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Posted: September 23rd, 2023

Aircraft Operations, Performance and Planning Written Assignment

Aircraft Operations, Performance and Planning:

Aircraft operations involve the safe and efficient movement of aircraft on the ground and through the air. Careful planning is required to ensure operations are conducted successfully. This involves considering aircraft performance, air traffic control procedures, meteorological conditions, and the operational environment. Proper planning allows pilots to understand the capabilities and limitations of their aircraft, and safely manage each flight from departure to arrival.
This article will examine key aspects of aircraft operations, performance, and planning. It will discuss factors that influence aircraft performance such as weight, altitude, temperature, and runway conditions. Air traffic control procedures for departures, en route flight, and arrivals will then be outlined. The importance of obtaining accurate weather forecasts will also be explained. Finally, elements of a standard pre-flight planning process will be presented, highlighting how performance data can be applied to create a safe and efficient flight plan.
Aircraft Performance
Aircraft performance depends on several variable factors related to the aircraft itself and the operating environment. The most significant of these include weight, altitude, temperature, and runway condition (FAA, 2020).
Weight is a major determinant of aircraft performance. As the weight of the aircraft increases, the amount of lift required from the wings to support it grows proportionally. More thrust is then needed from the engines to overcome the additional drag created by the higher weight (Larson & Farber, 2019). The maximum takeoff and landing weights specified in aircraft manuals ensure sufficient performance margins exist for safe operations in all conditions.
Altitude also impacts aircraft performance. As altitude rises, atmospheric pressure and air density decrease, reducing engine power and aerodynamic lift from the wings. Takeoff and landing distances therefore increase with elevation from sea level. Temperature has an inverse effect – higher temperatures provide increased engine power and lift due to greater air density (FAA, 2020).
Runway surface condition is another key factor. On wet, slippery runways, braking action and tire traction are reduced, necessitating longer takeoff rolls and landing rolls to stop the aircraft safely. Contaminated runways with ice, snow, or slush further degrade performance and must be carefully evaluated or avoided if conditions exceed the aircraft’s or pilot’s capabilities (FAA, 2020).
In summary, to ensure safe operations pilots must understand how their aircraft’s performance will change with variations in weight, altitude, temperature, and runway conditions from the figures provided in the aircraft flight manual. This performance data forms the foundation for creating realistic flight plans.
Air Traffic Control Procedures
Air traffic control (ATC) procedures govern the movement of aircraft and ensure safety during departures, en route flight, and arrivals. Close coordination between pilots and air traffic controllers is required.
For departures, pilots must follow ATC clearances and instructions regarding runway assignments, taxi routes, runway hold positions, and takeoff sequences. Standard departure routes and altitudes are assigned after takeoff to efficiently sequence aircraft entering the terminal area or en route airspace (FAA, 2018).
During en route flight, pilots fly along published airways or direct routes between waypoints while maintaining assigned altitudes. They monitor their progress and communicate position reports to controllers. Separation from other aircraft is provided either through procedural control methods or radar vectors as needed (FAA, 2018).
For arrivals, standard terminal arrival routes guide aircraft into busy terminal airspace. Pilots receive descent clearances, altitude assignments, and vectors to final approach courses or runways based on traffic conditions. Strict adherence to ATC instructions is required in this high-density environment (FAA, 2018).
Overall, following ATC procedures allows for the safe, orderly, and expeditious flow of air traffic. Pilots must understand these procedures applicable to their flight and region to ensure smooth coordination with controllers during all phases of flight.
Weather and Forecasting
Accurate weather information is critical for safe flight planning and operations. Pilots rely on meteorological forecasts from official government sources to evaluate weather conditions along their route of flight (FAA, 2020).
Terminal aerodrome forecasts (TAFs) provide predicted weather for the departure, destination and alternate airports. They indicate expected wind direction and speed, visibility, cloud cover, precipitation, and other significant weather over the next 24 hours or more in 3-hour increments. TAFs allow pilots to anticipate changing conditions that may impact flight schedules (NOAA, 2022).
Area forecasts describe weather patterns across broad regions. Pilots use these to identify weather systems like fronts, pressure patterns, and turbulence or icing potential en route. Meteorological terminal aviation routine weather reports (METARs) present current observed weather at airports (NOAA, 2022).
Significant meteorological information (SIGMET) and airman meteorological information (AIRMET) advisories alert pilots to hazardous conditions such as thunderstorms, turbulence, and instrument flight rules restrictions below certain cloud bases or visibilities. These help pilots avoid potential weather hazards (NOAA, 2022).
By consulting multiple forecast products, pilots can gain a comprehensive picture of anticipated weather conditions along their route of flight. This weather assessment then factors directly into performance planning and go/no-go decisions.
Flight Planning
A standard flight planning process integrates performance data, weather information, and ATC procedures into a comprehensive plan. Key elements include (FAA, 2020):
Choosing a suitable departure airport based on weather, NOTAMs, and aircraft performance for takeoff (e.g. runway length, elevation).
Selecting a destination airport that can be reached safely based on aircraft range with suitable alternate airports if required. Performance charts are used to calculate maximum payload and fuel capacities.
Filing a flight plan with all necessary information like aircraft identification, route of flight, expected time en route, and emergency frequencies.
Creating a detailed navigation log listing all waypoints, courses, distances, times, altitudes/flight levels, and expected fuel burns between fixes along the route.
Checking NOTAMs and TAFs/METARs for departure, destination and alternate airports to confirm weather is within aircraft and pilot limitations.
Briefing on airspace, frequencies, and ATC procedures applicable to the route including standard instrument departures, arrivals and en route structures.
Calculating takeoff performance including takeoff speeds, accelerate-stop and accelerate-go distances based on aircraft weight, pressure altitude, temperature and runway state.
Determining optimal cruise altitudes or flight levels based on pressure, temperature, winds, and aircraft performance for most economical flight.
Completing a comprehensive aircraft weight and balance calculation to ensure the aircraft’s center of gravity will remain within limits throughout the flight.
This thorough planning process allows pilots to safely conduct flights within the aircraft’s operational capabilities while complying with regulatory requirements. It also facilitates efficient flight management and decision making in real time.
In summary, aircraft operations require consideration of performance, air traffic control, meteorology, and comprehensive flight planning. Understanding how each factor influences aircraft capabilities and limitations is key to conducting flights safely and efficiently. By applying performance data appropriately and following standardized procedures, pilots can successfully manage all phases of flight from the ground to the air. Continued application of this knowledge maintains a high level of operational safety.
Federal Aviation Administration. (2018). Pilot/controller glossary.
Federal Aviation Administration. (2020). Aircraft performance.
Larson, W. J., & Farber, D. (2019). Elementary statistics: Picturing the world (7th ed.). Pearson.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (2022). Aviation weather services.
Instructions & Marking Criteria
Trimester 2 2023
Written Assignment
Page 1 of 13
Written Assignment
3533 NSC Aircraft Operations, Performance and Planning Part 2
This document aims to provide you with all the detail you need to complete the
written assignment for 3533 NSC.
If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at
Please note that no review of ‘draft’ assignments will take place!
Instructions & Marking Criteria
Trimester 2 2023
Written Assignment
Page 2 of 13
Introduction Welcome to the AOPP2 2023 Assignment. The following document
provides guidance on the due date, weighting, submission
requirements, content and marking criteria for the assignment.
There are two (2) parts to the assignment and each part includes a
preamble introducing the task, the task itself, and a total grade available
for that part.
For each question, you must provide adequate working to justify your
solution. This may include graphs, tables, formula, and calculations.
Due Date No later than 2359 on 29th September 2023
Weighting This assignment is marked out of 100 marks; and is worth 50% of your
assessment for this course.
Submit your assignment through the submission point in the
Assessment tab on the canvas platform.
Paper submissions will not be accepted.
Content Part 1 of the assignment consists of 10 scenarios (21 short answer
problems), appropriate working must be submitted for each question.
Part 2 of the assignment relates to a fuel planning exercise for a flight
in a B737-800 aircraft. This is a multi-step, ‘big picture’ problem that will
require the student to work through a series of steps to reach a solution.
Part 1 will be assessed based upon the working and solution. A ‘marks
per problem’ strategy will be utilized when assessing the solution.
Each question indicates its worth, along with an acceptable tolerance
for the final solution.
Part 2 will be marked in a consequential manner based upon the
working and solution. A ‘marks per step’ strategy will be utilized.
The worth of each step is indicated, and there is an acceptable
tolerance for the final solution only.
Consideration will be given to a solution where an error has been
carried through from a previous step, however, be aware, the industry
does not work this way. To carry insufficient fuel could be catastrophic,
whilst too much fuel can cause a company significant profit loss. Be
mindful of this!
