Topic Author
Posts: 1549
Joined: Tue Aug 06, 2002 8:18 am

Flight Planning

Tue Nov 20, 2001 6:26 pm

How automated is the process of route/flight planning, etc these days for, say a major airline?

Do you these days just enter the starting and ending points into a computer, and a computer finds the optimal-cost route, based on current winds/weather, airspace constraints, etc. I imagine that this is a (difficult) path optimization problem.

Or is it still more involved than that, and still requires much human labor, and if so, in what ways?

How about for, say a regional airline? Or a corporate pilot? Do they do it themselves?
a/c dxer
Posts: 369
Joined: Tue Aug 28, 2001 10:52 pm

RE: Flight Planning

Tue Nov 20, 2001 7:27 pm

Where I work we build our own flight plans. But in the majors the computer will build it on what you request either by fuel savings or by saving on flight time. Some airlines higher people were that is there job of building routes and doing reroutes per atc. Most corporate pilots do there own flight planning.
Posts: 6467
Joined: Wed Aug 29, 2001 8:47 pm

RE: Flight Planning

Tue Nov 20, 2001 8:11 pm

In some airlines (or most) Flight Ops Center Planning does the flight plan... they file the route with the ATC according to the best economic factors (wind and traffic speed), plus keeping the goal of arriving on time.

The pilot then sees the flight plan, puts in the route either manually, or selects destination and makes adjustments. I think the FLOPS can send the plan via ACARS and into the FMS automatically.

For a small airline in Indonesia that I know of, FLOPS just give them the optimal route, and files it for them... the pilot then still has to tune in manually (coz they use a 737-200 with un-coupled GPS.

When losing situational awareness, pray Cumulus Granitus isn't nearby !
Posts: 171
Joined: Fri Sep 29, 2000 3:39 am

RE: Flight Planning

Wed Nov 21, 2001 12:30 am

I agree with the Mandala and ACDXER.

For the majors there is a Operations and Control Center.
(this is KLM OCC) Transavia also got a operations center, but not a whole "NASA Houston"-center like KLM.

KLM and Transavia just started to use LIDO. This is a computerprogramm developed by Lufthansa. This system does anything you want. The people just have to put in some facts and thats all. Only when it goes wrong, operations/dispatch guys have to stand in.

I hope you know a bit more know,



RE: Flight Planning

Wed Nov 21, 2001 11:51 am

As far as corporate guys go, we pretty much have to fend for ourselves - but we have a lot of good help. Our company operates 4 jets and a turboprop. We have manufacturing plants and/or facilities in all 50 States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, South America, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand so we get around quite a bit. The method that we use to flight plan depends upon the flight's origination and destination. For flights within the continental US (including Alaska) and Canada we usually use Flitesoft. For all other flights we contract with Universal Weather for handling, weather, and flight planning services.

Flitesoft is a great program and it's VERY easy to use once you get the hang of it, but at first it can be a bit intimidating. You basically enter the departure and destination airports; check for appropriate SIDS, STARS, and Preferred Routes; then you simply "connect the dots" for the enroute routing; add passengers, baggage and fuel and tell it to call up DUAT and download the winds, weather, NOTAMS, etc. It then gives you the time and fuel burn for 5 different flight levels appropriate to the direction of flight. At that point you simply select the "best" one and click another button and the flight plan is filed. Total time required to plan, file, and print the navigation documents for a coast to coast trip is maybe 10 minutes. As far as accuracy goes, we regularly fly from our headquarters in Klamath Falls, Oregon to one of our plants in Orlando, Florida. Flitesoft typically will be within 3 minutes on our enroute time and 100 pounds on the total fuel burn. I've had several trips where the time was exact, to the minute and the fuel was within 1 gallon! (I know that it was a fluke, but we have to have something to bet on to see who buys dinner.) For our oceanic and international flights, Universal Weather provides all of our flight planning needs. We just tell them where we want to go and when we want to be there and they handle EVERYTHING. It's the only way to fly.
Posts: 2023
Joined: Sat Feb 17, 2001 2:08 pm

RE: Flight Planning

Fri Nov 23, 2001 10:33 am

Okay, I want Flitesoft. Calling FSS for that 3000 word-per-minute weather briefing is enough to drive me batty.

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