About Radar Plans
Creating plans for your radar sessions is an integral part of your training journey. Tailored to specific airports, they can assist you with various aspects of the radar experience such as noting high terrain; memorising and seeing how STARs effect the flow of traffic; establishing safe routes for aircraft, to navigate them safely around terrain; deciphering the most efficient sequence for aircraft departing surrounding airports; and seeing which speeds work and don’t work to integrate speed control (a very important aspect in radar controlling) into your session.
A radar plan isn’t just some scribbles, lines and numbers on a page, but rather a well thought through scenario which involves flying the several approaches into your training airport on Infinite Flight, then integrating the results into your plan. Utilising charts such as Jeppesen charts can also be very helpful in creating a plan, especially for determining speeds at certain points.
Plans are different for every airport and no plan is ever the same. Airports may be similar in nature, but the terrain and different approach procedures can differ vastly. It is important to consider these things in order to create an effective radar plan.
How To Make a Radar Plan
Things you will need:
- Computer or laptop
- Stylus pen (optional)
- PowerPoint and Microsoft Whiteboard (plans can be made on PowerPoint alone, but Whiteboard is recommended)
- Google Drive or other cloud storage service (for uploading screenshots to computer)
Step 1 — IFATC.org & Infinite Flight maps
a) Open IFATC.org.
b) Select the ‘Map’ option at the top of the page.
c) Search for your airport’s ICAO code (in this example we will use Quito, SEQM).
d) You will now see your selected airport’s map. At the moment, it only shows the terrain, but we want it to show all the navigations points, surrounding airports, and the glide slope for the airport’s runways. To show these things, select ‘Explore’, click ‘Nav Points’, then click ‘Airports’ four times. ‘Nav Points’, ‘Airports’, and ‘Terrain’ should appear dark green. On the map, you will now see the terrain, all the navigation points and the surrounding airports.
e) Open Infinite Flight on your device and begin a new flight, starting at your training airport (SEQM in this example).
f) Once loaded into the sim, change the time to night and position the camera so it is facing the sky. Doing this will make it easier to see the map.
g) Open the map and make it is as large as possible by toggling the ‘MAP+FPL’ button in the bottom right so it shows ‘MAP’. Ensure ‘Fixes’ are ticked in the settings menu (cog icon), above the ‘MAP’ button.
Screenshot of iPhone screen
h) Position the map in such a way that your training airport is located in the top left corner and that the map is zoomed out as far as possible, making sure that the fixes are still visible. Take a screenshot.
Screenshot of iPad screen
i) Without changing the map zoom, move the map so that your training airport is now positioned in the top right corner and take a screenshot. Repeat this step for the bottom corners, making sure you don’t change the map zoom. Now you should have 4 screenshots, each with your training airport in each of the four corners.
j) Upload these 4 screenshots to your computer.
Step 2 — PowerPoint
a) The next step is to take a screenshot of the terrain map and paste it into a PowerPoint slide. Here, you can adjust the size of the screenshot as you like. I recommend changing the slide background to black as this matches with the map in Infinite Flight.
b) Here comes the tedious part. Paste one of the Infinite Flight map screenshots into the PowerPoint slide. Change the transparency of the screenshot by right clicking on the image > Format Picture > click the picture icon > Picture Transparency, and change it to what you desire (I recommend 50%). Adjust the size of this screenshot so it matches up with the scale of the terrain map. It may take a few tries and it won’t be perfect, some fixes may be slightly off, but this won’t matter in the grand scheme of things. You can crop the information bar at the bottom so the plan is easier to look at.
c) Pasting one screenshot at a time, repeat step 2b until you have a big Infinite Flight map over the top of the terrain map. It should look like the image below.
d) Go into the slideshow mode and take a screenshot of this map.
The following steps below are here if you don’t have the Microsoft Whiteboard application. If you do have the Whiteboard app, continue to Step 3.
e) Paste the screenshot taken in step 2d into a new slide.
f) Now you can insert lines and shapes over the top of the map along with text to make your radar plan!
Step 3 — Whiteboard
a) Open Microsoft Whiteboard and insert the screenshot taken in step 2d into a new whiteboard.
b) Using the ruler, you can rule straight lines from point to point on your plan.
Step 4 — Making The Plan
Now that you have everything you need to set up your plan, it’s time to make a rough copy of where you will vector aircraft. It is important to put your rough copy to the test by going into the sim and flying the routes that you have made. If something doesn’t work, you can change it. Testing in the sim is important to avoid terrain busts, seeing exactly where to turn aircraft to base, and your ILS intercept heading and altitude. Keep refining your plan until it is the best that it can be and ensure there are no terrain busts. You don’t know at what rate aircraft will climb at, so to play it safe, I would generally stay at a -1200fpm descent rate and +1800fpm climb rate during testing.
Once you have identified any problems and made the changes in your plan, it should look a little something like the image below. Again, no plan is the same and each airport is different. Keep going into the sim and testing your plan to make sure it is the best it can be, and come training time, you will be as prepared as you can be!
Step 5 — Executing The Plan
Make sure to look over your plan thoroughly shorty before the session starts. Keep it on your computer screen throughout the session and use visual cues such as VORs and waypoints to determine when to slow and vector aircraft. For example, in my plan above, you can see that I descend aircraft down to 12,000ft at the QNV VOR. Additionally, you can show different approach procedures on your radar screen. This can be especially helpful at airports, like Quito, where different transitions from one STAR converge at a certain point.
Remember, mistakes are part of the process. It is normal not to get it right on the first try. It’s always important to double check your plan and keep testing it.
I hope you found this guide helpful! If you have any questions or believe there should be any additions to this guide, please send me a PM.
Join IFATC & helpful resources
Looking to join the team? Visit the topic below!
Visit @Alexandre’s thread below to learn more about STAR management.
Visit @nicopizarro’s thread below on a guide into Radar ATC instructions.