The Brandon Method

December, 2, 2020

By definition, the top of descent (or TD) is the point at which an aircraft initiates a descent to a lower level for arrival at its destination airport. Every pilot should know when s/he should start to descend and how to adjust the rate accordingly. Your ability to quickly calculate your top of descent is useful both in real-world aviation and in Infinite Flight.

Here is my preferred method of how to quickly calculate your top of descent (TD):

  • Your current ALT (a)
  • Subtract destination airport’s elevation (b)
  • Multiply that sum by 3.
  • The given product is (c)
  • Divide (c) by 1000.
  • And voila, your (d)!

TD = a – b (3)
TD = c /1000
TD ~ (d)

Example:  30000 – 100 = 29900   =>  29900 x 3 = 89700   =>  89700/1000 = 89.7
Thus, your TD ~ 90NM (Your destination ICAO is ± 9NM, just enough time for your final checks)

A Word on Online Security

December, 1, 2020

This isn’t our normal type of post, but given recent events within small portions of the Infinite Flight community we thought it would be a good idea to put together a simple list of things that can improve the security of your online accounts.

1. Enable 2-Factor Authentication. This is #1 because it is one of the easiest but also the most effective. Most websites support using SMS codes, email codes, and authenticator apps. When you go to log in, a code will be texted or emailed to you or will appear in your authenticator. This code is then used to log in. This means that unless someone has access to your texts, emails, or phone, they can’t get into your account. Discord, Slack, the Infinite Flight Community Forum, Google, Facebook, Instagram, and many other apps support 2FA. We actually made it a mandatory requirement on our Slack workplace.

2. Use strong and unique passwords. A strong password is something like [email protected]$**[email protected]$ or 95639156^!6%1 – something that can’t be guessed. Also use a different password for every site, so if an someone gains access to one account, they can’t pivot to others.

3. Use a proper Password Manager. This goes hand-in-hand with strong and unique passwords. Password Managers such as BitWarden (I use this one), 1Password, and LastPass are all good password managers. Ones built into browsers are often not secure – they store passwords locally on your device (often unencrypted) and don’t have any sort of protection against attackers with access to your computer.

If you have any questions or concerns don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.

Low Expectations

November, 30, 2020

A lot of people will tell you that you should have low expectations so you’re not disappointed, but I’m here to tell you why that’s wrong.

If you have low expectations of your own performance, you’re not pushing yourself to do better. If you have low expectations of others’ performance, you can’t help them do better.

You should always have high expectations, and help yourself and others to achieve them.

The Buzz-saw Effect in Modern Turbofan Engines

November, 29, 2020

In most modern turbofan engines, at high engine power operating conditions, the fan tip rotation speed will become supersonic. The noise spectrum from a supersonic fan is very different compared to a fan that is rotating subsonically.

Supersonic fans produce a multitude of high-amplitude tones at harmonics of the engine’s shaft rotation frequency. These tones are known commonly as the “buzz-saw” noise.

One generally needs to sit in front of the engines to hear the buzzsaw noise. This is why, on aircraft with fuselage-mounted engines such as the Boeing 717, most passengers can hear the buzzsaw noise generated. However, on aircraft with wing-mounted engines, this “privilege” is usually reserved for those sitting in front of the wings. Similarly, the buzzsaw can be heard by someone standing on the ground as the plane approaches. However, the effect dissipates somewhat after they are left in the plane’s wake.

In Infinite Flight, as noted by Tyler Shelton, a staff member for Infinite Flight, “The buzz is barely detectable from the flight deck in real life as well. With good headphones or at loud volumes you can still hear it faintly from the cockpit on Infinite Flight (as it should be)“.

You may be able to hear the buzz-saw effect in the most recent teaser of the RR RB211 on the newly reworked B757 that is set to be released in the next update, v20.3.

References: Speedbird Spotter, University of Southampton

6.9.2 Update regarding GPS Approaches

November, 28, 2020

In the most recent update to the ATC Manual, v20.2.2, this section regarding GPS approaches was reworded.

6.9.2 — When a pilot requests the GPS Approach, Controllers must check that the aircraft has a published procedure (i.e. denoted by a prefix in their flight plan – see 6.8.9 above) that provides lateral navigation to the intended arrival runway. Controllers can then expect aircraft to continue on their Flight Plan, and at an appropriate point (such as base), clear the aircraft for the GPS Approach. Vectors, altitude assignments, and/or intercepts should not be required and the pilot is expected to follow their flight plan to the runway threshold.

There was discussion brought up about whether or not the pilot had to have an in-app GPS approach procedure added to their flight plan or if they simply needed the waypoints for a GPS procedure included in their flight plan in order to be able to be cleared for a GPS approach.

This new updated wording clarifies that question people had. If you have any questions about anything in the manual, feel free to message us.

References: 6.9.2 of the ATC Manual

Divide the altitude you need to lose by 300

November, 27, 2020

When to start descent is probably one of the most asked questions I come across on a day to day. A comfortable descent rate is 3 degrees, but when do you start your descent?

One way to calculate that is by dividing the altitude you need to lose by 300. For example, if you’re at 11,000ft, and you need to get down to a pattern altitude of 2,000ft, you need to descend 9,000ft.

9,000/300 = 30 miles.

If you start a 3-degree descent 30 miles out, you’ll hit pattern altitude as you reach the airport.

This doesn’t apply for all aircraft but for most you may fly it should do the job.

Mess Up in Training

November, 26, 2020

Mess up in training, and don’t be afraid to. Training is where you’re meant to mess up, so if you have a few terrain busts or you forget a pattern entry, don’t sweat it – no harm done as long as you learn from it.

Traffic Will Come

November, 25, 2020

If you just keep controlling, eventually there will be traffic, regardless of airport size. All it takes is a couple of people to spawn in and a few more to follow suit and you’ve got yourself something to do. Never underestimate smaller airports.

Go higher

November, 24, 2020

“Sometimes you have to go up really high to see how small you are.” – Felix Baumgartner

Felix Baumgartner is best known for jumping to Earth from a helium balloon from the stratosphere as part of the Red Bull Stratos project.

How to get ATC operations quickly

November, 23, 2020

Just control without checking the number. It’s as simple as that.

The IFATC used to have a leaderboard posted weekly internally within the team that ranked the top 20 controllers based on operations for that week. There was a lot of competition but I was regularly on the top of that leaderboard, controlling a ton, every day. I was consistently in the top 5 every week.

What motivated me wasn’t the leaderboard though, it was the constant feeling that you need to one up yourself and improve.

My secret though to being at the top every week was that I never looked at my total operations number in-app. It sounds silly but you’ll notice if you ignore the number it goes up faster. Try it if you don’t believe me.

There were times where I strayed off that principle of not checking the number. When I did I began to stop focusing only on how I could improve and instead I began to also focus on how I could improve the number. Stop the session, immediately do some math to see how much it went up and compare it to other sessions. It can set you back mentally and demotivate you if you try to do that.