Completion of the ICAO flight plan form is quite simple and is only a matter of inserting the requested information in the appropriate boxes. The white boxes on the form relate to required information about the flight and are to be completed by the pilot or dispatcher while the shaded boxes indicate the information that is to be inserted by appropriate ATS and COM services.
How to Complete the Flight Plan Form
It is very important to adhere closely to the prescribed formats and manner of specifying data.
A new flight plan format was fully implemented from 15th November 2012 containing certain significant changes from the previous format.
When completing a flight plan the following rules apply:
- use capital letters, one letter in each space of the field (unless field are not divided into spaces)
- adhere to the prescribed formats and manner of specifying data
- any data should be inserted only in the fields and spaces provided.
- where excess space is available, leave unused spaces blank.
- all times should be clock times in 4 figures UTC (e.g., 1800, 0930, etc.)
- the term “aerodrome”, where used in the flight plan, is intended to cover also sites other than aerodromes, which may be used by certain types of aircraft, e.g., helicopters or balloons.
- note that item numbers on the form are not consecutive (they correspond to item type in standard ATS messages).
- items preceding item 7 are to be completed by ATC and COM services
- items 7 to 18 should be completed as indicated hereunder.
- item 19 completion is to facilitate alerting of SAR (Search and Rescue) services.
Also remember that:
- if your flight plan is for a future date (You may file Your flight plan 120 hours before Estimated Off Block Time – EOBT) make sure that the date is provided clearly in item 18 (preceded by “DOF/”) . If You want to delay Your flight plan over midnight, a CHG (Change) and not DLA (Delay) message should be sent.
- it is essential to advise ATS of cancellation, delay or any changes to the flight plan. When multiple changes are to be made, it is preferable to cancel the existing flight plan and file a new one. The pilot (or representative) should advise ATS about a delay if it exceeds 30 minutes for flights in controlled airspace, or 60 minutes for flights outside controlled airspace.
- after filing the flight plan check if it has been received and accepted. Only then will you be able to use it.
- if, as a result of modifications to the original flight plan, any ATS may receive a CHG (Change) message only, then the modified flight plan should also be sent along with the message.
Contents of a Flight Plan
AIRCRAFT IDENTIFICATION (maximum 7 characters)
This consists of the aircraft registration letters or the company designator followed by the flight number which are to be used by air traffic services for radiotelephony communication and coordination.
This field can be filled in in one of the following ways:
a) aircraft registration when:
- in radiotelephony, the call sign to be used by the aircraft will consist of this identification alone (Example: DAGXC or N137DK)
- preceded by the ICAO telephony designator for the aircraft operating agency (Example: SMALL-AIRLINE DAGXC)
- the aircraft is not equipped with radio;
b) operating agency and flight number: ACA123, KLM672, BAW74W, etc.
c) tactical call sign (usually military): BRUNO12, SWIFT45, RED1, etc.
The most frequent option for general aviation is: aircraft registration.
FLIGHT RULES AND TYPE OF FLIGHT (2 characters)
This item indicates both flight rules and type of flight. Flight rules are important due to different regulations, weather and separation minimums for IFR and VFR flights.
Insert one of the following letters to denote the category of flight rules with which the pilot intends to comply. Options are:
I for IFR
V for VFR
Y for IFR first, then VFR (this will indicate to ATS that during the flight a pilot will call for IFR flight cancellation)
Z for VFR first, then IFR (this will indicate to ATS that during the flight a pilot will call for changing to IFR which will require ATC clearance from ATS)
If “Y” or “Z” is used, specify, in the route section of the flight plan, the point(s) where a change in flight rules is planned. Similarly, where there is more than one change in the type of flight rules, the code to be used is to reflect the first rule, i.e., use “Z” for VFR/IFR/VFR.
Then insert one of the following letters to denote the type of flight if required by the appropriate ATS authority. Options are:
S for scheduled air service
N for non-scheduled air service
G for general aviation
M for military
X for other than the preceding categories
The most frequent option for general aviation is: VG (assuming You will fly VFR general aviation flight)
NUMBER AND TYPE OF AIRCRAFT AND WAKE TURBULENCE CATEGORY
Insert number of aircraft, if more than one (1 or 2 characters) followed by type of aircraft (2 to 4 characters).
