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A pilot is getting ready to depart for a particular destination. Before departure, he or she will plan his flight just like any traveler who plans about his journey.

As the traveler has to encompass all the required aspects of his journey in his planning similarly a pilot also caters to all aspects pertaining to flight in his plan. A traveler focuses on Time, Fuel, Food, Luggage, Route, and Weather conditions similarly a pilot has to consider Flight Duration, Fuel, Maximum Takeoff Weight, Weather Conditions, etc. before departure. Like every journey is different and so are its requirements the same is the case for flight. 

We can define flight plan as “a document which provides specified information to air traffic service units relative to an intended flight or portion of a flight of an aircraft”.

PURPOSE OF FLIGHT PLANNING

The purpose of a flight plan is to inform the competent ATS units enabling them to supervise the flight within the scope of air traffic control as well as the flight information service and alerting service.

In order to process a flight plan, we must be familiar with the format of a flight plan. Normally ICAO Flight Plan format is being used. All items of the flight plan are required to be filled in by the filer of a flight plan. A flight plan can be filed by a pilot or an airline representative working as Flight Officer. 

AIRCRAFT IDENTIFICATION

Flight-plan-exampleThis is item No.7 in the flight plan. In this input field, we enter the identification of an aircraft. The maximum limit is 7 alphanumeric characters. 

Aircraft identification can be written as follow:

  • ICAO designator for an aircraft operating agency, followed by the flight number. For example SVA739, BAW11etc. Registration of an aircraft can be used as aircraft identification. Example: APBLV etc.
  • Identification alone or proceeded by ICAO telephony designator for the aircraft operating agency. Example MAUQE.
  • Tactical Call sign usually for a military flight like JAGUAR17

FLIGHT RULES AND TYPE OF FLIGHT

This is item No. 8 in the flight plan. 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.

In this field, we enter information regarding the type of flight rules according to which the pilot will fly its aircraft. The information is required to be entered in the “Single Alphabet” form and that’s why we can enter a minimum 1 and maximum 2 characters in this field.

  • If a pilot intends to fly under Instrument Flight Rules than we insert the letter “I”
  • If a pilot intends to fly under Visual Flight Rules than we insert the letter “V”
  • If a pilot intends to fly initially under IFR followed by one or more changes of flight rules than insert “Y”
  • If a pilot intends to fly initially under VFR followed by one or more changes of flight rules, than insert “Z”

TYPE OF FLIGHT

New call-to-actionThis is the continuation of Item No. 8 of the flight plan. In this field, we enter information regarding the type of flight. The information is required to be entered in the “Single Alphabet” form and that’s why we can enter a maximum 1 character in this field.

  • If s pilot is flying a flight that is part of the schedule insert “S”.
  • If a pilot is flying a flight that is not a part of schedule insert “N”.
  • If a flight is carrying License for general aviation inserts “G”
  • If a pilot is flying a military flight than insert “M”
  • If a pilot is flying a flight that doesn’t fall in any of the above-stated categories insert "X”

Note:                                                                    

Specify flight status following the indicator “STS” in Item 18, or when necessary to denote other reasons for specific handling by ATS, indicate the reason following the indicator “RMK” in Item 18.

NUMBER AND TYPE OF AIRCRAFT AND WAKE TURBULENCE CATEGORY

This is Item No. 9 of the flight plan. It is about the number of aircraft and wake-turbulence category of aircraft. For inserting aircraft number we have a maximum limit of 2 characters. For Aircraft type, we have a maximum limit of 4 Characters. And for the wake-turbulence category, we have a maximum limit of one character. Type of aircraft, as specified in the latest ICAO Doc 8643, by the appropriate designator. 

Consider a pilot flying B772 than he will fill in item No. 9 as follow:

NUMBER AIRCRAFT TYPE WAKE TURBULENCE CATEGORY
  B77W H

An important point to note here is that if it is a solo flight, the input field under number is omitted. But in case if it is a military aircraft formation of five F17 than he will write as follow: Number 05 Aircraft Type: F17

NUMBER AIRCRAFT TYPE WAKE TURBULENCE CATEGORY
05 F17 M

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 preceded by “TYP/” (up to 60 characters can be put, for example: TYP/2F16 5F17).

Make an oblique stroke followed by one of the following letters to indicate the wake turbulence category of the aircraft:

WAKE TURBULENCE CATEGORY OF AN AIRCRAFT

Maximum Certificated Takeoff Mass

Category

Category Code

All aircraft types of 136000Kg or more.

Heavy

H

Aircraft Types less than 136000 Kg but more than 7000 Kg.

Medium

M

Aircraft types of 7000 Kg or less.

Light

L

EQUIPMENT AND CAPABILITIES

This is Item No. 10 of the flight plan. 
Capabilities comprise the following elements:

a. presence of relevant serviceable equipment on board the aircraft; 
b. equipment and capabilities commensurate with flight crew qualifications; 
c. where applicable, authorization from the appropriate authority.

The radio communication, navigation and approach aid equipment, and capabilities as well as, separated by an oblique stroke, surveillance equipment and capabilities, shall be indicated.

