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Flight Planning

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Flight Planning

Plan the flight, fly the plan

1. Plot Course

a. Get true course

b. Select checkpoints (9 – 22nm)

c. Start nav log

2- Weather briefing

a. Go/no-go decision

b. Adjust route if necessary

c. Select altitude

3- Performance Calculations

a. Wt/Bal

b. Takeoff/ldg dist

c. Time/fuel/dist to climb

d. Time/fuel in cruise

e. Complete nav log

4- File if desired and execute

- Using your plotter, draw a line from center of departure point to center of destination airport
- Look for hazards along your route
- Special Use Airspace
- Terrain
- Large bodies of water

- Adjust course if necessary

- Look for hazards along your route
- Find your true course
- Lay plotter down with top edge along route
- Place center on a line of longitude
- Read true course on East or West scale

- Mark mileage in 5 or 10 mile intervals on your route
- Example: SBN to SMD (Smith Field in Fort Wayne)

- What makes a good checkpoint?
- Precision
- An intersection of two roads is more precise than the point where your course is supposed to intersect a road

- Visibility
- Radio towers make poor checkpoints because they are difficult to see from the air
- Airports make great checkpoints because they are very easy to see from the air

- Distinctiveness
- Using a lake as a checkpoint when flying across New Mexico makes sense
- Using a lake as a checkpoint when flying across east Texas increases your odds of mistakenly identifying your checkpoint

- Precision

- Selecting the first checkpoint
- Should be within 5-10 miles of departure point
- Establishes your initial heading as correct

- Should be within 5-10 miles of departure point
- Additional checkpoints
- Select additional checkpoints every 9 – 22 miles thereafter

- Example:
- I chose the following checkpoints:
- Golden Dome / Basilica (initial point)
- Bypass road south of Elkhart
- Syracuse
- Merriam

- I chose the following checkpoints:

- Get a weather briefing from an official source
- 1-800-WX-BRIEF
- DUAT or DUATS

- Make a go/no-go decision
- “VFR flight not recommended”
- Conditions beyond your ability
- Winds
- MVFR or IFR clouds and weather
- Convective activity
- Precipitation

- Adjust route if necessary
- Select altitude
- Winds Aloft will inform this decision

- Weight and Balance
- Weight information will be required for performance calculations
- Example: Assume max gross weight

- Takeoff / Landing distance
- Ensure your aircraft is capable of making it out of your departure airport and in/out of your destination airport

- Time / Fuel / Distance to Climb
- Cessna charts make this calculation very simple
- Take value at your cruise altitude and subtract value from departure pressure altitude
- Make approximations as appropriate
- There is no need calculate to a level of precision beyond what is given in the chart
- Therefore, find:
- Time to the nearest minute
- Fuel to the nearest tenth gallon
- Distance to the nearest mile

- Time / Fuel / Distance to Climb Example
- Climb from SBN (799 ft) to 4,500 ft
- Weather:
- SBN 07010G15 10SM CLR 13/M02 A2997

- Approximations
- Difference between pressure alt. & true alt is 50 feet, negligible
- Difference between SBN elevation and 1000 foot entries is negligible

- Values for 4,500 feet (by interpolation)
- Time: 7 min
- Fuel: 1.7 (conservative estimates dictate rounding up)
- Distance: 10 miles (only valid in zero wind)

- Values for 1,000 feet
- Time: 1 min
- Fuel: 0.4 gal
- Distance: 2 miles

- Climb totals
- Time: (7 – 1) = 6 minutes
- Fuel (1.7 - .4 ) = 1.3 (+ 1.1 for tax & takeoff) = 2.4 gal
- Wind is nonzero, so note avg climb speed: 76 knots

- Before we can complete nav log, we need to find our top of climb (TOC) & top of descent (TOD) points
- Procedure
- Use Winds Aloft to find groundspeed
- Use time-to-climb to find distance

- Example
- Winds Aloft
30006000

FWA04163615

- For climb, use winds at 3000
- Interpolate: winds at cruise altitude (4,500) are 020 at 16

- Winds Aloft

- E6-B
- Turn to wind side
- Set wind direction (040) opposite true index
- Mark wind velocity (16) up from grommet
- Set true course (123) opposite true index
- Slide the TAS arc (76) under the wind dot
- Read ground speed under grommet (72)
- Read wind correction angle at wind dot (12 deg left)

- Top of Climb point
- Turn to computer side of E6-B
- First question: How fast?
- 72 (our calculated groundspeed for the climb)

- Earlier, we computed the climb would take 6 minutes
- Read distance (7.2) above minute (6) scale
- For the mathematically astute, 6 minutes is 1/10 of an hour, so the TOC distance is a tenth of our groundspeed

- First question: How fast?

- Turn to computer side of E6-B

- Top of Descent point
- Figure a 500 foot per minute descent
- From 4500 to 1800 (Traffic Pattern Altitude at SMD) is a 2700 foot descent, or 5.4 minutes

- 130 knots is a good descent airspeed in the 172
- Use same winds (040 at 16)
- Flip to wind side of E6-B
- Wind dot is still valid; slide up to 130 knot TAS arc
- Read groundspeed under grommet (127)
- Read WCA under wind dot (7 deg left)

- Flip to computer side of E6-B
- How fast?
- 127 knots

- Read descent distance (11.5 miles) over descent time (5.4 minutes)

- How fast?

- Figure a 500 foot per minute descent

- Check cruise performance to find TAS and GPH en route
- Plan on max continuous power setting (75% BHP)
- Temperature is standard
- 500 foot difference on performance chart is negligible
- Use 4000 foot data
- KTAS is 114 knots
- GPH is 8.6

- Measure distances between each checkpoint
- Don’t forget to factor in your TOC and TOD points

- Fill in each checkpoint and leg distance
- Compute cruising groundspeed
- Find cruising wind correction angle
- Apply magnetic variation
- Find ETE between checkpoints
- Find fuel consumption between checkpoints

- Example: Find cruising ground speed
- (Previously interpolated) winds are 020 at 16
- Go to wind side of E6-B
- Set wind direction (020) opposite true index
- Mark wind velocity (16) up from grommet
- Set true course (123) opposite true index
- Slide TAS arc (114) under wind dot
- Read groundspeed under grommet (116)
- Read WCA under wind dot (8 deg left)

- Apply WCA to True Course
- -L, +R

- Apply magnetic variation
- A check of the sectional indicates one isogonic line along route of flight, +5 deg W
- -E, +W (East is least, West is best)

- Result is magnetic heading
- This is as far as we can go until we look at the compass card in the aircraft

- Example (cont)
- Find ETE between checkpoints
- Already computed ETE (6 min) and fuel consumption (2.4 gal) to TOC point
- Fill values in on nav log

- Flip to computer side of E6-B
- How fast? 116 knots
- Read ETE underneath distance
- Round off to nearest minute

- Already computed ETE (6 min) and fuel consumption (2.4 gal) to TOC point
- Find fuel consumption between checkpoints
- E6-B
- How fast? 8.6 GPH
- Read fuel consumed over minutes scale
- Round to nearest tenth gallon

- Subtract en route fuel from total
- Assume a full fuel load (53 gal)

- E6-B

- Find ETE between checkpoints