THE POSTAL HISTORY OF ICAO

 

Annex 15 – Aeronautical Information Services

 

Developed by ICAO, the International Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) contained in the nineteen Technical Annexes to the Convention on International Civil Aviation (also called Chicago Convention) are applied universally and produce a high degree of technical uniformity which has enabled international civil aviation to develop in a safe, orderly and efficient manner.

 

One of the least known and most vital roles in support of international civil aviation is filled by the Aeronautical Information Services (AIS), whose objective is to ensure uniformity and consistency in the flow of aeronautical information/data to satisfy the need of safety, regularity and efficiency for the operational use of international air navigation.

 

The way in which aeronautical information is gathered and managed is governed by Annex 15 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation. There was no provision as such for aeronautical services in the twelve original Annexes to the Chicago Convention (1944). But, there was a high degree of similarity in the procedures recommended by the four Regional Air Navigation meetings, which took place between February and October 1946, for notifying airmen and other interested parties of changes in air navigation facilities, services, procedures or regulations. As a result, the first requirements for aeronautical services were developed by the PICAO Air Navigation Committee and the first Procedures for International Notices to Airmen Services (Procedures for Air Navigation Services: PANS-NOTAM) were approved by the PICAO Council on 7 January 1947. Member States in the North Atlantic, European-Mediterranean, Caribbean and Middle East regions, where air navigation meetings were held, were asked to bring them into effect as soon as feasible and start the development and implementation of the international exchange of NOTAMs. The NOTAM Procedures were also circulated to Member States in other regions for comments, with a view to world-wide adoption.

 

Annex 15

The NOTAM or NoTAM (abbreviation for NOTICE to AIRMEN) system was originally developed to meet the same function of the Notice to Mariner, which advises mariners of important matters affecting navigational safety. In the same way, a NOTAM is a notice distributed by means of telecommunication containing information concerning the establishment, condition or change in any aeronautical facility, service, procedure or hazard, the timely knowledge of which is essential to personnel concerned with flight operations. Later, additional types of notices were introduced: SNOWTAM (effective from 8 February 1968; NOTAM issued to notify presence or removal of hazardous conditions due to snow, ice, slush or standing water associated with snow, slush and ice on movement area, by means of specific format) and ASHTAM (introduced in the 1980s, NOTAM issued to notify activity of a volcano, volcanic eruption or volcanic ash cloud that is of significant importance to aircraft operations).

 

A Special NOTAM Meeting was held in Montreal from 14 April to 12 May 1949; it was the first meeting convened by ICAO for the express purpose of standardizing the activities of States in the dissemination of aeronautical information. The principal results of the meeting were the development of a draft set of "Procedures for Air Navigation Services - Aeronautical Information Services" (PANS-AIS, to replace the existing  "Procedures for Air Navigation Services - Procedures for International Notices to Airmen Services"), the enunciation of principles to govern the promulgation and dissemination of NOTAMS over the international aeronautical telecommunication service, and the formulation of recommendations for the future handling of aeronautical information problems. These Procedures became applicable on 1 August 1951.

 

In parallel, principles concerning the establishment of the world-wide aeronautical fixed telecommunications network (AFTN, renamed by mid-1990s to the general term : Aeronautical Fixed Service, AFS) were developed by the ICAO COM (Communications) Division for the exchange of messages and/or digital data between aeronautical stations having the same or compatible communications characteristics. Of particular interest is the concept of the AFTN as a network of circuits so integrated as to permit efficient and non-discriminatory exchange of messages of defined categories between any stations in the network.

 

From 19 August to 11 September 1952, the PANS-AIS were reviewed by the First Session of the Aeronautical Information Services Division which recommended the adoption of Standards and Recommended Practices. Following consideration by all Contracting States, these recommendations were reviewed by the Air Navigation Commission and the first set of Standards and Recommended Practices was adopted by the Council on 15 May 1953 as Annex 15-Aeronautical Information Services to the Convention for the promulgation of information essential to the safety, regularity and efficiency of air navigation. This Annex became applicable on 1 April 1954, thus superseding the PANS-AIS.

 

Since then, Annex 15 has undergone many amendments to meet the rapid changes brought about by air travel and associated information technology and to reflect the increased need for the timely provision of quality aeronautical information/data and terrain data as they have become critical components of data-dependant on-board navigation systems. Aeronautical information is handled differently depending on its urgency, operational significance, scope, volume and the length of time it will remain valid and relevant to users.

 

The role and importance of aeronautical information/data changed significantly with the advent of the internet era, the implementation of area navigation (RNAV), required navigation performance (RNP), air traffic management requirements, and airborne computer-based navigation systems. Hence, the traditional AIS has quite evolved to obtain quality and timely aeronautical information. Aeronautical information services have shifted to a broader concept of aeronautical information management (AIM), with a different method of information provision and management given its data-centric nature as opposed to the product-centric nature of AIS.

 

 

 

Various service covers sent by the Aeronautical Information Services and containing NOTAMs.

 

Official service cover sent by the Malaysian Government to ICAO AIS/MAP (Aeronautical Information and Charts) Section, which, amongst its duties, undertakes studies and provides guidance relating to aeronautical information services (AIS) and aeronautical charts (MAP); provides technical expertise on the AIS and MAP subjects to the Assembly, Council and the Air Navigation Commission (ANC). Cover cancelled on 24 October 1975.

 

Service cover containing NOTAMs sent by the Aeronautical Information Services of Ethiopia

to ICAO Aeronautical Information Section (AIS). Cover cancelled on 11 April 1998.

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