Agency Adopting The ICAO Format For Filing IFR Flight Plans
In an effort to harmonize with the international airspace standards with respect to flight planning, the FAA has transitioned to the ICAO format for IFR flight plan filing. Any operator with an advanced area navigation (RNAV) system who wishes to file any RNAV procedure or any international flight must file using the ICAO format and FAA form 7233-4.
As of November 15, 2012 the ICAO flight plan content of fields 10 and 18 will be changed. The changes are needed to correctly identify the operational Communication, Navigation and Surveillance (CNS) capabilities of the aircraft. It is important that each operator planning to file an ICAO flight plan accurately denote the appropriate equipment and authorization codes in the flight plan. Air Navigation Service Providers worldwide have been modifying their computer systems to accept the new format. The Air Traffic Organization (ATO) has thoroughly tested their computer systems and have been accepting the flight plan filings since September 15, 2012. The new format changes will be required as of Thursday.
The original National Airspace System (NAS) flight plan is still available for limited technology domestic operations.
According to the InFO bulletin, separation standards in the New York Oceanic Airspace are being changed from the standard separation to 50nm longitudinal, or 30nm longitudinal and 30nm lateral separation. These standards are based on the operational equipment capability of the aircraft. The requirements for the reduced separation standards will be based on a combination of CNS capabilities the operator states in fields 10 and 18 of the ICAO flight plan. Air Traffic Control (ATC) will apply the reduced separation based on the flight plan equipment codes filed between eligible aircraft. Operators should understand that any degradation of CNS capability via a system deferral in accordance with the minimum equipment list (MEL) will require them to re-file the flight plan with the correct codes in fields 10 and 18. Failure to correctly flight plan the appropriate operational equipment may result in a hazardous loss of separation.
The FAA recommends that Directors of Safety, Directors of Operations, and Training Managers, review the ICAO 2012 guidance for flight planning found on the FAA Planned Changes to Filed Flight Plans in 2012. Each aircraft’s MEL should be reviewed for system deferrals that may affect the CNS capabilities of the aircraft. The remarks and exceptions column should provide the specific guidance for flight plan filing.
The operators manual system should be updated if necessary to require flight plan amendments when CNS capabilities are changed during the preflight planning phase prior to departure. The manual should contain procedures for flight plan amendments and cancellations as appropriate. Pilot and Dispatcher training should be updated to reflect the changes and emphasize the importance of correct flight plan filing capabilities.