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Sea/Floatplane - (C208) - Flight planning / Radio communication questions


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Good morning fellow VATSIM aviators.

Introduction:
In order to
- challenge myself to fly something (completely) different,
- getting away from the usual "main airport A to main airport B  VFR/IFR flights"
- and getting "back to my (vfr) flying basics",
I decided to download this aircraft: Cessna 208 "Caravan" Floatplane variant.
- https://flyawaysimulation.com/downloads/files/9902/fsx-cessna-c208-amphibian-update/ (FSX version)
- https://www.wipaire.com/aircraft_page/cessna-caravan-series/ (real-life)


B - Now I encounter a brand new "flight-planning challenges" like the ones posted below.
In order to create a complete-as-possible background I've uses some potential real-life scenarios
to fully illustrate the nature of my floatplane flight-planning questions.
After all, That is what we do on VATSIM right? "Flying-as-real-as-it-can-get".


C - What have I been doing myself already to find possible answers?
1. Searched the official Cessna - and C208 Caravan owners related websites.
2. Searched a number of floatplane converters / builders websites.
3. Searched the ICAO / FAA / IATA / APOA / EUROCONTROL / NATS UK websites.
4. So far I've found the FAA "Seaplans handbook" over here: (did not find my answer in there)
- https://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/handbooks_manuals/aviation/seaplane_handbook/

5. I've also searched the Seaplane Associations website

But... so far... I have not found any answer to my floatplane flightplanning questions

NOTE: I have used this ICAO flightplan form as reference for my questions below:
- Official ICAO / EuroFLP flightplan - form basics (pdf format)


=======================================================================================
SCENARIO 1 - "EMERGENCY (SPARE)PARTS / MEDICAL SUPPLIES DELIVERY FLIGHT"
Example company: "Fly Alaska" based in Juneau, Alaska, USA
- Fly Alaska  - company website
Their homebase is an official fully controlled airfield with an ICAO-code.

QUESTION 1: WHAT DOES ONE ENTER INTO THE FLIGHTPLAN-FORM IN RELATION TO:
- [Field_13].....Homebase..............: Check! -> PAJN Juneau, Alaska, USA
- [Field_16a   ] Destination "airport" : ????
- [Field_16,b,c] Alternate "airport(s)": ????
since these destination locations can be anywhere within the floatplane's range on a land-able water surface.

=======================================================================================
SCENARIO 2 - "WATER TAXI SERVICE" CUSTOMER TRIPS
Example company: "Lochlomond Seaplanes" based in Balloch, Scotland,UK
- Lochlomond Seaplanes - company website

Their homebase is just a few jetties at the edge of Scottish lake
- Lochlomond Seaplanes - Homebase location
This looks like a fully uncontrolled "air/water-field" to me

QUESTION 2: WHAT DOES ONE ENTER INTO THE FLIGHTPLAN-FORM IN RELATION TO:
- [Field_13].....Homebase................ :  ???? 
- [Field_16a   ] Destination "airport" : ????
- [Field_16,b,c] Alternate "airport(s)": ????
since these locations can be anywhere within the floatplane's range on a land-able water surface.

QUESTION 3: ARE THERE ANY OTHER (SPECIAL) FLIGHTPLAN FIELDS WHICH ARE DIFFERENT FOR FLOATPLANES IN RELATION TO REGULAR GA PROP/JET AIRCRAFT?

QUESTION 4: HOW EXACTLY DOES A PILOT NEED TO COMMUNICATE (AND WITH WHOM) WHEN FLYING TO/FROM THIS AIR/SEA PORT LOCATION?

- Is this in the same way as the default VFR communication for a land based uncontrolled airfield? by contacting the nearest airspaces "CENTER" controllers?
- Are there any special terms / phrases to be used ?
- Are there any special  "" SID / STAR" procedures which need to be followed?

