How do I know, my approach speed/attitude is realistic and right?


Hi there, here’s another article on how to operate a sim aircraft correctly

While patiently waiting for your take off clearance and looking out of the window, …have you ever wondered why the Aircraft approaching the runway had a strange nose down attitude? - If yes, you maybe want to continue reading.

Well, if you saw a CRJ 200 coming in, this was perfectly normal. The aircraft does not have leading edge lift devices and the shape of the wing lets this aircraft come in with the nose down attitude. Also most of the Turboprops (e.g. Dash 8) fly like this.

If you see anything bigger, like the Boeings or Airbusses coming in like this, the guy at the controls has either not planned his approach well enough and was too high, or he was on the ILS Glideslope but too fast for the flap setting, desperately trying to achieve the neccessary sink rate for a 3.5 degree glideslope (around 600-700ft/minute).

To cut it short here, I will just outline the basic “need to knows” for Simmers:
A Boeing or Airbus at a medium load or less (you do not land these birds with a full load unless you have an emergency) has a “minimum clean speed” of around 200-210kts. This means the aircraft is able to maintain a given altitude without any flaps in a so called “clean” configuration.
You should start lowering the flaps below 210kts. The final landing speed (called V REF) is something between 120-145kts with flaps full depending on the aircraft (although the SIM aircraft configs are not 100% precise, e.g. the 747-200 lands at 120kts, medium load, and thats unreal), but one can still let it look right

Now, please bear in mind: to fly an ILS approach is a tricky thing, because you are permanently changing the configuration and many aspects of the aircrafts energy situation; or the equation, that keeps it in the air while you have to keep the descent rate steady:

  • you slow down, thus reducing lift
  • you lower the flaps step by step, thus increasing lift, but also inducing drag
  • you lower the gear, increasing drag
  • you throttle up, thus increasing lift
  • you reduce thrust, thus reducing speed and lift
  • you raise the nose, thus increasing lift, but reducing speed, unless you power up
  • you lower the nose, thus decreasing lift, but gaining speed, unless you reduce the thrust setting
    Here is a helpful thumb rule: Intercept the localizer first then the glideslope. Do slow down early enough

Well, You know that you do it right, if you are able

  • to maintain a descent rate of about 600-700 feet
  • lower the flaps to FULL and reduce the speed to the desired landing speed while
  • heaving a 3-5 degree nose up attitude ( the angle of attack also influences the lift)
    Hint: look in the HUD and see the Circle, called Flight path vector. It shows you where you will end up, if you maintain the current lateral and vertical setting. If the Flight Path Vector is aligned with the beginning of the runway and the papi shows White and Red, you are all set.

I suggest you practice a bit, to understand the mechanism by playing around above 10000 ft.
Step 1:
set the autopilot to maintain the given altitude and current heading, then increase thrust and see what happens and vice versa: if you reduce the thrust more and more, the autopilot will compensate by pitching up.
Step 2:
same setup but now you deccelerate even further below 210 and start using the flaps, you will notice that the autopilot will pitch up less.

Guys, I do not want to bore you. This is my first try and its solely for Simmers, not for professional pilots! - I try to find the right path between to lees and too many details. I could also provide illustrations and cut the subjects into smaller, more digestible portions.
Please send me signal, if you like these articles or if you want anything else, with regard to explanations or even nothing like that.

Happy landings


just a bit on my background: I am in the airline industry since many many years and are also a Simmer since the old MS FS4. I simply like to share the experience, like we do it in the real world.


Hi folks

…another second thought:

You might ask yourself, why I did not write about how to trim the aircraft. To be honest, I could have, but then the article would have become definitely too long. I will cover this in a later “how to” article.

Besides, trimming only means to take the load off the elevator controls. The better an aircraft is trimmed at a given speed, attitude and weight, the less a pilot has to work with the elevator to maintain the desired attitude.

Happy Landings


I apologize to the “Pros” around here, who know all these basics and consider this a waste of KB . I do think however, some of the guys might consider these articles a bit helpful.


This was very helpful! Thanks for posting it!


Thanks. I have been a flight simmer since 1984 on FSII on a PC jr. I really enjoyed your article and would love to see more. I have also been a beta tester on many of Microsoft’s flight simulators.


There are no “Pro’s” out here Clipper, there are some old pilots and some bold pilots but there are only a few crippled old bold pilots on this net. Keep those cards and letters comin old son there appreciated and reminders of how it ought to be every time you strap on some iron… Max Sends.


These posts are brilliant. I know this is only a sim but I think we all want to make it as realistic and also learn a bit along the way from a pro. Many thanks!


Here is a quick reference about the flaps that maybe you can add on your guide…Boeing 737-800 (May be similar to other type of aircraft)


Thank you for your guide. Hope this also works!:)


One thing is not correct:
During approach attitude is 1°-2°, not 5°


What do you mean? Can you explain more about it? Tx


Oh…there are pros out here. I can think of two active commercial airline pilots that I interact with in IF regularly. I have no doubt there are more too. Likely the same on the ATC side as well, like Tyler.


During the approach the HUD should look approximately like this:

You can see the pitch (line with arrow) at 2.5°, normally it is at 1° or 2°, but is was the B737 which shakes a lot, as you can see in this video:


just saw this one Bill; “Pro’s” you missed the point, I was just passed an old aviation bar joke from back in the day. That day was probably 20 years before you were born. From the quality of the input here there are a lot of Pro’s on this site for sure.Good on’em. Mad Max Sends