The dreaded 7 days

The 7 days you have to wait to access a specific grade level is not meant to be a punishment. It’s intended to be a period of time used for remediation and learning so you return better prepared to interact in a realistic environment.

GPU vs APU

The former stands for ‘auxiliary power unit’ and is installed in the aircraft and provides power to the electrical system as a supplement to or in place of engine-driven generator power. The latter stands for ‘ground power unit’ and is usually designed to be moveable around the ramp, from one parking place to another.

References:
1. MRCSS

Calm your storm

“You can’t calm the storm, so stop trying. What you can do is calm yourself. The storm will pass.” – Timber Hawkeye

You can only control you so if you’re overwhelmed by traffic volume, calm yourself and execute.

AAL

AAL (Above Aerodome Level) in aviation, denotes that an altitude is given above the nearest aerodrome or airport. This is usually identical to the altitude above ground level, but AAL is used to be precise.

It’s the elevation of the highest point of the landing area (ICAO). Aerodrome elevation is measured to an accuracy of 1 ft (or 1/2 m). The aerodrome elevation is prominently displayed at the air traffic control tower. Also called above airfield elevation and airport elevation. It is predominantly used in Europe, also called AAE (Above Aerodrome Elevation) or airport elevation.

References:
1. “Aerodrome Elevation” in the Aviation Dictionary on Enacademic.

When should I contact Tower?

On Infinite Flight, you should stay on ground’s frequency until you are second in line for takeoff, so you can stay aware of what’s going on on the frequency. When you are second in line, switch to and monitor Tower’s frequency. Don’t request takeoff until you are first in line.

Oshkosh special landing minimums

During AirVenture, air traffic controllers have reduced horizontal separation minimums of 1,500 feet between airplanes. Normally, separation minimums are 3,000 feet between aircraft.

To ensure separation is maintained, specific touchdown markers are on the runway, each with their own designated color. Red dot, blue dot, purple dot, ect. Refer to page 10 through 13 of the NOTAM. Pilots should be prepared for a combination of maneuvers that may include a short approach with descending turns, followed by touchdown at a point specified by ATC which may be almost halfway down the runway. In the landing clearance they will be issued the clearance to land at that specific spot and continue their roll out to avoid conflict.

This allows controllers to land up to 3 aircraft at a time on a runway.

References:
1. “10 Stats From The Busiest Control Tower In The World” by BoldMethod, from the original.
2. EAA Airventure Oshkosh 2019 NOTAM, page 10 through 13, from the original.

Pitch for airspeed, power for altitude

Being high on final is often caused from using too much power, and being too low is caused by too little power. Too high, reduce some power and allow the plane to pitch down to maintain your approach speed. Too low, lower the nose slightly to regain airspeed. Once you’re back on glide path, return the power to your “home” setting.

References:
1. “9 Bad Approaches To Landing, And How To Recover From Each One” by BoldMethod, pulled from the original.

Chatter

The less unnecessary chatter on frequency, less workload for the controller. Work with the controller so they don’t have as much work to do.

Controlling at Fisk, the town

The famous Fisk VFR Approach into Oshkosh, used during EAA Airventure, is the most interesting procedure used at the event and maybe even anywhere. I’d encourage you to read page 7 through 11 of the EAA NOTAM, before going any further.

Fisk is a town 5 miles southwest of Oshkosh, along the “railroad tracks” that run from the town of Ripon to Oshkosh, and air traffic controllers located at Fisk. They don’t work in a control tower though, they work out of a portable trailer using binoculars and radio to visually identify and communicate with pilots.

Controllers will identify aircraft by type, color or any unique features available to distinguish between aircraft. The Fisk arrival procedure segregates aircraft single-file prior to reaching the airport. It all starts 15 miles southwest of Oshkosh at a town called Ripon. Arriving at Ripon, pilots follow railroad tracks leading northeast. Approaching Fisk, aircraft are required to be single-file at least 1/2 — mile in-trail, no side-by-sides. All aircraft should be at an altitude of 1,800 feet MSL and 90 knots airspeed. If unable to meet this speed requirement, then higher performance aircraft may join the line at 2,300 feet and 135 knots.

Back to the point about them working out of a trailer, though. Here’s a video of the controllers at work at Fisk, it’s really a site to see. The view they have is remarkable, hands down one of the most interesting controlling experiences one can have, for those lucky enough to be picked to control during Oshkosh.

References:
1. “Before You Can Get To KOSH, You Have Got To Go Fisk” by Darren Gaines, from the original.
2. EAA Airventure Oshkosh 2019 NOTAM, from the original.
3. “Fisk Approach from the controllers eyes” video, from the original.

How high do I want to fly today?

In the real world, ATC will assign you an altitude, taking into account your requested altitude, traffic conditions, and of course the FAR.

The aircraft designer for each aircraft will use a formula to calculate typical values, which will be included in the aircraft’s operating handbook.

At each combination there will be performance values such as:

  • Average N1 (for a turbine)
  • Max TAT for thrust rating
  • IAS Knots
  • Mach number
  • ISA fuel flow LB/HR/ENG
  • ISA TAS Knots

The flight distance will determine the approximate gross weight, which corresponds to an altitude and cruise speed that provide the best efficiency. Here is an example from a virtual 737 handbook, with the values listed. The optimum performance is in blue. Higher gross weights have been removed for clarity.

Airlines may have their own performance tables, choosing a custom balance of efficiency and speed. Dispatchers for the airline will take the flight information and decide on a cruising altitude for filing the flight plan, which the pilot will then receive. As you can see, as the aircraft burns fuel and gets lighter, it will be more efficient at higher altitudes. This is a step climb, where the aircraft will climb to higher altitudes as the flight progresses when they are cleared by ATC.

Modern planning systems can take into account weather factors such as winds aloft and turbulence to pick the most efficient route.

If you were going to try to replicate what cruising altitude to use on Infinite Flight, then you’d have to look at the above things on your own to before taking off. My answer is; whatever is the most efficient.

References:
1. Aviation Stack Exchange