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centenaryman

Hand flying approaches

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hi,,,for a few years now ive been flying LDS 767 .for approaches into airports that have a glideslope i have no problem,,,hehe obviously its pretty much just the click of a few buttons and the plane flys down the glideslope.Where i have problems is airfields that dont have the glideslope....lets say and airfield that has a beam for left and right tracking but not altitude,,,here i have to guess but always seem to be a few hundred fett to high near the field and have to make a quick dive,,,no very proffesional is it hehehe.does anybody have any pointers,,,,any material on the net i can read up on,,,or any ideas i`d be grateful.ThanksAndrew

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Just an old rule of thumb, Andrew, but it applies to most aircraft and most airports: Start back ten or fifteen miles, but get lined up, be stable and leveled off, prepare the aircraft so that, at the final approach fix - five miles out - you're at 2000 feet (AGL) - at your normal "finals" speed (whatever that is for the 767) - with landing flaps set, spoilers armed, etc., - but with the gear up. At the five-mile point - drop the gear. Don't change anything else. This will give you a 500 ft/min descent rate, which is what you need to aim for. Control your sink rate with engine thrust, and don't pump the elevators.

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Most of these airfields if they don't have ILS, should have VASI or PAPI installations to give you a visual glidepath.

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Paul J's adice is sound.. but it just scratches the surface. The trick to landing an airplane, is to use the classic technique without even having to think about it. You control your airspeed by pitch, and you control your rate of descent by power. -If you're coming in high, but at the proper speed, you FIRST reduce power and THEN pitch to keep the airspeed nailed. -If you're coming in low, but at the proper airspeed, you FIRST add power, and THEN pitch to keep the airspeed nailed.-If you're coming in at the proper altitude, but going too fast, you FIRST pitch up to reduce the airspeed, THEN adjust power for the rate of descent.-If you're coming in at the proper altitude, but the airspeed is too low, you FIRST pitch down to increase airspeed, THEN adjust power for the rate of descent.As you can imagine, it's always a mix of the two, and sometimes you make pitch/power adjustments simultaneously, always keeping in mind that counter-intuitive rule, "Control your airspeed withe the yoke, and control your rate of descent with the throttle"NOW.. the tricky thing is that it all gets blurred a little with turbo-props or jets (especially big jets), because thrust changes happen slowly compared to piston aircraft. These aircraft require that the approach be much more stabilzed, much further out. Airspeeds have to be nailed... and flaps have to be used properly. In a piston-powered airplane, you can get away with using flaps like speed-brakes.. whereas with a jet, they're just a required step in the approach process. Their use isn't as flexible, but more rigid.Obviously, the only way to master this stuff is by practice, practice, practice. And you're much better served mastering things like nailed airspeeds and stabilized approaches in smaller, slower, more forgiving aircraft. Most sim pilots will have none of this.. they're bound and determined to be, "Instant Airline Captains".. but all you'll really accomplish by force-learning some sort of technique that will get you on the runway in a jet, is to reinforce BAD, unrealistic habits.You should be able to consistantly put a C172 onto a runway, and to a complete stop, in no more 800' of runway, before moving on to a bigger/faster airplane. Ideally working your way up the size/speed/complexity ladder logically (i.e. not jumping right into jets). Flying a textbook traffic pattern in a C172 (keeping the altitude perfect), and flying touch-n-goes, works as well in a sim, as it does in real flying, for strengthening your piloting instincts. Eventually, things like the runway image, and the airplane's attitude, and that altimeter reading, will all spell out to you a perfectly sensible message.. and you'll know just how to reply.As you're learning.. there aint no fun nor challenge to letting the autopilot fly your approaches.. might as well be a passenger. :(

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Brett! You can type faster than I can read! :( :(Ok - I forgot - when I said "don't pump the elevators" - I meant control your pitch with trim. Small increments.... so the passengers won't get jumpy...