Radio communication, navigation and approach aid equipment, and capabilities - Item 10a and 10 b

10a
Code

Definition

10b
Code

Definition

N

No COM/NAV/Approach aid
equipment

N

No surveillance equipment is carried for the route to be flown,
or is unserviceable

S

VHF RTF, VOR, ILS

A

Mode A transponder - 4 digits
(4096 codes)

A

GBAS landing system

C

Mode C transponder - Mode A and
Mode C

B

LPV (APV with SBAS)

E

Mode S transponder with aircraft ID, pressure altitude and extended
squitter (ADS-B) capability

C

LORANC

H

Mode S transponder with aircraft ID, pressure altitude and
enhanced surveillance capability

D

DME

I

Mode S transponder with aircraft ID, but no pressure altitude
capability

E

Not used

L

Mode S with aircraft ID, pressure altitude, extended squitter (ADS-B) and enhanced surveillance
capability

E

FMC WPR ACARS

P

Mode S transponder with pressure
altitude but no aircraft ID capability

E

D-FIS ACARS

S

Mode S transponder including both pressure altitude and aircraft
ID capability

E

PDC ACARS

X

Mode S transponder with neither aircraft ID nor pressure altitude
capability

F

ADF

D

Removed and expanded with the
codes that follow next.

G

GNSS
NOTE: Specify type of external GNSS augmentation to be
specified in NAV/

B1

ADS-B with dedicated 1090 MHz
ADS-B “out” capability

H

HF RTF

B2

ADS-B with dedicated 1090 MHz
ADS-B “out” and “in” capability

I

Inertial Navigation

U1

ADS-B “out” capability using UAT

J

Does not exist

U2

ADS-B “out” and “in” capability
using UAT

J1

CPDLC ATN VDL Mode 2

V1

ADS-B “out” capability using VDL
Mode 4

J2

CPDLC FANS 1/A HFDL

V2

ADS-B “out” and “in” capability
using VDL Mode 4

J3

CPDLC FANS 1/A VDL Mode A

D1

ADS-C with FANS 1/A capabilities

J4

CPDLC FANS 1/A VDL Mode 2

G1

ADS-C with ATN capabilities

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

 

 

M

Does not exist

 

 

M1

ATC RTF SATCOM (INMARSAT)

 

 

M2

ATC RTF (MTSAT)

 

 

M3

ATC RTF (Iridium)

 

 

O

VOR

 

 

P

Not used

 

 

P1 to P9

Reserved for RCP (future)

 

 

Q

Not used

 

 

R

PBN Approved
NOTE: PBN levels must be specified in PBN/ in Item18. Refer
Doc 9613

 

 

T

TACAN

 

 

U

UHF RTF

 

 

V

VHF RTF

 

 

W

RVSM Approved

 

 

X

MNPS Approved

 

 

Y

VHF with 8.33 channel spacing
capability

 

 

Z

Other equipment carried NOTE Modified: Equipment or
capabilities that are not specified in Item 10 must be specified
in Item 18 preceded by COM/,
NAV/, or DAT/

 

 

NOTE

  1. If the letter G is used, the types of external GNSS augmentation, if any, are specified in Item 18 following the indicator NAV/ and separated by a space.

  2. If the letter R is used, the performance based navigation levels that can be met are specified in Item 18 following the indicator PBN/. Guidance material on the application of performance-based navigation to a specific route segment, route or area is contained in the Performance-Based Navigation Manual (Doc 9613).

Surveillance (SSR) equipment

Here insert one or two of the following letters to describe the serviceable SSR equipment carried:

Code

Mode

Indications

N

None

 

A

Transponder – Mode A

Code

C

Transponder – Mode A and Mode C

Code and altitude

E

Mode S

Aircraft Identification, Pressure –Altitude and Extended Squitter (ADS-B) capability

H

Mode S

C and Enhanced Surveillance capability

I

Mode S

Aircraft Identification

L

Mode S

Aircraft Identification, Pressure-Altitude, Extended Squitter (ADS-B) and Enhanced Surveillance capability

X

Mode S

without both aircraft identification and pressure altitude transmission

P

Mode S

Pressure-Altitude

S

Mode S

Aircraft Identification, Pressure-Altitude

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.

DEPARTURE AERODROME AND TIME

Departure Aerodrome 

Item No. 13 of the ICAO Flight Plan. The input field is required to be filled with a four-letter ICAO aerodrome designator which is documented in ICAO Doc 7910.

Example: OPLA, CYYZ

In case if a place does not have a four-letter indicator, in that case, insert “ZZZ” and in Item No 18 write its full name after “DEP/"

Example: FAIRY MEADOW

Departure Time

Item No. 13 of the flight plan. It has a maximum limitation of 4 characters.
In this field insert estimated off block time. The time should be written in Coordinated universal time.

CRUISING SPEED, ALTITUDE/LEVEL, AND ROUTE

This is Item No. 15 of the flight plan. We have to enter the first cruising speed and altitude/ level along with the detailed route.

