Guidance concerning Air Navigation in and above the NAT MNPSA
Flight deck drills. There are some tasks on the flight deck which can safely be delegated to one member of the crew, but navigation using automated systems is emphatically not one of them, and the Captain should participate in all navigation cross-check procedures. All such cross-checks should be performed independently by at least two pilots.
Initialisation errors. Always return to the ramp and re-initialise inertial systems if the aircraft is moved before the navigation mode is selected. If after getting airborne, it is found that during initialisation a longitude insertion error has been made, unless the crew thoroughly understand what they are doing, and have also either had recent training on the method or carry written drills on how to achieve the objective, the aircraft should not proceed into MNPS Airspace, but should turn back or make an en route stop.
Waypoint loading. Before departure, at least two pilots should independently check that the following agree: computer flight plan, ICAO flight plan, track plotted on chart, and if appropriate, the track message. In flight, involve two different sources in the cross-checking, if possible. Do not be so hurried in loading waypoints that mistakes become likely, and always check waypoints against the current ATC clearance. Always be aware that the cleared route may differ from that contained in the filed flight plan. Prior to entering the NAT MNPSA ensure that the waypoints programmed into the navigation computer reflect the Oceanic Clearance received and not any different previously entered planned or requested route.
Use a flight progress chart on the flight deck. It has been found that making periodic plots of position on a suitable chart and comparing with current cleared track, greatly helps in the identification of errors before getting too far from track.
Consider making a simple use of basic DR Navigation as a back-up. Outside polar regions, provided that the magnetic course (track) is available on the flight log, a check against the magnetic heading being flown, plus or minus drift, is likely to indicate any gross tracking error.
Always remember that something absurd may have happened in the last half-hour. There are often ways in which an overall awareness of directional progress can be maintained; the position of the sun or stars; disposition of contrails; islands or coast-lines which can be seen directly or by using radar; radio navaids, and so forth. This is obvious and basic, but some of the errors which have occurred could have been prevented if the crew had shown more of this type of awareness.
If the crew suspects that equipment failure may be leading to divergence from cleared track, it is better to advise ATC sooner rather than later.
Never initiate an on-track uncleared level change. If a change of level is essential and prior ATC clearance cannot be obtained, treat this situation as a contingency and execute the appropriate contingency offset procedure, when possible before leaving the last cleared flight level. Inform ATC as soon as practicable.
Do not assume that the aircraft is at a waypoint indicates. Cross-check by reading present position.
In conclusion, navigation equipment installations vary greatly between operators; but lessons learned from past mistakes may help to prevent mistakes of a similar nature occurring to others in the future.
NAT Doc 007