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How to fly a stable visual approach on a Boeing 707?
Written by Capt Lim   
Monday, 02 January 2012 09:52

Boeing 707 ILS Approach at Perth

Dear Captain Lim,

I would like to take a moment to applaud you on your great website and thank you for taking your time and answering everyone's questions.

I hope you could help me with a problem I'm having at the moment.

I'm a young Commercial Pilot and was offered employment after nearly two years of getting my CPL. After applying to so many airlines, I was finally offered an opportunity to fly a Boeing 707 out of the Middle East provided I paid for my Initial Type Rating.

Without hesitation, I managed to secure a bank loan and subsequently completed my type rating and also my Base Check.
I've completed about 100 hours on the B707 to date and have performed very well (based on the fact of my low flying experience of 250 hrs and a twin engine rating only).

I'm now preparing for my first line check on the aircraft, but here is where the problem comes in:

During the approach phase, I seem to be struggling on getting the aircraft stable as I disconnect the autopilot usually at base leg.
Once cleared for the instrument approach, everything happens simultaneously, (need to maintain altitude, maintain flap minimum speed, monitoring to turn final so I don’t overshoot the Localizer) so I tend to always mess the approach up.

My instructor captain says my scan is slow.

At the moment, I become totally fixated on my ADI and totally forget about my speed and altitudes.

At times, I notice my speed dropping and respond by adding power, she then starts to climb and thus I lose my glide slope.

Could you kindly give me some advice and how I could prepare and take control of this and make my approaches perfect?

Thank you in advance,


Hi Jonathan,

First of all, you have taken a good step to keep yourself in touch with flying even though the Boeing 707 is a rather old plane.

Nevertheless the experience and hours you accumulate will soon be useful when you apply for your next flying job.

I have not flown a Boeing 707 but I think the conventional technique is still the same. In fact, after flying the Boeing 707, you may find that your manipulative skills will be better than those who are used to the more automated planes such as the Airbuses or Boeings. The only disadvantage is that you will not have any glass cockpit experience.

Back to flying a stable visual approach - after disconnecting the auto pilot, proper scanning of instruments is vital. You have to remember the correct pitch attitude and power settings provided you are on the correct profile.

If your profile is out, the correct pitch attitude and power settings will not work. Use the '300 feet per nautical mile' rule – one mile to threshold, you should be at 300 feet above ground level, 2 miles - 600 feet, 3 miles - 900 feet, etc. as a rule of thumb for your correct profile.

When you are on centre line (make use your ILS Localizer if available) and glide path (make use of your ILS Glide Slope), remember, “APT”. A = Attitude. P = Pitch. T = Trim.

Ask your instructor or another experienced pilot what is the correct pitch attitude and remember it.

Similarly, find out the range of power settings and remember an approximate figure for a particular landing weight.

Trim the plane well. If you have one engine out, you have to trim the ‘ball’ to around the centre so that you don’t have to fight the rudder! If you get these 3 steps right, it would reduce your workload in flying a stabilized approach.

As I have mentioned, I have not flown a Boeing 707 and what I have said may not be complete.

I wish you more perfect approaches in your flying

PS. To check for any latest updates or postings, you can follow my new Twitter at @CaptKHLim

Boeing 707 Landing at Ankara Airport

Boeing 707 landing in old Kai Tak Airport Hong Kong


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