The type of aircraft is indicated by the manufacturer’s designator. If no such designator has been assigned, or in the case of formation flights comprising more than one type, insert “ZZZZ” and specify the number(s) and type(s) of aircraft in Item 18 (see below) preceded by “TYP/” (up to 60 characters can be put, for example: TYP/3C182 2C172).
ICAO aircraft type designators are presented in ICAO Doc 8643.
Then add ICAO Wake Turbulence Category (1 character). Options are:
/L – LIGHT, to indicate an aircraft type with a maximum certificated takeoff mass of 7000 kg (15 500 lbs) or less.
/M – MEDIUM, to indicate an aircraft type with a maximum certificated takeoff mass of less than 136 000 kg (300 000 lbs), but more than 7 000 kg (15 500 lbs).
/H – HEAVY, to indicate an aircraft type with a maximum certificated takeoff mass of 136000 kg (300 000 lbs) or more (except those specified as J).
/J – SUPER, to indicate that the aircraft type has been specified as such (presently the only such aircraft is the AIRBUS A-380-800).
The COM/NAV/SSR equipment on board and its serviceability must be inserted by adding the appropriate suffixes. The first suffixes will denote the COM/NAV equipment, followed by an oblique stroke, and another suffix to denote the SSR equipment. Options for COM/NAV equipment are:
N if no COM/NAV/approach aid equipment for the route to be flown is carried, or the equipment is unserviceable,
or S if standard COM/NAV/approach aid equipment for the route to be flown is available and serviceable.
IMPORTANT: standard equipment is considered to be VHF RTF, VOR and ILS unless another combination is prescribed by aviation authority local regulations.
NOTE: many pilots use “S” even though they do not have all the elements of 'standard' present and certified (for example no ILS). THIS IS A SERIOUS MISTAKE! If You are in such situation, list all your equipment with the letters given below.
If none of the above options apply or the aircraft has more equipment than indicated by “S” insert one or more of the following letters to indicate the COM/NAV/approach aid equipment available and serviceable:
COM/NAV equipment (only the codes most often encountered by General Aviation codes are given; for the complete list, refer to ICAO documents):
A - GBAS landing system
B - LPV (APV with SBAS)
C - LORAN C
D - DME
E1 - FMC WPR ACARS
E2 - D-FIS ACARS
E3 - PDC ACARS
F - ADF
G - GNSS (IMPORTANT: When using the letter “G” on an IFR flight plan, the GPS receiver must be approved in accordance with the requirements from aviation authority). If used a NAV/ element in field 18 should be used to indicate the type of GNSS system.
H - HF RTF
I - Inertial Navigation
J1 - CPDLC ATN VDL Mode 2 (mandated e.g. in the European Union)
J2 - CPDLC FANS 1/A HFDL
J3 - CPDLC FANS 1/A VDL Mode A
J4 - CPDLC FANS 1/A VDL Mode 2
J5 - CPDLC FANS 1/A SATCOM (INMARSAT)
J6 - CPDLC FANS 1/A SATCOM (MTSAT)
J7 - CPDLC FANS 1/A SATCOM (Iridium)
K - MLS
L - ILS
M1 - ATC SATVOICE (INMARSAT)
M2 - ATC SATVOICE (MTSAT)
M3 - ATC SATVOICE (Iridium)
O – VOR
P1 - CPDLC RCP 400
P2 - CPDLC RCP 240
P3 - SATVOICE RCP 400
R - PBN approved. Further information is provided in Item 18 following the indicator PBN/.
T - TACAN
U – UHF RTF
V – VHF RTF
W - RVSM approved
X - MNPS approved
Y - VHF with 8.33 kHz channel spacing capability
Z - other equipment carried (IMPORTANT: if the letter “Z” is used, specify in Item 18 the other equipment carried, preceded by COM/ and/or NAV/, as appropriate.)
