Flight Planning Tips for North American Region

PT 3 M minute read
Flight Planning Tips for North American Region

This business aviation blog post continues from our article last week, entitled “European Region Flight Planning Tips.

Flight planning procedures are relatively unrestrictive and user friendly within the North American airspace. There are, however, equipment requirements, restrictions, and specific flight plan codes to take into account when flight planning within this region.

The following is an overview of what you need to know:

1. What are top flight planning considerations?

It’s important to always properly annotate the aircraft’s performance based navigation (PBN) capabilities on your flight plan as air traffic control (ATC) will route you (via automation and tactically) based on these designated capabilities. In the U.S. this is done, currently, by displaying your item 18 PBN/ codes. If you want your filed flight plan (FPL) approved or ATC to assign you area navigation (RNAV) routing then be sure your PBN codes are properly updated in your providers database. NOTE: The U.S. allows you to indicate if PBN routing is desired for only some segment(s) of the flight. This is where the NAV/RNV is now used to indicate different PBN capabilities on a specific phase of flight. Reference the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM), paragraph 5-1-9, b.8.(d) for more information.

2. What if correct codes are not entered in flight plans?

FAA’s automation assigns routes and SIDs/STARs based on PBN information. If equipment/capability codes are not entered appropriately in the flight plans, operators may receive less than desirable routings and flight levels.

3. What onboard equipment is necessary to transit this region?

In domestic airspace there are no specific equipment requirements that are truly out of the ordinary to any other airspace in the world, such as ADS-B or CPDLC requirements. However,if operating in any of the Oceanic airspaces in North America you can run into CPDLC requirements when crossing the North Atlantic, or require HF radios where there is no VHF services such as flights to Bermuda and Hawaii. You will also want to be sure you have the proper long range navigational system as you probably need a dual LRNS setup.

4. Are equipment exemptions available?

In the U.S. anyone affected by Title 14 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations can always file for an exemption from any rule. That information can be found on the FAA’s website. Also, in Canada operators have the capability to file for an exemption. For more information visit their website.

5. Is random routing acceptable?

Within US and Canadian airspace it’s permissible to plan flights on random routes. When preferred routes are published, however, it’s recommended that operators follow these routings. Preferred routing information can be found in FAA A/FD publications or online at the FAA’s Air Traffic Control System Command Center and for Canada in their Canadian Flight Supplements.

6. Are some routings in the region restricted from GA use?

There are no North American airways or routings that are absolutely restricted to general aviation (GA), unless the airspace is designated as military. However, there are areas which may be closed for a specific period of time due to events or other such reasons.

7. What special requirements are there to ensure flight plan validation/acceptance?

FPLs in the U.S. and Canada should not be filed more than 23 hours in advance. This is a good general rule of thumb to use as some Centers may set their requirement a little differently. Outside of this error, the other top rejection reason is filing a SID or STAR that the flight is not capable for based on the codes filed in the FPL.

8. Are there any particular codes or processes that must be followed when filing a flight plan?

In the US, you are only required to file to the ARTCC (or FIR) that your departure airport lies within. To verify your departure airports point of contact, check FAA Order 7350.8. In Canada, the FPL is also filed to the FIR that your departure airport lies within.

9. Additional Reading: Flight Planning Tips

Note: Links will be updated as articles are published.


It’s recommended that you review the requirements for flight plan filings for the country you are traveling to, as this will avoid issues for your time of departure. As with any requirement, it may change from time to time so it’s recommended that you seek out those regulations or speak to your 3rd-party provider for more information.


If you have any questions about this article or would like flight planning assistance for your next trip, contact me at jasondavidson@univ-wea.com.

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