|Quoting Johnomaha (Thread starter):|
Also, do airline pilots step climb according to the FMC or do they step climb according to the flight plan given to them from dispatch?
If I understood your question correctly, pilots step climb according to instructions received from ATC. In some cases, especially in smaller FIRs, ATC may give the a/c a level which will clear it from some future conflicting traffic, or stop its climb if there's traffic nearby - and, if possible, give the a/c the requested level once it is clear of traffic. Generally, the allocated level is dependent on traffic - if there's no traffic, and the FIR dimensions allow it, the a/c may be given only a few steps to speed things up.
Step climbs also depend on FIR sector boundaries. In Croatia for example, lower airspace ends at FL285 - therefore the a/c has to level out at FL280, switch to upper airspace frequency and be given further climb clearance there. Sometimes the two controllers can coordinate things out to allow the a/c an uninterrupted climb, but in heavy traffic this is the procedure most used.
No plane, no gain.