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# descent plan

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# descent plan

4th Apr 2003, 13:10

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descent plan

how to make a descent plan,I mean,how to choose the balance point of descend and deceleration.(with out 250/10000 limitation)

4th Apr 2003, 14:06

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Basically it is three times the height plus 10 miles for decelleration. If descending from 370 then the formula is 37 X 3 = 111 plus 10 n.m therefore TOD is 121 from destination plus or minus a small wind factor correction which is variable.

4th Apr 2003, 19:27

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Aneywo,

Various methods exist! Descent angle depends on your aircraft type but here is a useful tool, which results in a fuel-saving descent. This method needs two calculations - firstly the Descent angle, secondly the Rate to achieve it:

First decide on an aiming point and a height /Alt/FL to be there. This can be FL100 at 30 NM, or if, as you say you want no speed restriction at FL100, a lower point and related altitude, corresponding to the expected approach. A speed reduction from 290kts to 250kts at FL100 will take 5 miles for a short range jet up to 10 miles as quoted by Brakedwell for a heavy (no matter whether done in level flight or during the last 1500feet) so you have to aim to be at FL100, or wherever you slow down point is that much earlier.

I would recommend you to start reducing IAS latest Alt 8,000 (or FL80) anyway to be in a good manoevering position for intermediate approach. So anyway pick the aiming point first, then work backwards:

- if your aircraft descends at 3deg (DC-10, DC-9, 737, some 747s etc) then divide the difference in height of your aiming point and your present altitude by 3, giving the number of miles before the point, where the ideal Top of Descent occurs.

- if your aircraft descends at 4deg (MD-80 series, light Fokker 100) then divide by 4 instead of 3 to get the miles.

- a light aircraft will descend at a higher rate for a given IAS than a heavy one - but these are ball park figures.

Next question - how do you descend at 3deg or 4 deg? Simply multiply the Mach number by 3 or by 4 and set Rate of descent to this figure. (Don't ask me why this works, but it does! - something to do with the 1 in 60 rule...)

Follow up your descent progress each ten miles. To do this take Difference in Height between Aiming point / Present FL/Alt and divide it by the miles to run to the aiming point. The answer will be the descent angle required to hit the point - it may have changed due to wind or ATC restrictions. Suppose it comes out as 31/2 deg? Then again you multiply the (new and lower- as you descend) Mach number by 31/2 and this gives you the revised rate of descent, which you then set. You might need speedbrakes in order to avoid too high an IAS, when increasing the Rate of Descent.

Do nothing more for the next ten miles and do another follow up - etc.

At first the method is not easy but becomes routine with practice. It can also be used in climb if you have to be at a particular point at a minimum Alt/FL but be careful here with your follow up, as the Mach number increases in the climb.

Also be aware that some aircraft (MD-80 is one of them) will have cabin altitude rate problems if you descend all the way from high level at 4deg. In this case, above FL300 you should have a shallow descent of only 1 deg, which is 1000 per 10 mile and gives a steady Rate of Descent of 750 fpm at an initial Mach of .75. Again, you have to work backwards from FL300 to calculate the top of shallow descent.

Do you have an FMS? If you do, you can have fun checking your calculations against the Glide or Descent Angle calculations and Top of Descent point which it produces.

5th Apr 2003, 00:03

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thanks Few Cloudy,i am flying 737-300 now,could you give some other advice on this plane?thanks a lot.

5th Apr 2003, 00:56

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737-300

Anyewo,

A lot depends on your company procedures. As I recall, the Boeing advice was not to fly in Vertical Speed mode if the throttles go to idle - however this is exactly what you need to do to control exactly the path using the method above. If you watch your level offs carefully it's not a problem but check first what the company thinks.

Even if you use the FMC based descent, have your own calculations going as a cross-check - very useful if you are suddenly sent direct to somewhere, or if the controller asks "can you make FL50 by a certain point?"

In my experience the 737 FMC - certainly on the older FMC models would vary the ROD a lot, which makes any kind of follow up very difficult.

The 737 is normally a 3deg descender - you have to be quite light or use speedbrakes (which are not very effective) to get more but the cabin altitude system is not a problem so you can use 3 deg from the top of descent. Plan on 3 and then the speedbrakes are a back up if you need more rate. Lower down, the gear is a great help in getting height off - the Flaps/Slats have, as you know quite low limiting speeds and cannot be used for this purpose. Enjoy, Few

5th Apr 2003, 16:30
Dragon Knight
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What is wrong with K.I.S.S. ? ? ?

As Brakedwell points out 3 times height plus 10, and then eyeball the rest.

Why make a simple thing complicated ! ! !

For the uninitiated (K) eep (I) t (S) imple (S) tupid.

5th Apr 2003, 17:42

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Couldn't agree more. Keep it simple,

Descent point is 3x height to lose +10 then descend on V/S at 1/2 groundspeed in knotsx10 (and accept the IAS variations.) eg 380kts 1900fpm, 430kts-2150fpm, 490kts-2450fpm etc. If you get to your descent point and ATC won't let you down, reduce speed to minimum then wind it up when you can go down and reassess using above formula.

5th Apr 2003, 22:01

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What's wrong with KISS?

Nowt wrong with that! As I said at the beginning, various methods exist.

However - the method above needs no groundspeed and is flexible enough to give you a quick answer at any time you need to recalculate.

Tain't my idea but it was sold to me by an experienced chief pilot when he saw how I couldn't calculate a new ROD when Roma Control kept us high. I just kind of stuffed the nose down and hoped - then we got too low... I have used it with success ever since. You can use it on any aircraft with a machmeter and it keeps the grey matter working.

7th Apr 2003, 02:52
Dragon Knight
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Sorry didn't mean to offend you FC.

7th Apr 2003, 21:44

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OK!

You haven't offended me at all Dragon! A glass of Linieaquavit would go down just fine!

I just wish someone had given me a bit of out-of-book help when I started - which was in the days before FMS and Area Nav... I guess that's why this "questions" site is a good thing.

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