56. Tutorial - Building an IFR Flight Plan with Approach Procedures¶
This tutorial will show you how to create a more complex IFR flight plan including approach procedures. It introduces the advanced airport search functionality and the automatic flight plan calculation.
The flight plan included in the Little Navmap installation directory:
.../Little Navmap/etc/Tutorial IFR Bembridge (EGHJ) to Wick (EGPC).pln.
While this tutorial looks quite lengthy it is normally a matter of half a minute to get a flight plan if you know where to go. The planning effort shown here is bigger to highlight some of the more advanced features of the program.
You should at least read through Tutorial - Building a VFR Flight Plan before doing this one.
The flight plan will go across the UK using an IFR capable aircraft. Its maximum range should be more than 600 NM including reserves and a cruise altitude of 10,000 ft.
Note that Bembridge has a relatively short runway of 2,729 ft. You probably need a small turboprop or a powerful twin. Do not try to fly this trip with an airliner.
The tutorial assumes the following preconditions:
- You left your aircraft at
Bembridge (EGHJ)at the end of the last flight or think of it as you home base.
- You don’t know where you want to fly today.
- You know the requirements for your aircraft:
- Maximum range
- Minimum runway length
- Hard runways
- Needs a parking spot at the destination
- Fuel for return trip
56.1. Prepare Flight¶
Flight -> Reset all for a new Flight
before each flight to get a clean base for
fuel calculation and other functions. Uncheck
Create a new and empty flight plan in the dialog if the flight plan is
56.2. Default Aircraft Performance¶
This tutorial does not cover creating or collecting aircraft performance files. See Tutorial - Creating an Aircraft Performance Profile if you like to do this.
Therefore, we will simply use a slightly modified aircraft performance profile which gives a three degree climb and descent angle.
Aircraft-> New Aircraft Performance .
- Optional: Select Edit Aircraft Performance from the same menu as above and
change the value for
Cruise speed at typical cruise altitudeto roughly match your chosen aircraft. This helps to get an accurate estimate for the traveling time. Fill the other fields too if you know the performance values.
- Optional: Adjust descent and/or climb values as needed.
- Accept by pressing
OKin the dialog.
You will see several warnings in the fuel report. Ignore these for now since the aircraft performance is sufficient to calculate the top of descent and top of climb for the elevation profile.
56.3. Cleanup Search¶
Go to the dock window
Search and follow the steps below:
- Right-click into the result table and select Reset Search to get rid of all search criteria that may affect the query.
- Click the menu button and make sure that the search
Distance from Markare checked. Deselect all others you do not need.
56.4. Assign Departure¶
Now look for the departure airport:
ICAO Codesearch field on the top left (case does not matter).
- Right-click on the airport in the result table.
- Choose Set as Flight Plan Departure . This will assign a default runway as a start position.
Your flight plan has one entry now. This is already sufficient if you want to fly a pattern and like to see distance, speed and time information to the airport.
Now select a parking position:
- Go to
Flight Plan-> Select a Start Position for Departure .
- Choose one of the GA small ramp positions.
OKand the position will be highlighted on the map.
56.5. Search for Destination¶
Now look for a suitable destination airport:
- Right-click on
EGHJin the search result again.
- Select Set Center for Distance Search . You can also do this in the map. This is the center point for the spatial search.
- Clear the
ICAO Codesearch field now. It is a common mistake to leave the text fields filled when doing distance searches which will give you an empty result table.
We will now look for airports that are in range of the aircraft but not too close. Also, certain criteria have to be fulfilled, like a runway which is long enough and has the right surface.
You can also find airports in aircraft range by using the range rings where you can right-click into the map on your departure airport and select Add Range Rings .
We will use the spatial search instead of range rings since we’d like to see only suitable airports for out aircraft.
Check the following in the airport search tab:
Rating: We’d like to get airports that are either add-ons or have basic scenery requirements as taxiways, parking spots and more. Select the one with at least four stars. You can also select
3Dif you fly X-Plane.
Procedures: Show only airports that have procedures.