Note that ‘word count’ is not considered when marking!
Instructions & Marking Criteria
Trimester 2 2023
Written Assignment
Page 3 of 13
Part 1
Each of the following problems is ‘stand-alone’ and does not depend
or require data from any of the prior questions. In all cases, adequate
working must be provided to support your answer. All problems
assume the following:-
B737-800 model
Engines CFM56-7B26
ERSA version 15 June 2023
Short Answer
Problems Scenario 1
Considering ONLY field limitations, you wish to depart from Brisbane
West Wellcamp with the maximum brake release weight (MBRWPerf)
possible. The conditions are as follows:-
➢ RWY 30
➢ RWY Condition Dry
➢ QNH 997
➢ OAT 20°C
➢ Packs/Bleeds ON
➢ Engine Anti Ice OFF
Question 1 The field length available for this departure is
_____ metres
Tolerance ± 10 metres
[1 mark]
Question 2 Density altitude for this departure is _____ feet
Tolerance DA ± 100 feet
[1 mark]
Question 3 The MBRWPerf possible on this day is_____ tons
utilizing flap____
Tolerance BRW ± ½ ton
Flap Exact
[2 marks]
Question 4 If this departure was now performed under the
same conditions, but with a wet runway, the
payload reduction would be _____ tons?
Tolerance Reduction ± 100kgs
[1 marks]
Instructions & Marking Criteria
Trimester 2 2023
Written Assignment
Page 4 of 13
Scenario 2
A short runway at an unspecified and uncertified airport has constrained
you to a flap 15 departure. Considering the second segment climb
limitation AND the obstacle limitation, determine the maximum brakes
release weight (MBRWPerf) for a departure given the following
➢ Flap 15
➢ Packs/Bleeds ON
➢ Anti-Ice OFF
➢ PA 3’000ft
➢ OAT 30°C
➢ Wind Nil
➢ Obstacle height 400ft
➢ Dist. from RWY end 4’500m
➢ TORA 2’000m
Question 5 The second segment climb limitation for this day
and conditions is_____ tons.
Tolerance 2
nd Segment ± ½ ton
[1 mark]
Question 6 The obstacle limitation for this day and
conditions is_____ tons.
Tolerance Obst. Limit ± ½ ton
[1 mark]
Question 7 The MBRWPerf thus possible on this day is
therefore _____ tons.
Tolerance MBRWPerf ± ½ ton
[1 mark]
Question 8 If a way could be found to undertake this
departure using flap 5 instead of flap 15, the extra
payload capacity would be _____ tons.
Tolerance Extra Payload ± ½ ton
[1 mark]
Instructions & Marking Criteria
Trimester 2 2023
Written Assignment
Page 5 of 13
Scenario 3
Calculate the takeoff speeds (V1 VR V2 VMCG) for a departure from Mount
Keith with the given conditions:-
➢ Flap 15
➢ RWY Condition Wet
➢ Slope 1% Up
➢ BRW 70 ton
➢ OAT 30°C
➢ QNH 1006
➢ Wind 20kt HW
Question 9 Takeoff speeds (dry runway) (V1 VR V2 VMCG) are
____/____/____/____ knots
Tolerance Speeds Exact
[2 marks]
Question 10 Takeoff speeds (wet runway) (V1 VR V2 VMCG) are
____/____/____/____ knots
Tolerance Speeds Exact
[2 marks]
Scenario 4
Under the following conditions, determine the FBO, time and ground
nautical miles covered for a step-climb from FL260 to FL360:-
➢ Climb Profile 280/M0.78
➢ GW 75 tons
➢ HWAverage (all levels) 50 knots
➢ ISADev (all levels) +13°C
Question 11 FBO in climb is ____ kg
Time to climb is ____ minutes
GNM covered is ____ nm
Tolerance FBO Exact
Time ± 1 minute
GNM ± 1 nm
[2 marks]
Instructions & Marking Criteria
Trimester 2 2023
Written Assignment
Page 6 of 13
Scenario 5
You are planning a flight from YPPH to YPDN, and the forecast
indicates very turbulent conditions enroute. To give yourself adequate
protection, you elect to cruise at a flight level which provides a margin
from the onset of initial buffet of 1.40. Given the following conditions
establish your maximum hemispherically correct cruise level:-
➢ Cruise LRC
➢ ISA Deviation +10°C
➢ GW (Cruise) 70 tons
Question 12 Maximum cruise flight level today is FL_____
Tolerance Flight Level Exact
[1 mark]
Scenario 6
You are presently conducting a LRC at FL330. Your GW is 65 tons, and
the FMS is reporting a tailwind of 32 knots. Using the ‘Wind Altitude
Trade’ table and based ONLY on the following forecast winds,
determine your best cruise level from the following options?
