• How To...Fly The Boeing 737

    Zaventem - Schiphol

    The Quick Start Guide For 737 Pilots

    By Geert Rolf


    KLM Boeing 737: Insured value $40 million.
    Those who are beginning to fly the Boeing 737 will start flying it by hand and discover that it's hard to land without using any navigation aid. You can only approach the airport visually if you know where it is, like with Meigs Airfield. It will take you many hours before you will make your first proper landing.

    In this quick start guide we will take the reverse way: we will start flying almost completely relying on the automatic pilot and we will just do simple things such as making adjustments to heading, speed and altitude. With a little patience and luck you can land properly in your first attempt. Once you have exercised this flight using the instruments, you can try flying manually.

    Before you begin flying from Brussels National "Zaventem" to Amsterdam Airport "Schiphol", you need to learn how to read and adjust the instruments at the flightdeck. Next, all you have to do is described step by step and you will fly this 60 ton heavy Boeing 737-300 of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines without causing any damage.

    Starting point for our flight from Zaventem to Schiphol is either runway 25R or 25L at Brussels National. You could use a previously saved flight or start from "default flight" at Meigs Airfield Chicago click and pull "World", "Goto", "Airport". There will appear a menu. Enter "brussel" and select 25R or 25L for runway. Correct the time of day, using "World", "Time and Season". Select a Boeing 737 using "Aircraft", "Select Aircraft".

    The AutoPilot

    The autopilot is of great importance. It will take care of altitude, speed and heading. The picture shows the autopilot controls. From left to right we see:

    • A/T enable: we will click this button (will become partly red) in order to let the autopilot control the thrust levers (one for each engine).
    • AP: is the AutoPilot master switch. All functions will be disabled when turned off.
    • HDG: when this button is switched on, the autopilot will use the heading as shown in the display just right below this button.
    • ALT: when enabled the autopilot will maintain, climb or descent to the indicated altitude. The VS (vertical speed) indicates the feet per minute climb or descent whatever is appropriate to get to the desired altitude. VS may be altered to get a faster climb or descent.
    • SPD: speed in knots. The desired speed is adjusted in the IAS/Mach field.
    • (MACH and NAV not used) APR or APPROACH: this is a very important function of the autopilot and will take us lined up with the runway and descending a proper glide slope towards the head of the runway. It is required that the NAV1 navaid (take a look at it later) has contacted the ILS beacon for the runway one intends to land on. The approach function will take over the control of heading and altitude.
    • Other buttons and fields are not used except for the Course. We will adjust COURSE to the runway heading, which will show proper heading in the NAV1 HSI (horizontal situation indicator) but not have any effect on the airplane at all.
    To fly from Brussels to Amsterdam we will set the following at the autopilot controls: HDG=360, ALT=12500 to fly at about 4 KM altitude. SPD=240 to limit speed to 240 knots Indicated Air Speed. We will not enable any function yet: the Autopilot will be engaged when airborne.

    Important equipment

    Before leaving we should take a closer look at some of the equipment and flight instruments in the cockpit:

    Left picture shows the Attitude Direction Indicator. Left on the ADI we see the speed indicating 242 Knots and the right side indicates an altitude of 2879 ft. We also see the the position of the airplane using the artificial horizon. Typically we use these when flying at night. This flight can be flown at night as easy as in bright daylight once you're used to the procedures.

    Right picture shows the Flap Position Indicator (FPI): flaps are retracted during cruise flight, but are very important at take off and landing. It gives the plane extra lift at slow speed. F7 will extend the flaps one single step. F6 will retract it by one step. F8 will extend it fully and F5 will retract it completely. During take off the flaps should be extended to the fourth step.

    (left pictureThis Vertical Speed Indicator provides information about the speed by which we climb or descent measured in feet/minute. This is very important in the last stage of landing a plane. You should touch the runway smoothly somewhere between 500 to 700 feet/minute max. Over 1000 feet/minute will crash the plane. The picture shows a climb of +1800 feet per minute.

