What Flight Level do I file my flightplan?
A question that seems to trouble pilots and controllers alike, what is the cruising level for the flight I am flying?
In New Zealand, we're very lucky in that all domestic flights generally go North-South or South-North and all Internationals generally go East-West or West-East.
The actual altitude to fly at depends very much on the aircraft you are flying and the distance of the flight.
A couple of very good pnuemonics I learned many years ago may just help you to remember:
NOSE - North Odd, South Even
WEED - West Even, East oDd
So an IFR flight going from Auckland to Wellington is travelling (mostly) in a Southerly direction so it would be filed at an EVEN Flight Level, so maybe FL340, or FL360 etc. A flight from Auckland to Sydney is travelling (mostly) in a Westerley direction, so it would be filed at an EVEN flight level as well.
VFR flights fly 500 feet above the IFR level for the same direction of flight, so a VFR flight from Wellington to Palmerston North would be travelling (mostly) North, so would be filed at an ODD level, plus 500', so maybe 7,500 or similar.
One small rule here is that flights cannot be filed in the TRANSITION LAYER, that is the piece of sky between the Transition Altitude of 13,000 feet and the Transition Level FL150. This is done so that there is a 2,000' buffer between aircraft that have their altimeters set to the local QNH and those set to the standard QNH of 1013.2 HPa.
For more information on Transition Altitude visit this page.
RVSM - Reduced Vertical Separation Minima
RVSM operates in both the NZ and Oceanic FIR's from FL290 to FL410 inclusive. If you are planning to fly within these flight levels then the RVSM applies.
Cruising levels available if you are planning to fly south in the NZ FIR or west in the Oceanic FIR are FL300, FL320, FL340, FL360, FL380 and FL400.
If you are planning to fly north in the NZ FIR or east in the Oceanic FIR then the available cruising levels are FL290, FL310, FL330, FL350, FL370, FL390 and FL410.