HMS Queen Elizabeth:
How a New Ship Affects Civil Aviation

Guest post by Andy Milligan, Product Manager at Snowflake Software

One of the great things about being located on the south coast of England is having much of the country’s rich naval heritage on our doorstep. It was particularly interesting today to see the early morning arrival of the HMS Queen Elizabeth, the new supercarrier built for the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy, into her new home in Portsmouth harbour.

With smartphone in hand I took a drive down to Portsmouth Harbour to watch the new ship arrive. But what’s the impact to civil aviation of all this?

Using Laminar Data, I was able to look for any NOTAMs affecting the area around the Solent and drop them into an open source GIS tool called QGIS. In the picture below you can see some of the overlapping NOTAMs in the area, and right in the middle (red highlight) is a NOTAM covering the whole of Portsmouth Harbour.

Laminar Data lets us dig into this NOTAM in more detail, and again rendering the data on QGIS we can see what’s going on. If you’re well versed in reading NOTAMs then you can quickly see that this particular NOTAM is alerting pilots to the creation of a Temporary Restricted Area around the harbour from the surface to 2,500ft from 0700 to 1200Z today. The end of the NOTAM also brings particular attention to the fact that this notice includes operators of “Unmanned aircraft systems” (or Drones/UAVs/RPAS).

The NOTAM and associated physical signage are useful reminders for anyone operating a drone to remember that you are a pilot in charge of an aircraft and therefore briefings, including NOTAMS, are a vital part in the necessary preparation for any operation.

You can sign up for free on Laminar Data for our NOTAMs data and have a look at our global NOTAM coverage.

Technical Details

I’ll now explain a bit more of the technical side of how I accessed this NOTAM data via Laminar Data. First, make sure you’ve signed up for a free account (sign up here).

Our NOTAM data is available in both geoJSON and XML (AIXM 5.1 with Event Specification extension) via our webservice. You can choose the payload either by setting the Header on the GET request or by appending a query parameter to the URL.

First we need to find out all the NOTAMs that are in force for the London FIR (basically all of England and Wales) which has the international designator EGTT. This request will return the geoJSON version

Curl -X GET –header “Accept:application/json” “

The resulting JSON file can then be dropped straight into QGIS to visualise the NOTAMs. The same query can be integrated straight into your application using many open source development tools such as Leaflet.

Once you’ve found an event of interest – in this case down at Portsmouth – identify the unique ID for the NOTAM from the JSON file. The one we’re interested here for the Harbour is c767d201-d8c3-5a96-972a-5417c2f10c33. Call the details API for this NOTAM:

Curl -X GET –header “Accept:application/xml” “

This time, we’ve got the AIXM XML version of the file (geoJSON is also available). Again, drop this straight into QGIS to visualise, or integrate with your application. You can visit our GitHub repo for a full set of the schemas you’ll need to start building your app.

And that’s it! You’re ready to build an application to make sure you can operate safely, avoiding obstacles, very large ships and even Merlin helicopters!