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Switch to ICAO flight plan form delayed until fallSwitch to ICAO flight plan form delayed until fall

The FAA will put off until fall 2017 the requirement for pilots to use the international flight plan format, also known as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) format, for all civil flight plans filed with flight service for flights within the National Airspace System and to Canada.

The decision pushes back a June 5 start date that was the most recent of several planned launch dates for the switch from the domestic flight plan form—a timetable the FAA had regarded as dependent on integration testing with Canada “to ensure a seamless and safe transition.”

According to a May 26 message from the FAA Safety Team, the FAA decided to delay implementation after a two-day meeting with Nav Canada and vendors Harris Corporation, CSRA, and Leidos at which the results of testing among all operating systems was reviewed.

“To ensure a safe and seamless transition with full interoperability, the FAA has decided to delay implementation until the Fall of 2017. The additional time will allow all service providers to address required changes identified in testing and integrate enhancements to the international format, while avoiding system changes during the busy summer flying season. The FAA will provide a 30-day advance notice to the public when a final date is selected later this year,” the announcement said.

Once scheduled to take place in October 2015, the international flight plan form’s implementation for mandatory use was postponed at AOPA’s request to provide more time to alert pilots to the switch, and for automation enhancements to come on line.

The planned change also required the FAA to update its Washington, D.C., Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA) training course, incorporating suggestions from AOPA. Among the procedures for VFR flight in the SFRA is a requirement for pilots to file a special flight plan that details where the flight will enter and exit the SFRA through designated gateways.

Although the mandatory use of the international flight plan form has been put off once again, AOPA continues to urge pilots to give the ICAO format a dry run before implementation moves forward.

Instructions for using the form (FAA form 7233-4) are available online.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: Advocacy, Pilot Weather Briefing Services, FAA publications

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