Approach Speeds Explained

Hi all,

I would like to give you all some more information regarding the different approach speeds for the airplanes most of you fly in IF. A lot of times we, ATC, see airplanes coming in for landing with speeds of 180+ knots.


Any passenger jet lands with a maximum of 160 knots when it is at its Maximum Landing Weight (MLW). There are a few different categories for airplanes regarding their approach speeds and they are as follows:

Category A: Speed 90 knots or less.
Category B: Between 91 and 120 knots.
Category C: Between 121 and 140 knots. (A318/319/320, A330, A350, A380)
Category D: Between 141 knots and 165 knots. (A321, A340, B777, B787)
Category E: Speed 166 knots or more.
Category E contains only certain Military Aircraft


At which distance from the threshold do you consider to be approach?

For example, Seattle-Tacoma Airport requires a speed of 170kts or greater until about 5 miles from the threshold, after which the plane can slow to its final approach speed. I am sure other airports have the similar requirements.


Different airports use different tactics, in Europe mostly 180 knots till 10NM, 160 knots till 5NM.

You can use 1000 FT Above the aerodrome to be fully configured:

  • Speed + 10 / -5
  • Landing gear down
  • Flaps for landing.

Good point, thanks!


Thanks! :)

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Thanks for the info, I’m usually landing a 747 at 150

Let’s be clear on this, there is No Standard approach/ take off speed for any aircraft.
Multiple factors like; weight, weather, air foil type, altitude, Air Density etc. apply. Airbus for example and many other manufactures includes a computer program and sensor system in the avionics package that weighs the loaded airframe, considers weather etc. and spits out recommended flap/spoiler and V’s for launch and recovery right in the cockpit… A ramp guy/Loadmasters routinely runs the same tape and delivers it to the Pic before the door close and pushback. Every aircraft be it General Aviation or Commercial has a “Pilots Operating Handook”. (POH). The POH contains the manufactures recommended flight data (V’s) ) etc. Grafts and examples for weight/V/Wx ect for all situation are produced during air worthiness testing. Wanna know the V for an IF aircraft (there built out by the deveripers to mirror the real deal) down load the POH for the Type you fly from the Web, cut and paste the V chart and file it for future ref. . If your gonna fly, Fly RIGHT, do it for real. Max Sends. (I’m Flak ready, bring it on)

Addendum: "Hears an partial extract from the A320 POH:

  1. Critical Airspeeds
    • Max. 22 Knots on straight taxiways
    • Max. 16 Knots in turns
    • Max. 12 Knots approaching gates/parking areas
    • V1 - Decision Speed = 105 Knots
    • Vr - Rotate Speed = 115 Knots
    Climb Rate:
    • Climb Rate: Set to 1,800 ft./min. (Higher rates of climb, up to 2,500 ft./min. are permitted.)
    • Note: Climb rate is normally dictated by airspeed - that is, you fly a certain airspeed that yields a certain climb
    rate. This POH specifies a climb rate instead to give you, the pilot in command, a guide to climb performance of this
    Climb Airspeed:
    • Departure Altitude to 10,000 ft. - no greater than 250 KIAS
    • Above 10,000 ft. - Fly Mach Number = .62 to .70
    • Vne/Mmo - Never Exceed/Maximum Mach Number = .74
    Cruise Airspeed:#####
    Search Term: POH and A320 utilizing Safari

This is a fairly typical 737 approach profile with speeds, flaps, and gear deployment shown. It is a CAT I ILS approach. Obviously in real life it would depends on all sorts of factors to what the VREF and final approach speed VAPP is.

There are also different approach profiles like a low drag approach (as Ryanair often use) which differs as you maintain Flaps 5 190kts until 4 miles, then do Gear Down, Flaps 15, Arm Speedbrake, 160 kts, and only do final configuration of Landing Flaps and VAPP around 1000-800ft RA.

