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Thread: How to flight plan? (Simple)

  1. #1

    Default How to flight plan? (Simple)

    I'm looking for a happy medium between no flight planning and a thorough check-everything-do-all-the-math flight planning. I want to be able to do something that's a simple enough flight plan to feel realistic. I think I have a good sense of what to do navigation-wise, that part's easy enough to understand.

    What I want to be able to do is to determine cruising altitude, cruising airspeed and rate of ascent/descent and when to do those things. I'm training myself in the G1000 with the Skyhawk with the ultimate goal of eventually moving up to a turboprop plane. (And, way way later, a jet).

    Is there a simple enough tutorial on those things or even a database somewhere for each aircraft? I did find a chart on the Skyhawk POH that make sense to me but not sure how to translate from the page to practice.
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  2. #2
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    Maybe an idea is to go to flightsim.to download a flightplan, load it in msfs and see whats going on.
    What you can also do is download LittleNavMap and import that flightplan there,
    That gives you an idea of whats going on, flight plan wise.
    Maybe this is something simple to load in to the G3X in the xcub
    https://flightsim.to/file/7280/all-c...ll-flight-plan
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  3. #3
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    Little Navmap is what I use and what sounds like will be your best bet. Once you input your desired route, a few clicks is all it takes to see a visual elevation profile so you can plan your altitude for the flight.
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  4. #4
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    What I want to be able to do is to determine cruising altitude, cruising airspeed and rate of ascent/descent and when to do those things. I'm training myself in the G1000 with the Skyhawk with the ultimate goal of eventually moving up to a turboprop plane. (And, way way later, a jet).
    As for cruising altitude for a C-172, pick an altitude that will clear the terrain (especially over populated areas) by at least 1,000 feet (you can climb and descend, if you wish, as the terrain changes). A sectional chart is usually the source for this information over most routes. With a C-172 you probably will be most comfortable at or below 9,500 feet, but there's nothing stopping you from climbing to the service ceiling of the aircraft if you wish. For climb you'll often want full power (leaned above 2K-3K ft of alt. MSL), and perhaps 90-95 kts IAS near sea level (less at higher altitudes, since climb performance is reduced up there) or so, though (for engine cooling) I'd not go much below 80 kts IAS or so except when very high and performance is nil.

    You'll want to consider the east/west altitude rules (at and above 3,000 AGL):

    (1) On a magnetic course (not heading) of zero degrees through 179 degrees, any odd thousand foot MSL altitude + 500 feet (such as 3,500, 5,500, or 7,500); or

    (2) On a magnetic course (not heading) of 180 degrees through 359 degrees, any even thousand foot MSL altitude + 500 feet (such as 4,500, 6,500, or 8,500).

    Cruising airspeed is whatever you like, up to 75% power during cruise, being sure to lean the mixture after leveling off if you're much over about 3,000 feet, or so. Often 2300-2500 RPM is used (lower RPM is quieter and, with no wind or a tailwind, a bit more fuel efficient). Note that TAS for a given altitude and power setting (along with fuel burn) are in the performance section of the POH. Typical rates of climb and descent are around 500 fpm, or so, partly for aircraft performance but partly for considering changes in pressure that can affect people's ears as the ears pop (or don't).

    Of course you have to figure time and fuel requirements for the trip (unless you run unlimited fuel in the sim), which means you must figure how far the trip is, how much of that is climbing, how much is descending and how much is cruising (fuel burn rate and (usually) speed are different for each of these), and of course winds must be considered (I'd suggest no wind 'til you get used to it).

    When planning, you'll also need to consider magnetic variation through various parts of the trip (for plotting the course), along with variations in winds aloft. And if using the GPS, you can (usually) go in a straight line if you wish (IRL certain airspace types must be avoided or dealt with), while if you are using VORs and/or NDBs you must use charts to plot the course lines between departure, VORs and destination, which will affect distance, since it's rarely a straight line.

    There's a lot more, but I've given you quite a bit to think about (use as much or as little as you like, or ask more questions), but I'd also like to point you to the FAA's web site where the Pilot's Handbook Of Aeronautical Knowledge (PHAK) has a LOT of good information, with Chapter 16 being about Navigation: https://www.faa.gov/regulations_poli..._phak_ch16.pdf

    So being in a sim you can choose as much or as little of the above as you like. Luck...

    Larry N.

    As Skylab would say:
    Remember: Aviation is NOT an exact Science!

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by lnuss View Post
    As for cruising altitude for a C-172, pick an altitude that will clear the terrain (especially over populated areas) by at least 1,000 feet (you can climb and descend, if you wish, as the terrain changes). A sectional chart is usually the source for this information over most routes. With a C-172 you probably will be most comfortable at or below 9,500 feet, but there's nothing stopping you from climbing to the service ceiling of the aircraft if you wish. For climb you'll often want full power (leaned above 2K-3K ft of alt. MSL), and perhaps 90-95 kts IAS near sea level (less at higher altitudes, since climb performance is reduced up there) or so, though (for engine cooling) I'd not go much below 80 kts IAS or so except when very high and performance is nil.

