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IonicRipper

Newb looking for tips on flightplans

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Just got the Aerosoft A320 on special and although I'm not new to flight sims, flightplans are a new facet of the hobby for me.

 

I completed Aerosoft's first tutorial flight and it went perfectly well. I then tried to make my own flightplan for a short flight between Montreal (CYUL (my home airport)) and Toronto (CYYZ) using this but didn't go as well. Entering the flight plan isn't a problem, its finding the right plan and the SIDs and STARs that fit with it. 

 

I'd like to know how you guys build/choose your flightplans and how you choose the SIDs and STARs.

Also, does anyone use the vanilla FSX ATC in conjunction with your flightplans?

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First start with flightaware.com to get real world flight plans for your favorite liner (Unfortunately the US is the only nation with full coverage at the moment.). Once you've got the flight plan, you can use something like the most excellent simbrief.com site to get your dispatch information (free account, but the AIRAC requires a paid-for-code to get current info). It has plenty of export options for different AC, as well.

 

I use Radar Contact 4 for ATC. It's a bit dated (doesn't give taxi assignments, has quirks you'll eventually work around), but its still the best add-on ATC IMO unless you wanted to use VATSIM or something.

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Simbrief will actually pull the flight plan for you from several different sources.

 

The dispatch info includes departure and arrival times, number of passengers, cardo, amount of fuel, ETOPs info (if applicable) and other related items.

 

It's VERY EASY to use, and you can download the flight plan for the Airbus and FSX - the latter should be used to put the flight plan into Active Sky Next for more accurate weather data during your flight.

 

You can also download flight plans for other aircraft.

 

Best thing to do is go to Simbrief, start an account and go through it. There is also a very good help and tutorial available.

 

Hope you find this helpful.

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Try out Kyle's excellent tutorial on the topic of sids and stars

 

 

Once you get the hang of it it is both easy and entertaining to look up sids and stars from the charts.

 

Just google the icao code of the airport you are planning to fly to/from. Some results might be a bit outdated but in most cases you'll be able to find the right charts really easy.

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I'd like to know how you guys build/choose your flightplans and how you choose the SIDs and STARs.

Also, does anyone use the vanilla FSX ATC in conjunction with your flightplans?

For an overview, we need to understand that flight plans in FSX and P3D are actual data used by the simulator to program the GPS and ATC subsystems of the sim.

 

SIDs and STARs join Runways to Routes with a set of instructions, and some of these instructions fly over waypoints like the IDF and FAF.

 

Once we know the runways in use and the direction to our destination we can choose the most viable SID and STAR corresponding with our route.

 

We find a Transition waypoint often corresponds to a waypoint on an airways route which we are taking on our way to our destination. We arrive on an airways route at the Transition, the STAR links that to our runway, possibly via a FAF.

 

We can use the IDF and FAF in the plan and maybe some other fly over waypoints in the SID and STAR if we are sure we can use them, which we don't really know until we get there. Even so we can generally always use the Transitions in the GPS plan file which helps the FSX/P3D ATC subsystem which incidentally also controls AI traffic. We can add the IDF and FAF, and possibly some other waypoints, remembering that many are simply headings and could take the plan miles off course if followed all the way to those waypoints.

 

So in short a reliable plan can be made by predicting the Runways, choosing a SID and STAR linking the Runways to the airways routes at the Transitions, and using airways route segments between those Transitions. We can include the IDF and FAF, but other waypoints may be problematic to the plan. We don't have any SID or STAR information in the plan.

 

The simulator is unaware of SIDs and STARs, the instructions between Runway and airways route, but is aware of the navigation aids and other waypoints. However, if we are heading to our Transition we will be able to call up the STAR in our FMC. With FSX/P3D ATC we can select the desired runway, if it's not initially presented to us.

 

Be aware that unless the simulator scenery has been updated to coincide with the data in an AIRAC, there may be problems of, for example, missing runways in the sim. Also the planner may be working only from an AIRAC (navigation database), and be totally unaware of the simulator scenery. And as such the aircraft navigation system may depend entirely on an AIRAC file set as well. In which case it is sensible to apply a closely matched AIRAC to planner and aircraft navigation system, and have scenery to match the items used from those AIRACs and only fly between them.

