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Effective November 15th, 2012 ICAO will be implementing changes to the format of the ICAO flight plan.

The changes will require that more specific flight and aircraft detail be delivered to the ATC and in a new format. The main concern though is: how will this affect you?

The most extensive changes affect Item 10 (equipment) and Item 18 (other information). To the right, you can see the ICAO changes in red. According to the FAA, these are the major items to make note of:

  • Additional alphanumeric qualifiers that reflect enchancements to operational capabilities in ground-based and satellite-based navigation and surveillance equipment. The new qualifiers cover equipment for Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Contract (ADS-C), and Controller Pilot Data Link Future Air Navigation System (CPDLC-FANS), as well as several other qualifier additions and deletions.
  • Significant changes to Item 18 (other information), including formatting, indicator definitions, specific grammar for special handling, and new qualifiers for Area Navigation (RNAV) and Required Navigiation Performance (RNP).
  • Specific format for aerodromes not listed in the Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP).
  • Delay (DLA), Change (CHG), Cancel (CNL), and Arrival (ARR) message formats.

An added benefit to these changes is that you no longer have to file within a 24 hour period. You can now sleep at easy since you can now file up to 120 hours in advance.

Why are things changing now?

ICAO recognized the advancement of aircraft capabilities and the requirements of ATM systems that there was a need to update the methods for filing current flight plans. The goal of these changes is to better identify the newer communications and equipment while still accommodating the existing systems. This will arm the ATC with more detailed information in order to communicate properly with aircraft and assign the appropriate landing details, avoiding rerouting and delays.

These changes are also aimed at having a more unified, global approach to flight plans. The more consistent the filings become, the easier and more fluid international travel becomes, which will have a positive impact on all travel.

How can I prepare?

Practice makes perfect. The best thing you can do to prepare yourself and your crew is to get on board as soon as possible. Since July 15, 2012, plans have been accepted in the new format. It's not to late to start filing. This will allow you to work through any hurdles you may encounter with the new filing before it becomes mandatory. It will also ensure that if you are using a trip support provider, the provider will be prepared as well.

Even though Items 10 and 18 are affected the most, familiarizing yourself with the overall ICAO 2012 Filed Flight Plan amendment is the best way to prepare. Alternatively, your trip support provider should be prepared and able to ensure your compliance.

For more specifics about how these changes will effect you, visit any of these resources:

ICAO 2012 Updates to the FAA RNAV PBN codes

Effective August 2013, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) no longer requires operators to ATC file the FAA Area Navigation (RNAV) code in item 18 of the ATC flight plan (e.g. NAV/RNVD1E2A1). However, operators are still permitted to use the NAV/ designator to omit specific Performance Based Navigation (PBN) procedures.

For more information on PBN codes and ATC flight plan requirements please contact the on-duty Colt flight operations specialist or use the following links:

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Icelandic Volcano Activity

The recent volcanic eruptions from the Bárðarbunga volcano bring fears of a reprise of the 2010 "ash crisis" that shut a significant area of Europe's airspace. Due to concerns that volcanic ash ejected during the 2010 eruptions in Iceland would damage aircraft engines, the controlled airspace of many European countries was closed to instrument flight traffic, resulting in the largest air-traffic shut-down since World War II. The purpose of this site is to consolidate information from various sources to bring the latest information on the eruptions, local airport conditions, and potential airspace closures should the eruptions escalate and threaten air traffic flying across the Atlantic.

Bárðarbunga Information

The Bárðarbunga volcano, which lies in the interior portion of Iceland, is located at 64.63°N and 17.53°W at an elevation of 2009 meters or just under 6,600 feet.

Bárðarbunga is one of 30 known central volcanoes or volcanic systems in Iceland. It is the second highest mountain in Iceland at 2009 meters above sea level. It is located in the northwestern Vatnajökull ice cap and therefore covered with ice.

The enormity of Bárðarbunga was not recognized until 1973. An 11 kilometer long caldera in the volcano's crown is covered with approximately 850 meters of dense glacial ice. Eruptions related to the central volcano can occur anywhere in the caldera, and around the volcano for a distance up to 100 km.

Recent Events

Bárðarbunga began rumbling two weeks ago with the current seismic activity beginning on 16 August 2014. The eruption started from a fissure 300 meters long in the northern part of the Holuhraun lava flow, between the Dyngjujokull glacier and the Askja caldera, according to the Civil Protection Agency. The volcano lies under Europe's biggest ice cap, and has been rocked by earthquakes that have led to evacuations and road closures.

Immense and explosive eruptions are a possibility in the system with the threat of large amounts of ice melting and causing a huge glacial outburst flood. Over the last seven years, seismic activity has been gradually increasing in Bárðarbunga and the fissure swarm north of the volcano.

