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KHPN to KBOS Flight Planning Newbie Questions


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Last night, for my second flight on Vatsim, I planned an IFR flight in my Baron (MSFS2020) from KHPN (Weschester) to KBOS (Logan International). I have a number of questions. Thanks in advance for putting up with my beginner questions. The amount of material can be a bit overwhelming.

I used SimBrief to plan. The first option was "MERIT ROBUC3", but the ROBUC3 arrival at KBOS is listed as "Turbojet Aircraft Only", so [Question #1] my twin prop is ineligible, correct?  So instead, I went with the second option, "MERIT ORW V16 WOONS", which had me file: "DCT MERIT DCT ORW V16 WOONS DCT"

I was cleared for standard departure "Westchester 7, expect vectors to MERIT, then as filed."  [Question #2] Should I have filed something in my flightplan to specify/request this?

[Question #3] From this departure chart, I believe what I'm supposed to do is take off on runway 34, and at 1000ft, turn left to 295 while climbing to 3000. So even though "MERIT" is to my east, I should be heading northwest after departure, and expect that ATC is going to direct me to MERIT, at which point I'd return to my flight plan?

[Question #4] I didn't do this. I was way off the standard departure. Should I have expected ATC to chastise or correct me in some way? I proceeded direct to MERIT, because I hadn't read the chart right, but wasn't aware I'd done anything wrong until just now, when I reread the chart.

[Question #5] I'd love an ILS approach into KBOS. Is there something I would specify in the flightplan (or a different flight plan) that would accomplish this?

One last question [Question #6], unrelated to flight planning: When speaking to ATC, when do I say my callsign? From what I see, sometimes it's at the beginning, sometimes it's at the end, and I think there might be times when I don't say it at all. Are there rules of thumb here?

Edited by Frederick Damstra
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1.  Yes.  SimBrief is terrible about validating your route against your aircraft type, so, great catch in seeing that before filing it.

2.  If you file a route that heads straight to a certain departure fix, and there is a vectored departure at that airport which includes that fix, it's sometimes customary not to file it, but it will become part of your issued IFR clearance anyway.  And then yes, you do need to pull up that SID and look at it and follow its instructions.  Also, sometimes if you file a route that just goes straight to a fix but there's a pilot-nav or hybrid SID which goes there, the DEL controller will amend your route to include the SID and should let you know so you can pull that chart and set your nav instruments accordingly.

3.  Yep -- if you were assigned 34 for departure, it looks to me like you should have been on heading 295 until vectored.

4.  Hah, you expected to be chastised!  It's really refreshing to hear this.  Some new pilots get so bent out of shape about it.  If you mess something up, the controller should tell you, and you shouldn't take it personally but you should learn from it.  In your case, the controller didn't say anything about the error which means one of four things: (1) they were too busy working other traffic to notice, (2) they were too distracted by non-controlling things to notice, (3) they were too new or simply unfamiliar with that specific departure to notice (given that GA traffic from minor airfields can sometimes be sporadic on VATSIM, unfortunately), or (4) they noticed but chose not to call you out on it for whatever reason.  Or maybe even (5) they noticed, and sent you a private message about it, which you somehow didn't see.  Good on you to have a good attitude about learning, though.

5.  Once you're handed from Enroute control to Approach control, you'll get your runway and approach assignment.  If you want something different than what they tell you to expect, just ask.  If they can accommodate, they will.  If they can't (because traffic flow prohibits it or whatever), they'll let you know.

6.  GENERALLY, on making a request, you initiate contact by saying the facility's callsign, then your own, then your message.  (Particularly -- their callsign, your callsign, your position and altitude, and your intentions.)  Then when you're issued an instruction, you read back that instruction, and follow it with your callsign.  There shouldn't be any transmission that doesn't include your callsign -- even if the controller gives you something that's informational only (i.e. not an instruction that needs to be read back), your callsign alone is good as an acknowledgement.  I believe that the ICAO radiotelephony guides say that the pilot's callsign should most definitely come last after a readback, whereas FAA guidance just says the callsign should be included in the transmission somewhere, either beginning or end.  But the "normal" custom for most seems to be to tack it on after a readback.

GREAT questions.  Fantastic to see a new member so committed to researching and learning.

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Cheers,

-R.

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Rob already gave some great answers, so I"ll just add on some additional context

  1. SimBrief sometimes generates some non-sense routes. In the US, many ARTCCs have Preferred Route Databases (PRDs) that you can search. ZNY and ZBW for example. You'll see on there that it also shows altitude and aircraft type restrictions for each route as well. Another source for routes is the FAA's Preferred Route Database. For some longer routes, there may not be a preferred route. In that case, you can serach FlightAware for real-world routes.
  2. In the US, SIDs have a short code depicted on the chart. The Westchester 7's is "HPN7" so you could file HPN7 MERIT ORW WOONS2 to request the HPN7 departure. Some airports have runway-dependent SIDs so you may get assigned a different departure procedure even if you request one and it's good to be prepared for a route amendment.
  3. Yes, you are expected to follow all parts of the departure procedure unless ATC instructs you to do otherwise. For context, the airspace design around HPN has LGA arrivals flying east of the airport. Flying to the west gives ATC room to climb and vector you around arrival traffic and then send you towards MERIT.
  4. Depending on the traffic situation and workload of the controller, they may let you continue or they may vector you wround to the correct place. If I'm not too busy, I like to send a private message to gently point out their error and provide guidance on how to correct it in the future. In gcongested airspace like New York's, it's really critical that procedures are followed to avoid conflicts in the air.
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And just to clarify point #6 -- the full check-in (their callsign, your callsign, your position with altitude, and your intentions) is on INITIAL contact with an ATC facility.  On subsequent calls to that same controller, just your callsign and your message is fine (or sometimes I'll do an abbreviated version of both -- instead of "Boston Center, Citation 514DV, permission to step away for 2 minutes?" it's more like "Center 4DV can I step away for a couple minutes?").  Then if you're handed off from one facility to another, you can omit the position and just give their callsign, your callsign, and your altitude, since the new controller will already have been alerted to your position by the one you were just with.

Edited by Robert Shearman Jr

Cheers,

-R.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 12/29/2020 at 2:20 PM, Robert Shearman Jr said:

GREAT questions.  Fantastic to see a new member so committed to researching and learning.

+1000! Looks like Frederick Damstra is one of the good guys.

Alistair Thomson

===

Definition: a gentleman is a flying instructor in a Piper Cherokee who can change tanks without getting his face slapped.

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 12/29/2020 at 7:53 PM, Alex Ying said:
  • ...Some airports have runway-dependent SIDs so you may get assigned a different departure procedure even if you request one and it's good to be prepared for a route amendment.

This is the big one from my point of view. Finding a route and filing a flight plan are pretty standard, but once you're on the ground and ATC gives you a change, you have to be able to change what's in your FMS. And this can be problematic when the MSFS2020 aircraft routes are a mess. IN that case, I say I can't do it and I ask for vectors. ATC will vector you in and out of airports unless it's really busy, in which case you might want to learn in a quieter area.

 

On 12/29/2020 at 7:53 PM, Alex Ying said:

Yes, you are expected to follow all parts of the departure procedure unless ATC instructs you to do otherwise.

Again, this might be true but no one dies in VATSIM skies, so don't worry about screwing up. It's not real life. You do not have to know how to fly IFR perfectly to enjoy VATSIM. If you need help, talk to the controller, and if he's too busy, consider just flying in less busy areas if you don't have the wherewithal to do everything correctly.

 

Rob Vanderkam

Canadian Virtual Airlines (CVA) - in operation since 1997

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