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Author Topic: Flight plan practice by Jon D.  (Read 5818 times)

Hardy Heinlin

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Flight plan practice by Jon D.
« on: Mon, 1 Aug 2016 00:11 »
Copied from this thread: http://aerowinx.com/board/index.php?topic=3668.0

If you are interested in learning how a flight plan is used in real life, I put together a practice flight for you from JFK to DEN in a 744F using the GE engines. The flight plan was generated by simbrief.com. It is probably not the best software, but the version I use is free, so I can't complain. Here is what a completed flight plan looks like at the end of the flight: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-WRh0Hf7VdZekhkVW5QbWRfNzg/view?usp=sharing

I used red ink for everything that is done prior to liftoff and green for airborne. The red-boxed stuff in the header is what I would generally be most interested in when handed a new flight plan. The route is via RBV, but the flight plan skips it as one of the waypoints, so I just planned to go direct to BYRDD after the SKORR 3 departure.

Different companies have different procedures, and maybe other guys want to chime in here as well. Here's how the procedure generally works in practice at my company:

Presuming there is no ACARS, the captain normally manually enters the route using the RTE page. If there is ACARS, then he would send the recall number on the flight plan and wait to uplink it. Once the route is entered and executed (one of the only times you can execute without the other guy's approval), he puts a checkmark next to each waypoint, indicating that every waypoint on the flight plan is also entered on the LEGS page.Then he checks that the total distance on the PROGS page is reasonably close to the flight plan distance (this could vary a bit depending on runway use and arrival procedure).

The FO will take the flight plan and go back to the LEGS page, making sure that each waypoint is verified. Rather than checking the actual LAT/LON, he just needs to check that the segment distance for each leg corresponds within 2 miles of the segment distance on the flight plan (you can circle the segment distance too if you want). The FO would also circle each check mark that the captain made as he checks each waypoint. He can put two slash marks over the origin airport (JFK) before departure. If there is time, go to the PLN page on the EFIS Control Panel and step through each waypoint using the STEP key at 6R. You will be looking at the ND from a north-facing perspective and it allows you to visualize the route and see if there are any obvious discrepancies. Some FOs will actually verify the waypoints while in the PLN mode to save time.

Write the OFF time on the flight plan. In the real airplane, just prior to powering up at takeoff, at least one pilot will hack the clock and you will always have a display of your OFF time. If you forget to do it in the real plane, you can go to the ACARS page and get the OFF time there, but you will still be sitting there for possibly 12 hours looking at the clock and wishing you had hacked it prior to takeoff (it's an irritating reminder for everyone to see that you forgot). Also, note the takeoff fuel and put it on the flight plan.

So, here's where the fun starts: As soon as you climb out of 10,000', the NFP has to add up all the numbers for the ETAs for every waypoint. I think my completed flight plan example should show you how to add the times. When you get down to the last waypoint on the flight plan (your destination), you need to check that you didn't make any mistakes. Add the OFF time to the ETE and it should agree with the ETA you wrote for your destination waypoint. If it doesn't, you have to erase and start over (that's why we always do this with a pencil). Getting this done quickly while doing the NFP duties is a challenge, especially when you are departing an airport close to an oceanic gateway (Prestwick, Gander) and they want an accurate ETA for that coast-out point as soon as possible before they will give you an oceanic clearance. It gets challenging because you are doing other things while trying to add the numbers (talking to ATC, nav accuracy checks, preparing for a position report or at least an HF SELCAL check telling them you are CPDLC, etc.).

For practice purposes, we will just assume that once airborne, Kennedy Departure will clear us direct to BYRDD. You can go direct to BYRDD on the LEGS page and if it looks reasonable, put one slash mark over BYRDD on the flight plan.

As you are approaching BYRDD, this is where you would use the LEGS page to check the course and distance to your next waypoint (SAAME in this case). Look at the course and distance to SAAME on the flight plan and compare it to the course and distance on the LEGS page. (If this waypoint was an oceanic waypoint like N47W040, I would also check the LAT/LON for this by bringing it down to the scratchpad. If it was an oceanic waypoint that had a name, like DOGAL, bring it down to the s/p then select INIT REF, INDEX, NAV DATA, IDENT. The LAT/LON will be displayed.) Once the course and distance to SAAME is verified, you would put one slash through SAAME. When you cross over BYRDD, you put the second slash through BYRDD, write down the ATA and fuel on board at BYRDD.

