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Around The World 2006 - Part 2









Part 2: Visiting Europe (South)

This article proceeds with the around the world flight project on an Airbus A330-200 that was introduced sooner in Part 1 and will now visit some popular destinations around the Mediterranean.


Prior to going further on the following legs, I wish to mention that because the trip began in the second half of year 2006 and each stage (mainly including flights, flight reports, and then online publishing) tends to take more time than expected, “Around the World 2006” could then probably last until spring or summer 2007!


Please don’t close this window though, I guarantee that we are making this round the world trip flying a plane, not driving a car or even walking!


Leg 4: Geneva, Switzerland – Nice, France

After the rather eventful third leg and mountain flying in Switzerland, this following one could once again make the sick bags use topical for the most sensitive passengers – for the very last part only, as we will perform a special approach and strong crosswind landing at Nice.






This 4th leg will start at dawn


But before boarding the ship again, let’s talk a little about our aircraft loading. Aircraft weights are very important parameters which are indispensable for the Flight Management System initialization process made before each flight.


First of all, let’s consider the passenger & baggage payload. We’ll use the Load Editor kindly provided by PSS, which is a simplified software calculating the aircraft Zero Fuel Weight.






We’ve selected the A330-200 powered by GE engines, in two class configuration as aircraft model. Please note however that we’re actually flying a Project Open Sky aircraft, and not the model provided by PSS – the ZFW calculated here is correct but will then slightly vary from the figure used in the simulation.


217 passengers are seating in economy class – all the passengers actually for this special trip, since the business class has been accomodated as rest room for all the flight attendants, tour guides and reserve pilots, 26 people in all.


In the underbelly we have 16.7 tonnes of baggage and no cargo.


The load editor then computes our 155 tonnes or so Zero Fuel Weight. With an empty weight of 120.3 tonnes, that means a payload of a bit less than 35 tonnes. Aircraft loading has actually been slightly adjusted to obtain these round figures, which will have to be each time set in the MCDU as well as the FS2004 payload manager (working independantly). We’ll assume that this ZFW will remain the same all along the trip, unless we lose some passengers or baggage on the way.


The second step is of course considering the fuel, unless we plan to use our A330 as a glider from origin to destination.


For our short flight from Geneva to Nice, following the flight plan displayed below and taking additional reserves in mind, we need 9 tonnes of fuel (detailed fuel planning will be introduced in a following article).


The Zero Fuel Weight (ZFW) and fuel quantity are the only weights needed by the MCDU in the initialization process. Though the initial total fuel quantity (block) is physically measured by fuel gauges in the tanks and displayed on the lower ECAM (SD) fuel page, it must also be manually entered in the MCDU.


The latter then computes an estimation of the Take-Off Weight (TOW) and Landing Weight (LW). Pilots must check that they are beyond the aircraft maximum tolerances.






MCDU INIT page #2, where ZFW and Fuel Qty (BLOCK) are entered. We'll keep the default 0.2 T value given for Taxi Fuel. If a valid flight plan is loaded, Takeoff Weight and Landing Weight are then computed by the FMS, as well as Trip Fuel and Time.






Lower ECAM FUEL page, before engine start. FOB (Fuel On Board) displays the total fuel quantity, which is equal to the BLOCK value before the flight. Aircraft Gross Weight (GW) will appear on every SD page.


Note: Fuel Used figures are wrong and should show 0. This is probably due to a light dissension between PSS and FS2004 software.


So, let’s sum up (you may refer to the aircraft technical characteristics that were given in the Part 1 introduction) :


ZFW = Empty weight + Payload = 120.3 + 34.9 = 155.2 T (MZFW 168 T)


Initial Fuel Qty = BLOCK = 9 T


GW = ZFW + BLOCK = 155.2 + 9 = 164.2 T or 164200 Kg


TOW = GW – Taxi Fuel = 164.2 – 0.2 = 164 T (MTOW 230 T)


Trip Fuel = 6.4 T


LW = TOW – Trip Fuel = 164 – 6.4 = 157.6 T  (MLW 180 T)


Further cockpit preparation will also be introduced in the following legs and articles, but let’s now go back to our flight.


We will take off from runway 23 and follow the BALSI One Alfa SID connecting to the UN852 airway. We’ll level off at 23,000 feet but not for a long time. At Nice, we may expect a strong wind from the south and a special visual approach procedure.


