Atlantic Crossings

Goose Bay, Canada. Many fly overhead, knowing it simply by the VOR ident – YYR. For ferry pilots, though, the airport is a mainstay of their transatlantic route. Their routes are northerly, hugging the frozen lands of the polar regions, cautiously calculating aircraft range with an eye to the ever changing winds and weather. For others, with the luxury of two jet engines and the removal of the need to wear a survival suit, the North Atlantic provides an equal array of challenges and surprises.

The Boeing 767 was the first ETOPS aircraft on the North Atlantic Crossings. In 1985 120 minute ETOPS was approved by the FAA; in 1989 that was extended to 180 minutes. Today’s World Air Ops 767-200 flight is operated privately, removing the need to comply with those regulations – yet the planning information is the same. Philip Degare: “When we plan a flight, the NAT deserves particular attention. Underneath, it’s a vast emptiness – so ETP’s are critical; but within the tracks, it’s more congested oceanic airspace than anywhere else in the world. More than anywhere else, solid planning is critical”. The flight is en-route from the US to the Ukraine, joining hundreds of others in the early morning landfall in the Shannon FIR.

The PC-12, meanwhile, is fuelled and ready to leave Goose Bay. This aircraft has the range to reach Keflavik, just – many will make their next stop at Narsarsuaq in Greenland. For the crew of the Pilatus, our job is to guide them along the way: plan and file the flight plan, order fuel and handling for them on our account, and check their regulatory requirements for Europe. Even a PC- 12 must now have full Mode S (ELS and EHS) for parts of Europe, and 8.33KHz radio’s. Other requirements such as RVSM (the PC-12 can reach FL300), MNPS, and RNP/RNAV further restrict which airspace the aircraft can enter.

UPDATE MAY 26 2014

North Atlantic procedures The famous ‘Fish Points’ in the Gander OCA will be largely removed this week as the Domestic/Oceanic boundary shifts. For more information, click here or download our NAT Plotting Chart.