October 24, 2013
By AOPA ePublishing staff
Some equipment suffixes used in FAA domestic flight plans have been replaced to better reflect aircraft capabilities. The change took effect Oct. 24, on the closing day of the National Business Aviation Association convention in Las Vegas, and operators who had previously filed with suffixes /R, /Q, /E, /F, /J, and /K are now required to use one of four remaining suffixes.
The suffix to use depends on both on-board equipment and services requested. Pilots requesting performance-based navigation (PBN) routing should file an ICAO flight plan, as the FAA has required since 2008, though RNAV-equipped aircraft seeking non-PBN routes such as RNAV departure and arrival procedures, may file a domestic flight plan with the following suffixes:
The FAA stated that the new suffix codes will allow controllers to make better routing decisions, able to clear aircraft with GNSS (global navigation satellite system) capability on more direct routes through airspace not covered by radar. Aircraft without GNSS capability will continue to require radar monitoring, the FAA noted in a press release.
The FAA has been working in recent years to align flight planning requirements with ICAO standards, though the agency has stopped short of requiring domestic GA flights to use an ICAO flight plan format. Use of the ICAO form is encouraged for domestic operations, and required for flights that cross an international border.
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