Oceanic Clearance Removal

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has divided the world into Regions. The Reykjavik Control Area is a part of the ICAO NAT Region as well as Gander, Polaris Bodo, Scottish, Shanwick, New York and Santa Maria. The NAT Region has been working on harmonising the NAT procedures to the procedures of the rest of the world. Today the NAT is the only Region that issues Oceanic Clearances and a decision has been made to discontinue oceanic clearances from the 21st of March 2024. The change is advertised in AIP ICELAND by AIC and amendments to the applicable paragraphs.

NAT Region established an Oceanic Clearance Removal (OCR) Project Team where Isavia ANS has had three representatives. The project team has coordinated the implementation of OCR within the NAT Region in close coordination with the airspace users.

NAT regions
NAT regions

The NAT Region requires operators to obtain a specific Oceanic Clearance to operate within the region. This procedure was introduced to enable safe and efficient handling of the large volume of traffic that operated within the NAT procedural oceanic airspace utilizing HF voice communications and large separation standards. Oceanic Clearances were established to make sure that pilots and ATS had the same information on flight plan route, altitude, and speed of the aircraft.

Recently, significant technological advancements in Communication, Navigation and Surveillance have enabled NAT ANSPs to improve safety and services in the NAT Region and further reduce separation minima. These technologies include:

  • Communication – utilization of CPDLC, including route conformance check using the uplink message CONFIRM ASSIGNED ROUTE;
  • Surveillance – utilization of ADS-C and ADS-B, including route conformance check using the ADS-C capability to report the NEXT and NEXT+1 waypoint;
  • Improved computer interfaces between Domestic and Oceanic air traffic control sectors.

The NAT Systems Planning Group concluded that technological developments have reached a point where oceanic clearances are no longer required.

The Lost Communication Procedures within NAT Region will be updated at the same time, to be more aligned to the rest of the world, the change is published in AIP ICELAND.

The OCR applies to all aircraft flying through the Reykjavik Oceanic Area. Procedures are amended for all air traffic controllers working in the Reykjavik Oceanic Area Control Centre and the Towers of Reykjavik-, Akureyri- and Keflavik airport. Also, the radio operators of Iceland Radio and Aerodrome Flight Information Service operators at airports delivering clearances.

Please see this introduction video made by NATS:

Author: Steinunn Arna Arnardóttir