Airline Transport Pilot Ground School
Transport Pilot Lesson 1: Jet Checkout
In this lesson you'll learn about the basics of flying a Boeing 737:
takeoffs, climb, cruise, descent, and landing.
ESTIMATED TIME TO COMPLETE
You should complete all of the Student, Private, and Commercial Pilot
lessons before beginning this lesson. Taking the Instrument Rating lessons
will also be very helpful. Reading the Ground School material before starting
this lesson will help you better understand the skills being taught and
terminology used in the lesson.
The sky is clear and the wind is calm.
ABOUT THE FLIGHT
In this lesson you will become familiar with flying the Boeing 737. You
will take off from runway 34R at KSEA, climb to 12000, level off, perform a
series of turns, descend, and fly a visual approach to a full stop landing
back on runway 16L at KSEA.
KEY COMMANDS TO REMEMBER
F7 to operate the flaps
G to operate the landing gear
Shift + / (slash) to arm spoilers
You'll be asked to maintain:
- Airspeed within 15 knots as assigned
- Altitude within 200 feet as assigned
- Headings within 10 degrees as assigned
- Bank no more than 10 degrees steeper and no more than 5 degrees
shallower than assigned
- Power settings no more than 2% above and no more than 5% below N1 as
- Pitch attitude within 3 degrees as assigned except on landing flare,
where pitch angle should be no more than 5 degrees and no less than 2
degrees nose-up pitch attitude
- Vertical speed within 400 feet per minute during descent
Boeing 737 Checkout - LESSON
by Rod Machado
The Boeing 737–400 is one of the most popular commercial aircraft in
service today. It's so popular that pilots play tricks on each other just so
they can fly it. For instance, I once heard of a copilot saying, "Sir,
there's a guy in seat 8A that found a propeller hat."
The Captain said, "Hey, I've been looking for that. I'll be right back.
Whatever you do, don't touch anything."
Of course, the moment the captain left, the copilot locked the flight deck
door and logged the remainder of the flight.
The challenges in moving up to the Boeing 737 include the need for different
procedures and management of complex systems; it's not the Cessna Skyhawk.
To get checked out in the Boeing 737, you'll need to learn some key items,
settings, and procedures. Successfully planning your flight is the key to flying
the jet. In this lesson, you'll take off, fly a simple flight with a few turns,
and set up for a controlled descent and landing. You'll never be the same after
that first landing. No, I don't mean you'll be hunched over and in need of a
chiropractor, either. I mean you'll have such a big smile on your face that your
neighbors will think you are trying to show off a new set of teeth.
About the 737–400
The 737–400 has a maximum weight at takeoff of 138,500 pounds (62,800
kilograms), measures 120 feet long with a wingspan of 94 feet nine inches, and
has a maximum height of 36.5 feet (before our first attempt at landing it). The
airplane cruises at a maximum of 477 knots (550 miles per hour), over a maximum
range of 2,059 nautical miles (2,370 miles), at a maximum altitude of 36,089
feet, all while carrying 147 to 168 passengers. As every airline chooses their
own configurations for seating, the number of available seats will vary from
airline to airline, and from airplane to airplane.
Basic Jet Procedures
To gain better understanding for flying the Boeing 737–400 in Flight
Simulator, we will examine a variety of information regarding the airplane and
its various flight configurations. This information includes airspeed settings,
various flight profiles, and key flight instruments. We will organize the
information following the common phases of flight. If you want a
super-simplified approach to piloting the Boeing 737–400, see Quick
Flight profiles refer to the configuration of the aircraft with respect to
airspeed, power, pitch, flap position, and gear. It has nothing to do with how
you look from the outside of the jet when flying and facing straight ahead. Each
different phase of flight--takeoff, cruise, descent, approach, and
landing--requires you to follow a specific profile. The key to a successful
flight requires managing these settings. We will go into more detail on each of
the different phases of flight and the specific settings used for the
corresponding flight profile.
What is a Flight Profile?
Flight profiles are preset configurations used for the different phases of
flight. Preset here means that an airline or aircraft manufacturer has
established appropriate parameters that assure safe and controlled flight for a
given phase. Typical phases of flight include takeoff, departure, level cruise,
descent, initial approach, and the host of instrument approaches that the
aircraft is certified to fly, such as ILS, VOR, NDB, GPS, CAT III, and so on.
