Who's Online

We have 1284 guests online

Live Traffic Feed

Life in the Skies

'A Local Bestseller!'

What Tony says
(See here)
and Book Launch video here
What others say

Les Posen

Yvonne Lee

Louisa Lim & Allan Koay

Aireen Omar, Asran & Bo Lingam

38 Readers' Comments
(See here)

Get an autographed copy here

AMAZON.COM  -  To Order, please Click here 

(eBook) Kindle edition - please Click here

Latest Comment

A successful SIA Cad
the deadline i guess it's the end of this februry,

Singapore Airlines P
Hello captain Lim , I am Ray . I would like

What are the eyesigh
sir i have -0.25 in my right eye and 0.75 in left

Spontaneous Pneumoth
I'm not a doctor or anything, @chinmay, so I can't

What are the cruisin
The idea that the earth is spinning is plain bulls

Singapore Airlines C
Hello Captain Lim, I am an Indian citizen, Engine

Spontaneous Pneumoth
my grandmother is 70 yrs. old also sugar patient.

Does a jet aircraft
From what I understood Flat earthers are just uned

A Boeing 777 can’t f
Aircraft airspeed systems measure how fast the air

When and how does th
I don’t know

Paperback Version

 For Local Availability - Check Here
Home > Airways > How do airline pilots estimate their position and time to the destination?
How do airline pilots estimate their position and time to the destination?
Flying - Airways
Tuesday, 27 December 2005 08:43

Hey Captain Lim,

Well, before I ask you my questions, I have to say that I have been an avid reader of all the FAQ you have answered. It has extensively broadened my knowledge on many aspects of the industry as well as aviation in general, and other knitty gritty theoretical parts of flight.

Well, I am from Singapore and currently undergoing my flight training in Canada. It has taken me a pretty zigzag road to get to where I am right now and I want to move on further from here.

Anyway, I wanted to find out how pilots estimate time enroute to their destination and whether they do it from one checkpoint to another, or is it simply from point A to point B, like how we do it here, using the circular "whizwheel" (a handheld slide rule computer) as they call it, to estimate time enroute as well as from one checkpoint to the next.

I know it is totally computerized for the airline pilots. Do you simply key in the checkpoints and then get it to estimate the time that will take the aircraft to travel from one point to the other with respect to the current groundspeed of the aircraft? Or, is there some arithmetic and thinking required as in the training aircraft?

I believe what we are doing right now is basically to have a feel of what calculation of time enroute is all about and to get a feel of actually calculating the time ourselves, which brings us really to the basics of flying. So, is this the same in the airlines or simply key in the information and get the answers?

Well, I have got another question that I have been trying to find out about by myself. In Canada, we use the METAR's, TAF's, GFA's to get the oncoming weather. I have tried to look that up for many parts of the world, inclusive of Singapore, for their current METAR or TAF but I don*t seem to have come across any.

I have got sites, like weather underground, to give really basic weather information. In Canada, www.navcanada.com is a popular site for all pilots to check and get weather updates. How do we get current weather updates for places like Singapore and other aerodromes around the world?

Last, but not least, I hope to send you more questions. These questions might just be questions that could be chucked aside, but definitely, I have learnt a whole deal more, visiting your website than I could have accomplished on my own.

I hope this website continues to grow for many like-minded individuals like myself who have got flying running through their veins or even the layman who wants to know a little bit about flying or even the industry.

Keep the good work up Captain Lim!


Hi Chopra,

In modern jetliners, position reports are all computerized. Thanks to the FMC (Flight Management Computer) on the planes! You need not have to crack your head when the ground controller asks you for the estimate of a certain waypoint. Yes, I know you need to use your head or the circular whizwheel whilst you are still under training to calculate the estimates. This is all part of the basic training that all aspiring pilots have to go through.

Well, in the actual plane, all you need is to program the routes on the FMC before hand and then key in any additional waypoints as required in flight. The *distance-to* and estimates based on the current wind are instantaneously calculated. How wonderful!

Normally, to get the METAR (a French abbreviation meaning "aviation routine meteorological report) and TAF (Terminal Aerodrome Forecast) of a station, an airline has to subscribe to this service.

However, you can also get the forecast free from NOAA*s National Weather Service Aviation Weather Center - METAR from
here and TAF from here. To get the forecasts for aerodromes around the word, you need to know the 4-letter ICAO station identifier. For example, typing "WSSS" in the box for Singapore Changi International Airport, the forecast now is:

WSSS 271530Z 35003KT 310V020 9999 FEW018 SCT070 BKN300 26/25 Q1012 NOSIG

Well, you need to know the codes to interpret the forecast. Very simply, they are as follows:

WSSS = Changi International Airport

271530z = Date and time of report in GMT - 27th December, 1530 hours GMT

35003KT 310V020 = Wind - 350 degrees at 3 knots, direction varying from 310 to 020 degrees

9999 = Visibility more than 10 kilometers

FEW018 = Less than a quarter of the sky covered by clouds with base at 1800 feet

SCT070 = Half sky covered by cloud with base at 7000 feet

BKN300 = Three quarter cloud cover with base at 30,000 feet

26/25 = Surface temperature - 26 degrees Celsius, dew point - 25 degrees Celsius

NOSIG = No significant change in the forecast

Happy flying!


TrackBack URI for this entry

Comments (0)

Subscribe to this comment's feed

Write comment

smaller | bigger


Paperback Version

 For Local Availability - Check Here

Recommended By..


'A Local Bestseller!'

Recommended by

Patrick Smith
Boston USA

Capt Meryl Getline
ex-United Airlines USA

Capt Doug Morris
Canadian Airlines

Capt  Robert J Boser
ex-United Airlines USA

38 Readers' Comments
(See here)

Get an autographed copy here

AMAZON.COM  -  To Order, please Click here 

(eBook) Kindle edition - please Click here

View Book Launch video here

Follow me


Like What You Read?

If you like what you read, more stories are found in my book LIFE IN THE SKIES (Preview here) and you can purchase a copy here. To check for any latest updates or postings, you can follow my Twitter at @CaptKHLim or Facebook here

MH 370 Interviews

Click here to View

10 Most Popular Posts

Disclaimer | Privacy
2004 - 2011 © AskCaptainLim.com | Site Concept by eQuilec.com