Most of us grow up learning how to plan a trip by simply doing, and we usually get it right. When we are about to do someplace new, we also exercise a little caution and put in some extra effort; here again things usually go smoothly. Where I usually fall short is when I doing something that used to be routine but not recently routine. My memory fades. For these times, a checklist is usually in order.
Route, Airspace, and Airport Review
Prior to departure, and preferably 24-48 hours before the planned departure time, the crew should conduct a thorough self-brief of the planned flight. The list below does not include all items that the crew should brief, but does list some of the most important items to review. The crew should review all applicable portions of the en route charts, plotting charts, orientation charts, airport charts and airway manuals.
For the entire route including diversion and alternate airports:
- Review the route from departure airport to arrival airport. Ensure that you are familiar with how the departure procedure or SID transitions to the en route portion. Review the potential arrival procedures and ensure that there is a definable transition from the en route to the arrival portion of the flight.
- Review all FIR boundaries and ensure that the planned route and FIRs match the overflight permits, where applicable.
- Look for any notes for the route, these are usually small numbered circles or other symbols indicating special information for the route. These can point to important items such as requiring an early call to the next FIR, notes about how to handle lost communications or how what to do if you have not yet received clearance into the next FIR.
- Review the terrain and grid MORA levels for the route of flight and be aware of any high terrain near the route that could be a factor if a diversion is required.
- Review potential routings for diversion to filed alternate, and for other suitable alternates that may be required for an en route emergency.
For all airspace along the route including diversion and alternate routings:
- Review the types of airspace along the entire route.
- Note transition levels and altitudes when published.
- Note any special use airspace such as military areas.
- Note any specific airspace requirements, such as RNP level, requirement for data link equipment, RVSM, etc.
- Review the en route chart end panels for any specific notes on contingency procedures for that region.
- Ensure that you are familiar with standard ICAO procedures, including Annex 2, Annex 6, Document 8168 and Document 4444.
- Review your resources for contingency procedures, noting any region-specific procedures. The Jeppesen airway manuals and the contingencies chapter of this manual are potential resources. Note that some oceanic regions have lost communication procedures unique to that region.
- Review the airway manuals for any region-specific or airspace-specific requirements or special procedures.
Review for the airports of departure and arrival.
- Airport operating hours.
- Arrival and departure procedure notes.
- Transition levels and altitudes, altimeter setting procedures.
- Lost comm specific for that SID/STAR or airport (chart notes or airport pages).
- Expected approaches, including the procedure notes on the approach.
- International arrival parking.
- Low visibility operations.
- Taxi routes.
- Clearance and pushback procedures
Review the country-specific section of the airway manuals and the airport charts.
- Entry requirements: This is a final check that entry requirements are being complied with.
- Review any lost communication differences unique to the country.
- Review any regulatory differences such as day/night flight and IFR/VFR differences, etc.
- Review any ATC Differences, such as holding, procedure turns, approach clearances, airspeed limits, transition levels/altitudes, altimeter settings, etc.
- Review any additional procedures unique to the country.