TL;DR: use the waypoint Direct To / Keep Flight Plan feature to simplify your departure routing…
So I’ve been flying various simulators for years, but only recently been flying anything advanced enough to be able to program flight plans. It’s been fun getting more deeply familiar with SIDs, STARs, and approach types.
One thing that’s always been difficult is when I’m departing an airport without official departures, when i have a STAR already in the plan. I’ve struggled trying to choose fixes to add to the beginning of my plan in order to ensure I’m following good outbound headings altitudes, etc.
Recently i found a feature of the flight plan system, that makes every departure butter smooth, with comfortable passengers who feel the minimum of turns and get to keep their drinks on their trays.
Most departures that aren’t specifically laid out by waypoint are the “expect vectors to departure fix” types. In these cases, it works best to plan your approach, STAR, and any enroute fixes if desired, then add your departure fix at the very beginning.
Do not expect to engage LNAV after takeoff, just use basic autopilot or even hand fly your takeoff, following ATC instructions until you’re clear to maneuver.
Once you’re ready to pick up the route, steer onto the bearing to your fix. Go to the map, click on your departure fix, click on the Direct To option, and then select Keep Flight Plan. You will now see a WAYPT at your current position, and you will be on a new LNAV line directly to your fix. Now you can activate LNAV, and you will fly that new line with the least bit of roll, just enough to compensate for crosswinds.
Since I’ve been doing this, I’ve felt far better about departure routing. I imagine this is much closer to real life than the arbitrary waypoint planning i was doing before.
Hope this helps anyone who hadn’t realized this excellent option was available…
Keep the dirty side down!