Guide to Airliner Simulation - Part 3

Preparing at the gate

Following on from our previous issue where we had a look at the building blocks of a flight plan, this time we are going to go through the tasks that need completing before pushing back from the gate.

Preparing the aircraft at the gate involves several steps, such as setting up the systems, programming the Flight Management Computer and requesting clearance if we are using ATC.

 The paperwork

First, we need to get the paperwork ready and generate what is known as an Operational Flight Plan (OFP). We can use several flight planning utilities to create an OFP (see the previous tutorial in issue 112), but for this article I used SimBrief ( You can find a copy of the OFP on the download section of the PC Pilot website ( The OFP contains navigation and performance data, which we need in order to programme the Flight Management Computer (FMC). This includes the departure/destination ICAO codes, route and cruise level. For performance, we need the Zero Fuel Weight (ZFW) and block fuel – this is the total amount needed for the trip, including taxi, trip, alternate and reserve fuel.

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