PACOTS Tutorial

What are/is PACOTS?

PACOTS stands for Pacific Organized Track System.  The PACOTS are the airways in the north and northwest areas of the Oakland Oceanic FIR.  They comprise a set of airways primarily used for travel to/ from Japan and Southeast Asia to/from Honolulu and the mainland US. (West coast and Dallas).  These are a group of flexible tracks that take advantage of the upper level wind forecasts.  Here is the 'official' breakdown of which tracks go where:

Track From To
Track 1 Japan Pacific Northwest
Track 2 Japan San Francisco
Track 3 Japan Los Angeles
Track 4 Japan West Coast U.S.
Track 8 Japan Dallas
Track 11 and 12 Japan Honolulu
Track 14 and 15 Taipei / Hong Kong San Francisco / Los Angeles

Track A and B Honolulu Japan
Track C, D, E, F and G West Coast U.S. Japan
Track H, I, J and K West Coast U.S. Taipei / Hong Kong
Track L West Coast U.S. Manila
Track M Dallas Japan

Where can I get these tracks?

The tracks can be found here ( https://www.notams.jcs.mil ). Select the Pacific Tracks button. You can also get the North Atlantic Track (NAT) NOTAMs here.

How to decipher the PACOTS NOTAMs

We'll cover the basics, so you can quickly extract the info you need.  Here is a sample of a few track NOTAMS from May 03, 2004. A1648 comes from the Oakland ARTCC (ZOA) and A2843 is from the Japanese Air Traffic Flow Management Center (ATFMC)

A1648/04 - (TDM TRK F 040503190001 0405031900 0405040800 LINUZ NATTE ZANNG 51N140W 55N150W 56N160W CRYPT CURVS CHIKI CHIPT CARTO CUTEE COLIC CALMA RTS/KSFO MOLEN AMAKR LINUZ KLAX RZS LIBBO BRINY BOARS AMAKR LINUZ CALMA G344 CELIN OTR9 ABETS OTR11 SCORE RMK/TRK ADVISORY IN EFFECT FOR TRK F CROSS CUTEE BETWEEN 0000Z AND 0600Z 03 MAY 19:00 UNTIL 04 MAY 08:00

A2843/04 - EASTBOUND PACOTS TRACKS BETWEEN JAPAN AND HAWAII, REQUIRED FOR ACFT CROSSING 160E BETWEEN 05031200UTC AND 05031600UTC, TRACK 11. FLEX ROUTE : SEALS 35N150E 34N160E 32N170E 29N180E 26N170W CANON JAPAN ROUTE : GUPPY OTR13 SEALS PHNL ROUTE : CANON BOOKE PHNL TRACK 12. FLEX ROUTE : MORAY 34N150E 33N160E 31N170E 28N180E 25N170W SYVAD JAPAN ROUTE : CVC OTR15 MORAY PHNL ROUTE : SYVAD BOOKE PHNL RMK/REF AIP ENR3.6-6 03 MAY 10:00 UNTIL 03 MAY 21:00

Here we go. . . A1648/04 is a TDM for Track F.  TDM is track definition message.  Track F takes us from the U.S. West Coast to Japan.

LINUZ NATTE ZANNG 51N140W 55N150W 56N160W CRYPT CURVS CHIKI CHIPT CARTO CUTEE COLIC CALMA

These are the fixes that comprise the airway.  After CALMA you will notice this "RTS/", this marks the beginning of some new information. The information that follows is applicable to "KSFO". This will give us the route from KSFO (San Francisco) to the PACOTS airway. [MOLEN AMAKR LINUZ]  That's make our route from KSFO along Track F, so far:

MOLEN AMAKR LINUZ NATTE ZANNG 51N140W 55N150W 56N160W CRYPT CURVS CHIKI CHIPT CARTO CUTEE COLIC CALMA

After that you'll see "KLAX", routing to the airway.  This is where you have to be part detective, or at least be paying attention...  In the list of waypoints for Los Angeles we have "RZS LIBBO BRINY BOARS AMAKR LINUZ CALMA G344" there appears to be overlap or just some bad info.  No, you tack on the waypoints at the start of that list to the airway info up to LINUZ.  You put the end section starting at CALMA on the end of the airway.  You use the waypoints until you hit the next section of data which starts at "RMK/" (remarks).  Back to San Francisco....

