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Tom Wright

How to land the 747?!

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Hi guys!Just completed my first long haul trip in the 747-400 which was pretty much faultless (EGLL-KJFK).The bit that wasn't so smooth was my own manual landing!! Does anyone have any advice on how to pull off a nice landing in this big bird?! I was finding the flare difficult to judge.Thanks,Tom

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Hi guys!Just completed my first long haul trip in the 747-400 which was pretty much faultless (EGLL-KJFK).The bit that wasn't so smooth was my own manual landing!! Does anyone have any advice on how to pull off a nice landing in this big bird?! I was finding the flare difficult to judge.Thanks,Tom
Hi tom, Yes, the high position of the 747 cockpit makes a bit hard to manage the flare and touchdown (you think you are higher than you really are). It's easier in the 737. But it is all (as everything in life) a matter of practice.Pay attention, to your approach speed, of course, but also to the radio altimeter and the GPWS callouts, they will be your friends to avoid smashing the gear against the tarmac.If your final approach is stable (constant speed and rate of descent), crossing the runway threshold at 50 ft must be your next target (listen to your GPWS: fifty !!), at thirty !! apply a very very sligth back pressure on the yoke (not to increase pitch in more than one degree), at twenty !! throttles to idle (F1 is very useful), and the big bird will gently kiss the earth's surface, apply full reverse (F2) and bring very slowly the nose to the ground.Well, sometimes the result is better than others, but we don't have to worry about it...it is only a simulation.Best Regards.

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Thanks for the help guys. I fly light aircraft in real life and am perhaps struggling with the differences in landing the two!! In a light aircraft you add loads and loads of backpressure to 'hold it off' as long as possible. I guess i'm trying to do this in this 747, when actually, all you need to do is lift the nose a bit which only requires a tiny bit of backpressure.

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I fly light aircraft in real life and am perhaps struggling with the differences in landing the two!! In a light aircraft you add loads and loads of backpressure to 'hold it off' as long as possible.
Yeah, I fly light aircraft in R.L. too and there is a big difference in how you land your Piper versus 747. "Holding off" in big jets is NO-NO.

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Thanks for the help guys. I fly light aircraft in real life and am perhaps struggling with the differences in landing the two!! In a light aircraft you add loads and loads of backpressure to 'hold it off' as long as possible. I guess i'm trying to do this in this 747, when actually, all you need to do is lift the nose a bit which only requires a tiny bit of backpressure.
Thats why. I fly light aircraft in real life too. Big jets don't use piston engines. Turbines take time to spool up and they're much more powerful. Flare is the same whether you fly in real life or in the fs world. Just do what you normally do. Every plane flies the same.
Yeah, I fly light aircraft in R.L. too and there is a big difference in how you land your Piper versus 747. "Holding off" in big jets is NO-NO.
Oh and what you said about don't hold backpressure. Hold the plane at like 7 degrees above the horizon.

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If the runway has a ILS, let the FMC autotune the runway ILS frequency and follow the flight director bars on final to maintain a good 3 degree nose down pitch (around -800FPM). I will usually retard the thrust levers @ 30FT RA and start the flare @ 20FT RA by gently pulling the nose up (to much back pressure will cause the plane to tend to float at 10FT RA then dropping like a rock on the tarmac when it stalls). This usually gives me about a -80ish FPM touchdown rate. I also set my null zone to none for maximum sensitivity on the yoke.

