How much IFR flight planning do you do?

gkrangers

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When you file IFR ?

This is a question for those of you when you fly general aviation IFR.

What extent of flight planning do you go into?

If you are flying airways, do you fill out a flight log with all the waypoints, headings between each, computed for winds aloft, ground speed, distance, time, fuel burn, etc?

Or more along the lines of...I have my route written down, I have my enroute chart, a rough total time estimate, and I know I have plenty of fuel to satisfy the length of the trip and the min fuel requirements?
 

User546

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The only time I really file VFR anymore is if I'm doing a X/C with a student. For all personal flights, regardless of weather, I prefer to file an IFR flight plan. Much easier, more controlled, and keeps me proficient at the same time.

How much flight planning I do depends on what the weather is doing that day. If it's a severe clear day, I'll take a look at the METAR/TAF, quick glance at the Surface Analysis, and Radar Summary or Radars if going long distance. PIREP's, NOTAM's, and TFR's always.

If the weather is marginal or forecasted to be later, then I really dig into the weather deeper to the extent necessary. I fly out of the midwest, and the weather can go from clear to a mess in an afternoon.

I don't ever sit down and calculate all that stuff that you mentioned. I use Duats.com, and I have the profile already loaded for the Mooney and Dakota that I fly. I type in my route of flight, it takes the current winds & temps at the various altitudes, figures them into the flight plan, including ETA's, ETE's, ground speed, fuel consumption, and fuel remaining, and prints it off in a nifty little knee-board sized navlog.

Is that what you were looking for?
 

Pedro

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I normally take a good look at that weather rock, if it doesn't look good I look deep into the weather so I always have an out. As far as the performance is concerned, I divide Dstance by TAS to get the time, and depending on the airplane I divide Time by GPH (rounded up always). Nedless to say if the headwind is big I take into consideration.

I normally use DUATS or AOPA.
 

GravityHater

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This is a question for those of you when you fly general aviation IFR.

When I am going into imc I carry so much extra fuel that it seems almost ridiculous to do any fuel planning. (I did say 'almost seems'.)
I just never want 'fuel' and 'aviation accident' to be written in the same paragraph with my name, so I plan much shorter legs and have lots of easy outs well within the range of the airplane I am using.

I don't know of anyone who does that faa-written test-style 'leg by leg' planning.... heck you can plan all you want but how often do you even get the route you plan.... so like pedro I look at the overall maximum distance traveled divided by expected groundspeed adjusted conservatively to get an approximate time... and then double check against the gps readout as I go.

One thing I have started doing when imc, or at night is writing down on the charted position: time, fuel remaining, heading, ete about every half hour. If you lose the electrons, its nice to have some other semblance of a plan!
 

Pedro

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GravityHater said:
This is a question for those of you when you fly general aviation IFR.

Still waiting for the question ;)

I agree with you, I always like to know how much fuel I have remaining IN TIME, who cares about gallons.
 

minitour

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Here's what I do.

Step 1: Open up FlightStar

Step 2: Pick aircraft, departure, destination and alternate(s).

Step 3: Have Flightstar download weather and review it all.

Step 4: Call FSS and file.

Step 5: Review approaches at departure, destination, alternate and a few along the way...just so I know what I'm doing.

This way I know what the weather is doing and I know I have enough fuel. FlightStar does the heading computations, etc...I just fly the airways.

Last time I did leg by leg was for my checkride.

Hope that helps.

-mini
 

gkrangers

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Yeah I review all the weather...I'm a weather dork, its what I do...so I'll get deep into weather if need be, no problem.

The automated flight planning seems to be the best idea...gets you all the important stuff with ease...

I keep track of fuel remaining....I always use 10GPH for the 172..so 2 gallons per 12 minutes.

Thanks guys.

I need to investigate DUATS more...I have my info, I just never really have used it.
 

Pedro

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GravityHater said:
This is a question for those of you when you fly general aviation IFR.

You said you had a question, that question.


Now as far as the other question, I'm Flechas, DBA Pedro.
 

Almerick07

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AOPA flight planner, pretty much gives you everything your leg-by-leg plan would in about 1/09267905867 of the time. In a GA airplane I tend to just top off the tanks to rid myself of fuel worries. As far as weather goes I dont mess around, I give myself a plan if things get bad (diversions etc...). I also review STAR's, approaches and what not before I get in the airplane.
 