    (right picture Here we see indicators for the joystick horizontal and vertical. At the left side is the indicator for the trim. Before flying this should be in the middle: adjust using KEYPAD-7 upwards or KEYPAD-1 downwards.

    (right picture) Click this button to get the radiostack visible at the left corner of your window.

    On the radiostack we can adjust all radios, transmitters and beacons. From top to bottom:

    • ATIS information: set this one to 122.20 MHz in order to receive Schiphol Air Traffic Information.
    • Frequency for the NAV1 navaid: we will tune this one when we have chosen a runway to land on.
    • On the third item we adjust the NAV2 frequency to 108.40 MHz. NAV2 will use long range radar. We will use it to set course to Schiphol.
    • Frequency of the NDB (linked to the green hand on the NAV2 display): we don't use it on this flight.
    • The squak frequency used by the transponder to identify itself uniquely. On request the flightcontroller will issue the unique transponder frequency. (Not used on this flight)

    About NAV1 and NAV2

    NAV1 and NAV2 are the main navigation aids we will use.

    (left picture) The Horizontal Situation Indicator (HSI) is used to get aligned with the runway. The NAV1 radio should be tuned to the proper frequency for the runway you want to land on. When the NAV1 beacon is active it provides information about the aircraft position related to the runway and the Glide Slope, which is an imaginary descend path to the runway. If both are under control of the autopilot we have almost nothing to do to make a nice approach.

    The runway (the double yellow line on the display) is at the rightside of the plane and we are about to reach the Glide Slope (the yellow marker on the right side of the display is almost in the middle). The display also indicates the frequency tuning: ILS for the runway is 110.30 and the OBS is 10, meaning that the runway is at 10 degrees.

    (right picture) The Radio Magnetic Indicator (RMI) shows direction and distance for the longrange NAV2 beacon it is tuned for. Distance is 81.4 Nautical Miles (x 1.8 = 147 km) The green arrow is used when tuned to NDB (non directional beacons) which we do not use in this flight.

    On the runway






    Autopilot adjustments

    Tune: course=360, hdg=360, alt=12500, ias/mach=240, vs=0


    Radiobeacon tuning

    On top: 122.20, third from top: 108.40


    Flaps 4th stop.

    F7, F7, F7


    Strobe lights on


    Keyboard numlock off

    Check numlock

    After we have done the preparations: flaps, AutoPilot and the navigation beacons, we will look out of the cockpit windows. Use SHIFT+KEYPAD-1 to look over the left wing. SHIFT+KEYPAD-4 to look to the left. SHIFT+KEYPAD-7 left ahead. Use SHIFT+KEYPAD-8 to look in the forward direction. SHIFT+KEYPAD-9 to look right ahead, use SHIFT+KEYPAD-4 look right and SHIFT+KEYPAD-3 to look over the right wing.

    Before we move the plane we should switch the strobe lights on (O as in Oscar). Take an outside look (SHIFT S) and turn around the plane using the same keystrokes as mentioned above to look out of the cockpit e.g. SHIFT+KEYPAD-7 to look from left-behind the plane. Back to the flightdeck (S).

    This Boeing 737-800 owned by Transavia, a Dutch charter airline, is ready for take-off on Runway 25R at Brussels National.

    Maybe you started from an earlier flight and need to taxi to the runway: To use the throttle: F3 for more, F2 for less power. F4 is full power and F1 is idle. At the ground you can apply reverse thrust by F2 down on the neutral throttle. Be carefull not to apply reverse thrust when taxying.

    The take-off





    Ready for take-off

    Parking brake set, full throttle, "rolling"

    CTRL-DOT, F4, wait for engines to built thrust, DOT

    Speed is 150 knots


    Pull back the joystick very gently until nose of plane rises


    Gear up


    Check the parking brake, apply full throttle (F4), wait for the engines to built-up thrust and release the parking brake(.).

