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Who Does Flight Planning In The Military?  
User currently offlineryu2 From Taiwan, joined Aug 2002, 509 posts, RR: 0
Posted (2 years 10 months 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 8680 times:

Is there a equivalent of a dispatcher that plans the routes, files flight plans, etc like the airlines do? Or do the pilots have to do it themselves?

8 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlinewoodreau From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 1181 posts, RR: 7
Reply 1, posted (2 years 10 months 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 8395 times:

No there is no one single person who does flight planning, filing the flight plan, and flight following in a sense of an airline aircraft dispatcher. In the military the functions are separated and while they could be all done by the same person, it's not.

So it "depends."

Bonus animus sit, ab experientia. Quod salvatum fuerit de malis usu venit judicium.
User currently offlinerfields5421 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 7866 posts, RR: 32
Reply 2, posted (2 years 10 months 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 8375 times:

My experience is Navy, and it has been 20+ years since I was on active duty. Plus some experience with a friend who went through USAF pilot training from start to C-17 about 2000-2002.

Aircraft squadrons has an Operations Department (USAF Wings might have an Operations Squadron for the function). That department plans missions to meet tasking requirements, training requirements, etc. There are a set of enlisted men who keep track of flight hours of pilots, crew members and aircraft. Who needs to do what kind of flight to maintain qualifications, etc.

They also turn mission requirements into routes for the aircraft and air crew, and do many of the functions of the dispatcher. However, in a long mission, especially overseas - the navigator for the crew, and likely the pilots, will be involved in the mission planning. The route, the fuel stops, the RON stops, etc.

The loadmaster, flight engineer or aircraft captain (the enlisted man responsible for 'his' airplane - no matter who flies the bird) will be involved in detail in the load, weight and balance, etc.

When the aircraft deparrts on a mission such as KNZY-PHNG-PGUA-RJTA-PGUA-PHNG-KNZY - http://www.gcmap.com/mapui?P=KNZY-PH...GUA-PHNG-KNZY&DU=nm&SU=kts&RS=best

The route basics have been completed. One key factor in flight planning is making sure arrangements for the crew RON stops, meals, etc. Depending upon the aircraft size and squadron policy - many of these tasks will be delegated to certain members of the crew.

Prior to flying each leg, the pilots, navigator, radio operator if there is one, and flight engineer will meet at base operations and receive various briefs from weather, the ATC manager, etc. To each get his/her specific information.

The loadmaster will verify fuel and payload information. Nothing goes on or off the aircraft without his/her approval.

However, the training starts early. In Navy pilot training in 1977 when I was involved in it a bit, and in USAF pilot training in 2000 - the trainee pilot plans every detail under the supervision of his instructor. The trainee pilot has to learn how to brief the entire route. How many approaches of which type will be flown on each leg, waypoints, ATC frequencies, alternates, weather, etc.

In that respect - it is not a lot different than a student working on his PPL has to do with his instructor for his training cross country flights. Just much more intense and many more flights than a civilian student.

I am sure there are people in big transport, and probably bomber, squadrons who function much as an airline dispatcher. I would be shocked if the 89th Airlift Wing doesn't have full-time dispatchers who plan every segment of every PAG flight working alongside the Secret Service.

But the need for flexibility due to changing mission requirements demands that regular military aircraft crews be able to complete all those functions and planning.

User currently offlinekingairta From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 458 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (2 years 10 months 17 hours ago) and read 8109 times:

In my time in VR flying as a loadmaster in both C130s and C12s the pilots for the mission did all the flight planning. All the operatioms guys did was to acquire dip clearances, PPRs, lodging etc. They also kept track of individual flight times. The NATOPS depth would notify operations who needed what training and or check rides. As for the fuel the pilots would determine how much fuel was needed for each leg and would let the crew know. It was up to me to make it work. Not only did I have to worry about take off weight but if we had an extremely heavy load we had to ensure we landed with enough fuel weight in the wings for structural reasons.

User currently offlineTWA772LR From United States of America, joined Nov 2011, 3819 posts, RR: 3
Reply 4, posted (2 years 9 months 4 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 7970 times:

Slightly OT, but I heard that military pilots use different maps, charts, and other flight planning techniques versus their commercial counter-parts. Which leads to a relatively not-so-smooth transition to the commercial world. Is this true?

To fly is to be human. To soar is to be devine.
User currently offlinej.mo From United States of America, joined Feb 2002, 671 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (2 years 9 months 3 weeks 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 7751 times:

Quoting TWA772LR (Reply 4):
Slightly OT, but I heard that military pilots use different maps, charts, and other flight planning techniques versus their commercial counter-parts. Which leads to a relatively not-so-smooth transition to the commercial world. Is this true?

They have some additional charts and maps but for the most part they use that same Hi and Low charts as well as approach plates.

I work as a civilian in Base Operations at a military base and we file all the flight plans, help with flight planning, create and file NOTAMS and do flight following, among other things. We are very similar to a flight service staion with the exception of weather. Our base has it's own weather department.


What is the difference between Fighter pilots and God? God never thought he was a fighter pilot.
User currently offlineskywaymanaz From United States of America, joined May 2012, 651 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (2 years 9 months 23 hours ago) and read 6787 times:

Quoting TWA772LR (Reply 4):
I heard that military pilots use different maps, charts, and other flight planning techniques versus their commercial counter-parts.

I think this came up at the court martial for the Marine Corp pilots over the Cavalese cable car disaster. The pilots had charts prepared for them by NACO/FAA. Allegedly the chart neglected to include the cable car and others in the area. The charts an Italian pilot would use (JAA prepared?) included them. Wish I had something less sensitive than this incident to source that but it was a key point I recall the defense pointing to. Hopefully that doesn't spin this thread out of control in a flame war over that incident. The verdict was and continues to be controversial but hopefully that can be a separate thread.

User currently offlinerfields5421 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 7866 posts, RR: 32
Reply 7, posted (2 years 9 months 21 hours ago) and read 6760 times:

Quoting skywaymanaz (Reply 6):
The pilots had charts prepared for them by NACO/FAA.

I would find it unusual for US military pilots to have local nation charts in many countries.

Even commercial pilots seldom have local nation approach charts in many countries - relying on Jeppsen charts which should be English language duplicates of the local charts.

However, as you mention, something could be possibly left out of the adapted chart.

User currently offlinejcxp15 From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 997 posts, RR: 4
Reply 8, posted (2 years 8 months 4 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 6533 times:

Answer to the original question: It depends....

AMC aircrew on a TACC mission will have a flight manager (similar to a dispatcher except they are not licensed and/or do not share responsibility with the PIC if anything is screwed up or goes wrong).

The flight managers are all at Scott AFB in IL and communicate with the aircrew much in the same way dispatchers would with airlines (i.e. via phone, data link or ACARS) and are "responsible" for that flight before and during flight.

Much like an airline, the flight managers get cargo weight/passenger numbers etc... from ATOC or the appropriate agencies prior to the flight and then build the flight plan IAW with the proper diplomatic clearances (i.e. routing and/or FIR entry/exit times) and usually will electronically file the flight plan for the crew. The crew, upon showing usually just has to print off their mission package (which includes flight plan, weather, NOTAMS and other pertinent info) review it, and then touch base with the flight manager for any last many updates and/or concerns (i.e. if the pilots feel they need extra gas for something they will discuss with the FM).

For most local training missions or "non-TACC" missions are planned by the flight crew prior to execution.

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