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FSS assuming departures on VFR flight plans


d10
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An FYI for everyone and also to see if anyone else has experienced this:

 

I learned today that FSS are sometimes assuming departures for VFR flight plans that you file, but never open. I had a flight a couple days ago that I knew was going to end up cancelled, but I had my copilot file a flight plan through 1-800-WX-BRIEF anyway because he had never done it before. After the flight was officially cancelled he asked if we needed to do anything about the flight plan and I said "No, if we never open it the FSS will just throw it out about an hour after our ETD." A few hours later he gets a call asking if we had landed safely.

 

I talked to a guy at my base operations today to see if he could shed some light on why this happened. It's a military airfield so our base ops is basically a FSS staffed by civilian, FAA certified briefers, so they know a thing or two about how flight plans work, but they're not always experts on what's going on in the new Lockheed Martin system. But the guy I talked to said he's seen a huge increase in assumed departures over the last 6 months or so, he thinks FSS is opening flight plans as assumed departures just to be safe when a pilot fails to open his flight plan, and that's almost definitely what happened in my case.

 

Has anyone else experienced this? I'm not against it, but obviously it would be good to know if this is what's happening. I'm glad my copilot answered the phone because a lot of guys would have ignored the call and I'd have a lot of questions to answer right now.

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Dual use airfield civ/mil?... The other question I would have is this tower operational 24/7... if not that might be another reason why FSS is forwarding your info... They operate on a better safe then sorry, cya principle...

 

2-2-3. FORWARDING VFR DATA

 

TERMINAL

 

Forward aircraft departure times to AFSSs/FSSs or military operations offices when they have requested them. Forward other VFR flight plan data only if requested by the pilot.

 

2-2-4. MILITARY DVFR DEPARTURES

 

TERMINAL

 

Forward departure times on all military DVFR departures from joint-use airports to the military operations office.

 

NOTE-

1. Details for handling air carrier, nonscheduled civil, and military DVFR flight data are contained in FAAO JO 7610.4, Special Operations.

 

2. Military pilots departing DVFR from a joint-use airport will include the phrase “DVFR to (destination)” in their initial call-up to an FAA operated tower.

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I had my copilot file a flight plan through 1-800-WX-BRIEF anyway because he had never done it before. After the flight was officially cancelled he asked if we needed to do anything about the flight plan and I said "No, if we never open it the FSS will just throw it out about an hour after our ETD." A few hours later he gets a call asking if we had landed safely.

 

I just read through your question again and am a little confused, did you guys actually cancel the flight plan or not... It's difficult to tell from your post...

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I have never had one where they opened it assuming we took off.

 

I have however learned that if you file via Duats, the only information the briefer gets is Departure point Arrival point and Expected time of departure. Which seems a little weird to me, if you can send that information why can't you send route and all the other stuff too.

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I have however learned that if you file via Duats, the only information the briefer gets is Departure point Arrival point and Expected time of departure. Which seems a little weird to me, if you can send that information why can't you send route and all the other stuff too.

 

Because as a vfr flight your route is open to any route you choose and as such a specific route isn't expected to be flown...

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It's a waste of bandwidth. Direct is assumed, and there is no reason to pass anything else unless something goes wrong, in which case it's easy enough to get the information. If you plan to fly a complicated route and really need for FSS to know it, you can break it up into separate flight plans. Filing a plan isn't really that much protection anyway.

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VFR flights are never "assumed to be direct" by ATC since the route of flight and altitude is at pilots discretion between two designated points... Filing with FSS for a VFR flight simply provides the pilot with peace of mind in knowing someone will follow up to insure they arrived at their destination and if not will start the process of searching for the aircraft...

 

It's basically no different than walking into a ranger station prior to hiking into the wilderness and failing to report to the ranger station that you've returned safely...

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Dual use airfield civ/mil?... The other question I would have is this tower operational 24/7... if not that might be another reason why FSS is forwarding your info... They operate on a better safe then sorry, cya principle...

 

Military only airfield, 24/7 tower.

 

I just read through your question again and am a little confused, did you guys actually cancel the flight plan or not... It's difficult to tell from your post...

 

No we didn't cancel, there should be no need to as it was only filed, never activated.

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Maybe not direct, but any route the pilot wants to use. Not much gets passed on a flight plan, IFR or VFR. The IFR alternate isn't even sent. That's the way it is, and the way it will remain. Changing the FAA is harder than changing the orbit of the earth.

 

Filing a flight plan is a good idea, but don't depend on it to save you in the event you have a precautionary landing or crash. It's better than not having one, but it's not completely reliable.

Edited by Gomer Pylot
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ATC doesn't need the alternate airport because the pilot must make a PIC decision advising ATC he is diverting to whatever alternate he chooses... The PIC is usually diverting because of some adverse condition and as such might choose another airfield better suited to whatever condition prompted him to divert...

 

Here's a sample clearance strip that a controller reads to you on a IFR clearance in ATC shorthand as follows: “CAF RNGO8 PSB M80 DPC 120.4 SQ 0700.”

 

ATC will read the will read the above departure shorthand as follows:

“Cessna 1230 Alpha, cleared to La Guardia as filed, RINGOES 8 departure Phillipsburg transition, maintain 8,000. Departure control frequency will be 120.4, Squawk 0700.”

 

Hope this helps...

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In Alaska we will some times use an assumed departure when we are taking off from a remote area where it is hard to reach FSS on the radio, but I have never heard of FSS assuming the departure without first asking you when you file. Are you sure your co-pilot did no say it was alright to do an assumed departure when he called in the flight plan?

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In Alaska we will some times use an assumed departure when we are taking off from a remote area where it is hard to reach FSS on the radio, but I have never heard of FSS assuming the departure without first asking you when you file. Are you sure your co-pilot did no say it was alright to do an assumed departure when he called in the flight plan?

Yes I'm sure. I ask for an assumed departure too most of the time I file through the phone, but in this case that's definitely not what I wanted, so I was listening in on the call ready to step in if that subject was brought up.

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