METEOROLOGY FLIGHT PLANNING
FLIGHT ALTITUDE SELECTION
Pilots planning a flight can use winds-aloft information to their advantage. When the wind
appears to be a tailwind component, they should generally try to take advantage of the situation
by filing for an altitude with the fastest wind speed. When the wind would be a headwind
component, they should generally try to minimize the disadvantage by filing for an altitude with
the least wind speed. However, they must keep in mind several other factors and potential
hazards that may influence the selection of an altitude such as clouds at flight level, visibility at
flight level, icing and the minimum freezing level, thunderstorms, turbulence, and precipitation.
For general planning purposes, Winds-Aloft Prognostic Charts are the most useful, as they give a
pictorial representation of the winds. They can quickly narrow the search for generally favorable
winds, or provide a fast solution to finding an alternate route that avoids unfavorable winds. The
FDs may also be consulted as additional information in selecting the best particular altitude for
which to file the flight plan, or when the Winds-Aloft Prognostic Charts are not available. Often,
the wind information will not be forecast for the exact altitude for which a pilot may wish to file.
In this case, one must interpolate to find the desired information.
DATA DISPLAYED ON WEATHER IMAGERY PRODUCTS