Expert tips for flight planning

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Ever wonder why your clearance looks nothing like your filed route or why you received a reroute when you don’t see weather or obstacles impacting your flight?

During a recent National Business Aviation Association News Hour webinar, the spotlight was on the importance of pre-flight planning and those “gotchas” when it comes to operating in the National Airspace System that could potentially be avoided.

“We’ve all been caught where after flight planning a route, we get a clearance and it’s entirely different from what we filed,” said panel moderator Heidi Williams, NBAA director, air traffic services and infrastructure.

Members of the panel offered these tips to make your flight smoother — for you, your passengers, and ATC:

“You will certainly have the data that you’re submitting with your flight plan set up for the environment that you’re flying into, but spend some time ahead of your departure preparing in case you don’t get the route you want,” advised Rob MacLeod, team lead/flight operations for Foreflight.

Pilots need to be actively involved in flight planning, as opposed to just clicking on a previously-cleared or filed route, added John Kernaghan, assistant chief pilot for Johnson and Johnson.

“There can be errors, especially if it’s a long route,” he said. “It is always good SOP to have the routes loaded before you even consider leaving the chocks.”

Even when you have a vendor doing your flight planning, it is always a best practice to get as much flight planning in as possible the night before a departure, noted Marek Siwiak, a flight operations specialist with Arinc Direct.

“There can be so much going on in the morning, and if you have your profiles, fuel loads, and desired routing in place the night before, it can be immensely helpful,” he said.

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