ICAO Doc 4444 mentions to input AFIL in the departure field of flight plan if it has been filed in the air. What is an Air-Filed flight plan? Can aircraft crew file a flight plan in-flight? If yes what are the equipment that support filing flight plans when in flight?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Are you specifically wanting international commercial operations? For GA in the US, all I have to do is call Flight Service (on an appropriate radio frequency) and tell them all the info, they file it for me. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Jan 24, 2021 at 17:30
  • $\begingroup$ Would you please define "AFIL"? It might help us understand whether you asking about some sort of data link method vs simply using the radios as others have described. $\endgroup$ Jan 24, 2021 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ AFIL is Air-Filed. $\endgroup$ Jan 24, 2021 at 18:44
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I don't think automation has quite reached the point where aircraft can file their own flight plans. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Jan 24, 2021 at 18:47
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to aviation.SE! See this question and this one. Both those questions are about general (non-commercial) aviation in the US, is that what you're asking about? $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Jan 24, 2021 at 19:05

2 Answers 2


It is quite easy in the US but it depends on controller workload. You need to be in a plane equipped for IFR flight and you need to be IFR current....[edit] to legally use a filed IFR flight plan.

If the controller is too busy they will make you file through a flight service station. This can also be done in flight but requires you to change frequencies, reach the FSS, wait your turn, and then file. The FSS puts you in the system. Then you call ATC back and open your plan [edit] -or- open with the FSS.

If the controller has time, they will file you on frequency.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ You can air file a VFR flight plan. I think the only kind of flight plan you can't file in the air is a DVFR or IFR crossing a border. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Jan 24, 2021 at 21:45
  • $\begingroup$ @RonBeyer That's exactly the pilot of an air-filed plan, it allows you to file a completely normal FPL from the air (including IFR) $\endgroup$ Jan 25, 2021 at 14:13
  • $\begingroup$ @expeditedescent Yes, I know that. The answer here seems to make a suggestion that you must be in an IFR certified aircraft for that to happen, my point is that IFR is not a requirement for air-filed plans... I'm also fairly certain that FSS can open a flight plan, not just file it. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Jan 25, 2021 at 14:39
  • $\begingroup$ @RonBeyer Got it. Good point $\endgroup$ Jan 26, 2021 at 7:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @JanHudec I can think of a few, for example if it's a nice day and on an IFR plan, but controller won't clear you direct, you can cancel IFR and go VFR. If you leave expecting flight following but don't get it... etc... But that isn't the point of the OP's question. You do not need to be IFR anything to air file a flight plan, only to file an IFR flight plan. You don't need to be IFR certified to file a VFR flight plan from the air, the reason for doing so is up to the pilot needing to do it, the system supports it. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Jan 27, 2021 at 13:25

To answer your question directly, the equipment enabling a pilot to file a flightplan while in the air is a radio. It is rarely needed, but air traffic control can file a flightplan submitted by a pilot over the radio. An air-filed flightplan is just that - a flightplan filed (via ATC) while an aircraft is in the air. It is a complete flightplan that lets you do all the same things a flightplan filed before departure does.

Note that landing at a different destination than the one filed in your flightplan does not require a pilot to file a flightplan from the air - diversions are handled by direct ATC coordination, without filing a new flightplan.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Of course nowadays any pilot flying a plane with WiFi could quite easily file a flightplan through an online flight planning service, which one might also (rightly) call an air-filed flightplan. $\endgroup$ Jan 25, 2021 at 14:20

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .