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OFP - How is it prepared IRL?

Stu Antonio

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Stu Antonio


Quick background: So I always fly with historical weather, because I usually fly in the evening or at night (work, family etc.) and live weather would always give me unrealistic (night)temperatures even for a flight at daytime (in the sim). So I always choose my flight based on the real one that took place (time, a/c-reg, stands etc.), download a historical weather snapshot into simbrief, load up the sim with the right time and sync ActiveSky so the weather is correct.

So my question is, how do dispatchers handle weather and passengers etc. in real life, obviously they don't have "historical snapshots".
For instance, let's say a flight is scheduled on 1400z that day, when is the OFP prepared? In the morning? 1h before departure? What data do they use, how do they get the weather information? How important is an up to date weather on the OFP anyway? How does "a day in the life of an OFP" look? 

Appreciate any insights on dispatching procedures :)



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Stephen Cooke

From previous communications with despatchers Stu flights can be planned several hours prior to departure. Realworld and Sim planners such as PFPX call on the weather forecasts for the calculations, the upper wind forecast been for a 48hr period and if the flight time is outside of that you get a warning. Runways are selected from the TAF taking into account preferred runways.

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Michael Göbel

This varies from company to company, what type of operation the airline conducts (Scheduled/Non-Scheduled, Short-/Long Haul, Network/Cargo/Business carrier/operator etc.) and of course also what flight planning system is available. At my company we plan all our long haul flights hours in advance (5-3 hours depending on workload). Once we receive our planned ZFW from load control, we finalize the OFP, file the ATS FPL and release the OFP. METARs & TAFs are updated automatically in our briefing system so we can release the OFP hours in advance and the Text WX will update itself so the crew will always have the latest Text WX once they report. Should an aerodrome fall below minimum with the latest WX update, our system notifies us thus letting us change our alternates around as required.

Short haul is a slightly different story. Apart from selected/more complex destinations, all short haul flights are calculated and filed automatically by our system and we only alter/work them when required such as with complex WX situations which the system can't handle on its own, revise routings in order to avoid CTOTs or system errors etc. The initial OFP is usually calculated around ETD -6hrs and once the final ZFW is released by load control does our system then do it's final calculation and then release the final OFP.

Hope this helps.

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