Last week, ICAO’s new flight planning requirements kicked in, which include changes that may or may not affect the way you file a flight plan. The new filing procedures apply to pilots using performance based navigation (PBN) equipment and pilots flying internationally. Additional equipment codes have been added to help air traffic controllers better understand what capabilities are available to the pilot he or she is speaking with.
New equipment codes were added to section 10 of the ICAO flight plan form, a section that covers the navigation and transponder equipment installed in the airplane. Examples of additions were codes for LPV and ILS capabilities and several ADS-B equipment codes. There are also new requirements for the information entered in section 18, mostly to provide additional information pertaining to the new options for section 10.
If you’re using flight planning software on your computer or tablet, the transition to the new rules is likely quite straightforward. You simply need to ensure that all the required information is entered correctly on the online form once for each aircraft you are flying.
For pilots who are still using a paper form as a guide to file a flight plan, the filing procedures may be a little bit more involved with the additional codes to add. While the new ICAO form is the preferred format for IFR flights, the traditional domestic FAA flight plan format (Form 7233-1) can still be used if you are filing a VFR flight plan or an IFR flight plan using Victor airways and non WAAS GPS approaches. But if you are flying IFR using PBN, such as RNAV departure and approach procedures, you are now required to use the new ICAO flight plan format (Form 7233-4).
Aircraft providing medical evacuation services also need to be aware that ICAO call signs have been modified.