Flight Plan Filing

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Industry, FAA Collaboration Results in Improved Guidance for Flight Plan Equipment Codes

May 16, 2014

Following collaboration with NBAA and industry stakeholders, the FAA recently published its revised operations specification guidance approval table detailing approval requirements for the revised flight plan equipment reporting codes implemented by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in November 2012.

"After the new ICAO codes were implemented, there was some head scratching as to how we could help pilots to understand which codes they should apply," explained Rich Boll, a member of the NBAA Access Committee work group that focuses on technical issues affecting Member access to the National Airspace System. "There was also some confusion over guidance from aircraft manufacturers regarding their aircraft's capabilities; although a specific aircraft may be capable of flying certain procedures, operators may still require operational approval to do so.”

As work group members worked on guidance for U.S. operators, it soon became apparent that they would also benefit from the ability to cross-reference U.S. operational requirements with guidance regarding operations outside the country. "ADS-B is one example," Boll said. "If you operate in some international airspace where ADS-B is required, you are required to obtain operational approval from the state of registry, on top of existing aircraft certification standards."

The new approval table – the result of a team effort involving FAA officials, NBAA and industry technical advisors – also serves as a "one-stop" resource for operators seeking specific approvals and operational information when operating in the United States and internationally.

Boll specifically noted the work of FAA Operations Research analyst Ray Ahlberg, who sorted through specific international approval requirements for Part 121, Part 135 and Part 91 operations. "He greatly expanded the table to cover U.S. and international operations, including key differences from U.S. requirements," Boll added. "For example, in the U.S., Part 91 operators are not required to have LOA approval for RNAV GPS approaches to LPV minima while operating in the United States, but other nations may require that.

"Pilots and flight dispatchers must ensure the codes used are correct, and that the filed codes reflect the approved capabilities of the aircraft and flight crew," Boll continued. "If you have the wrong code entered, you're saying to the controller that they may apply certain separation criteria between you and other, similarly capable aircraft, although that separation shouldn't be allowed without proper authorization."

Although the revised guidance approval table offers one of the most thorough reference tools available for pilots, Boll noted some areas for further consideration, such as a listing for enhanced flight vision systems.

"Overall, this resource offers a tremendous tool for pilots and flight dispatchers," he concluded. "Furthermore, this is a living document that may be revised and annotated as further capabilities are added."

Review the FAA’s operations specification guidance approval table. (PDF)