Dec. 16, 2015

Since June 2015, aircraft operators crossing the North Atlantic have been required to include the aircraft registration and six-character hexadecimal code that is the aircraft’s address in Item 18 of their ICAO flight plans. However, an FAA review of flight plans filed during one week in July 2015 revealed that many operators were not meeting this requirement.

Therefore, the agency has issued Information for Operators (InFO) 15015, which emphasizes the importance of providing the required information in the proper format.

Meeting the requirement is important for all operators, regardless of their destination, because the information determines the level of air traffic services they will receive, said Rich Boll, chairman of the NBAA Access Committee’s ATC, Airspace and Flight Technologies Working Group.

Previously, ICAO’s CODE/requirement varied among national aviation authorities, which explains why the FAA review found a seven-percent compliance rate, said Mitch Launius, North Atlantic lead for NBAA’s International Operators Committee. The North Atlantic requirement not only improves the validation of aircraft identity, it advances the use of the SATVOICE systems aboard many business aircraft. With the proper coding, air traffic services can call a SATVOICE aircraft directly, should the situation require.

Item 7 is for the aircraft registration, but the air traffic system computer that reads the flight plan looks for the REG/ in Item 18 to correlate logon information for Controller Pilot Data Link Communications. And it uses the CODE/ to correctly identify the aircraft position obtained by ADS-B or C, and to derive the aircraft’s satellite voice number. Item 10 of the flight plan should also include any SATVOICE capability as either M1 (Inmarsat) or M3 (Iridium); these required filing codes are critical to supporting the advancement of that communication safety net.

The domestic flight plan, FAA Form 7233-1, last revised in 1982, is not compatible with today’s air traffic system, said Boll. This is why the FAA requires the ICAO flight plan for all flights that will enter international airspace, including oceanic airspace controlled by the FAA, RVSM airspace and flights that expect routing and/or separation based on performance-based navigation and services based on ADS-B.

The most recent Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) revision said that if an aircraft is equipped with ADS-B, it must have it on. AIM section 5-1-9-b provides more information on the flight plan requirements. The CODE/ should always be a six-digit hexadecimal code. Operators can find it through a registration search on the FAA home page. The aircraft address is identified as the “Mode S Code (base 16/hex).” Operators should not use the (base 8/oct) code, which is also listed.

To ensure that business aviators take full advantage of their aircraft’s identification and communication capabilities, NBAA urges all operators to include the ICAO flight-plan requirements in their training programs and that pilots and dispatchers have the information necessary to comply with them.

Review the FAA’s InFO 15015.