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4 Answers

Which parts of a filed flight plan are invisible to ATC?

Asked by: 859 views General Aviation

We input a lot of data into the IFR flight plan, but there are some information that isn't visible to ATC. What information from the flight plan is inaccessible or worthless to ATC? Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think there is also a word limit to the remarks section, so some parts might get cut off.

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4 Answers

  1. Best Answer

    John D Collins on Oct 12, 2016

    It depends on the flightplan form, domestic or ICAO. On the domestic form, the basic information of the, tail number, Aircraft model, Equipment code, Airspeed, Departure airport, Departure Time, Altitude, route, destination, Time enroute, Remarks.

    FP N12345 C172/G 100 KSRQ P0130 050 KSRQ..LAL..KNEED..JENSN..KIZER..KEVB/0144

    Other information on the flightplan form is not sent to ATC.

    With ICAO flightplans, the fields on the flightplan form from field 7 thru field 18 are sent to ATC.

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  2. Mark Kolber on Oct 13, 2016

    John, do you have a good FAA reference for that information?

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  3. John D Collins on Oct 14, 2016

    I don’t have a good reference for a domestic flightplan, but the information in my example was edited from a live transmission to ATC. The flow of the flightplan is from the pilot to FSS/DUATS which keeps the entire flightplan and then transmits only the relevant items to ATC. Here is a log entry of a test flightplan I filed using the call sign of TTEST:

    lastTransmittedMessage: {
    artccAddress: “PAZAZQZX”,
    messageDateTime: “47412-06-02T19:01:27.000+0000”,
    messageContent: “DCA1204623 FP TTEST BE35/G 160 PACX P1415 120 PACX.BTT1.BTT..EAV.V444.BRW..PABR/0207 :TEST FLIGHTPLAN DO NOT CALL PILOT”

    If you look at the message content, the data after the FP is the detail of the flightplan transmitted to the ATC. It ends with the remark data. If you go missing, FSS still has the full flightplan that has all of your contact information, home base, fuel on board, colors, pilot name, etc.

    For the ICAO flightplan, there is good documentation based on ICAO Doc 4444-ATM/501
    Amendment No. 1, 15/11/12 – PROCEDURES FOR AIR NAVIGATION SERVICES, Aircraft Operations, Volume 1 – Flight Procedures. The FAA has a reference on its implementation of the ICAO document: En Route and Oceanic Services Aeronautical Information and Flight Planning Enhancements FAA ICAO Flight Planning Interface Reference Guide
    Version 2.1.

    When an ICAO flightplan is transmitted, it is labeled as an FPL or Flightplan request message. This is the message that gets to ATC. There is a SPL or Supplementary Flightplan data message that includes the information in field 19 of an ICAO flightplan and it is requested when needed to provide FSS with the SAR data contained in field 19.

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  4. Drew on Oct 25, 2016

    Thank you, John.

    The reason I ask this is because I thought you commented that ATC does not know the filed alternate airport for IFR ops. I just found that interesting since filing a legal and safe IFR alternate is a big part of IFR knowledge, but ATC doesn’t really care. At the end of the day, the PIC will have to land the plane where and whenever it is practical in a loss comms/emergency scenario regardless of the filed alternate, but wouldn’t it be helpful for ATC to expect that the PIC might divert to the filed alternate after following standard loss comm procedures?

    I’m not asking this so I can bend the regs or anything like that. It’s more of a theoretical question. Thanks, again.

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