FAA Transitions To ICAO Flight Plans


The FAA is now requiring all pilots filing flight plans to use of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) flight plan format. The transition, which the agency first planed for October 2015, went into effect on Tuesday. According to the FAA, using the ICAO form (PDF) will allow for a greater variety of entry types in departure and destination fields including Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA) flight plans, transmission of the supplemental pilot data field to the destination facility with the VFR flight plan to reduce search and rescue response times, integration of Performance Based Navigation (PBN), and use of more detailed equipment codes to better identify aircraft capabilities.

“The change is part of an effort to modernize and streamline flight planning and supports the FAA’s NextGen initiatives,” the FAA said in a notice. “Benefits of the international form make it easier and more intuitive for pilots to use and will increase safety.”

Use of the international form is required for both IFR and VFR flight plans. To assist with the transition, the FAA has released guidance for using the ICAO format (PDF) and Leidos Flight Service (1800wxbrief) has published a video –shown below – on “helpful hints” for filing.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. Only the FAA could think the ICAO form is “easier and more intuitive” than the old FAA form. Thank goodness for services like fltplan.com that make filling out the actual form unnecessary.

  2. I’ve been waiting for someone else to say that! Since I use FltPlan.com this change is not a big deal for me, but if I had to file using the phone (yes, I still see pilots at various GA airports doing this), something I had to do several times in Canada, the ICAO form is much harder to use. Fortunately the Canada flight service persons and the Cayman Islands flight service were very helpful in filling out the ICAO form. I had an argument with an AOPA rep about how I felt about the change back when the FAA first proposed the change. After 18+ years of international flying I am convinced that ICAO couldn’t care less about GA and if the FAA keeps using coordination with ICAO as an excuse for more changes in US procedures, GA really is in danger of dying off in this country, at least in the lower 48. Just returned from vacation in Alaska and was amazed at the GA activity there, something I haven’t seen in the 48 states in 20+years! There are going to be a lot of pilots who are not going to be happy with the ICAO flight plan.