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FS2002/FS2004 Navigation: Flying a 737 from A to B in IFR (Using Instruments) Conditions

A tutorial on Navigation by Pete Daly

Intro: Using this tutorial you can take off from any airport & land at any ILS equipped airport, right on the center line, in very low visibility. It is also useful for general navigation because the principles are the same. I have chosen Chicago O'Hare to Minneapolis St Paul, about 280 miles. Visibility of 1 mile. This tutorial uses the the FS2002 Flight Planner, GPS & ATC , which means you have the simple options to change to the correct Communication (COM) frequencies. The principles are the same whatever Simulator you use provided you have the facilities.
Click images for full size image Instructions
Navtute1.jpg 1. Flight Planner. Use the Flight Planner from the Menu at the start of your flight.
Navtute2.jpg 2. In this case Chicago O'Hare is selected as Departure airport & Minneapolis St Paul as the Destination airport. An altitude of 30,000 ft (Flight Level 300) is selected & IFR conditions . Click 'Find Route' & you will be presented with a map of your route. Set altitude (30,000 feet (Flight Level 300) in this case). Save.


OK, now for a little pre-planning. In order to make an approach in poor visibility (IFR) you will need to find the ILS frequencies of the runways at your destination. You can do this in Flight Planner while the Route Map is displayed. Double click on your destination airport on the map & then you will see a Facilities window. See images on left. It is a good idea to zoom in to your destination airport & print the diagram so you can familiarise yourself with the runways.
Navtute4.jpg Make a note of the ILS frequencies for your Destination airport. Click OK & Fly Now.
Navtute5.jpg You should now be at Chicago O'Hare. Open the GPS window & move it to the top left corner, conveniently out of the way. . See image on left. This is a good time to set your Autopilot settings (do not turn Autopilot on at this stage). Set Altitude (30,000) & Airspeed (250 kts for initial speed below 10,000 feet). Heading & Course as your GPS directs. In this case it is 310 degrees.
Navtute6.jpg Select ATC (see image on left) & select Contact Ground. Follow instructions. They will then hand you to Tower for takeoff. . In this case we are instructed to climb out on runway heading.
Navtute2a.jpg OK, ready to roll! 5 degrees of flap are selected for takeoff & retracted at 1000 feet above ground. Rotate (Takeoff) at 160kts, maintaining the centerline as you go. Gear up immediately after safe climb is established. & don't forget - Flaps up at 1000 ft.
Navtute7.jpg After takeoff you may be given ATC directions to turn towards your intended flight path. If not, do this yourself. Gentle consistent turn & climb. Watch the airspeed. Below 10,000 feet, stay within 250 kts. Note the heading & Green Route track. Turn your aircraft on to this heading.

Once you have established direction & climb this is a good time to select your Autopilot. See enlarged image on left. Make sure your Altitude & Air Speed are set & switch the Nav/GPS switch from Nav to GPS. Then turn on all Auto switches. A/P, F/D & A/T. The Press the Nav, Alt & IAS (indicated Air Speed) switches. If you have done this correctly you should be able to take your hands off the controls & the aircraft will fly itself.

Once your cruise altitude is achieved consult your kneeboard to determine cruise speed & set autopliot to this speed.

You can see from the same image that we are now 105 miles from destination. At 30,000 feet this is the time to commence decent. Descent should start at about 30-35 miles for every 10,000 feet. So 30,000 feet descent starts at 100 miles from destination. We are on autopilot so to decend simply turn the Altitude reading on the Autopilot down in stages. Unless otherwise instructed by ATC, you can set it to 20,000 then 10,000 ft.

Navtute9.jpg The FS2002 Kneeboard gives useful data on speeds, etc. The image on the left shows approach speeds for 30 degree flaps.
Navtute10.jpg You can see from the image on the left that we are 41 miles from Minneapolis St Paul but the ATC still has not provided an option to communicate with the tower. Airspeed has been reduced to below 250 kts & altitude is just below 8000 ft. No flaps have been set yet. This is a good place to Save your Flight in case it all goes wrong - you can just go back to this stage & try again!
Navtute11.jpg At 10 miles from destination ATC came into contact. Our instructions are to join a right hand circuit for runway 040. Make a turn so you are parallel to your runway & in the opposite direction & preferably not within 10 miles . This is what is called Downwind. Still on autopilot switch from GPS to Nav & set your heading as required. In this case it is 250.
Navtute12.jpg Make sure you maintian a distance of at least 10 miles from the airport.
Navtute13.jpg Now is a good time to set your Nav 1 to the ILS frequency of the runway in use. In this case it is 109.3. Set it in the STBY window & then switch it to the ACTV window to make it active. A bar should now appear on the main Nav gauge. Reduce altitude to about 4000 feet unless otherwise instructed.
Navtute14.jpg At about 20 miles on the Downwind section of the circuit we are making a 90 degree turn on to a heading of 310 degrees, the base leg of the approach circuit. Do this by simply setting the autopilot Heading indicator to the correct reading. You should start to bring flaps in at this stage & reduce speed to about 180 kts. About 10 degrees would be right. Reduce altitude to about 3000 feet.
Navtute15.jpg Anticipate the runway heading & turn in advance so you line up approximately with the runway for your final approach. You may then set your autopilot to APR . Re-set the Nav/GPS switch to Nav. Note I have set the Course indicator to the runway heading & the needle is nicely lined up for the runway. Extend gear at about 8 miles from the runway & increase flaps to 25 degrees. Airspeed at about 170 kts. The Altitude is now being controlled by the autopilot ILS. Increase flaps to full & reduce speed to 165 kts.
Navtute16.jpg At 3/4 mile the runway comes into view. Autopilot (& F/D & A/T) now comes off & I prefer to hit 'W' on my keyboard to get a full screen view for landing.
Navtute17.jpg Down & safe in 1 mile vis.
Disclaimer;) This tutorial is not meant to be authoritative & is bound to contain inaccuracies in relation to how it should be done in real life. I am a VFR rated PPL, not IFR & certainly not commercial. This is simply my own self taught method how you can fly a jet in Flight Simulator from A to B & intended for entertainment use. If anyone can provide corrections or more detail please do ;).
Aircraft used: American Boeing 737, which required a run through MDL Repair Utility as it refused to be displayed in Windows XP. (See FAQ at the Lair about this if necessary).

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