Captain Becker, How do pilots prepare for a flight? And how much time should they allow for this?
Before embarking on a route you have flown many times before, it’s enough to prepare shortly before takeoff or during transit time. New routes require several hours of planning, and for challenging ones, you may receive a briefing from a captain familiar with the local situation. Quito in Ecuador is a good example. It’s surrounded by mountains and located at a very high altitude. The former Kai Tak Airport in Hong Kong was also problematic because you had to make a tight turn shortly before landing.
What else is important?
A pilot has to know the distinctive features of each route. Flying across the Atlantic,
for instance, requires an area briefing, instruction in a simulator and a trial flight under the supervision of a training captain.
How do pilots cooperate with the flight planners?
Flight planners, or dispatchers as they are also known, calculate the optimal route electronically with an eye to safety, punctuality and cost effectiveness. They present this to the crew, along with alternatives. The captain accepts it with his or her signature, and then determines along with the other members of the cockpit crew how much kerosene to take on board.
Who’s ultimately responsible for the flight?
The captain is responsible for ensuring the safety of a flight. Captain and crew are supported, of course, by a host of experts, who help with planning and dispatch. The name of the game is good teamwork.