The aim with the shown approach is to be stabilised by 1000ft RA, with stabilised approach criteria being:

  • The aircraft is on the correct flight path and only small changes in heading/pitch are necessary to maintain it
  • The airspeed is not more than VREF + 20kts
  • The aircraft is in the correct landing configuration (i.e. gear and flaps)
  • Sink rate is no greater than 1,000 fpm
  • Power setting is appropriate for the aircraft configuration and is not below the minimum power for the approach
  • All briefings and checklists have been conducted
  • ILS CAT I approach flown within one dot of the G/S and localiser, CAT II/III approach flown within the expanded localiser band
  • During a circling approach wings should be level on final when the aircraft reaches 300 ft AAL

Some more information on calculating final approach speed VAPP

Calculating Wind Correction for VREF

  • VAPP = VREF + (1/2 headwind component) + (full gust increment above steady wind)
  • VAPP is never less than VREF+5, and never more than VREF+20. If VREF+20 exceeds landing flap placard speed minus 5, then use landing flap placard speed minus 5 instead. For example, runway 36 with winds 36016G26KT has a W/C of 8+10=18 kt.

Very nice post. Hope people learn. I was @ tower saw guy doing 242kts 8.5mil to touch down. Guy in front of him was doing 160kts gear down. I msg (screamed😀) him twise to slow down. Surprisingly he did within 2mil from 242 to 180(speed break!!!). Poeple should start to realise its simulator not a game. And your action affect others.


Dear Maxmustang,

Your reply is very good up to the part where you start with the numbers. See attached a copy of an official Airbus A320 FCOM (Flight Crew Operating Manual) with the V1 / Vr/ V2.

Secondly your Vne/MMO is completely wrong:

Third: Above 10.000 feet you Do NOT fly Mach Number! This only happens when you are way higher, as you can see in the chart above for example 24.600 feet!

Guys please, my post is regarding “Approach Speeds”. If you want to talk about other stuff make a different post and lets start it there as my post is for educational purposes. I don’t really think it’s a good idea to talk about all kinds of different things in here which the title of my post doesn’t represent.

Happy Flying.


I guess for 777, it’s more like around 5/15-200/230kts, 20-190kts, 25-160kts, this is what I do hope it’s right. Yeh most of them don’t realise A380 can land slower then most jet!Bcos of its wing size…

Yes, so my posts above relate to a 737-800 as that is what I am very familiar with. On other larger jets I don’t have quite the same level of knowledge on approach speeds and they will vary as you say. Interesting to hear the A380 can actually be relatively low.

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I don’t think those people who approach with nearly 250 knots read this post…
Honestly, I doubt that they are registered on this site.


All the Post on this Topic are “Professional Knowledge Gained”. I’ve read all the post carefully and am pleased we’re all singing from the same sheet of music.
I’m impress by the wide breath of knowledge and professionalism of the IF Community players on this forum. Your knowledge is the Fleglings guidebook.
Warm Regards to all who posted here. Max Sends


(@Aernout). Your right on the “numbers” I just extracted from the POH. Did’nt have access to the FCOM. Since serious IF’ers only have access to type data via the Web it seemed appropriate at the time. (Appears you have Line Pub access. Back in the day when I was a certified Loadmasters for American West I had a data base with all the programs for the AmWest inventory. Trashed it when I turned in the Ramp Keys, should of kept them) Regards Max Sends

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This was very helpful thanks for the info

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Category C, does the A330/380 have different Aerofoil types because of their low approach speed? And what speed should you be at about 15 nautical miles (Usually where I turn from base to finals)? And about what speed should I be rotating at 50 load in a widebody?

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I’ve been able to find and study, over the years, advancement in wing form and engine performance and learned that, first with Airbus then with Boeing, that takeoff and landing characteristics are indeed different! Starting with takeoff, the new designs in capturing and controlling airflow over the wing and thru the engine have increased vertical speed capability by up to 10,000 feet per minute under right conditions and lowered speed on landing to add little as 115 … Of course these are all conditional, not typical. Typically on the Airbus series one can aim at 15° which could provide between 3000 to 6000 feet per minute ascent rate while asked set to 240 below 10000ft. There is also less dramatic flare upon landing because of the improvement in wingform.

Hope it wasn’t too long 😎

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777 is category C unless it’s a -300