I don’t have the sufficient account privilege to post directly in tutorials, feel free to recategorize.
This tutorial is just meant to explain how to more or less properly fly from A to B in IF live. I’m happy to take suggestions / corrections as this is likely to have inaccuracies.
There is no standard takeoff speed etc. - everything is plane / load dependent obviously… Below I’ll assume an average widebody airplane (if there is such a thing…).
When you spawn at an airport, the first thing to do is to prepare your flight plan (unless you’re doing pattern work, which is for another tutorial).
If you’re on the advanced server, tune into the ATIS frequency for both your departing and final airport: this will tell you which runways are currently in use for taking off and landing. If not ATIS available (not all ATC operators have the ability to input one), just take a minute to observe the takeoff and landing flow at both aiports. Also take a minute to observe which way landing airplanes approach the runway at your destination.
With this in mind, draw a route from airport A to B, making sure you use airways (white lines on the map) as much as you can. In theory, you could also use the airport plates (available online) to look at the standard departure / arrival patterns and fine tune your departing/arrival turns - most waypoints will be visible in IF.
Lights are there to give indications of your intentions to both ATC and other planes.
On startup, NAV lights (the green and red lights which indicate which way the plane is facing) should always be on, as well as the Beacon lights (which mean your engine is on).
There are not taxi lights in IF, so I usually use landing lights instead, which I turn on right before contacting ground. DO NOT turn strobe lights on at this stage.
Flaps, Trim, A/P altitude
Now is probably a good time to set your flaps: unless you are on a very short runway for some reason, only set 7°/10° of flaps. Add some positive trim (5-10%). If you intend to fly on A/P shortly after takeoff, it is a good idea to input your desired “intermediary” altitude (usually around 3000 feet) which corresponds to usual noise abatement procedure (see below).
Contact ATC ground, and request pushback if your airplane needs this.
Once ready to taxi, request taxi. (tip: no need to request a specific runway: in theory a proper ATC operator will always provide you with the relevant runway depending on traffic and your position on the aiport).
Taxi to your designated runway, DO NOT exceed 35 knots (good rule of thumb is 15-20, and less than 15 when turning). STAY on ground frequency the whole time, as ground will sometimes instruct you to give way to another aircraft etc.
Tune to tower frequency ONLY when you are first in line, holding short of your designated runway.
Contact tower, and request take off once the previous airplane has initiated its departing sequence or after an incoming airplane has landed (no need to clutter frequency, ATC will ask you to hold short in any case…). From your flight plan you should know which direction you’re departing (north, south, west, east) and you must provide this information to ATC (so that they can anticipate your path).
Once cleared, make sure there’s nobody incoming, and no plane on the runway (after all ATC’s are human beings as well), then turn on your strobe lights, before gently turning onto the runway.
If ATC has instructed you to take off immediatly, please do so: do not stop on the runway before taking off…
If you are flying a jet, gently pull the throttle up to roughtly 90% N1, and use the rudder to stay aligned if need be.
Once at rotation speed (look up Vr on Google for your specific plane), gently pull up the yoke. A 10° attitude should roughly be ok. At some point you will reach take off speed (“V2”) and the plane will… take off. Just maintain V2+10-20 knots until you reach 3000 feet (that would be in the 185 knots region). A “reasonable” rate of climb for a widebody plane would be around 1,800-2,200 fpm once established. Note: just after takeoff the rate of ascent is much lower though! (700-1000 fpm)
Gear, Flaps retraction
The gear should be retracted as soon as you reach a positive rate of climb. In practice you will retract the gear at 100-150 feet AGL.
You can start to retract flaps at around 1,000 feet AGL, whilst adjusting your rate of climb accordingly.
Unless already instructed to contact them, now is a good time to tune into Departure frequency (if there is one).
If you have a flight plan, indicate that you would like radar vectors to your destination airport (no need to aks for an ILS approach at this stage, for an airport several 100’ miles away, this is not their job). They will essentially put you on the right path (which can sometimes deviate from your original flight plan depending on traffic).
Cruise altitude and speed
There is no one fits all rule there, but at least, do not exceed 250 knots until you reach 10,000 feet.
Your cruise altitude will depend on aircraft type, load, length of travel… For a widebody you would cruise at between 30,000 and 40,000 feet in general, at a speed ranging from Mach 0.65-0.85
Landing lights can be turned off above 10,000 feet.
Note that 18,000 feet is the standard transition altitude in the US.
Unless already instructed to contact them, contact Center frequency once above FL180 (if there someone manning ATC).
Again, request radar vectors to your destination - they will essentially direct you up to the point when they will handover to another Center (unlikely in IF?) or your destination approach frequency.
Unless already instructed to contact them, contact Approach when you’re descending past FL180. From an altitude of 30,000 feet MSL, you would have started your descent at roughly 90 miles from the aiport (30,000 / 1,000 * 3) with a speed in the range of 280-310 knots and a descent rate of roughly 1,800-2,000 fpm.
Here you must specify you want an ILS approach and for which runway (if this is the case, as usually is with a big aircraft). Pay attention: sometimes conditions have changed at destination, and Approach will vector you into a different runway (no big deal, just listen to them).
The goal for them (and for you) is to reach the threshold of the ILS path at about 2500-3000 feet AGL, 160-170 knots. To get there you will have gently adjusted your speed to 240 knots before descending below 10,000 feet (at which point you would turn on your landing lights), then reducing speed to 210 knots, 185 knots and eventually around 160 knots, whilst not forgetting to adjust your flaps settings all the way to (almost) full flaps. Bear in mind that you need to be perfectly aligned with the ILS before reducing your speed to approach speed (c. 160 knots) because reduced speed = reduced manoeuvrability.
Once established on ILS, Approach will clear you on the ILS and hand you over to Tower.
Now is a good time to announce you’re inbound on the ILS, and make sure Tower clears you…
When you reach c. 2500 feet AGL, make sure you are in full landing configuration: gear down, flaps and speed at the correct settings, spoilers armed, trim adjusted (usually around 20-30% for a widebody aircraft). You will notice that the glide indicator will start to go down (the little arrow on the right hand side of the hud): now is time to descend at about 800-900 fpm depending on your speed.
If for some reason you are not aligned with the runway, at the wrong altitude (or attitude), or not in full landing configuration when reaching 1,000 feet AGL, GO AROUND (and tell the tower you’re doing so). They will tell you which way to turn, and hand you over to Departure ATC (if there’s one).
If all is well, keep following the G/S until reaching the threshold of the runway (ideally at 50 feet AGL), then pull the throttle to iddle whilst starting your flare at around 30 feet AGL (again, these numbers differ depending on aircraft type etc.).
On touchdown gently (but firmly) put the nose down, apply some reverse thrust / brakes as needed (reverse thrust shouldn’t be applied below 60-80 knots).
Exit the runway as instructed by tower.
Once safely on the taxiway, turn off your strobe lights, and contact ground. In between you will likely have had time to put the plane back to its original configuration.
Request taxi to parking, and make sure to request runway crossings etc. before doing so (if needed).
That’s it, I hope this helps a little bit, and apologies for this looong post!