Flight Planning

Flight Planning

Introduction Weather

Pilots - Planning


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Planning The Route

The purpose of planning is to get general idea of how you going to fly from your origin to your destination. We will divide flight planning into three major parts:

  • Route Planning
  • Flight level planning
  • Filling the Flight Plan

Let us start to plan your flight route. First thing to do is to decide which will be your origin and destination airport. In this example, we will fly from Tehran IKA airport to Dubai. Therefore, now we can get the ICAO codes of these airports, they are OIIE and OMDB accordingly.

Now when we have codes we need to make up our route. To figure it out we need the navigational points (fixes) and airways that connects them. There are two ways to plan your route - use route charts or use route-finding software. Find your route on the chart is a bit difficult and require some time, so we will use automatic route finder provided here and the result of our route will be as below:


You can also use other route finders such as the one here.

As you can see, it consist of waypoints (EGVEL, SYZ, KUPTO, ORSAR, PEBAT, DESDI) and airways (P574, G666, A418, R784, B416). We will need this to navigate manually or with autopilot. After we had determined our route, we have to decide what altitude we will maintain during the flight. The rules are simple – if you fly westbound, your altitude should be even and if you fly eastbound, it should be odd. In Iran, we use Reduced Vertical Separation Minimums this means that the difference between opposite-directional routes will be 1000 ft. To visualize the principle of vertical separation we prepare a small table for you, the numbers may down till the ground and up to 66 000 ft.

WESTBOUND (179° - 360°) EASTBOUND (001° - 180°)
FL320 (32 000ft)  
  FL310 (31 000ft)
FL300 (30 000ft)  
  FL290 (29 000ft)
FL280 (28 000ft)  

Our route goes eastbound so our flight level should be odd. We pick the number accordingly to the type of aircraft we fly – the bigger the aircraft, the higher it can fly. For example, if we fly Boeing 737 we can easily take an altitude of 29,000 ft., which corresponds to flight level 290 (just cut the last two symbols from the number). Final step is to file flight plan and send it to VATSIM. No matter what type of flight you perform, if you are going to take off – you must file a flight plan. There are two ways to file the flight plan, either in your client when you are already connected to the server with your simulator or through the web-service here. In any case, the fields will be the same, let us divide them:

  • Type of flight - IFR for instrumental flights and VFR for visual flights.
  • Callsign - your callsign, usually consist of either registration number of an aircraft (i.e. UR-PSA) or has an index of an airline with the number of flight (i.e. IRA202).
  • Aircraft type - the 4 symbols ICAO code of your aircraft (i.e. B737).
  • True airspeed - the airspeed you plan to travel measured in knots.
  • Departure - the 4 symbols ICAO code of an airport of origin (in our case it’s OIIE).
  • Departure Time - the expected time of departure in UTC (universal coordinated time).
  • Cruising altitude - the altitude or flight level you decided to maintain (in our example we decided on F290)
  • Route - the desired route that should consist of waypoints and airways. In case that a waypoint taken has no index it can be filled in as a coordinate (i.e. 46N078W). If two waypoints are not connected by airway between them, then it should be filled with index DCT (short for direct). In this section, as well should be noted all the changes in altitude or speed on route. To do this pick the waypoint on which altitude or speed would be changed and right after it fill desired speed and altitude after slash sign (i.e. ORSAR/N0400F290 where N0400 – 400kts, F290 – flight level 290). Altitude should be listed as described above. Speed can be filled in knots (i.e. N0430), one hundred of a Mach number (i.e. M085) or kilometers per hour (i.e. K0830).
  • Destination - the 4 symbols ICAO code of an airport of destination (in our case it’s OMDB).
  • Estimated time in route - estimated time that will take you to finish your flight.
  • Voice capabilities - set according to whether you will use microphone or only text with controller.
  • Remarks - optional field for extra information.
  • Fuel on board - the amount of time, in which you will run out of fuel.
  • Alternate - the 4 symbols ICAO code of an alternate airport.
  • Pilot name - your name according to your VATSIM registration.
  • VATSIM ID and password you got upon registration.
If you are filling the plan using the client in your simulator some of these fields may be hidden and you don’t need to fill them in. At this point the flight preparation is ended.