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From a non-pilot's perspective, it took a while to re-configure my thinking process. I too, wanted to "flare' the airplane to land. I had initially envisioned increasing the AOA (the flare maneuver) as a means to decrease airspeed, thereby allowing the airplane to settle onto the runway. This thinking had me floating down the length of the runway like a balloon, muttering, 'Down you pig. DoWn!.' As it finally became apparent the landing was going Way long, airspeed Had finally dropped enough that my "Flare" maneuver was finally gaining traction. GA thrust was applied, but those big ol spoolers take a while to spin up. Finally touching down at the departure end, I'm now muttering 'Up you pig. Up!' The concept of a "flare" in a big airplane might be misconsidered.I finally discovered the Rate indicator. I initially flew the LVLD 767. Finally, I had a real airplane and could practice. Of course, initially I found the trick was to maintain V(landing)r and glideslope. However the big breakthrough was the recognition that GS was maintained at ~ 800FPM rate of descent. Then, the trick became to capture GS, then Lock-On to the rate indicator. That was my early warning system. If I saw 900FPM, I would soon be below GS. If I saw 700, soon above. This let me stay ahead of any GS deviations. By this method, I could maintain GS all the way to the threshold. Once over the threshold (and finally given up on the concept of 'flare'), I had to concentrate on continuing to fly the airplane At Vr. The trick here was Not to "flare." The trick was to decrease my rate of descent, while maintaining Vr. There is no "flaring" going on. The airplane is Flown all the way to touchdown, with a decrease in ROD as that touchdown point is approached. I've learned to listen to the 'Cadence' of the attitude callouts through the last 50ft. If the threshold is crossed at ~ 800FPM, these callouts will present as remarkably consistent. Conceptually (and in fact) I now perceive the back pressure during that last 50 as simply a means to reduce my ROD: just like I might do to ease into a new lower altitude. That concept of Flare had me really baffled for quite a while. However with that 767, I recognized that it would be much more user-friendly to have the rate indicator bit closer to the Glide slope dots. I was going blind flipping my focals between the EHSI/ADI and the rate indicator. Then I discovered the 744. Hey whatcha know? Where'd they decide to put the rate indicator? Right by a GS scale. It was a miracle! And then I saw how the MD implemented that same indication and thought 'WoW. This is even better' imHo, the MD11 rate indication is Much easier to read than the 744's (but the 767 had half-blinded me anyway).But there's more. The 744's pitch is very sensitive to airspeed/flaps/gear config changes. I was constantly pitch triming coming down glide slope. My goal was to have a neutral control column over the threshold. That last little tug-for-touch-down is a very delicate touch. If you have the column back in your lap already, it can get tricky, cuz there's no feel. My eyes are better, but now my thumb is numb from all that pitch trimming. Finally the MD11 came along. LSAS is magic. Essentially, it's an auto pitch-hold function . . . and coming down glideslope, it makes even a bad pilot (like me) a hero. No more trimming. Just manage to get on speed, at an 800FPM ROD/on GS, hold for a couple of seconds, then let loose. Really. Put Your Hands in your Lap. The system will autotrim to recenter the CC. Magic. As you reconfigure flaps/gear, just maintain airspeed with thrust. If a rate adjustment is necessary, nudge-and-release the control column. Do not hold. This is (essentially) a fly-by-wire pitch system. It will respond with a slight pitch adjustment, then Hold that new pitch. Nudge the CC, then return your hands to your lap! Nudge-n-Release. That's the MD's required pitch input on approach. However don't nod-off. You still gotta be the PF. But still, it's a huge improvement over the 744 .Once you're over the threshold, the CC will be centered. The Rate of Descent/Decrease maneuver (ahhh, aka, 'flare?') will be effortless. A very slight tug as Betty calls out ~ 20, is all it will take. You'll be so happy . . . but don't forget to stop!

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Actually, the concept of flare is not so different from flying a C-150 or a 747.Note, I do say the concept.By pitching up you reduce the ROD so that main gear touches down smoothly.While with a Cessna (=small aircarft) one is taught to hold the attitude and 'sink through the horizon', you actuallyrotate a few degrees (2-3) up in a 747 and 'fly' into the ground. Also the pitching up is a bit different - as with a Cessna is typical a flare altitude of a few feet above the runway while a 747 one might better flare around 50 ft.The mass of air under the wings that acts as a cussion with a small aircraft will keep the 747 afloat to the end of the runway - which we don't want. We want to sink the 747 through this mass of air under its big wings.As far as looking at FPM in absolute figures I would not encourage that. Simply because speed is left out.When you fly at different Vrefs you have different FPM associated with that speed.However, for a given speed -when you are perfectly on the glideslope - you then can read the FPM and 'act ahead' as described above.

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Wow thanks. Very useful information on here. It's surprising how little backpressure is needed when flaring the heavies - and I can understand why. When landing a light aircraft you aim to keep her flying as long as possible, and as a result the backpressure is not to pitch the nose up, but to keep the nose in exactly the same place - to counter the increasing nose down tendancy due to the decreasing speed. In a heavy, like the 747 or the MD11, you land at a speed that she'll still fly at - so too much backpressure will end up sending her back up again and floating before hitting the ground with a thump!So from what i've read from you guys, the 'flare' is only a very light backwards nudge on the stick to lift the nose a bit whilst idling the power gently?

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