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Cant applications like Simbreif include these SIDs and STARs in the flight plan if we include the runway heading?

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That's where Flightaware.com comes in as commercial flight plans usually have SID/STAR information. If you need SID/STARs, they are included in almost every IFR flight plan filed in the US. Just copy the route from flightaware and put it into Simbrief.

 

In alot of cases with simbrief, there is usually already a flight plan defined for the departure/arrival airports you put in since others have most likely flown than route at some point.

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Cant seem to find where the full routes with the SIDs and STARs are on flightaware, though...

 

EDIT: Ohh ok I see what you mean now.

 

Double edit: Does the STAR absolutely dictate which runway(s) it leads to or can you choose any runway from it? For example say you choose a STAR and a runway before departing but the active runway changes mid flight. Do you have to choose a new STAR as well or can you just change the runway alone in the MCDU? Or even yet just choose a STAR and wait until you get closer to choose the runway?

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some notes (essentially US skies)  ....

 

flightware lists recently filed real world routes including sids / stars, but not the runways. it is thus based on the current airac (28day) cycle.

 

flightware has copies of the current sids/stars/iaps for the airports & matching those airacs

 

the appropriate sid/star/iap may differ because of wind (runway selection)  .... for example, at ksfo  from the same ats route the serfr star leads to R28 whilst the wwavs star leads to R19. the same applies to differing sids leading to the same ats route.

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standard practice is to "guesstimate" the appropriate runway & hence iap / star from the arrival's TAF (weather forecast) in cruise but expect on the odd occasion (10%) to change (restring) when you receive the arrival's atis about 60nm out.

 

sometimes it will be the same star but a different approach or it could be both...no general rule to the options.

 

studying the TAF is your best preparation as to what may be needed & what are the chances of a change (if for example there is a change of wind forecast about your ETA

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Thanks guys, you've been super helpful so far.

 

One last question: How reliable is FSX's default "real world" weather when it comes to matching the real world METARs? Can I trust the game's wind direction will match the wind directions found online?

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Unless intercepted by a zone of influence of another Weather station, the winds set in a METAR are precise in the sim.

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can I recommend you consider the popular fsx weather engine ASN add-on @ http://www.hifisimtech.com/.

 

there is a free trial available which includes an informative user guide on what & how weather is depicted in fsx.

 

it has worldwide coverage using similar sources as fsx of both real world metar & taf's along with an historic weather option which many find useful to match weather with the time of day you're simming, particularly if it is another timezone / hemisphere.

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vadriver: Does it get rid of the horrible default FSX "turbulence" that throws my 320 around as a mere Cessna?

 

I dont understand, I checked the disable turbulence option in the settings yet still get the effects of it...

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vadriver: Does it get rid of the horrible default FSX "turbulence" that throws my 320 around as a mere Cessna?

 

I dont understand, I checked the disable turbulence option in the settings yet still get the effects of it...

 Yes it does! (Plus a lot of other great things...)

 

I had REX and OPUS before, never looked back...

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Just tried the free trial... Wow, it really changes everything, makes FSX much more immersive! But my framerates took a hell of a hit, with could draw set to maximum as it was before it was down to single digits. Fortunately with the cloud draw set to medium its back to playable fps.

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To answer an earlier question, the STAR gets you within proximity of the airport and then there's usually an ATC vector to put you into the approach. You'll see this when you program the FMC in something like the PMDG 737NGX. When you populate the STAR without an arrival runway (which then includes the final approach), the last entry in the flight plan will be VECTOR. The only time you'll pre-populate a complete STAR, final approach and runway is if you're not flying with ATC and traffic.

 

If you're using something like RC4, ATC will most likely vector you off plan well before you complete the STAR to get you into the traffic pattern. Once you have a runway assignment from RC4, you just reprogram the FMC with the approach to that runway and activate it after getting final instructions.

 

Sounds a hell of alot more complicated than it really is.

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