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Old 27th Nov 2011, 21:09   #1 (permalink)
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Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: uk
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How long to fly to.........

Hi all,

Well as a newbie looking to start ppl probably getting bit ahead of myself but untested to no how long would take to fly places please? I no there are alot of factors such as weight speed and weather also more I guess but I'm a new commer here

So looking to learn in a pa28 so based it on that. How long would it take to fly say Bournemouth to Manchester? Would you need to stop on way for fuel? Is I quicker then driving?

Just silly question really but just trying to gauge how long it takes to fly distances!

Cheers kev
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Old 27th Nov 2011, 21:22   #2 (permalink)
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Hi Kev,

Based on average PA-28 speeds, factoring in wind etc, to fly *direct* from Bournemouth to Manchester would take something between 1 hr 15 and 1 hr 45 min...very roughly. You wouldn't normally need to stop and refuel for a flight of that length.

A direct route doesn't however take into account such factors as weather, controlled airspace etc. The direct flight time wouldn't be affected so much by the latter (given good planning) but the weather will affect your dispatch rate (ie. the number of times you can safely make the trip) dramatically. Unless you have an instrument rating and a suitably equipped aircraft (this costs a lot!) you will probably have to cancel anywhere between 40%-30% of the time, at best, depending on season.

Have a play around with the route function on this. SkyDemon Light You can plug in various winds and speeds in the lower right corner. For a PA-28, use 100 kias, and windspeeds between 10 and 30 knts to get a rough ballpark. (You may need to download Silverlight, but it's free).
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Old 27th Nov 2011, 21:29   #3 (permalink)
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If you're thinking that a light aircraft with a PPL might be a useful means of transport, then you should be aware that for most people it isn't. For all sorts of reasons from weather through cost to airport closing times via weather and the need to stay sober at the party if you're flying home. Oh, and weather of course.

If you plan to (a) acquire some instrument flying qualification and (b) buy your own aircraft and (c) operate from somewhere that doesn't close at 7pm then you'll get a better answer.
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Old 27th Nov 2011, 21:54   #4 (permalink)
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Other than what the others have said! Also consider you have to get to your departure airport and get to where you are going from your destination airport.
So if say you are in Central London you may have an hours drive to an airport.
You have the time getting the aircraft sorted and airborne.
You have the flight time and then the sorting time after landing at the other end plus the transport time to where you are going.
We have not even considered weather and go no go!

Unless you live close to your departure airfield and your destination airfield is close to your destination you will probably be quicker driving by the time all the factors and time have been added to your airtime.

Manchester? Unless you are wealthy you will probably have to use Barton and then also consider opening /closing times As they may not fit your schedule?

With a basic PPL your dispatch reliability will be poor with a PPL IR plus a deiced capable aircraft maybe 95%

Where it is useful is if you are heading into Northern France or south UK to Scotland but if your aircraft and you are not matched to the trip and weather forget it as a time saver!!!


Last edited by Pace; 27th Nov 2011 at 22:14.
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Old 27th Nov 2011, 22:00   #5 (permalink)
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Gertrude is right. Flying somewhere as a PPL in your average 100 knot spamcan (like the PA28, C172, DR400, ...) will in all but a few cases takes more time than either driving there, or flying there commercially.

Not to mention the cost of doing so.

Flying somewhere privately is only really worthwhile, timewise, if:
- You live relatively close to your departure aerodrome
- You either have your own plane, or a group/club with good availability
- You do not take flight planning time (half an hour for simple flights, multiple hours for complex flights) into account
- The destination can be reached in a relatively straight line by aircraft, but only via a very circuitous route by car (e.g. when it involves crossing a large body of water)
- The destination is the airfield, or is very close to the airfield.
- The weather is benign, even for the return journey
In all other cases, take your own car or fly commercially.

Consider this. Your car will do 60-ish knots and will take you from your house directly to your destination. Your airplane will do 100-ish knots but requires hassles with local transport at each end, plus preflight, fuel stops etc. All that lost time has to be made good by the higher speed of the aircraft, which isn't really all that higher than the car.

