aircraft Industries DV-20 Eclipse aircraft was on a VFR flight to London International Airport (CYXU). The aircraft did a touch and go on closed portion of Runway 09. A current NOTAM was in effect for closing part of the runway to displace the runway threshold.

As we have seen by the previous example, there are many reasons why an airport can issue a NOTAM: the airport, a runway, taxiway or ramp may be closed for construction; the airport may be closed for a special event, such as an air show or for drag racing; the runway or taxiways are snow covered or snow removal operations are in progress; the AWOS is not operating; there may be a frequency change for the FSS, CARS or Unicom, or a frequency may be out of service; the airport may be within a forest fire suppression area or the smoke from a forest fire may be severely restricting visibility at the airport; or for any other reason that may affect the safety of all or part of an airport.

We get complacent. Airports, or parts of them, are very seldom closed. NOTAMs are often hard to read and sometimes there are so many of them that don’t apply to us that we just skip all of them.

FIC specialists often ask us if we have, or wish to have, the latest NOTAMs for our route of flight when we get our weather briefing. They may not ask. It is written in the CARs that it is up to us to get all of the information that pertains to our flight.

Failure to get the current pertinent NOTAMs may result in embarrassment, a reprimand from the “authorities” or even an accident.