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Old 06-10-2021, 08:01 AM
DeltaRomeo DeltaRomeo is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Highland Village, TX
Posts: 4,234
Default IFR Shorthand …things that free up time for the scan

Sometimes I help set up (10) different approaches during a sim session...while looking up stuff in the QRH. Fast and dirty and the free hand is tuning a radio or pushing a button. I'd just drop the pen...

I got to thinking a few days back about the symbols I currently use on the charts page of GP while I’m in the sim at the supplimental gig. They have evolved over the last year and 173 sessions, transfer over to the RV world nicely, and allowed me to free up a second here and there, not to mention mental bandwidth, for those other things I’m required to do (calculate landing speeds, monitor fuel levels…they don’t auto crossfeed, etc). Not to mention an engine is usually shut down, an EFIS or two is probably dark, it’s ‘night’, and the client has their hands full. I’m almost certain to get the occasional “Are we cleared for the approach?” or “What is the next altitude?”. I don’t remember….let me look at my iPad ;^).

Anyway, the current shorthand I use is translated in the four plates below. You airline types probably have a better system for actual flights, but I only have one hand free for this - like I said earlier the other is usually flipping through a QRH <g>. All the mental gymnastics used to wipe me out, but now it is sort of my normal and I have grown to enjoy it a little to tell you the truth. Weird.

If you figured out a better way in the bumps using only your finger I would love to have you chime in. I tried pens and paper, kneeboards, iPad using split screens and more. Currently the QRH is on the left thigh and the iPad is on the right - I write on the charts with my finger. Switch thighs if I’m in the left seat. The phone also has a clear case and most of the landing speed tables are under the plastic on the back - that was a HUGE improvement and would be a great place for some RV emergency checklists.

My current symbols:

VOR 4L circle 31R
Runway Heading climb to 2000 cleared for TO. Runway heading, right turn 090, maintain 2000. Calm viz 2.5 miles. 800 OMC temp 15. Baro 29.93. ZFW 12,400 and fuel remaining 3,500 (for landing speeds). Direct JFK VOR cleared for the approach (> symbol) runway 4L. Hold at KTAIT and expect further 1300Z (then later cancel hold). Cleared for the approach and expect circle. Circle 31R and cleared to land.

Right turn 120 radar vectors 31R right turn 130 descend and maintain 1,500 right turn 220, then 270. 1,500 feet until established cleared the approach. Cleared to land.

ZFW 12,400. Fuel weight 3,300. Left turn 330 left turn 260 descend and maintain 2000 right turn 15* to 275. Runway heading to 2000. 2000 until established and cleared for the approach. Cleared to land. Calm 1/2 mile viz 300 OVC 29.92 baro. (This was two approaches). Doing the landing math on the chart is faster than asking the client, in the G-1000 equipped sim, "Can I steal the MFD for a minute to get the landing weight? They're usually using it.

You probably got it by now….<g>.
Doug Reeves (your host)
  • Full time: since '07 (started it in '96).
  • Typed in the EMB-505 (Phenom 300). Available for contract work. (flying resume).
  • Part time: Supporting Crew Member CAE EMB-505 Level D Sim @ KDFW.

Last edited by DeltaRomeo : 06-10-2021 at 03:28 PM.
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Old 06-10-2021, 09:18 AM
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Plummit Plummit is offline
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: SoCal
Posts: 1,370

Well that's sure an interesting way to do it! Fortunately I don't have to be anywhere near that complex when flying in the system around SoCal and copying a clearance. I am going to steal a couple of your short-hand symbols though. I always abbreviate
Radar Vectors as "VTR" and use just a plain "V" for Victor airways. RV makes more sense. But I do use pen and paper on a kneeboard instead of a finger on a screen. ;-)

This is a typical clearance I might get:

Click image for larger version

Name:	IFR clearance.jpg
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ID:	12433

Read back would be "RV814 Romeo Victor is cleared to the Palomar airport via runway heading to 800 feet left turn heading 200 radar vectors Seal Beach, Victor 64 Victor 363 Danah Victor 23 Oceanside Direct. Maintain 3000 expect 5 in 10, 12535 for the talk and 4773 for the squawk"

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Last edited by Plummit : 06-10-2021 at 05:03 PM.
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Old 06-10-2021, 09:43 AM
jbDC9 jbDC9 is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 907

Originally Posted by Plummit View Post
But I do use pen and paper on a kneeboard instead of a finger on a screen. ;-)
I must be weird, but, same here.

