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Home > Flight Simulator > What is the procedure for an ILS landing?
What is the procedure for an ILS landing?
Pilot Career - Flight Simulator
Saturday, 12 November 2005 01:53

Hello Captain Lim,

I*ve recently stumbled upon your site while looking for information regarding procedure for ILS landings. I am not a real pilot; I recently started enjoying Microsoft*s Flight Simulator 2004. Although I realize, as you also say, it is not the real thing, there are aspects of the program that are realistic in every sense of flying.

This is my question: What is the procedure for an ILS landing? I like flying with IFR, and ILS is usually what you get with IFR in FS. When ATC informs me of my runway, I pause the simulator and find the radio frequency for that runway. I then input that into my NAV 1 radio. When I*m at 2000 to 1700 feet, I usually hit the APP on the autopilot for the plane to take over the landing.

This brings me to another question: I ask this specifically on Boeing aircraft as that is what I seem to be flying so far. I*ve flown the 777 in the game as well as 757; I believe they*re similar in retrospect. Do you need to input the ILS runway you*re landing on into the Garmin GPS and load it, then activate the vectors? If so, once you do that, do you have to switch from NAV to GPS mode, since the ILS information is located in the GPS, or will it go off the radio transmission to the aircraft?

Another question is this; since autopilot is pretty much running the show, let*s say I have auto altitude hold on when I select the auto approach - do I need to switch off the auto altitude so the approach can descend as it gets closer to the runway?

I realize that*s a lot of questions, but I*ve only managed to do one good ILS landing. Last night I was doing a simulated flight from KLAS to KEWR for ILS 04L, and for some reason, I bypassed the runway. I was too high. Hence the questions about the altitude hold, so I had to do a missed approach. Luckily I had 34,000 fuel left; it took me half an hour to get back into the approach. I then had to land on runway 04R, but I didn*t see the plane descending, so I switched off the auto alt hold and manually started descending. Approach then seemed to take over but I almost came short of the runway. I had to take over the altitude again just to land the plane. When I came to a stop, I was almost at the edge of the runway - and that*s with full flaps, spoilers, reverse thrust and brakes.

I can only imagine if that were real, what kind of hot water I*d be in! I apologize for the long email, but I*m desperate to get the hang of ILS. I thought I had it down when I did that first one a few nights ago.

Thank You,

Brandon Stoll

Hi Brandon,

What you have done is not truly correct if you are actually flying a Boeing 777. On a real plane, the ILS (Instrument Landing System) for KEWR (Newark) is programmed on the FMC (Flight Management Computer) well before you even commence the approach and not set on the NAV 1 radio (an almost obsolete procedure) as you did (pause the simulator to find the radio frequency for the runway).

Firstly, you need to know how to use the FMC in the MSFS 2004. I have not updated mine yet as I am still using the MSFS 2002. (I will not dwell on the FMC, as it will take a full course to master it.) However, you can go to the HELP page to learn about it yourself.

When you are in the cockpit of the MSFS 2004, click on the FMC icon and the computer interface will open. You have to fill in the route, KLAS (Las Vegas) to KEWR (Newark), the performance data (weight, fuel, cruising level, speeds, etc); and in the NAV RAD page, the navigation aids - e.g. the ILS frequency for Runway 04L, VOR or ADF. The FMC on the simulator is not fully representative of the real FMC because they do not have actual STAR (Standard Arrival Procedures) or the runway in use. So you still have to manually program the frequencies for the ILS, otherwise some of the other functions are still very good.

Once you have the navigational frequencies properly set up and when within range of the ILS beam, you should see the identifier and frequency on the top left hand corner of your PFD (Primary Flight Display) with the deviation bars sensing correctly. With the autopilot on, you can now arm the APP mode. As the plane captures the localizer and glide slope, it would automatically descend on the profile. This is how it should be done on the real plane but I found that it did not work very well on my MSFS 2002. Sometimes, it lands beautifully and at other times, it either land short or does not land at all! So there are still some glitches in my simulator software. But then, I only fly it very once in a while to refresh my Instrument Rating procedures (and not really trying to land it.)

You can leave the ALT HOLD on if you are on profile - but not above it because it would not capture the ILS. I find using the VS (Vertical Speed) to intercept the glide path very useful. Remember, to do that, you must set a lower altitude on the altimeter first.

I am not clear about your Garmin or GPS mode issue and I cannot answer that question. It is not in the Boeing 777 cockpit panel that I am familiar with.

Please read the HELP page for the detailed procedures of the ILS.


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the reason that the autopilot does not desend the plane is because you need to capture the glidescope from below. arm the APPROACH after you have lined up with the runway, after the vertical ILS indicator starts to move down,the ALTITUDE HOLD should turn off automatically and start decending. you should turn off the autopilot 200ft above the runway and land it manually because the planes in MSFS dont have autoland, which require more than one autopilot to land the aircraft(for flare at landing).
Ared , 28 Mar, 2009
Landing on Approach mode
My experience with MSFS 2004 is that before take off I choose the departure and destination airports,under flight planner. I usually prefer the queen of the skies (747 400). I preset the desired altitude and vsr. If I'm flying VFR, once I take off and reach about 1,000 feet above airport elevation, I activate Nav hold with Auto pilot and altitude hold on. Thus automatically controls the heading of the plane to capture your chosen route to your destination airport at the preset vertical speed. While I'm still cruising to the destination airport, I chose the preferred runway to land, usually an ILS runway, if I want to perform an instrument landing. As I approach the destination airport (say 50 miles away), I switch from Nav hold to Heading hold and vector the plant to capture the Direct Track to the run way, while following approach procedures. with Auto Pilot still on, I switch to Approach hold. This automatically aligns the plane to the Direct Track to the run way, but you have to control rate of descent and throttle settings to properly capture the Glide Slope at a proper landing speed, pay load, weather and airport elevations considered, In other words, Approach hold only guarantees you a Direct Track to the run way, but if you can stay with the Glide Slope at the proper approach speed and attitude, you are likely to enjoy a smooth landing with reduced work load.
By the way, is it just me or does the Airbus 321 handle horribly when flown manually with the key board?
redi , 17 Oct, 2011

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