For months, rumors have abounded about a planned change from standard domestic flight plans to International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) flight plans. But AOPA has worked hard to ensure that the switch will not effect on an estimated 90 percent of general aviation flights.
Beginning June 29 at 0900 UTC, only pilots requesting RNAV arrivals and departures, including RNAV SID/STARS at about 100 airports (according to AOPA’s initial analysis), will need to start using the ICAO format for domestic flights. The remainder of domestic flights, including all VFR and IFR flight plans not requesting an RNAV arrival or departure, will continue to use the standard domestic flight plan format.The FAA has sen t a letter to airmen explaining the change, and Lockheed Martin is launching a training program for its 1,100 flight service station specialists. The training will focus on helping pilots to properly file the new flight plan, including equipment requirements and suffixes.
“The FAA tells us that the reason for the switch is an FAA upgrade to en route air traffic control software designed for pilots who navigate using RNAV-qualified equipment,” explained Melissa Rudinger, AOPA vice president of regulatory affairs. “The ICAO flight plan is necessary because it collects more detailed information about actual avionics equipage and aircraft capability. This in turn allows ATC to match the most efficient routing to the aircraft capabilities, resulting in better service to pilots.”
The AOPA Pilot Information Center also is ready to answer your questions at 800/USA-AOPA (872-2672).