Introduction Most airlines and other types of air carriers manage their flight operations under a system of prioritized goals including; safety, economics and customer service (e.g., on-time departures and arrivals). The airline flight operations department is responsible for; the safe and efficient movement of passengers and/or cargo which ultimately generate the revenue for the airline. The major components needing to be coordinated for any given flight include; the aircraft and support equipment, cockpit and cabin crews, maintenance and ground service personnel.
•Regulation and Scheduling Before any flight operations can occur, regulatory requirements must be met for the aircraft and flight crew, who also need to be scheduled to meet the demands of the overall network of the airline.
Flight Crew Activities During a Typical Flight
•Flight Crew Sign-in •Once assigned to a flight sequence, crew members are required to sign in at the airport flight operations office (nominally) 1 hour prior to the departure of the first leg. •Crews normally arrive earlier than 1 hour in order to accommodate international flight planning, publication/flight manual updating, or other administrative responsibilities. Once introductions between crew members are complete, the flight crew begins the planning •tasks.
2. Operations/Planning Most airlines have a central Airline Operations Control Center (AOCC) staffed by certified flight dispatchers. Their duties include the planning and “flight following” for as many as20 (or more) concurrent flights. The flight planning task involves selecting the best routing a “flight plan” that can be programmed into the aircraft automation. This accounts for aircraft type, forecast weather conditions, aircraft performance, loads and operating weights, aircraft mechanical condition, marketing constraints, airport limitations/curfews and company priorities (e.g., minimum fuel versus minimum time trajectory) This last issue is quantified via the “cost index” parameter which is the ratio of time-related costs to fuel-related costs and is a major driver of flight plan optimization given that minimum time and minimum fuel trajectories can be quite different
The flight plan details various aspects of the flight, such as routing, weather, alternate airport options, fuel requirements, takeoff performance and loads (which are subject to last-minute changes). The flight plan is printed out and its details are examined by the incoming cockpit crew. Agreement is typically indicated by the captain’s signature on the paper or electronic “station copy” of the flight plan.
Header The flight plan header contains the flight plan summary and information concerning aircraft type and registration, the filed routing, planned cruise Mach/altitude and the en route ATC sectors to be traversed.