Profiles tell the pilot how to configure and fly the airplane at each point
of the flight and provide guidance during the transitions. Actual speeds and
weights are not typically included on a profile where standard operational
procedures dictate the pilot look up that these values in performance charts.
Where speeds are "particular," they are listed on the profile. For the
enjoyment of your lesson (and to keep your brain from exploding), we have
included the minimum details necessary to facilitate your knowledge and
understanding. Here are links to quick reference charts for different profiles
discussed in this article:
Take time to review (and perhaps print) each of these profiles, and then have
fun putting the information to use. Feel free to pause the simulator to your
heart's content while you get used to interpreting the information, otherwise
the overload of information may cause your heart to pause. Remember, these
profiles have been put together to help simplify understanding and facilitate an
enjoyable session flying the Boeing 737–400 in Flight Simulator. These
profiles do not represent all issues, performance parameters, or any specific
airline or manufacturer's published procedures. So have fun, and think of all
that goes on the next time you fly a commercial airliner.
- Figuring takeoff weight
- Setting the flaps for takeoff
- Determining takeoff speeds
- Determining the flap retraction schedule (or speeds)
- Choosing the final altitude and airspeed for cruise
(either for the traffic pattern of route of flight)
Descent (more on this in ATP Lesson 2)
- Figuring out when to start the descent for landing
- Determining the landing weight
- Choosing the flap setting for landing
- Determining the "Vref (bug) speeds" for landing
- Speed management
- Aircraft configuration management
- Configuration changes
- Flying an ILS or visual approach pattern
- Greasing it on the centerline
- Stopping the airplane
Understanding Takeoff Weight
One of the key pieces of data for flying the Boeing 737–400 is its weight.
The weight of the aircraft is used during several phases of flight to determine
items, such as takeoff and landing airspeeds as well as flap extension or
retraction speeds. As you blaze around the airways, you burn fuel. The more fuel
you burn, the lighter the jet becomes. The key fact here is that your weight
will decrease from the start of your flight through to the end.
The key weights you must know are the takeoff weight and landing
weight. Each of these weights, combined with the outside temperature and
density altitude, will be used to determine the proper airspeeds for takeoff and
landing. Sounds complex? It can be, but we will make things very simple by using
a few assumptions along with the Flight Simulator default settings for the
You might notice that the maximum taxi weight is higher than the maximum
takeoff weight. This is to allow for the extra fuel you will burn taxiing around
the airport and waiting in line for takeoff behind all those other aircraft that
got there before you did.
Also, notice that the maximum landing weight is less than the maximum takeoff
weight. This means that you cannot just decide to land immediately after
takeoff; the airplane might be too heavy, so planning a longer loop back for
landing may be required.
Zero fuel weight is the weight of the aircraft, all the baggage, and all the
passengers but without any fuel on board. The zero fuel weight is
important to know so that you can determine the actual weight of your aircraft
at any time. Just add the current weight of your fuel to your zero fuel weight
and your have your current weight.
The one variable you have easy access to in Flight Simulator is your fuel
load. The Boeing 737–400 has three fuel tanks: left main, right main, and
With these numbers, the total fuel weight comes out to be 35,587 pounds
(16,175 kilograms). To figure out our airplane's zero fuel weight (which we will
use as a base value later on) we subtract the fuel weight from the maximum
takeoff weight of 138,500 pounds to arrive at 100,792 pounds (45,814 kilograms).
Takeoff Flaps: When to "Apply" Them, Not
Commercial aircraft utilize different flap settings during takeoff based on
weight, runway length, temperature, density altitude, and surface conditions. An
involved process determines the optimum flap setting for any given takeoff (this
may be one reason that airlines hire an extra pilot or two to help do some of
the math). However, to simplify things, we will standardize on using a flap
setting of five (5) for takeoff with the Flight Simulator default settings.
Takeoff Speed Management
Determining Takeoff Speeds
Speed management in the Boeing 737 is essential. The process used to
determine the precise speeds during takeoff and landing can be complex and
involve lookup tables (but not looking under them), aircraft configurations,
weights, temperatures, and density altitudes—just to list a few. For our
lesson, we will keep things simple by assuming outside conditions follow the
"Standard Day" curve.
