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# A fascinating live lesson from a BA Captain.....

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I've just had a fascinating few hours with a retired (after thirty years with BA) 747 Captain in which we flew in the MD-11 from Heathrow to Charles De Gaulle.A comment he made has puzzled me and I'd be interested in others' opinions.When we came to programming a STAR for Runway 27R at De Gaulle the FMCU offered several choices in alphabetical order.Roy, the Captain, expressed surprised at the fact that the optimum STAR is not automatically chosen to match the runway. He told me that the 747s do offer the logical STAR for a chosen runway.That makes sense. The MD-11 FMS knows where we've come from and can consequently calculate the optimum STAR for each runway. Why therefore does it not suggest that choice to the pilot?Cliff

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I've just had a fascinating few hours with a retired (after thirty years with BA) 747 Captain in which we flew in the MD-11 from Heathrow to Charles De Gaulle.A comment he made has puzzled me and I'd be interested in others' opinions.When we came to programming a STAR for Runway 27R at De Gaulle the FMCU offered several choices in alphabetical order.Roy, the Captain, expressed surprised at the fact that the optimum STAR is not automatically chosen to match the runway. He told me that the 747s do offer the logical STAR for a chosen runway.That makes sense. The MD-11 FMS knows where we've come from and can consequently calculate the optimum STAR for each runway. Why therefore does it not suggest that choice to the pilot?Cliff
Cliff,This is probably something to do with the way the SIDSTAR File has been written & nothing to do with the MD11.It is possible to assign SID/STAR procedures to individual RWYS...when the DEP RWY or APP Procedure is selected then only the SID/STARs applicable will be dispayed. It just depends on how the file has been written...Dan Downs is the expert in this field & he may be able to correct me or elaborate further.Not sure in the MD11 but in the 744 it is 'good practice' to select the APP before the STAR...the FMC is as I am sure you appreciate not a reader of minds.Kind RegardsSteve Bell

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Cliff,This is probably something to do with the way the SIDSTAR File has been written & nothing to do with the MD11.It is possible to assign SID/STAR procedures to individual RWYS...when the DEP RWY or APP Procedure is selected then only the SID/STARs applicable will be dispayed. It just depends on how the file has been written...Dan Downs is the expert in this field & he may be able to correct me or elaborate further.Not sure in the MD11 but in the 744 it is 'good practice' to select the APP before the STAR...the FMC is as I am sure you appreciate not a reader of minds.Kind RegardsSteve Bell
Cliff,It is exactly as Steve explained.Also the approaches should be listed in a specific order, with ILS approaches first and single Rwys last. This also depends on the way the SID/STAR file was written. The MD-11 code has no control on that. Another common problem is the way SIDs and STARs are named in these files. Sometimes some unrealistic long names are used that won't fin in the MCDU page format that is designed for proper standard naming. The MD-11 code will truncate them, otherwise the whole page becomes unreadable (will show though the complete name for the selected SID/STAR only)

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the optimum STAR is not automatically chosen to match the runway. He told me that the 747s do offer the logical STAR for a chosen runway.
I do have the original Honeywell, 747 FANS FMS documentation and there is nothing there about capability of selecting the optimum STAR. The only thing it does it matches approaches with arrivals. It is entirely possibly that the database is setup in such a way that the top left choice is the "optimum" (optimum in fuel???) STAR but I even doubt that. The fact of the matter is that pilots of heavy jets don't normally have much choice of which STAR to use - they have to take the one that is currently in use for this airport/runway.

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Cliff,It is exactly as Steve explained.Also the approaches should be listed in a specific order, with ILS approaches first and single Rwys last. This also depends on the way the SID/STAR file was written. The MD-11 code has no control on that. Another common problem is the way SIDs and STARs are named in these files. Sometimes some unrealistic long names are used that won't fin in the MCDU page format that is designed for proper standard naming. The MD-11 code will truncate them, otherwise the whole page becomes unreadable (will show though the complete name for the selected SID/STAR only)
It's now clear to me that I must learn how to select the approach and not concentrate on the runway direction only. That leaves me with a vast reservoir of confusion about which charts to use. Is there a simple tutorial perhaps?My thanks to all of you. Cliff

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It's now clear to me that I must learn how to select the approach and not concentrate on the runway direction only. That leaves me with a vast reservoir of confusion about which charts to use. Is there a simple tutorial perhaps?My thanks to all of you. Cliff
www.navigraph.comeasy to use software, all the charts, and even tutorials and videos to download ... reasonably priced.

