Plan & Briefing Pack for VH-RMC - 1966
Clicking on the image at left will download a 2.5
MB .pdf file containing the complete Flight Plan (form C.A.
1488) and briefing package for Ansett L.188 Electra VH-RMC for flight
AA307 from Sydney to Melbourne on 10 October 1966.
Plan is signed, as required in those days, by the aircraft's Captain,
the renowned Jason Hassard.
This collection of documents comprises the complete Flight Plan and briefing
package issued to the crew for the flight. This package includes a Pre-Flight
Information Bulletin (PFIB - NOTAMs), a Flight and Aerodrome Forecast
(Met), a Frequency Change Plan for the route and a sheet specifying Standard
Departure Clearances (SDCs) from Sydney. It would have been collected
by the crew at the Briefing Office at Sydney/Mascot before the flight.
was discarded on the aircraft after the flight and preserved by an airline
employee with an eye for history! It is very rare to find such a package
intact, and having the complete package allows us considerable insight
into the operation of the airways in the late 1960s.
Points of interest
- The Flight
Plan is pre-prepared for the route, only requiring time intervals to
be computed, allowing for the wind on the day. Since the flight would
be navigated entirely by reference to radio beacons only tracks are
given, not headings.
alternative air routes (DELTA, ECHO and FOXTROT) are provided, with
the actual clearance being decided at taxy by ATC. These alternative
routes were designed to facilitate the processing of traffic by allowing
aircraft of differing speed to operate on laterally segregated routes
(i.e. to minimise the problems of overtaking).
- A one-way
route structure had been established on the east coast by this time,
with south-west bound traffic from Sydney to Melbourne on one route
and north-east bound traffic on a separate, more northerly route. Between
the one-way routes was also a two-way route.
Click on the image above to refer to the High Altitude Chart 2 from
14 November 1968, covering the Melbourne-Sydney area. Of note are the
route identification letters, which can be seen on the chart.
- The route
taken in this case, DELTA, tracked via Marulan NDB,
Murray River reporting point (marking the Sydney/Melbourne FIR boundary),
Kelly reporting point, Mansfield NDB, Preston Locator and Melbourne
VOR. Within 3 years Dederang was replaced by Corryong, moving the southbound
route further south.
- In addition
to being signed by the Captain, the Flight Plan is also signed as having
been checked by the ATC Briefing Officer. This requirement came into
being as a result of the establishment of Flight
Checking Officers following the Kyeema crash in 1938.
- The met
briefing uses still quite familiar terms, although it is interesting
to note that what is today called the 'freezing level' is referred to
as the 'flight level of the zero degree isotherm' (you can see why they
changed it!). One forecasting term that has also disappeared is GRADU,
meaning a gradual change. Note also the request for AIREPS (airborne
reports). In those days the metorologists were heavily dependent on
reports of actual conditions in flight transmitted by pilots to ATC,
and passed on to MET.
for the route were pre-prepared on roneoed sheets. Of interest is the
having been decommissioned on 25 February 1966. Also the withdrawal
of the Sydney Runway 25 Localiser back-beam approach in August 1966.
This was part of a general withdrawal of LLZ back-beam approaches at
- The NOTAMs
also refer to the commissioning of a CSF
Route Surveillance Radar (primary)
at Melbourne from 7 December 1965. This radar was associated with the
new Bright Display
ATC system and, notably, had a maximum range of 140NM.
- Also of
note is the change of callsign of Melbourne Tower to Essendon
Tower as of 24 September 1966. This was, of course, because of the
construction of the new Melbourne/Tullamarine Airport.
- A number
of interesting navaids are listed as decommissioned, including a Z-Marker
(Airways Marker) at Melbourne, also the Melbourne
VAR and associated Markers at Digger's Rest (DIG) and the City (CITY).
Incidentally, the former CITY marker was located on the roof of DCA's
Henty House headquarters!
- The penultimate
page of the briefing pack contains a Frequency Change Plan, setting
out the sequence of expected frequency changes for the route. There
is no equivalent to this handy document in the present day.
- The final
page of the briefing pack contains a list of Standard Departure Clearances
from Sydney. SDCs were the predecessors of Standard Instrument Departures
(SIDs) and prescribed the initial tracking after takeoff until the airway
was joined. Multiple SDCs were available for the same reasons as multiple
air routes existed. In this case the annotations on the document indicate
that VH-RMC was cleared via SDC 52 to join route D, to cruise
at Flight Level 170. Although the SDC specifies a climbing speed for
Electras of 230 knots, the handwritten notes indicate that VH-RMC was
instructed to climb at 210 knots.
Lockheed L.188 Electra VH-RMC (cn 1044) at Melbourne/Essendon. Ansett-ANA
ordered its first four Electras in September 1957, however under the provisions
of the Two Airline Policy the Australian Government only permitted the
order of two aircraft. In March 1959 R.M. Ansett made a submission for
a third Electra to the Minister for Civil Aviation,
on the grounds that he needed the aircraft for an economic Electra fleet
operation. At the time there was also a large difference in the size of
the Ansett-ANA and TAA turboprop fleets (14 vs 26). The Government therefore
approved the purchase of the third aircraft, which became VH-RMC on 5
the main Flying Operations
the main Items of General Interest
page appears without a menu bar at top and left, click