An operational flight plan (OFP) is used by the pilots during flight to monitor the progress of the flight and make sure that the aircraft will reach the destination on time and with sufficient fuel on board. OFPs can also be used as a formal record of the flight for audit or reconstruction purposes. A well-designed, and properly completed, OFP can be a highly useful tool, enhancing situational awareness.
Generic content of an OFP
Operators use different formats, often computer-generated, for OFPs which may contain the following information:
aeroplane type and variant;
date of flight;
names of flight crew members;
duty assignment of flight crew members;
place of departure;
place of arrival
type of operation (ETOPS, VFR, Ferry flight, etc.)
route and route segments with checkpoints/waypoints, distances and tracks;
planned cruising speed and expected wind components with estimated flying times between check-points/waypoints;
safe altitudes and minimum levels;
planned altitudes and flight levels;
fuel calculations and estimated fuel remaining at each checkpoint/waypoint;
alternate(s) for destination and, where applicable, take-off and en-route, including information on fuel burn, routes and safety altitudes
Items which are readily available in other documentation or from another acceptable source or are irrelevant to the type of operation may be omitted from the operational flight plan.
Use in flight
Pilots will use the OFP to record:
actual off-block time, take-off time;
actual landing and on-block time;
estimated and actual times overhead waypoints;
records of in-flight fuel checks;
fuel on board when starting engines;
initial ATS flight plan clearance and subsequent re-clearance;
in-flight re-planning calculations; and
relevant meteorological information.
An operator must ensure that the operational flight plan and its use are described in the Operations Manual.