When you get in a car to take a long road trip, what is one of the first things you do? You likely turn on your navigational system to get the fastest, most direct route to your destination. So, when you decide to travel by plane – why would you think it would be any different? There are many reasons why every airplane should have a flight path map, and it creates a valuable flight experience to both passengers and pilots alike.
What a flight path map shows
Pilots need to know where they are going and how they are going to get there. Flight path maps are necessary tools for providing them with this information. These in-flight interactive maps provide a lot of information to both crew and passengers. For example:
- A flight path map provides the pilot with a specific flight path to get from point A to point B.
- These maps allow passengers to view the flight path they will be taking.
- At any given moment, passengers (and flight crew) can steal a quick peek to see just how far they have come and the amount of travel that remains in the trip.
- Many flight path maps show the altitude at which you are traveling.
- They show the number of miles included in the trip.
- Flight path maps also may provide you with the speed at which you are traveling.
How they work
A flight path map uses satellites and global positioning. However, they are a bit different than the GPS systems we use on the ground. After all, it may look like a lot of traffic or highways in the sky, but there are no roads. So how do pilots know where they are on their route? They fly to virtual spots found on their map. These points are called geo-positioning coordinates – some which have names and others that don’t.
These virtual spots (waypoints) are learned by pilots – by memorizing their 5-letter (vowels and consonants) names that can be read. The planes hop from point to point on the map, rather than just fly a straight line from point A to point B.
Flight planning, in general, is extremely important:
- It allows you to determine how much fuel you will need on a flight.
- Dispatchers on the ground can follow the plane using the global positioning system and communicate with the pilot.
- Safety concerns are met by keeping organization within the air traffic. Did you know that altitudes at an even level are westbound flights and altitude at an odd level are reserved for the eastbound flights?
- Backup plans are always needed just in case of inclement weather or technical malfunction. Therefore, multiple flight paths will need to be created for safety.
Flight planning requires so many detailed and intricate calculations – including distance, altitude, the weight load the plane is carrying, etc. Thanks to flight path maps, these calculations can be done by the computer in an instant.
Find the best route
If you often fly the same route over and over – from one point to the next – then you may not necessarily need a flight path map to find your way. In fact, knowing waypoints may just do the trick. However, what happens when the weather isn’t showing the best conditions? If storms are surrounding you or if winds are picking it up, then you will likely need to switch up your route.
Flight path maps use global satellites that can pinpoint the best route for your flight. It allows you to base your flight path on many various factors, including weather conditions. In return, the flight path map will provide you a flight path reflecting the fastest route (or many other types of requests).
In case of emergency
You may start off with a smooth ride with a content onboard crew and passengers. However, conditions can change in an instant. You never know when storm clouds will pop up, causing a lot of turbulence and dangerous situations.
This is when your flight path map comes in handy. It will re-route you to the fastest flight path around the rough weather. It will get you and your passengers to your destination safely and as smoothly as possible.
Planes are solid and well maintained (or at least they should be), but that doesn’t mean they are indestructible. When a plane faces mechanical issues or malfunctions, it may be necessary to land the plane quickly. If you are unable to make it to your destination, you will need to find another place to land. Flight path maps can find the closest airport and change your flight path to get you, your crew, and passengers to safety.
Last, but not least, should the unthinkable happen – such as a crash or some terrorist activity occur – others on the ground are able to view your flight path map and know where you are in the sky at any given moment. In other words, it acts as a tracker to those on the ground, which can be very beneficial should something go awry.
For passengers viewing pleasure
Flying high in the friendly skies, peering out the window doesn’t give you any sense of direction. You won’t know where you are (what is below you), which direction (specifically) that you are heading, or how much longer before you start descending. Even when you do begin the descent, you will have an idea of your location, but you will not know specifics – and, in addition, you will not know from which direction you are coming from.
For some, none of this may matter. For others, viewing the flight path and knowing the answers to all the questions you may have about the unseen land below may be an enjoyable experience. All in all, it is like gaining an eye into the aviation world. The pilot knows where he or she is and going – and you will, too.
Flight path maps are an informative, helpful, and entertaining tool that should find its way to be accessible to passengers on every airplane – especially travelers on private jets. They reduce the need for time spent on manual calculations and can even increase the cost savings of fuel!