How low should I be on approach?

I always wondered how low I should be on approach to an airport. For example, today I was flying to DFW and I was at 3,500 ft 47.6 nm away from the airport. Is this too low? What altitude should I descend to?


Uhh i mean, it’s not bad, but could be better, just aim to be below 18,000 by 50NM and then follow a Star, or just follow a star

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I usually follow a table that I set up and it helps out well


Edit: lol those extra 0’s due make a difference


woah, what is your final V/S???


50,000 is a little high. ;)

There’s a lot of factors that can go into it like airport elevation if it’s really high or traffic in the area that you need to avoid to maintain spacing if it’s really busy. I usually drop from 12,000 to 8-6,000 45 nm out at a normal airport elevation place. A star like @Alphadog4646 said is realistic and actually tells you the information instead of guessing when you should drop down.

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Lol I meant 5000

I usually hit the top of the red table (10nm final) at around 4,200ft

If approach is active… please don’t. Be lower. A maximum of FL180 when contacting. Trust me, it’s better for both of us. You don’t have to descend fast or be put in a hold, and I am not backed up as a result of your height.


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I like to hang anywhere in the 4,500 and descending range. I’m usually at 3,000-2,500 by the time the airfield is in sight.

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When at a cruising altitude, generally descend from cruise to 12,000ft around 140-160 km depending on your fpl. During cruise, your average-ly descend 12,000ft every 50nm. That’s how I calculate my descents. For example: (remember airport MSL)

28,000ft: 120nm

32,000ft: 140nm

36,000ft: 150nm

40,000ft: 160nm

43,000ft: 170-175nm (wow that’s far)

Descend at a rate of 1800vs. By the time you reach 12,000ft you can slow down, prepare for landing (remember to be contact approach if active at 60nm out-ish and below 18,000ft agl), this should get you to about 40-50nm out. You can then continue your descent to a perfect landing! Works for me every time!

Jesus that is scarily low…


You should try to start following SIDS, STARS, and published approaches along with using and to have realistic procedure. You definitely don’t just wanna be winging it, especially on the expert server.

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You can either follow an instrument procedure (STAR, IAP) or you can calculate Top of Descent to come down from cruise.

Top of descent (TOD) is how far out you should start descent for a desired rate of descent (ROD)
TOD= (Alt/Rod)*(Gs/60)
Pick a rate of descent you like
Alt= Altitude
Rod= Rate of descent
Gs= Ground speed

If you want to know how fast to descend from a certain distance then;
Rod= (Gs/60)*(Ft/Nm)
Ft/Nm= Altitude loss needed divided by the distance to destination.

I do use but never looked at the SID/STAR stuff…how do you use it?

Look at the SID/STAR in your flight plan and find the appropriate chart for it online (for example SID RWY 16L KEVIN 6 which is a Standard Instrument Departure from Sydney Airport via waypoint KEVIN) which will provide airspeed and altitudes for the departure or approach. Ensure you select the correct runways when planning in FPLtoIF or Simbrief. Maybe someone else can provide a more comprehensive explanation.

Watch some YouTube vids on how to read them along with approach plates.

I used this calculator
Ex. FL360

36000 / 1000
= 36

36*3 = 108
108+30 = 138nm from destination.
Desend at about 1500vs and that should get you pretty set up
30000 = 100nm
25000 = 80nm
20000 = 60 nm
8000 = 30nm
If your off adjust speed/vs

Add some for tailwinds, take some off for head winds.

I usually go 3000 on localizer, but it depends on the airport. Hope i’m right lol

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I go in about 100-150 depending on plane, and cruising altitude, from that altitude, to 6000, then 3500 to get on glideslope, from there I contacted either Unicom or ATC and trackn in the ILS(IF EQUIPED). from there I reduce to 190 kn and let the plane go from there.

My formula for decent

(Cruising altitude/1000)*3=nm out you need to decent
After that, that will be your aproach on base/downwind

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