There are plenty examples of people who took the car to the airfield, preflighted and fueled the plane, flew to their destination airfield where they landed, paid the landing fees and got into a taxi to travel to the local train station, where they caught the same train they could have caught if they had gone to the train station immediately instead of to the airfield. And they could've stayed in bed for an hour longer even.

"Time to spare, go by air."
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Old 27th Nov 2011, 22:19   #6 (permalink)
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Looking at Kev31's post I don't see that he wants to commute by private plane.

So it is a reasonable question to ask how long things take.

Most flights within the UK are going to be 1-2hrs, and significantly longer than that is a problem in the common GA spamcans anyway because their range (to fuel exhaustion) is generally 3-5hrs.

It is true that a lot of the flights that PPL pilots do could be done by car in similar time, but there are some spectacular exceptions e.g. Lydd to Welshpool which can be flown in 1.5-2.5hrs (depending on the plane) but would take 8-12hrs to drive.

But, speaking of utility, the main limiting factors on getting utility out of flying, for flying within the UK, are

- lack of instrument approaches
- airport opening hours
- HUGE costs at most H24 airports (500 at Gatwick, Luton, etc)
- transport at the far end
- aircraft availability unless you own it outright, or are in an amicable syndicate
- formal customer visits are usually politically tricky

and if you throw Europe into it, you have to add

- availability of Customs
- availability of avgas

In the right scenario, GA travel will work for utility, but it takes more than a PPL and a rented spamcan. In another scenario (rather more common) a helicopter works really well (). In yet another scenario e.g. travel to N France, a spamcan will beat any other transport into the dust. Etc....
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Old 27th Nov 2011, 22:22   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks guys for replies.

As said newbie so alot of this I didn't no. It was maybe if I wanted to take parents to see family up north if it was practical but guess not. Plus got to actually pass my ppl yet lol.

So what peoples uses of there ppls here? Assuming you don't have your own plane then?

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Old 27th Nov 2011, 22:40   #8 (permalink)
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Use? To burn money in a very expensive hobby, looking at the pretty scenery outside.
It also gets you entry into a relativly exclusive club - meeting some very experienced and interesting individuals. Its also great fun as a challenge to yourself to constantly stay ontop of a subject and skill (things never stay static in aviation).
Often it is a stepping stone to move into comercial aviation.
Very rarely, someone will use their PPL for something practical (like commuting to an in accessable location, often over water or an in accessable area).
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Old 27th Nov 2011, 23:07   #9 (permalink)
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We have all been there When I started flying many moons ago I had this stupid idea that I could follow the roads sailing above all the traffic jams and using a light aircraft like a car sans traffic jams.
How badly mistaken I was.
Once you have your basic PPL yes there are things you can do with family and friends! More likely taking them up for trips around the local area or showing them their houses from the air.
You can sport a set of Raybans and impress your girlfriend with your top gun antics.
You maybe able at certain times of year when the weather is stable to take family and friends further afield but as a reliable means of transport with a basic PPL forget it!!!
Ok if you are a PPL instrument qualified flying a deiced/anti iced aircraft preferably a twin and have a solid level of experience you can reduce the poor despatch rates to better than the car but with the basic PPL forget it on 90% of the year.

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Old 27th Nov 2011, 23:19   #10 (permalink)
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The words of caution are sound but it doesnt have to be that way. I use my aircraft for business a lot. Journeys of three hours by car typically take 30 minutes by aircraft. However taking into account the journey to and from the airport and preflight its around half the time saved. Further afield or to places like the i of W and the time saved increases dramatically. I can comfortably do manchester and back from the se or cornwall and back in a day - not somethimg i would want to do by car. With time the flying is a lot less stressful than driving - you actually arrive a great deal more relaxed.

It is true despatch rates are lower so you cant build total certainty into your planning but again with experience the despatch rates can become surprisingly high.

The downside is it takes time and committment to get to a point you are comfortable with longer trips without spending hours planning, worring about the weather etc. You can get to the point where you can plan any trip within 15 minutes. A reliable and quick aircraft helps as well.