Surveillance (SSR) equipment
Here insert one or two of the following letters to describe the serviceable SSR equipment carried:
N - None
A - Transponder – Mode A (code only indication)
C - Transponder – Mode A and Mode C (code and altitude indication)
E - Mode S, including aircraft identification, pressure-altitude and extended squitter (ADS-B) capability
H - Mode S, including aircraft identification, pressure-altitude and enhanced surveillance capability
I - Mode S, including aircraft identification, but no pressure-altitude capability
L - Mode S, including aircraft identification, pressure-altitude, extended squitter (ADS-B) and enhanced surveillance capability
X - Transponder – Mode S without both aircraft identification and pressure altitude transmission
P - Transponder – Mode S, including pressure altitude transmission, but no aircraft identification transmission
S - Transponder – Mode S, including both pressure-altitude and aircraft identification transmission.
Other indicators are B1, B2, U1, U2, V1, V2, D1 and G1 (denoting various ADS-B and ADS-C equipment) but these are very unlikely to be used in general aviation.
Examples: Aircraft with VHF only and no transponder - insert V/N. Aircraft with VHF,VOR,ADF,ILS,DME,HF,Mode A and C transponder – insert SDH/C.
REMEMBER to add oblique stroke between COM/NAV equipment codes and SSR equipment code.
The most frequent option for general aviation is: S/C
DEPARTURE AERODROME AND TIME
(1) Departure Aerodrome (maximum 4 characters)
On an ICAO flight plan, use four character location indicators.
Example: EDDS, EPKK, LZKZ.
ICAO aerodrome designators are presented in ICAO Doc 7910.
If no location indicator is specified, as is the case in water aerodromes or many of the land VFR aerodromes, insert “ZZZZ” and specify the full name of the aerodrome in Item 18 preceded by “DEP/”.
Example: DEP/VERY NICE AIRPORT
If the name of the departure point is not listed in any aeronautical publication, to indicate it in Item 18 use:
- degrees and minutes of latitude and longitude.
- bearing and distance to a navigation point or navigational aid.
Example: DEP/ABC180017 (which means bearing 180 degrees and distance 17 NM from ABC aid)
(2) Departure Time (maximum 4 characters)
Here indicate the hour and minutes in Co-ordinated Universal Time (UTC) your estimated off-block time. Do not use non-alphanumeric characters (+ . ; = , ) they will not be accepted or printed.
CRUISING SPEED, ALTITUDE/LEVEL AND ROUTE
This is the most complex item. It contains very important information from the point of view of ATS therefore a careful and correct completion of this field is required. Mistakes in this field may be an indirect reason for such hazardous occurrences as airspace infringement.
In item 15 insert:
a) the first cruising speed as described in (A) below,
b) the first cruising level as described in (B) below, and
c) the route description as described in (C) below.
(A) Cruising Speed (maximum 5 characters)
Insert the true airspeed for the first or the whole cruising portion of the flight, in terms of:
a) kilometres per hour expressed as “K” followed by 4 figures
Example: K0220 (which means 220 km/h true airspeed)
b) knots expressed as “N” followed by 4 figures
Example: N0175 (which means 175 knots true airspeed)
There is also an option to indicate speed as Mach number but as it is not used by GA no details will be provided.
General aviation example: N0150 (assuming that You will fly with speed 150 knots)
(B) Cruising Level (maximum 5 characters)
Insert the planned cruising level for the first or the whole portion of the route to be flown, in terms of:
a) flight level, expressed as “F” followed by 3 figures or
Example: F085 (which means flight level 085),
b) standard metric level in tens of metres, expressed as “S” followed by 4 figures
Example: S0150 (which means 1500 metres)
c) altitude in hundreds of feet, expressed as “A” followed by 3 figures
Example: A055 (which means 5500 feet altitude)
d) altitude in tens of metres expressed as “M” followed by 4 figures
Example: M0610 (which means 6100 metres altitude)
e) only for uncontrolled VFR flights, the letters “VFR”.
General aviation example: A065 (assuming that You will fly at 6500 feet altitude)
(C) Route (including changes of speed, level and/or flight rules)
To fill in the “Route” field use points (1) to (6) below and after each element add a single space.
