The advent of the Internet and mobile technology has put a wealth of flight planning resources right at your fingertips – literally. If you’re planning a flight outside the United States, one of the resources to review and bookmark for ready reference is the International Flight Information Manual, or IFIM, which is available on the FAA website.
If you’re wondering what’s in it for me (WIFFM), the IFIM – once printed and made available in paper format – is an online preflight and planning guide intended for use by U.S. non-scheduled operators, business fliers, and private aviators flying outside of the United States. The IFIM also offers planning guidance for international flights entering, exiting, and operating in the U.S. airspace. An International Flying Overview section offers information on a range of topics that pilots must consider and research when planning a flight outside U.S. airspace. The IFIM strives to provide this information in a format that is easy-to-read, download, and print. It also includes contact information for foreign civil aviation authorities and aeronautical information services, plus hyperlinks to information sources suggested for additional research.
Know Before You Go
As stated in the IFIM’s online introduction, there are many differences that pilots need to be aware of when flying outside the U.S. To learn about such differences, pilots need to consult the appropriate country’s official Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP), a document that defines and describes its airspace, aeronautical facilities and services, and national rules and practices pertaining to air traffic. A fundamental point is that while ICAO standards prevail, some member states (including the U.S.) do note differences with ICAO SARPs in their official AIPs. Although the IFIM provides some AIP information from a number of countries, it stresses that the FAA cannot guarantee the accuracy and currency of information for all countries listed in its pages.
For this reason, pilots should use the IFIM contact information to check directly with a given country’s aviation authority to get the most up-to-date version of its AIP, thus ensuring the acquisition of the most complete and current information.
International Preflight Checklist
The IFIM also includes a suggested international preflight checklist. Although some items may not pertain to every flight, pilots should at least consider each element to determine its potential applicability to the planned flight. If you have experience in international GA flying, we’d love to hear your suggestions and recommendations for best practices. Write us (SafetyBriefing@faa.gov) and we’ll publish the top tips in a future issue. (FAA Safety Briefing – NovDec 2012)