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How Are Private Flight Routes Determined?

There are many aspects involved to make sure your flight gets from point A to point B efficiently and safely. How do private jet flight routes affect your flight?

Flight Routes - The Early Air Way

When you think of catching a flight, you are likely more concerned about getting to your destination than you are about how you will get there.

After all, you aren’t flying the plane, so who cares which direction you go as long as you get there, right?

That’s what the pilot is for!

But, think about it – have you ever wondered why some flights will take you past your destination, with a 180-degree turn to go back to the airport you just flew over? Or why you fly a bit north when you are traveling south. Or, maybe why you fly in the direction that seems longer, rather than just taking the shortest route?

Believe it or not, there is a lot of work that goes into determining flight routes, for a reason. So, come with us as we discover how pilots determine private flight patterns.


The Simple Answer of Flight Routes

When it comes to creating a new flight plan, the pilot (or Captain) will put together a route. This is based on the most efficient flight method. More specifically, it’s a combination of:

  • The shortest flight time
  • The best weather
  • Non-restricted airspace

Once a general flight pattern is developed, it is given to air traffic control. These individuals will review and make changes, if necessary, so they can maintain a healthy flow of traffic in the sky.


Flying from One Spot to Another

Air traffic does not fly any way it wishes. You may think that because there are no physical roads or traffic lights in the air that it is all free reign for any and every one. But, that is simply not the case.

When it comes to air travel, geo-positioning coordinates is how flight routes are created. The coordinates are five letter combinations of Latin consonants and vowels that are put together so that they can be read and memorized. These points may either be random names or resemble a large city nearby.

When creating flight routes, the path will go from one of these points to the next.

But, how do they do this without colliding?

The system designed by air traffic controllers keeps planes flying at various altitudes – called flight levels – depending on direction.

  1. For instance, those flying westbound will use even-numbered flight levels – FL300, 320, and 340 for example.
  2. On the other hand, those flights heading eastbound will travel on odd-numbered flight levels, such as FL310, 330, and 350.


Private Jet Pilot Dashboard - The Early Air Way


The Two Most Important Factors of Flight Routes

When determining flight routes, there is a lot to consider. However, there are two factors that tend to stand out above the rest. Perhaps it is because they are rather important factors. So, what are they?

Air traffic controllers work hard to monitor the traffic in the sky. They see what is coming and going through the airspace and work to keep things running smoothly and free from collision (thanks to pre-determined airways found in controlled airspace).

Since fuel is what is necessary to get from Point A to Point B, then it is only natural that you would be concerned about the amount available and the amount used for a flight.

If fuel is so important, what factors go into choosing a flight route – even-numbered where fuel is concerned?


Other Factors: The Winds

The wind is an incredibly important trait to keep in mind when creating flight routes. Just as with anything you do outdoors, the strength of the wind is a factor.

For instance, cross country runners know that they will have better times when running with the wind rather than against it. And, NFL quarterbacks and kickers know that moving a ball against the wind will require more force to get it where you want it to go.

All of this holds true for flying, also. When traveling long distances against the wind, you will find that the travel time required will be longer than if you are traveling the same distance with the wind. In addition, traveling against the wind requires more power – and more fuel.


Other Factors: The Weight

While it may not be as big of a factor with larger or commercial aircraft, the on-board weight can indirectly impact the efficiency of a private jet. Pilots consider the following:

  • The weight of the jet itself
  • The weight of the fuel
  • The weight of the passengers (if at full capacity or not)
  • The weight of the baggage or cargo

While the heavier weight will not affect the jets flying ability, it can make it run less efficient. In other words, the amount of fuel required to fly 2,000 nautical miles may only carry the jet 1,500 nautical miles if the weight load is at full capacity.


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Other Factors: The Weather

Just as the winds and the weight can impact flight routes, so can weather. Pilots (or Captains) will fly around bad weather if needed to avoid turbulence and keep the utmost safety of the aircraft, crew, and passengers in mind. The weather is closely monitored so that changes in flight patterns can occur as needed – even when the flight is currently in progress.

Creating a flight pattern – or amending a flight pattern – around the weather means that you may fly further distances in an attempt to avoid the rough weather. Or, it could mean that you can stay on target, but you will need to fly at a higher or lower flight level (altitude).


Commonly Asked Questions

How Are General Flight Patterns Created?

The simple answer is that patterns are created for the shortest flight time, the best weather, and non-restricted airspace; but it’s more complicated than that.

How Do Planes Avoid Collision In-Air?

A system created by air traffic controllers keeps planes flying on different altitudes based on geo-positioning coordinates that consist of five letter combinations of Latin consonants and vowels.

What Factors Must Be Considered During Flight Routes?

Fuel calculation and compliance of air traffic control requirements are the most important. However, the wind patterns, the weight of the aircraft and on-board weight, and the weather must also be considered.


The Bottom Line

Our roadways on the ground are intricately designed to run smoothly. And, while accidents may happen, they are rarely the result of a roadway. Why? Because they are well-thought-out plans.

The same happens for flight routes. Just because you cannot see roadways in the sky doesn’t mean they don’t exist in their own way.

Flying on them – and taking all the special points into consideration – can ensure that you have a safe flight to your destination.



Read More:

What to Look for When Booking Private Jet Flights