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International Flight Information/ ICAO Flight Plan

General Information

Flight Planning Notes


Download an ICAO Flight Plan Form


Foreign and ICAO procedures for VFR and IFR flight are at variance with domestic U.S. flight procedures. Many of these differences are given in DOD chart supplements, charts and ICAO publications (see Charts and Publications entry). The U.S. AIP contains "U.S. Differences from ICAO Standards, Recommended Practices and Procedures." Additionally, many areas require two-way HF (high frequency) communications. Pilots must insure that they can meet the requirements of each ATC region that they will be entering.

Oceanic Position Reporting

   a. Oceanic position reporting procedures call for aircraft reporting of all designated reporting points when following a designated oceanic route. Otherwise, positions shall be reported at designated lines of latitude and longitude. Flights whose tracks are predominantly east and west shall report over each 5 or 10 degrees meridian of longitude. Flights whose tracks are predominantly north and south shall report over each 5 or 10 degrees parallel of latitude. Reports over each 10 degrees parallel/meridian are to be made if the speed of the aircraft is such that 10 degrees will be traversed within 1hour +20 minutes or less.

   b. Position reports should be transmitted at the time of crossing the designated reporting point or designated reporting line, or as soon thereafter as possible. Flights operating within international airspace should make position reports, either direct or for relay, in the following format:

     1. Aircraft position 1

     2. Time over position in four digits

     3. Flight level 2

     4. Next fix and estimate over next fix in four digits

     5. Name of subsequent fix

1 For flights reporting coordinates rather than specified named reporting points, East-West oriented flights report latitude in degrees and minutes, longitude in degrees only. North-South oriented flights should report latitude in degrees only and longitude in degrees and minutes.
2 Pilots should note that a flight level request on a filed plan does not constitute authority to change flight level en route without a specific clearance, even though the ATC clearance originally issued may specify "Cleared as filed" or "Cleared via flight-planned route." These terms refer to the routing requested, and not to altitude requests contained in the flight plan.

International Flight Plans

   a. Flight plans are required for all flights into international and foreign airspace. The standard flight plan form is the FAA Form 7233-4, available at most U.S. FSSs. Flight plans must be transmitted to and should be received by ATC authorities in each ATC Region to be entered at least 2 hours prior to entry, unless otherwise stated in the various country requirements. It is extremely important that, when filing flight plans in countries outside the U.S., inquiry be made by the pilot as to the method used for subsequent transmission of flight plan information to pertinent en route and destination points and of the approximate total elapsed time applicable to such transmissions.

   b. The flight plan serves both the purpose of providing advance notice of foreign airspace penetration and the purpose of providing effective ATC procedures. For some foreign states, the flight plan is the only advance notice required; for others, it serves as a check against previously granted permission to enter national airspace (see aircraft entry requirements for the individual countries and time limitations for advance flight plan filing). Acceptance of a flight plan and the issuance of a flight clearance by a foreign ATC unit does not constitute official approval for airspace penetration if prior permission for airspace penetration is required from civil aviation authorities and such permission has not been previously secured. Airspace violations arising in these instances are pursued, and inflight interception may result.

   c. It is particularly important in the case of flights outside of U.S. airspace that pilots leave a complete itinerary and time schedule of the flight with someone directly concerned, and to keep that person advised of the flight's progress and inform him, prior to departing, that if serious doubt arises as to the safety of the flight, he should first contact an FAA FSS or the nearest U.S. Foreign Service Post (Embassy and Consular Office), as appropriate. Upon receipt of information from any source that an aircraft of U.S. Registry or an aircraft with U.S. citizens aboard is in distress or missing while on a journey in or over foreign territory or foreign territorial waters, all available information should be passed to the nearest U.S. Foreign Service Post (Embassy and Consular Offices) as well as the search and rescue facilities and services in the particular area of interest.

   d. The International Flight Plan is shown in FIG 1-7-1. The pages following contain instructions and examples for completing the flight plan form. The FAA complies with ICAO format, except that it does not accept cruising speed/level in metric terms.

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