Our final route will be "LINUZ NATTE ZANNG 51N140W 55N150W 56N160W CRYPT CURVS CHIKI CHIPT CARTO CUTEE COLIC CALMA G344 CELIN OTR9 ABETS OTR11 SCORE". This does not include, of course, any SIDs or STARs.  The LINUZ waypoint is about 130NM north-west of San Francisco and the SCORE waypoint is about 150NM due East of RJAA.  If you map out these waypoints, you'll see that that routing takes you up into the lower parts of Alaska, avoiding the jet stream as much as possible.  Obviously, the airways coming back will do the opposite.

If you're still awake and want to look at a route coming back...let's move on.  The rest of you, get some coffee and catch up. ;-)

NOTAM A2843 is defining TRACK 11 and TRACK 12 (aka Flex routes), which both are tracks from Japan to Hawaii.  These are a little easier to read, better format, here we go.

The basic waypoints for TRACK 11 are: "SEALS 35N150E 34N160E 32N170E 29N180E 26N170W CANON",  the rest should be pretty obvious.  The section that says "JAPAN ROUTE : GUPPY OTR13 SEALS" gives you the waypoints to add to the front, the section that starts with "PHNL ROUTE : CANON BOOKE PHNL" are the waypoints to add to the end of the basic track.  Put them together we get:

GUPPY OTR13 SEALS SEALS 35N150E 34N160E 32N170E 29N180E 26N170W CANON BOOKE PHNL

You can safely drop PHNL as the last waypoint and put in the correct STAR [ direct routing over long distances is for lazy pilots ;-) ]

NOTES: You will notice in the NOTAMs that there are track advisories, for the most part, these will indicate the times that planes should enter the airways.  Some will indicate that possible reroutes could occur for a variety of reasons.  One that you may see will be rerouting for volcanic activity.

General information

PACOTS: Traffic on the Pacific Organized Track System (PACOTS) flows between North America and Hawaii to Asia and Australia. The flexible tracks are developed twice daily by the Oakland ARTCC Traffic Management Unit (TMU) and Tokyo Area Control Center to take maximum advantage of changing wind forecasts.

NOPAC: The Northern Pacific (NOPAC) Composite Route System (CRS) consists of five fixed tracks and nine transition routes from Alaska to the Asian and Pacific rim nations. The long distances involved between city pairs on these routes make wind optimized routing and flight profiles for fuel economy a high priority to users. Westbound routes from New York to Tokyo compete for northern routes which, although slightly longer, may save significant time by avoiding the jet stream.

CEP: The Central East Pacific (CEP) CRS connects the U.S. Central West Coast to Hawaii. It consists of a set of five interior unidirectional tracks that are generally dense with traffic, and two exterior bi-directional fixed tracks.

CENPAC: The Central Pacific (CENPAC) traffic region consists of PACOTS traffic between Hawaii and Japan, and Japan to the U.S. West Coast. This region is characterized by long stage length tracks and complex weather situations. Also in this region, the Pacific Northwest to Hawaii fixed tracks cross the U.S. to Japan PACOTS routes, creating additional complications for controllers.

SOPAC: The traffic flow between Hawaii and the South Pacific (SOPAC) utilizes fixed tracks and random tracks. SOPAC traffic is also characterized by long stage length tracks. It includes the PACOTS tracks from San Francisco and Los Angeles to Sydney and Auckland.

Guam: The area around Guam contains the traffic flow from the Orient to the South Pacific. Most aircraft in this region use fixed tracks. Traffic is characterized as predominantly one-way, converging, and dense, with some opposite direction traffic. The north-south flow is crossed by traffic from the Far East to Hawaii and by the PACOTS tracks.