Flight level Tailwind (knots)
FL390 51
FL370 60
FL350 40
FL330 32
FL310 30
FL290 27
Question 13 Best cruise level with respect to the forecast
winds is FL_____
Tolerance Cruise Level Exact
[1 mark]
An aircraft cruising at FL370 on the same route as you now reports
actual wind at FL370 as a 70 knot tailwind (rather than 60 knots).
Question 14 Best cruise level with respect to the new ‘actual’
wind report is FL_____
Tolerance Cruise Level Exact
[1 mark]
Instructions & Marking Criteria
Trimester 2 2023
Written Assignment
Page 7 of 13
Scenario 7
Under the following conditions, determine the FBO, time and ground
nautical miles covered for a descent from FL400 to a sea level
aerodrome. Some maneuvering will be required to align the aircraft with
the final approach path:-
➢ Descent Profile M0.78/280/250
➢ GW 65 tons
➢ TWAverage (all levels) 35 knots
➢ ISADev (all levels) +10°C
Question 15 FBO in descent is ____ kg
Time to descend is ____ minutes
GNM covered in descent is ____ nm
Tolerance FBO Exact
Time ± 1 minute
GNM ± 1 nm
[3 marks]
Scenario 8
On descent to your destination, ‘Air Traffic Control (ATC)’ clear you to
join a ‘standard hold’ at 10’000ft. Holding is a result of a both storms in
the area and a backlog of inbound arrivals. You join the hold at 0645
UTC with an additional 1.3 tons of fuel over and above your legal fuel
requirements. ATC ask you at this moment at what time you will need
to exit the hold?
Data is as follows:-
➢ Racetrack pattern utilized
➢ Gross weight (GW) is 65 tons
Question 16 You will need to exit the hold at ____ UTC
Tolerance Time ± 1 minute
[1 mark]
Assuming exactly the same scenario and conditions as above except,
you have shut down an engine due excessive vibration. That is, you are
now required to hold with one engine inoperative.
Question 17 You will need to exit the hold at ____ UTC
Tolerance Time ± 1 minute
[1 mark]
Instructions & Marking Criteria
Trimester 2 2023
Written Assignment
Page 8 of 13
Scenario 9
Determine the FOB requirement, considering legal reserves (no holding
required) plus standard required allowances for the following B737-800
flight from start up!
Question 18 The required FOB for this flight is _____ kgs
Tolerance FOB ± 100 kgs
[3 marks]
Scenario 10
You are enroute, flying towards your destination Mount Keith
aerodrome.(YMNE) as part of a standard FIFO operation for your
company. You have 150 miners on board. Your anticipated LDW is 66
tons, – just under the maximum structural limit of 66’360kgs.
Prior to ‘top of descent’ (TOPD) you suffer a failure of your speed
brakes. They are functional, but only in manual mode. Based solely on
your ‘landing performance field length limit’, determine the extent of your
Conditions are as follows:-
➢ LDA 1797m
➢ Elevation 1792ft
➢ QNH 1006
➢ Runway Dry
➢ Wind Calm
Question 19 Your field limiting weight given the failure and
environmental conditions, is ____ tons.
Tolerance LDW ± ½ ton
[2 marks]
Phase Destination (kg) Alternate (kg)
Climb 1’850 1’600
Cruise 9’860 2’050
Descent 330 320
Instructions & Marking Criteria
Trimester 2 2023
Written Assignment
Page 9 of 13
Question 20 You contact the mine site, and they tell you that
the evening breeze always arrives about this time
and is typically a 20 knot headwind. This is not a
forecast! Your revised field limiting weight with
this headwind would be _____ tons.
Tolerance LDW ± ½ ton
[2 marks]
Question 21 Your alternate airport is Meekatharra, you have
sufficient fuel to divert now or over (YMNE) but
Jet A1 fuel will not be available till tomorrow.
Alternatively, if you turn back now, you will make
your departure airport (YPPH) with legal reserves
intact. If you continue to (YMNE), the wind may
not be there, and you will no longer be able to
return to (YPPH) with legal reserves.
