Flight Planning for Airliners

Flight planning for airliners

With airliners being the main focus in this issue, in this hints and tips guide we take a look at one of the more important aspects of airliner operations: flight planning. We will also learn how to interpret a typical route and list some useful utilities for creating a realistic flight plan.

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Before getting underway, we need to have a plan.

The basics

Airliners typically follow an Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) flight plan, which essentially consists of three parts: the route, a Standard Instrument Departure (SID) and Standard Instrument Arrival (STAR). On top of that, we also need to know the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) codes for our departure and arrival airports, as well as an alternate in case we need to divert. Other factors that need to be taken into consideration are fuel requirements, cruise altitude and winds aloft so we can work out our ground speed and Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA).

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