Task D: Cross-Country Flight Planning

Task D: Cross-Country Flight Planning (ASEL and ASES)

References: 14 CFR part 91; FAA-H-8083-25; AC 61-84; Navigation Charts; AFD; AIM; NOTAMS.

Objective: To determine that the applicant:

Private Pilot PTS What this means… What you need to do to prepare
1. Exhibits satisfactory knowledge of the elements related to cross-country flight planning by presenting and explaining a pre-planned VFR cross-country flight, as previously assigned by the examiner. On the day of the practical test, the final flight plan shall be to the first fuel stop, based on maximum allowable passengers, baggage, and/or cargo loads using real-time weather. The examiner will assign you a cross country trip to plan to a destination that’s typically 500 NM away (thus the requirement for a fuel stop). See the recommendation in Area of Operations I for practicing planning for cross-country flights.
2. Uses appropriate and current aeronautical charts. You need to bring and use the current sectionals, AF/D and TAC (if appropriate) the provide coverage for the assigned flight. Obtain a subscription for current charts from an online chart provider. Electronic charts are fine, but you should have a current paper backup chart in case the examiner fails your tablet.
3. Properly identifies airspace, obstructions, and terrain features. The examiner will ask you to describe the airspace that you will fly through during the cross country trip you have planned. You need to be able to explain the airspace type, VFR visibility and ceiling requirements, communication, equipment and certificate requirements. Practice identifying the airspace type, VFR visibility and ceiling requirements, communication, equipment and certificate requirements from takeoff to touchdown on a variety of trips that involve a significant distance.
4. Selects easily identifiable en route checkpoints. The examiner will want to have your first three checkpoints within 5, 10 and 20 NM from your departure airport so that they can evaluate your performance on keeping track of these checkpoints without having to spend a half-hour just flying the cross country. The best checkpoints are those that you can see from the previous checkpoint; as in you point that aircraft at the checkpoint and keep in in front of the nose of the airplane (less workload).
5. Selects most favorable altitudes considering weather conditions and equipment capabilities. When choosing the altitude, consider headind/tailwind, terrain and obstructions, and weather, but choose an altitude no higher than 6500 for the purposes of the practical exam.
6. Computes headings, flight time, and fuel requirements. Your navigation log should have compass headings computed that take into account wind correction angles, magnetic variation, and magnetic deviation in the airplane you are using for the flight test. Estimated time in between each leg, and total time and fuel for the trip need to be calculated. Be sure to include the fuel requirement for taxi and run-up from Chapter 5 of your POH, climb fuel from the Time-Fuel-Distance chart, and the correct burn rate from the Cruise Performance chart for the altitude you chose for the cross-country trip.
7. Selects appropriate navigation system/facilities and communication frequencies. If you can use VOR or GPS for the planned trip, do so! Ensure that you have the details on your navigation log for setting up your navigation equipment, including VOR ID, frequency, radial and TO/FROM ambiguity.
8. Applies pertinent information from AFD, NOTAMs, and NOTAMS relative to airport, runway and taxiway closures, and other flight publications. You need to have closely examined the NOTAMs that apply to your flight. Do not skip over any NOTAMs that apply to your departure, destination, or airports along your route of flight. If don’t understand every NOTAM that applies to your planned flight, research it. The same goes for the A/FD section for your destination airport. Be prepared to explain every acronym on the page.
9. Completes a navigation log and simulates filing a VFR flight plan. You will need to bring a completed navigation log and flight plan form for the assigned flight. You will fly the first couple of legs of the navigation log.

Continue to the next task…