    Keep a look at the speed: at 150 knots we gently pull the joystick and the nose of the plane will rise.

    Boeing 737-300 owned by the Belgian airline "Sabena" has just taken off.

    Check and insure that the speed of the plane is increasing during the manual climb: push the joystick a bit forward if not.

    • When airborne and with a positive climb: gear up (G).
    • At 190 knots retract the flaps (F5).
    • Now activate the AutoPilot switch on: A/T Arm, AP, ALT en SPD. (HDG not yet!!)





    Speed is at least 190 knots

    Retract Flaps



    Activate AutoPilot

    autopilot controls: AP, ALT, A/T arm, SPD.

    The first critical step has been taken: we're now climbing to 12500 feet with 1800 feet per minute. The autopilot controls the plane: we fly hands-free.

    Change heading to 360 degrees




    3000 feet altitude

    Change heading to 360 degrees

    Switch on HDG at AutoPilot

    When we arrive at 3000 feet we will switch on the HDG control at the autopilot. The plane will turn right until heading north.

    Adjust heading for Schiphol





    NAV2 beacon active

    Change heading to 15 degrees

    Change HDG from 360 to 015

    Shortly after changing the heading to north the long distance radar for Schiphol will be in reach and the RMI (tuned by NAV2) will show the direction and distance to Schiphol. The RMI shows the postion of Schiphol, approximately at 15 degrees.

    The yellow hand points at the middle between 0 and 30 degrees, so we change the heading to 15 degrees.

    Adjustment of speed





    10000 feet altitude

    Increase speed to 320 kts

    Adjust Ias/Mach from 240 to 320.

    When passing the clouds at about 10000 feet we can increase the speed to 320 knots. This adjustment is made at the AutoPilot IAS/Mach tuning.

    Scandinavian Airlines' Boeing 737-500 flying over the south west part of Holland called Zeeland.

    Choose a runway to land on





    Schiphol ATIS available (at top of window).

    Choose a runway (01R or 01L)

    Set course (not heading!) to 010 at the autopilot. Tune the second item from top on the radiostack to 110.30 or 108.75.

    Soon as we get the Schiphol ATIS messages at the top of the window, we can make a choice and decide which runway to use. Schiphol has two runways on 10 degrees: these are the most favorite to use. The ATIS messages mention the ILS frequencies for RW 01R to be 110.30 MHz and 108.75 for RW 01L.

    • Make a choice for RW 01L or 01R
    • Tune the ILS frequency at the second item from above on the radiostack: 110.30 (RW 01R) or 108.75 (RW 01L).
    • Adjust "course" on the AutoPilot to 10 degrees, the circle on NAV1 will turn to show a runway on 10 degrees.

    NAV1 navaid will get activated when we approach Schiphol and the plane gets in the reach of the ILS beacon.

    Enter the descent





    47 NM distance to Schiphol

    Bring down speed to 240 kts

    At AutoPilot: Ias/Mach=240

    45 NM distance

    Descent to 7000 feet

    set ALT=7000


    Extend flaps 1 step


    The distance to Schiphol can be read from the RMI:

    • 47 NM Adjust speed from 320 to 240 knots.
    • 45 NM Adjust ALTitude change from 12500 to 7000. Extend flaps a single step (F7).
    • 10500 ft: check the speed to be near 250 knots: if not apply the airbrake "/". Another "/" to retract the spoilers when speed is below 250 knots.
    We now pass the city of Rotterdam and descent through the clouds.





    10500 feet altitude

    Check speed to be approx 250 knots.

    In case speed > 260 apply airbrake /. Retract spoiler: /.

    Switch to Automatic Approach





    NAV1 is active (runway and GS)

    Change heading to 30 degrees and engage auto approach

    On the AutoPilot: hdg=30 and switch on APR.

    Soon as we come within the reach of the ILS beacon the NAV1 navaid will become active and the HSI will show the runway position and the position of the Glide Slope. We see something like:

    The runway is at the right side and the yellow GS marker is above the middle.

