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Your pre-flight workflow

I’m trying to think of some sort of system/checklist that I can read through before I even get to the aircraft to make sure I’m up to scratch with pre-flight preparation. I usually find myself sitting in the clubhouse at the airport packing the aircraft documents in my bag going through various things in my mind. Have I checked NOTAMS? Did I look at the weather? Have I planned my route properly? Do I need a PLOG? And so on…

Does anybody have an informal check list they go through in the days/hours leading up to the flight? If so, what’s your workflow? I’m asking from the perspective of a VFR pilot, but of course IFR input is also welcome.

Without knowing your experience I recall when you start piloting the pre-flight planning seems a big deal.

For VFR my flow would now be something like this;

1. I personally like to use the ordinary country specific met office service for an overview of whether the flight is likely to be possible four or five days before,
2. If I need to speak to any of the airport(s) because there might be somthing unusual, again will consider that a few days before. It is easy to get caught out finding they need 24 hours PPR, or not have Avgas or whatever,
3. If the route is complex I might look at that sometime a day or two before. I like using PocketFms because I have all the maps for the UK and Europe, anywhere in the UK I would do it the same day as I am sufficiently happy to route plan on the way to airport or in the aircraft,
4. If I need to think about W and B, luggage etc because I have friends I would also do that a few days before and also make sure they sort out passports, and a would also sort out hotels, taxi, all that sort of stuff as they inevitably take a bit more planning,
5. On the day I would download any TAFs and METARs I need (either before going to the airport or at the airport, sometimes even in the aircaft) as well as NOTAMs. I tend to always do the flight plan on the way to the airport (if outside the UK) just because any sooner and times usually change and I like to check with the tower a short while after that they have it.
6. I tend to have the bits and pieces in a bag anyway so everything I might need is already there,
7. Finally if the route is more complex I will make a note of any frequencies I might need.

Anything in the UK if the weather is half sensible and there are no issues with passengers I will porbably do everything in the aircraft and you really can get the whole process down to maybe 10 minutes preflight. If I have been to the destination before I will of course already know most of this stuff so I would happily plan a trip to say Newquay all just before going because I know about all the local arrangements that I might need.

Inevitably it is the unknowns that catch you out and take time – weather, flight plans, NOTAMS, AIPs etc etc can all be instantly to hand on your iPad, taxis, Avgas, PPRs are the areas that will catch you out sometimes if you just assume these service are going to be on hand when you need them!

- for a local flight; pretty much look out the window, check the wx at KSMO (we regularly have a marine layer, so even blue skies a few miles inland may be misleading); check TFRs (although that’s a US thing only) and go

- for a longer x-country:

  • start looking at wx trends a few days before flight, increasing in frequency as the date gets closer
  • obviously also check return / onward flight wx
  • if wx looks iffy, check and plan alternates
  • day before, input route into ForeFlight and get the briefing; this includes pretty much all there is to know: wx, TFRs, NOTAMs, fuel prices, etc.
  • make sure all betteries / power pack are fully charged and the cables are where they’re supposed to be
  • check W&B if required (if I suspect this might be an issue, it’s the very first thing I do; had that recently, where the flight as planned wasn’t doable)
  • go

PS: forgot to mention one more thing (that’s why we need check lists….): I create a sort of plog with the frequencies along the route. Over time I’ve built up a little library of these things and occasionally cross-check against FF for accuracy.

Last Edited by 172driver at 12 Jun 21:00

This is my work flow :
First, when I think about a potential flight, I think about several factors :

  • which aircraft
  • how much fuel will I need
  • weight & balance and PLOG (done on the ipad)
  • what weather minima do I want for this flight
  • info about the destination …
    I look once at Notams because they are sometimes long term (opening hours, fuel availibility … sometimes valid for 6 months ).

Then, I keep a look at the weather during the last fays before the flight. I check AIP SUPs that are always planned (no need to check last minute).
I try to make a first go/no go about 48 hrs before the flight, for my passengers (if any)

On the day of the flight, I check airfield notams (aviation tools free app) and weather (just metars and tafs on aero metar free app) before driving to the airfield.
At the club, I take care first of the external factors

  • Notams : edit a full notam briefing and print it if the printer works (mandatory according to many local FIs, I don’t believe them but it’s free )
  • Weather : check weather according to the general situation and planned flight (between nothing and print a big weather briefing)

Then I edit the PLOG if necessary. It is rare and done in an instant with the Ipad.
If I’m good, I take care of the aircraft :

  • book the flight in the computer which gives me the key
  • papers : time left on the engine, nothing reported by previous pilots

At that time, I start getting my passengers involved (showing them I’m cautious but not paranoid, with non-technical words, no idea if it works ).
Then I go to the aircraft (with a mandatory stop at the restrooms) :

  • I show my passengers how to board the plane
  • I do the preflight
  • then I check how they did and I board myself

Then passenger briefing, startup, taxi to the fuel pump, then go…..
From the moment I reach the plane, I don’t think anymore (almost ), I just follow the club checklist while looking around me/for anything out of the ordinary.
It just gets smoother with time and practice. Once you’ll have forgotten something a few times, it will become second nature !
Today, for a local flight in CAVOK, I can startup 20mins after getting to the airport, which to me is great. For a big cross-country with passengers, I plan 1 full hour.

So to find a workflow, I’d say PRWPAP
Pre-planning
Regulation (notams…)
Weather
PLOG (pro forma)
Aircraft
Passengers

In the military and the military clubs I run, we have an ‘outbrief’ Basically it is a single side A4 bullet point list that you run down (verbally if you are with a student etc) to confirm you have covered everything ranging from ‘NOTAMS’ and ‘Fuel/Weight and Balance’ to ‘Aircraft keys’ You do it as the last thing before you ‘walk’ to the aircraft. There can also be an ‘inbrief’ to check you’ve done everything post sortie. Not onerous, but just a memory jogger to make sure you don’t miss things.

Ps – The first item on the outbrief is to consciously enter the ‘mission bubble’. This means no distractions or unnecessary activity from then I.e. don’t take calls, don’t break off to do any other tasks, consciously park life worries for the sortie etc.. and focus on the flight and flying. I find it a hugely helpful and beneficial mental step.

FI - FE - FICI
Oxfordshire / Glocs

I normally make a simple list when about to head for the car e.g.

  • phone
  • tablet (backup for the phone, etc)
  • wx (and print it)
  • plates (printed)
  • notams (I normally get area notams although currently the site I use is broken)
  • flight plans (normally these are filed the day before or even earlier)
  • any other stuff to take

My aircraft keys are on the same key ring as the car so I can’t get to the airport without them

There should be a w&b also but the TB20 is practically impossible to load incorrectly without exceeding the MTOW.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Thanks for the replies.

Balliol wrote:
In the military and the military clubs I run, we have an ‘outbrief’ Basically it is a single side A4 bullet point list that you run down (verbally if you are with a student etc) to confirm you have covered everything ranging from ‘NOTAMS’ and ‘Fuel/Weight and Balance’ to ‘Aircraft keys’ You do it as the last thing before you ‘walk’ to the aircraft.

This is exactly the sort of thing I’m thinking of. Are you at liberty to share this list with the forum?

I’ll be making my own before I go flying next week I think!

This is one on the club ops board – excuse handwritten amendments waiting for me to update!

FI - FE - FICI
Oxfordshire / Glocs
8 Posts
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