One of the duties of a U.S. Navy Air Traffic Controller (AC) is to assist pilots in the preparation and processing of flight plans. This involves having all requisite material and references on-hand, from up-to-the-minute weather forecasts and atomized data (wind speed and direction) to temporary changes in restricted air-space classifications. By maintaining and have access to current flight-plan information, Air Traffic Controllers can immediately detect if a particular flight is diverting from its planned route, altitude, or cruising speed and proactively determine the cause.

Aggregate flight plans play an important role in managing the flow of aircraft into and out of airfields or airbases, but they are even more critical in the event of an in-flight emergency. With the information available in a properly prepared flight plan—fuel on board, point of departure, alternate airfields, weight on board—the AC can quickly provide aircrews with navigational guidance to help them avoid the need for an emergency landing or, if that can’t be avoided, point them to the optimal location to perform the maneuver. In a worst-case scenario, flight plans can be used to help determine the likely location of aircraft that are presumed to have made an emergency landing or can no longer be seen on radar of hailed by radio.

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