Flight Planning Considerations
Flight planning is a complex process of calculations; it has to be well thought and organized in order to create a safe flight for a specific aircraft on a certain day and reduce costs if possible. No flight is the same and depends on many factors, like aircraft capabilities, weight limitations, weather conditions, route requirements, fuel consumption, regulatory limitations and many more. One of the most crucial is fuel calculation. It is important to make sure there is enough fuel not just for the journey itself but also reserve fuel for any emergencies that may happen. Fuel calculation takes many factors into account.
Unpredictable weather conditions can play a very big role in fuel consumption of an aircraft. Things like head or tail winds and air temperature have to be taken into consideration, issues with weather, which can force aircraft into a higher or lower altitude and result in higher fuel consumption. Sudden change in weather, like a storm or very high winds may make it necessary for the aircraft to land in a different airport, so it is important to carry extra fuel for situations like that. Any fuel necessary for warm-up, taxi and climb has to be taken into account. Warm-up in cold weather will generally be longer; taxi times will vary in different airports and may be considerably longer in busy and large airports.
The rate of fuel consumed will vary greatly between the aircrafts. Even two aircrafts of the same type will consume different amount of fuel due to differences in their age, maintenance condition, amount of flight hours and such. Weight of an aircraft will be important for fuel consumption, amount of luggage and weight of an airplane itself, which changes as fuel is burned.
The route will establish what flight level an aircraft will be using while on an airway to avoid collision. Aircraft may be flying at different flight levels during the trip; cruising at a high flight level usually needs less fuel but extra fuel may be required to get the higher flight level.
No flight can begin without carefully calculating the fuel amount needed, taking all necessary factors into consideration. It is absolutely vital for the pilots to have a well-structured flight plan at hand. Flying an aircraft is a complicated task, so every effort should be made to make a journey as safe as possible.