Flight Plan







PFD and ND seen during the Standard Departure. We’re this time in the CLB managed vertical guidance mode, in which the flight plan speed and altitude constraints are honored during climb. We’ve just passed 10,000’, and then now accelerating to the managed target airspeed of 298 kts from our previous 250 kts IAS. The ND, set in ARC mode, displays navigational information in the sector ahead of the aircraft. With the 160 miles range set here, we can nearly see the entire (short) active flight plan. The blue and white arrows respectively show the Top of climb and Top of descent points, whose positions are automatically calculated by the FMS. Circles are drawn around waypoints with associated constraints. The closest French airport is currently Lyon – Saint Exupéry (LFLL), some 40 miles northeast.






Sunrise over the somewhat hazy French Alps. Chambéry and the tip of Lac du Bourget down there






With its 420,000 residents, Grenoble is the only European important city (as well as Innsbruck in Austria) to be surrounded by high mountains. Seen from the sky, the built-up area seems to be split in half by the Chartreuse massif.


Nice/Cote d’Azur airport has two parallel runways, 04L/22R and 04R/22L. Runways 04L and 04R are equipped with ILS since they are the most commonly used runways for landing. Today, however, a 20 kts south wind with gusts at 40 kts (75 km/h), known as “sirocco” in the Mediterranean area, will make us land on runway 22L. In this way, we’ll fly the special BLUE BAY procedure, which is a curved visual approach avoiding high terrain less than 3 miles from runway treshold.






Reproduced with permission of Jeppesen Sanderson, Inc.




©Jeppesen Sanderson, Inc. 2006


Reduced for illustrative purposes only


As we may see on the chart, the visual approach begins at “D5.1 NI”, close to the November Charlie NDB. In fact, the first part of the approach will lean on the AMFOU 3R Standard arrival directly followed by the ILS DME Rwy 04L (045° 109.95 NI). Once being on the localizer and reading 5.1 miles from runway treshold (D5.1 NI), we switch to the BLUE BAY visual procedure for runway 22L. A shown on the shart, we should keep the useful distance information provided by the DME throughout the approach. Of course, I realised that the DME was not working during the simulation. A software surprise probably thought in a way to make things more spicy – this could meanwhile also happen in real life. I decided to carry on the approach, using the November Charlie NDB instead of D5.1 NI, then visual reference only, following the topographical information provided by the chart and starting the turn back a little while after abeam threshold 22L. The result was some kind of a 11/20 marked landing, with a steep descent rate on final, difficulties to align with the runway and late touchdown. The crosswind had naturally got something to do with it. Runway 22L is nearly 3 kilometers long so hopefully we could safely stop and even vacate it before the last taxiway.






Last turn, joining the 225° track. The four PAPI lights are white, we’re then still too high.






Close-up on the NAV display once on final. The yellow index shows the actual aircraft heading while the green diamond displays current aircraft ground track, which is different from heading in this particular crosswind condition. Present wind is at 25 kts, coming from the 176° sector, which is roughly the South. You may also see the difference between the Ground speed (GS) and True airspeed (TAS).






Not the best trajectory indeed. In the meantime, an Easyjet 737 is taking off from Rwy 22R.






The 11/20 landing. Note the bank angle of the aircraft: left main gear has only just touched down, while the nose gear is still in the air. Because of the late touchdown, reversers are already in action.






Welcome to the French riviera. The following leg will be (at least) somewhat quieter.


Leg 5: Nice, France – Madrid, Spain

For this leg, I wish to introduce the MCDU programming concerning the flight plan. This Nice to Madrid route will then be used as an example, but the process will remain analog for any other route.


The flight plan has been made using Jeppesen enroute charts, as said in the introduction. In real life operations, pilots usually get a computed flight plan dispatched by a ground service, but they will always take the classic paper enroute charts covering their flight with them on the flight deck.


The computed flight plan sheet includes several technical information and figures (such as fuel planning, time, alternate info, waypoints coordinates, altitudes, etc.), but the scheduled route will always have the following appearance (given here for our current flight):




At the ends of the sequence are the ICAO (the International Civil Aviation Organization) 4-letter codes for departure and destination airports: LFMN for NICE/COTE D’AZUR and LEMD for MADRID/BARAJAS


If a Standard Instrument Departure (SID) is observed, it will appear directly after the departure airport.


