FAA: ICAO Flight Plan Format Becomes Mandatory Next Month

Pilots who file IFR or VFR must use the international forms.

Bonanza G36
Beginning on August 27, pilots flying IFR in the United States must use the ICAO format to file a flight plan.Textron Aviation

It’s a change that has been a long time in coming, and thanks to the proliferation of flight-planning apps it won’t have much of a practical impact, but the FAA confirms that starting at the end of next month pilots must file IFR flight plans using the international ICAO format.

The new format appears on FAA Form 7233-4, FAA International Flight Plan (Revision 7/2015). Aligning flight plans with the rest of the world, the FAA says, will smooth the transition to new capabilities such as performance-based navigation, a part of the NextGen operating regime.

The FAA announced the plan to adopt the ICAO flight plan format in late 2016. Since that time, many pilots have adopted tablet computers running flight-planning apps to file their flight plans. The apps will automatically update to the new format by the time the change officially takes effect on August 27, if they haven’t already.

Pilots who file VFR and IFR flight plans the old-fashioned way must be sure to use the ICAO form or risk having their request denied or delayed.

Detailed guidance on how to complete an international flight plan is available here.