For takeoff, we will be most concerned with three key airspeeds: V1, Vr, and
V2. These three speeds form the collection called "V speeds." The key
to selecting the correct V speed relies on aircraft weight, outside conditions,
and the flap setting used for takeoff. Assuming the default Flight Simulator
weight for the Boeing 737–400, "standard" conditions, and limiting
flaps to a setting of 5, we can simplify choices to one set of values.
V1 is the takeoff decision speed. Based upon aircraft takeoff weight,
temperature, and density altitude, you will need a certain size runway for safe
takeoff. There is a point after you have set full takeoff power where you must
decide to abort the takeoff or continue to fly. In the Boeing 737, this point is
determined using airspeed and is designated as V1. On the takeoff roll prior to
reaching V1 you should have the ability to cut the power, apply maximum braking,
and come to a safe stop before reaching the end of the runway, thereby
preventing your jet from becoming an impressive but awkward looking dirt bike.
After accelerating past V1, you are committed to becoming airborne. Based on the
assumptions made above, we will use 150 knots indicated as our V1 speed in this
Vr is the rotation speed. This is the speed at which you ease back on
the elevator, raise the nose to the appropriate pitch (+20 degrees), and
lift-off. We will use 154 knots indicated airspeed as the Vr speed. One thing to
consider about the Boeing 737–400 is that you can accidentally strike the tail
on takeoff if you pitch up too aggressively at rotation, leaving you to make up
a tall tale about the newly shortened tail. To prevent a tail strike, rotate to
20 degrees nose up at a rate no faster than 3 degrees per second.
Figure 1-1: Just after takeoff rotation
V2 is the minimum safe speed. Should an engine fail immediately after
V1, you will have enough power to complete the takeoff with the necessary climb
rate and terrain clearance. Because takeoff can be accomplished using a variety
of flap settings, an airspeed of V2+15 knots is used as the two-engine climb
speed to assure minimum maneuvering speed for all takeoff flap settings.
If you listened to a flight crew during the takeoff roll, you would hear the
nonflying pilot call out the following items.
||(Cross-check systems and assure everything is "in the
||(Now past the point of no return—takeoff will continue)
||(Time to lift off)
||(The VSI and airspeed indicator both show a positive trend)
||(Flying pilot commands the nonflying pilot to raise the gear)
||(The flap retraction altitude)
So far we have reviewed the required speeds for takeoff in relation to our
aircraft weight and ambient conditions. How do we set power so that the aircraft
will accelerate or slow to our new target speed?
Figure 1-2: Engine gauges
Power in a turbine jet aircraft is not measured in flat rpm (revolutions per
minute) as with a piston powered aircraft. Power in a turbine engine is measured
in percent of maximum rpm, where maximum rpm is the certified or rated power
output of the engine. There are two points of measure important to the Boeing
737–400 pilot: the rpm of the low pressure turbine shaft—called N1, and the
rpm of the high pressure turbine shaft—called N2.
N1 is the percent of maximum rpm of the low pressure turbine shaft of the
engine. N1 is the value that best correlates to the power output of the engine.
This is the value you set by moving the throttles to adjust your target
Figure 1-3: N1 and N2 gauges
N2 is the percent of maximum rpm of the high pressure turbine shaft of the
engine. This measures the speed of the tips of the turbine compressor blades. At
any point of power production, the speed of the high pressure compressor fans
should never exceed their designed maximum rpm limitations. Monitoring N2
enables us to guard against this.
In this lesson we focus on N1, and we use N1 percent to set power.
How to Take Off
Now that we have reviewed the weight, flaps, and target speeds, we are ready
to take the runway and take off. Whether you start your flight lined up on the
centerline of the departure runway or start at a gate, you will want to tune the
radios and navigational aids, pre select any settings for the autopilot, run
through your checklists, and set your flaps to 5 prior to receiving your runway
and takeoff clearance from ATC.
