A flight planner is a pilot who takes care of all aspects associated with a flight before departure. Like a traveler the pilot must take into consideration time, fuel, food, luggage, route, and weather conditions.
An optimized flight plan is a mathematical calculation that must consider the correct physics, air traffic control restrictions and regulations, and other constraints in order to achieve the maximum performance for the airplane. These calculations can involve tens to hundreds of thousands of iterations.
A flight planner generates the best possible route for a given flight. This depends on the wind conditions, aircraft performance, and weather forecasts.
In addition, a flight planner must also be able to find alternative airports if the original destination is not accessible or can no longer be flown to. The system must be able to identify those alternate airports that can be reached with the fuel load and total aircraft weight predicted for the trip, and that have the necessary capabilities to handle the type of aircraft being operated.
Flight planning systems calculate the best possible route by determining the shortest ground and air distance. In free-flight areas, this is typically a least-time-track with geographic waypoints inserted at intervals of 10 degrees of longitude for eastbound or westbound flights and 5 degrees of latitude for northbound or southbound flights.
A flight planner must consider a number of different factors before departing on any journey. For example, he or she has to factor in Time, Fuel, Luggage, Route and Weather conditions.
Flight planners often use computer technology to calculate these factors in a very accurate manner. This can be very helpful in saving time and money on any flight.
In addition to the distances that are shown on a flight plan, pilots must also consider the distances between waypoints. This can be very important, especially if a pilot is flying at low altitudes.
For this reason, pilots should always make sure that they identify landmarks before departure. Small lakes, hills and powerlines are all objects that could pose a problem.
Weather is a key part of the flight planning process. Pilots must understand the importance of weather before, during and after a flight.
The FAA provides many resources to help aviators plan flights safely and efficiently, including weather information. This information helps pilots and airlines meet schedules by maximizing airspace use and avoiding potentially hazardous weather.
To obtain weather briefings, a pilot should request an appropriate briefing from the FAA Flight Service Station (FSS). There are three types of briefings: standard, abbreviated and outlook.
A standard briefing provides a more complete weather picture for the aircraft type and route of flight. A pilot should request a standard briefing before each flight.
ForeFlight Mobile offers a full range of aviation weather products to support preflight planning and monitoring. Access METARs and TAFs for airports, a rich library of static weather imagery and more, from radar to global icing and turbulence forecasts.
Flight planners need to be aware of the different fuel values required to fly. These include the amount of fuel needed to taxi to the runway for takeoff, climb and cruise and also the amount required for a trip to the destination.
Besides this, the flight planner must account for weather conditions. The weather will influence the amount of fuel used for a flight.
The best flight planning software can help operators keep track of all the relevant data, including real aircraft data from the flight management system and the weather forecast. This allows the pilot to plan a safe journey with minimum necessary fuel consumption and maximize flight time.