the New “Heavy Iron” pilot:
How to intercept, capture and fly an ILS approach
– A progressive tutorial
successfully flying our April Flight Of The Month from Salina Chan,
“Queen of the Heavies”, (www.toomuchfs.com) I
decided that maybe some of you would benefit from a tutorial about
capturing and flying an ILS approach – better late than never, right?
Flightsim.com has featured writings on this topic in the past but
you might find this approach a bit easier to get your head around.
My goal here is to get you flying successfully, I’m not trying to
make Commercial Pilots out of you and we are NOT necessarily following any
documented or “proper” procedures – the Hard Core Simmers can tune
of all some basics I used to get things going:
You’ll need to have a basic understanding of using VORs and NDBs to
navigate the world. Try this
link for some good help: http://www.flightsim.com/cgi/kds?$=main/howto/nav18.htm
Related to “A”, you’ll need to know how to set your radio stack to
You’ll need to know how to set and program your default (or otherwise)
autopilot including NAV versus GPS settings, using HDG, CRS, Speed
and ALT hold etc.
D- You’ll need to know how to use at least the default flight planner to get from point A to point B. (We are not covering that here)
If you are NOT up to speed on all this stuff you are really not ready to try this so you’ll need to go do some study and check back with me later. You can also follow this link for some flight helps that are a few years old but very, very good: http://www.flightsim.com/cgi/kds?$=main/howto/qsg737.htm
We have also included a set of flight situation and weather files for FS2004 and FS2002 that you may download here.
the files from ILS1.zip into the following FS folder:
Program Files >
Microsoft Games > FS2002 or FS9 > Flights > Myflts
fire up your sim, go to FILE > SELECT FLIGHT and choose ILS1.
You will start out in a default 737 approaching London’s Stansted
airport. Everything should be
configured to make a gradual intercept of the ILS.
Some things to note while you cruise closer:
here’s my plan for starting out: You
are going to use your HDG, ALT and your IAS settings on the
Autopilot, to control your plane all the way down to the runway.
Simple mouse clicks for now, you won’t even need your stick/yoke!
Then, as you practice, and get better you will be encouraged to TURN
OFF YOUR AUTOPILOT at earlier and earlier stages of the approach.
Soon you should be flying the last 30 miles by hand!
to the flight, if you can find the gauge that shows you your DME to the
NAV1 you can watch for the needle on the H.S.I to start centering about 14
It is not uncommon for a 30* intercept angle which means as that needle
starts in you need to make a 30* turn to match the runway heading, we’ll
get to that, but this time, more like 10*.
Anyway, as that needle centers you’ll need to click the
autopilot’s HDG setting until you are aligned the same as the CRS
setting (which you’ll recall matched the runway heading of 228*).
If the needle is slightly left you’ll need to lower the HDG
setting one or two degrees. If
the needle is slightly right you’ll need to increase your HDG setting,
just a couple mouse-clicks.
you are here go ahead and drop your airspeed setting to 160 knots, make
sure you have about 15-20* of flaps.
Now, take note of the little arrow or diamond down the side of the H.S.I. (for me was about 11 miles DME) That starts dropping as your flightpath crosses (from below) into your glideslope. When that little arrow gets to the middle, set your ALT setting on autopilot to 0000! That’s right, sea level or at least –200 below airport elevation to be safe. Airport Elevation is 348 feet. Then you can adjust your ROD, Vertical Speed to match that little arrow. I usually start at about –700 fpm but that depends on your airspeed. If the arrow gets a notch or two ABOVE you need to decrease your ROD, maybe to –400 or 500 fpm. If it drops low (as it will) you’ll need to increase ROD maybe even to –1000 fpm. Let’s see, when I flew this my DME was now 7 miles. Drop IAS (still, you’re only working on the autopilot, nothin’ else at this point) to 150, add more flaps too.
your mousing finger is warmed up, you should be 5-7 miles out and all
lined up. All you need do now
is use your right hand to click IAS (slower), HDG (up or
down slightly) and VertSpeed (up or down slightly) to follow the
arrows of the ILS. Use your
left hand to progressively drop in flaps.
I look for landing gear about 7 miles out, full flaps by 4-5 miles
out, IAS to about 130-140 by 3-4 miles out.
comes the hardest part, which is little more than faster mouse clicking.
Make sure at this point that your NumLock key is OFF or your
stick/yoke is handy for ground steering.
As you get down to the last 500 ft or so above the ground you’ll
want to decrease your ROD and IAS!
I cut IAS to 80-90 knots and try to get ROD to –100 fpm (if your
autopilot lets you do 50 fpm that’s great).
This is your flare and as soon as the wheels hit you should pop up
the spoilers and disconnect AP and start hitting F2 for reverse thrust.
Now that AP is D/C you’ll need to use your stick or keypad for
ground steering as noted above. It
may take you a few runs at this to get your timing down but then again,
timing is everything isn’t it?
lets make that a bit tougher. Load
up ILS2.zip as you did above:
This time you are a bit further out on approach to Mumbai, India.
