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NBAA Webinar Details New ICAO Flight Plan Changes

May 2, 2012

As the level of technology in aircraft cockpits continues to evolve, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has determined that new reporting standards are necessary to note the specific equipment onboard when planning a flight. In an April 25, 2012, webinar co-sponsored by Jeppesen, NBAA offered Members the opportunity to review these upcoming changes.

The new ICAO standardized flight plan form – scheduled to go into effect November 15 – requires much greater detail about the various types of communications, navigation, and surveillance equipment installed in the aircraft. In addition to providing air traffic control (ATC) with more precise information, these changes will also ensure operators are assigned Area Navigation (RNAV) procedures appropriate for their aircraft’s level of equipage.

The most significant changes affect Line 10 (Equipment) and Line 18 (Remarks) of the current ICAO form, explained Rea Heatherington, Jeppesen senior product manager, aviation & ground integration. "Line 10 now becomes a Line 10a and 10b," Heatherington said. "In 10a, the communications and navigation equipment is going to be described, and now 10b will be the surveillance part. That splits out from what all was placed previously in [Line] 10."

With that change there are also several new or revised equipment classifications for operators to choose from. For example, the new 10a classification "/J" denotes the presence of Controller Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) capabilities, with subclassifications J1-J7 indicating the specific equipment type and capabilities.

Similarly, operators must now indicate on Line 10b the specific level of surveillance capabilities onboard, such as "/E," indicating the presence and functionality of a Mode S transponder with aircraft identification and pressure altitude information, as well as extended squitter capabilities for ADS-B.

Given the varied equipment levels throughout the aircraft fleet, the “Remarks” field under Line 18 will be more important than ever, Heatherington added. "Whenever the capability of the aircraft can’t be completely detailed in Line 10, you'll need to place further information on Line 18," he noted. The Remarks field also includes new equipment indicator and flight-type codes that operators must be familiar with when using the new flight plan.

Operators must also be very precise in noting what equipment is available for use onboard their aircraft, as ATC will rely on that information to assign clearances and instructions. "Whatever you're listing in the flight plan, you're not only saying you have the equipment, but also you have it and that it's working, and you are qualified and trained to use it," Heatherington said. "If that equipment involves an authorization from a [civil aviation authority] like the FAA for you to use it, [you must] also have that authorization."

There will also be two minor changes for routing information listed under Line 15, said Ted Glogovac, senior product manager, international trip planning. "One is the ability to file [your flight plan] further in advance than what is currently available," he noted. "The second is the ability to utilize a significant point as a waypoint or marker on your route of flight, versus a traditional navaid or lat/long."

Starting in July, international operators and those utilizing RNAV procedures in the United States may opt to use the new ICAO flight planning format in order to gain familiarity with it before the mandatory November 15 implementation date. Jeppesen representatives noted they, like other flight planning services, are using this transition period to inform and educate their customers about the changes.

View the recorded webinar "2012 ICAO Flight Plan Changes: Is Your Flight Department Ready?"