    • Automatic approach is engaged by switching on APR on the AutoPilot:
    • We change the heading to 30 degrees to get aligned with the runway in an early stage of our descent.

    The automatic pilot will take over functions as soon as possible:

    • When we arrive at 7000 feet altitude, we will fly horizontally until the Glide Slope crosses our altitude. The yellow marker will be in the middle and the autopilot will take over. (ie the "alt" light at the AutoPilot will go off)
    • The same applies for the runway heading: as soon as the plane crosses the runway heading and the double yellow line moves to the centre, the autopilot takes over. (ie "hdg" light will go off)
    When arriving at 7000 feet altitude, we will reduce speed to 200 knots.

    Right now we have time to read this document and take a look at what is to be done in the final stage of the approach. At that moment the pilot has no time to read!





    7000 feet altitude

    Reduce speed to 200 kts

    At the AutoPilot: Ias/Mach=200

    At the moment the autopilot has taken over the descent from 7000 feet, we extend the flaps one single step.





    Automatic descent (ALT is off)

    Extend flaps to 3rd stop


    Aligned with the runway

    As soon as the two lines representing the runway on the HSI display move to the centre, the AutoPilot will take over the heading. The most important thing the AutoPilot leaves to the Pilot to do is to reduce speed.





    10 NM distance

    Flaps one more step


    9 NM

    Flaps, speed to 180

    F7, ias/mach=180 on AutoPilot

    8 NM

    Flaps, gear down

    F7, G

    7 NM

    Flaps and speed to 160

    F7, ias/mach=160

    6 NM

    Flaps one more step


    5 NM

    Flaps extended fully


    The engines will give more thrust as the flaps increase the air resistance. With the runway in sight we may get the blue signal (light and sound): this is the outher marker for the ILS. The middle marker is orange.

    The landing





    300 feet altitude

    Switch AutoPilot to off



    Correct vertical speed

    Carefully use the joystick to keep the vertical speed at about 500 feet/minute.

    Touch down

    Engines idle



    Apply airbrakes



    Reverse thrust

    F2 (again F2 until plane has stabilized.)


    Use brake at end of runway

    . (DOT) keep pressed

    Speed < 50 knots

    Engines idle



    Use brakes

    . (DOT)


    Flaps up



    Spoilers in


    At 300 feet altitude the pilot takes over control from the AutoPilot.

    • Switch off the AutoPilot (Z).
    • Carefully take the joystick. Heading should be perfect, but it is the landing itself that should be taken care off. Keep the vertical speed between 500 and 700 feet max. The runway is long enough to land not just at the beginning.

    The spotter takes a picture: an EasyJet Boeing 737-300, just about to land.

    As soon as we touch the ground:

    • Engines idle (F1)
    • Spoilers up (/)
    • Reverse thrust (F2) (F2 only works when stabilized, so again F2 if not)
    • Apply brakes when near the end of the runway: (. keep pressed)
    When speed has dropped to about 50 knots:
    • Engines idle (F1)
    • Use brake to reduce speed to 20 knots (.)
    • Retract Spoilers (/)
    • Flaps in (F5)
    Apply little thrust (F3) or reduce it (F2) to taxi off runway to the airport gates. Keep speed below 25 knots. When at the gate:
    • Set parking brake (CTRL-.)
    • Strobe lights off (o)
    • Engines off (CTRL+SHIFT+F1)

    This British Airways Boeing 737-200 has arrived at the passenger terminal.