While all looks good now I’ll tell you that under 4,500 ft
visibility is limited to 5 miles. Run
the approach basically the same way, set IAS to 160, confirm HDG at
085* and lower your ALT to 4,000 feet.
Add in your flaps and gear at the appropriate times; if you did
this link: http://www.flightsim.com/cgi/kds?$=main/howto/qsg737.htm
you shouldn’t need me to keep telling you this stuff, we’re moving on!
You will see that I dialed up an NDB (345) which is along your
approach path as well as the airport’s VOR (NAV2 = 116.60)) so try to
get your little ADF needle pointing the same way as
your CRS or course setting on H.S.I.
In other words, fly to the NDB first, then look for your ILS – If
you turn to the NDB right away you’ll have a sharper angle to intercept
the ILS. If you wait until
that ADF needle turns a bit and round your corner it’ll be easier.
(See we only added one little component this time).
As your ADF and ILS needles center up you’ll need to adjust your HDG
setting on autopilot to turn you into proper alignment (Runway heading is
269* ILS frequency is 110.30). Again,
as your glideslope arrow/diamond thing drops set your ALT to 0000
or lower, and adjust your VertSpeed as needed to keep centered.
(I intercepted at 8 miles DME) Airport Elevation is 27 feet. Visibility
drops…you watch your alignments… about 500 feet above ground you
decrease rate of decent, about 200 feet you cut IAS to 90 knots, nose
rises, speed drops, ROD –100 fpm…SQUEEK!
You’ve done it again, congratulations.
note here on Missed Approaches: Logically
you’d like to have your AP all set to bail you out if you have to go “missed”,
HDG set, ALT about 5,000 ft, IAS to 240 knots etc then if you abort
landing you hit TOGO on your throttles, engage AP and once you are
climbing you clean up. Well,
you can’t really do that with this technique so you either land the
thing or if you MUST go missed you D/C AP, firewall the throttles and pull
back on the stick/yoke/trim. I
figure anyone trying to learn to fly “irons” can make a plane climb so
fly first and set the AP for go around later!
the next one, really no tougher than last time (some say easier, just
We’ll say that you are piloting a 777 into Taipei, Taiwan. Airport Elevation is 107 feet.
This time you are well away from the airport but heading down
out of your cruise. NAV1 is
tracking the radial into a southern Taiwan VOR (115.20) and NAV2 is set to
the airport (114.30). Your
NAV2 needle should point the way home.
Go ahead and turn your HDG early if you like, then fly the
045* radial outbound for 100-110 miles while you descend into the clouds.
At about 100 miles DME from MKR adjust your radio NAV1 frequency to
the ILS which is 111.10 and set CRS to runway 5L, which is 052*.
See that, only a 7* turn to finals, easy!
you can’t see a lot out there as I’ve added some cloud layers and
turbulence to your Far East arrival.
You’ll want to be about 5,000 feet by 15-20 miles out, the H.S.I.
will tell you if the runway
is to your left or right so adjust HDG to turn into it, catch the
glideslope arrow and set ALT to –200 adjusting VertSpeed as
needed to stay centered. This
time, with the wind, rain and turbulence you’ll need to constantly play
with your HDG and VertSpeed, you may also want to keep IAS a bit
higher as you don’t want a big gust of wind to stall you out –
speaking of faster, a notch or two less flap might help with that but
there’s also autobraking if you’d like to dial that in (I don’t).
Don’t worry, I’ll let you catch a glimpse of the airport before
the ground but at this point you shouldn’t need that, just fly your
load up ILS4.zip as before. You’re
getting the hang of this now! One
more default plane, the 747, but the same principles!
You’re approaching Victoria, BC on your way into a rainy Seattle,
WA (typical huh?) This time
I’ve added a couple of steps for you to work through:
You are tracking NAV1 into the 088* radial for the VOR at 113.70,
but also notice that the ADF is pointing to an NDB
up ahead (240) and NAV2 is set for Paine, which is 110.60.
Cross Victoria at about 21,000 ft and while you fly 088* drop to 14,000 ft before the NDB. From the Skagit NDB turn right to HDG 150 now tracking NAV2 into Paine. On the radio stack set NAV1 for the ILS 110.30 with CRS moved from 088* to 161*. Drop to 7,000 ft and slow down!
Once your ILS beam on the H.S.I. comes alive you can set your NAV2 radio to Seattle’s VOR at 116.80. Watch your DME reading, progressively slowing and dropping in your flaps until you can intercept that ILS beam and glideslope. I think I was about 4,800 ft when that thing centered up. This time, since we started further out, you may be left or right of the beam so HDG may need to go either way to intercept that sucker. Airport Elevation is 429 feet. I look for speed on short final around 150 dropping to 100 knots after 400 ft or so. Again, you may need to run this situation several times to get smooth. You’ll also notice that I’ve added in some wind. This technique works less well with more wind, but you can still deal with a bit of slip/wind correction with this method. I flew this situation twice to confirm my settings and had smooth landings, spot on, both times with my HDG about 163-165*.
on, next up is ILS5.zip. This
time you are into the Lear45
in Valencia, Venezuela. As you can see, the GPS window is open now but this is ONLY
to show you that I have set in a flightplan.
