I tried to create an IFR flight plan (at simbrief.com) and there is something I don't get:
Are we supposed to know the runway/approach at the destination airport before taking-off, and add it to the plan?

Suppose I want to land at LFPG, the end of the route looks like this: LFPG destination airport with the route line not matching a runway

As you can see, the route is not matching any runway... The pilot is expected to divert from the planned route for the approach, if so, when? It seems that you can't use ILS in these conditions, so what happens with the FMC if you feed it with this flight plan? You should disconnect and divert manually for the approach, and when?

The route simbrief gave me looks like this: LSGG SIRO7N SIROD UH10 DJL DJL8W LFPG

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Are you asking for flightsim or real flying? $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    May 30, 2021 at 22:00
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I'm asking for flightsim, but I don't expect it to be much different from real flying. $\endgroup$
    – Swisstone
    May 30, 2021 at 23:19
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Consider joining a flightsim community such as www.vatsim.net. They will be able to help you out on flightsim questions. $\endgroup$ May 31, 2021 at 5:31
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @StephenS There is no difference in this regard in the flight plan between these two. (Ignorring all the obvious differences of a game and real flying.) $\endgroup$ May 31, 2021 at 6:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @VladimirF There is a difference in the OP’s knowledge we can assume when answering. $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    May 31, 2021 at 12:28

2 Answers 2


US-based answer. No, the specific instrument approach is not part of the flight plan and is not included in the initial IFR clearance.

The flight plan is just that, a plan. It can change in flight, due to weather, immediate traffic, traffic congestion (enroute or at the destination), or pilot's request. If an airport has a Standard Terminal Arrival Route (STAR) it is common to receive a clearance including that STAR, but because many if not most STARs are specific to an arrival direction and/or a landing direction it is not uncommon for the filed/issued STAR to be changed before the flight arrives.

It used to be the case (and I believe is still suggested in the AIM) that a pilot should file a flight plan that terminates at an Initial Approach Fix for a specific approach to the destination airport. This is important for lost-comm procedures; the pilot would hold over the IAF until reaching their estimated arrival time, and then proceed to fly an approach. This technique was probably easier when a single navaid at the field could be the IAF for multiple approaches; today, with ILS and especially RNAV approaches being far more common than VOR or NDB approaches, filing this way is exceedingly uncommon. Instead, a pilot files and is cleared either via a STAR (which might terminate at the IAF for a specific approach, or with radar vectors to an approach) or direct to the destination airport (in which case they must receive vectors to an approach).

In terms of actually flying the plane, yes, the pilots would "deviate" from the filed flight plan when ATC issues other instructions, such as a clearance direct to an RNAV IAF, or vectors to the final approach course of an ILS. When that happens the pilot may elect to fly the plane manually, or may modify the route in the FMS to fly directly to the specified IAF, or may set the autopilot to heading mode so as to fly the specified vector.

There is no reason to assume an ILS approach (or any other type of approach) is impossible, simply because it is not on the originally filed flight plan route.


What you’re missing is that DJL8W is a Standard Terminal Arrival Procedure (STAR) to the Paris area. Here is an (out of date) chart:


This procedure takes you from DJL to OKIPA, which is an Initial Approach Fix (IAF) for all of the Instrument Approach Procedures (IAP) into LFPG. For instance, here is an (out of date) chart for the RNAV 27R:


In the real world, you won’t know which approach to select at the time you build your flight plan since that will vary with traffic and weather, so you just file up to the STAR and then wait for ATC to tell you what approach you’ll be using when you get there.

  • $\begingroup$ Looks like the exact information the OP was missing. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Jun 4, 2021 at 19:24

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