(1) Flights along designated ATS Routes:
Insert, if the departure aerodrome is located on, or connected to the ATS route, the designator of the first ATS route.
If the departure aerodrome is not on, or is not connected to the ATS route, insert the letters DCT, followed by the joining point of the first ATS route and followed by the designator of the ATS route.
Example: DCT RONEX L617 …
Then insert each point at which either a change of speed or level, a change of ATS route, and/or a change of flight rules is planned.
Example: TRZ/N0200A080 IFR (which means that at point TRZ you are to change speed to 200 knots, altitude to 8000 feet and request to change flight rules to IFR).
After each point add the designator of the next ATS route segment, even if the same as the previous one or by DCT , if the flight to the next point is outside a designated route, unless both points are defined by geographical co-ordinates.
(2) Flights outside designated ATS Routes:
Insert points normally not more than 30 minutes flying time or 370 km (200 NM) apart including each point at which a change of speed or level, a change of track, or a change of flight rules is planned or when required by the appropriate ATS authority(ies).
Insert DCT between successive points unless both points are defined by geographical co-ordinates or by bearing and distance.
(3) ATS route (2 to 7 characters)
Insert the coded designator assigned to the route or route segment including, where appropriate, the coded designator assigned to the standard departure or arrival route.
(4) Significant point (2 to 11 characters)
Insert significant points on Your route using their designators (2 to 5 characters) assigned.Example:LN
If no coded designator has been assigned use one of the following ways:
(a) Degrees only (7 characters):Insert 2 figures describing latitude in degrees, followed by “N” (North) or “S” (South) then followed by 3 figures describing longitude in degrees, followed by “E” (East) or “W” (West). Make up the correct number of figures, where necessary, by insertion of zeros.
(b) Degrees and minutes (11 characters):Insert 4 figures describing latitude in degrees, and tens and units of minutes followed by “N” (North) or “S” (South), followed by 5 figures describing longitude in degrees and tens and units of minutes, followed by “E” (East) or “W” (West). Make up the correct number of figures, where necessary, by insertion of zeros.
(c) Bearing and distance from a navaid or navigation point:
Insert the identification of the navaid (normally a VOR) or the name of navigation point, in the form of 2 or 3 characters (navaid) up to 11 characters when name of the point is used, next the bearing from the navaid/point in the form of 3 figures giving degrees magnetic, next the distance from the navaid/point in the form of 3 figures expressing nautical miles. Make up the correct number of figures, where necessary, by insertion of zeroes.
Example 1: a point 170° magnetic at a distance of 20 NM from VOR “LDZ” should be expressed as LDZ170020.
Example 2': a point 130° magnetic at a distance of 12 NM from CONTI point should be expressed as CONTI130012.
(5) Change of speed and level (maximum 21 characters)
Insert the point at which a change of speed (more than 5% TAS) or a change of level is planned, expressed exactly as in (1), followed by an oblique stroke and both the cruising speed and the cruising level without a space between them, even when only one of these quantities will be changed.
(6) Change of flight rules (maximum 3 characters)
Insert the point at which the change of flight rules is planned followed by a space and one of the following: VFR if from IFR to VFR or IFR if from VFR to IFR.
DESTINATION AERODROME, TOTAL ESTIMATED ELAPSED TIME AND ALTERNATE AERODROME(S)
(a) Destination aerodrome and total estimated elapsed time (10 characters maximum)
Insert the ICAO 4-letter location indicator of the destination aerodrome followed by the total estimated elapsed time of your flight (NOT the planned time of landing).
Insert “ZZZZ” followed, without a space, by the total estimated elapsed time, and specify the aerodrome name in Item 18 (below).
If the name of the arrival point is not listed in any aeronautical publication, to indicate it in Item 18 use:
- degrees and minutes of latitude and longitude.
- bearing and distance to a navigation point or navigational aid.
Example: ARR/BAMBI320008 (which means bearing 320 degrees and distance 8 NM from BAMBI point)
(b) Alternate aerodrome(s) (4 characters – ICAO)
Insert the ICAO 4-letter location indicator(s) of not more than two alternate aerodromes, separated by a space or, if no location indicator has been assigned to the alternate aerodrome, insert “ZZZZ” and specify in Item 18 the name of the aerodrome, preceded by ALTN/. Rules concerning indicating alternate aerodromes positions (if not listed by ICAO code) are the same as for DEP/ and ARR/ elements.
This item is for all other additional, important or helpful information (not all are presented here; only those mostly used by GA pilots).
(a) “DEP/” followed by the name of the departure airport or bearing and distance to navaid/navigation point closest to departure point (if no designator is assigned and “ZZZZ” is inserted in item 13). Up to 50 characters may be used.
Example: DEP/SMALL AIRPORT
(b) “DEST/” followed by the name of the destination airport or bearing and distance to navaid/navigation point closest to destination point (if no designator is assigned and “ZZZZ” is inserted in item 16). Up to 50 characters may be used.
Example: DEST/BIG AIRPORT
(c) “TYP/” followed by type(s) of aircraft, proceeded if necessary by number(s) of aircraft, if “ZZZZ” is inserted in Item 9
Example: TYP/2 DE HAVILLAND HERON. Up to 60 characters may be used.
(d) “REG/” followed by the registration markings of the aircraft, if different from the aircraft identification in Item 7.
Example: REG/4XDKM. Up to 50 characters may be used.
(e) “ALTN/” followed by the name of alternate aerodrome(s) or bearing and distance to navaid/navigation point closest to alternate point, if “ZZZZ” is inserted in Item 16. Up to 100 characters may be used.
Example: ALTN/MEDIUM AIRPORT
Flight plan 2012 introduced also new “alternate” element for Item 18: TALT/ (Take Off Alternate).
(f) “DLE/” followed by details related to delay enroute (for example for the need of flight training). A place in space should be described as in, for example, DEP/ item, either by navaid or bearing and distance from a significant point enroute, along with duration of the delay. Up to 11 characters followed by 4 digits may be used.
Example 1: DLE/XYZ0015 – delay over XYZ navaid, duration 15 minutes
Example 2: DLE/ROMIX2300200040 – delay at point 230 degrees and 20 NM from ROMIX point, duration 40 minutes
(g) “COM/” followed by significant data related to communication equipment as required by the appropriate ATS authority. Up to 50 characters may be used.
Example: COM/UHF only (which mean that pilot will be able to communicate on UHF only)
(h) “NAV/” followed by significant data related to navigation equipment as required by the appropriate ATS authority.
Example: NAV/INS (which means that inertial system is available and cerified on board). Up to 50 characters may be used.
(i) “EET/” followed by significant waypoints or FIR boundary designators with accumulated estimated elapsed times from takeoff to such points, if required/prescribed by appropriate ATS authority.
Example:EET/ABC0120 XYZ0200 (which means that point ABC will be passed 1 hour and 20 minutes after departure and point XYZ 2 hours after departure)
EET/EINN0204 (which means that entering of Shannon FIR is planned 2 hours and 4 minutes after departure)
(j) “STS/” followed by particular reason for special handling by ATS (hospital aircraft – STS/HOSP, one engine inoperative would be – STS/ONE ENG INOP, no radio – STS/NORDO)
Example: STS/HAZ (which means hazardous cargo on board)
The new, 2012 flight plan, introduced new abbreviations in use with STS/ item. These are, among others:
- ALTRV – for flight with specified altitude reservation
- FFR – for fire-fighting flights
- HAZMAT – for flights with hazardous materials
Two abbreviations are no longer valid: “ATFMEXEMPTAPPROVED” and “EMER”
(k) “OPR/” followed by name of the operator, if not obvious from the aircraft identification in Item 7.
Example: OPR/BIG COMPANY
(l) “DOF/” followed by the date of the flight in a six-figure format (if flight plan was filed on earlier date, maximum 120 hours before EOBT).
Example: DOF/110613 (which indicated that the flight will take place on 13th of June 2011)
(m) “PER/” followed by performance of the aircraft according to ICAO document 8168 (categories “A”,”B”,”C”,”D”,”E” or “H” for helicopters).
