By Johanna Menzel
A look behind the scenes of the flight support by Fly Aeolus’ operations department
Safety is one of the most important components in aviation and therefore also for Fly Aeolus. To ensure that the flight runs as smoothly as possible, the Fly Aeolus operations department supervises safety together with the pilot. But what does the operations department actually do? Operations deals not only with the preparations and the course of your flight; in all its work it continuously takes safety into account. In this blog we introduce you to the flight support that the operations department of Fly Aeolus takes care of.
Preparation of your flight
When a flight is accepted by a customer, the flight support starts: the corresponding airports are contacted. We ask for permission to land at these airports. Often, we get an “airport slot” at larger airports. This means that you are allowed to land within a certain time frame.
We also asses the aircraft documents and the pilot certificates and double check if everything is still up to date. Specific information about airports is equally reviewed, such as: is the runway available, fuel availability, or are there other details about the condition of the airport that we need to know to maintain safety.
Different rules apply to customs in each country. In countries like France, Great Britain and Switzerland, authorities want to know who is arriving and therefore also entering the country. Equally they also want to know who is leaving the country. Hence, we prepare official documents stating the passenger details for these specific countries.
A flight plan is prepared seven days before the flight takes place. This plan contains the route, the altitude at which we will be flying and the airports in case of an unexpected diversion. The Weight & Balance of the aircraft is also examined. Making a Weight & Balance calculation allows operations to evaluated whether the aircraft remains within the safe limits of operations. We keep a close eye on the Weight & Balance to ensure that the aircraft leaves the runway and returns safely. Check the next paragraph for more information in relation to the Weight and Balance task.
Finally, as a summary the flight briefing package is sent to the pilot. This is done approximately 48 hours before departure. This package contains everything the pilot needs to know about the flight, such as flight times, passenger data, special regulations of the various airports, weather forecasts and other operational information
From this moment on we can also estimate how the weather will develop itself during the flight the weather plays a major role in whether a flight takes place or not.
Weight & Balance
The Weight & Balance task ensures that the weight and weight distribution of the aircraft is within its prescribed limits. When it comes to Weight & Balance, the number of passengers and fuel are taken into account. Fly Aeolus uses an operational system to calculate this. It calculates exactly how many passengers, luggage and fuel can be carried on a specific flight with a specific range. An aircraft has a maximum weight that it can carry. This means that the more passengers are joining on the flight, the less fuel it can take for that flight.
For a long flight with the maximum number of passengers the aircraft can carry, we will consider a stopover on the way to the destination to refuel the aircraft. In this way we are able to stay within the limits, making sure we will not run out of fuel and that the safety is guaranteed.
Unfortunately, we are not able to predict far in advance the weather. The weather can have a great influence on each flight. When we take into account the weather in aviation, we pay attention to various aspects such as fog, wind and thunderstorms.
The weather is an important factor influencing the safety of the flight, which is why we constantly monitor it. It starts one week before the flight. We take a rough look at the weather forecasts for the day of the flight. We continue to check this on a daily basis to see how the weather will develop and which direction it will move.
If we are in doubt regarding the weather radar 48 hours before the flight, operations will contact the pilot and ask him for a second opinion. 24 hours before the flight, the weather forecast is the most accurate. With this forecast we have a good view of the weather and also enough time to find an alternative flight option if the weather requires so.
Alternatives in unsafe situations
If the weather is not in our favor, we always try to set forth the flight by other means e.g. by changing the route. By changing the route, we can fly around bad weather.
Another weather effect majorly taking place in winter is icing. Icing occurs when an airplane flies through clouds that are below 0° centigrade. The water particles in the clouds freeze on the wings of the plane. This reduces the performance of the aircraft. If icing is forecasted operations will check if we can fly around the clouds or pass underneath to avoid icing.
If we cannot avoid the bad weather, we always evaluate with the customer and the crew whether we can leave sooner or later than initially anticipated.
If the weather is that bad that a flight cannot take place in a desired time frame, Fly Aeolus will look for alternative transportation. This could be an airline flight, train or taxi.
GO / NO GO moment
We always set a date and time for the GO / NO GO moment. As the name suggest, this is the point of time when we make a final decision whether a flight can be continued or not. Based on the time a customer is willing to arrive at its destination we determine an alternative transportation mean which will deliver an alternative departure point, hence the GO / NO GO moment. We do not want to put this point of time too early, as the weather may still change. We also do not want to put it too late, as otherwise there is no time to inform the customer about other transport means.
The flight support tasks of the operations are very important in aviation. By properly applying the rules and keeping a close eye on the weather, we can ensure the safety of passengers, the pilot and the aircraft.
And what does the work of an air traffic controller in the tower actually look like?
If you have any further questions about our flight support or in general, do not hesitate to contact us! You can give us a call: +32 (0)3 500 9082, or message us: firstname.lastname@example.org