There is an existing question about VFR flight plans the answers to which suggest that FSS dont check these and the main purpose of filing GA VFR flight plans is to aid subsequent S&R efforts.

You could therefore file a flight plan where some aspect is beyond the aircraft's capabilities (payload, range, altitude, GNSS, other equipment, etc).

How about IFR flight plans for chartered commercial flights for example.

The International Flight Plan form has a box labelled "ACCEPTED BY" but I assume this just indicates that the plan has been received and filed successfully, not that it has been checked for completeness, feasibility or safety or that it has passed some authorisation process.

For IFR flight plans, is there any FAA-mandated checking or authorisation performed by FSS or other quasi-official body at time of filing other than simplistic checking that something has been entered in mandatory fields?

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    $\begingroup$ In the US other reasons for filing VFR flight plans are: when exiting or entering the country (crossing the ADIZ), entering or exiting the DC ADIZ, and entering presidential TFRs. $\endgroup$
    – JScarry
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 23:06
  • $\begingroup$ FYI, when you file a flight plan ATC (Actually Lockheed-Martin first and they forward to ATC) does not know your payload, range, altitude capability. $\endgroup$
    – JScarry
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 21:13

2 Answers 2


The FAA's flight plan filing FAQ says that it's about formatting:

Q: Will an FPL be automatically rejected or is that a manual function?

A: ERAS automatically rejects an improperly formatted FPL. The Rejection (REJ) message usually includes information which identifies the error. The filer should correct the error and reenter the FPL.

That seems to be confirmed in this FAA ICAO Flight Planning Interface Reference Guide that goes into detail on computerized flight plan formats, filing etc. Section 3.7.2 lists all the possible reasons for the ERAS computer to return a REJ (rejected) message, and they're all to do with formatting or invalid values, e.g. airspeed can't be zero.

To me, that makes sense: no one knows the equipment or capabilities of an aircraft except the person (or organization) submitting the flight plan. Even if the FAA had a database of every aircraft in the world, what happens if your GPS unit burns out and you want to file IFR using only standard IFR equipment (VOR, ILS)? Or you want to fly at a reduced (or increased) cruise speed for some mechanical or performance testing reason? The FAA couldn't possibly know if your submitted values are correct.

I don't know (and couldn't find out) if there's any situation where ERAM can't generate a flight strip even though the flight plan is accepted as valid. If it does happen, I suppose that would be a sort of secondary check.

As an aside, I was at an EAA IMC Club meeting last week and we discussed the new ICAO flight plan format (new to the US, that is!). A couple of controllers were there, and they said that you have to be careful about what equipment you put in your flight plan in case you get assigned something beyond the pilot's capabilities. For example, a Cirrus is PBN-capable and if you input all the equipment correctly in the flight plan then you may get a complex SID rather than just departure vectors. If you aren't familiar and comfortable with the avionics then you might get yourself in trouble, so it would be better to file only basic avionics. That kind of decision isn't something the FAA could or should validate.

  • $\begingroup$ +1 for mentioning pilots level of confidence in using the advanced avionics. $\endgroup$
    – wbeard52
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 23:18
  • $\begingroup$ It’s worth noting that the FAA will “accept” any route you file but may change it before you get your clearance, whereas many other countries will reject your flight plan unless you file a route they are willing to issue. $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    Commented Feb 13, 2021 at 16:10

I do not know the answers to most of your question. I suspect that Pondlife is correct that none of the values are sanity-checked (e.g. filing FL300 in a Skylane, or filing Tango/Q-routes as /A) with the possible exception of looking for a proper equipment code if you file for RVSM airspace. Even that I'm doubtful of.

But there are "preferential routes" (prefroutes) defined for airport pairs in the Center's computer. These could be obvious: If you file direct from JFK to ORD you aren't going to get it; instead you'll get


which is the preferred route in the NFDC database. But some routes are not nationally mandated and I don't know if there's any way to look them up; for example at my facility pilots who file direct to a certain airport will be routed over a particular VOR so as to keep them in Center's airspace and away from a busy approach control. These preferential routes will print out something like this on a flight strip:


and the clearance controller will give you a full-route clearance using the route on the top line. Or they might only be a partial reroute, for example:


and you would be cleared "direct DEF, direct FOOBR, then as filed."


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