Why Does the APU Require the Batteries to Start?

December, 24, 2020 by

It may seem logical that the APU would start without the batteries. After all, the APU is able to charge some aircraft batteries.

With a closer look to the operation of the APU, it becomes clear that this isn’t true. When you start a car (or plane for that matter), the battery is powering a starter motor to get the components of the engine turning and the cycle going. Since the APU is just a baby engine, the battery is also required to start it.

The wise guys among you may be thinking, “how come lawnmowers and generators don’t have a battery?”. These engines also require motion to start. Rather than a battery, most of these engines have a pull string to get the engine turning.

Unless you want to pull a very long pull string, the battery is the simplest way to start up an APU.

Ryan Epps is a writer for the IFATC Education Group. He is also a commercial pilot, flight instructor, and helps run the Airport Editing Team, currently as an Airport Editing Manager.

The Curious Case of the RB211

December, 23, 2020 by

While it may seem like just another engine variant on the 757, the RB211 actually features a long and messy history. The development of the RB211 traces its roots all the way back to the development of the L-1011 and DC-10 in the 1960s.

Initial designs of the engine were designed to be fitted to variants of the 747 and A300. Unfortunately for Rolls Royce, neither design would be approved for the new wide bodies. As a result, Rolls Royce further developed the engine into the RB211 that we enjoy today. All of this work caused Rolls Royce to become insolvent.

At the time, the British government was forced to nationalize the struggling manufacturer. This also put strain on vulnerable Lockheed and required the US government to offer loans to ensure the L-1011 program. To make matters worse, the initial deliveries of the RB211 suffered from worse than expected reliability. Lucky for them (and us), future variants proved to be reliable engines on Boeing wide bodies.

Ryan Epps is a writer for the IFATC Education Group. He is also a commercial pilot, flight instructor, and helps run the Airport Editing Team, currently as an Airport Editing Manager.

What’s the Difference Between the Q400 and ATR 72

December, 13, 2020 by

At first glance, the Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 and ATR 72 may seem like very similar aircraft. After all, both are small twin turboprops with their wings on top of the fuselage. When you look at the specifics, some key differences emerge.

The ATR is slightly smaller than a Q400, however it is significantly cheaper. As far  as performance, the Q400 will happily take those extra 10 passengers an extra couple hundred miles, but it’s going to take a lot more runway to get in the skies and it’s going to drink a lot more fuel. Both aircraft have racked up many orders (around 2000) across their families and remain popular choices for short haul flying.

Ryan Epps is a writer for the IFATC Education Group. He is also a commercial pilot, flight instructor, and helps run the Airport Editing Team, currently as an Airport Editing Manager.

Why do Some Airports not Have Ground Control?

December, 12, 2020 by

Have you ever looked at an airport and immediately blamed the Airport Editing Team for not adding a ground or approach frequency? I can assure you that they did not forget to add that approach frequency. Probably. While governments are inefficient, they aren’t about to pay a controller to watch over 3 gates. Because of this, airports with small simple ramps often don’t include a ground control. The same is true of approach control in less flown areas. Pilots are known to be afraid of mountainous regions and will avoid them when possible. This lower amount of traffic isn’t enough to get an approach control added. In these cases, the center controller will act as approach.

Ryan Epps is a writer for the IFATC Education Group. He is also a commercial pilot, flight instructor, and helps run the Airport Editing Team, currently as an Airport Editing Manager.

Can You Fly an LDA Approach

December, 11, 2020 by

A question that has come up a few times is whether or not you can fly an LDA approach in Infinite Flight. This sentence has probably caused a few of you to ask what is an LDA approach, so I’ll start with that. At its core, an LDA approach is a LOC approach that is offset more than 30 degrees to its runway. Flying one would just be an approach with a turn at the very end. Seems simple, right? Wrong.

Unfortunately they don’t appear to be supported in Infinite Flight at the moment. While it is possible that LDA approaches exist, I haven’t confirmed this. It seems that there is no way to add an offset localizer in the nav files. If there is, I haven’t found out how. So in short, right now, you cannot fly an LDA approach in Infinite Flight.

Ryan Epps is a writer for the IFATC Education Group. He is also a commercial pilot, flight instructor, and helps run the Airport Editing Team, currently as an Airport Editing Manager.