    You'll want to consider the east/west altitude rules (at and above 3,000 AGL):

    (1) On a magnetic course (not heading) of zero degrees through 179 degrees, any odd thousand foot MSL altitude + 500 feet (such as 3,500, 5,500, or 7,500); or

    (2) On a magnetic course (not heading) of 180 degrees through 359 degrees, any even thousand foot MSL altitude + 500 feet (such as 4,500, 6,500, or 8,500).

    Cruising airspeed is whatever you like, up to 75% power during cruise, being sure to lean the mixture after leveling off if you're much over about 3,000 feet, or so. Often 2300-2500 RPM is used (lower RPM is quieter and, with no wind or a tailwind, a bit more fuel efficient). Note that TAS for a given altitude and power setting (along with fuel burn) are in the performance section of the POH. Typical rates of climb and descent are around 500 fpm, or so, partly for aircraft performance but partly for considering changes in pressure that can affect people's ears as the ears pop (or don't).

    Of course you have to figure time and fuel requirements for the trip (unless you run unlimited fuel in the sim), which means you must figure how far the trip is, how much of that is climbing, how much is descending and how much is cruising (fuel burn rate and (usually) speed are different for each of these), and of course winds must be considered (I'd suggest no wind 'til you get used to it).

    When planning, you'll also need to consider magnetic variation through various parts of the trip (for plotting the course), along with variations in winds aloft. And if using the GPS, you can (usually) go in a straight line if you wish (IRL certain airspace types must be avoided or dealt with), while if you are using VORs and/or NDBs you must use charts to plot the course lines between departure, VORs and destination, which will affect distance, since it's rarely a straight line.

    There's a lot more, but I've given you quite a bit to think about (use as much or as little as you like, or ask more questions), but I'd also like to point you to the FAA's web site where the Pilot's Handbook Of Aeronautical Knowledge (PHAK) has a LOT of good information, with Chapter 16 being about Navigation: https://www.faa.gov/regulations_poli..._phak_ch16.pdf

    So being in a sim you can choose as much or as little of the above as you like. Luck...
    Thanks, this info is helpful! I've been reading/watching about basic flight planning and a lot of them mention winds aloft, but you're right, I think I'll keep the winds to a minimum until I get some practice in navigating and flying for a while. I also want to get my feet wet with autopilot, so I'll be fooling around in that as well.

    I plan to do 1-hour hops to put in a lot of this knowledge to practice. It's slowly coming together. I figure once I'm comfortable with the 172 and have flown a lot of hours and the flight planning becomes rote, I'll move on up to the turbos.

    I'm going for as much realism as possible here, so no, I'm not doing unlimited fuel. The only assistance I'm using for now is highlighting taxiways, ATC comms (I don't even know where or how to answer to ATC, but that can come later), and I think I'll let the sim correct for gyro drift after reading about it. Sounds like something I don't want to trouble myself with.
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  6. #6
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    Good. I'd note that, as you move up in aircraft performance and complexity there are some things that are different from using the C-172. Power management will be different, as will altitude choices and some other things, along with the way that things happen faster and with more to do on the more complex aircraft. There's enough differences that perhaps intermediate stages before the turboprop would be helpful, perhaps going next to a Mooney or Bonanza, then to a Baron, then maybe to a King Air or whatever you have available.

    Larry N.

    As Skylab would say:
    Remember: Aviation is NOT an exact Science!

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by lnuss View Post
    Good. I'd note that, as you move up in aircraft performance and complexity there are some things that are different from using the C-172. Power management will be different, as will altitude choices and some other things, along with the way that things happen faster and with more to do on the more complex aircraft. There's enough differences that perhaps intermediate stages before the turboprop would be helpful, perhaps going next to a Mooney or Bonanza, then to a Baron, then maybe to a King Air or whatever you have available.
    Good point, I have the standard version, so there's not a lot to choose from at the moment but the Bonanza looks like a good stepping stone.

    Downloaded Little NavMap...it does look like it's probably what I'm looking for, but man, there is A LOT in this software! It'll take some time to wade through it all.
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  8. #8
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    Although I was a fully certified Private Pilot, that was some time (too long) ago and the release of MSFS reignited my interest.

    But, for reality's sake, I started basic, like you, on the C172 to get my hand back in. Once I was happy with that I went to the Bonanza and did the same. It's still my "goto" aircraft as I prefer to look at the scenery although it will go pretty quickly when needed.

    I've now "graduated" to the CJ4, never got the opportunity IRL to have a go, and it's another steep learning curve but I'm getting there.

    Take your time but don't be afraid to try something new - at least in the sim if it all goes wrong it's not the end of the world!

    But the most important thing - ENJOY YOURSELF!

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