IVAO Gander / Shanwick Oceanic


Pilot Procedures


A brief example flight is laid out below to aid with the comprehension of Oceanic procedures from the pilot's seat. We also have an Oceanic planning chart (© www.planningcharts.de) with sample information for crossing the North Atlantic.
Pilot training sessions are available after a registration into the IVAO UK Training System. For further details have a look here.

These step by step instructions will show you how to file an oceanic flight plan correctly, using the example flight of BAW188 from Newark Liberty International Airport (KEWR) to London Heathrow (EGLL).

1. Selecting the NAT
2. Domestic Routes
    2.1 Domestic Departure
    2.2 Domestic Arrival
3. The complete route
4. Oceanic clearance
    4.1 Voice clearance
    4.2 Datalink clearance
5. Entering the NAT
6. En-route in the track
7. Level changes in Oceanic airspace
8. Leaving the NAT
9. Random Route
10. Flight Planning Procedures

Extra: Concorde Pilot Procedures


Pay attention: The times you report to oceanic ATC have to be in actual UTC time!


1. Selecting the NAT

The NATs change twice a day, at 0100z and 1130z, which makes planning on the day of the flight essential.
Updated NATs are available here.

For this example let's say the following eastbound NATs are current:

Track U -- VIXUN LOGSU 49/50 51/40 53/30 54/20 DOGAL BABAN
Track V -- YYT NOVEP 48/50 50/40 52/30 53/20 MALOT BURAK
Track W -- COLOR RONPO 47/50 49/40 51/30 52/20 LIMRI DOLIP
Track X -- BANCS URTAK 46/50 48/40 50/30 51/20 DINIM GIPER
Track Y -- RAFIN VODOR 45/50 47/40 49/30 50/20 SOMAX KENUK
Track Z -- SOORY 43/50 46/40 48/30 49/20 BEDRA GUNSO

Which track to choose? Well it all depends on where you are flying from, and where you are going. Generally the most favourable winds are situated along the "middle" track, so unless this causes a gigantic detour it's a good idea to plan to use it. If however using this track would cause a rather large increase in distance you should consider a more southern or northern track.

You can check the wind and weather conditions here.

We will take track Whiskey as it is the best one according to the weather situation and does not accour any detour.


2. Domestic Routes

Now that we have chosen our NAT we know where we join it (COLOR) and where to leave it (DOLIP). We now move on to plan how to get to and from these NAT end-points.

Domestic Departure

Now as we know our NAT entering point we need to work out the best way of getting there, the first thing to consider is any preferred routing mentioned in the America ATCSCC Advisory.

The preferred IFR routing (High altitudes) from Newark to the coastal fix are:

TRACK U/ EWR DCT MERIT DCT HFD DCT PUT DCT BOS DCT TUSKY N63B VIXUN      TRACKU
TRACK V/  EWR DCT MERIT DCT HFD DCT PUT DCT BOS DCT BRADD N53B YYT         TRACKV
TRACK W/ EWR DCT MERIT DCT HFD DCT PUT DCT BOS DCT KANNI N43A COLOR    TRACKW
TRACK X/  EWR DCT MERIT DCT HFD DCT PUT DCT BOS DCT WHALE N35A BANCS   TRACKX
TRACK Y/  EWR DCT MERIT DCT HFD DCT PUT DCT BOS DCT VITOL N27A RAFIN        TRACKY or
EWR DCT DIXIE  V276 PREPI DCT OWENZ DCT LINND DCT KENDA DCT LACKS DCT VITOL N27A RAFIN TRACKY

Looking above at the routings we know now our initial routing from Newark Airport to our entry point COLOR. We also know already our NAR (North American Route): N43A, which goes from KANNI to COLOR.
Finally we append the requested mach speed and flight level for the crossing. This must be filed as well if the flight level and/or mach speed doesn't change.

So now we have our complete route on the Canadian side: MERIT DCT HFD DCT PUT DCT BOS DCT KANNI N43A COLOR/M081F380

Domestic Arrival

We now have to plan the route from the end of NAT W to Heathrow Airport (EGLL). So all we need to find now is our arrival route into Heathrow.

2 STARs are available for western arrivals:

We will enter the European Airspace west of the coast of Ireland so the choice is clear: We will use the OCK2F arrival via BEDEK, so all we have to do is plan the route via the available airways: UN523 CRK UL607 NUMPO Y3 BEDEK OCK2F


3. The complete route

All we need do now is join the departure, NAT and arrival routes to create a complete ICAO Flight Plan which can be decoded by the FMS, and filed in IvAp:

N0457F370 MERIT DCT HFD DCT PUT DCT BOS DCT KANNI N43A COLOR/M081F380 NATW DOLIP/N0489F390 UN523 CRK UL607 NUMPO Y3 BEDEK OCK2F

It is also essential to put the Track Identification number (TMI) in the remarks of your flight plan (RMK/TMI068).


4. Oceanic clearance

When you departed you received your IFR clearance from Newark Clearance Delivery. However this clearance does not allow you to enter Oceanic Airspace.
A separate oceanic clearance must be obtained from the Gander OCC. You must have this clearance no later than 30 minutes before your planned ETA at the entry fix of the track. This can be obtained on voice, or via our datalink system.

Pilots intending to operate in the Gander OCA + Shanwick OCA should note the following:

Whether received via datalink or voice, the oceanic clearance to enter the Gander OCA has the following meaning:

Voice clearance

The frequency is 128.450 (primary), or 135.450 (secondary) - Callsign is Gander Center (CZQX_OC_CTR). If this station is not online the clearance has to be requested from Gander Radio (CZQX_FSS) or ultimately Gander Domestic (i.e. the radar controller you are already talking to).