How to File a Realistic Flight Plan

December, 10, 2020 by

One of the most important aspects when conducting a flight is deciding how to file your flight plan. A flight plan includes information like the route, fixes, speed, and altitude. Small differences in these values can have a large impact on the time and fuel consumption of a specific flight. When flying VFR, filing a flight plan is relatively straight forward. The route can be direct, speed taken from performance charts or estimated, and altitude chosen for favorable winds. When flying IFR, however, it can be a different story. The busiest routes (think New York to Chicago) have preferred routes published by the FAA. When this isn’t an option, it can seem like a daunting task to find the ideal set of fixes and altitudes between 2 smaller airports. This is why flight planning software comes in handy. Different software can tell you the ideal route based on time, distance, and fuel burn. They may even graphically show the most ideal altitudes and fixes. If all else fails, hopping VOR to VOR can be an effective strategy to plan a realistic flight plan.

Ryan Epps is a writer for the IFATC Education Group. He is also a commercial pilot, flight instructor, and helps run the Airport Editing Team, currently as an Airport Editing Manager.

How to Calculate Vref

August, 29, 2020 by

Vref, or reference speed, is a plane’s target speed on approach. Such an important speed takes into account everything from wind to aircraft weight. Because of this complexity, it’s best to let the computer calculate this for us. In modern aircraft, this is calculated using the flight management system, or FMS.

In Infinite Flight, however this isn’t an option. Without something like this, we would be stuck using aircraft charts (which are often hard to find) to find Vref. Luckily, free software such as SimBrief or FPLtoIF exist to help us find Vref. By following their provided steps, you are able to find Vref without all the hard work!

Ryan Epps is a writer for the IFATC Education Group. He is also a commercial pilot, flight instructor, and helps run the Airport Editing Team, currently as an Airport Editing Manager.

How to Conserve Fuel

August, 21, 2020 by

Do you often find yourself running out of fuel on long haul flights? If so, there are a few tactics you can use to maximize range.

The simplest way is to improve range is to reduce unnecessary weight. Do not remove weight from the fuel tanks! More subtle tricks to increase performance include moving the center of gravity slightly aft and minimizing drag. This is why properly trimming the aircraft for cruise is so important.

Another commonly talked about way to increase range is by picking the right altitude. This is usually done by step climbing. Picking the right altitude means more than just step climbing. Higher doesn’t necessarily mean better. Look at winds at altitude to find the most ideal altitude. In the case of a headwind, lower might be better.

Ryan Epps is a writer for the IFATC Education Group. He is also a commercial pilot, flight instructor, and helps run the Airport Editing Team, currently as an Airport Editing Manager.

Meet our team – Ryan Epps

August, 3, 2020 by

I’m an IFATC Education Group Writer, a role I’ve held since 2019. I’m also a commercial pilot, flight instructor, and help run the Airport Editing Team, currently as an Airport Editing Manager.

I help to create posts on a wide range of topics, everything from aircraft systems to flight regulations to tips to improve your flying.

Outside of Infinite Flight, I am lucky enough to spend my days flying real airplanes.

  • BS in Professional Flight from Purdue University
  • Commercial Pilot – Instrument Airplane, Airplane Single & Multiengine Land
  • Certified Flight Instructor – Airplane Single & Multiengine, Instrument Airplane
  • Ground Instructor – Basic, Advanced, Instrument
  • Remote Pilot – Small Unmanned Aerial Systems

I utilize those skills to help teach future pilots both in real life and through Infinite Flight. For me, I still keep trying to learn as much about flying as possible. I’m always available to answer a question about flying or controlling.

Ryan Epps is a writer for the IFATC Education Group. He is also a commercial pilot, flight instructor, and helps run the Airport Editing Team, currently as an Airport Editing Manager.

The Importance of Speed Restrictions

June, 28, 2020 by

When you add a SID or STAR to a flight plan in Infinite Flight, you can see altitude restrictions. Obviously, you should follow these restrictions. What may not be quite as obvious, however, are other restrictions contained in procedures. Many departure and arrival procedures contain speed restrictions too. Just like the altitude restrictions, you should follow speed restrictions. This is an important step to helping ATC and your fellow pilots control traffic. Prior to flying an instrument procedure, you should be reading and following all notes and restrictions. Reading procedures and profiles prior to flight is an important step in preflight planning.

Ryan Epps is a writer for the IFATC Education Group. He is also a commercial pilot, flight instructor, and helps run the Airport Editing Team, currently as an Airport Editing Manager.