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Flight Planning

VFR Flight Planning, III

Preflight planning is a very important element of any flight and especially so when going on a cross country flight. There are a number of items to be done in preparation for a VFR cross country in such a way that nothing is overlooked and the intended flight is done as safely as possible.

The important parts of preflight planning involve checking aeronautical information publications, aviation weather reports and determining airplane performance, including the computation of weight and balance and fuel requirements. The influence of altitude, temperature and wind should not be ignored and you should be familiar with the pressure and density altitudes and the effect that they have on aircraft performance. Check the runway length and compare that to your takeoff requirements and the rotational and initial climb speeds recommended in your airplane's manual (POH).

The checklists presented here can be used as a guide for this phase of preflight planning and we have divided it into a couple of sections. Part one is what we call the preliminary preflight phase which can be done at any time.

This part is the navigation log and is completed on the day the flight will actually take place. Requirements are current weather and aeronautical information.

Navigation Flight Log

The pilot must be able to create a navigation log where he describes of all details from departure to destination in small (but not too many) legs, preferably in ten minutes / miles sections. The log also contains Indicated/True airspeed, distances and fuel needed to complete the flight.

During the flight the pilot regularly completes the log leg by leg and adjusts any ETA.

True Airspeed
IAS kts, Altitude (msl) feet
TAS kts

For the navigation log you will need to calculate the following items.
Calculate True Air Speed (TAS) with:

Determine Compass Heading using this formula: TC +/-WCA = TH +/-VAR = MH +/-DEV = CH

Determine Wind Correction Angle (WCA), Heading and GS for every leg on the route.

  • You need the Course (Compass Heading), TAS, Wind Direction and Speed at altitude
  • Calculate WCA below or on E6B / Jeppesen computer, byproduct: Ground Speed (GS) and Heading

Calculate Estimated Time Enroute (ETE): Time = Distance/Speed

Heading, GS and WCA
Course °, TAS kts, Wind Direction °, Wind Speed kts
Heading ° GS kts WCA °
  • Leg distance divided by GS equals ETE for that leg
  • Add individual leg ETEs to obtain total ETE

Calculate estimated fuel required:

  • Determine fuel burn per hour (POH) or actual
  • Determine fuel burn per leg and add to get total fuel consumption required
  • Fill out the fuel consumption log
Density Altitude ChartDensity Altitude Chart
Density Altitude Chart

Calculate take-off and landing distances:

  • Get the pressure, density altitude and OAT
  • You will also need runway distances for every runway you intend to use from the AIP
  • Using the performance charts in the POH for your aircraft and determine the take-off and landing distances
  • Apply any factor for the current runway condition

Complete your planning with aircraft weight & balance calculations including your calculated fuel requirements, passengers and baggage weight for the flight.


To complete step two of the preflight planning: make a call to the destination airport for the most current information, check for the latest NOTAMs with an AIS, if required submit an ICAO flight plan (ICAO Doc 4444 - ATM/501/14 app 2) or a FAA flight plan and do not forget to close it when the flight is completed!

Written by EAI.

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