Preflight Planning


  • FAR 91.103 that "Each pilot in command shall, before beginning a flight, become familiar with all available information concerning that flight" which includes
    • Aircraft Procedures
    • Aircraft Performance
    • Airport Information
    • Equipment Familiarity
  • If you don't own an airplane, you probably rent your favorite aircraft at the same FBO each time you fly however, for many, that may not be a possibility
  • Variations in airplanes which you are licensed and probably signed off to rent by your local FBO must be considered
  • While normal procedures can generally be done at the pilot's pace, emergency procedures cannot, making their understanding crucial

Aircraft Performance:

  • Aircraft perform differently based on the environmentals and type of operation expected
  • Be cognizant of "what is different today" and brief to it up front, so factors like density altitude and weight and balance are taken into consideration

Destination Airport & Route Information:

  • ALD (if LAHSO is expected)
  • Review and print, or tab a copy of the arrival and departure airport, as required
  • Portions of clearances can be expected (for example, the departure frequency) making it possible to anticipate certain numbers which can be written on a kneeboard card ahead of time
    • Be wary of "expectation bias;" listen to what a controller actually says, not what you expect
  • Enroute sector boundaries can be found on enroute charts allowing you to anticipate where about a switch will occur, and to what frequency
  • Don't ignore what you are flying over as water conditions/temperatures and terrain may impact what you bring and how you may react to an emergency
  • Airnav provides an airport search to help you find nearby airports that meet a pilot's desired characteristics

Equipment Familiarity:

  • Pilots must be familiar with what equipment is installed in the airplane
  • Just as important, pilots must be familiar with where that equipment is installed
  • The most obvious example is the instrument panel, where equipment like transponders maybe in a new location, even across the same brand of airplane but a different model
  • Less obvious examples are safety equipment



  • There are many official sources from which to gather information pertinent to preflight planning
  • Note that though not required, it is recommended a call be placed to Flight Service prior to flight
  • You may wish to consider fuel prices, services available, landing fees, and hours of operation when planning for suitable diverts
    • Although these factors may run through your mind in an ad-hoc divert, that is a divert due to an unforeseen circumstance, then remember an airfield where a safe landing can be performed outweighs conveniences
  • Preflight planning feel monotonous when flying in the same region, weather conditions, and for the same purpose
    • In those situations, ask yourself, what is different today, to really drill down on what it is you need to pay attentiont o
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