Weeks Twelve to Thirteen: Flight Planning & Visas 2016-11-09 14:27:00 2018-06-17 16:02:38
Pilot George
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Weeks Twelve to Thirteen: Flight Planning & Visas

09 November 2016

The midpoint...

Is it really time for another blog update? It only seems like yesterday I wrote the last one - that's how fast time at Ground School goes. So fast in fact that this post marks not only the completion of teaching for Flight Planning but also the midway point of my CPs 'planned' time in Ground School, results being well. I'm pleased to say that my motivation has come back out of the blue and I'm now well in to the swing of things again, thankfully, and without further ado let's crack on with this update shall we...

Plenty of Graphs & Tables...

CAA CAP698 Tables & Graphs

I've had mixed feelings about Flight Planning, the topic dubbed by some in CPs ahead of me as General Navigation Mark II. Parts of it i've found relatively straight forward and other bits have taken a little while longer to process and find their place in my brain. Nevertheless, I'm pleased to say that the more time I've spent reviewing the course materials away from the classroom the easier things have become. You make mistakes in questions, you learn from them and move on to the next hurdle. I often found myself being the one asking "erm.. why is that?" or "can you quickly run through that section again" and if there's one thing university has taught me, it's to be that guy! There's nothing worse than leaving the learning environment and not having any clue what you've just been talking about so that'd be my tip for someone starting ATPL Ground School studies, don't be afraid to ask questions!!

What makes Flight Planning a mixed bag is simply the sheer amount of tables and graphs within it (A sample as pictured). Some of the graphs aren't too dissimilar to the logic of those used in the Performance topic, but others have the need for you to interpolate (finding a value that is not shown in the table using two rows/columns of data you do have) and applying various corrections at different points. You can certainly see how you could trip up!

Another area is Flight Planning's distinction between miles of distance travelled through the air and miles of distance travelled over the ground and how to convert between the two. Now you may be thinking that if you travel at 500 mph on the ground that surely you'll travel 500 mph through the air too.. but this all depends on the wind. What makes it all the more confusing is graphs or tables don't always make the distinction between which they're using and questions give you values to work with in both!

If you're interested... Air Miles & Ground Miles
Your aircraft is producing thrust to fly at 500 mph and as such flies 500 mph through the air. However, a tail wind of 20 mph is pushing the column of air which the aircraft is flying through forwards an additional 20 miles per hour. Therefore, an aircraft flying at 500 mph is actually covering 520 mph over the ground. 

Thanks to a few:
Those frequent readers to this blog may be thinking that I'm quite thick as I often talk about how I don't get things but if truth be told, that's a common trait of learning. If you stick to it, you get it eventually and I'd like to say thanks to Steve the instructor and Jack, Will, & Will who've been sat near me for answering my questions. :-)

So what exactly does Flight Planning cover?

Heathrow Approach Plate

As a topic Flight Planning introduces us to the ways in which airlines calculate the routes they're going to fly, the fuel they're going to use for said routes and methods in which they can legally and of course safely, reduce the otherwise excess fuel carried through the use of alternative airports, shorter routes and contingency planning. As i've come to discover about aviation, there's many different methods employed in such calculations and it's certainly been interesting to learn them. Away from your general planning we also looked at the various charts for VFR (Visual), IFR (Instrument), & Transatlantic flights in addition to departure, arrival and approach plates used in modern day flying (London Heathrow's Instrument Approach plate for Runway 27L is pictured). Linked with the charts is learning all about the motorways of the sky, known as Airways, and how to file flight plans to Air Traffic Control for flying such routes. All in all there's lots covered and the large majority of it is fairly interesting as it links more and more to the end goal.

Here's the topic broken down:

  • Aircraft Loading
  • Fuel Planning
  • VFR Flight Planning
  • IFR Flight Planning
  • Graphs, I mean loads of Graphs
  • IFR Navigation Logs
  • Medium Range Jet Simplified (haha, if only) Planning
  • Medium Range Jet Flight Plans
  • Pre-Flight Planning
  • Flight Monitoring
  • Contingency Planning
  • Non-Normal Operations
  • Long Range Flight Operations
  • Filing an ATC Flight Plan

Visas, already?

US Embassy Visa

We had a visit from the Pilot Admin team in Bournemouth over one lunch time to discuss the lengthy process involved with learning to fly in the USA. There's Visas, Medicals, United States Federal Aviation Administration / Transportation Security Administration paperwork to permit us to fly CTC's Diamond aircraft and much more. So the ball is well and truly rolling on the paperwork side of things. It's quite odd thinking about Visas etc now when we're not even in Module 3 yet, but it just goes to show you how quickly the flight training process goes. When you're in Ground School the individual days drag but the time between exams speeds by (scarily!), yet in reality it's only a few weeks until we fly out to the USA. What makes that even better is we now have a flight date of the 15th March. On top of that, that's the day after my birthday which I thought I was originally going to be missing out on so at least I get to share it with family before jetting off over the pond. To those interested, we're flying with BA direct to Phoenix from Heathrow and the cadets off to New Zealand should be flying with Emirates via Dubai.

A nice trip home...

Home Time!

I got the opportunity to go home recently which gave me the chance to recharge my batteries, see my Family & Partner. The dogs went mad! We had a lovely roast dinner as an extended family which was delicious as it's been a while since I've had a full on roast and it was as if I was going home again after my first few weeks at University. Being bonfire night we also took the opportunity to go to the local firework display which was quite good actually! Going home makes you realise that your brain is more of a sponge than you think when family ask you questions about what you've learnt. It's certainly reassuring. All in all it was great to be home and lovely spending time with everyone.

What's next & Speedbird 9...

ba flight 9

Tomorrow marks the start of the final topic of this module, Radio Navigation, and I'll write a new post towards the end to update you all.

Aside from that, tomorrow evening is going to be quite an interesting one as CTC has arranged for Eric Moody, Captain of Speedbird 9, to talk to all cadets on the events that unfolded on the night of 24th June 1982 when his British Airways 747 flew through volcanic ash causing the loss of all four engines. There was no loss of life you'll be pleased to hear! You may, as I have, seen this flight featured on Air Crash Investigation but it will be great to hear the story from the Captain directly. I'll post more on that in my next update too!

For now though, hope you enjoyed this post and i'll be back soon!!

All the best,


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