This is well the case now: we will take off from runway 22R and fly the SAINT-TROPEZ 9 Whisky SID, which doesn’t leads directly to the Saint-Tropez VOR (STP) but makes a few turns over the sea in a view to get some altitude, probably because of security and noise abatement reasons. From STP, we’ll follow the high altitude airways until reaching the last waypoint of the route. If we remain on the same airway through several waypoints, they will not appear in the flight plan sequence. For example, there are several waypoints between MAMES and RAMON but they’re all located on the UN975 airway. This is very useful for the Flight Management System programming: we only have to specify the airway and its own database will insert the intermediate waypoints, assuming that we enter a valid waypoint/airway combination. In some cases, we can remain on the same airway during hundreds of miles and cross nearly the whole of Europe! Waypoints are now in most of cases 4-letter intersections that are not physical ground objects but simply geographical coordinates. VOR (for Very high frequency Omnidirectional Radio range) equipment is still topical on the continents, but the better and better accuracy of aircraft onboard navigation systems (IRS and GPS systems that’ll be tackled at the end of this series) has now made them less indispensable during enroute flight in modern airliners.


TERSA intersection is the last waypoint of the flight plan. From there, we’ll fly the TERSA 1 Bravo Standard Arrival, leading to the Perales VOR (PDT), right on runway 33 axis. ILS Rwy 33 approach will conclude this flight.


So, let’s see now how we put this data into the MCDU:






The MCDU, seen here entirely, is then the pilot’s interface with the Flight Management System. It contains a display screen, line select keys (LSK) and a keyboard. It will always have this basic configuration, whatever aircraft type. If we look closer, however, available pages, keys and functions will vary from one aircraft manufacturer to another. In that way, it is quite different from Boeing’s FMC. The “PROG” page, for example, does not provide the same information as the “Progress” page typical with Boeing. The keyboard input appears on the bottom line, called the scratchpad. Left (1-6L) and right (1-6R) LSK are used to insert information from scratchpad into corresponding field.


On the INIT Page, Subpage #1 shown here, we must insert the departure and destination airports, alternate airport (Madrid – Torrejon in this case). Flight number, cost index (see later) and cruise altitude can be inserted here also. LAT and LONG fields contain the origin airport/parking stand geographical coordinates needed for IRS alignment. Though they must be filled in by pilots in real life (the data appearing on the airport diagram chart), FS2004 kindly provides the exact figures automatically.


If we push the F-PLAN key, we’ll access the flightplan main page. We can then take care of the route and come back to the other important MCDU preparation later (weight, fuel, performance, etc.).






Origin and destination airports only appear now. The scheduled flight plan must be filled in between them. The MCDU though already computes the distance between LFMN and LEMD. In fact, it calculates the great circle arc using the coordinates of origin and destinations airports available in its database. Great circles are intersections between the Earth sphere and planes passing by its center. A plane is entirely defined by 3 points, which are the origin, destination and Earth center in this case. The great circle arc is then the shortest way from two points located on the Earth’s surface. Though airways, and in particular the oceanic and polar routes try to lean on great circles, they’ll always provide longer paths. Once our flight plan will be completed, we’ll find a greater distance than the now indicated 516 nautical miles. To insert the Standard Departure, we press the LSK 1L to access the available runways and SIDs for Madrid – Barajas. This introduces another difference with Boeing, where departure and arrival information is specified through a different page (DEP/ARR).






Once on the Departures subpage, we select the desired runway pressing LSK 5L. The MCDU will then display the available SIDs for the selected runway. We select the STP9W SID and then insert it in the active flight plan by pressing LSK 6R. Back to the flight plan main page, we see that several waypoints generated by the SID have been added. Speed and/or altitude constraints are automatically added also.






Now, let’s see how we insert the waypoints and airways. The flight plan has been completed up to MAMES waypoint. From there, we want to fly to RAMON. If flying directly, we would just have to type RAMON on the scratchpad and then insert it after MAMES using LSK 3L. But we have to follow the UN975 airway; this is as simple as that: once pressing LSK 2L...






... we access the Lateral Revision subpage from MAMES where we use the VIA/GO TO entry: we want to go to RAMON via the UN975 airway, so we type UN975/RAMON on the scratchpad and insert it pressing LSK 2R. The MCDU then goes back to the main flight plan page, which is now displayed in yellow meaning that this is a temporary flight plan. To make it become active, we must still press LSK 6R. The “INSERT” function of the MCDU is similar to the Boeing FMC’s “EXEC” key. Once the insertion is confirmed, we come back to our active flight plan and we see that several waypoints have been added, leading to RAMON.We may even check that on the ND, set in PLAN mode.






And we proceed like this up to TERSA. From there, we select the ILS 33 and the TERSA1B STAR in the same way as for the departure.


Selecting the expected landing runway is important since the MCDU will also set the ILS frequency, if available, as well as the ND course (equal to runway heading) automatically.






