Fly an airliner with a flight simulator including ILS approach
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. If you know very well what you are doing than this may be of little interest to you.
First of all you'll need to have a grasp of some basics:
You'll need to have an understanding of using VORs and NDBs to navigate the world.
You'll need to know how to set your radio stack to change frequencies.
You'll need to have a basic understanding of using your autopilot including NAV versus GPS settings, using HDG, CRS, SPD and ALT hold, etc. Maybe some working knowledge about the default flight planner would be good too.
If you are NOT up to speed on these three points you are really not ready to try this so you'll need to go do some study and check back with this article later.
I will be flying two Boeings and a Douglas for this demonstration but the principles learned can be applied to most any aircraft with an autopilot - not to offend anyone but I've even gone so far as to install a "Dash 8-type" of panel in my DC-3 and this technique for flying the ILS works for that aircraft too!
Starting Easy: Los Angeles To Ontario In The 738
First let's talk about what we are going to do. We are going to depart LAX to the east and fly "straight" to Ontario. As you can see in PHOTO-01, if we follow the grey line and fly the runway heading we'll be too close to get lined up for landing. So we are going to tweak our route along the pink line towards Pomona. As we cross the ILS beam for Ontario runway 8L we'll make a little course correction to the right and come right on in for landing.
Choose your aircraft and go to KLAX runway 6L. Let's look at Pic 2.
- On the left side is the radio with NAV1 set to the ILS at Ontario, 109.7.
- NAV2 is set to the VOR at Pomona, 110.4.
- The NDB/ADF really isn't needed but I put in 397 which is beyond Ontario but may help us with our geography in the air.
- Across the top you'll see that CRS is at 076° which is the runway at Ontario. Course is where we want to go.
- Next panel is for airspeed, 250 knots max under 10,000 feet.
- Heading is 069° which is our current position on runway 6L. If course is where we want to go, heading is where we are currently going. You'll see a difference here of 10° which isn't much but if we turn just a bit north, toward Pomona, that'll give us a little leeway.
- In fact, if you look at the middle bottom you'll see the NAV2 arrow pointing toward Pomona, slightly left of our current heading.
- Back to the top right, we'll be cruising at 3,000 for this flight - not very realistic but it's just practice.
- Under the ALT settings you'll see 3-4 notches of flaps are in. All that's left to do is set the RTO knob and depart.
- PHOTO-03. Rule number one is always to "fly the plane first" so I always keep all autopilot functions off until safely airborne.
In Pic-04 you can see that we are now airborne and stable so the autopilot has been engaged. Gear and flaps are up, the RTO has been turned off and we are flying runway heading with Pomona ahead-left. Compare that to Pic-05 where we have turned our HDG indicator to 058° and we are heading toward Pomona.
We next shift our attention to the main display (circled in Pic-06) where we are watching for the pink line (which is Ontario's runway) to center up. Again, let's dissect the screen shot:
- Course is 076 which is where we want to go, Ontario's runway 8L.
- Speed is 200, we are slowing down in prep for landing.
- Heading is 076 because we are turning right to MATCH the runway heading - we now aim to keep that pink line centered up. If the line moves right we turn the HDG knob right - if the line moves left we turn the HDG knob left.
- Altitude is still 3,000 feet.
- Below that we see some flaps coming down in prep for landing. No gear yet and no autobraking.
- On the lower middle we see that we are still pointing toward Pomona (open arrow) but that San Bernardino NDB is to the right.
- On the left display we can see KONT is also to our right and the pink dotted line is our heading.
Now that we are aligned with the runway we can learn about glideslopes (Pic-07). The approach to the runway goes up forever as we see number 1 on the green line. We are flying along happily at 3,000 feet which is the pink line. As we get closer to the glideslope the green line gets lower as shown in position number 2. At some point we will cross the glideslope as noted by position number 3. If we continue along the pink line we'll be too high so at that point we need to fly down the green line (number 4) until we land (number 5). We can see this happening in Pic-08:
- The circled part shows two little pink blips which is the runway and glideslope. The bottom blip shows that we are aligned with the runway (also shown by the pink line in the next display screen to the right) The other little blip on the side shows the glideslope coming down lower to cross our path.
- Along the autopilot we see that our intended course is still 076°
- Our speed is lower, 165.
- Heading is now 077° basically matching the runway.
- Altitude is still 3,000 feet because we haven't cross the glideslope yet (see position 2 in PHOTO-07)
- More flaps in prep for landing
- Gear coming down
Pic-09 shows that we have now intercepted the glideslope as well and we are heading down to the runway.
- On the left, the two pink blips are lined up in the middle. This means that we are aligned with the runway and on the glideslope.
- Notice the altitude setting on the right of autopilot - it's 0000 which is sea level!
- You'll now use small tweaks of heading and rate of descent to fly to the runway.
- If the glideslope goes low we need to descend faster than -800 fpm. If it goes high we'll need to click that UP to maybe -300 fpm.
- Same thing with heading, if it moves left or right we'll click the autopilot heading to match.
- Gear and flaps are down, no autobraking needed, speed maybe a bit high but ...
As I came down on this approach my heading setting varied between 074 and 079 and my rate of descent varied -700 to -1,100 fpm. Please notice the settings in Pic-10:
- Course 076 to match the runway
- Speed 165
- Heading 077 to match the runway
- Altitude 0000 but rate of descent on -700 fpm
- Full flaps and gear down
- Runway aligned but glideslope low (means we are high!)
Pic-12 shows the speed and altitude coming down but now only -200 fpm. Basically we have used the autopilot to retard the throttles and flare. Notice too that because we were high in photo 10, we have lost the ILS and are landing half-way down the runway! ("Not to worry folks, your captain is experienced and has everything under control ...")
Pic-13 shows the final flare. Autopilot is still on, speed even lower, heading up to 078 because I'm on the left side of the runway. I'm just a few feet off the ground, nose is up and actual speed is about 150. Not bad!
Pic-14 and 15 show us on the ground, spoilers up but autopilot still on. At this point I disconnect all autopilot functions, reverse thrust and use differential braking to keep centered. I stopped up easily before the end of the runway and can use my joystick/yoke to now taxi to the gate.
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