Closed(click the checkboxes twice): This will return only civilian airports and avoid airports that have all runways closed.
Any is Hardin the button
Any Surfaceto avoid airports having only soft surfaced runways.
- Select a minimum runway length of 2,500 ft or whatever you chosen
aircraft needs in the field
See also Search.
You can also limit the maximum runway length if you are looking for a short landing challenge.
The search result changes on the fly while doing all these adjustments, though we are not there yet:
Distance:to activate the spatial search.
Change the maximum distance to 600 NM and the minimum to 400 NM (to avoid short hops). The result table will now update with a small delay since the distance search is more complex.
To find only airports north of your position select
Northin the button
Any Direction. Note that the search result is sorted by distance with the closest airport first per default.
Choose an airport for your trip. Use
Wick (EGPC)for this tutorial.
Right-click on Wick in the result table and select Show Information . This will fill the tabs in the dock window
Select the tab
Airportand below this one the tab
Weather. Look for the section
Best runways for windto get an idea of the expected landing runway. Start any third party weather programs before if you use these.
For this tutorial we assume that the winds favor runway 13.
See also Weather.
56.6. Select an Approach Procedure¶
We’ll select an approach procedure now:
- Go back to the search result.
- Right-click on the airport Wick again. Select Show Procedures . This will pop up the procedure search tab.
Runway 13in the
All Runwayscombo box to see only approaches for 13.
Expand Allin the context menu to see also the transitions for each approach.
Approach VORDME 13 FD13using
Transition (Full) CHINNsince we expect to land on runway 13. You can also use any other approach for this runway if VORDME 13 is not available.
The top label in the procedure search shows
Wick (EGPC) Approach VORDME 13 FD13 Transition (Full) CHINN for the
selected approach and/or transition. You can also see a preview on the
Right-click on the transition and select Show on Map (text might be different depending on selection) . This will center the procedure on the map. You can click on the legs in the procedure tree to see the start and end points of a leg.
If you like what you see right-click again on the transition and select Insert into Flight Plan, Use as Destination and Use as Departure (text might be different depending on selection) .
This will do two things:
- Add Wick as the destination airport to the flight plan. Any previous destination in the flight plan will be replaced.
- Add the approach and its transition to the flight plan. The procedure legs use a dark blue color and the missed approach legs use a dark red color in the flight plan table. Flight plan en-route legs are black. Again, any previous procedure is replaced with this new one.
About adding transition and approaches: Approaches and transitions are closely related which is already indicated by the tree structure in the procedure search tab. You can add an approach alone but a transition always belongs to an approach.
You have to select the transition to add or show both, approach and transition.
56.7. Calculate a Flight Plan¶
Now we have the departure airport, an approach procedure and the destination all connected by a straight line. Next is the en-route part of the flight plan:
IFRas the flight plan type in the dock window
Flight Planningon tab
Flight Plan. This allows the automatic flight plan calculation to adjust the cruise altitude.
Flight Plan-> Calculate Flight Plan to open the flight plan calculation floating window.
The flight plan cruise altitude is automatically adjusted according to the hemispherical rule (the rule can be changed in
Optionson the page Flight Plan), the altitude restrictions of the airways and the flight plan type (
IFR). You can see the minimum altitude for each airway segment in the flight plan table in the column
Restriction(see Table Columns).
The altitude can be changed according to the hemispherical rule by clicking the Adjust button.
Change all settings in the floating window as shown in the screenshot above.
Click the button Calculate.
Use this flight plan for now.
Save the plan using
File -> Save Flight Plan as LNMPLN .
The program usually finds the right directory for the flight plans and
gives a sensible name by default.
The top label in the flight planning dock window reads now:
Bembridge (EGHJ) Runway 12 to Wick (EGPC) Via CHINN and VORDME FD13 (D13) to runway 13 . 538 nm, 5 h 23 m, Low Altitude
The plan looks like shown below.
Now you can check if you pass through any airspaces:
- Enable airspaces by selecting
Show Airspacesif not already done.
At flight plan cruise altitudein the menu or the toolbar menu button.