Once the STAR is inserted, we delete a possible last discontinuity before LEMD using the CLR key, and this completes the flight plan. A good thing to do is to save it, so that we may call it back if we unfortunately encounter a software problem or whatever and have to resume the whole flight.






Once we’ve filled in the INIT pages completely (inserting ZFW and BLOCK, as explained in the previous leg), the MCDU will fill in all the remaining dashed fields, showing the estimated speed/altitude at which every waypoint shall be crossed, as well as flight time, route distance (now showing the greater value of 566 miles) and estimated fuel on board at destination (EFOB).


Once airborne, the flight time (showing here 1 hour and 24 minutes) will switch to the Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA), using GMT (Zulu) reference. EFOB is often underestimated before the flight and should show higher values once reaching cruise altitude and speed. The information provided by this FLIGHT PLAN page is now similar to the Boeing’s FMC PROGRESS page. Another interesting feature to point out here: while the same page (F-PLAN) provides both flight plan editing and “progress” information with Airbus, these different functions are monitored by two distinct pages (LEGS and PROG) with Boeing.


And let’s go back to live screenshots now. This flight was uneventful as expected – we could however enjoy a zenithal view of Barcelona and the arid landscape of Castile on the approach.






Reaching the holding point for runway 22R. Aircraft spotters (only) would feel in Heaven in the background buildings.






Crossing BCN VOR – Barcelona shore from 31,000 ft!






Madrid-Barajas approach: a few miles before Perales VOR






Landing runway 33, which is crossed by runway 36R also visible here.






Last meter of the flight.


The marshaller (the yellow guy between the Iberia plane and ours) looks really small in front of the A330 machine!


Leg 6: Madrid, Spain – Malaga, Spain

The second Spanish destination of our trip is probably Costa del Sol’s most popular spot; approach into Malaga will also provide us typical views of Andalusia landscape.


We’ll take off at dawn, observing an initial climb-out preliminary SID from the new 36L runway.


Flight plan







Reproduced with permission of Jeppesen Sanderson, Inc.




©Jeppesen Sanderson, Inc. 2006


Reduced for illustrative purposes only


The SID and its initial climb-out phase can be programmed in the MCDU, which will also insert the same speed and altitude constraints as the ones specified on the chart (see above). Using autopilot managed vertical guidance (CLB mode), managed lateral guidance (NAV mode) and managed speed after take off will make the aircraft follow the correct path and remain beyond speed restrictions, so that pilots can concentrate on other important things such as the latest news.


Joking apart, the approach into Malaga will be the ILS DME-Alpha Rwy 14, the localizer being captured just after BAMAR IAF. A routine procedure, though we have some high terrain in both sides of the approach corridor.






MCDU F-PLAN page once the SID has been inserted. Speed and altitude constraints corresponding to the chart’s specifications are displayed in red






Taxiing out in front of the Iberia maintenance hangars.






Holding point runway 36L.






Lining up. Note the SID legs and altitude constraints on the ND. The 240 kts speed limit in the initial climb is represented by the magenta dot.






Malaga approach: approaching BAMAR Final runway 14






Outside temperature: 30°C!


Leg 7: Malaga, Spain – Ibiza, Balearic Islands, Spain

For this new short flight, we’ll enjoy the first sunset arrival of our trip. Ibiza, one of the three main Balearic islands (the second one in size after Mallorca), has been a well known holiday destination in the Mediterranean since the first charters arrived there in the early seventies. Being nowadays world famous for its night life, Ibiza is known as the “party island” and must certainly be a more pleasant place than London Underground's disused stations.


Flight plan



The departure procedure from runway 14 will first lean on the LOJAS One Alfa SID, but will leave the latter once crossing Malaga VOR (MGA) and proceed on the UN851 airway. That will make us fly runway heading until being 9 miles away from the airport, then turn back to MGA and then head towards Alicante, crossing the Sierra Nevada mountains.






Powerful takeoff - Already above 1000 feet. Proceeding on runway heading.










The BRUNO One November STAR ends at Ibiza NDB (IBZ) – from there, we turn back above the sea and proceed with the ILS Rwy 24 approach. The nice approach chart that displays nearly the entire island is also provided here.






Reproduced with permission of Jeppesen Sanderson, Inc.




©Jeppesen Sanderson, Inc. 2006


Reduced for illustrative purposes only


Ibiza ILS Rwy 24 approach – arriving from the west, we’ll have to follow the holding pattern from IBZ NDB prior to reaching runway axis.






