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Airspace over the North Atlantic

The North Atlantic is enormous. Covering an area of just over 31 million square nautical miles, it is the second-largest ocean in the world. Air traffic control over this vast expanse of ocean would be a huge burden for one entity, so this responsibility has been delegated to six Oceanic Control Areas (OCAs): Gander, Shanwick, Reykjavik, New York, Santa Maria and Bodo. In this article, we will focus on the structure of the Gander and Shanwick OCAs.

Image source: NATS

Gander OCA

The Gander OCA spans a massive 905 nautical miles, bordering Shanwick at 30 degrees west, Santa Maria at 45 degrees north (between 30 and 40 degrees west) and New York Oceanic at 45 degrees north (between 40 and 51 degrees west). The OCA also borders several domestic flight information regions (FIRs), including Gander Domestic, Montreal, Sondrestrom and Edmonton. Airspace within the Gander OCA is Class A above 5,500 ft and Class G below.

Airspace map of the Gander OCA

Gander Oceanic OCA delegates 4 areas of the OCA to domestic authorities:

  • Reykjavik: control over Greenland up to FL195 (Llt-Red)
  • Gander Oceanic Transition Area (delegated to Gander Domestic): west of 50 degrees west (yellow)
  • Gander Domestic: above FL55 bounded by CARPE, LOGSU, VODOR, 45/50 and 50/50 (dark-red)
  • New York: Control in the airspace 44.5/50, 45/50, 45/40, 44.5/40

Shanwick OCA

The Shanwick OCA stretches another enormous 545 nautical miles, bordering Gander at 30 degrees west, Santa Maria at 45 degrees north and Reykjavik at 61 degrees north. Like Gander, Shanwick also borders several domestic FIRs: Scottish, Shannon, London, Brest and Madrid. Airspace is Class A above 5,500 ft and below, Class G.

Airspace map of the Shanwick OCA

Similarly to the Gander OCA, the Shanwick OCA delegates 3 regions to domestic authorities:

  • NOTA (Northern Oceanic Transition Area): delegated to Shannon Control which provides a domestic (radar) service
  • SOTA (Shannon Oceanic Transition Area): like NOTA, delegated to Shannon Control, providing a domestic (radar) service
  • BOTA (Brest Oceanic Transition Area): delegated to Brest Control, providing a domestic (radar) service


NAT Document 007
Oceanic Control Document - Version 1.0

Last update: June 5, 2022
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