I just completed a flight from Denver, Colorado (KAPA) to Van Nuys, California (KVNY) I set up the route for multiple waypoints (not direct GPS) low altitude.
The default rout FS9 provided called for an altitude of 13,500ft. That cleared the highest peak in the Rocky Mountains that I encountered by about 150 to 200 ft. My question is whether this is considered adequate?
I also noted a rather odd ATC loop of being handed off between Denver Ctr. and Denver approach several times even though I was already in Utah. Don't know why. Any ideas?
The altitude error is probably due to changes in local air pressure as you fly so your altimeter is showing an incorrect altitude. You need to reset the altimeter as you progress by tuning in to the ATIS stations or listening for the setting from ATC. If you have other traffic in the area you will hear ATC give the altimeter setting when an aircraft makes initial contact and you can use that to check your setting.
At and above 18,000' it is always set to 29.92 for the whole time you stay above 18,000'. When you descend through 18,000' it needs to be reset to the local air pressure.
The hand-offs are probably due to an irregular shaped airspace around Denver and you are flying in and out of the areas controlled either by Center or Approach. I think you can see the boundaries in the FS map.
Well, the reason for the approach that nearly sent you into a mountain is that the default ATC doesn't use STARS, which are standard arrivals to an airspace. Actually, it'll usually vector you away from the stars when you're still 80 miles out, which makes no sense to me. In real life it isn't acceptable, and you'll see that the standard approaches for major airports will vector you around major things like that, even if it means taking a fairly steep descent after an obstacle.
As you can see from the Kokomo appraoch into chicago:
although it would make pefect sense to go direct OKK to OXI, but it's there due to either airspace prohibitions, noise avoidance, etc.
So to answer your question again, in real life you proabably wouldn't have even come close to that mountain =).
Although, with an altitude of 13500, it sounds like you were flying a VFR flight plan, (IFR flys on the round numbers, VFR on the 500s), and with those it certainly would be your judgement to steer clear of that mountain!
Thank you for that very informative answer.
I don't know hiw Sim handles this but in real life, Victor airways have a minimum enroute altitude (MEA) that provides 2,000 feet of terrain clearance. The previous poster was correct that 13,500 feet is a VFR altitude and, when flying VFR, ATC does not assign flight altitudes.
In the US, the only requirement to be legal (but not very safe) outside of populated areas is to remain at or above 500 feet AGL and maintain 1,000 feet of lateral clearance from congregations of buildings or people. Of course, there is another FAR which requires that you maintain sufficient altitude to safely recover from any departure from controlled flight and I don't think 500 feet meets that criteria except in smooth air.
Good points, and I realize you are correct on the minimum height above unpopulated areas from a very strange situation I encountered in north eastern Arizona a number of years ago. I was living out in the boondocks and noted a twin-engine Cessna flying in tight circles about 150 ft. above the ground. To make matters worse, it was a windy day 35mph with gusts over 50mph.
They were driving the dogs in our kennels crazy. They finally got the message when I kept waving them off (and...err..making other gestures). They were low enough that could read their registration. I called the nearby airports with a description of the plane which turned out to be leased to the Arizona Dept of Game and Fish, doing an annual survey of Pronghorn Antelope.
In response to my complaint, they called me back later in the day. They explained they had a waiver of the minimum height restriction.
Only one thing made me happy. I found out they had called off the flight because the turbulence was so bad that two of their people had barfed all over the interior of the plane. There is justice, after all.