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J van E

What's up with flightplans and simmers and realism

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I recently bought the awesome Majestic Dash 8 Q400 and I am now, for the first time, trying to do real life flights with it (flying domestic flights for the company Wideroe in Norway). While looking for flights someone pointed me to Flightradar24 and how you can find real world flights there. I found some nice flights for the LN-WDF Q400 that I can do which are done with the very same plane in real life. I also found out that you can see how the plane flew each flights. And then I noticed something.

Afaik a lot of simmers who are a bit serious about it all, use various flight plannees to get the most realistic plans into their sims. PFPX, Simbrief, maybe ProATC, whatever and they all come up with fancy flightplans that lead you from various waypoint and airways to your destination. Of course we also add a SID and STAR if possible. Why? Because we like REALISM.

Well, when I looked at all the flights the Q400 does above Norway I noticed NONE OF THEM seem to actually follow a plan. At least NOT the plan that the various planners are giving me! Without exception ALL flights are done in a straight line, so no SID, to the other airports and every now and then you can detect a trace of a STAR somewhere but usually it is limited to the starting point of it. In short: in real life it seems all Q400's fly STRAIGHT towards the destination without actually using a SID and it seems that after the initial STAR point the are vectored to the airport.

So... how come everyone is so interested in flying flightplans from waypoint to waypoint using airways and all when real flights aren't done like that at all?

I have created some nice plans to fly above Norway but I want to do things as realistic as possible with the Q400 and seriously, it feels stupid to actually fly that plan... as if I am a little kid who doesn't know better. I should simply take off and fly to my destination just like that. As is done in real life.

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I am not a real pilot, but I got the impression that SIDs and STARs are there to help ATC manage large traffic volumes, and for noise abatement etc. If you follow flights into larger airports on flightaware you may notice that they follows STARs. In Norway, traffic volume is generally low, so ATC may allow a pilot to fly straight to the destination. This is what happens a lot on Vatsim when there is not much traffic around. I would expect that around ENGM airplanes would generally follow at least the initial part of STARs in order to avoid flying over the city.

Peter

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Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the Scandinavian countries and some other European countries have switched to Free Route Airspace: http://www.eurocontrol.int/articles/free-route-airspace

Btw, a good source for real world European flightplans is www.edi-gla.co.uk/fpl Registration is required but it's free. 

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as Marc already pointed out, some northern and eastern european airspaces switched to free route with entry and exit points only. In most other areas, airways and waypoints are still a thing and pilots are obliged to follow the published and approved route unless they get a DIRECT TO by ATC.

Problem in flight sim world is that all the ATC addons are rather static and canned, while real world ATC is highly dynamic based on current traffic and weather situation. If your filed FP is a zig-zag-route due to limited airway availability and you're not flying during rush hours, ATC will always try to provide you the most efficient routing, either by proactively issuing DIRECT TO's or by approving pilot requests. 

Same goes for approaches, fly into a large airport during quiet hours and ATC will almost always allow to skip some STAR waypoints to allow a more direct approach (OMDB or EDDM are good examples) or they might even vector you entirely to FAF. This is of course subject to noise abatement rules in this area. 

Airways and STARS exist because ATC cant hand hold every flight out there during busy hours...

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Ok, clear about Norway using free routes. I have to admit I only looked at flights in Norway... :happy:

30 minutes ago, Woozie said:

Problem in flight sim world is that all the ATC addons are rather static and canned

Yes. I use ProATC/X and it wants you to follow the exact planned route ALL THE WAY. Of course I could request DIRECT TO's all the time... but I might as well remove all waypoints from the calculated route and only leave the STAR in. I'd prefer to even only let the entry point of the STAR in but ProATC/X doesn't do vectors afaik so I do need that STAR to get me in front of the landing runway, I suppose. Don't really know... I also don't know if ProATC will work without a SID...

Still... it would feel odd and not realistic to fly a plan without any waypoints or airways... even when it is actually realistic in Norway. I am so used to doing things like a simmer is used to... :happy:

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I use discretion depending on where in the world I am flying. Our rules in New Zealand are different to FAA and we route things differently as well, but when flying in the USA I will follow the rules by the book, if I want more freedom then yes Norway is a great place for that.

I prefer Flightaware.com and just copy and past a recent route an airliner just finished into Flight Sim Commander and compile that into the sim. I use Navigraph as well for charts. 

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I select departures/waypoints/approaches that suit my own requirements, and to hell with the real world! :tongue:

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In high density areas of the US, like the east coast, ATC will often vector traffic off the STAR, and provide shortcuts in order to keep everyone moving through the airspace as quickly and efficiently as possible.  Sometimes the routes as flown look like the ones from default ATC.  Just sayin'... :cool:

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9 hours ago, J van E said:

So... how come everyone is so interested in flying flightplans from waypoint to waypoint using airways and all when real flights aren't done like that at all?

It all comes down to what you're flying and what they normally do. Q400s in Norway might just fly in a straight line, but I don't fly a Q400, let alone in Norway. All my flying is pretty much done in heavy jets, mostly the Boeing 747-400. In any event, as mentioned above somewhere, you fly the flight plan unless instructed otherwise. In the event of a radio failure, you fly what you were instructed to fly. The key is predictability. The air traffic controllers have to know what's going on.

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In the real world you will often get clearance “direct to” regardless of what you have filed. 

A nice direct to which removes many of the pre defined waypoints can often save time for both atc and the pilot. Win win. 

 

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For the Q400 you can try Air Canada Jazz or Westjet (Encore) flights that have the route on FlightAware.com.  From what I can tell they do follow the routes quite closely.

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