To top-off our air-ground radio training we were fortunate to be invited to visit the Radio Communications tower at Duxford Airport. This was incredibly useful in terms of seeing flight planning, meteorology report passing and tower operations in action. Colin and Peter were most generous with there time and knowledge.
One of the scarier sounding jobs I will be doing at Rothera will be submitting formal FPL flight plans into the AFTN terminal for Dash 7 flights. I don’t really know the reason why plans are required for the Dash 7 flights but not the Twin Otter flights. It might be because the Dash weighs more than 5,700 kg, while the Twin Otters weigh less. It was great to see the AFTN software being used at Duxford. Colin gave us a very helpful and thorough walk-through of the coding, submission and updating of a flight plans via the AFTN software. The flight plans are very code heavy messages and at first sight seem quite impenetrable.
Duxford tower operations also pass a lot of meteorological reports to and from pilots. During our visit a Catalina PBY took off and departed up through the cloud ceiling. Colin collected and relayed a meteorology report from the Catalina pilot as he left the airfield.
Colin also took us through the process of decoding, translating and reading out meteorological reports and forecasts from the TAFs and METARs he downloads twice hourly from the Met Office Aviation Briefing Service.