Tips for use with default Flight Simulator settings
||137,000 pounds (62,000 kilograms)
||set to 5
||95 percent N1
||90 percent N1
Regardless of how you arrived on the runway, it is always a good idea to have
everything tuned, twisted, and configured, and to have in mind what you plan to
do upon takeoff. Typical airline flights have aircrews that have been given a
departure procedure as part of their IFR clearance. In Flight Simulator, it's
just easier for you to add power and begin rolling down the runway. There are
always some basic procedures to follow during a straight out departure, such as
limiting airspeed to 200 knots below 3,000 feet and 250 knots between 3,000 and
You might also want to review (and perhaps print) the approach and landing
quick reference tables: Takeoff
To follow actual airspace rules, a few speed limitations are important. In
fact, you'll eventually be tested on a few of them in your ATP checkride. If you
are departing a Class B airport, your airspeed must remain at 250 knots or below
under 10,000 feet. For Class C or Class D airports, you must limit your speed to
200 knots within the airspace (usually 2,500 feet within 4 miles of the airport)
and then limit to 250 knots until reaching 10,000 feet. These limitations should
be helpful in understanding the need for all the "scripted" procedures
required during takeoff. For more information about airspace definitions, see
the Glossary and the articles on Air Traffic Control.
Cleared for Takeoff
Once you have the airplane all set up and configured, and you've received
your takeoff clearance, increase the throttles to a power setting of 40 percent
to 50 percent with the brakes set. This is often called "standing up the
throttles" and serves two purposes. First, this allows you to scan the
engine instruments to make sure everything is functioning and "in the
green." (Well, almost everything … you don't want your copilot to be
green!) Second, this pause enables the engines to spool up to an intermediate
level without overheating or overstressing the brakes while you scan the gauges.
With both engines producing equal power and everything clear and in the green,
release the brakes and set takeoff power to 95 percent of N1. You'll notice that
the throttles are much more sensitive than in the Cessna Skyhawk SP or
Beechcraft Baron 58. Rather than advancing the throttle all the way to full, try
advancing them to about three quarters of the way to their full travel and
slowly increase them to reach 95 percent of N1. Or, advance the throttles to
full, and then back off some so not to exceed 95 percent.
Your next task is to monitor the speeds as we accelerate down the runway on
centerline. Our first speed to review is V1, the go/no go decision point. Ask
yourself if all systems are okay. If so, then continue. Vr, our rotation speed
comes next. At 154 knots, ease back on the elevator and lift off. Begin your
pitch up to 20 degrees nose up at a rate of about 3 degrees per second. Some
quick math tells us that it should take about six and a half to seven seconds to
reach 20 degrees nose up pitch attitude.
Figure 1-4: The instrument panel soon after takeoff
Figure 1-5: The same position after takeoff rotation seen
in spot plane view
Positive Rate—Gear Up
As you pitch up to 20 degrees with the wings level, scan the vertical speed
indicator and the altimeter. When both instruments indicate a positive trend
upwards (the needles moving up in the direction you want) we have a
"positive rate of climb" and can safely retract the landing gear.
Without establishing a positive rate, you do not want to retract the gear
because you are too close to the ground and could inadvertently settle back to
the runway for a variety of reasons—wind shear, rotation at too slow a speed,
or too high a pitch attitude, alien force field (just kidding) to list a few.
Retract the gear by pressing either the G key or the appropriate button
on your joystick.
Retracting the Flaps
On the initial phase of a departure, airlines follow an initial profile to
guarantee terrain and obstacle clearance and sufficient climb performance in
case of engine failure. To follow a similar procedure, you will want to be 400
feet above ground, with flaps still set at 5, and maintaining a speed of 180
knots. Your rotation rate to a pitch of 20 degrees nose up should take care of
this. The second key element of the initial departure profile is to climb at an
adequate rate of climb and airspeed until reaching a safe altitude of 1,000 feet
above ground level (AGL). At this point it is now safe to begin the after
After reaching 1,000 feet AGL, follow the flap retraction schedule as shown
on the Normal Takeoff profile. By 1,000 feet AGL you should be climbing at or
above a speed of V2+15 (162+15). According to the schedule, it is now safe to
begin flap retraction. Initially retract flaps from a setting of 5 to 1 by
pressing the F6 key twice. Set the climb power to 90 percent N1, pitch down to
15 degrees nose up, and accelerate. Above 2,500 feet AGL lower the nose to 10
degrees to 12 degrees nose up and accelerate up to 250 knots. As you accelerate
through 200 knots, finish flap retraction. You might also want to follow the
After Takeoff checklist.
