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Formation Flights



ICAO Provisions for Formation Flights

Formation flight is defined as more than one aircraft operating as a single aircraft with regard to navigation and position reporting.

Provisions in ANNEX 2, Section 3.1.8 "Formation Flights" state:

"Aircraft shall not be flown in formation except by prearrangement among the pilots-in-command of the aircraft taking part in the flight and, for formation flight in controlled airspace, in accordance with the conditions prescribed by the appropriate ATS authority(ies).


These conditions shall include the following:

  • separation between aircraft in the flight shall be the responsibility of the flight leader and the pilots-in-command of the other aircraft in the flight and shall include periods of transition when aircraft are manueuvering to attain their own separation within the formation and during join-up and breakaway; and
  • a distance not exceeding 1 km (0.5 NM) laterally and longitudinally and 30 m (100 ft) vertically from the flight leader shall be maintained by each aircraft;

Non-standard formations are those formations operating under conditions, requested by the flight leader and approved by air traffic control, other than the standard formation dimensions provided in ICAO Annex 2 or formations operating within an authorised Flight Level (FL) band (example: military refueling operations with a few FL blocked).


click here to see the example picture of formation flight.




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