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How do you plan your flights in the 744?

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Gents,As part of some research for a series of wiki articles I'm writing, I'd like to know the exact steps you go through to plan a flight in the 744. Like most people, I have my set of procedures, but I'd like to balance it out with a look at how others do this.Here's my procedure to start with. Comments corrections different techniques etc are welcomed. Note that most of my flights are less than 5 hours so I haven't touched upon the matter of diversion airports. I'd love it if someone else here could chip in on that subject.Up to an hour before I even load FS, I:- Generate a flight plan in FSBuild, determine the fuel requirements for A-B and B-C (eg my alternate) plus 2% padding. I also add the neccesary taxi, holding, approach, and reserve fuel to that total. Print the full plan off, put it aside.- Get the METAR/TAF for my departure, destination and planned alternate, take a look at the enroute weather conditions. Determine the departure runway. Note that I load the above weather into FS manually, I don't own any dynamic weather programs.- Go to www.airnav.com (US charts) or www.navdata.at (links to rest of world charts) Download an appropriate SID chart for my origin airport, download STAR and Approach charts for the most likely approach based on the weather conditions. If it's a (rare) long haul flight I will get two sets of STAR and approach charts for the destination and alternate so as to cover more contingencies. Note that this step can take a bit of browsing as often the list of SIDS/STARS doesn't indicate the applicable runway(s) or applicable direction/origin of the aircraft. While you're browinsg anyway, grab the charts even if they're not applicable for THIS flight, they might be for the next time you visit this(Note that over time, you can accumulate a good selection of charts just by saving them every time you plan a flight!)- Load TOPCAT and determine my maximum allowable T.O. weight based on the runway, conditions, and fuel load aboard the aircraft. This gives me an idea of the payload I can accommodate.- Randomly pick a payload that falls between empty and max allowable TO as determined in the previous step. Normally I tend towards a fuller load. Load/save that in the PMDG load manager.- Go back into TOPCAT and enter the Planned Takeoff Weight (Gross Weight minus 3 quarters of a tonne of fuel for a normal taxi, half a tonne for a short taxi). Determine flap settings, pack configurations etc for departure. Based on the factors I've now entered, I select an assumed temperature derate that gives me an appropriate runway margin. I use a minimum of 500 metres margin but will take a higher margin for terrain clearance etc, or will use full takeoff power if conditions require it.I also use TOPCAT to determine expected landing performance data at the arrival end, though this is really only to determine that I can 'make it in'.Finally, I print out the takeoff data sheet out of TOPCAT, add it to my flight plan and various charts, and I'm ready to go!Whew! You can imagine how annoyed I get if - after all this - something interrupts me and I can't go!So, fire away with your own techniques and also any feedback on the above. With your help I hope to produce some good reference materials for advanced 744 operation, there's still plenty more we can do with this aircraft.Cheers!

Mark Adeane - NZWN

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