Aug. 2, 2019

As part of its NextGen initiatives, the FAA has completed its efforts to modernize and streamline flight planning by adopting the international flight plan format.

With testing of the new system now complete, starting Aug. 27, pilots planning civil VFR and IFR domestic and international flights must use the new format.

“Pilots need not wait until Aug. 27 to use the international format,” said Heidi Williams, NBAA’s director of air traffic services and infrastructure. “All of the flight plan features available today are incorporated in the new format that provides the level of detail that supports the FAA’s NextGen technologies and procedures.”

The international flight plan format incorporates a number of improvements that increase safety and make it more intuitive and easier to use. Among them are larger departure and destination fields, allowing for a greater variety of entry types such as Special Flight Rules Area flight plans.

The wake turbulence category is based on the aircraft’s maximum certified take-off mass: heavy (300,000 pounds or more); medium (less than 300,000 but more than 15,500 pounds) and light (15,500 pounds or less). To reduce search and rescue response time, the new system transmits VFR flight plans, and the pilot contact information in the supplemental pilot data field, to the destination facility.

Equally important, the new flight plan format and system gives ATC access to the detailed equipment codes that identify aircraft equipment capabilities such as W (RVSM), G (GNS), R (PBN), B1 (ADS-B, 1090 ES, Out) and B2 (ADS-B, 1090ES, Out/In). This easier identification enhances ATC services and facilitates the integration of performance-based navigation in the National Airspace System, which can make more efficient use of the airspace.

View FAA guidance on the new format.