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Ok - I forgot - when I said "don't pump the elevators" - I meant control your pitch with trim. Small increments.... so the passengers won't get jumpy...
That's a good point. If the approach is stable.. it can indeed be flown by trim ! Guiding a big jet down to the numbers by subtle trim and slight throttle changes, means you ARE nailing it.And just placing it on the runway means little, if it were in a manner that would have your virtual passengers swearing off air-travel (and the FCC wanting to know where in the heck you got your license)(and the maintanence crew saying, "This plane musta been landed by "you know who".. :(

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It would be worth your while to carefully observe the sight picture when on an ILS approach, and mentally take a photograph of how the runway looks when you are 'in the pipe'. The classic advice you get is if the runway is moving down the windscreen, you are going too high, and if it is moving up, you're dropping below the ideal path, but to really nail that, you need to know what shape the runway looks when correctly on profile, or else following that moving up/down advice could still steer you wrong.Also worth noting is the throttle setting and the general pitch of the aircraft when it is on an ILS approach, but make sure you make those observations from an approach where you have captured things a long way out, so that the aircraft is stable and not making many throttle adjustments, also make those observations in smooth weather with no wind, that way you'll have a good solid basis which you can fine tune in other more challenging conditions. Save an Fs file with the approach all set up and you can do it over and over again, which brings up another point, if you do it from a saved file you will ensure that the aircraft always has the same weight, which will make your practice consistent. Of course with night approaches and ones in poor weather, the PAPI lights are your friend.If all else fails, it pays to err on the side of caution and risk an overshoot to an undershoot, because at worst with most overshoots you'll just have to go missed, but if you undershoot, that's when the trouble can start. If you are high, there's plenty you can do about it, but when you are too low, that's when people get tire marks on their rooftops. This is something I personally have to watch out for on pretty much every flight I make in real life, because I tend to fly gliders, and there aint no TOGA button on a glider!With regard to the flare and sight picture, the way to do that is to look at your aim point and keep coming right for it until you're at the point where the throttles can be backed off for touchdown, it's at that point that you should switch your attention to the far end of the runway and use your peripheral vision to judge the touchdown. This is because your peripheral vision is more sensitive to movement and is a better source of data for your brain under those circumstances, and fixing your eyes on the far end of the runway will make that happen automatically, as well as ensuring you track the centreline properly. Unfortunately, it works better in real life than it does in a sim, but give it a try all the same.If you have particularly detailed scenery, you can use a trick I was taught years ago, which is, observe the grass, and when you can make out the details of it, that's typically the point at which you should commence the flare. Needless to say you should fine tune that to suit how well your sim displays scenery, but the concept is sound if you make an observation of how that detail looks on an ILS landing.As with everything, all it takes is a bit of practice (which like with every other endeavor, there is no substitute for) and you'll find that you will do just fine.Al

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As with everything, all it takes is a bit of practice (which like with every other endeavor, there is no substitute for) and you'll find that you will do just fine.Al
Once you learn how to land manually, you will always hand fly approaches- it's the best part of the entire flight so why give all the fun the auto-pilot.As Al says- like anything worth doing, practice makes perfect.I fly a humble C172 in real life (instrument rated), and every night when I "fly" in FSX I always hand fly an approach in the C172. After a while it becomes like walking, you don't think about it :)Bruce.

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Once you learn how to land manually, you will always hand fly approaches- it's the best part of the entire flight so why give all the fun the auto-pilot.As Al says- like anything worth doing, practice makes perfect.I fly a humble C172 in real life (instrument rated), and every night when I "fly" in FSX I always hand fly an approach in the C172. After a while it becomes like walking, you don't think about it :)Bruce.
I agree-there is nothing more satisfying than a hand flown approach. If George is doing it you aren't flying-he is.

