This is the main dialog, showing a NOTAM being displayed. The Category, Subject and Condition are taken from the ‘Q’ line which enables accurate classification and filtering.
The position and radius are also taken from the ‘Q’ line. These do not, however, accurately reflect the area covered by the NOTAM if it is not an actual circle. To get round this, Spine also extracts any coordinates found in the text to build a list of points defining an area or linear route. This is particularly important for accurate plotting, or when using Spine to generate an OpenAir or TNP file for display of NOTAM boundaries on a PDA in flight. Showing circles instead of actual areas or lines is not particularly useful in this case.
The distance and bearing from the home airfield (in this case RIV) are also shown.
The data fields are shown in black, indicating that this NOTAM will be included in the output. Deleted entries are colour coded as shown in the panel on the left.
Click on thumbnails for full-size images
The Plot Window shows a graphic representation of NOTAMs and airspace. Airspace is shown to help you visualise the position of NOTAMs, and printouts of the plot window must not be used for navigation!
This is a general view of the plot window. The red circle shows the limit for NOTAMs that has been set – in this case, a 50Km circle around RIV. NOTAMs within limits are shown in black, as circles, specific shapes, or in the case of linear routes (such as the Red Arrows flight shown here), as lines.
You can pan and zoom the display by selecting the appropriate tool from the toolbar at the top.
If you hover the mouse within the area of a NOTAM or a section of airspace, a window pops up with additional information. The panel on the left shows more details of the NOTAM, which remain until a different NOTAM is selected. The panel can be hidden by dragging the dividing bar to the left.
If there is more than one NOTAM at a particular point, you can cycle through the information by clicking the mouse buttons.
You can measure the distance from the centre to the cursor position by clicking the right mouse button.
(The cursor does not appear on this screen shot).
Spine can show NOTAMs with complex areas. This example shows a military exercise off the Cornish coast. The reported distance and bearing from your home airfield to complex areas (shown in the main dialog and on the printed output) is calculated to the nearest point on the outline.
You can plot a task by by choosing Edit from the Task menu, by clicking on the Edit Task button in the toolbar (the green triangle with red dots), or by selecting the Task tool (the black triangle).
You can either plot the task directly in the window by clicking on turning points, or type the turning points in the dialog which appears.
Both methods are interchangeable – you can set up a task in the window, then edit in the dialog, or vice versa.
The screen shot above shows a task which has just been set up in edit mode. (Note how the left-hand panel has been dragged to the left to maximise the screen area.)
You can click the Load button on the dialog to re-load a task which you previously saved. If you enter a new task, or change one you loaded, you can save it by clicking the Save button.
If you hover the mouse over one leg of the task, a popup appears giving the total task length, the leg length and the distance to the two adjacent turning points.
Once your task is set up, you can change to ‘Fit to window’ mode, which maximises the task in the window.
At the same time, the NOTAM range is recalculated to fit the task area. The open red circle shows this range. Any NOTAM enclosed by or cutting the circle will be shown.
(The solid red disc shown is a prohibited area, in this case Harwell.)
The Settings dialog allows you to customise Spine’s operation…
On the User and Internet page, you enter your name and the Flight Information Region (or regions) that you need NOTAMs for.Spine checks for updates to the program and/or data files by connecting to the server at regular intervals. If the address ever changes, you can enter the new address here.
Occasionally, a message for users will be placed on the server, which is normally shown once. You can view it again at any time by clicking this button.
You can set your home airfield on the Airfield page. This allows you to set a range for NOTAMs to be included in the output, and to sort them in increasing distance for the airfield if you wish.
Note: for new users, there is a “Quick Setup” feature, which runs through a subset of these Settings pages in the form of a ‘Wizard’ to get you up and running quickly.
On the Range tab, you can restrict NOTAMs to a maximum distance from your home airfield.
You can also specify lines of latitude and/or longitude as boundaries to the covered area.
You can use any combination of these settings. Spine checks your settings and warns you if there are any problems (for example, if you have specified a circle which goes outside the coverage of the NOTAMs fetched from the NATS web site).
There are several ways Spine can sort the output for you.
In this example, NOTAMs will be sorted in order of increasing distance from the home airfield. Any NOTAMs at the same distance will then be sorted in order of increasing bearing.
Finally, any NOTAMs with the same distance and bearing (the same location, obviously!) are sorted into date order.
Spine’s ability automatically to filter NOTAMs based on their relevance to the pilot is one of its most powerful features.
You use the Filters tab to set which types of NOTAM Spine will exclude from the output.
A set of defaults is applied, depending on whether you are a glider pilot, or a private GA pilot flying under either VFR or IFR. You can override the defaults for each NOTAM category by clicking in the upper list in the Options section.
Some subjects cannot be auto- deleted for safety reasons, and these are shown in the lower list.
Note: Aerodrome NOTAMs, if included, add considerably to the number of NOTAMs Spine needs to process. They are not needed by glider pilots. They may or may not be needed by GA pilots.
On the Output page you can change the fonts that Spine uses, and, if there is a list of coordinates, just output a single, mean position.
However, even if you just print a mean position (which is the centre of the area covered), if Spine is calculating the distance from your home airfield, the nearest point of the area is used.
(This is similar to the case when a NOTAM refers to a single point with a radius of influence: here the distance is calculated to the edge of the circle.)
This page also allows you to customise the output to the special files used by in-flight computers, if required.