The Latest volley of Cert Alerts arrived on my desk a few days ago. Each Cert Alert focused on a different aspect of Airfield Condition Reporting. No. 07-01 covered an important topic, which I wish to expand upon here.
I talked about NOTAMs in detail a few months ago, essentially they are used to convey something about the airfield to airport users. In this case the Cert Alert is talking about closed surfaces and how we as airport operators tell our users about those surface closings.
When an airport operator closes a surface, such as a runway or taxiway, or some grouping of those surfaces a NOTAM must be issued. Describing this NOTAM will be difficult, it could be cryptic and the airport operator might not even me able to understand what it says, take this NOTAM for example:
Twy G CLD, BTW A-1 and A-3, G, and F.
What does that say? It says something no doubt and I am sure it is important, but where is that closed surface, what does it look like, and how can I best advise my airport users of this closed surface? Questions I have to answer, simply providing this NOTAM to my tenants will cause more damage then good I assume. This is what the Cert Alert is talking about, ways to make closed surfaces easier to convey to tenants.
Maps, location, location, location they say is the best way. The example they provide is from some airport that has their airport layout diagram in the computer and they use Microsoft Paint to color the areas that are closed. This map is then sent to all of the tenants. Flawless, I like it. I like automation even better though, how can I get the OpenAirport system to do this for me when I issue a NOTAM.
The First step to any NOTAM is the description in proper FAA syntax which is used by the FAA in their NOTAM system.
The second step when I issue a NOTAM is to have a listing of all surfaces at the airport with an option of Closed or Open. Select the proper option and a map is map for me automatically which shades in the closed areas.
There is no need to open a multiple programs, and there is no physical work involved. The down side is that each section of an airport needs to be programmed, and a graphic made for when that section is closed. This could take some time for large airports with multiple taxiway sections, but well worth it over the long run.
The other option would be to have a map of the airport with the different areas highlighted and you simply click on the areas to close, click done, and a new map opens with the closed areas highlighted all in the format you want to send to your tenants. In either case you minimize the amount of work you have to do, allowing you to spend more time on inspections.