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Whilst I don't fly the big jets, I really can't imagine ever wanting to land a plane using the autopilot. I love hand flying final approaches in the default FSX Beechcraft Baron, because it is small enough to make subtle corrections that have an effect almost immediately. In addition, I control the approach entirely with the throttle (in other words, I don't pull or push on the joystick until it is time to flare). Gear and flaps are already down after entering the pattern, so I only have to think about one thing when I am aligned with the runway. The PAPI lights (if they are available) let me know if I am too high or too low, but I usually judge the approach based on how the runway looks. I increase or decrease the power by small amounts to compensate for any deviations from the (estimated) glideslope, and I seem to be able to land the plane ok most of the time (even at short grass strips).You can see four of my recent FSX Beechcraft Baron final approaches in the Flight Sim Video Forum.

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You can see four of my recent FSX Beechcraft Baron final approaches in the Flight Sim Video Forum.
I just viewed those videos... Hafta say, those are picture-perfect approaches.. the definition of a stabilized approach, more-or-less, waiting on the runway to come to you :( Especially if that's the default Baron (it has unrealistically twitchy, pitch-control) .. (I have a modified cfg file, if you're interested)All I'd say (if asked for a critique), is that you could slow it down a little on short-final, so that your flare puts you right on the edge of stalling. You're "greasing it in", which isn't all bad, and gives you margin for error if the wind shifts.. but ideally, you want the wheels on the ground because the airplane stopped flying. You're planting them while still with enough airspeed to initiate a climb.FSX's flight dynamics are real enough to show you just how much runway can be eaten up floating, when you carry an extra 15 knots down to the flare. Next time.. when you transition into the flare.. keep holding her off, just above the runway.. gradually adding more and more back-pressure, until she just won't fly any longer, and see where you touch down .. Then try the approach when you're right at (maybe a little under) 100kias, over the numbers. The difference in used runway is amazing (and quite realistic).***holding the FSX Baron in ground-effect is tough, with the default cfg file.. the elevator is just too sensitive***

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Hey fella`s thanks,,,seems so really good advise......5 miles,,,2000 ft.....decent 500ft what the plane when in auto mode......you know i never even thought of looking at the angles or the characteristics of the runway while on auto pilot.So thanks to all the reply`s.Andrew

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I just viewed those videos... Hafta say, those are picture-perfect approaches.. the definition of a stabilized approach, more-or-less, waiting on the runway to come to you
I set the trim for take off (and never touch it again), keep the flaps at the "approach" setting at all times (through take off, turn through 180 degrees to the downwind leg, and then turn again for final approach and landing), and never bother to retract the undercarriage. That allows me to determine the power required to keep the plane in level flight, and then how much to reduce it to get a nice glideslope to touchdown. I really hate pulling and pushing the joystick when I am flying, which is why I have learned to control the plane entirely with the throttle. It's great for creating really smooth flight videos :( In fact, I could quite happily continue with these short "test" flights without getting bored. When VFR Airfields Volume 2 is released (hopefully around June), I will have another 80 detailed airfields to practice my take offs and landings.I can also hand fly Rick Piper's excellent twin turboprop Hawker Siddeley 748. It is a much heavier plane than the Baron, and therefore more difficult to nail the landings. Nevertheless, I have successfully completed many of these short test flights in this remarkably stable aircraft. When I get the chance, I will create a final approach video for this plane (at one or two of the larger airports), and then add a link here.

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I really hate pulling and pushing the joystick when I am flying, which is why I have learned to control the plane entirely with the throttle. It's great for creating really smooth flight videos
When you get right down to it.. the main difference between; climbing, cruising, and descending, is the power setting. Pitch control is just for airspeed.. even when climbing.. you PITCH for best climb AIRSPEED.You've got a firm grasp on it all.. the kind of understanding that makes flying the bigger/faster stuff, easier .. The theories are all the same..

