Pre-Flight Planning resources

Pre-Flight Planning


Pre-flight information

Planning of flight by pilot in command CAR 239, AIP ENR 1.10

Before beginning a flight, the pilot in command must study all available information appropriate to the intended operation. In the case of VFR flights away from the vicinity of an aerodrome, flights over water and all IFR flights, the pilot will make a careful study and plan in relation to the following:

  • current weather reports and forecasts for the route to be followed and at aerodromes to be used
  • the airways facilities available on the route to be followed (if qualified to use them) and the condition of those facilities
  • the condition of aerodromes to be used and their suitability for the aircraft to be used
  • the air traffic control rules and procedures applicable to the particular flight, and
  • all Head Office and flight information region (FIR) NOTAM applicable to the en-route phase of flight, in addition to any location specific NOTAM.

You must calculate adequate fuel to allow for the safe execution of your plan (including any alternate courses of action) to satisfy the requirements within CAR 234.

Pre-flight information AIP GEN 3.1

Pre-flight information services are provided from the Network Coordination Centre (NCC) Pilot Briefing Office, located in Canberra. This office provides the following services:

  • meteorological
  • flight notification
  • COBT

Pilots must obtain an appropriate pre-flight briefing before departure from those places where suitable facilities exist. Where suitable facilities are not available, a briefing may be obtained from FLIGHTWATCH as soon as practicable after the flight commences. Information you request should be limited to data considered essential for the safe conduct of the flight to the first point of intended landing where additional information can be obtained. (AIP GEN 3.3)

The pre-flight briefing service is primarily an automated one. Pilots are encouraged to obtain pre-flight briefing either via the self-help electronic systems or through the briefing offices. These services are listed in ERSA GEN – PF. If required, elaborative briefings are available by contacting ATS and BoM staff from the briefing offices.
For more information on this subject, see page

Weather forecast requirements AIP ENR 1.10

Weather forecast information must include:

  • an aerodrome forecast for the:
    • destination, and
    • when required, alternate aerodrome and
  • one of the following:
    • a flight forecast, or
    • a GAF (at and below A100), or
    • a SIGWX forecast (above A100), and
  • a wind and temperature forecast

For a flight to a destination for which a prescribed instrument approach procedure does not exist, the minimum requirement is a GAF.

For private, charter and aerial work night VFR operations, the obtained forecast must indicate a cloud base ceiling no less than 1000 ft AGL above the highest obstacle within 10 nm either side of track.

Flights for which a forecast is required and cannot be obtained, are permitted to depart provided the pilot is satisfied that the weather at the departure point will permit the safe return of the flight within one hour of departure. The flight is permitted to continue if a suitable forecast is obtained for the intended destination within 30 minutes after departure (AIP ENR 1.10).


The validity period of the weather forecasts must cover the period of the flight. Furthermore, the aerodrome forecasts for the destination and alternate aerodromes—to be nominated in the flight plan—must be valid for a period of not less than 30 minutes before and 60 minutes after the planned ETA. If departure is delayed and results in the planned ETA falling outside the above- mentioned forecast validity period, meteorological updates must be obtained as necessary to ensure the safety of the flight.

If the pre-flight briefing is obtained more than one hour before taxiing for departure, you should obtain an update before departure to ensure that the latest information available can be used for the flight. This update should be obtained by:

  • NAIPS pilot access
  • telephone, or
  • when the above is impracticable, by radio.

More than one flight may be included in one flight plan provided that the meteorological forecast validity period covers all flights and relevant AIS information is available at flight planning.

Alternate requirements – weather reports and forecasts AIP ENR 1.1

In addition to the above requirements, CAR 239 also requires you to consider flying to an alternate aerodrome during pre-flight planning and ensuring you carry additional fuel to allow for any alternate courses of action. CASA gives directions regarding alternate planning requirements in the AIP ENR 1.1. In deciding whether or not to plan for an alternate, you must consider each of the following:

  • weather reports and forecasts—weather conditions and integrity of weather information
  • radio navigation aids (if NVFR)—availability and serviceability
  • runway lighting (if NVFR)—type and reliability of runway lighting and availability of aerodrome personnel.

As pilot in command, you must make provision in your pre-flight planning for an alternate aerodrome if:

  • you plan to arrive at your destination:
    • 30 minutes before the commencement of
    • during or
    • 30 minutes after the end of the validity period of a forecast that indicates meteorological conditions that are below alternate minima, or
  • if the forecast for the destination is:
    • not available or
    • is attached with the term ‘provisional’.

The VFR alternate minima are as follows:

  • for aeroplanes:
    • a cloud base that is SCT with a ceiling of 1500 ft
    • 8 km visibility; and
  • for helicopters:
    • a cloud base that is SCT with a ceiling of 1000 ft
    • 3000 m visibility.

This alternate provision does not apply to day VFR flights within 50 nm from the point of departure.

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New rules come into effect from 2 December 2021 that cover the general operating and flight rules. We are currently updating this guide to reflect the new rules. A new version will be available to download from 2 December.
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