Thursday, 15 January 2015

Elite Dangerous Pilot Academy - Fast Flying Tricks


Pilot Academy - Fast Flying Tricks


In this article, we'll be ignoring the common safety protocol and look at ways to speed up our travel time with fast launches and landings.  In Coming in Hot We discussed how making fast landings can save seconds off of your trip time - and for freighter pilots time is money.

Here we will make a few more tricks that save a little more time.  The context is a freighter pilot - you might in in anything from a 16T Hauler to an Anaconda with 468T of cargo, the freighters profit bottom line is about trading as many tonnes per hour as possible. That big ole Anaconda is going to be making 800 Credits a second if its working, so you don't have to save too much time to see the profit margin increase.

Launch

Lets start with the obvious - your Launch. Plot your jump AFTER requesting your launch and BEFORE the docking clamps are released. This is dead time otherwise, and its better to do it now than waste flight time on the procedure. 

When launching, choose your safe speed and go for it.  A freighter with no ships handles like a bathtub and has a tinfoil hull that will be torn in half in a collision, but faster speeds make you more money. Be polite, avoid collisions, but get out of the station promptly. Each station is different, and each pad has a different "best" way to get to the exit. Learn and practice these, so that you can get out safely.

Boost and Burn

As soon as possible, hit the burners and get your distance from the station. Your thrusters will determine your speed, your power coupling will determine how quickly you can make the two-or-three boosts so you are no longer mass-locked and can make a frame shift jump.
In my freighter builds, I omit this information and present the cheapest base to start a freighter with, using slimline Class-D components for both.  However, upgrades here will put distance between you and the station and again shave seconds off of every launch. As a freighter pilot, I put a lot of extra cash into my thrusters and power couplings. These will help you get out of trouble when you need to flee too.

In Frame Shift, you want to have the lightest ship to reduce your fuel costs. This will probably mean fitting a Half-Tank and running on fumes.  If you can make your trip on less than a half tank of fuel, use a smaller fuel tank to save more weight and cost less money.  Alternately you can run a larger tank on fumes instead, if you are good at managing your consumption. The saving here aren't huge, but they stack up - especially so if these tricks increase your jump range and give you a more profitable route.

When picking routes, remember that large tonnage transactions will start to effect the market price. Have backup trades and/or backup routes you can alternate between to keep the markets fresh and the profits at a maximum.

For a fast landing, practice your Frame-Shift disengage. I'm going to assume at this point that you are making good trips and aren't overshooting and adding to your travel time through pilot error. As you prepare to disengage you want to be going as fast as possible when you hit that 1MM distance. Point your ship, boost at the docking port first and then ask for docking permission when you don't lose any time doing it.

Do your homework


Learn where the landing bays are in the station. See that Green light on the docking port and the Flashing Red one?  Always enter on the green side, with the same orientation. You'll soon learn where all of the numbered landing bays are with respect to this position and won't waste a second trying to find your pad. 

Coming in Hot -vs- Reverse Parking.
Coming in hot and breaking at the last second will save you time, but for the high skilled pilots in empty starports you can get better braking speed if you disable flight assist and reverse park. Reverse Parking is the most extreme way to come in hot - you are landing hard, fast, and blind and this is going to take a lot of practice.  Its not the manoeuvre of a freighter pilot, its an adrenaline junkie combat jock landing his bus.
Reverse parking *IS* quicker at covering the distance than coming in forwards, but your ship does end up facing backward so you have to roll around quickly at the end. I'd recommend this only for quiet space platforms where you approach from odd angles, not so much for busy coriolis stations.

Conclusion

A combination of those tricks, along with an upgraded FSD, allowed me to make four trips per hour instead of three and there are routes you can push up to five or six too. I rejoiced the first time I'd docked, sold, bought and launched ahead of the stopwatch. Instrument your trade route and know how much money each second costs you, then decide how you can maximise your profits.

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As always, fly safe.