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Well since the Baron is being talked about I have to step in with some advice.1) Approaches are done with power settings2) You don't want to go below 100 knots (best single engine speed) until you have the runway made3) I wouldn't put the flaps out for reasons explained belowThe way I do an approach is by gradually pulling the manifold back (leave the prop alone), 1" at a time so that when on final I am at 17" of manifold in the summer-and 15" in the winter. This puts you right at 120 knts-the top of the flap range.When at glideslope interception or the descent point on a non precision-the down button comes on-the landing gear. This gives you a 500 fpm descent without much retrimming needed, at the same airspeed 120 knts.When breaking out and the runway is made-the flaps can be put full down-since this power setting keeps you at the top of the flap range airspeed you are ready. Why not use flaps before? 1) If you have an engine go out-not helpful.2) One more thing you have to clean up on missed Flying this way-you should never have to touch the throttle at all-the plane will fly itself down with very minor help on your part.

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That's the beauty of flight simulators. You can experiment a bit, and find the flying style that suits you best :(

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And..... aside from what shortcomings FSX does have.. it DOES do a good job of rewarding proper piloting,, and punishing poor piloting.

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I set the trim for take off (and never touch it again), keep the flaps at the "approach" setting at all times (through take off, turn through 180 degrees to the downwind leg, and then turn again for final approach and landing), and never bother to retract the undercarriage. That allows me to determine the power required to keep the plane in level flight, and then how much to reduce it to get a nice glideslope to touchdown. I really hate pulling and pushing the joystick when I am flying, which is why I have learned to control the plane entirely with the throttle. It's great for creating really smooth flight videos :(
It is sometimes unavoidable using the elevator to push the nose over during an approach. Take for instance a (RW) approach I flew a couple of months ago. I had the power set, flaps out to the first notch, and trimmed for my approach airspeed, and because of updrafts, I was flying level when I should have been descending at 480-500 ft/min. I love when I can set things up and leave it alone from the FAF to the runway, but it doesn't always work out that well.

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Try this one sometime. It'll keep you on your toes:

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The pilot's mantra... "Stay ahead of the airplane", is really illustrated when you see an approach like that. SO much has to be done, SO far ahead of time, always keeping the big picture in mind. If it's not all second nature, you find yourself in over your head in a hurry.New sim-pilots do themselves a huge dis-service, and set themselves up for frustration; when they jump head-first into jet flying, and then try to piece it together, one question at a time... never really understanding the difference between joysticking a jet to the runway, and piloting it there. The first method might end in "success", now and then, but rarely with any sort of consistency or confidence learned.Now.. imagine flying that approach at minimum visibility !? :( If you've learned the techniques properly, it's not all that much more difficult.

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Throttle response in those big jets is way too slow for my style of flying. I need to be confident that my plane will react quickly to control input, even if the corrections are only minor.

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Throttle response in those big jets is way too slow for my style of flying. I need to be confident that my plane will react quickly to control input, even if the corrections are only minor.
Wise and humble words. Big jet piloting (even in the sim), is outside of every pilot's style. That's why those who jump right into it, flounder. To fly sim-jets soundly, and realistically, takes a lot of practice, and instincts long-since honed in smaller, slower aircraft. Or like you (and me), .. just avoid it, knowing that we're not proficient :(

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Wise and humble words. Big jet piloting (even in the sim), is outside of every pilot's style. That's why those who jump right into it, flounder. To fly sim-jets soundly, and realistically, takes a lot of practice, and instincts long-since honed in smaller, slower aircraft. Or like you (and me), .. just avoid it, knowing that we're not proficient :(
It also takes a lot of button punching, and very little flying...which is why most air carrier pilots I know own their own Ga aircraft.

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It also takes a lot of button punching, and very little flying...which is why most air carrier pilots I know own their own Ga aircraft.
Yeah .. if you do end up getting proficient; it's pretty sterile flying. A properly executed descent, approach, and landing in a big jet, is kind of like directing a movie. The idea is to get it all to come off exactly as rehearsed.. no "seat-of-the-pants" decision-making. All the fun in jet-flying comes from the learning part. "Show time", is anti-climatic.. :(

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It also takes a lot of button punching, and very little flying...which is why most air carrier pilots I know own their own Ga aircraft.
Yup, I know a lot of airline pilots who fly gliders for the same reason. They're easy to spot on landing too, they're the ones who flare a Duo Discus when it is still fifty feet off the deck LOLAl

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