Although the number and magnitude of earthquakes around the volcano have decreased in recent days, the Aviation Color Code remains elevated in the "Orange" category. Orange means that either the volcano is exhibiting heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption, timeframe uncertain, or an eruption is underway but poses limited hazards. During the morning of 04 September, a magnitude 4.0 earthquake struck just 1.7 km southeast of Bárðarbunga, which is the weakest earthquake recorded in the area during the past couple of days. The strongest earthquake occurred on 03 September, and was located 5.7 km northeast of Bárðarbunga. There are currently no flight restrictions or active NOTAMs across the area.

Updated information, along with the most current advisories can be found on the Icelandic Met Office website at

Current Effect on Air Traffic

As of 04 September 2014, there are no current airspace closures in Iceland. However, this situation is very fluid and dynamic so things could change very quickly. Operators should continue to monitor the situation and consult with their Trip Support provider for the latest information, or check the latest NOTAMS from the AIP Iceland page of the Icelandic Civil Aviation Administration's website prior to operations in the region.

Bárðarbunga Facts

  • Location: 68°38´North Latitude, 17°31´West Longitude
  • Elevation: 2009 meters above sea level
  • Type: Sub-glacial volcano with caldera
  • Summit ice cover: Yes
  • Dominant type of activity: Basaltic explosive, phreatomagmatic
  • Magma type: Basalt dominant

This probably indicates that the rocks under the glacier are heating up and melting the ice. They are also monitoring increase in magma into Bárðarbunga's magma chamber.

Askja will be a small eruption and a smaller threat to aviation. This volcano will be fissure eruption, producing mainly lava and very little ash.

Some history on Bardarbunda: The last three eruptions have been sub-glacial and have not produced large amounts of ash. The last eruption to produce ash was in 1477. The eruption was classified a VEI 6. The VEI scale is logarithmic, which means for every increase in number, an eruption is ten times larger than the previous number. The 2010 Iceland eruption of Eyjafjallajokull was rated a VEI 4. This eruption could be 100 times larger.

Volcanic Ash Hazard to Aviation

An encounter between an aircraft and volcanic ash can be extremely hazardous and areas of known contamination should be avoided. Volcanic ash may extend for several hundred miles and the ash may not be visible to the naked eye.

In addition, airborne weather radar systems are not designed to detect volcanic ash clouds. Extra precautions should be taken during flight, particularly during hours of darkness and in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC) when volcanic ash may be present in the atmosphere. The following are signs that volcanic ash may be present during flight:

  • Smoke or dust in the cockpit
  • An acrid or sulphurous odor
  • St Elmo's Fire and static discharges around the windshield
  • A bright white or orange glow in the engine inlets
  • Sharp, distinct beams from the landing lights
  • Any abnormal indications in airspeed and engine parameters

An encounter with volcanic ash can be very damaging to aircraft systems and equipment such as the engines, the fuel system, and the water system. Volcanic ash is very abrasive and can stick to turbine blades in the engine as it melts in the combustion chamber. This can lead to a failure of the engine altogether. It can also scratch the cockpit windshield leading to potential loss of visibility for the cockpit crew.

News Feed

Latest news on Bárðarbunga volcano in Iceland

Helpful Documents


Meteorological Office Home Page
Volcano report Updated information on the Bárðarbunga seismic activity is given with daily status reports.


Home page The London Volcano Ash Advisory Centers (VAAC) is an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) designated center, responsible for issuing advisories for volcanic eruptions originating in Iceland and the north-eastern corner of the North Atlantic.
Issued Advisories IF there are any issued volcano advisories they will be displayed here, note that if no advisories are issued this site will say "There are currently no advisories in force".
Issued Graphics page This site will list all issued volcanic graphics they are in order of date issued with latest at the top of the list. Click on the required graphic and it will display, Ground to FL200, FL200 to FL350 and FL350 to FL55o, with expected progression of ash cloud.
Ash Concentration Charts Modelled Volcanic Ash Concentration forecasts are available from this link.
Ash Annotated Satellite Images Satellite images, annotated with descriptions of any observed volcanic ash and associated confidence in those observations, will appear on this page during real events and during exercises. The images are displayed for 24 hours before being passed to the archive folder.


Public portal (see headline news) This site takes you directly into the Eurocontrol's public Network Operations Portal (NOP). The Headline Daily News section to the top right of the screen will give any information on volcano status (click on the arrow for further information). If no volcano information is shown then there is nothing to report.


Home Page FUTUREVOLC is a 26-partner project funded by FP7 Environment Program of the European Commission, addressing topic "Long-term monitoring experiment in geologically active regions of Europe prone to natural hazards" integration of space and ground based observations for improved monitoring and evaluation of volcanic hazards, and open data policy. The project is led by University of Iceland together with the Icelandic Meteorological Office.

Start your trip right.

Join forces with over 8,200 flight departments who already trust and depend on Colt International for fuel, trip support, and insurance.

Contact Colt today!