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6 Answers

IFR Flight Planning: How to calculate TOC into nav log

Asked by: 8882 views , , , , , ,
Instrument Rating, Private Pilot

Need to plan a cross country for my IFR check ride (lucky me!).

The DP from the airport I am leaving is a climbing right turn to 240 and 3,000 feet then vectors to initial route fix.

The direct line between my departure airport and the first fix is 17 miles.  Since don't know how long i'll be vectored around for, how do I properly calculate fuel burned to TOC and the first nav fix.  Do I just add in a large fudge factor ontop of the straight line Fuel and time needed to get to the first nav fix as if it were part of the cruise phase?

How do I approach this issue in my nav log and then again with the examiner when asked?

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6 Answers

  1. Ryan on May 13, 2011

    any thoughts guys?

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  2. John D. Collins on May 13, 2011

    I would flightplan it like you suggest.  Although the climb may be staggered into segments, the same amount of climbing will take place, so the only thing to consider is any vectoring at cruise settings that takes you off course. Usually that will only be 5 or 10 minutes, or .1 to .2 hour. The extra fuel at cruise settings is not likely to be more than one or two gallons, probably less, since most vectors will generally be somewhat along your course.  I would ignore any extra fuel required other than providing for adequate reserves, where you could add a gallon or two.  There are likely to be other unplanned factors that will have a greater affect on total fuel consumed, such as enroute reroutes, winds aloft, holds, etc.


    In my Bonanza, I am fortunate enough to have a digital fuel totalizer that is extremely accurate and tied into the GPS, so it can display fuel to destination, reserve fuel at destination, fuel per nautical mile, an so on.  So when I plan a long cross country that is near the limit of complying with the IFR flight-planning fuel requirements, I will have an optional fuel stop along the way.  I then monitor the fuel at reserves at destination and if they get below my comfort level by a predetermined continue-divert decision point, I divert for a fuel stop.

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  3. Wes Beard on May 13, 2011

    I think it is important to remember that the flight plan is just that; a plan.  It should also be a plan that can be folllowed in the case your radios become inoperative.  I would flight plan the departure procedure and continue long the planned route.  The TOC is calculated normally getting a no wind distance.  Add that distance along the departure procedure course and mark spot where you get to altitude.
    Are you going to actually fly this IFR?  Probably not.  ATC will vector you on course but at least ATC knows and you know what you are going to do if your radios decide to fail.
    I should mention that if you are VMC on a IFR flight plan and you lose radios, the regulations require you to remian VFR and land as soon as practical.  If in IMC conditions continue according to 91.185.

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  4. MaggotCFII on May 13, 2011

    Take a look at “Duats.com”: Look at the Flight Planning features, “Web Flight Planner”.  One can use various route of flight options, including user selected routing, with or without wind.  And with your aircraft performance information entered as a Aircraft Profile it is a easy task to generate/print a flight plan // nav log that provides such info as heading, GS, distances, times, etc.
    Really reduces the planning workload.
    Then you have your nav log and flight plan should you get into the loss of comm situation. (print copies).
    Oh, if you want to practice using Duats, you can substitute in the “Aircraft Identification” fields, NOACID (no aircraft ID) for an “N” number.
    And filing an IFR is easy, a side benefit is getting “session and transaction” numbers should you have to complain about your flight plan being lost – yes it happens!
    Best of luck on the checkride!!

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  5. Matthew Waugh on May 18, 2011

    The practical advice is that you need to plan this flight in excruciating detail in the best way you know how using common sense and erring on the side of safety and conservative decisions.
    You should be able to clearly explain why you made the flight planning decisions you did and what affect they have on safety.
    The DPE knows it’s all an exercise in futility, and you’ll never plan a flight that way again – but they want to see that you know HOW to plan a detailed flight (so if you ever need to flight plan a single engine crossing of the Atlantic you’ll be close) – but practically, you’d have to WILDLY mis-plan, probably under-estimating fuel needs by 50% to fail on that item.

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  6. Ryan on May 18, 2011

    Thanks guys.  The DE did not spend time on the calculations and focused more on the route.  I did not calculate TOC at all, I simply added a fudge factor on my first leg and noted it. 

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