Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Newark - Atlanta / Boeing 737-800 / IFR

This evening (U.S. time) I made a test flight from Newark Liberty International to Atlanta. MITRE is planning another test with VATSIM this week, this time dealing with Continuous Descent Arrivals (CDAs). A CDA is an arrival during which an aircraft descends continuously from top-of-descent in cruise to the final approach to a runway, instead of changing altitudes and leveling off intermittently under ATC direction. CDAs are more fuel-efficient than standard arrival descent profiles.

MITRE has lots of pilots sign up for specific test flights during the test period. I selected a flight from Newark in a 737-800. The destination airport is Atlanta. Many of the flights are CDAs, using a special version of the FLCON3 STAR, but many others are crossing or other traffic, in order to see how well the CDA fits in.

I didn't have any trouble on the flight, which is rather long (by my standards) at 1:56. Sometimes the VNAV on the 737 (at least in PMDG's model) has trouble sticking to altitude constraints on a descent, but it seemed to follow them pretty closely here. If any trouble arises I can switch to V/S or LVL CHG, but it doesn't look like there will be any problem.

The CDA flights are supposed to land on 27L, so I requested that, even though it wasn't the active when I arrived. ATC was able to work me in, anyway.

I'll practice a few more times before the actual event.