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www.navigraph.comeasy to use software, all the charts, and even tutorials and videos to download ... reasonably priced.
If you look for a real world flight plan of the route you are flying (try searching the flight plan forum or if in the US www.flightaware.com), the last waypoint will often give you a good pointer as to which STAR to use. For example, Qantas routes into WSSS from EGLL tend to read BOBAG...WSSS. BOBAG is the last waypoint listed, and there is in fact a BOBAG STAR - makes picking the right STAR pretty easy. Just look at your last or second-last waypoint in the flight plan, it will usually be the first or part of the STAR. Although I know in Australia, the flight plan often terminates direct to the airport's VOR - so maybe if you fly Australian routes, a little more tricky - but still easy to figure out.CheersRudy

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Cliff you can find a really good program at fsbuild.com - just bung in your departure and arrival runways and it'll calculate your flightplan and export it to various chosen aircraft addons.Know it isn't freeware but the cost is quite insignificant for what it does.If you're using the the fs9/fsx default runways you can always go to each airport in turn and find out which ones fs9/fsx is using and bung them in if you want to use the inbuilt 'atc'.for example if using EGLL 27L to LFPG 27R then it pops up with EGLL MAY2G MAY DPE.DPE4E LFPG for the route (more detailed in the route box). Only thing it wont always do is pop in the transitions, for that you'll have to look at a chart to see where they are but the charts are mostly found in google anyway.Then there are free ones - routefinder (http://rfinder.asalink.net/free/) and various vatsim ones. I imagine in real life the flightplan is set up by the dispatchers and forwarded to the various atcs for them to schedule slots for the thousands of flights that depart every day and night. - the runways of course depend on the prevailing weather and other factors on the day, JFK is notorious for changing runways at will lol. (2nd fmc can be set up for an alternate approach too, saves fiddling around). If you need to change at some time all I do (probably not right) is set a constant hdg/alt then sort out the changes as necessary and then do a direct to.Hope this helps :( John Ellison

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Cliff you can find a really good program at fsbuild.com - just bung in your departure and arrival runways and it'll calculate your flightplan and export it to various chosen aircraft addons.Know it isn't freeware but the cost is quite insignificant for what it does.If you're using the the fs9/fsx default runways you can always go to each airport in turn and find out which ones fs9/fsx is using and bung them in if you want to use the inbuilt 'atc'.for example if using EGLL 27L to LFPG 27R then it pops up with EGLL MAY2G MAY DPE.DPE4E LFPG for the route (more detailed in the route box). Only thing it wont always do is pop in the transitions, for that you'll have to look at a chart to see where they are but the charts are mostly found in google anyway.Then there are free ones - routefinder (http://rfinder.asalink.net/free/) and various vatsim ones. I imagine in real life the flightplan is set up by the dispatchers and forwarded to the various atcs for them to schedule slots for the thousands of flights that depart every day and night. - the runways of course depend on the prevailing weather and other factors on the day, JFK is notorious for changing runways at will lol. (2nd fmc can be set up for an alternate approach too, saves fiddling around). If you need to change at some time all I do (probably not right) is set a constant hdg/alt then sort out the changes as necessary and then do a direct to.Hope this helps :( John Ellison
Sorry I didn't respond earlier but I've been off line for the last few days.I continue learning and you've added to my knowledgeMy thanks to both of you, Rudy and John.

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May I comment that it is one of the typical sim pilots procedures who program the whole route....usually not done in real life - even if the dispatcher may suggest a preferred one and which was base of his fuel calculation.On a long flight and/or to an airport with many runways, you just can't predict which STAR and RWY will be used at the arrival airport. So you just leave this open.The big difference between the two FMS systems, Boeing vs. MD11, is the procedure. On Boeing you select the departure airport and enter the runway which shows you the available STARs.On MD 11 you start from the last waypoint in your flight plan which, if it has been set up correctly, should be the beginning of a STAR. Then confirm the STAR and the runway. Do not delete the DISCO. Once you are "cleared" just use DIR to the first point after the DISCO.Same for the approach.At least that is my experience from flying in Europe with smaller planes but a similar FMS as the MD11.

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May I comment that it is one of the typical sim pilots procedures who program the whole route....usually not done in real life - even if the dispatcher may suggest a preferred one and which was base of his fuel calculation.On a long flight and/or to an airport with many runways, you just can't predict which STAR and RWY will be used at the arrival airport. So you just leave this open.The big difference between the two FMS systems, Boeing vs. MD11, is the procedure. On Boeing you select the departure airport and enter the runway which shows you the available STARs.On MD 11 you start from the last waypoint in your flight plan which, if it has been set up correctly, should be the beginning of a STAR. Then confirm the STAR and the runway. Do not delete the DISCO. Once you are "cleared" just use DIR to the first point after the DISCO.Same for the approach.At least that is my experience from flying in Europe with smaller planes but a similar FMS as the MD11.
I always leave the STAR out in flight planning (and loading into the FMS) but do try to find a common transition during planning until I confirm which runways are in use during flight, but often that would be passed TOD so I use the most likely and get ready to change when need be.If I were to leave the Disco until I have confirmed the runway how would the FMS decent profile be made? (assuming I have ATC permission for my own decent discretion, or not using ATC at all)Jay V

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