Wednesday, February 27, 2013

TODO Before each flight

In this post I'll enumerate the things I have to do before I seat in the airplane. Some of the things can be done on the day before, to save some time on the flight day.
Here they are:
  • Airplane documentation
When I arrive the first thing to check is the airplane that I'll fly and respective folder that contains all the airplane documentation (Property register, Airworthiness License, Radio License, Weight&Balance) and are valid. Check any past problems unresolved and resolved. How many hours until next inspection.   
  • Fuel
Then I'll check if the airplane has the fuel needed for the flight. Normally, we depart with the tanks full.

  • NOTAMs (NOtice To AirMen)
This is like the newspaper of the pilots :D (updated daily). We check it to see if any airspace reservation is active, if any airport is closed, if any navigational system is inoperative,  if there are gliders or parachutes on our route, basically anything out of normal that can affect the flight.
  • Meteorology
Check the wind forecast (direction and speed) for the altitude that I plan to fly, any significant weather on the region (turbulence, ice, cumulonimbus). The altitude of 0ºC is important too because in case there is clouds at a temperature below 0ºC there is the likelihood of ice formation which our airplanes are not certificate to operate in this conditions.

  • FlightStar or manual planning
This can take some time to do, especially if done by hand (a flight of 1h30 can take about 1h to plan). We calculate the groundspeed, heading to the waypoint, estimated time to the waypoint and the fuel needed, using the wind forecast at that altitude. At this time I check also if the charts that I have of the airports are updated.
  • Submit the flight plan
If it's a local flight we have to submit the flight plan 30min before the departure, if it's a IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) flight we have to submit 1h before.
  • School flight process and Weight & Balance
Here I make the the school flight process (type of flight, time, instructor name, airplane,...) and check if the center of gravity is within the limits and not overweight.

  • 360º Walkaround
This involves the airplane inspection (tires, control surfaces, oil quantity,...)

  • Flight Plan acknowledged 
Confirmation that the flight plan was processed without problems.
  • Weather update
One last check on the weather. Typically, only done if the initial weather report is poor. We want to have the most recent weather before departure to make sure that not worsened.  
  • Briefing
I brief the instructor with the information that I have about the flight (airplane airworthiness, route, weather forecast, NOTAMs,...) and discuss what we are going to do.
  • Let's go fly....
The fun part :)

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