Then, you start a time/fuel score off to the right side of the flight plan. Compare your ETA with your ATA for BYRDD. In my sample, we are ahead by 3 minutes, so you put +3. Compare the estimated fuel remaining with the actual fuel. In my sample we are 5,200 lbs ahead so we put +5.2. So you end up with +3/+5.2. Continue to do this for each waypoint that you approach and cross.  Now that you have your first time score, if you are asked by ATC what your ETA is for a waypoint further down the road, you can refer to the ETA on the flight plan and then adjust for being ahead or behind.

Remember, approaching a waypoint you will only have one slash through it. You would then check the course and distance to the waypoint after that and put one slash through that one too. Then, when you cross the waypoint in front of you, put a second slash through it, note the time and fuel, then do the time/fuel score. The second slash only goes through a waypoint when you've crossed over it. The first slash means that you have verified the waypoint.

I made a copy of the blank flight plan and a situ that starts out at the end of 31L with everything ready to go, so you can practice running the flight plan as many times as you want. Start adding the numbers as soon as you get out of 10,000 and see if you can finish by the time you get to BYRDD.

Blank Flight Plan: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-WRh0Hf7VdZamxORzlBSUtPUjQ/view?usp=sharing

Situ: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-WRh0Hf7VdZVWItaWdub0hmWnM/view?usp=sharing

Cheers,
Jon D.

Britjet

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Re: Flight plan practice by Jon D.
« Reply #1 on: Mon, 1 Aug 2016 10:08 »
Very comprehensive, Jon. I don't think we are as rigorous in BA in general, but the gist is the same:-)
One little tip is that when adding up all the ETAs, check the time against the LEGS/DATA every page or so - there is nothing more exasperating to fill out several pages and discover at the end that you made a mistake on page 2!
We don't require a double-check to execute the route in BA. Also, we don't check course and distances in general on airways sectors, only distance, as the magnetic database differs from the flight plan database, and internal calculations of track may be slightly different (rhumb, great circle etc).
In BA, MNPS legs are only checked when in TRUE, when track and distance are checked, so this is left until approaching the area, to avoid confusion on the ground.
Peter

emerydc8

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Re: Flight plan practice by Jon D.
« Reply #2 on: Mon, 1 Aug 2016 10:32 »
Thanks, Peter.

Quote
One little tip is that when adding up all the ETAs, check the time against the LEGS/DATA every page or so - there is nothing more exasperating to fill out several pages and discover at the end that you made a mistake on page 2!

You're absolutely right. I should have pointed this out because I actually do this in my head at the end of every page. That's why I wrote the off time at the top of each page -- to add the off time to the total time at the bottom and compare it to what I wrote down. That way I don't have to keep flipping pages back to get the off time.

Quote
We don't require a double-check to execute the route in BA.

Just so I understand what you mean here, if you are given a direct to a fix, at BA you don't have to get the okay from the other guy before you execute it? It is so annoying to have to do this anyway, especially when installing an approach after an engine failure while the non-flying pilot is running the checklists. You have to interrupt what he's doing to get him to okay what you are about to execute. I am convinced that you could put in a direct to the North Pole and he would probably okay it at that point.

Jon


Britjet

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Re: Flight plan practice by Jon D.
« Reply #3 on: Mon, 1 Aug 2016 15:12 »
I was talking about the initial route execution - but in any case BA doesn't need a second confirmation for any route change, although normal culture would be to mention it if the other guy is about.
I don't really see why you would need a cross-check for an approach - it has to be re-checked against the plate anyway..
As you know there are many instances where the other guy isn't in the seat to cross-check something like this each time it happens (such as an ATC direct etc).
Peter

emerydc8

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Re: Flight plan practice by Jon D.
« Reply #4 on: Tue, 2 Aug 2016 00:11 »
We don't have to confirm the original RTE execution on the ground either, but they are adamant about not executing anything while airborne without getting the okay from the other guy, unless he's in back when they give you a new clearance. I think it's absolutely ridiculous for the reasons you stated. It's nice to hear that another carrier agrees.

Jon

cavaricooper

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Re: Flight plan practice by Jon D.
« Reply #5 on: Tue, 2 Aug 2016 00:43 »
FWIW- from a non-professional, bystander's viewpoint it would seem that one airline emphasizes training to succeed, whilst the other looks for ways to bust a check ride... perhaps a bit over simplistic, but from the sidelines it does appear that way....

Still, the insight into the professional pilot's life is very appreciated!

