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How to File an ICAO Flight Plan

Posted by on June 24, 2008 14 Comments Category : Flight Instructor Blog Tags :
I am sure you have heard by now but on June 29, 2008 the FAA is mandating that all pilots who plan on using RNAV departures and arrivals must file an ICAO or international flight plan. Now, you don’t HAVE to accept the RNAV arrival or departure. In fact, you can keep using the old FAA flight plan form, but if you want to or have operational requirements where you need to use the RNAV SIDs and STARs, well you better be familar with the ICAO flight plan form because it is now required to fly those procedures.

I don’t know about you, but an ICAO flight plan can be rather confusing and intimidating at first glance. However, once you go through it a couple of times, it really isn’t that bad. There are a couple of fields that are different and take a little explanation but that’s why I’m here!

In order to help you, I’ve created a short video tutorial describing and explaining the fields found on a FAA form 7233-4 or International Flight Plan form. I have to add a disclaimer. This is not a authoritative all encompassing, everything but the kitchen sink video. This is a very basic, here-is-how-I-did-it, kind of video. I ask that you check, use and consult all references provided by the FAA (not me).

Here are some links to references to use while watching the tutorial:

FAA Form 7233-4 International Flight Plan Form (pdf)

FAA Letter to Airman concerning the change (pdf)

Advisory Circular 90-100A – U.S. RNAV Operations (pdf)

Flight Services – ICAO Flight Plans
(the FAA printed version of this tutorial)

Roger’s Runway – If you have a Garmin 430/530 there is some more information here pertaining to RNAV capability

Doc8643 – ICAO Aircraft Type Designators

Information about what to put in Box 18 when filing RNAV


  1. Free ICAO Flight Plan for Microsoft Excel on Jun 26, 2008

    […] will have to file IFR flight plan. Many websites already posted about that, including the excellent Ask A CFI, AOPA and the FAA […]

  2. PlasticPilot on Jun 26, 2008

    Hi Paul,

    being a European pilot, I use the ICAO flight plan all the time, even when needed for VFR. So I developped a Microsoft Excel worksheet that mimics it.

    You can dowload it from http://www.plasticpilot.net/blog/2008/06/26/free-excel-worksheet-for-icao-flight-plan/

    Hope it will help.

  3. Blake on Jun 26, 2008

    We’ve been using them in Canada as well for a long time. VFR and IFR.

    NavCanada has a good section on how to fill them out, with a few examples.


    as well, a copy of a blank flight plan form:


  4. instructor on Jun 26, 2008

    PlasticPilot: Thanks for the download. I’ll definitely be referencing that in the future

    Blake: Thanks for including the links to the instructions.

    I wonder if the FAA will eventually abandon ALL FAA flight plan forms in favor of the ICAO form? I would be in favor of it. It would make traveling overseas just that much easier. I am also in favor of switching to the metric system, but I think I’ll see an ICAO form before I see that.

  5. Should aviation switch to the metric system ? on Jun 30, 2008

    […] Many thanks to Paul from http://www.askacfi.com, who asked this question in a comment on his own […]

  6. WB on Jul 19, 2008

    Great job addressing this issue. I have heard flight plans getting rejected by the system for using the wrong transponder codes. Can we still call up a pop-up on the fly? What info do we give? 172/G?

  7. instructor on Jul 20, 2008


    Yes, I have heard that as well. If you were in a position where you had to file a pop-up flight plan because the weather deteriorated to IFR then most likely it would be done using a domestic flight plan form so the traditional transponder and equipment codes would be fine such as C172/G. Remember the ICAO flight plan is only required when you plan on using RNAV departures and arrivals. If you don’t need a RNAV arrival for your pop-up IFR, then you could use a traditional FAA domestic form.

    Thanks for the comment.

  8. ahmed zawia on Nov 06, 2008

    dear sir/madam
    if we i would like to fiel ICAO flight plan .my aircraft in TACasII equiped my TACAS iis US what do i put in my ICAO flght plan to indicat this.

  9. Item 17 on Sep 26, 2009

    What about the item 17? Can any one tell me any thing about item 17 of the flight plan?

  10. JAVID on Dec 26, 2010

    what is the mnps system?

  11. Mike Cooney on Apr 27, 2011

    I was asked this and have no idea.

    When there is a change to the Captain on the flight plan, is a new fpl required or can it be “pen and inked” as long as the name is amended in the ICAO filing?

    And can you name the authority for the answer? FAR ? ICAO Document ? The infamous 8900?

    Many thanks

  12. MUSTAFA on Mar 31, 2012


  13. Carlos on Nov 05, 2012

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but when referring to the Estimated Enroute Time after item 16 (EET), the number “0230” refers to a time enroute of 2 hours and 30 minutes. NOT “0230 ZULU” since that is a specific time, not an amount of time.

    So saying that the 0230 for EET is “zero two three zero zulu” is incorrect. It would be “an estimated enroute time of two hours and thirty minutes”

  14. Donald Stern on Jan 19, 2013

    I have been asked for my PBN-code for the 530W GPS. Do you know what it is? How so I answer this question in order to activate an IFR flight from Canada and use my RNAV?

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