At work (737) we have iPads with a Jepp app... no more paper revisions, yay!! We have the ability to scribble notes on the screen, but I’ve found that the only time I do that is on the 10-9 taxi charts for taxi routing... and it’s not really notes, I just draw a quick stripe to remind me where I’m going. If it’s an inflight reroute or (gasp!) holding instructions, I grab my pen and scribble on the scrap paper clipped to the yoke.

In my RV it’s a similar deal; I have an Android tablet running Garmin Pilot. I never use that for finger drawing notes, again I go with pen and paper.

I really, really like the usefulness and convenience of iPads and tablets and whatnot, but for me, drawing notes on the screen just seems awkward and pen/paper is easier for me. After 30 years of IFR flying, maybe some old habit patterns are just too hard to break...
John Bixby
RV-8 QB sn 82030 - 1st flight Nov 2006
1850 hrs
Houston, TX
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Old 06-10-2021, 10:18 AM
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Auburntsts Auburntsts is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Tampa, FL
Posts: 3,017

I use a kneeboard with pen & paper too even though I use an iPad with GarminPilot. Just prefer pen and paper. I write out CRAFT vertically and fill out each letter horizontally as I receive it:

R - 050 RV NITTS D->
A - 1600 e8000-10
F - 119.0
T - 4345

I rarely make notes for approaches. I do a pre-brief of the entire plate, set-up the avionics and memorize the first instruction of the missed approach. Otherwise I'm just following the plate along as part of my scan. No issues when hand flying, even easier when coupled. But everyone needs to find the process that works best for them.
Todd "I drink and know things" Stovall
RV-10 N728TT - Flying!

Last edited by Auburntsts : 06-10-2021 at 10:31 AM.
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Old 06-10-2021, 04:49 PM
rocketman1988 rocketman1988 is offline
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Sunman, IN
Posts: 2,677
Default craft

Craft works well but you really do not even need to write it down. They almost always read the clearance in the same order every time...

Also, the read back does not need to be embellished with transition wording; keep it short and keeps frequency congestion down.
Aerospace Engineer '88


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Old 06-10-2021, 07:04 PM
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Auburntsts Auburntsts is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Tampa, FL
Posts: 3,017

Originally Posted by rocketman1988 View Post
Craft works well but you really do not even need to write it down. They almost always read the clearance in the same order every time...

Also, the read back does not need to be embellished with transition wording; keep it short and keeps frequency congestion down.
I write it down to keep things organized and to make sure both I and the controller haven’t botched something, but you’re right it isn’t necessary. It’s just personal preference. Agree on the readbacks. I begin my readbacks with 728TT is cleared to XYZ, then I just repeat the data without preface as what it is already known by the controller.
Todd "I drink and know things" Stovall
RV-10 N728TT - Flying!
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Old 06-10-2021, 07:27 PM
BobTurner BobTurner is offline
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Livermore, CA
Posts: 7,771

Like, it seems, most of the others, I still use pen and paper. I tried using my finger on the iPad; I couldn't read my own handwriting!! (It was a mini). Yes, I drop pens. So I keep at least a half dozen stashed in various places, within reach.
True story: Many years ago, instrument check ride. Examiner hops in the right seat, looks at the floor between the seats where I have at least a dozen pens and pencils. His comment: "You must work for the government". Then we were off to an airport to the east - via tracking to its NDB (remember those?).
I use a "V" with an arrow thru it for "vectors", "RT" for "right turn", an upward arrow in front of RT for 'climbing right turn', I put a "K" after altitudes (6K = 6,000'). I pre-write "CLR KABC" but I do listen (I have been given a clearance to the wrong airport.). I guess we all have our own shorthand.
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Old 06-10-2021, 10:02 PM
David Z David Z is offline
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Thunder Bay Ontario
Posts: 751

In the work plane (DH8) I have the small scrap of paper clipped to the yoke and write things down. Notes turn into chicken scratch, but as long as I can read it, that's okay. In general, my mind works in mental gates. Each clearance builds a "gate" in my mind. If I don't have a clearance past that "gate", then I don't know what to do after we get there. In reality, cleared to an approach fix, I know to expect that approach, but without the clearance, I don't know for sure, so it becomes a mental "gate.

An other thing is to use aircraft lights as reminders for things. Approach lights on mean cleared for the approach. Taxi light on means cleared to land.

As one builds experience, we try different tricks to see what we like best. Some like paper and a pen, others like shorthand on the iPad. The neat thing is nobody is wrong, we're all different, so have a different system that works best.
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