QUESTION 5: IS IT POSSIBLE (AND ALLOWED) TO MAKE IFR-TYPE-OF-FLIGHTS TO/FROM THIS LOCATION IN SCOTLAND?
For example: A bad weather, low visibility,  emergency spare-parts medical-supply delivery type-of-flight
When the floatplane has been equipped with IFR instruments like GPS / WAAS ?


Thank you for your time, explanations, hints ,tips to answer my floatplane flightplans questions

 

Edited by Ronald Vermeij
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  • Ronald Vermeij changed the title to Sea/Floatplane - (C208) - Flight planning / Radio communication questions

My answers refer to the UK specifically but I don't see why they'd be any different anywhere else, unless local procedures apply.

 

ICAO Codes

Enter ZZZZ as the departure/destination aerodrome, then in the RMK/ section of the flight plan specify the departure/destination. eg "DEPARTURE LOCH LOMOND"

 

Communcations

Loch Lomond is outside controlled airspace (as are all the Scottish lochs) in its entirety so you don't need to speak to anyone. Make calls on unicom if there's any traffic that would benefit from it.

 

IFR/VFR

You'd depart/arrive VFR and switch to IFR enroute. In the real world, this would be a Y or Z ICAO flightplan to indicate a change in flight rules, but VATSIM doesn't simulate these. Instead, if you're departing VFR, file a VFR flight plan and indicate in the flightplan the point you wish to switch to IFR with "IFR".

 

 

Additional info

Lochlomond Seaplanes used to operate from Glasgow Seaplane Terminal. This is located within the Glasgow CTR (class D airspace). If you were departing from here on VATSIM, you'd need to first request permission from EGPF_APP (or SCO_CTR if EGPF was offline). 

Edited by Connor Faulder
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If you are all VFR you could also just not file a FP. In the UK it's referred to as "booking out" if you depart a controlled airport VFR without a filed FP and some S1/S2 controllers might be a bit confused by it, but it should be common knowledge so consider it helpful exposure maybe? In the US this is extremely normal and no one bats an eye at non-FP VFR.

Don't get too hung up on flightplans. IRL ATC only cares about where you are, where you're going, and how you'll get there. All the annoying extra information is for the benefit of search and rescue and certain aspects of flight data processing, neither of which are a thing on VATSIM. All the nav codes and extra fields we've started adopting drives me nuts, and my guess is they cause more confusion than "realism enjoyment" overall.

You can't legally go IFR anywhere if there's no published instrument approach and the weather is below the lowest safe IFR altitude. You can always fly there IFR and hope to find a hole in the weather sufficient for cancelling IFR then proceed VFR, or use a nearby instrument approach to get below the weather, but if not you need to divert to somewhere you know you can land. Bring plenty fuel. In real life there's no "emergency part delivery" important enough to kill yourself over.

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@Connor - Thank you for your clear explanation.

Regarding your "flightplan:item 18 RMK/":
I've been looking for an exact flightplan-field-18 /RMK definition over here:
- https://www.icao.int/MID/Documents/2012/infpl_sg4/ip04.pdf
- https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/media/aim.pdf
- https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/atpubs/aim_html/index.html
- https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/atpubs/fs_html/appendix_a.html
- https://www.eurocontrol.int/sites/default/files/2021-03/eurocontrol-ifps-users-manual-25.pdf
- https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ato/service_units/air_traffic_services/flight_plan_filing/media/FAA_ICAO_flight_planning_interface_ref_guide.pdf

Quote from the FAA AIM (2017 AIM10/21/155-1-26) document:
"RMK/ Any  other  plain−language  re-marks  when  required  by  the  ATC  or  deemed"


But.. so far I must come to the conclusion that one can write almost "any string of ASCII characters in there".
It feels like an "Anything else goes in here" type of flightplan field
Is this a correct conclusion to make?

 

QUESTION: EXAMPLE SCENARIO TAXI-FLIGHT FROM BALLOCH TO GLASGOW CENTRE, VFR WEATHER CONDITIONS
Can you give me an good example of a correct /RMK field entry for this flight? Just for my own mindframe-of-reference, as a good real-life example?

