Flight Crew's Checklist
last updated Saturday, March 13th, 2010 @ 19:00 UTC
What follows is a fairly comprehensive step-by-step checklist for performing a flight leg in TransGear Airways events. This list assumes you have already determined your desired fuel load and navigation method, as well as your flight route. This document is not to be confused with checklists pilots use for specific aircraft procedures, which are much more detailed and include proper settings for just about every dial and switch in the cockpit. Most aircraft in FlightGear are not modeled with enough detail and rigor to require use of such checklists, but regardless, this document is somewhat more broad in scope than that. The below is therefore a blend of aircraft procedure, airspace regulations, and airline-specific protocol, and should be considered a "guideline" to assist you in completing your flight rather than a rigorous list.
- Get FlightGear running (if not already), parked at an off-runway area out of ground traffic, in your chosen aircraft with your TransGear callsign, with real-weather (preferred) and multiplayer (mandatory) enabled. Ensure FGCom is operational as well.
- Depending on your chosen method of navigation -- program or load your route into the Flight Management System (if applicable), or have your radio navigation notes ready to go with the first few VOR stations tuned and radials set, or have Atlas or the Multiplayer map running and handy.
- Set your fuel load, as well as your passenger/cargo loads (if your aircraft model supports this).
- Check the current METAR and set your altimeter accordingly. Set your autopilot for your inital waypoint with altitude if applicable. Unless your SID says otherwise, you should assume your initial cleared speed to be 250 knots. You may also want to pre-load one of your COM radios with the Departure frequency, for quick access once you are airborne.
- At the scheduled departure time, if there is a Ground controller or a Tower providing Ground services, contact them for permission to "push back." Once you are cleared to move, they should advise you of the active departure runway. If there's no controller, check behind you, then go ahead and push back and get underway, choosing the runway that best suits the current winds and your aircraft's needs.
- Once you arrive at the hold-short line, or are in a queue for it, do any control checks and engine run-ups necessary, and ensure your flaps are set for takeoff configuration. Then advise Ground (if applicable) you're ready for departure. (Say "departure" in this instance, as the word "takeoff" should ONLY be used when reading back a specific clearance to do so!) The Ground controller should hand you off to Tower, if there is a separate controller for that position.
- If there is a Tower controller, respect their order to "Hold Short" (do not enter the runway area yet); or to "Position and Hold" (line up on the striped section of the runway, prior to the numbers, but wait before throttling up and rolling).
- Once you are "cleared for takeoff," or, if at an uncontrolled airport, have taken a moment to check for traffic, the runway is yours.
- While each aircraft differs slightly, for the most part, climb parameters for jet transports look something like this:
- at initial rotation speed, pitch up 10 degrees.
- gear up at or above 100 feet AGL or as soon as positive climb rate is established.
- begin to turn towards your SID entry or your destination course, or other heading as directed by air traffic control.
- retract flaps as the aircraft's instructions outline, or each time AoA approaches 0.
- at 1,000 AGL, reduce pitch to 5 degrees and let the plane accellerate to 250 KIAS.
- if there is a separate Tower and Departure controller, this is the point at which you will be handed off. Be sure to announce your intended SID, or your departure direction if not following a SID, to the new controller on check-in.
- at 250 KIAS, reduce throttle; adjust pitch to maintain 250 knots and ~2,000 ft/min climb.
- roll out of your turn onto your intended heading, and level off at your first waypoint's altitude or that which ATC has assigned.
- once you reach 10,000, increase speed to 300 KIAS (unless the SID directs otherwise), possibly decreasing climb rate as well.
- at 18,000, adjust pitch to maintain Mach 0.625 until cruise altitude.
- at cruise altitiude, you should level off and let the plane accellerate to M0.74.
- set the autopilot to hold this airspeed until starting your descent.
- At some point, Departure will direct you to "proceed as filed," "proceed on course," "resume own navigation," or some other directive which indicates that you are no longer to expect vectors and altitudes from them, and are free to find your own path to your destination by your planned route or preferred navigation method. Also, at some juncture they will dismiss you from their services by advising "frequency change approved," meaning that you are no longer in their controlled airspace.
- While enroute and between waypoints, periodically cross-check your remaining fuel against the remaining distance. It's a good time to start familiarizing yourself with the Approach Charts for your destination airport, especially if you can get a weather briefing for there, and start to anticipate which arrival runway you might be using. Also, since we are simulator pilots and not the real thing, it's perfectly acceptable to leave the "flight deck" for a break, as long as you're back in command to change course for your next waypoint (if necessary), or at the very latest, before your STAR entry point. If you're not following a STAR, you should plan to begin your descent at about 140 nm out from your destination.
- As you descend, whether per a STAR or otherwise, you will generally want to slow to 300 KIAS by the time you reach FL180. Unless the STAR or an Approach controller directs otherwise, you'll further reduce to 250 below 10,000 feet, to 200 within 25 nm of the airfield, and to 170 or your aircraft's approach speed as you transition from your STAR to your IAP (or join the ILS or visual approach pattern).
- If arriving at a controlled airport, contact Approach control as soon as your tools permit. TransGear strongly recommends using the range-extended variant of FGCom which permits you to do so from up to about 80 nm distant. By the time you are nearing 25nm from the destination airfield, you should be in voice contact with them no matter what. At that point they should give you the local altimeter setting, and an expectation of which runway they intend to use for your arrival. If your arrival airport has no air traffic control, you'll want to use ATIS or a check of METAR to determine the altimeter setting, and to choose an appropriate arrival runway.
- Consult the Approach Chart for your arrival runway and begin to familiarize yourself with the necessary waypoints, headings, ILS frequencies, and Missed Approach procedure as necessary.
- Continue to follow your STAR waypoints until it ends, or until Approach (if applicable) instructs otherwise. If Approach gives you a vector or altitude which differs from your STAR procedure, you should assume your filed route has ended and that they are assuming your navigation for the remainder of the transition to your approach. Otherwise, you will need to manage your own transition to the beginning of the runway approach.
- If there is an Approach controller, you will be verbally cleared for your approach. Deploy flaps and gear as appropriate for your aircraft type. If there is a separate Approach controller and Tower controller for this day's event, at this time Approach will hand you off to Tower. Switch frequencies as quickly as possible and check in with the Tower controller.
- "Cleared for approach" is NOT the same thing as "Cleared to land!" You should be prepared to execute a missed approach until you are given landing clearance. On short final it may be appropriate to ask the Tower to "verify landing clearance please"; if you are approaching decision height and have still not recieved a definitive clearance, you should assume that you are NOT cleared and begin executing your missed approach. Also, if for whatever reason you don't get set up on your final approach properly and cannot safely correct your position without going around, or ARE set up properly but don't have visual on the runway threshhold by the time you are down to "decision height" (usually about 300 ft AGL), you should advise the Tower that you are performing a missed approach and follow the procedure for such. (If there are separate Tower and Approach controllers, you will most likely be handed back to the Approach frequency.)
- Once you are cleared to land, you should of course do so; after you touch down, Tower should let you know where they want you to turn off. Vacate the runway as quickly as you can safely do so, and check in with Ground, if appropriate. Remember to get permission before crossing any other runways, active or not!
- Once you are parked, take note of your ending fuel amount and compare it to the amount you started with. If all is well, you should have exactly 45 minutes cruising fuel remaining (or whatever other amount you calculated for reserves, earlier); if not, make a note and adjust your future fuel loading estimates.
Congratulations! Once you've finished this step, you've completed probably the closest thing to a real-world airline flight that FlightGear can provide. Now, are you ready to do it again?