Thursday, June 28, 2007

Hi all,

This 8 day tour I haven't been flying. My employer is short of "Flight Planners" and so I have been in the office all day from 6am til 3pm filing flight plans.

Wikipedia says flight plans are: Flight plans are plans filed by pilots with the local Aviation Authority (e.g. FAA in the USA) prior to flying. They generally include basic information such as departure and arrival points, estimated time, alternate airports in case of bad weather, type of flight weather instrument flight rules or visual flight rules, pilot's name and number of passengers. In most countries, flight plans are required for flights under IFR. Under VFR, they are optional unless crossing national borders, however they are highly recommended, especially when flying over inhospitable areas, such as water, as they provide a way of alerting rescuers if the flight is overdue. More information here:

We use to file a couple of hundred flight plans a day (more with changes and cancellations). This program has the performance information for each of our aircraft programmed in, so all we have to do is input the departure and arrival points and passengers. We provide the pilots with the current weather and NOTAMs for the time that we file the flight plan, but the pilots are still responsible for checking this information - it may have changed or there might be something NOTAM'd that might affect their ability to actually do the flight.

NOTAM or NoTAM is the quasi-acronym for a "Notice To Airmen". NOTAMs are created and transmitted by government agencies under guidelines specified by Annex 15: Aeronautical Information Services of the International Convention on Civil Aviation. A NOTAM is filed with an aviation authority to alert aircraft pilots of any hazards en route or at a specific location. The authority in turn provides means of disseminating relevant NOTAMs to pilots.
NOTAMs are issued (and reported) for a number of reasons, such as:

  • hazards such as air-shows and parachute jumps

  • flights by important people such as heads of state

  • closed runways

  • inoperable radio navigational aids

  • military exercises with resulting airspace restrictions

  • inoperable lights on tall obstructions

  • temporary erection of obstacles near airfields (e.g. cranes)

  • passage of flocks of birds through airspace (a NOTAM in this category is known as a BIRDTAM)

Software is available to allow pilots to identify NOTAMs near their intended route or at the intended destination.

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