How do you decide the number of passengers or cargo

How do you guys choose your amount of passenger and cargo, I don’t really like using the “ Light, Normal, Heavy” settings because it’s not realistic sometimes, I might press normal on a crj and it’ll max out the passengers

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I personally do choose the fuel first, passengers based on what I feel could be a realistic load (in recent times not that many passengers…). I then choose the Cargo last to select a total weight I want to have (often below MLW).
Also warm welcome to the Community, please have a look at the guide below to have a good start!


If you use FPLtoIF it chooses the amount of PAX and you can choose the amount of cargo you want,
And in the sim if you press Passengers it gives you a slider for passengers and same for cargo.

Happy Flying :)

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Honestly I just put a random number of passengers and cargo, but usually the cargo will be somewhat in relation with the passengers. In regards of fuel, I use FPLtoIF. It’s easy to use.

Decide pax and cargo first. Pick something that feels realistic. e.g. on a 737, I would go with around 140. Multiply the number of passengers by 3, which guves you the assumed weight of passenger baggage (in the cargo hold(. Carry on is a part of the passenger weight. Then use for fuel by entering you ZFW (zero fuel weight( which is the weight of the aircraft with pax and cargo but bo fuel. Then load the fuel it gives you. I am currently working on a tutorial for this kind of thing so keep your eyes out!

Also, the multiply by 13 rule is what is used
IRL, I beleive.



I set the aircraft manually. The configurations you use is already in built. Three options “Light” 25% weight, “Normal” 50% weight and “Heavy” 75% weight.

Here is what I do, instead of using the three options.

  1. I firstly look into the passenger count. I usually set the passenger count half way, to three quarters and almost full for most of my flights.

  2. I look into the cargo count. I set the cargo half way or less so it won’t affect any over-weight of this flight.

  3. Fuel. Look into the average flight time of your flight. I usually use for previous real life flight data. Always add an extra hour to the current average flight time of your flight, incase you will have to divert or you are stuck in busy traffic.

You may also sign up for a SimBrief account for free, to be able to use to create realistic flight plans and data while it also calculates the fuel. I use this website sometimes, for long haul flying.

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Never heard of that one to be honest.
IRL you’d get a flight plan similar to the one generated by Simbrief with all the data, and would alter the fuel (increase) based on your one preferences and the things discussed during the briefing (e.g. weather at destination/alternates/en-route, expected traffic levels, …)

I use and/or for number of passengers. For weight I’ll include anywhere between 50lbs and 100lbs of cargo per passenger.

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I just use Simbrief and load the amount of passengers and cargo they give me

Just to echo Adam’s point, whenever I do realistic flights I google the seat map for the aeroplane I’m flying. Nearly all airlines have different configurations for the same aircraft type, so finding a ‘mean’ is more tiresome and not as reliable (for me at least…) than just googling the passenger count for the aeroplane and carrier.

After seeing the maximum number of seats for the aeroplane and carrier operating it, I multiply the value by somewhere around 0.9 to 0.98 to simulate realistic passenger loads. And to finish off, after getting the number of passengers on board, I times that value by 45 (kgs) to estimate the weight of luggage per passenger and add a few tonnes on top to account for miscellaneous cargo and catering.

45??? You’ve not been to places without free luggage have you? I do around 15-20 lol (more for international flights)

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Pre-pandemic I would usually max out (or nearly max out) pax and use about 1/4 of the cargo slider. However, since Covid started, I usually use between 10-20 pax on domestic flights and 40-50 pax on international flights. I also max out cargo, since alot of airlines are using cargo to generate income. Since safety measures are relaxing a bit though, I’m starting to use a little less cargo and a few more pax.

I try to be as realistic as possible, so I will typically take the total number of seats on the plane (based on the airline’s website or SeatGuru) and multiply it by that airline’s overall average load factor (can be found from a Google search). In some cases you can even find the average load factor for that specific route, I often check the airport threads on Civil Aviation forum as it frequently has this information.

As far as cargo goes, it’s a bit more of a guessing game. I try to take into account the nature of the route (a flight to/from a leisure destination would typically have less cargo than a flight between two major urban areas), the aircraft type (widebodies tend to take more cargo as they can fit larger, wider, and heavier palettes), and the competition/frequency of the route (if there is a cargo airline hub in or near either of the cities, how many daily flights are made between the cities, if any are operated by widebodies that would carry most of the cargo demand between them, etc). If the cargo demand would seemingly be high on such a flight, I’ll put as much cargo on as possible without exceeding my MTOW/MLW, otherwise I’ll put it somewhere in between based on the demand I would envision for such a route.

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