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Newsletter - February 7th, 2011

Did You Know:
You can get your planned ATC Route to your cell phone

Many of our users might not be aware that you can get your Planned ATC Route up to 90 minutes before your scheduled departure time.

You can access this feature by either going to the ATC Routes/EDCT section on the left side of the Main Menu page or (if you are a Premium Flight Tracker) going to the Flight Tracking link on the left side of the Main Menu page.
To get your planned ATC Route is as simple as selecting your Aircraft tail number or Call Sign and the email/ text message address that you would like the Planned ATC Route to be sent to.
For most cell phones, the Text message address is the phone number (without the leading 1) and a special address for your cell phone provider.

Here are some common ones:
6175551212@VTEXT.com (Verizon)
7035551212@TXT.ATT.NET (ATT)
2035551212@MESSAGING.SPRINTPCS.COM (Sprint)
2035551212@TMOBILE.COM (T-Mobile)

Some additional info about ATC Routes
1) The Planned ATC Route is a Planned ATC Route.
The Route you see might not be exactly what you will get as a clearance.
For instance, out of some airports (especially in Florida), there can be an initial identifier that is used by ATC, but not given to the pilots.
As an example, here is a Planned ATC Route out of PIE: END3D SZW J73 LGC.MIKEE4.
There is no such intersection called END3D.
END3D is an internal note for ATC, for assignment of initial routing (which can include Radar Vectors, headings, crossing altitudes, etc.) based on current local conditions.
Usually these internal notations look strange -- 4 or 6 characters long or with letter and number combinations.
These notations cannot be found on an airway chart, SIDs, or programmed into your FMS.

2) The Planned ATC Route means a clearance has been issued by the ATC System.
If you receive a Planned ATC Route, you can rest assured there will be a clearance available when you call Clearance Delivery/Ground/Tower/Approach.

3) If a new Route is assigned, we'll send you the new Planned ATC Route.
If you are assigned new routing after your initial Planned ATC Route (or even after you have been issued your clearance), FltPlan.com will send you the updated Planned ATC Route.
This can be a real god-send for a re-route that might necessitate some additional fuel after you've received your clearance, but before you've taxied out.

4) EDCT (Expected Departure Clearance Time) notices are part of the package.
If you select that you would like to receive your Planned ATC Route, we will also send you any EDCT that might be in effect.
a) If EDCTs are in effect for your area of flight, you will get a message saying that EDCTs are in effect, but your flight is not affected.
b) If EDCTs are in effect for your area of flight, and your flight is affected, we will send you the EDCT along with your wheels-up time (i.e. your EDCT ).
c) If your flight is not flying in an area of EDCTs, then you will not receive any EDCT emails.

5) A Proposed Message (Schd.) is also included.
A Proposed message from FltPlan.com is your confirmation that your flight plan is indeed in the ATC system.
You can check the departure time, to make sure you filed what you thought you filed.
The Proposed Message almost always comes at the same time as the Planned ATC Clearance (approx. 90 minutes before departure), but is also an independent check that ATC knows about your flight plan.

6) If you have a blocked tail number, you can still take advantage of this feature by subscribing to our Premium Flight Tracking service. For more information call 1-800-358-7526.



Vote Today in the 2011 Pilots' Choice Awards
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We'll announce the winners online in April.
For last year's winners, Click Here.

FltPlan.com and Standard Temperature Forecast
By J. Mac McClellan

Ask a pilot, particularly those who fly jets, about the temperature aloft and you will almost never hear an actual temperature, like minus 54 degrees C. Instead we all talk about it being plus or minus some number of degrees. This measurement of plus or minus a standard is just one more example of unique pilot speak, but air temperature and the standard are absolutely critical to airplane performance. That's why FltPlan.com shows temperature aloft relative to standard, rather than an specific number of degrees.

With the wind aloft forecast on your FltPlan.com Navigation Log page, you will see temperature shown as a plus or minus. That is the number of degrees forecast to be above or below standard, not the actual air temperature.

The standard is, of course, the International Standard Atmosphere (ISA) which was agreed on decades ago by engineers and government regulators. It is essential to have a standard so that airplane performance can be compared to published performance data. Without the standard an airplane would climb higher and, faster one day than the next as the temperature aloft varied, and pilots would have no way to know what performance to expect.

ISA does not really represent an "average" day, and the exact conditions of ISA may never actually exist on any one day. But atmospheric conditions do exist that straddle the ISA so we can predict how an airplane will perform when we compare back to the standard.

ISA assumes the atmosphere is a perfectly uniform dry gas, which it is not. But the moisture content and some other variables do not change airplane performance much. The really important considerations are atmospheric pressure and air temperature. These are not important in themselves, but they are measures of air density, and density is what matters. Airplane engines and wings crave dense air, and the denser the air the better they perform. Lower the density and engines lose thrust and wings lose lift.

Naturally enough, ISA begins at the surface with an air temperature of 15 degrees C, and barometric pressure of 29.92 inches of mercury. ISA says the air temperature drops steadily until just over 36,000 feet where, at minus 56.5 degrees C the air stops cooling with altitude until you climb beyond 65,000 feet. The level where the air temperature stops decreasing with altitude is called the tropopause, and it is the boundary between the troposphere were we live and the stratosphere.

At every altitude in the flight a wide range of air temperatures is possible. It is counterintuitive, but generally speaking the high altitude temperatures are coldest over the equator and warmest over the poles. But ISA treats all parts of the globe as though the atmosphere was the same, so we are always flying in air that is above or below-or very occasionally-right on standard.

Imagine if airplane manufacturers and their test pilots had to collect performance data for every possible temperature at all usable altitudes. It would be a nightmare for them and for we pilots trying to read such a chart.

But by using ISA as a baseline, airplane performance data can be extrapolated to whatever the actual air temperature may be above or below standard. Test pilots collect many data points under conditions that are both warmer and colder than standard. With those data, charts can be created that account for the entire range of operating temperatures.

The goal at FltPlan.com is to make flight planning as easy, and as accurate, as possible for any pilot. By showing predicted air temperatures as either above or below standard, FltPlan.com makes it easy to look in performance manuals to see what to expect from your airplane on the flight.

If, for some reason, you want to know what the actual air temperature is forecast to be at your cruise altitude, there is an easy rule of thumb-multiply your cruise flight level by two and subtract 15 for altitudes up to 36,000 feet. So, let's say you plan to cruise at 35,000 feet. Multiply 35 by two and get 70. Subtract 15 and you have 55 degrees which is very close to ISA for that level. For all altitudes at 36,000 feet and above ISA will be minus 56.5 degrees. For those allergic to math, just look at the top of the Winds box on your NavLog, (or on the Winds Aloft Matrix) and ISA is given for each of your different cruise altitudes.

So, if FltPlan.com shows on the forecast winds that air temperature is +5 at your planned altitude of 37,000 feet (ISA= -57 degrees) you know the expected actual temperature is minus 52 degrees C. Interesting, but I'm not sure what you do with that information. It's standard that counts for all performance data and that's what FltPlan.com gives you.


Check out Mac McClellan's Left Seat
This week Mac McClellan's blog, Left Seat, is about "Filing a FRAT for Real". You can view Left Seat by clicking on the banner on the FltPlan.com log-in page or by going directly to mac.FltPlan.com.

See FltPlan.com at the 2011 Schedulers and Dispatchers Conference
This week FltPlan.com will be at the NBAA 22nd Annual Schedulers and Dispatchers Conference. The conference takes place at the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center. Stop by Booth 213 on February 9 or 10th to say hello. One of our staff experts from each field will be there to answer your questions.

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