Safety, passenger comfort, and operating economy require that commercial airline flights be preflight planned. There are many route and altitude combinations between origination and destination. Manual selection of the best is tedious, costly in man-hours, and never perfect. A digital computer can do the job quickly, using few man-hours, with a higher order of perfection. American Airlines contracted with IBM to develop jointly a flight planning program for a 60,000 digit IBM 1620 computer. The program was placed into operation on 4 February 1962 and quickly expanded to produce 5000 lines of flight plans for over 200 trips daily. Operating cost savings are on the order of several million dollars annually. The program continuously surrounds an aircraft with a set of prognostic temperatures and winds valid by the craft's clocks at the plane's altitude. The program also selects the optimum route and the optimum altitude profile on the selected route. Flight plans on the optimum route at the optimum altitude are automatically delivered to the flight crew and the controlling dispatchers.

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