This will display only airspaces on the map that are relevant for your
cruise altitude. You can also select
Below 10,000 ft only to see all
relevant airspaces in the climb or descent phase. Use the tooltips on
the map to get information about airspaces like type, minimum and
Save the plan in the Little Navmap format LNMPLN using
Save Flight Plan .
The program usually finds the right directory for the flight plans suggests a name
based on departure and destination.
The format LNMPLN is only understood by Little Navmap. You cannot load these files into another program. Therefore, we have to export the flight plan.
Now open the multiexport options dialog by selecting
File -> Multiexport Flight Plan Options.
Right click on the simulator format you’d like to export and select Export Flight Plan now . Save the file to the right place. The default path is based on best guess.
See here Quick Setup for information how to quickly configure the multiexport.
Follow the steps below to get a moving map and see your aircraft in Little Navmap:
Open the dialog
Tools-> Flight Simulator Connection and check if
Connect automaticallyis selected. Enable it if not. Little Navmap will find the simulator no matter if it is already started or will be started later.
Click on the tab which corresponds to your simulator. Image below shows the tab for FSX, P3D or MSFS on the left and the tab for X-Plane on the right.
Connectwhich will close the dialog.
Center Aircraft. The map will jump to the simulator aircraft and keep it centered if an active flight is loaded, i.e. the simulator is not in the opening screen.
Start the simulator if not already done, load the flight plan and go flying.
See also Connecting to a Flight Simulator.
56.11. Top of Descent¶
A top of descent indication is displayed on the map and in the elevation profile which also shows the distance from top of descent to the destination. This number includes the distance of approach procedures (excluding holds).
Altitude restrictions in procedures are considered in the top of descent calculation.
Progress in the dock window
Simulator Aircraft will show
the distance to the top of descent in the
Flight Plan Progress
Altitude will show the vertical path deviation after
passing the top of descent.
56.12. Changing Procedures¶
Now the weather has changed requiring an approach to runway 31:
- Right-click on the destination airport at the bottom of the flight plan table.
- Choose Show Procedures .
- Then change the runway filter to
- Expand the approach
VORDME 31to see the transition.
- Select the transition.
The label on top of the window shows now
Approach VORDME 31 FD31 Transition (Full) CHINN.
- Right-click on the selected transition.
Use EGPC and Approach and Transition as Destinationfrom the context menu which will replace the current procedure in your flight plan with the new one.
The top label in the flight planning dock window reads now:
Bembridge (EGHJ) Parking 1, Ramp GA Small to Wick (EGPC) Via CHINN and VORDME FD31 to runway 31 526 nm, 5 h 15 m, Low Altitude
To completely get rid of a procedure:
- Select any leg of the procedure in the flight plan table.
- Right-click and choose Delete Selected Legs or Procedure or press the
Delkey to remove the whole procedure.
If ATC clears you to the initial fix of the procedure:
- Delete any intermediate waypoints between your current aircraft position and the initial fix of the procedure: Right-click in the flight plan table and select Delete Selected Legs or Procedure for all waypoints between your current aircraft position and the initial fix or start of the procedure. Avoid deleting your approach (you can also right-click on a flight plan waypoint on the map and delete it from the context menu).
- Then right-click on your aircraft on the map and select Add Position to Flight Plan .
This will give a direct connection from your current aircraft position to the start of the procedure which you can use to get course and distance to the initial fix.
Below: After changing the approach procedure and adding an user-defined waypoint at the aircraft position to the flight plan. Now we get course and altitude indications for a direct leg to the start of the transition (43 NM and 314 degrees magnetic course).
56.13. Going Missed¶
I recommend hiding the missed approaches on the map by unchecking
View -> Show Missed Approaches . This
helps uncluttering the map display.
- If the missed approach is not shown: The progress window shows distance and time to destination. Activating the next leg (shown in magenta color) will stop if the destination (i.e. the runway threshold) is reached, even when passing the threshold.
- If the missed is shown and the aircraft passes the runway threshold: The first leg of the missed approach is activated and simulator aircraft progress will display the remaining distance to the end of the missed procedure.