An flight plan is a document that provides detailed information about a planned flight. The document is filed with aviation officials, and forwarded to officials at the aircraft’s destinations or waypoints to ensure they have the data in hand. Filing a flight plan is required by law in many cases, and it is also a good idea from a safety perspective, as it ensures that if a plane disappears, someone will start looking for it.
Several pieces of information are included in a flight plan. The names of captains, crews and passengers are included, along with descriptions of any cargo that can be carried. Flight type is also discussed, which is the type of flight, indicating whether the pilot is to fly with instruments, or under visual flight rules. The itinerary also details the departure and arrival points of the flight, the estimated route the flight will take, and the expected duration of the flight.
In addition to providing this basic data, a flight plan also usually details alternative airports that it will use in the event of an emergency. It can also address specific concerns about controlled or restricted airspace, and other issues that may arise during the flight. The idea is to create a complete picture of what’s going to happen on the plane and to demonstrate that the crew has prepared for unexpected events.
From an air traffic control perspective, airplanes are very important, as they alert officials to the presence of aircraft in the sky. Using archived flight plan data, can control the time of arrival and departure of aircraft, and send out specific altitude and heading information where different aircraft should follow to avoid collisions. Without flight plan information, flight attendants would find their jobs would be much more complicated than they already are.
Another concern is fuel consumption, because the planes burn a lot of fuel, and running out of gas in the middle of the sky is not a desired event. Using information from the aircraft manufacturer, the person who files the itinerary can estimate how much fuel will be used and whether it will be necessary to stop and refuel. Fuel quotas must also account for bad weather, which can increase fuel consumption, and in some regions, pilots are required to carry extra fuel, so they are prepared in the event of an unexpected event, which may vary from having to hover your mouse pointer over an airport to wait to land to lose fuel due to damage.
- Air crews use their flight plan as a yardstick as they move along a route, though they can make changes to it if an emergency occurs.
- A pilot may need to make crucial last-minute changes to an aircraft’s flight schedule to keep passengers out of danger.
- Commercial flights use standard, routine flight schedules.