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Mandatory ICAO flight plan filing on holdMandatory ICAO flight plan filing on hold

The FAA has postponed its plan to require, starting this fall, that pilots use the international flight plan format, also known as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) format, for all civil flight plans filed with flight service for flights within the National Airspace System and to Canada.

Pilots should prepare for the eventual switch from the domestic flight plan form to the international flight plan form.

Testing inconsistencies among the FAA and international partners remain unresolved, and the agency, after numerous postponements, no longer has a target date for the switchover from the domestic flight plan form, said Rune Duke, AOPA director of airspace and air traffic.

"AOPA is in constant communication with the FAA and vendors to be sure automation and pilots are ready for the implementation of the ICAO flight plan,” he said. “But because of software discrepancies and problems getting the system to issue flight-plan acknowledgement messages, implementation must be delayed.”

In May, AOPA reported that a previous start date of June 5 would lapse while work continued to ensure a “seamless and safe transition” to the flight plan format that remained unfamiliar to many pilots.

With work continuing on a fix, Duke encouraged pilots to use the ICAO flight plan on a voluntary basis, to be ready to use it when doing so ultimately becomes mandatory. The FAA will soon publish expanded guidance in the Aeronautical Information Manual on filing an ICAO flight plan, and has provided draft guidance online.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: Flight Planning, Advocacy, Airman Regulation

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