These may not be your only options. In 200 words
or less, propose your solution.
[10 marks]
Marking Total [40 marks]
Instructions & Marking Criteria
Trimester 2 2023
Written Assignment
Page 10 of 13
Part 2
B737-800 Flight Scenario
You are the B737 Fleet Manager at your company (Gonzo Airlines) and
the Operations Department of your company have approached you with
a ‘delicate’ situation. The online flight planning software contract has
not been renewed in time for your upcoming flight. As such, they have
asked if you can undertake the fuel planning / payload estimation
manually, in lieu of the normally functioning electronic method.
Your flight is timed for later today, which is during peak holiday period
and the expectation is for maximum payload. Certainly, if the passenger
load is not as expected, the freight bookings on the day are such that
irrespective of passenger bookings, the flight will depart as heavy as
legally permitted.
The Operations Department have determined that your departure from
Adelaide (YPAD) will be constrained by performance limitations (due
runway ‘works in progress’). They inform you that your performance
limiting MTOW is 72’000kg.
The destination (YPDN) does not have any performance limitations.
Therefore, performance into Darwin will be constrained by your
structural limitation.
No alternate aerodrome is required, however, because it is ‘storm
season’, you are MANDATED to carry 60 minutes holding fuel for the
destination. There are no other performance-based or weather-based
limitations for your flight.
When undertaking your flight planning, the company informs you that:-
1) You MUST carry legal fuel reserves as per the company policy,
2) You MUST carry any required holding,
3) Remaining capacity will be utilized by ‘commercial payload’
4) All limitations must be adhered to.
All operational data pertinent for the flight can be found in Annex A,
found later in this document.
You need to utilize ONLY the data from the B737-800 Performance &
Operating handbook and Annex A
They ask you: “Please report back to us with your required fuel
load (FOB) at start up, and the available commercial payload
available to the company?”
Instructions & Marking Criteria
Trimester 2 2023
Written Assignment
Page 11 of 13
Fuel Planning
Exercise To assist you, the Operations Department have provided you the
following (marking) guidance:-
1) Consider appropriate hemispherical correct cruise levels between
FL300 to FL410,
Utilizing the ‘grid forecast’ provided (Annex A), determine
estimated values for FBO at appropriate levels to establish worstcase scenario for FBO,
[6 marks]
2) Based on the estimated FBO plus legal reserves and any holding
required, complete a fuel plan for the flight and thus, an estimated
FOB requirement.
[6 marks]
3) Complete an estimated weight analysis, determine the limiting
case and thus, if a forward or backward planning approach is
Establish estimated values for TOW, LDW & ZFW,
[6 marks]
4) Using these values, establish the ‘optimum cruise flight level for
LRC based on an ‘approximate’ top of climb (TOC) weight,
[2 marks]
5) Utilizing the company B737 manual and described route (Annex
A), complete a fuel burn analysis for the entire flight, incorporating
(in whatever order is appropriate) climb, cruise & descent.
[Climb 8 marks]
[Cruise 12 marks]
[Descent 4 marks]
6) Based on final FBO plus legal reserves and any holding required,
complete a fuel plan for the flight and thus, a final FOB
[10 marks]
7) Complete a final weight analysis and confirm the limiting case.
Based on the final weight analysis, establish the commercial
payload available.
[6 marks]
Marking Total [60 Marks]
Instructions & Marking Criteria
Trimester 2 2023
Written Assignment
Page 12 of 13
Annex A
Position Distance
ASP 354Nm
YPDN 351Nm
Total Distance 1411Nm
Grid Forecast (Winds & Temperature)
Instructions & Marking Criteria
Trimester 2 2023
Written Assignment
Page 13 of 13
Aircraft Data
Model: B737-800
DOW: 41’150kg
Operational Data
Departure: Adelaide International Airport (YPAD)
➢ Runway WET
➢ Flap 5° to be utilized
➢ Temp: ISA+10°C
➢ MTOWStructural = 79’050kg
➢ MTOWPerf = 72’000kg
➢ Climb Profile: 280/M0.78
➢ Cruise Level: Optimum
➢ Cruise Profile: LRC
➢ Cruise at optimum level -> no further climb available due
airspace congestion
➢ Descent Profile: M0.78/280/250
Destination: Darwin International Airport (YPDN)
➢ Required: 60 minutes HOLDING
➢ MLDWStructural = 66’360kg
➢ MLDWPerf = 70’000kg
➢ Not required

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