There is plenty of preparation and logistic work involved in any flight operation. Long before any flight, private or commercial, takes off, flight planning needs to be carried out. Permits obtained and appropriate authorities notified. This is a complex but well-defined procedure that many companies choose to fully, or partially, outsource.
Guides For Aviation Flight Planning
The Flight Plan
For every flight – private or commercial, passenger or cargo – a full flight plan must be completed. Parts of this have to be submitted to Air Traffic Control before the flight can depart. This contains details about the aircraft, its occupants, and the route.
There is a lot more planning and work that goes into this than just the ATC submission though. Determining the route requires planning for overflight permits, consideration of weather, reviews of NOTAMS or other route restrictions in place, and fuel planning.
Calculations for routes and fuel requirements can be complex, especially for longer flights. Operators will need to take account of several different aircraft and route considerations when calculating fuel levels and burn. This is a specialized task that many operators seek support for.
Contents of The Flight Plan
Flight plans submitted to ATC have certain items that must be completed. These are prescribed by ICAO standards. This includes:
- Aircraft details, registration, and callsign
- Flight rules and the type of flight, including cautions such as wake turbulence category
- Equipment onboard the aircraft (including navigation and surveillance capabilities)
- Departure airport
- Departure time for the flight
- Planned route details (including planned ATS routes or waypoints)
- Planned speed and altitudes (including changes along the route)
- Destination and planned alternative airports
- Estimated total flight time
- Fuel endurance information
- Total passengers onboard
Ensuring Safe Operation
The primary aim of the flight plan is to ensure the safety of the aircraft and its occupants. Planning the routes and fuel requirements in detail is obviously critical for the safe operation of the flight. Aircraft operators and authorities need to be sure that this has been carried out correctly.
Additionally, the flight plan is used by ATC for safe planning and control of all flights in the airspace. Ensuring that the operators and crew are aware of NOTAMs for departure and arrival airports is vital.
Permits & Approvals For the Flight
One of the critical parts of any flight plan is obtaining permission to fly. Overflight permits are required for any country the aircraft will pass over on its route. Clearly, for longer international flights, several such permits may be needed. Every country has different rules, and costs, for permits that need to be considered as part of the flight plan.
Landing permits will also be required and depending on the type of flight, potentially other permits too. If you are ferrying an aircraft or flying for maintenance, a limited airworthiness or a permit to fly may be needed. Third-Party Operator, or TPO, permits are also sometimes needed.
Tips for Flight Planning
Flight plans are essential in aircraft operations and their importance should not be underestimated. Keeping some key things in mind when you consider how you will approach flight plans can make the process easier, and minimize problems and delays.
Firstly, it is always a sensible idea to prepare flight plans in good time. There may be unforeseen challenges to overcome as part of the process. This is especially important for international flights, where advance planning is needed for overflight permits.
You should also make sure you have all documentation prepared and accessible. Again, some countries may require specific aircraft or company documentation to be submitted in good time.
Finally, always consider alternative plans. With flight and route planning, things can change last minute, and being aware of alternatives will minimize disruptions. Consider alternatives for certain airspaces in case restrictions change or weather conditions necessitate a diversion.
Flight planning involves much critical research, planning, and administrative tasks. As with other aspects of flight services, many companies choose to outsource all or part of their flight planning operations. Of course, this can operate alongside internal processes and resources, or be entirely outsourced.
Flightworx is able to handle any aspect of flight planning. Outsourcing in this way guarantees access to specialized services, for any route and at any time. With extensive experience creating many such flight plans, a company like this can save time and money.