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.