Drone FAQs: What are NOTAMs?

The acronym “NOTAM” stands for “Notice to Airmen” and was put into place in April 1947. NOTAMs are informational advisories (not laws) and are filed with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to give pilots and remote pilot operators notice of any potential hazards that could affect the safety of their flight. Some typical uses might be to alert pilots to closed runways, military exercises, airshows, parachute jumps, temporary obstacles, tall obstructions, or drone flights in the area.What are NOTAM advisories, and where can I find them for my area?

The FAA has classified NOTAMs into five categories: Military, which includes all armed forces using the national airspace system; Distance, which has information regarding airport usability; Special Activity Airspace; Pointer, which are NOTAMs that point to other NOTAMs; and Flight Data Center, which are issues that pertain to regulatory items.

Today, as pilots file flight plansand listen to automated flight systems, they check to see if there are any NOTAMs active in their flight areas. In 2015, the FAA posted almost two million NOTAMs. Due to this large volume of data, the FAA has now gone digital and NOTAMs can easily be searched by visiting notams.aim.faa.gov/notam Search. Note: Drone NOTAMs (DROTAMs) have also begun popping up, and can be seen on sites such as the popular skyvector.com, alerting pilots to where they can expect drones. —Cliff Whitney, owner/founder atlantahobby.com and uavexperts.com

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