You will set the NAV / GPS switch on your autopilot to GPS, add one
notch of flaps, release brakes and away you go! Once you have a positive rate of climb engage the ALT setting
on AP (14,000 ft), engage A/T and IAS to 220 knots, and select CRS.
This should fly you along the prescribed route!
you are flying I want you to set your radios as follows:
ADF to 267, NAV1 to 110.10, NAV2 to 114.90.
Now you are set for an ILS into Maracaibo, and here is how that
will shake out:
though your AP is tracking your GPS route or flightplan, your NAV2 / VOR
radio will pick up the VOR at 114.90 (set your DME to follow it in –
that’s DME2). As you near
the VOR (like 10 miles or so) set your HDG on AP to match your ACTUAL,
current heading. Click HDG
on and CRS off.
Then switch that NAV / GPS lever back to NAV.
Now set CRS for 026*, that’s the runway heading!
Drop IAS to 160 knots and decrease ALT to 3,700 feet.
After you cross the VOR turn HDG to –12* and set NAV2 for the
airport, which is 115.70. Elevation
is 235 feet, by the way. Now it’s the same old drill, watch the needle center up,
adjust HDG to turn towards the runway, slowing down and adding flaps at
the appropriate times…small clicks left or right, up or down to follow
the needles into a smooth and safe landing.
puts you in a Lear45 headed into the off-set ILS at Tivat, Bosnia.
Now, off-sets are a bit of a different story because
you can’t always time the turn well by using the HDG setting and turning
changes your rate of decent too. So
you use this technique to the Missed Approach Point, then you D/C HDG and
ALT and fly it yourself. If
you’d like to keep A/P in control of speed you are welcomed to do that
but once I stop clicking and start flying, I fly the whole thing!
So, cross the NDB (345) at 3,300 ft.
Track the ILS heading 337* dropping slowly to 1,800 ft by 3
miles DME. The runway is to
your left, 11 o’clock on a heading of about 320* (that’s a 17* turn on
short final!) Airport
Elevation is 25 feet. Good
“Man, how many more can this guy come up with?” Well, this is truly the last one. ILS7.zip We’re back into the 737, climbing out of Arequipa, Southern Peru this time, set cruise for about 27,000 ft. We’re looking at a short flight into Julianca, Peru. Why there? Well because one, the airport is at more than 12,500 feet ASL so you’ll have to deal with some density altitude problems here and two, because there’s no ILS at the airport. So how does this make it into an ILS tutorial? Well, this is a “new heavy iron” tutorial and not every airport will have an ILS.
So, turn NAV1 and NAV2 to 115.50 and adjust your heading to fly towards that little arrow. When you are about 12-15 miles DME from the airport turn HDG to 115*, slow IAS a bit and reset ALT to 20,000 ft. Add in some flaps as you go but fly this heading maybe 20 or more miles AWAY from the airport before turning left to 320* or so. Set CRS for 290* which will have you flying kind of toward the runway 11/29. (320 minus 290 equals your 30* intercept!) Hold 20,000 feet until exactly 15 miles DME and then set your ALT to 10,000 feet (or so). If your speed is 180 set ROD to 1,900 fpm. If your speed is 160 set ROD to 1,700 fpm. If your speed is 140 set ROD to 1,500 fpm. I came in a bit too fast and with full flaps, starting at 160 and slowing to 140 should do you just fine, even at 12,500 feet – the runway is just a notch under 14,000 feet long so you don’t have to put down on the stripes!
Now here’s the tricky part: The VOR may not be in the middle of the threshold so your descent profile or your heading may need to be adjusted as the runway comes into view (unless you wanted to land ON the VOR station?) Like I say, I was coming in a bit too fast and had to really dump my airspeed and altitude the last 5 miles but still, just mouse clicks on the autopilot and I landed safely. (Although a picture will show my spoilers up early to help bleed off the speed!
Now, some will may work through this and be so excited to be flying those big jets that they never graduate beyond using the autopilot and while that’s okay (I guess) it really isn’t “flying” and this is a “Flight Simulator” not a mouse-clicking game so…learn to turn that sucker off, first at 3 miles out, then 5 then 10, 15, 30 or a hundred miles out, then you’ll be FLYING the heavies just like the big boys! (I flew Situation 3 again with no autopilot just to prove my point. While my descent profile wasn’t as smooth down to 5,000 feet and I landed a bit long, my landing was actually a bit better when flying by hand because I could cross-control the rudder-ailerons a bit.)
So, get to working on this and then, let me know how you do with becoming an “iron sim pilot.”