The Art of the Conga - Organizing Group Flight Lines

The precise art of the conga is a delicate art, one that requires precision, thoroughness, and communication. Thank you to @lucaviness, @Drummer, and @ToasterStroodie for joining me on my long haul from Istanbul to New York and perfecting the art of the conga.


Introduction

Group flights are a large presence throughout Infinite Flight and the Infinite Flight Community, whether it be through the #live:groupflights, through your Virtual Airline/Virtual Organization, or just one of your friend groups. Having flown in the Infinite Flight skies for three years now, they are a common sight around the Expert Server. I’ve been flying regular overnight long hauls since March of this year, most commonly with one or two friends, and it’s a very exciting experience that I’d highly recommend trying - the community is a great place to meet new people and make new friends.

Anyways, to the main point of this tutorial. Group flights, as fun as they may be, can become more of a hassle than a fun experience at times. Having to worry about separation busts with other aircraft, timing, climbing, descending, and a plethora of other matters can become stressful and frustrating, especially if your conga line (group fight line) becomes unorganized. But, after a long time of research, examination, and experimentation, I believe that I have found the perfect method of making the perfect “conga line” (and yes, I consider it an art, because when it’s all said and done, your line will look like a work of art).

This tutorial’s contents and concepts:

  • On The Ground - Gate Selection, Pushback, Taxi
  • Takeoff - Takeoff Separation
  • Climbing to Cruise - SID Separation, Climb Rates, Speeds
  • Descent and Arrival - STAR Separation, Speeds, Landing

Before we begin, what do I define as “perfect conga”?

9-12 nautical mile spacing throughout the group flight - I will explain why this is better than the minimum of 5 in the Descent and Arrival section of this tutorial


On The Ground

The art of the conga line starts from the minute you spawn in and doesn’t end until the minute you are parked at the gate. Even though it may seem trivial, little things such as gate selection and taxi routes play a factor in achieving the perfect conga line. Factors that you should pay attention to on the ground are listed below.


1. Gate Selection

For my group flights, the planning begins 20-30 minutes before spawning in. One of these tasks is assigning gates, and this will correlate to the order in which your group flight pilots will fly in - you typically want to place pilots that often have connection issues or a high risk of an app crash at the very back of your line, Assign gates in the order that you want your pilots to fly in. This allows for better clarity and better efficiency during pushnack and taxi.

Pro Tip:

Alternating gates allows for even more efficiency, allowing for multiple aircraft to push at the same time - you can get off the ground faster.

2. Pushback and Taxi Routes

If you aren’t simultaneously pushing back (see above Pro Tip), a pushback order will allow for better organization, also avoiding potential conflicts with other aircraft; your pushback order should be the order in which the group flight will depart and fly in. After this is completed, you may begin your taxi - in comes the role of the taxi route. A predetermined taxi route will allow for a faster taxi to the runway, as well as the ability to maintain organization and “look professional”.


Takeoff

The most important part of the flight has arrived, and you are ready to depart . As everyone approaches the departure runway, you can push forward the throttles and start your takeoff roll. However, it becomes a puzzle afterwards. Even though it may seem complicated at first, it will become a breeze.


1. When do I begin my takeoff roll?

To achieve perfect conga, taking off when the aircraft ahead is 3-4 nautical miles out is how you’ll get the easiest method. Line up right after the aircraft ahead has rotated, and start your takeoff roll when there is the aforementioned spacing.

2. Initial Climb

After lifting off, you will want to accelerate to the designated speed and vertical speed (more information in the Climbing to Cruise section). It will be completely normal that your initial spacing will be 5-7 miles laterally - this will increase to perfect conga as you climb higher (ground speed increases as altitude increases).


Climbing to Cruise

Now that you’re in the air, it’s time for the part of the flight that will make or break your conga line - the climb to cruise. Several important factors that require planning prior to departure will be explained in this section - if these aren’t planned thoroughly, your line will become messy.


1. Climb Speeds

Maintaining equivalent speeds are crucial to maintaining equivalent separation between aircraft. Even though I will not explain this in as much detail as I would with other subjects, below is an example speed chart that I would use for a group flight.

Scenario: Long Haul Flight From KLAX-EGLL
Cruise Altitude: FL350

Altitude Speed (IAS)
Departure 250
10000 315
28000 Mach 0.84

2. Vertical Speeds

What may seem trivial is in fact, quite the opposite. The higher you are, the higher your ground speed is - this is due to lower air pressure at higher altitudes. The faster you go higher, the faster you go faster, and the faster you go faster, the more uneven your spacing will be. As before, I’ve included an example scenario for your viewing purposes.

Scenario: Long Haul Flight From KLAX-EGLL
Cruise Altitude: FL350

Altitude Vertical Speed
Departure 2500
10000 2200
18000 2000
25000 1800
30000 1200

After it is all said and done, and if all steps are performed correctly, your conga line will be complete. It will look like the picture you see below.

Perfect conga achieved. You can now sleep with the satisfaction that your line is a work of art.


Descent and Arrival

It’s not over yet! It’s time to descend and arrive to your destination airport, and your conga line needs to stay intact. Speeds still matter, too, as you’ll see in the following subheadings, but with VNAV, your altitude/VS will be consistent (as long as you start descent at the corresponding point).


1. Speeds

So yes, let’s start with speeds, the most important part of maintaining your conga line. Even though spacing will decrease by a tad, consistency will be maintained. Pretty self explanatory, with an example down below.

Scenario: Long Haul Flight From KLAX-EGLL
Cruise Altitude: FL350

Altitude Speed
FL350 Mach 0.84
27900 315
25000 310
20000 300
15000 290
14000 280
13000 270
12000 260
11000 250
10000 240
8000 220
Downwind 200
Base 180

2. After Landing

As with your taxi prior to departure, taxi routes would add a touch of organization and formality, but this is most definitely not required.


Closing Remarks

Well, that’s how you perform the art of the conga. As with anything and everything, practice makes perfect. You won’t be able to be perfect every time - nothing in our world is perfect. But, at least you can add some more organization to your group flight - it’ll look pretty cool, too. Thanks for reading.

39 Likes

Very nice tutorial

Wow Matt! This is very nice! I’ll certainly use this the next time I fly!

Incredible… just wow. Guys like you that make IF a more realistic platform. Keep it up.

1 Like

Amazing! To be honest I am really bad at this 😂 Your tutorial will help a lot!

Looks good. I always have trouble with spacing and it gets on my nerves. Thanks for the help!

@Canadian_Aviator this shall come in handy!

Yes, it will