Flight Planning survey

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by Tristar, Dec 5, 2013.

  1. Tristar

    Tristar Pattern Altitude

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    Hey guys,

    Our Director of Operations is creating a flight planning tool designed to make the routes/altitudes etc more financially feasible. For example, we are taught that for every minute extra in the Mustang, we spend X amount of dollars towards the owner (since we lease it) and compare it with our percentage in cost of fuel. Then picking altitudes and routes accordingly. It's still in the planning stages but considering he's a math major and has our entire fleet down to a science on how they should be flown, it should be interesting. Every dollar adds up after all. Anyways, he asked me if I could share it with my pilot friends outside of work and is interested in knowing what you use for flight planning. This goes for everyone from Private pilot up to charter operations 91 and 135. The idea is for it to be usable for everyone outside the airlines. He would really appreciate it and it wouldn't take longer than 5 minutes. Thanks!

    https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1nBy3SwVJqO00nSYcrvrRg_vdqyb_4iTnNN88Og_Wzjo/viewform#ref=1
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2013
  2. murphey

    murphey Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Underlying concept used by the majors and other charters is based on the knapsack algorithm with the fuel, speed, winds aloft, fuel price, weight, etc are the constraints or attributes.

    Lots of code out there implementing this.

    Just sayin'
     
  3. Tristar

    Tristar Pattern Altitude

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    I'm not sure what all he has in mind yet. Right now I think he's trying to do research.
     
  4. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    I filled it out - I'm pretty much not the target audience. I would pay $0 for a great flight-planning tool, because all the tools that I need I already have at my disposal.

    When you get into the turbine world where climb rates are high and fuel burn has massive changes with altitude, I think that you could probably make an argument for a well thought out tool that helps things, and especially if you have a variety of trips that will range from short to longer. When you're flying pistons, the different isn't as significant. In a piston single, I've never noticed enough of a fuel burn difference with altitude to be significant at the pumps. In the 310, there are fuel burn differences, sure, but I know what those are, what my desired operating altitudes are, and pick accordingly. More often, factors such as winds will drive my altitude selection, because more headwind would offset any fuel saved, not to mention more time on the aircraft and time that I'm not getting where I'm trying to go.

    In the Commander, we pretty much always filed for FL260-270. In the Cheyenne, it was pretty much always FL200-230. I filed for FL250 once because there was going to be a significantly better tailwind up there than FL230. The boss thought I was nuts until we got up there and were doing 300 kts GS. "Hey, this is pretty good!" Yep, and at 400 PPH combined, not too bad for that plane.
     
  5. Everskyward

    Everskyward Administrator Management Council Member

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    Since there are other factors to consider other than just fuel burn when is comes to the total expense it seems like it would be hard to come up with some kind of formula. There are also so many variables such as traffic and ATC. If you were mostly considering fuel burn you would fly as high as possible and at long range cruise unless the winds were really unfavorable. However LRC puts more time on the engines and airframe which would be an expense. Also if you are leasing the airplane by the hour you will have a bigger expense or a bigger income depending on whether you are a lessor or lessee. To get around all that figuring we just fly moderately high (for us 400/410) at normal cruise unless there is some other factor. Nobody had said anything one way or the other about that. However we do try to figure out the best places to buy fuel.
     
  6. N747JB

    N747JB Final Approach

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    That's is the biggest way to save money in any airplane, but especially a turbine!:D $.50 to $2.00 per gallon difference really adds up at 2-300 GPH!!:yikes::D
     
  7. flyingcheesehead

    flyingcheesehead Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Likewise.

    I do wish ForeFlight had a more detailed aircraft performance section and flight planning - Currently it just looks at cruise. I'd like to see something that builds in the climb and descent speeds and fuel burns, winds aloft during those segments, etc. It'd sure be nice to see the actual fuel burn and elapsed time for the flight with all of that included.
     
  8. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    I think that's pretty much what most organizations end up doing. Airplanes have optimal altitudes for most trips.

    Then you get into super-long trips, like what Speed was talking about in the G550 and how they can extend their range through block altitudes and 500 ft climb increments. But that's about trying to gain range on a 14 hour trip.

    On some of my standard trips, I can usually gain enough extra range at 11k vs 7-9k to make them with 1 fuel stop w/reserves instead of 2 stops, so I'll do that, and the 5 kt or so speed decrease is made up for in time saved.

    Also very true. But even then, it usually doesn't make sense to add an extra stop for cheap fuel, especially in a turbine. At least, it hasn't when I've done the math on what I've flown. Usually it just makes more sense to pick your desired airports carefully.

    I've ended up finding that for most naturally aspirated piston planes, I just have an average fuel burn for the trip that doesn't seem to get impacted significantly by climb fuel burn. However my legs are seldom less than 2 hours, which probably has something to do with it.
     
  9. dell30rb

    dell30rb Final Approach

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    Yep +1 on that.



    I ferried a 150 back from Texas a few weeks ago. Spent most of the time at 11,500ft. There was a slight tailwind up there. Had I been flying less than 2 hour legs, no way I would have climbed all the way up to 11k in a 150. I didn't time it, but it took me an eternity to reach that altitude. As you can imagine. :goofy:
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2013
  10. taters

    taters Pattern Altitude

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    There is planning and then there is reality. While my airline uses a very nice tool (sabre updated in flight via ACARS) our real fuel savings come from climbing the profile ,idle descents , and thoughtful APU use , however lower block time is usually more valuable than saving a little fuel , (less time on lots of expensive components )
     
  11. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    Time and cycles. Don't forget cycles...
     
  12. taters

    taters Pattern Altitude

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    If you guys have a datalink many software tools will analyze current conditions vs reality and recommend a power setting and altitude. They are used in many flight departments but they are pretty pricey I believe
     
  13. Everskyward

    Everskyward Administrator Management Council Member

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    We don't make extra fuel stops or go out if the way for cheaper fuel but we will buy more from places that are cheaper and we tanker, especially from home. Of course then there is the question about how much more you are paying to carry the extra weight which varies with other factors. But this is the policy so we do it when possible.
     
  14. Ted DuPuis

    Ted DuPuis Administrator Management Council Member

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    That tankering cost question is another one I find makes more of a difference in turbines vs. pistons. I've never noticed a significant speed difference from weight, and my climbs are close enough anyway. I think in turbines where you have much longer climbs and way more fuel, that's probably a bigger factor.