However i agree realistically we imagine with a newly minted ppl all this becomes possible - sadly it doesnt. However trips like the one you propose are more than possible on an occasional basis, are good fun and exactly what private flying should and can encompass.
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Old 28th Nov 2011, 00:17   #11 (permalink)
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You guys do a full-as-on-a-skills-test-flighplan with deviation, DH, MH and all that? It takes me 5 minutes to flight plan, if even. Check the weather, power up the iPad and off we go...
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Old 28th Nov 2011, 00:38   #12 (permalink)
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Takes me forever to flight plan (by the time I have worked out weather, Notams, possible alternate routings to avoid CAS, Matzs, ATZs, winch sites, danger areas, paradrop zones, RATs, mountains, prisons, gas venting stations, obstacles and kitchen sinks etc......) and I haven't even got in the friggin aeroplane yet...
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Old 28th Nov 2011, 00:48   #13 (permalink)
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When I lived in Oz I used the 172 for transport. The weather for areas of land about the size of England was "CAVOK" for most of the year. And for the other areas of land as big as England adjacent to them. Loads of uncontrolled/unmanned airports, just rock up, make a broadcast to no-one to let them know you were there, and set down.

Must be the best G.A. flying in the world, 4 hour legs with no CTA, no weather, no traffic. Just you, and your wings.
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Old 28th Nov 2011, 08:11   #14 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by BackPacker View Post
spamcan (like the PA28, C172, DR400, ...)
There's not much spamcan in a DR400!
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Old 28th Nov 2011, 08:20   #15 (permalink)
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Commute to work

A few years back I was working a contract in Lille, there was no way that I could have traveled from Oxfordshire to Lille in 1:35 any other way than by private aircraft.

Commuting was the best option with me spending about 5-6 days in Lille working and then returning at the weekends.

IMO this could only be done in the summer due to lack icing conditions, most of the trips were flown VFR but it did involve a lot of VFR on top.

What I did have was avalblity of ILS aproaches at both ends (and Lille being 24H) and I do have an IR.

I had a 100% dispatch operational rate over the summer (one trip canceled following a Vac pump failure) but I did 2 IFR aproaches (1 ILS & 1 GPS) that were close to the limits and another two or three ILS's because it was less trouble for ATC to fit me into the IFR system rather than have me low level VFR when they had IFR traffc.

My guess is that a over the same period a very sharp PPL/IMC could have managed a dispatch rate of around 80% but to answer the original question I think a new PPL holder would at best make a dispatch rate of 50%.

The contract in Lille was flying an A320 and the way that the things happened I only had to fly one approach IFR that I could not have flown VFR in the Airbus, that was a CAT3B with no DH and an RVR of 200M...........come to think of it I was a passenger on that because the autopilot did all the work! Without doubt the most chalenging flying of the whole contract was the commuting NOT flying the airliner.

Last edited by A and C; 28th Nov 2011 at 10:18.
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Old 28th Nov 2011, 09:30   #16 (permalink)
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With a half decent program (I use Navbox Pro for UK VFR) you can do the route and get wx and notams in 10 minutes, with everything printed out and ready to go. Anytime in the past 10 years there has been no reason to do things the hard way, with the stupid circular slide rule and all that crap.

Obviously a decent GPS is a must if you want to make things work smoothly.

Getting the plane out of the hangar etc etc is another thing altogether But circumstances on that vary a lot; some people have huge hassles while others just phone the hangar firm and the plane is out on the apron ready to go. And everything in between.

I think that most UK flights of 1hr or less can be driven in the same time, or less. There are some exceptions, mostly caused by UK's perverse road/rail network which tends to radiate out of London.

