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New Pilot Resource Answers Common Flight Planning Questions

June 14, 2017

NBAA’s Air Traffic Services (ATS) has released a pocket-sized resource for pilots that answers the most frequently asked questions about navigating the nation’s airspace. The new “Pocket Reference for Flight Planning in the U.S. National Airspace System” provides tips for filing flight plans, overcoming departure delays, responding to expect departure clearance times (EDCTs) and more, including a section of helpful web links for finding information on weather and route selection.

NBAA ATS Project Manager Jim McClay said the resource, available to members as a laminated card or PDF download, is intended to provide a convenient reference that simplifies the process of filing and updating flight plans.

“We wanted to create something that would be easy to keep in the cockpit,” McClay said. “If pilots get into trouble, they can pull it out, look over it and say, ‘What can I do here based on what NBAA suggests?’”

The project team compiled some of the most common questions the ATS team receives, breaking them down into four subject areas:

  • Filing IFR flight plans
  • Route selection
  • Responding to EDCTs
  • What operators can do when encountering departure delays

Each section contains advice from NBAA ATS staff at the FAA Air Traffic Control System Command Center in Warrenton, VA, as well as from NBAA committee members who serve in various roles throughout the industry.

Project lead Rich Boll, chairman of the ATC, Airspace and Flight Technologies Working Group of the NBAA Access Committee, said the resource can help improve airspace-related communication, both within the flight department and with passengers who may not fully understand the flight planning process.

“The goal is to get factual information out there to the membership to let them know what’s required – how do these delays work, how to flight plan to avoid delays and how to accurately communicate that to your passengers,” Boll said.

“We wanted to keep it simple,” he added. “We didn’t want to tell pilots how to do it, we wanted to provide some basic tips and resources, like make sure the flight plan gets submitted before the [airspace flow program or ground delay program] starts (preferably the night prior), monitor the FAA’s Operational Information System, know what the EDCT times mean, make sure you flight plan correctly. If you’ve got preferred routes or advisory routes that are required, make sure you’re aware of them and fuel for them.”

Download NBAA’s new Pocket Reference for Flight Planning in the U.S. National Airspace System.

NBAA Air Traffic Services specialists will hand out laminated copies of the pocket guide at industry events this year. NBAA members may also request a complimentary printed copy via email to