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Planning an IFR Flight

Source:, Featuring Bob Nardiello

flight planning part 1

flight planning part 2


"Let's assume you're planning to make an IFR trip two days from now. What types of weather issues are you looking for at this point in your planning process?"


"Well, 36 to 48 hours in advance you can get a general idea of what kind of weather you'll be facing enroute, whether you're likely to face a low pressure system, whether you're likely to face a cold front crossing your route. This is important to know because it might indicate whether the flight will be IFR, whether the flight will be VFR, whether the flight will be a combination of both. It will also give you an indication of whether or not you might be looking at low ceilings for your departure time, whether you'll be perhaps addressing thunderstorms as you might expect in the summer prior to cold front passage.

There are a number of tools you can use to develop a picture of the weather for your particular flight. You can do this using, using the weather available on the AOPA web site. You can also use There are a number of aviation-related sites which will allow you to look at prog charts, which will give you an idea of what will be happening on the particular day of your flight."


"What are some of the other things you're looking at 36 to 48 hours before your flight?"


"You should be looking at the route of flight that you'll fly. And various flight planning tools can help you with this if you're unfamiliar with the route. Again, I use, myself. But as you develop this route of flight you then pinpoint the areas where weather is of particular interest to you. You'll note where you're looking for weather.

Additionally, the route of flight leads you into the issue of fuel stops along the route. Planning for your fuel stops leads you into an analysis of your load and your endurance in the aircraft. And that, in turn, leads us into an analysis of aircraft capabilities.

So there are a number of issues that we can take a look at 36 to 48 hours in advance of the flight. So we're looking at weather, we're developing a potentially desirable route based on the weather information that we can glean 36 to 48 hours in advance. We're thinking of potential fuel stops which, of course, require that if we're IFR we check into availability of approaches at these airports. And that again doesn't mean just looking at the approach plates to see what kinds of approaches are available at the airport. It requires that you look at the D NOTAMs which are used for planning purposes to determine whether any of those approaches are out of service for any particular reason."

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