130 votes
Accepted

Why do airlines follow these routes between Barcelona and Düsseldorf?

Large parts of France's airspace are designated military training areas. If there is military flight training going on, the choice of routing over France is very limited. The only option is to fly ...
  • 75.4k
106 votes
Accepted

Why did this FedEx flight (FDX1311) take such an indirect route multiple times?

Purpose FDX1311 is a daily scheduled flight, called a flying spare, or more colloquially a sweeper. It's a provision to remedy unplanned events which would otherwise prevent customers shipments to ...
  • 68k
90 votes

Why did this plane fly in a zigzag pattern?

It is a typical dogleg used to increase spacing between aircraft or delay their arrival. If the airport does not have enough capacity to handle incoming traffic, the air traffic controllers have ...
  • 75.4k
69 votes
Accepted

Is the destination of a commercial flight important for the pilot?

The pilots in this case did know where they were going: Edinburgh. BA said a paperwork error was to blame, with the pilot following orders from Germany, where WDL’s head office had filed the ...
  • 26.6k
58 votes
Accepted

Why would a helicopter climb in a spiral?

A helicopter will achieve its best climb rate at a moderate forward speed. Climbing in a spiral helps to have forward speed in what is essentially a vertical climb. In a hover all the airflow which ...
54 votes
Accepted

How can I find places to store/land a private airplane?

The first thing you usually do as a pilot is to look at a sectional chart, which shows all the airports and airspace in the area you want to fly (and transit). They look like this: You can see that ...
  • 35.2k
50 votes

Why do I never see any other planes in the sky whilst flying?

If you're not seeing them, you're not looking. I see planes all the time when flying commercial. Obviously, I see them a lot more when close to a major center, and a lot less when in the sparse ...
  • 28.5k
43 votes

Why would a flight from Frankfurt to Madrid fly over London?

I can't be completely sure but the most likely reason is a planned strike by ATC in south-east France. It was planned from the 30th of June to the 1st or 2nd (depending on the source) of July, meaning ...
  • 70.6k
42 votes

Could this "Wingless Dodo" fly in real life?

There is an old saying "If you put a big enough engine on it, you can make anything fly." The Lockheed Starfighter was a classic example of that. With its short stubby wings it is basically a guided ...
  • 4,796
34 votes
Accepted

Why would a pilot pick this military airport as an emergency landing airport?

Emergency landings often dictate landing at the safest airport, not necessarily the closest one. As I said in the comments, the flight was operating IFR and had turned the window heater on presumably ...
  • 35.2k
30 votes

How can I find places to store/land a private airplane?

Generally people don't fly GA aircraft into major international airports. It can be done, but the landing fees tend to be high, fuel is expensive, and they often charge quite a bit for parking. If you ...
  • 96.4k
28 votes

Why do some flights make turns shortly after takeoff?

It is mostly standardized procedures. I take as example Amsterdam airport (AMS), but the following is applicable to most, if not all, major commercial airports. Let's look at the departure charts, ...
  • 31.6k
27 votes

Should I put yesterday's date for destination date/time on a flight plan if the flight is to go east bound across Zulu +-12 time zone?

When you file a flight plan, you don't enter an arrival date or time. You just enter proposed UTC departure time and estimated length of time enroute. For aircraft or pilot logbooks we only use UTC ...
  • 34.3k
27 votes
Accepted

Does a headwind/tailwind affect your rate of climb?

A steady (continuous) head wind (or tail wind) will not affect your climb rate, only your climb angle. It means you will reach a specific altitude in the same time interval, but your ground distance ...
  • 7,776
25 votes
Accepted

How do I plan for my PPL checkride which will involve a diversion?

This thread should be a great source of tips and tricks :) The way to think about this is to think about the purpose of being asked to divert during your checkride. What the examiner will be looking ...
  • 30.9k
25 votes
Accepted

Do any flights go over the South Pole?

Please forgive me for asking if you are a "flat earth truther". We sometimes get those numpties passing by trying to justify their theories (especially the one about Antarctica being a ringed ice ...
  • 30.9k
24 votes
Accepted

What might have been the reasons for this low flight altitude?

Looking at the route your plane took, this low altitude flight was likely to avoid the polar jetstream. This is a band of wind that blows west to east in roughly the area the first half of your flight ...
  • 2,683
24 votes
Accepted

How is flight planning performed with short turnaround times?

The main reason why turnaround times can be that short is that pilots brief all flights of the day in the morning before the first flight. This briefing is typically done in the crew room at the ...
  • 47.3k
23 votes
Accepted

What is the difference between Best Rate of Climb and Maximum Rate of Climb?

Generally when GA pilots talk about climb performance we speak of two different airspeed values: Best Rate of Climb speed (Vy) gets you the most altitude per unit time (feet per minute). When you ...
  • 67.5k
22 votes

What is the difference between Best Rate of Climb and Maximum Rate of Climb?

Although voretaq7 has already nicely answered it, I wanted to present a picture worth thousand words. VX Best angle of climb speed The greatest gain in altitude over a given horizontal distance. VX ...
  • 29.2k
22 votes
Accepted

Why the number 6 in P6SM in a METAR/TAF?

The METAR format is defined by the World Meteorological Organization's (WMO) on behalf of ICAO. According to the specification (section 15.6.3), visibility is to be reported in meters. The upper ...
  • 75.4k
21 votes

Why did this plane fly in a zigzag pattern?

DeltaLima hits the mark. I used to work there. Undoubtedly traffic management delays going on for some reason, either too much traffic or reduced runway capacity. TBFM issued directly to the aircraft ...
  • 491
19 votes
Accepted

What are the printouts/paperwork a captain does at the check-in desk?

The paperwork he was looking at is the dispatch release. This paperwork will have Crew names Fuel information Filed route of flight Alternates as needed Current weather Forecast weather at ...
  • 34.9k
19 votes

How long does flight planning take / when is it done / how is it done?

The pilots don't do the flight planning. It is done 1-2 hours before the flight by dispatchers using computer software. On a quick turnaround, one pilot goes to a printer to retrieve the flight ...
  • 34.3k
18 votes

If I'm on a IFR flight plan with appropriate IFR reserves, and I'm given a lower altitude which will consume more fuel, what should I do?

As I said in my comment, I don't think there's any single answer to this question because there are just too many variables and the scenario itself seems a little artificial. But, the first thing you ...
  • 70.6k
18 votes

How can a private pilot prepare for a long cross country flight in an unfamiliar area?

I'm in a similar boat to you and I just did my first XC from KDYL to KDDH a few months ago. Which was the first time I had been to an airport I did not go to during training. It was a lot of fun but ...
  • 96.4k
18 votes

Can a IFR flight plan be amended or cancelled whilst in flight?

Yes, an IFR flightplan can be cancelled at any time. The pilot simply tells ATC "cancelling my IFR flight", then it is cancelled. Depending on airspace classification, ATC may need to issue ...
17 votes
Accepted

Do Blue Angels jets have a snap-to-angle feature in their control sticks?

Short answer: No. Long answer: No way! This would be a feature which pilots would never accept and for good reasons. There are many instances where you want to fly at a slight angle to exactly ...
16 votes

Why do airlines follow these routes between Barcelona and Düsseldorf?

While DeltaLima's answer is very good, it is also due to Air Traffic Control limitations-- you want to spread out where the traffic is across the whole airspace, so routes may dogleg left or right at ...
  • 504

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