They appear to be serious this time….
The FAA has successfully completed system testing and will transition to mandatory use of the international flight plan format for all IFR and VFR domestic and international civil flights on August 27, 2019. The change is part of an effort to modernize and streamline flight planning and supports the FAA’s NextGen initiatives.
Several improvements to the international form make it easier and more intuitive for pilots to use and will increase safety, which include:
- An increase in the size of the departure and destination fields to allow a greater variety of entry types, including Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA) flight plans
- A wake turbulence category (maximum certificated take-off mass)
- H – Heavy (300,000 lbs. or more)
- M – Medium (less than 300,000 lbs. but more than 15,500 lbs.)
- L – Light (15,500 lbs. or less)
- Transmission of the supplemental pilot data field, which contains pilot contact information, along with the VFR flight plan to the destination facility, to reduce Search and Rescue response times
- Air traffic control gains access to detailed equipment codes to identify aircraft capability
The international format will also allow for integration of Performance Based Navigation (PBN) and enhance air traffic control services by allowing for easier identification of equipage, which can make greater use of airspace. When using flight plan filing services, all features available today will be part of the new format and provide an additional level of detail required for deployment of the FAA’s NextGen technologies and procedures.
Please use the international format now. Simplified guidance on how to complete an international flight plan is available at bit.ly/2JiUkQN.