A good pilot is always learning -- how many times have you heard
this old standard throughout your flying career? There is no truer
statement in all of flying (well, with the possible exception of
"there are no old, bold pilots.")
Aero-News has called upon the expertise of Thomas P. Turner,
master CFI and all-around-good-guy, to bring our readers -- and us
-- daily tips to improve our skills as aviators. Some of them, you
may have heard before... but for each of us, there will also be
something we might never have considered before, or something that
didn't "stick" the way it should have the first time we memorized
it for the practical test.
Look for our daily Aero-Tips segments, coming each day to you
through the Aero-News Network.
It's the lot of the business or
charter pilot -- you often aren't ready to go at the time you filed
on your flight plan. Personal pilots, too, may be affected by
passenger schedules or other delays.
If you're flying under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) it's
generally accepted that your flight plan must be on file at least
about 30 minutes before a clearance will be available (note: in
many parts of the country it's possible to file -- and get cleared
-- more quickly, but don't count on it). This means it's common to
file a flight plan ahead of time and, therefore, to guess at the
time you'll be done with the last client and have the airplane
preflighted, or when the passengers or priority freight finally
makes it to the airport and you can load up and fly. And this
guessing means at times you'll be wrong, needing to wait until
after your filed Estimated Time of Departure (ETD).
The Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM)
tells us most Air Traffic Control locations will "delete these
flight plans a minimum of 1 hour after the proposed departure
time." It continues: "To ensure that a flight plan remains active,
pilots whose actual departure time will be delayed 1 hour or more
beyond their filed departure time, are requested to notify ATC of
their [revised] departure time."
The AIM also warns that, "due to traffic saturation, control
personnel frequently will be unable to accept these revisions via
radio." It recommends pilots forward ETD revisions to the nearest
Flight Service Station (FSS), which will amend your flight plan.
This is the only way to ensure your instrument clearance will be
available when you want it.
Aero-tip of the day: Watch the clock, and amend
your ETD if it looks like takeoff will be delayed at least one hour
from what you filed.