Dec. 27, 2022
Recognizing that current ICAO codes do not account for all capabilities of modern aircraft, the FAA recently published an appendix to the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM). Table 4-4 in the appendix adds filing codes for Field 18 to denote aircraft capabilities more specifically, especially those related to required navigation performance capabilities.
Operators should review their aircraft flight manual (AFM) to determine aircraft capabilities and verify they have appropriate OpSpec/MSpec approval or a letter of authorization, as applicable, before utilizing a flight plan code.
If an operator isn’t sure what their airplane is capable of, they should check their AFM for a statement of compliance or approved capabilities and review the Limitations section for more information.
“Just because the aircraft is capable of complying with a particular flight plan code doesn’t mean you can file it,” said Eric Canup, chair of NBAA’s Domestic Operations Committee. “The aircraft, operator and pilot must be capable and qualified.”
Richard Boll, a member of NBAA’s Access Committee and chair of the ATC, Airspace, & Flight Technologies Working Group, said a SID out of John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, CA, is key example of the benefits of more specific flight plan codes.
“The STAYY Four RNAV departure at Santa Ana uses radius to fix legs, keeping the flight track over the least populated areas off Runway 20R,” said Boll. “Previously, this resulted in the departure being assigned to aircraft the tower controller knew to be capable of the procedure. As more aircraft become capable, we are missing out on an opportunity to capture the greatest benefits from this departure.”
More helicopter codes are also coming soon, particularly for East Coast routes.
Further, NAV/RNV codes D1, E2 and A1 that designate approval for RNAV SIDs, STARs and Q and T routes will no longer be supported in Field 18. Pilots and operators should check any auto-filled flight plans, including those saved in apps, to verify these codes are removed. Pilots should file the applicable PBN/code in Field 18 to fly these procedures.
Operators are advised to review the AIM and your AFM to ensure they’re using codes that will allow the assignment of the most efficient instrument procedures.