Figure 1-6: The instrument panel after retracting flaps
and obtaining 12 degrees nose up pitch
Departure Climb up to Cruise Altitude
Maintain a 10 degrees to 12 degrees nose up pitch and 250 knots with power
set at 90 percent N1 until passing through 10,000 feet. At this point, lower the
nose to a pitch of 6 degrees nose up and accelerate to between 280 knots and 300
knots. As you climb through higher altitudes, the air becomes less dense and
performance changes. Keep an eye on your power setting of 90 percent N1 and make
necessary adjustments to maintain 90 percent. As you climb through the higher
altitudes, you may need to lower the pitch to 5 degrees to 6 degrees nose up in
order to maintain a 280 knot climb speed.
As you approach 1,000 feet prior to your target cruise altitude, lower the
nose and maintain a climb rate of 1,500 feet per minute (fpm). As you pass
through 150 feet prior to cruise altitude, begin your level off by pitching the
nose down to 2 degrees nose up attitude and simultaneously reducing power to 70
percent to 72 percent N1. Remember to retrim the aircraft for level flight. Now
you can engage the autopilot to maintain heading/course, altitude, and airspeed,
however, I always like to hand fly the Boeing 737 on my shorter flights. For
long haul flights, the autopilot will work handier for you than even your
copilot. But it won't get you a cup of coffee.
We have covered the fundamental points involved in getting you airborne and
leveled off at cruise altitude. Now you're wondering how you can descend and be
in the right place at the right speed and altitude for landing. I've got an
entire lesson for you on descents in ATP Lesson 2. But here's a brief overview
to help you in this jet checkout lesson.
When it comes time to begin a descent, you must complete several important
tasks in order to be at the right place, at the right time. Prior to beginning
the descent, air crews must complete the following.
- Plan when to start descent.
- Get the ATIS and other information relating to the approach and landing.
- Calculate the estimated landing weight of the aircraft.
- Determine the flap setting and Vref speeds for landing.
- Determine the appropriate landing runway and corresponding approach.
- Brief the crew on the specifics of the approach.
- Complete the Descent checklist.
How Fast is Too Fast?
Speed control is subtle piece of the equation. There are two places you will
need to modify your profile to keep your speed within parameters: during descent
as you descend into thicker denser air, and at the level off point where you may
need to start slowing down to meet any assigned speed restriction, for example
slowing to 250 knots.
As you descend into thicker air, your indicated airspeed unit of measure will
change from a percent of the speed of sound (Mach) back to nautical miles per
hour (knots). You can determine this threshold by noticing the red and white
striped pole or needle—known as the "barber pole"—displayed on the
upper left side of the airspeed indicator. This needle marks the never exceed
speed for the aircraft. During descent, the barber pole increases toward the
needle of the airspeed indicator and left unattended, will eventually cross
paths. Should this happen, you will have an over speed condition as heard by the
"clicking/clacking" audible warning (to say nothing of the gurgling
and nail scratching sound from your copilot). To avoid this, reduce N1 to 45
percent and maintain 310 knots to 320 knots during the remainder of your
Figure 1-7: Airspeed indicator and "barber pole"
As you descend from cruise altitude, you will be storing up momentum as you
descend at well over 300 knots. All this works against you as you reach your
target point and need to slow down. The fix is easy … and I don't mean you
have your passengers stick their hands out the windows, either. During your
descent planning, allow for an additional 5 nautical miles to level off and slow
to your target speed at idle (yes, we can pull the throttles all the way to idle
in a jet without having to worry about shock-cooling the engines as we did in
the Baron). This might mean descending at nearly 300 knots, but then leveling at
or above 10,000 feet, reducing power to flight idle, and coast in about 5 nm to
bleed off speed until you reach 250 knots. At 250 knots, increase throttles to
52 percent to 55 percent N1 and maintain your 250 knots.
As a last resort, you can always deploy the spoilers (speed brakes) by
toggling the SLASH (/) key on or off. With careful planning you should be
in fine shape for your approach and landing profiles.
Planning for the Approach
The important elements to extract from the arrival airport's automatic
terminal information service (ATIS) are: the local weather conditions, the local
altimeter setting (what you'll set your altimeter to when descending below
FL180), the active runway, and any local airport equipment limitations or
runway/taxiway closures. Use this information to prepare for the approach.