GravityHater

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Pedro said:
You said you had a question, that question.
Now as far as the other question, I'm Flechas, DBA Pedro.

no, no you knucklehead! That was a quote from the very first post!!
omit, ignore, carry-on!
just kidding!
 

puddlejumper

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gkrangers said:
What extent of flight planning do you go into?
Oh man, this is an easy one. FltPlan.com is the answer. There are hi and lo altitude charts for planning and the DPs and STARS are all included on the planning page. The weather links are excellent too. They're not an official source of weather though, so I'll usually call FSS or log on to DUATS if I'm PIC.
 

midlifeflyer

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I use an automated flight planner for the nav log bit. It's based on what I expect to happen. Just runs from the home base to the first expected enroute fix and then by airway to the destination. I don't worry about the details of SIDs and STARS for the planing - there's too much variety.

Other than the obvious - the weather - the other real planning I do is to really look at the charts and figurer out what to expect. If it happens as I expect, great. If it doesn't, variation end up with a context and seem to me at least, to be easier to handle and even to figure out what is likely to happen next.
 

Lead Sled

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minitour said:
Here's what I do.

Step 1: Open up FlightStar

Step 2: Pick aircraft, departure, destination and alternate(s).

Step 3: Have Flightstar download weather and review it all.

Step 4: Call FSS and file.

Step 5: Review approaches at departure, destination, alternate and a few along the way...just so I know what I'm doing.

This way I know what the weather is doing and I know I have enough fuel. FlightStar does the heading computations, etc...I just fly the airways.
Here's how I do it...
Step 1: Open up Flitesoft.
Step 2: Same as above.
Step 3: Have Flitesoft download weather, winds, etc. and review it all.
Step 4: Have Flitesoft calculate the route, inserting DPs and STARs as appropriate; including calulating the optimal flight level(s).
Step 4: Have Flitesoft file the flight plan(s). Why would you even want to talk to someone at the FSS?
Step 5: Use JeppVIew to print out the appropriate charts. Review approaches at departure, destination, alternate and a few along the way...just so I know what I'm doing.

Total time for a coast-to-coast flight? 10 to 15 minutes.

That is for domestic US, Canada and MExico. If we're flying internationally, the procedure is a little different:

Step 1. Call the Red Team at Universal.
Step 2. There is no step 2. Universal does everything.

The important thing, whether you're IFR or VFR, is to get the "big picture". It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to spend a lot of time calulating your route to the nth degree - ATC will find out about it somehow and give you at least 3 revisions to your clearance before you even get to the runup pad. :p

'Sled
 
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Fly_Chick

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For GA flying, I basically pull up my profile and plane in www.duat.com and have duat.com plot the route, and provide weather by selecting 'route briefing'. If I want a different route (around weather, more time flying the plane) I will edit the route.

I have a general idea of the route I expect from looking at the lo-enroute charts. This is good as often I am cleared via a route different from what I have filed so I know ahead of time the other possible routes I may get.

I use duat.com because it is the easiest site for me to get to (no one else uses that dedicated computer) and most familiar.

I will also double check AOPA for the most recent approach plates, or changes to those plates.

If anything seems unusual, a call to FSS is at hand (new plates that do not seem appropriate such as an ILS to RWY 28, yet the only runway at the airport is 29/11).

While enroute, if I see build-up, or experience 'light chop' I will ask for a deviation.
 

Fly_Chick

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I also print my duat.com flight plan and weather briefing, and take it with me on the plane.
 

cforst513

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Fly_Chick said:
I also print my duat.com flight plan and weather briefing, and take it with me on the plane.
i do the same thing. it's a waste of 20 pages, but it's helpful to have.

i start checking weather a few hours in advance, or if i have access to them, get old TAFS and metars to see the general trends of the weather. i look at radar, area forecasts, airmets, sigmets, winds aloft, the whole 9 yards. i use duats.com for most of my weather planning.

as for routing, i first look for IFR preferred routes, then i look at the low enroute chart. if direct is feasible, like KEVB to KSGJ, i'll file direct. but for something a bit more complicated, like down to naples or up to valdosta georgia, i'll plan my route using airways.

i file with FSS and have him check any pertninent NOTAMS, convective weather or if there are any TFR's active, especially down here during football season.
 

semperfido

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1. call the gdc
2. tell them departure pt, dest pt, etd, speed,alt, fob, sob, fax#
3. resume flight info.com :)
 
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minitour

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Lead Sled said:
Step 4: Have Flitesoft file the flight plan(s). Why would you even want to talk to someone at the FSS?


It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to spend a lot of time calulating your route to the nth degree - ATC will find out about it somehow and give you at least 3 revisions to your clearance before you even get to the runup pad. :p

'Sled

I've done the electronic filing a few times. I always get worried my flight plan is going to get lost and I'll be stuck on a ramp trying to phone FSS from my cell to file. But that is a good option with the electronic programs.



...I so agree with the time spent calculating. Usually when you do that, you get two clearances before you depart, one or two right after takeoff, then two or three enroute before getting direct as soon as you can possibly get the destination to ID (assuming no GPS)...what a PITA.

-mini
 
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