Planning a cross country is often taken a little casually . Most of the times we get off lightly but sometimes serious issues can arise and we have experienced these .
Destination airport – Collect all the information regarding the runway , its orientation , our heading when we approach the airport , transition level , the com and nav frequencies , parking facilities , most importantly the airport diagram and its taxiways as in an unfamiliar airport it can be quite intimidating. Refuelling facilities details and all necessary telephone contacts at the destination airport . Some airports make it mandatory to use handlers . These services can be quite expensive considering the cost of our air travel but sometimes it does help .We all have to be especially wary of uncontrolled airports as there is sometimes no one at the airport to attend and clear the runway unless prior intimation is given . I am sure , few of us will recall the difficulties we have faced . Watch hours differ in different airports and a confirmation is necessary before a flight is planned .
Route – Most of our flights are will go through important airspaces and any danger , restricted areas , prohibited areas , terrain , obstacles , naviads on the way , airways and alternates on the way . These need to be carefully noted .
Plotting the course – Mark waypoints , 10 degrees of drift lines and check again for obstructions , terrain and alternates
Weather – Obtain METAR , TAF and a forecast at the destination and departure airport . The other information we need is winds at departure and destination airport to calculate cross wind components , The other conditions we need to check are cloud bases, tops, visibility (is it and will it be VFR? within your limits?) , Surface winds , Winds at altitude , Surface Temperature , Temperature at altitude , Altimeter setting. Winds at altitude would help us decide the best altitude to request . Check weather on any of these sites . We also use an app weathertrac which has until now been quite useful. You can access information on http://imd.gov.in/pages/main.php
Here is a simple video presentation on how to read a METAR from PTP
And how to read a TAF from PTP
NOTAMS – Always check before you takeoff . You can see notams on
Altitude selection would depend on several factors
- VFR or IFR ; this decides whether you follow the semicircular rule or the quadrantal rule
- Visibility and cloud base – Weather information should guide you to safe altitude to fly.
- Winds – Winds may be favourable at a certain altitude giving you better ground speed and fuel savings.
- The distance to alternates on your track may help you decide on altitude depending on the gliding range .
- Radio reception is always better beyond a certain AGL as its a line of sight comminication.
Flight plan –
Aircraft servicable – All documents and engineers report
Weight and Balance – Centre of Gravity and Weight of an aircraft have a significant impact on the performance and handling characteristics . Greater power and greater fuel consumption apart , controllability is significantly with considerable elevator pressure necessary at times and stability and controllability is severely affected . Every pilot should respect these boundaries for safer flights . It is expected to have printouts of trim sheets for every flight . Make it a point to print these everytime.
You can find weight and balance charts for our fleet in the links below
IMSAFE ( I- illness ; M- Medications ; S- Stress ; A-Alcohol ; F- Fatigue ; E-Emotion
Now you can file a flight plan and happy landings !!!!!!!! https://www.eflight.aero/
Finally before you fly make sure that you have done and recorded the breathalyser test !!!!
A nav log and airport plates need to be carried during the flight . A sample NavLog can be downloaded from the link below and may be edited to suit your needs .