C
Carl Avari-Cooper, KTPA

Will

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Re: Flight plan practice by Jon D.
« Reply #6 on: Sun, 4 Sep 2016 01:27 »
Jon, it seems like the emphasis is on elapsed time and predicted time at waypoint, and not on furl remaining. I would have expected a greater emphasis on checking fuel remaining with anticipated burn. Can you comment?

Thanks.
Will /Chicago /USA

emerydc8

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Re: Flight plan practice by Jon D.
« Reply #7 on: Sun, 4 Sep 2016 02:18 »
Hi Will,

On the right side, there is a fuel score along with a time score. Is this what you are looking for?

Jon

Will

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Re: Flight plan practice by Jon D.
« Reply #8 on: Sun, 4 Sep 2016 02:28 »
I see that, but it seems like the time is what's emphasized. Maybe I'm just being dense. The "fuel score" is an updated variance of predicted fuel remaining from actual?
Will /Chicago /USA

emerydc8

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Re: Flight plan practice by Jon D.
« Reply #9 on: Sun, 4 Sep 2016 02:56 »
Correct. You will usually be ahead on fuel because you will block out with at least the flight plan fuel, usually rounded up a few thousand pounds for good measure. If you see a significant change in the score, it might be time to investigate and consider how that will affect the rest of the flight if it gets worse.

Years ago, on certain 747-100 aircraft, we used to have to tanker (hide) an extra 10,000 pounds of fuel out of AMS in order to have enough fuel at the re-release point to make JFK. The airplane was such a pig with the -7As and it was probably out-of-rig to boot. Filling out the flight plan required some creativity, especially on the first half of the trip. You couldn't just say you took off and suddenly had an extra 10,000 pounds at your first waypoint. You had to spread it out. But those were the good ol' days, before ACARS and all the electronic gadgets that make life more difficult in a lot of ways.

Will

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Re: Flight plan practice by Jon D.
« Reply #10 on: Sun, 4 Sep 2016 04:12 »
In the commuter world, fuel wasn't as much of an issue. We'd need to pay attention, of course, especially with unplanned headwinds or with a diversion, but those were both fairly rare. We had other much more significant headaches, like long days with no autopilot. But endurance wasn't a headache, as the legs were short, and the company kept the tanks reasonably full.
Will /Chicago /USA

emerydc8

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Re: Flight plan practice by Jon D.
« Reply #11 on: Sun, 4 Sep 2016 05:13 »
Yes, but the skill set you developed there without the benefit of the A/P is something a lot of pilots don't have today. You wouldn't believe how many 744 pilots use the A/P as a crutch to effectively hide their lack of hands-on flying skills.

Will

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Re: Flight plan practice by Jon D.
« Reply #12 on: Sun, 4 Sep 2016 21:19 »
I believe you. I met a very uninspiring ab initio guy, hired for an Asian carrier, from zero flight experience directly into an Airbus after 200 hours flying Bonanzas and Barons in the USA. We connected because he told a mutual friend that he wanted to talk to me, so we had coffee. He asked for advice. I told him to be aware of what he didn't know, and be honest about what he couldn't do. My advice probably meant nothing, because he was part of a culture that hadn't embraced CRM yet and wasn't likely to do so anytime soon. He couldn't speak up.

I understand the problem though, because there are zero real "entry level" aviation jobs in Asia (and in many other parts of the world). Flying right seat in an A330 is an entry level job. So it's all good, until you find yourself in a situation where the automation gets ahead of you.

I trained with a bunch of European guys. They did their stick and rudder time here, doing flight instruction, then sightseeing tours at the Grand Canyon, and then some regional time, and went back home to Air Lingus, SAS, or Cathay. They won't be the guys you end up reading about.
Will /Chicago /USA

jtmuzix

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Re: Flight plan practice by Jon D.
« Reply #13 on: Fri, 13 Mar 2020 19:03 »
Very comprehensive, Jon. I don't think we are as rigorous in BA in general, but the gist is the same:-)
One little tip is that when adding up all the ETAs, check the time against the LEGS/DATA every page or so - there is nothing more exasperating to fill out several pages and discover at the end that you made a mistake on page 2!
We don't require a double-check to execute the route in BA. Also, we don't check course and distances in general on airways sectors, only distance, as the magnetic database differs from the flight plan database, and internal calculations of track may be slightly different (rhumb, great circle etc).
In BA, MNPS legs are only checked when in TRUE, when track and distance are checked, so this is left until approaching the area, to avoid confusion on the ground.
Peter

This is a well known phenomenon in math and logic called the trickle down effect. It sucks, that's why attention to detail is so important and why measuring twice cut once metaphor really does make a lot of sense.
Jason T.