Flight Plans and Flight Itineraries Commentary

General Information for Flight Plans and Flight Itineraries

If you are travelling more than 25 nautical miles from your point of departure, you must file either a flight plan or a flight itinerary.  A flight plan is filed with a flight services station and includes information about your aircraft, your route, and the exact time you anticipate the trip to take, from take-off to landing at your final destination, including the time taken for any stops along the way.  If you do not report your arrival to either an air traffic controller or a flight services specialist within 60 minutes of your filed arrival time, you are considered overdue, and a search begins.  If you will not be crossing any international borders, nor requiring IFR ATC services, you may file a flight itinerary instead of a flight plan.  A flight itinerary contains much the same information, but is left with a responsible person instead of flight services. The only qualification for a responsible person is that he or she has agreed to report the aircraft overdue. You are required to report to your responsible person within 24 hours of the time you gave for your arrival.

Question-by-Question Flight Plans and Flight Itineraries

9.01 and 9.02
Student pilots of helicopters and airplanes write the same PSTAR.  If you are learning to fly fixed wing, your school probably won't give you helicopter questions, but you never know. CARs 602.88 gives the fuel requirements for both helicopters and airplanes. Day VFR requires 20 minutes reserve in a helicopter and 30 minutes reserve in an airplane.  Formerly, airplane pilots were required to carry 45 minutes reserve, but now that much is only legally required at night.  The answer choices that mention  alternates refer to IFR, not VFR requirements.

(1) As it says in CARs 602.73, any aircraft going more than 25 nautical miles from origin, whether it lands or not, needs to be on a flight plan or a flight itinerary.
(2) In sparsely settled areas rescue will take longer, but aircraft can still get lost very close to urban areas.
(3) You may fly to any aerodrome within 25 nm of your starting point, without filing a flight plan or itinerary. Theoretically you could fly all the way across Canada without filing anything, as long as you never went more than 25 nm at a time.
(4) Local flights are not usually on flight plans or flight itineraries.

9.04 In practice, flight services may begin making telephone calls to look for you as soon as 20 minutes after your filed arrival time has passed, so as CARs 602.77 tells you, report in "as soon as practicable after landing" but never more than 60 minutes after your last reported ETA.

9.05 Your flight plan is where the search for you will begin if you don't arrive, so it is in your best interest and in CARs 602.76, for you to notify air traffic services "as soon as practicable" of any change in your route, duration or destination. Canadian search and rescue begins their search by covering the area within 10 nm of your proposed route, then if they don't find you they go back and search again within 15 nm of your track.  So if you are going to be more than 10 nm from where you said you would be, ensure you update your flight plan.

(1) One hour after ETA is the time for a flight plan, not a flight itinerary.
(2) How could it be an hour after landing, when the responsible person has no way of knowing when you actually landed until you call them?
(3) 24 hours is correct, but choice 4 is better.
(4) It is important to remember to call as soon as practicable after landing.  Twenty-four hours is an absolute maximum.

9.07 There are no age or knowledge qualifications in CARs 602.70 for your responsible person. It's better if you choose a pilot, because non-pilots, especially your friends and relatives, can become quite stressed over the responsibility of holding the flight itinerary, and over the possibility of accident which it represents. Also a pilot will be more efficiently able to pass the information to flight services in the event you are overdue.

9.08 ATS will often ask you if are on a flight plan and wish them to close it, but you cannot rely on them doing this.  It is your responsibility to ask that it be closed, either on frequency, "Prince George Radio, Yankee Charlie Alfa clear of the runway on Alfa, request you close our flight plan,"  or by telephone, "Hi, this is Foxtrot Yankee Charlie Alfa, landed in Lillooet, request you close my flight plan."  Don't close your flight plan until the end of the flight, unless you have changed your mind and will stay at one of the intermediate airports.

9.09 The time to put on your flight plan is the total time it will take between take-off at your point of origin and landing at your final destination. That is equivalent to the elapsed time for each leg plus the duration of each stop.
(1) You either confused 3 h 05 minutes and 3 h 50 minutes, or you added 45 extra minutes.
(2) Don't add 15 minutes "grace" time to a flight plan.
(3) 1h 15 mins + 30 mins + 1 h 20 mins = 3 hours 05 minutes.
(4) You forgot to include the time of the 30 minute stop.

Add all the leg times plus the stopover times. Do not add any extra "just in case" time, but don't forget the stops.

A lot of pilots get this wrong when filing flight plans, but it's not that difficult. To quote the A.I.P. "each intermediate stop is indicated by repeating the name of the stopping point and its duration in the route section of the flight plan/itinerary. Record the duration of the stop in hours and minutes with four consecutive digits."

So if you are flying from Chilliwack (CYCW), to Pitt Meadows (CYPK), to Abbotsford (CYXX) with a touch and go at Pitt Meadows, the route section of your flight plan reads: CYCW CYPK CYXX.

If you are doing the same flight, but doing a full stop landing at Pitt Meadows to drop off some commemorative model airplanes for the air traffic controllers, the route section of your flight plan reads: CYCW CYPK 0030 CYPK CYXX. Over the telephone (the way most flight plans used to be filed before we had Internet filing) you would say "Chilliwack Pitt Meadows, three zero minute stop, Pitt Meadows, Abbotsford."

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This page written 8 October 2002 by Robyn Stewart. Last revised 16 February 2013.
Copyright 2003 Flying Start Initiatives

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