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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

Type rated on A330, B747-400, B747, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


I received an interesting question from my friend Bob.

I have a question for all you pilots, including the airline types. I am working on the transition to the 2012 flight plan from the air traffic management side. Significant changes to flight data processing systems will be necessary. Curious to know the level of awareness within the pilot community. Has information on the 2012 changes been filtering down to you guys yet?”


Have any of you heard of these changes?

Bob further states, “You all do not have to be on the new ICAO FPL until Nov 2012 but the transition will occur throughout 2012. Australia is planning to join the AsiaPac transition in mid-2012. It will be particularly messy for international operations during the transition period because some States will be able to process the new FPL and others will not. I expect airlines will wait till the last minute to switch over. I think there is also a big wait and see attitude out there because it will not be an inexpensive change.”

Bob was kind enough to send me the background, and summary of changes:


The changes are considered an important enabler for the use of advanced CNS capabilities. They address air navigation functionalities and technologies such as reduced vertical separation minimum (RVSM), performance-based navigation (PBN), required communication performance (RCP), automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast (ADS-B) and global navigation satellite systems (GNSS).

The flight plan changes provide the ability to distinguish air traffic on the basis of more specific CNS capabilities, hopefully allowing for improved traffic management processes and procedures.

The new flight plan is also considered an interim step towards the implementation of the Global ATM Operational Concept.

Summary of Changes:

The majority of the changes occur within:

Field 10 (equipment and capabilities)

Field 18 (other information) to indicate more detail on aircraft and pilot capabilities.

There is also a requirement to process “date of flight” in the new FPL. Aircraft operators will be able to file a FPL up to 120 hours in advance. Some minor changes occur within other fields.

Field 10 Changes

Field 10 will now show not only the equipment carried by the aircraft, but it will also show operational capabilities relating to aircraft and flight crew certifications. Because of the number of possibilities for communications, navigation and surveillance capabilities, 2-character, alphanumeric indicators have been specified.

Currently, only single letter indicators are used in field 10.

If certain capabilities are entered in field 10, details of the capabilities must be amplified in field 18.

Field 15 Changes:

Bearing and distance can be specified from defined waypoints, not just NAVAIDS.

Bearing values may be specified in degrees true when operating at high latitudes.

Note: The field 15 changes will not impact my A330. Modern day FMS technology has the ability to program waypoints utilizing Bearing/Distance, and the adaptation of TRUE at high latitudes.

Field 18 Changes:

New indicators added:

SUR/ = Surveillance applications or capabilities not shown in field 10
DOF/ = Date of flight if more than 24 hours in the future
PBN/ = Performance based navigation capabilities
DLE/ = En route delay or holding
TALT/ = Takeoff alternate
ORGN/ = Originators AFTN address if not readily identified

Several field 18 indicators can only include standard coded information designators.

Other Changes:

Field 13b (EOBT) to be included in CNL, CHG, ARR, RQS and RQP messages
Field 18 to be included in CNL, DLA, CHG, DEP, RQS and RQP messages

Bob says, “If you have any questions, I'll try to answer them. Obviously, the biggest impact will be on flight planning and dispatch but pilots will probably need to be aware of new terms and the fact that notification of certain "capabilities" may be linked to pilot training and certification requirements.”

Thank you Bob for keeping us updated on the up-and-coming changes! Everyone please feel free to leave your comments, suggestions and questions for Bob. He's the man in the know.

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene


  1. Changes? What Changes?

    Since I file my flight plans either directly with FSS, or via a software service such as or Foreflight, I expect that the changes will be invisible to me - I may be asked to enter some additional info about my aircraft, but I already file ICAO style and include information beyond just /G. I expect it will be converted without my assistance. And I have never flown internationally (yet).

  2. The things we learn from the people in our ever-expanding circles! Don't you just love when surprises like this pop up?! :-/

  3. D.B.,
    I suspect you are right. USA has always managed domestic flight plans a little differently. The biggest impact will be on the organisations that provide flight planning services, including the airlines, and, of course, the air traffic service providers who receive and process the flight plans.

    I expect the changes to operating procedures and air traffic management practices that the new flight plan is designed to support will evolve over time.

    The FAA website for information on the 2012 flight plan is:

    - Bob

  4. DB thank you for your comment!

    And Bob, thank you for the great update on the upcoming changes!

    Yes Heather, we love surprises! :)

  5. have you used and place/bearing/distance waypoints specified from defined waypoints?

  6. Hi Cockpit.. yes... in the simulator.

  7. my service works on the processing of flight plans and we are waiting for big changes. It seems to be quite complicated, especially item 10. We will have to get used to it. WE'll definitely be in necessity of pilot's help.

    1. Great! I think we all need to work together.

  8. As I process a flight plan I have it already filed by the pilot.My job is to check its consistency how item 10 matches with item 18 and so on. Introducing changes like these endless alphanumeric characters for equipment field won't really be invisible for you pilots. don't you think so?


Thank you for your comment! If your comment doesn't appear immediately, it will after I land. Enjoy the journey!