    Hints and Tips

    • Start the engines: If you save your existing flight, you may start a new flight with an airplane with the engines off. To start the engines:
      • Parking brake should be set. (CTRL-DOT if not so)
      • Switch both starters to "start". The turbines now run electrically.
      • Apply fuel and ignition SHIFT+CTRL+F4.
    • Fly by night. Those of you that have exercised this flight can try it by night. CTRL-L switches on the landinglights so you can see the runway more clearly. (Not supported on all planes) Use 'w' to toggle the panel view.
    • One should not takeoff with full thrust for the risk of damaging the engines. Toggle the "A/T arm" to on and use the button found centered below the thrust levers. It will run the engines at "take off power".
    • What to do when ending up above the Glide Slope? This flightplan is designed to ensure that you will be below the Glide Slope on your approach to Schiphol. The GS marker is above the centre when you arrive at 7000 feet altitude. In case you start the descent too late, you will end at too high altitude and the Glide Slope is at lower altitude. Ensure the passengers have their seatbelts on and take a dive:
      • Adjust altitude to rather low, say alt=1200.
      • Increase the vertical speed from -1800 to -2500.
    • Manoeuvre into the runway heading. In the flightplan above we have changed heading to 30 degrees at the moment the runway ILS became active. We did that to help the autopilot. We should cross the runway heading as early as possible to get a smooth lineup with the runway. In this flightplan the runway is always at the rightside of the airplane. In other cases it's not shure to be at the right or the left. When flying from Brussels the heading of 15 degrees closely matches the runway heading of 10 degrees. In other cases the difference between airplane and runway heading can be much bigger. Some examples:
      • Airplane heading 15 degrees, runway at 10 degrees, but at the left side of the plane. Correct the heading with -15 degrees. So set heading to 360.
      • Heading 210 degrees, runway at 270 degrees. Here we see a big angle between airplane and runway heading. At the start of the descent we set heading to 200 degrees. This creates distance to the runway as we have to take a turn to 270 degrees at sufficient distance from the runway.
      Examples of these cases can be found when flying to London and Paris.
    • Brussels - London Heathrow: flight takes about 45 minutes. Heading after take-off: 300 (hdg=300), altitude 23000 (alt=23000). Radio tunings: upper ATIS= 123.90, third from top NAV2= 113.60. (NAV2 can have contact with a beacon in France early in the flight) After contacting the London beacon on NAV2, the yellow hand will slowly turn to West (270 degrees). When that happened set heading 270. Start descending at 85NM distance. Make your choice either RW 27L (109.50) or RW 27R (110.30). It's not predictable to be left or right from the runway.

      After landing on Heathrow take a Cessna for site seeing: Houses of Parliaments, Buckingham Palace, St. Pauls, The Tower and Tower Bridge. After Tower Bridge keep flying east and try to land at the London City airstrip.

    • Brussels - Paris Le Bourget: takes 35 minutes. Heading after take-off: 210 (hdg=210) altitude 12500 (alt=12500). Radio: ATIS (upper): 120.00 en NAV2 (third from top): 115.35. The runway is RW 27 (110.55). As soon as the descending has started (at 45NM) the heading should be changed to 200 due to the angle between heading and runway. Don't panic in the final approach: the runway you seem to miss belongs to Charles de Gaulle airport.

      Take a Cessna for site seeing Eiffel tower, Arc de Triomphe, Louvre, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur etc.

    • Calculating descent distances: you need to know how to calculate the distance to airport for starting the descent. At 37000 feet, e.g, we take (3 * 37) + 10 = approx. 120NM distance.
    • Flying manually: those of you who got a feeling for how to fly the 737 after exercising the AutoPilot, can try flying by hand. Do use the visual instuments such as the NAV1 ILS indicators. Check speed, vertical speed, heading and distance in an endless loop. Remember that real pilots have to land manually every 1 out of 3 in order to keep them trained.
    This flightplan has mentioned fixed rules to do what has to be done: e.g. extract gear at 8 NM distance. This approach has nothing to do with reality but has been designed to keep in mind easily. Navigating from Brussels to Amsterdam has been kept simple for the same purpose.

    You have seen a variety of Boeings 737 in this document. You can find them in the FlightSim.Com file library. Any suggestions or experiences? Send an e-mail: [email protected]

    Copyright © 1998/1999 Geert Rolf

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