next up previous
Next: Instructor's Operating Handbook Up: alpha Previous: Software


Pilot's Operating Handbook

This section explains how to operate the simulator to perform a flight under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR). Only the lesson components after turning to the initial clearance heading until before reaching the decision height (DH) or minimum descent altitude (MDA), as applicable, are eligible to be counted towards PCATD time. The other elements are included because they are essential to the safe and consistent completion of an IFR flight.

Weather Briefing

Students should practice retrieving and interpreting briefings using the DUATS servers, such as, on a regular basis. This is especially appropriate if the weather is marginal VFR, irrespective of whether an actual training flight is planned. Such weather briefings should be recorded on the computer, for later discussion with other pilots and instructors to ensure that a maximum amount of understanding is derived from the raw data that is provided by the National Weather Service.

FlightGear users, who do not already have an account, may wish to apply to their local Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) to request a Student Pilot License, which forms the basis of being issued an account on DUATS. There is generally no fee associated with either issuance for US residents.

For the proposed flight, the weather briefing is assumed to be for 500 ft ceilings, with stable cloud in a solid layer to 5000 ft, at the destination airports for the intended period of this flight. No rain, thunderstorms or advisories are expected, freezing level will be above 6000ft and or navigation system outages are in effect or planned.

It would be nice to have that formatted as a DUATS briefing and/or a recorded voice briefing from an AFSS specialist.

Flight Plan - Clearance

The proposed flight is from KMYF to KOKB. This is within the airspace for the Southern California Terminal Radar Approach Control (SoCal TRACON), so a simple Terminal Enroute Clearance (TEC) will suffice. You need to make a call on the Clearance Delivery (CD) frequency at Montgomery Field airport 127.45 such as:

Pilot: Montgomery Clearance, Cessna six four six three delta, IFR request
Ctlr: C 6463D, Montgomery Clearance, go ahead
Pilot: 63D is a Cessna one seventy two slant alpha, request terminal enroute to Oceanside
Ctlr: C 6463D is cleared to Oceanside airport, on departure turn left heading two seven zero, radar vectors to the Oceanside VOR. Maintain three thousand, expect four thousand one zero minutes after departure. Departure frequency is one one nine point six, squawk four one two three.
Pilot: 63D is cleared to Oceanside airport via left two seven zero and vectors to Oceanside VOR. Three thousand, expect four thousand after ten, one nineteen six, squawk four one two three.
Ctlr: 63D readback correct. Notify tower on initial contact that you are IFR.
Pilot: Wilco.

Aircraft preflight

An independent program is recommended to practice preflight skills, because that program simulates aircraft that have important and dangerous flaws that you will hopefully never encounter in real life. If you use the program and become proficient in recognizing these flaws, you are less likely to take off with them. In this way, you may avoid the fatal accidents that regularly occur and are blamed by the investigators on poor pilot preflight.

This program is not written, because the necessary photo database has not been generated yet. If you are interested in assisting with this database (or the program), please contact the FGATD developers.

Once the external preflight is completed, start the FGATD program running by clicking on the icon that is visible on the desktop. The cockpit checklist, which needs to be performed, is:

Cockpit preparation

As you settle yourself into a chair in front of the simulator, arrange everything you expect to need for the next two hours either on your lap, in your pockets, or attached to the flight yoke. It is unsafe to leave items on the floor and your passenger will not appreciate holding on to your gear for several hours. Once the flight takes off, as the only pilot on board you will be unable to leave the controls to retrieve something.

It is important to practice cockpit organization on the simulator, in order to build reliable and safe habits for when you are in the aircraft. Skimping on this stage will encourage lax pre-taxi organization in future, which will cause distraction while taxiing (often causing a collision) and loss of situational awareness and/or aircraft control while inflight (usually resulting in a fatal accident). All of these are worth avoiding.

Engine start

Not yet written.

Taxi at a Class D

Not yet written.

Runup, final checks

Not yet written.


Call on the tower frequency radio, with a request like "Montgomery Tower, Cessna one two foxtrot holding short two eight right for IFR release". Expect a response like "Montgomery Tower, Cessna one two foxtrot holding short two eight right for IFR release". "One two foxtrot holding short two eight right.


Not written yet.

Missing an approach

Not written yet.

Flare and landing

To be written.

Taxi to parking

To be written.

Shutdown and postflight

To be written.


Your instructor will likely wish to discuss your performance in detail.

This instrument flight started with the intention of visiting a friend in another town, Oceanside. Due to the low cloud ceiling, the goal was modified to be a nearby airport with better minimums. When this was also impossible, the new goal was to simply return home. Due to the combination of poor visibility and the inherently-inaccurate NDB approach technology, there was a significant chance of having to miss. Instead of visiting a friend, as originally intended, you almost ended up spending the night unexpectedly in an airport hotel far from home.

The need to adapt goals to the situation is critical in making IFR flight for General Aviation aircraft safe enough to be practical. You do not have the dual pilot crew, equipment, avionics and rigid operations rules to assist you in achieving a reliable form of transportation. An attempt to treat a Cessna 172 like a scheduled airline will statistically result in a lethal accident in the NTSB archives.

In this flight, the weather was as forecast, the aircraft suffered neither avionics nor engine problems, radio communications with air traffic control were nominal and the pilot presumably flew well. Despite all these positive factors, the flight exhibited many dangers, failed to complete the original goal and turned out completely unexpectedly.

Imagine how much more exciting it would be with some failures thrown in. Actually, "imagine" will probably be the wrong word, given all the features that are specially provided in the instructor interface to FlightGear.

next up previous
Next: Instructor's Operating Handbook Up: alpha Previous: Software
Alex Perry 2001-08-21