Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tampa - Atlanta / Boeing 767-300ER / IFR

Early this morning I decided to duplicate a real-world Delta flight (DAL886) from Tampa to Atlanta, in my 767. I figured this would be good practice, since I've never flown this route before. New routes are always a bit nerve-wracking, through, since I'm rather absent-minded at times and I tend to forget things when doing a new route.

The real flight today had to divert to Columbia, SC (KCAE) due to really bad weather getting in its way, but I flew the flight somewhat later than the real world, and the weather had cleared up a lot by then. That's just as well, since I'm not very experienced at diversions, although I did consider putting an alternate route in the FMC just in case.

Tampa is a nice-looking airport, thanks to the add-on scenery I have for it (which came as part of a package of several airports). I started at Airside E, the Delta terminal, and took 18R out of the airport, which was right behind me at the gate.

The only ATC online was Jacksonville Center, and according to my IFR charts, I was on their turf, so I contacted them to get my clearance. It turns out, though, that KTPA is actually under Miami, so I ended up taking off without ATC coverage. After continuing north for a while, Jax called me (I had remained on their frequency since I knew they'd be calling back very shortly). The trip through their airspace was uneventful, as I was already at cruise when I was handed off, and they signed off before I reached my top of descent (which was in Atlanta Center's airspace, anyway).

KATL was unattended, but the CTAF was atwitter with traffic, all of it big iron, apparently. It's difficult to land a lot of traffic at a major international airport without air traffic controllers. I had aircraft in front of and behind me as I made my arrival and approach, and once on the ground, I was delighted to see that I wasn't the only Delta aircraft at the airport—a gate near mine was occupied, and another flight landed and taxied in as I secured the aircraft at the gate. In real life, that would be a slow day indeed, but on a flight simulation network, that counts as a bustling crowd.

One problem with KATL in simulation is that the sim version lacks the new runway 28/10 on the south side of the field. I've added the runway with AFCAD, but it's on uneven terrain and I can't find any info on how to level that terrain, so I can't really use the new runway for now. Then again, neither can anybody else, as I don't think anyone has created scenery with the new runway yet. No matter … there are four others and the skies are never busy enough in simulation to occupy all four runways at once.