This probably equally applies to IFR flight plans, but the general question is can arbitrary (unrelated to an airway or named fix) GPS coordinates be used in the route on a flight plan?

  • $\begingroup$ Can you clarify whether you mean lat/ lon coordinates provided by the pilot, or official pre-defined waypoints published by the FAA (if in the US)? See comments below other answers for more. $\endgroup$ – quiet flyer Jul 27 '19 at 7:22
  • $\begingroup$ @quietflyer Question updated. Whether or not they relate to a defined waypoint probably wouldn't matter, I'm just asking if they will accept lat/long coordinates in the route. $\endgroup$ – hemp Jul 27 '19 at 15:24

The AIM specifies how flight plans should be filled out, block 8 contains the route of flight:

  1. Block 8. Define the route of flight by using NAVAID identifier codes and airways

It is possible to do this if you can fly at or above FL390, since you need to get through class A airspace to get to FL390 you can not get to FL390 on a VFR flight plan alone.

Pilots of aircraft equipped with latitude/ longitude coordinate navigation capability, independent of VOR/TACAN references, may file for random RNAV routes at and above FL 390 within the conterminous U.S. using the following procedures.


Define the route of flight after the departure fix, including each intermediate fix (turnpoint) and the arrival fix for the destination airport in terms of latitude/longitude coordinates plotted to the nearest minute

  • $\begingroup$ I don't think there is anything in what you quoted that precludes a pilot from filing VFR below FL 390 using GPS waypoints. $\endgroup$ – Michael Hall Jul 27 '19 at 4:46
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelHall "may file for random RNAV routes at and above FL 390" $\endgroup$ – Dave Jul 27 '19 at 5:57
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelHall the way I read the question was if pilots can file with arbitrary lat/long points "can GPS coordinates be used", defined waypoints are aloud. $\endgroup$ – Dave Jul 27 '19 at 6:00
  • $\begingroup$ The AIM only references RNAV under the IFR filing section, for VFR it does not discuss it. But if we assume that anything it's ok to do on an IFR flight plan route is also ok on a VFR route, then it does say this about RNAV: "(e) Define the random route by waypoints. File route description waypoints by using degree-distance fixes based on navigational aids which are appropriate for the altitude stratum." $\endgroup$ – hemp Jul 27 '19 at 15:46
  • $\begingroup$ @hemp since its above FL390 you would not be able to get there any other way than an IFR flight plan as you would need to go through Class A airspace. $\endgroup$ – Dave Jul 27 '19 at 16:49

Yes, nothing prevents you from doing so, and it is quite common.

Flying VFR does not require you to actually navigate by means of visual reference, it just requires you to remain VMC in accordance with the airspace class you are in.

  • $\begingroup$ What is the format for GPS coordinates that Leidos Flight Services will accept? $\endgroup$ – hemp Jul 27 '19 at 15:18
  • $\begingroup$ @hemp Don't know what Leidos Flight Service is, but the format to use in flightplans is standard WGS84 DMS coordinates, such as 382338N 0763251W $\endgroup$ – expeditedescent Jul 27 '19 at 16:36
  • $\begingroup$ Leidos Flight Service, formerly known as Lockheed Martin Flight Service, is the official FAA flight plan filing service (1800WXBrief). Is there a reference somewhere stating that WGS84 is the correct format to use? The AIM says "Record latitude/longitude coordinates by four figures describing latitude in degrees and minutes followed by a solidus and five figures describing longitude in degrees and minutes." under 5-1-8. $\endgroup$ – hemp Jul 28 '19 at 2:48
  • $\begingroup$ @hemp I really don't know about rules for just one specific country. You should have specified in your question if you were asking specifically about the USA. Regardless, WGS84 is the standard format used for aviation worldwide. $\endgroup$ – expeditedescent Jul 28 '19 at 4:22
  • $\begingroup$ Do you have a reference that specifies WGS84 as the standard format used for aviation worldwide? $\endgroup$ – hemp Jul 28 '19 at 12:08

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