(n) “ORGN/” followed by contact details to flight plan originator. Up to 30 characters may be used.
(o) “RMK/” followed by any other, plain language, remarks when required by the appropriate ATS authority or deemed necessary. There is no limit in number of characters to be used.
Example:RMK/TRAINING ILS APPROACH AT SMALL AIRPORT
RMK/STUDENT SOLO FLIGHT
(p) “PBN/” Indication of RNAV and/or RNP capabilities.
(q) “CODE/” Aircraft address (expressed in the form of an alphanumerical code of six hexadecimal characters) when required by the appropriate ATS authority.
Here one can provide all information concerning safety and security of the flight as well as details helpful during search and rescue mission.
(a) “E/” and 4 figure group indicates the fuel endurance in hours and minutes.
(b) “P/” allows insertion of the total number of people (passengers and crew) on board. If total number is not known at the time of flight plan completion, insert “P/TBN” (to be notified). Use leading zeros if necessary to make three digits in this field.
Example: P/005 NOT P/5 or P/050.
(c) at position “R/” (radio):
- cross out indicator “U” if UHF on frequency 243.0 MHz is not available
- cross out indicator “V” if VHF on frequency 121.5 MHz is not available
- cross out indicator “E” if an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) is not available.
(d) at position “S/” (survival):
- cross out all indicators if survival equipment is not carried
- cross out indicator “P” if polar survival equipment is not carried
- cross out indicator “D” if desert survival equipment is not carried
- cross out indicator “M” if maritime survival equipment is not carried
- cross out indicator “J” if jungle survival equipment is not carried.
(e) at position “J/” (jackets):
- cross out all indicators if life jackets are not carried
- cross out indicator “L” if life jackets are not equipped with lights
- cross out indicator “F” if life jackets are not equipped with fluorescein
- cross out indicator “U” or “V” or both (as in “R/” above) to indicate radio capability of jackets, if any.
(f) at position “D/” (dinghies):
- cross out indicators “D” and “C” if no dinghies are carried or
(NUMBER) - number of dinghies carried (example: 02) and
(CAPACITY) - total capacity, in persons, of all dinghies carried (example: 006) and
(COVER) – cross out indicator C if dinghies are not covered and
(COLOUR) - insert colour of dinghies if carried.
(g) at position “A/” (aircraft) insert colour of aircraft and significant markings.
(h) at position “N/” (remarks) :
- cross out indicator “N” if no remarks or
- indicate any other survival equipment carried and any other remarks regarding survival equipment.
(i) at position “C/” (pilot) insert name of pilot-in-command.
Example Flight Plan
Now to summarise, an example of a completed flight plan. This example only flight plan is for a VFR flight in France:
Flight plan was completed for a flight by an airplane registered “FOLXG”
The flight rules were planned to be VFR and it was a general aviation flight.
As item 9 is left blank, that means that it is a flight plan for 1 airplane. The type is Socata Tobago (ICAO designator “TOBA”).
Wake turbulence category for this plane is light and its equipment is: VHF RTF, DME, VOR and Mode C transponder.
Departure aerodrome for this flight is Nice (LFMN) and estimated off-block time is 0930 UTC.
Planned cruising speed is 100 knots TAS, planned altitude is 6500 feet. The planned route is via point STP, then via route A3 to point RUBIT and along route G7 via CUERS, RIKPO and OB.
Note: This is an example of route description and the pilot is obliged to check and follow departure/arrival routes and procedures.
The destination aerodrome for this flight is Marseille (LFML) and the flight is planned to take 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Two alternate aerodromes were planned: Lyon (LFLL) and Toulouse (LFBO).
The fuel endurance was 3 hours and 1 person was on board the plane.
There was no equipment for UHF (243 MHz) or VHF (121,5 MHz) emergency communication but the plane carried emergency locator transmitter.
Survival maritime equipment was carried...
...as well as jackets equipped with lights.
There was one dinghy on board, able to carry 3 persons and yellow cover was included.
The plane was painted silver with light blue and red stripes and the pilot in command was Daniel Martin.
To find out more about Flight Plan 2012 elements and structure refer to EUROCONTROL's materials: