An example of a position report and the controlling agency's response: (Aircraft) “Gander, N123JC, Position.” (Gander Center) “N123JC go ahead.” (Aircraft) “N123JC position 51 North 40 West at 0310; Flight Level 410; estimate 52 North 30 West at 0358; 52 North 20 West next. Temperature minus 54, wind 260 diagonal 60, over.” (Center) “Roger N123JC, position 51 North 40 West at 0310, 410, 52 North 30 West at 0358.”
In this example, 51 North 40 West represents the position of north 51.00.0 and west 040.00.0. Proper position reporting requires brevity, due to the high volume of communications on HF. This format should be used for all HF position reports, substituting waypoint names for latitude and longitude when so indicated on the en route charts.
A position report is required at all Atlantic, Pacific and European FIR boundaries. When departing from U.S. or Canadian cities, reports should be made at all compulsory reporting points on the FIR boundary.
On the North Atlantic plotting chart, there are blue triangles printed on the FIR boundaries that represent the transition from local to oceanic control. For those flights departing gateways in Newfoundland (Gander, St. John's and Stephenville), there are no triangles along the FIR from St. Anthony south to Gander. East of Gander the first mandatory reporting boundary is at 50 deg. W. Long.
No named reporting points are designated on the European FIR boundary, so position reports must be made using latitude and longitude coordinates. The same is true of Guam and Tokyo CTA/FIR. The flight crew should expect ATC to require confirmation approaching and reaching all FIR boundaries.
In the unlikely event that HF radio communications are lost, the flight is expected to continue on the last assigned oceanic clearance. Every effort should be made to relay position reports on the VHF guarded frequency, 121.5, or when over the Atlantic, via the air-to-air frequency, 131.8. Traditionally, oceanic aircraft have always monitored 123.45, in order to render communication assistance to other aircraft within VHF range. Over the Pacific the same procedures exist with the addition of VHF frequency 128.95.
Industry best practices mandate that flight crews not only file flight plans for each proposed flight leg but maintain a copy of the flight plan in the cockpit as reference during the flight.
Technology has advanced the art of navigation from a desktop exercise using a chart, a ruler, map, protractor, Jeppesen CR-3 and a No. 2 pencil. Now crews are equipped with laptops, iPads, smart phones and GPS-driven FMSes with moving map displays. Both weather and winds at altitude are available in a current format. These advances have caused many crews to become complacent in the navigation phase of flight operations, especially during domestic flying. When it comes to international flight ops, any complacency, especially pertaining to navigation, cannot be justified.
Oceanic flight planning and navigation require skill and diligence. Reviewing approach charts, standard arrivals, departures and en route charts, well ahead of arrival, provides the crew with a familiarity of nav procedures and waypoints that will come in handy when it's time to use them. Not being familiar with the name of or where to find an important intersection on a local chart, following a 6- or 8-hr. ocean crossing, is unprofessional and inexcusable.
To avoid making data entry errors, loading an international flight plan into the aircraft's FMS should incorporate a two-person process of insertion and verification. Computerized flight planning and modern communication techniques allow for the plan on file to be received and downloaded electronically. Despite this convenience, it is critically important that this process be overseen by one pilot and verified by the other.