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Online Extra

New NBAA Flight Plan Initiative in the Works

NBAA Air Traffic Services will unveil a new initiative designed to improve the timeliness and accuracy of flight plans filed by business aircraft operators. The so-called FileSmart initiative has the potential to reduce delays by affording NBAA Members access to NextGen flight planning tools and processes while providing air traffic controllers with more timely and accurate flight plan "intent" information.

Anticipated to go live before the end of the year, FileSmart will underscore the importance of filing flight plans as early as is realistically possible, as well as offering advice to flightcrews to reduce the likelihood of ground delays and last-minute re-routes.

"There's a lack of information out there about what operators should be doing right now to improve their planning and filing, as well as about programs expected to come in the future that will impact how they conduct their pre-flight planning," said Jim McClay of NBAA Air Traffic Services. "We came up with the idea several months ago to organize a large-scale national educational effort to inform pilots, operators and flight dispatchers about the urgent need to provide flight plan information to the FAA as early as possible before a flight, and to make sure that information is accurate."

The FileSmart initiative focuses on three key areas:

  • File Early: Filing as early as possible ensures that your flight plan is entered into the FAA's traffic flow management system (TFMS) in sufficient time for Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) flight planning systems to offer you the most optimal flight plan for your flight, taking into account known constraints in the National Airspace System (NAS). It also cuts back on ground delays by reducing the number of "late-filer" flight plans submitted into existing traffic management initiatives (TMIs).
  • File Accurately: Filing an accurate flight plan means less time spent on the phone or at the computer altering your route or negotiating a new departure time. Pilots who file an appropriate flight route that considers any TMIs in effect for the region are also less likely to face departure delays.
  • Check the NAS: Do you check the status of the NAS prior to your flight? Pilots are encouraged to make this a standard operating procedure when planning a flight, the same as checking Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) and the forecasted weather. In fact, new programs under development by FAA will make an understanding of what is happening in the NAS even more critical in avoiding constraints and reducing the chance for significant delays.

"In order to address this problem, changes need to be made in the way that pilots and flight planners prepare for flights," McClay concluded. "They must begin to take into account the prevailing air traffic issues affecting the airspace in which they will be operating."

The FileSmart initiative is still in the early stages of development. For more information about this effort, contact Jim McClay at

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