Flying Jets

An introduction to flying the big iron

In the world of aviation, the pinnacle of airplane flying is piloting a jet. With their size, speed, and increased complexity, jets offer a challenge unknown to the piston-engine pilot. For Flight Simulator pilots, flying jets is a chance to see what airline and corporate pilots do on the job.

Things happen quickly in a jet, so there's a new set of skills required. Learning it all is part of the fun. You can learn all of the skills required to fly Flight Simulator jets in the Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) section of Flying Lessons. (Click Flying Lessons on the left side of the Flight Simulator screen.)

The Right Jet for the Job

Flight Simulator features four jet aircraft. To learn more about each of the jets in Flight Simulator, see their Aircraft Information articles.

The Bombardier Learjet 45

The Learjet makes a good choice for corporate missions, or for fantasizing about what it would be like to have a jet of your own!

The Boeing 737400

The backbone of many airline fleets, the 737 is suited to short hops between cities as well as flying across continents.

The Boeing 747400

A huge double-decker airliner, the 747 makes a good choice for continent-spanning long hauls.

Boeing 777300

One of the most modern jets around, the "Triple Seven" was designed completely on computers. It's the modern choice for long hauls with lots of passengers.

A Different Beast

All of what you've learned flying smaller airplanes will be useful as you learn to fly a jet, but you'll also be introduced to new terminology and technology. Some instruments will look different, and there will be a few new controls.

Glass Cockpits

Look at the instrument panel of one of the Flight Simulator jets, and you'll notice it looks different than the panel of a Cessna. Instead of many small round mechanical instruments, there are a few large computer screens. And although the information is virtually the same as what you see on the panel of a smaller piston aircraft, the presentation is different: airspeed and altitude may be presented on "tapes" that run vertically down the left and right sides of the main display. You'll also see a navigation display that looks quite similar to the horizontal situation indicator (HSI) found in many high-end light aircraft. Along the top of the instrument panel you'll see the mode control panel (MCP), which includes the controls for the autopilot and autothrottles. And there are many engine gauges that provide the crew with lots of information about what's happening in each part of each engine.

A Boeing 777300 prepares for takeoff at Honolulu
International Airport.


An autothrottle works in association with the autopilot to maintain a set speed; a computer controls the throttles, so you don't have to. To learn more about flying using an autothrottle, see Using an Autopilot.

Energy Management

Jets are heavy, and they move quickly. You'll learn how to use the aircraft's momentum to manage your speed and altitude so as not to exceed limits, and so you can be at the right speed and altitude when you need to be.


Need to slow down or descend in a hurry? Spoilers are flaps that extend upward and disrupt (spoil) the airflow over the wing, resulting in increased drag. You'll also use the spoilers during landing, to increase drag and slow down. If you arm the spoilers, they'll automatically deploy upon touchdown.


To raise or lower the spoilers

  • Press / (FORWARD SLASH)


To arm the spoilers


Thrust Reversers

Once a jet lands, it needs to slow down quickly. In addition to raising the spoilers, you can engage the thrust reversers, which direct air forward out of the jet engines. You'll hear a satisfying roar, and the aircraft will lose speed rapidly. You should never engage the thrust reversers until the wheels touch the runway.


To engage the thrust reversers

  • Press and hold F2.

To return to normal power (below 60 knots)

  • Press F1.


Many jets (including all of the Boeing jets in Flight Simulator) are equipped with autobrakes that make braking upon landing an easy task. Set the autobrakes to 1, 2, or 3 before your final approach, and the airplane will smoothly stop itself upon touchdown; the higher the number, the more rapid the deceleration. A setting of 1 or 2 is typical. Max is used only in emergencies. The autobrakes can also be set to RTO (Rejected Takeoff) for takeoff. If the airspeed rises above 80 knots and the throttles go to idle (if you abort the takeoff), maximum braking will automatically be applied.


To set the autobrakes

  • Use the mouse to set the Autobrake switch to RTO, 1, 2, or 3.


Jets parked at a gate must be "pushed back" before they can taxi to the runway. In the real world, this task is accomplished by a "tug," a small tractor designed for the job. When you're parked at a gate in Flight Simulator, you'll need to have your aircraft pushed back before you can request a taxi clearance from Air Traffic Control.


To get a pushback

  1. Press SHIFT+P to push straight back.
    - or -
    Press SHIFT+P and then press 1 to turn the tail of the aircraft to the left as it pushes back.
    - or -
    Press SHIFT+P and then press 2 to turn the tail of the aircraft to the right as it pushes back.
  2. Press SHIFT+P again to stop moving back.

The Simplified Way: Just Go For It

There are two ways to fly jets in Flight Simulator: the realistic way, and the simplified way. If you want to learn to fly jets realistically, read the next section, then take the ATP training in Flying Lessons. But if you just want to take a jet up and see what it's all about, here's all you need to know to get started.


To fly a jet the simplified way

  1. Line up on the centerline of a long runway.
  2. Extend the flaps down two or three notches: Press F3.
  3. Release the brakes: Press PERIOD.
  4. Apply full power: Move your joystick's throttle control or press F4.
  5. At 150 to 160 knots, pitch up smoothly to 20 degrees nose up.
  6. Raise the landing gear: Press G.
  7. At 1,000 feet AGL, pitch down to 10 degrees nose up, and reduce power with your your joystick's throttle control or by pressing F2.
  8. Retract the flaps: Press F6.
  9. Climb to cruising altitude.
  10. Power back to idle to initiate the descent.
  11. Approximately 15 miles from the airport, reduce your speed to 180 knots by adding some flaps (press F7) and using the spoilers if necessary: Press / (FORWARD SLASH).
  12. As you begin the approach at approximately 2,000 feet AGL, make sure the spoilers are down, start reducing speed to 150 knots, lower the landing gear, and add the rest of the flaps: Press G and F7.
  13. Arm the spoilers and set the autobrakes: Press SHIFT+/ (FORWARD SLASH), and click the autobrake knob to the desired setting.
  14. Maintain 140 to 160 knots during the approach (the more fuel, the faster), and a 500 fpm descent rate. Keep the runway numbers in the center of the windscreen.
  15. As you cross the runway threshold at 50 feet, reduce power to idle, and flare slowly: Press F1.
  16. As the main wheels touch first, slowly let the nose come down. The spoilers will deploy and the autobrakes will start slowing the aircraft.
  17. Engage the thrust reversers: Press F2.
  18. At 60 knots, disengage the thrust reversers: Press F1.
  19. Taxi to parking.

The Realistic Way: Lessons

Real-world airline pilots are required to hold an Airline Transport Pilot certificate, considered the PhD of flying. In Flight Simulator, Rod Machado will guide you step-by-step through the ATP lessons to help you learn everything you need to know. You'll be flying the big iron before you know it. Just click Flying Lessons on the left side of the screen, scroll to the bottom of the page, and click ATP Lessons Overview.