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@Magnus
"If you are all VFR you could also just not file a FP. "
That's new (for me), I've never heard of this option before!

"In the UK it's referred to as "booking out" if you depart a controlled airport VFR without a filed FP and some S1/S2 controllers might be a bit confused by it"
Is this technically possible on VATSIM network (now)? since I remember that - a few years ago - I forgot to file my flightplan (via the Vpilot-client)
And a few minutes later I got a kind of "automatically disconnected" with an error-message telling that "I did not have filed a flight-plan"?

"Don't get too hung up on flightplans. IRL ATC only cares about where you are, where you're going, and how you'll get there"
Thanks for this feedback Magnus. I guess this must comes from (your own?) real-life experience. Am I correct?

I just am used to "follow the correct procedures" that I once learned - decades ago - on this awesome VATSM network as in:
1 - Start the flightsim.
2 - Position my aircraft-of-choice on a realistic parking place.
3 - Start the pilot client of your choice.
4 - Connect to the VATSIM network server.
5 - File the flight-plan.
6 - Do the "mike check" at the nearest (relevant) ATC position.
7 - Get the clearance,
8 - "Taxi to the active"
and begin my (next) flight on the network.


"All the annoying extra information is for the benefit of search and rescue and certain aspects of flight data processing, neither of which are a thing on VATSIM"
"Extra annoying information" - LOL - I've never looked at this way before to a flight-plan. Thanks for sharing this angle Magnus.
 

"All the nav codes and extra fields we've started adopting drives me nuts"
"and my guess is they cause more confusion than "realism enjoyment" overall."

I think that this forms a very different and personal experience for every individual VATSIM user. Some love, Some don't.
For me personally - I love to dig into the details, "as real at it can get", bridging the gap between real-life flight and the VATSIM simulated experience.
 

"You can't legally go IFR anywhere if there's no published instrument approach and the weather is below the lowest safe IFR altitude"
Thank you, since i did not know this (yet).
 

"You can always fly there IFR and hope to find a hole in the weather sufficient for cancelling IFR then proceed VFR"
This is new to me (now) since I'm not used to create "mixed flight-plans" (as in VFR->IFR, IFR->VRF) and on-the-fly from IFR-> VFR and vice versa.
Up until now I've only flown 100% VRF or 100% IFR flights, so thanks for this explanation Magnus.
 

"or use a nearby instrument approach to get below the weather, but if not you need to divert to somewhere you know you can land. Bring plenty fuel".
That makes sense to me now, Thank you.

"In real life there's no "emergency part delivery" important enough to kill yourself over."
Agreed, This was only mentioned to illustrate a possible flight example scenario for my question.

 

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8 hours ago, Ronald Vermeij said:

QUESTION: EXAMPLE SCENARIO TAXI-FLIGHT FROM BALLOCH TO GLASGOW CENTRE, VFR WEATHER CONDITIONS

image.png.6a4b61f36b4f56fb767a026cab86d216.png

And a few minutes later I got a kind of "automatically disconnected" with an error-message telling that "I did not have filed a flight-plan"?
There's never been a No FP -> Disconnect feature. Flying without one is perfectly allowable, and I've flown for hours many a time without one simply because I forgot.

I think that this forms a very different and personal experience for every individual VATSIM user. Some love, Some don't.
Sure, as long as you know it's for your own immersion, not practical use. Some GA operators will file their own flightplans like that, most large operations and airlines will have an ops departing dealing with all that jazz.

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@Magnus
Thank you for providing the correct flight-plan example.
 

Quote

And a few minutes later I got a kind of "automatically disconnected" with an error-message telling that "I did not have filed a flight-plan"?
There's never been a No FP -> Disconnect feature. Flying without one is perfectly allowable, and I've flown for hours many a time without one simply because I forgot.

Thanks for the feedback on this topic. Since I can remember it was a lo000oong time ago somewhere, when I was also flying on the (FPI and) IVAO networks.
So I guess this automatic disconnection must have happened on IVAO then.
 

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