Descent planning is usually done 100 miles to 120 miles and approximately 20
to 25 minutes from landing. To estimate your landing weight, press ALT+A+F
to get your present weight of fuel. Above 25,000 feet, a fair estimation is that
you will burn 1,700 pounds of fuel during the remainder of your descent,
approach, and landing. So subtract 1,700 pounds from your present weight. Next,
add 100,000 pounds to this number to arrive at your estimated landing weight.
The selection of the desired setting for landing flaps is based upon a
variety of issues including runway length, approach characteristics, runway
condition, prevailing weather, and fuel efficiency. Following the theme of
keeping it simple, we will standardize on using a flap setting of 30 for all our
landings in the lessons.
Landing Vref Speeds
During approach and landing, you will reduce airspeed along the way and never
want to fall below the minimum airspeed for your current configuration. You
always want to feel well grounded as a pilot, but not because you smacked the
airplane onto the ground by not flying fast enough. For approach and landing, we
are concerned with maintaining proper airspeed for the given flap setting and
aircraft weight. If you are flying too slowly, the airplane will be difficult to
control, or worse, could stall and contact the ground earlier than planned. Just
like takeoff, there are predetermined airspeeds that will provide optimum
performance and protection against stalls and other undesirable events. The
airspeed that constitutes this threshold between controlled flight and
less-than-controlled-flight is referred to as "Vref."
An additional 5 knots is added to this reference speed for added safety and
best performance. So, once a Vref speed is determined given the aircraft's
landing weight and desired flap setting for landing, the final approach landing
speed will be Vref plus 5 knots. An additional 10 knots may be added (on top of
Vref+5) to adjust for situations such as strong cross winds or potential wind
shear. (Are you starting to think that flying that Skyhawk SP wasn't so bad
after all? No one would blame you if you did. This is challenging but it's the
way flying jets is done.)
So when is all this figured out? During the descent planning phase, the
flight crew calculates landing weight and chooses a desired flap setting. With
the weight and flaps setting determined, the appropriate Vref speed can be
- Keep the default Flight Simulator weights.
- Use 145 knots for Vref.
- Maintain 150 knots with 30 degrees of flaps for landing.
Now that you know the local airport conditions, the local altimeter setting,
and the expected active runway for arrival, you can begin to get organized for
the approach. Now is the time to review the chart for the designated approach.
You most likely will not be tuning the radios and inbound courses at this
point. This will be done when it is time for the Approach checklist. We still
need to follow a standard arrival procedure or follow ATC instructions as the
controllers vector us down from cruise altitude.
We've covered the basics of descent planning and speed control, so now it's
time to transition into the airport environment. I offer an entire lesson on
flying an ILS approach in ATP Lesson 3; here's an overview to get us to the
runway. If you are flying using the ATC features in Flight Simulator, you will
be radar "vectored" (given specific headings to fly) onto the final
approach course. If you are flying on your own, you will need to plan to be at a
certain altitude, speed, and heading in order to successfully intercept the
final approach course properly configured.
A rough rule of thumb for this approach transition is to plan on being 3,000
feet AGL at 10 nautical miles from the airport with the airplane properly
configured and established on the localizer or VASI. Approaching this 10
nautical mile point you want to be slowed to no more than 170 knots with flaps
set to 5. As the glide slope "comes alive" you will want to extend the
gear, increase flaps to 15, and slow to 150 knots. At 3,000 AGL and 10 nautical
miles out, you should be close to intercepting (if not already on) the glide
slope. Keep in mind that these are approximate altitudes and distances to place
you close to a 3-degree descent path for final approach. At the final approach
fix (FAF) set flaps 30 for landing, power to 53 percent to 55 percent N1, and
fly the glide slope down to a smooth landing.
You might also want to review (and perhaps print) the approach and landing
quick reference table: Straight-in
Once you are established on the localizer with the glide slope indicator
"alive," configured with the gear down, flaps set to 15, and slowing
to your target speed of 150 knots (or the appropriate Vref speed for your weight
if you are going to that level of detail.) you are ready to intercept the glide
slope and fly it on down to the runway. At a point where the glideslope needle
moves to one dot above center, set final landing flaps to 30 and set your power
to 53 percent N1. Begin your pitch down to 0 degrees and monitor your position
left or right relative to the localizer and high or low relative to the glide
Figure 1-8: Landing approach from the cockpit
As you get closer to the runway, it will begin to
disappear under the panel (like figure 1-8), and you will wish someone would
shove a telephone book under your seat so you could raise your
"viewpoint". Well, guess what - we have a fantastic way to do just
that! Merely hold your SHIFT key down, while pressing your ENTER key once. Your
seat will rise up one "notch" every time you do this. As your aircraft
moves in relation to the landing point, you may wish to do this more than once.
