Autopilot, perfect landings and flying the plane

Pro Member Trainee
kaz01007 Trainee

I often see either movies or screenshots of absolutely perfect (to my still inexperienced eyes) landings. Right on the dime and in the middle of the runway.

For those hitting the mark every time, I’d like to know more about you. Are you using autopilot? If so at what point do you disengage? Are you a real, licensed pilot? How many hours do you have on FS or live?

I have 25 landings (at 10 airports, or so my rewards tell me) at about 10 hours in FSX and don’t use autopilot to line up landings. I only use autopilot at altitude in straight and level flight if there is a cross wind and I have trouble keeping my heading. I also don’t fly long flights. I use the Beechcraft Baron 58 for short haul (*under 1 hour) as I am still learning.

My feeling is that I want to FLY the airplane, not watch the computer fly it…although that’s an interesting philosophical topic…using a computer to watch the computer fly the plane…u 😳 gh too early in the morning.

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Pro Member Trainee
JG3Bulldog Trainee

Here is a link that nicely explains how to use the NAV for ILS landings.

I switch AP off at around 500 feet.

Pro Member Chief Captain
CRJCapt Chief Captain

I'm like you, I like to fly the aircraft myself instead of watching the computer fly. Let me correct a few misconceptions. The ILS is not designed to and will not land the aircraft. There is one exception that I will speak on in a moment.

The ILS is designed to get the aircraft to a three dimensional point in reference to the approach end of the runway from which the pilot will be able to see the runway environment and land visually. Normally this point is 200 feet above the ground (AGL) and 1/2 statue miles out. You can disengage the autopilot (AP) at anytime but no lower that 200 ft. AGL. If the pilot is unable to see the runway enviroment, he has to exicute the missed approach procedure and probably go to another airport with better weather to land.

Autoland is the one exception. Autoland requires a specially certified ILS called a CAT III that is not available at most airports. In addition, the aircraft and the crew must be certified for CAT III operation. This extra training and maintenance cost money. Most airline pilots don't do Autoland. The fact is that it may be required only a few times a year at certain airports prone to fog. Large aircraft that travel across the ocean to London or other places probably are certified because alternate airports may be few in number. In the US, normally the aircraft can just divert to an alternate airport in event of fog. Normally dense fog is short lived. Autoland will land the aircraft without the pilots ever seeing the runway.

Default FS aircraft don't come with Autoland. You can download the feature or you can download a panel that has Autoland. Some very detailed payware aircraft have Autoland. In FS, there is only one type of ILS signal. With the Autoland feature, it will track the localizer and the glide slope and land the aircraft. Some people interpret the Approach mode as autoland but this is only a coupled approach. The AP is tracking the ILS signal but has nothing to do with actually landing the aircraft.

Think of the ILS as Intrument Approach System instead of Instrument Landing System.

Pro Member First Officer
cheezyflier First Officer

i like your avatar, it's pretty cool hahaha...
i thought about your question (part of it) and realized, i have no idea how many hours i have logged over the past year, or how many landings i have, because i have installed/re-installed FS9 twice, and FSX 3 times, and procrastinating on the 4th. i don't save the logs. i know if i had as many flight hours and landings in real life as in fsx (in real life i have none) i would have an awesome rating as a pilot.

Pro Member First Officer
mossy First Officer

If you want to get your landings good, this is what you should do: Find a small airport with a decent sized runway. (My choice was elstree airdrome, as in real life it is the airfield closest to me.) Load a small aircraft, either use one of the default cessnas or download a suitable single prop. Set no wind and good visibility, and fly loads and loads of circuits. It sounds boring but actually it isn't as you are always watching the aircraft and the runways and making small corrections to your flying; and it will do wonders not just for your landing skills but your flying in general. When you get to a general good level, step up the aircraft to something slightly more coplex, such as the beech, and perhaps do some ils approaches at a slightly bigger runway. Keep going until you are satisfied that you can perform well under any conditions, with a big range of aircraft. Good Luck.

Pro Member Trainee
kaz01007 Trainee

CRJCaptain, thanks for the explanation. Nice to meeta fellow hands on flyer.

mossy, that is almost exactly what I am doing. I am flying between airports (15 - 20 minute flight time) to do what you suggest.

Cheesyflyer, my avatat is a screenshot from a "flight" I started and obviously didn't make!

Pro Member Trainee
paulchris2 Trainee

Great Avatar!! I think this should catch on. My helicopter went on fire in the Oil Rig mission - damn, I should have screenshot it!

Pro Member First Officer
oldsamer First Officer

Allow me to make a suggestion.

I always have a saved freeflight I name [approach]. It's the latest landing, right after calling; "on final". I always pause and save at this point in a landing because, well, you never know.

If I crash, the program resets back to that point in the landing. If I'm not happy with a survived landing I can reset and try again.

It's a way of taking advantage of the simulator to practice quick touch-and-gos. After reset, during the pause I can fiddle with the weather (cross winds, direction, visability, etc), time (day/night) and even aircraft.

When I only have 15 to 20 minutes to play, I'll launch [appproach] and practice landings, gets sweaty real fast.

Pro Member Trainee
kaz01007 Trainee


That's a good idea. I will absolutely do that from now on.

Pro Member Trainee
kaz01007 Trainee

I have been reviewing FAA manuals and have come to better understand why I am not hitting my landings. I can't wait to do some go arounds tonight using what I have learned.

For those interested and don't know already, here is a link to the FAA manuals, which are pretty insightful.

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