There is a particular trip I do fairly often, which takes 1.5hrs to drive, mostly along the A27 etc with some slow bits at the ends. I fly it whenever I can; with the drive to the airport (15 mins) and a taxi at the other end (10 mins, 10) it takes exactly the same amount of time in total, door to door (1.5hrs). The airborne time is just 15 mins however, and it is too short to boil off any water in the oil, so (given that I always have passengers) I take a detour around the IOW to streatch the airborne time out to 30 mins

An IR, or an IMCR for UK flights only, does help but you don't get full use out of it without a capable aircraft.
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Old 28th Nov 2011, 10:58   #17 (permalink)
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With a half decent program (I use Navbox Pro for UK VFR) you can do the route and get wx and notams in 10 minutes, with everything printed out and ready to go. Anytime in the past 10 years there has been no reason to do things the hard way, with the stupid circular slide rule and all that crap.
True, but as you well know, for a longer flight that takes you out of the local area, there's all sorts of other things to sort out. Proper charts, endless lists of irrelevant notams, checking the status of R/D/P areas, getting PPR, confirming fuel, keeping an eye on the long-term weather, confirming parking space, booking taxis, hotels, sorting out foreign currency, ...

The actual plog calculation is only the culmination of all that effort. Whether you do that via navbox, iPad or something else modern, or via the old-fashioned E6B isn't really relevant, other than the E6B taking a little more time.

A few years ago we had a club flyout to Berlin Tempelhof. Most of us were relatively inexperienced. The first planning meeting was three weeks or so in advance, the second about a week in advance and the final planning meeting was about two hours before we were scheduled to leave.

With experience this gets better of course, but I'm sure that even you can't plan a flight to, say, Croatia within ten minutes from absolutely zero to startup.
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Old 28th Nov 2011, 12:05   #18 (permalink)
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Yes; if you fly abroad then the planning takes longer, sometimes much longer because you need to contact the airports etc.

But comparing to driving or taking trains/buses etc, I think it is still a fair comparison. You will spend ages sorting out trains for example, for a long run across Europe.

Taking an airline is the only way to do no planning at all. Just buy the ticket online, call a taxi, and turn up at the airport with your passport.

I'm sure that even you can't plan a flight to, say, Croatia within ten minutes from absolutely zero to startup.
It depends on the destination airport, and you picked one of the easiest places in Europe LDPL LDLO LDSB LDSP LDDU... all easy.

In this particular case it is about 1-2 hours to get the whole "routepack" knocked up and printed, and then I wait to hear back a confirmation of avgas, opening hours, etc. In practice, for such a trip, the actual planning time is not an issue because you need to pack a load of stuff, etc. anyway.

But that's IFR. VFR would take longer, with the charts all over the lounge floor and crawling all over them. Best part of a day.

But one would not pretend there is utility value in flying UK to Croatia It is just a really scenic trip. At the top end of the market (a TBM850 or a jet) you can do it efficiently, but at a huge cost.

Last edited by IO540; 28th Nov 2011 at 12:15.
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Old 28th Nov 2011, 12:13   #19 (permalink)
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Take your point VFR but using route generator programmes IFR can give you a IFR route in seconds then its a matter of filing the plan.

It really comes down to does someone fly for fun or do you have to! My flying in twins and jets have mostly been under the have to banner often to locations mid winter, at night, early morning, late night etc so the aircraft has to be equipt to deal with icing and have back up systems.

I have enjoyed something like 95% to 98% despatch rates but in capable aircraft and IFR.

Where an aircraft works well is on multiple destinations in one day where there maybe meetings in well spaced destinations especially where the meetings are setup at the airport or near by hotels etc.
Most handling agents or even Hotels have conference facilities.

From my angle I prefer a twin although some are happy with a capable single.
If its under the fly for fun banner then a light single can still be used for business trips but more as a treat than a practical form of transport.

IE if you do a regular business trip and drive most of the time you can always take the aircraft when conditions are good rather than planning to take the aircraft even a week ahead of a business meeting.

Plan on the car then night before decide on the aircraft if all looks good!


Last edited by Pace; 28th Nov 2011 at 12:24.
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Old 28th Nov 2011, 12:18   #20 (permalink)
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That's what I had been doing when visiting customers a long way away. If driving, I had to leave the day before anyway and stay in a hotel, so I would fly on that day if I could, and if the wx was crap then I would drive instead.

One could not tell the customer how one travelled because most will resent what they see as paying for your expensive hobby. I guess if you are visiting some banker that is fine, but most normal people don't like it.
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