Approaching IBZ NDB, still in full AP managed modes. The airport is straight ahead.






Short final, with a light crosswind. Flying manual, but autothrust still engaged.






Nice modeling of Ibiza airport and vegetation here


Leg 8: Ibiza, Balearic Islands, Spain – Ajaccio, Corsica, France

Let’s proceed with holiday destinations in this 8th leg. Corsica, called “The island of beauty”, enjoys both French and Italian influence, though keeping its own identity and a strong independance feeling. The great hikes that can be made in its mountains are famous.


Flight Plan







Takeoff runway 24 from Ibiza. The large water surfaces on the right of the picture are the Las Salinas saltbeds, which are filled with seawater that is dried by the sun and leaves the salt deposited ready for collection.






Reproduced with permission of Jeppesen Sanderson, Inc.




©Jeppesen Sanderson, Inc. 2006


Reduced for illustrative purposes only


For jetliners, runway 02 is the only available landing runway at Ajaccio, seeing the relief north of the airport. A rather common approach however, it will begin from the HORRO IAF in our case and then hug the coastline.






Localizer capture at D5.4 AJO. Runway already in sight.












... and outside view once established. Weather: obviously nothing significant to aviation!






Short final, landing clearance, light crosswind. Ajaccio seems to be a French St Maarten! You’ll have to wait a little more though to see Maho beach, later scheduled in this journey.


Leg 9: Ajaccio, Corsica, France – Lamezia Terme, Italy

Further focusing on photographic sceneries with this 9th leg and proceeding with warm and sunny weather at the destination. Don’t worry, that will not remain like this during the entire trip. If the two remaining legs of this second part will also be mainly related with screenshots, we’ll come back to more technical explanations in Part 3, as there are still many systems and features to get a general view of.


We have however stormy weather for our departure from Ajaccio. Take off is planned from runway 02, but is to be directly followed by a tight left turn back to the Ajaccio Bay to get clear of terrain. Once reading a 236° radial from a NDB (Non Directional Beacon) located on the airport, we’ll turn back again and proceed to Bastia, as specified on the BASTIA 2 Charlie SID. Standard departures in mountainous areas often look like this, the flight path making several loops before reaching the airway - this was already the case with Sion, visited in Part 1 of Around the World 2006.


Flight Plan







Size does matter...but ATC will let the Cessna single prop leave before us. Taxiing out to runway 02.






Godzilla is airborne. Immediate left turn, back to the sea. Not a good moment to confuse LEFT with RIGHT anyway.






U-turn completed, heading south and already approaching 6,000 feet






Further climbing (now at 10,000 feet) and starting a second U-turn to proceed to Bastia






Reaching FL270. The famous “GR20” footpath snakes somewhere below.






About to leave Corsica and above Bastia-Poretta airport. Weather is already getting more clear! With this shot, you may also appreciate the perfect photographic resolution of the scenery.






Reproduced with permission of Jeppesen Sanderson, Inc.




©Jeppesen Sanderson, Inc. 2006


Reduced for illustrative purposes only


The approach to Lamezia will begin at CARAFFA VOR/DME – arriving from the west on the B35 airway bound directly to CDC (no STAR), ILS Rwy 28 will make us fly the third and last U-turn of the flight. Not a dangerous approach at all, but a colourful approach chart means though that there is high terrain in the vicnity of the airport and thus described track must be carefully observed.






On the base leg, after passing D9.0 CDC and descending to 3500’ for localizer capture.






Now fully established on LAM ILS.






Welcome to Calabria, welcome to Italy!


Leg 10: Lamezia Terme, Italy – Athens, Greece

Last leg entirely located in Europe, and a latest opportunity to see some photographic scenery again, before coming back to more standard scenery design in Part 3.


We will fly to the brand new Athens – Eleftherios Venizelos airport, built some 20 kms east of the urban area and now replacing the old Hellenikon single runway airport since March 2001.


Flight Plan







Take off runway 28. Left or right view, enjoy the beach!






Turning back to CARAFFA VOR/DME.






Caraffa is behind, still climbing. Still nice scenery below but...






... flight simulation does have limits. Left : Lamezia Terme Photo Real scenery (see credits).


Right: FS2004 standard scenery.






Athens approach, already ligned up with runway 03L. Note the usual smog layer above the city, located behind the hills.





Interesting sun effect on short final






Olympic kingdom.


And we’ve now reached the end of Around the World 2006 Part 2. In the next one, we’ll begin flying longer and longer legs, proceeding to the Middle East and Asia.


Cédric De Keyser
Brussels, Belgium

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