CRUISING SPEED AIRCRAFT TYPE ROUTE
N0400

A050

 LORI J210 NIVIT Z307 ROLA

Cruising Speed:

It should be true airspeed for the first cruising portion.
It should be written as follow

Code

Description

Followed By

Example

K

Kilometer Per Hour

4 digits

K0750

N

Knots

4 digits

N0400

M

Mach Number

3 digits

M084

Altitude/Level:

Code

Description

Followed By

Example

S

standard metric level in tens of meters

4 Figures

S0150

A

Altitude (in hundreds of feet)

3 Figures

A055

A

Altitude (in tens of meters)

4 Figures

M0610

F

Flight Level

3 Figures

F400

Only for uncontrolled VFR flights, the letters “VFR”.
General aviation example: A055 (assuming that you will fly at 5500 feet altitude) 

Route:
includes route designator, significant points, and changes of speed, level, and flight rules
Example: LENON  G412 NIJOL/N055  G214 RONAI   J179 BAZRSN/N0120/A090 IFR

DESTINATION AERODROME, TOTAL ESTIMATED ELAPSED TIME AND ALTERNATE AERODROME(S)

New call-to-actionThis is Item No.16 of Flight Plan. It has four input fields. In Field Below Destination Acrodrome write down four-letter location indicator as represented in ICAO Doc 7910

Example: OPQT, VTBS

In case if a place does not have a four-letter indicator, in that case, insert “ZZZ” and in Item No 18 write its full name after “DEP/"

Example: FAIRY MEADOW

Infield below EET writes down the total elapsed time required by a pilot for completing this journey.

Input is written in Hours and Minutes hence maximum limit stands 4 characters.

Infield below Altn Aerodrome, write down the four-letter location indicator of an alternate aerodrome to which aircraft will land if aerodrome of the desired destination will not be available. There can be a case, for instance, an aircraft destined towards OPLA due to Bad Weather at destination lands at OPKC that is its alternate aerodrome. So we can say an aerodrome to which an aircraft will proceed if aerodrome of intended landing is not available is called Alternate Aerodrome. There are two fields of alternate aerodrome the first field is for the first alternate and the second is for the second alternate.

OTHER INFORMATION

It is Item 18 of the flight plan. Any information that cannot be part of the above-stated points but it is deemed necessary and important for the information of all concerned is included here in this column.

Like information regarding the status of flight can be written followed after STS/. Different codes specify a specific designation of flight. And this status of flight represents information regarding special handling based on the status of a flight. Some times this staus may not welcome special handling but it provides useful information for air traffic service personals and others concerned. 

STATUS

DESCRIPTION

HEAD

Head of State on board

HAZMAT

Flight carrying hazardous material

HOSP

Medical Flight

MARSA

Military entity assumes responsibility for separation of military aircraft

HUM

Flight operating on humanitarian mission

Other reasons for special handling by ATS must be denoted under the indicator RMK/. If your destination aerodrome wasn’t having four-letter indicator as per ICAO, in that case, you must use ZZZZ. Hence for that ZZZZ, you have to give its description here in this column. Write the full name of the destination after DES/. Similarly, if you have written ZZZZ for Departure, you will write the name of departure place after DEP/. If a location doesn’t have any name, in that case, we use LAT/LONG. These LAT/LONG are written in this column. If an aircraft is equipped with a SELCAL, in that case, its code will be written followed by SEL/. If aircraft operating agency has a name different to aircraft identification, in that case, use this column and write it followed after OPR./

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION

This is Item No. 19 of the flight plan. Here we write details of Emergency and survival equipment. We also provide information regarding aircraft visual signs and features that can be helpful in the identification of an aircraft. It also includes information about Fuel Endurance of flight written in hours and minutes after E/. Information regarding Persons on board is provided in the numeric form written after P/. We have noticed that at the times in flight plan TBN is written after P/ instead of any number. TBN stands for To Be Notified. If information regarding passenger on board is not known pilot write TBN and provide information on departure.

SR

CODE

MEANING

ACTION REQUIRED

REMARKS

1

R

a) Radio UHF

Cross Out if 243 MHz not available

 

Preflight information officer should verify that at least one of these options should be selected.

 

 

b) Radio VHF

Cross Out if 121.5 MHz not available

 

 

c) ELT

Cross Out if Emergency Locator Transmitter is not available

2

S/

Survival Equipment

Cross Out all indicators if survival equipment are not carried

 

 

 

 

This column should be marked as Supplementary information become extremely necessary if unfortunately a flight faces emergency conditions or in case of search and rescue services

 

  1. P

Polar Survival

Cross Out if not carried

 

  1. D

Desert Survival

Cross Out if not carried

 

  1. J

Jungle

Cross out if not carried

3

J/

Jackets

Cross Out if not carried

 

  1. L

Life Jackets

Cross Out if not carried

 

  1. F

Life Jackets Not Equipped with Fluorescein

Cross out if U or V or both

4

D/

Dinghies

Provide Number, Capacity, Cover and Color info if no Dinghies cross out all.

 

5

A/

AIRCRAFT COLOR AND MARKINGSS

Aircraft color and significant marking

 

6

N/

Remarks

Cross Out indicator N if no remarks and if there is any other survival equipment write here its details in full.

 

7

C/

PILOT

Name of pilot in command

 

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