When flying internationally or crossing foreign airspace (common in the great lakes regions), you must file ICAO flight plans to be compliant with the regulations. However, there are reasons you may be required to file using the ICAO format for US Domestic flights, like Performance Based Navigation, RVSM, or ADS-B.
The ICAO format collects additional bits of information about your flight and aircraft profile that increase safety and may help with potential search and rescue efforts. If you are flying over remote areas, you can indicate what survival gear or emergency radios you have onboard. Flying over the Great Lakes? You can report details about dinghy equipment.
ICAO also has a field for special flight status, such as medical flight, medical evacuation, fire-fighting, search and rescue, or humanitarian. Additionally, you can note the type of radio and surveillance equipment you have. Communicating these extra details to Flight Service or ATC before you even depart can make your flight handling go more smoothly.
As we expand our geographic coverage, so does our flight plan filing support. With ICAO, you can file IFR flights to and from the US and within Canada, Caribbean, Bahamas, and Mexico.