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Trimeresurus
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How was aircraft dispatching made before computers?

Mon Dec 07, 2020 2:38 pm

Especially creating the route with all it's fixes, weather etc. And how was it printed(how do you print a route on a map without a computer)? Also how was it filed to every ATC center on the route? Who decided which aircraft was to be used for a route and how?
 
JAGflyer
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Re: How was aircraft dispatching made before computers?

Mon Dec 07, 2020 2:46 pm

Airline dispatcher here. In theory the route planning could be done manually using large charts that show all the airways/waypoints/VORs, a pencil, and ruler. While it would be time consuming and less efficient than a computer which is able to take into account predicted winds and weather movement, the route of a flight is probably the simplest part of a flight plan. With the route planned out, measurements could be taken to provide a distance which in turn would be used to plan how much fuel is needed and a manual calculator used to plan for head/tail-wind components. This is the same way general aviation flight planning is done and taught to new pilots. Flight plan templates are printed and filled in manually with the information based on the flight that is going to be undertaken and sent off the appropriate receipients.
If you flew today, thank a Flight Dispatcher!
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: How was aircraft dispatching made before computers?

Mon Dec 07, 2020 3:25 pm

Look up Aeronautical Fixed Telecommunications Network (AFTN) for how flight plan info is transmitted. We manually flight planned in the USAF on domestic flights until about 1995. About three or four Cross pens on the wall map for an A-10, IIRC
 
Tristarsteve
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Re: How was aircraft dispatching made before computers?

Mon Dec 07, 2020 4:10 pm

When I worked for Gulf Air in 1980, all the flights around the Gulf, up to about 3 hours, were issued by operations to the crew on a double sided A4 sheet of paper. On one side was the route and average times, and average fuel for no winds. On the other side was the fuel planning for different winds and weather. One sheet for each sector. The routes were always the same, and the weather didn't change much (Sunny and 25degC for 8 months) and it worked OK. For the long range routes we bought a computor flight plan from somewhere in Europe that came out on the telex machine.
 
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T18
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Re: How was aircraft dispatching made before computers?

Mon Dec 07, 2020 7:37 pm

JAGflyer wrote:
Airline dispatcher here. In theory the route planning could be done manually using large charts that show all the airways/waypoints/VORs, a pencil, and ruler. While it would be time consuming and less efficient than a computer which is able to take into account predicted winds and weather movement, the route of a flight is probably the simplest part of a flight plan. With the route planned out, measurements could be taken to provide a distance which in turn would be used to plan how much fuel is needed and a manual calculator used to plan for head/tail-wind components. This is the same way general aviation flight planning is done and taught to new pilots. Flight plan templates are printed and filled in manually with the information based on the flight that is going to be undertaken and sent off the appropriate receipients.


Heck we have to do it the old fashioned way to get the certificate, I can only imagine how many fewer flights per dispatcher was the norm before the computer software got as good as it is now. As you said route is pretty simple to do the long way, its perf calculations that are a real dozy. Book of charts and tons of interpolation, following lines and second guessing if you did it right.
I don't think I could do a third of a normal flight load the long way and be on time lol.
“Racing's important to men who do it well. When you're racing, it's life. Anything that happens before or after is just waiting.” ― Steve McQueen (Le Mans) 1971
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: How was aircraft dispatching made before computers?

Tue Dec 08, 2020 12:13 am

JAGflyer wrote:
Airline dispatcher here. In theory the route planning could be done manually using large charts that show all the airways/waypoints/VORs, a pencil, and ruler. While it would be time consuming and less efficient than a computer which is able to take into account predicted winds and weather movement, the route of a flight is probably the simplest part of a flight plan. With the route planned out, measurements could be taken to provide a distance which in turn would be used to plan how much fuel is needed and a manual calculator used to plan for head/tail-wind components. This is the same way general aviation flight planning is done and taught to new pilots. Flight plan templates are printed and filled in manually with the information based on the flight that is going to be undertaken and sent off the appropriate receipients.


I saw some documentary footage on Volga Dnepr and their An-124 operations. Their business includes lots of ad-hoc charters., They showed how they often start with a string on a globe, the work up from there.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
VMCA787
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Re: How was aircraft dispatching made before computers?

Tue Dec 08, 2020 8:05 am

I can remember checking out as a FO on a carrier that had red tails years ago. The FO did the "flight planning" which was doing the flight plan from a canned route filed by dispatch. The winds were provided and the FO ran the fuel and time based on the updated winds. No CFP then and the system, while seemingly archaic, worked fairly well. The international flights at that time had the luxury of having CFPs!
Fly fast, live slow!
 
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zeke
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Re: How was aircraft dispatching made before computers?

Tue Dec 08, 2020 9:08 am

Trimeresurus wrote:
Especially creating the route with all it's fixes, weather etc. And how was it printed(how do you print a route on a map without a computer)? Also how was it filed to every ATC center on the route? Who decided which aircraft was to be used for a route and how?


In the olden days I remember having to go to a briefing office where I would get a weather briefing from a human with hand drawn charts. Routes were simplified. In terms of filing plans, I can still remember doing that in the briefing office, or having to go to the control tower. They used to give us the documents in a cardboard folder which had lots of useful information on how to decode the briefing documents, still see them in the middle East these days.

This all started to disappear around the time when faxes were common and we could start doing it via rotary dial phones and fax with thermal paper.

In terms of aircraft, to simplify things we used to have the one type per route, used to carry a lot more fuel. RVSM didn’t exist, and you could spend hours off your planned levels.

Enroute weather was HF VOLMET, HF radio telephone to contact the home base.
“Don't be a show-off. Never be too proud to turn back. There are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old, bold pilots.” E. Hamilton Lee, 1949

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