To get back to the seat's original position, just press the
SPACEBAR once! (Try experimenting with this while your aircraft is parked.
Pretty soon, you'll get the "knack." (Works with all aircraft.)
Figure 1-9: The same landing approach seen in spot plane view
The Final Flare and Landing
As you cross the threshold of the runway for landing, reduce power to idle
and begin a smooth pitch up to 3 degrees. This is called the "landing
flare." Hold this pitch setting as you bleed off the remaining airspeed and
you will settle on the runway. Do not stop your small control corrections to
keep lined up with the center line as you flare; fly the plane all the way down
to the runway. Remember to line up the runway centerline with the letters
"GPS" on the glare shield to keep tracking the centerline on touch
down. Avoid the tendency to stare at the ground immediately in front of you.
Transition your view to the end of the runway. As the main wheels touch, lower
the nose wheel slowly. Apply reverse thrust (press and hold the F2 key)
and the brakes (press the PERIOD [.] key) to slow down and exit the
runway at the next available intersection. You can also engage the autobraking
features to further assist you in bring the aircraft to a stop after touchdown.
Figure 1-10: Final landing flare from the cockpit
If you use the SHIFT/ENTER key combination (above) to
adjust your viewpoint, you will actually see the runway as you land on it - a
much more enjoyable ending to your flight! (Upon landing - hit SPACEBAR once
because your nose will be level to the ground, and you'll need to adjust your
seat to the normal position so you can taxi.
(You can also adjust your seat "viewpoint"
during takeoff-climbout and cruise if you prefer to see the ground during these
phases of flight.)
I also use the "Spot Plane" view (Views Menu) while flying
to enjoy watching the world go by as I fly. I find this "observer"
view to be one of the
most enjoyable phases of flight. Nothing like a "birds eye view" as
your aircraft flies over the Bahamas, or the Himalayas!
Figure 1-11: The same final landing flare seen in spot
Figure 1-12: The same final landing flare seen with runway
And there you are. Now you're a captain, or at least closer to it. You've
learned a lot, but there's a lot more to learn. You may have to review this
lesson several times before becoming intimate with all the information contained
therein. That's okay; I'll be here for you when you return. If you feel up to
it, give the flight lesson a go. Most important, make sure to have fun in the
process of learning.
You might also want to review (and perhaps print) the approach and landing
tables: Landing in a Traffic
Pattern and How to Land an
Helpful ATP Hints
- All flap, speed, and power settings assume default conditions of
the Boeing 737–400 as set by Flight Simulator for "Standard
Day" conditions (15 C at sea level). As the airplane's weight
varies or the temperatures vary, you may need to adjust some of
these items. This is why we use given ranges and not specific values
when operating the Boeing 737.
- Remember that turbine engines do not respond immediately to power
changes (increases or decreases). No amount of verbal coaching like,
"Come on baby" or "Let's move it, I'm talking to you
mister," will help if you don't think and plan ahead. If you
are getting too slow, you're already too late. If you think you
might soon be getting slow, then add power now.
- 2 to 5 percent N1 power changes are significant, but you will get
the feel quickly.
- Two degrees of pitch change is significant.
- Level flight pitch is 5 to 6 degrees nose up (at altitudes below
- Remember to trim the aircraft every time you change the
configuration (power, flaps, or gear). With power and pitch set to
where you want, you should be able to fly straight and level with
your hands off (off the controls, that is. You still need hands. You
can't fly with your feet because other pilots wouldn't want to touch
the controls anymore).
- On final approach, line up the runway centerline with the NAV/GPS
switch on the top of the panel. As you cross the threshold, line up
the centerline with the letters GPS.
- Apply pitch and power settings and be patient. This is a heavy
turbine jet aircraft and it doesn't respond quickly.
- Use the autopilot if you like, but be very familiar with operating
it before relying on it.
Ok, see you in the cockpit. Click the Fly This Lesson link to practice
what you just learned.
THIS LESSON IS AVAILABLE IN THE ACTIVE FLIGHT