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  • Writer's pictureAlex MacPhail

The Belly of the Beast

Strategy vs Tactics ...

Strategic vs Tactical

High performance teams always have two mandates in execution of their task.

The Strategic Plan aligns people and resources towards the common goal.

The Tactical plan is used for adjusting to bumps in the road.

When I fly to London, I know the strategic plan. SAA flies to London everyday, along the same route. We join the UM998 Airway at Botswana and continue up through Africa until Constantine, along this route.

We strive for efficiency, flying as high as possible (fuel economy) and at the correct cost index (speed vs time in the air).

Strategically, we will follow the airway, but tactically, there may be conflicting traffic. This affects our desired cruise level, owing to spacing. We would need to operate at a lower level and thereby burn more fuel than planned.

Also there may be weather. Some large thunderstorms can take us 80nm off track. This will also add track miles and therefore, increase fuel burn.

In the flight deck, the strategic plan is prepared in the fight management system. Departure, climb profile, routing, en-route climb, arrival, approach and diversion airport is all entered before we even start the first engine. Once, underway tactical decisions take place, using the Flight Control Unit, or FCU. Selecting a heading, climb or speed. Once clear of the thunderstorm or traffic, we get back on track and revert to the strategy.

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