Hey everyone! Today I will be showing you how to put more realism into your flight by including North Atlantic Tracks in your flight plan. It’s a very simple process to follow, so let’s get started.
What Are North Atlantic Tracks?
North Atlantic Tracks, officially titled the North Atlantic Organised Track System, is a structured set of transatlantic flight routes that stretch from the northeast of North America to western Europe across the Atlantic Ocean (Wikipedia).
How Does It Work?
Since the Atlantic is a crowded airspace with thousands of flights per day crossing it, there has to be organization. To achieve this, air traffic planners in Gander, Newfound Land and Preswick, Scotland create routes across the Atlantic that are weather optimized. Each track has its own name, Zulu being the southernmost, then Yankee, X-Ray, Whiskey, and so on. These names are to allow pilots to easily request a track. Most of the time they are permitted to go on their desired track. If not, it’s because they would be too close to another aircraft (Since there’s no radar in the Atlantic Ocean, controllers at Gander have to ensure that aircraft are atleast 15 minuets apart), and they change their flight plan to accommodate for the track they are given.
How Do I Find and Read The Tracks?
In raw form, the report for today’s tracks looks something like this:
You can find this report updated on a daily basis here
Breaking it down piece by piece is quite simple. Let’s take track “Zulu” for our example.
Disregarding the “Part Three of Three Parts,” the first thing we see is the letter “Z.” This indicates which track it is, in this case “Zulu” (if you’re unfamiliar with the phonetic alphabet, refer here).
Next, we see “TUDEP 52/50 53/40 53/30 53/20 MALOT GISTI.” As you can probably guess, these are waypoints, and probably the most important part of the text. We will cover how to put this into your flight plan in a moment.
Next, theres “EAST LVLS 320 330 340 350 360 370 380 390 400.” These are the east bound flight levels. “WEST LVLS NIL”=East only track,
“EUR RTS EAST NIL”=Preffered entry route from Europe (as this is an eastbound flight from America, it reads as ‘NIL’)
“NAR N445A N45A”= Preffered entry route from North America (route from major airports to entry point)
How Do I Use This In IF?
First, choose an entry route. Find out how right here:
How To Find Your Entry Route
First, go to skyvector.com. From there, go to Layers>Nav>North Atlantic Tracks, and check the boxes. The tracks should appear on the map for that given day. Each track should have one or two routes heading to it. It should look something like this:
Each of these branches towards a given track. If you zoom in close enough, you’ll find waypoints on the end of each route. For example, at the beginning of the routes heading to NATs “U” and “T”, the waypoint is “CEFOU.”
From CEFOU, the routes branch to either TUDEP or ALLRY, which are the entry waypoints for T and U. So, in your flight plan, all you do is put your domestic waypoints, then (assuming we’re taking U), put waypoints CEFOU and ALLRY, add the coordinates inbetween, and finish your flight plan with the exit waypoints and the other domestic routes on the other side of the Atlantic.
Next, find where your entry waypoint is. This is the first waypoint on the map, in this case TUDEP. Once you have a general idea of where it is, add a few waypoints leading to it like so:
Now we add the waypoints from the established track:
When filing waypoints formatted as XX/XX, such as 52/50, file them as XX00N/XX00W, or 5200N/5000W
After that, add the last few waypoints from MALOT (exit waypoint), and you’re done!
A Few More Things
On the website where you can find the tracks, the eastbound tracks are listed in the white area and the westbound tracks are listed in the blue area.
There are also Pacific Tracks and Australia Flex Tracks
I hope this tutorial helps to make your flights a little more realistic. Thanks for reading!