ATC will not initiate the communication. It is up to the Pilot to call ATC, not the other way around. If the pilot is on text only, clearance requests and position reports should be made via private chat, this is to ensure that even at peak flow the relevant data reaches the controller.

Below is the transcript of a typical Oceanic clearance:


Datalink clearance

The datalink clearance can, 8 times out of 10, replace vocal clearances and expedite the process of obtaining oceanic clearance.

If all goes well and you obtain clearance via datalink you still have to read it back verbally to clearance to validate it, and confirm estimate over entry point. Typically the clearance message will give you a time when you must do this. Below is the transcript of a datalink readback:


Note: If your ETA for the entry point changes by more than 3 minutes, advise Gander Oceanic Clearance of your new ETA.

The procedure for aircraft departing Europe is very similar, except that:

If you are at an airport west of 03°W you receive your oceanic clearance on the ground, after receiving your normal airways clearance.
If you are at an airport east of 03°W you will get your oceanic clearance passing 03°W - that is, you are already airborne.


5. Entering the NAT

Although the NAT W track starts at COLOR, Oceanic's airspace does not start till just before coordinate 49°N 50°W (49N050W). This is the same for all the other eastbound NAT's.

Our aircraft has now just been handed off to the Gander Oceanic controller by the Gander domestic controller, this therefore means we must just be coming up to 49 North 50 West. When entering a track (or contacting any Oceanic controller for the first time) there is no special procedure, you just give a standard position report.

One thing to remember: Set your transponder to squawk mode C(S) / code 2000 latest 30 minutes after entering the NAT.


6. En-route in the track

We have now left any sight of land behind us, and we won't see it again until we reach Ireland. However as a pilot you have a lot more things to worry about than watching the waves or the stars.

Position reports

Due to the limited amount of radar in the Atlantic the only way for the controller to know where you are is to ask for a position report. These are done:

These give the controller an idea of where you are, where you are going next, how high you are, how fast you are, etc. These are invaluable to the controller to keep you clear of conflict, however they are a whole new skill to many pilots.

Position reports shall include the reported position, the next reporting point and estimated time, and the succeeding reporting point as per the cleared route. If the estimated time over the next reporting point is found to be in error by three minutes or more, a revised estimated time shall be transmitted as soon as possible to the appropriate ATC unit. When making position reports, all times shall be expressed in UTC, giving both the hour and minutes.

Our British Airways Triple Seven (B777) is just reaching the first of its position report waypoint now, a typical transcript is below:


After reporting 40W (20W if flying Europe-North America) the controller will instruct you to "report 30 west to Shanwick on 127.900 (12790.0 kHz)". This means you switch frequency at 30 west, not right away. If you do change frequency you'll just be sent back.

Continue with position reports until leaving the NAT.


7. Level changes in Oceanic airspace

Do not expect to be able to change level in oceanic airspace, the separations involved are just to enormous. It is strongly recommended that you ask for your clearance at the highest level you can possibly achieve on entering Oceanic airspace, as you burn off fuel the aircraft will be at optimum flight level about half way across.

You should not expect to get initial descent for your destination while within oceanic airspace. Domestic (radar equipped) airspace starts far enough away from all destinations that this is not necessary. Descents in oceanic airspace will only be given in the event of an in flight emergency such as engine failure, decompression, or for separation issues.

For all altitude changes, either climbs or descents, pilots should report “reaching” the new level/cruising altitude to ATC.


8. Leaving the NAT

We have now finished the Oceanic stage of our flight as we pass over DOLIP and begin to route towards London Heathrow. Once again there is no special procedure for leaving the NAT. You will just be handed over to the appropriate controller, the same way as you were handed off within oceanic airspace. In this case it is Shannon control – Shannon will assign you a squawk code and identify you.

You do not need to give positional reports to this controller as he will offer radar service.


9. Random Route

Short example for a random routing:

N0450F330 SEBBY7 DAG DCT LAS KD45Q DVC DCT PWE DCT BDF DCT GIJ DCT CRL DCT DKK  DCT SYR TOPPS DCT  YYT  DCT NOVEP/M083F330 48N050W 49N040W 50N030W 50N20W LIMRI DCT XETBO/N0450F330 DCT EVRIN UL607 SPI UT180 PESOV T180 UNOKO UNOKO1B

All other procedures are the same as "normal".


10. Flight Planning Procedures

For flights operating predominately in an east–west direction:


North Atlantic Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum


The following flight level allocation scheme (FLAS) should be used by operators for flight planning purposes:

FL430

May be flight planned for both eastbound and westbound non-RVSM certified aircraft
 - 24 hours a day

FL410   Eastbound level - 24 hours per day
FL400 Westbound flight level - except within eastbound OTS  
FL390   Eastbound flight level - except within westbound OTS
FL380* Westbound flight level - except within eastbound OTS  
FL370   Eastbound flight level - except within westbound OTS
FL360* Westbound flight level - except within eastbound OTS  
FL350*   Eastbound flight level - except within westbound OTS
FL340 Westbound flight level - except within eastbound OTS  
FL330*   Eastbound flight level - except within westbound OTS
FL320* Westbound flight level - except within eastbound OTS  
FL310*   Eastbound flight level - except within westbound OTS
FL300 Westbound flight level - 24 hours per day  

FL290 and below

Even levels westbound - 24 hours per day Odd levels eastbound - 24 hours per day

Notes:

  1. Flight Level*: Shanwick/Gander may exchange on a tactical basis during OTS periods.
  2. OTS Times: Eastbound – 0100z to 0800z, Westbound – 1130z to 1900z. Times are UTC at 30° West.
  3. For operations outside of OTS times and/or the OTS structure, flight plan levels in accordance with the above flight allocation scheme.

© 1998-2014 - IVAO™. All Rights Reserved.