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Flying And Loving The 737 Classics Series


Flying And Loving The 737 Classics Series

By Simon Lloyd



Hello all, I'm writing this article to you all to show how I've learnt to fly and love this amazing aircraft in flight simulator. Not only do I love flying this aircraft in flight simulator but I love to see it in real life too. It's odd it's something I can't explain, it just looks so nice to me both inside and outside. I hope that you can learn something from this article as I'm sure I'll learn something from the feedback. I have to state now that this is not how to fly the 737 but is my version of how I think to realistically fly the 737.


Introduction To My Setup

I bought about a year ago the DreamFleet 737-400 for FS2000. This was quite a change to me from what I can see now to be the very basic default version, (which I'm not knocking because it serves its purpose to introduce simmers into the airliner world of flying) which I now never use.


I was flying this version in FS2000 until they released all the patches to flying the aircraft in FS2002. I also bought the Ariane 737-300 which I have combined and modified to give me what I think is a very realistic simulation of the 737-300 (flown by many airliners in the UK here such as the low cost Easyjet). I also own the Ariane panel to give me the traditional feeling of flying without the glass flight deck. For this article thought I will be talking about the use of the DreamFleet panel because of its similarity to the real life flight deck.


So We Have Our Aircraft, Now What?

OK so here is how I came about flying this aircraft so much and falling in love with it. In an effort to make my flying as realistic as possible I went on a mad search on information that would enable me to fly the aircraft as close as I can to real life. The DreamFleet manual came with quite a lot of useful detailed information about the systems and procedures, but I still wanted to find out more information about flying the craft in real life, so that I could make my own set of procedures from a collaboration of pilot's notes.


I found so much information on the internet about the aircraft. This included notes from experienced 737 captains that gave handy hints on flying the classics series. I also found procedures from pilots that enabled me to see how they fly their 737's. After a long period of research of reading pilots notes and set airline and aircraft procedures, including information from the aircraft handbook I was happy that I had learnt enough to fly the craft to what I thought was realistically. However, I know that even this is far from being real as when I attempt the 737 rating exam I know I wouldn't pass. At this point I will have to admit that even though I've read of fuel planning I do use a fuel calculator, simply because of the time element and the number of factors that have to be considered, so sorry about that but I do cheat there.


Flying The Aircraft - Pre Start Up

In this stage of the flight it's a chance for me the pilot to apply what I know about flying the aircraft to this individual flight. This consists of fuel planning, navigation planning, speed setting for atmosphere condition (e.g. temp and winds). I will only talk about a few things as some would cause me to talk in more depth than others. To start with let's get some power to the aircraft, this can either come from a ground source or the APU (auxiliary power unit - a small engine situated at the rear of the aircraft). This will enable us to use the aircraft systems without the engines providing the power and prevents us running our battery flat. Fuel planning as I've already stated I cheat on, I collect all the information required from me, such as temps, winds and distances. This enables me to have a clear idea of the amount of fuel I will need on the flight. This then gives me a print out of all the fuel monitoring I need to do whilst in the flight. However I do check to see if my landing weight is within limits as this makes the landing so much easier.






My navigation is made slightly easier for me as I fly for British Airways Virtual, so they give me their preferred route for the flight; in real airlines their routes are stuck to so I tend to stick to mine. However I don't just take that route and fly it, I have a chart to check the routes in the UK to check if the route is sound. I also check to see if the departure and arrival routes are the right ones. If I'm flying online then I check to see which approach and departure routes are active. I then take this flight plan and will input it into the aircraft via the flight management computer (FMC). I also consider where my alternative airport is. You can see in the picture I'm half way through inputting a flight into the FMC.


After the flight has been completely input into the computer the aircraft is now happy where it is going, and also happy where it is as I've told it where I am on a previous FMC screen. Other information that will be set into the FMC are the temperatures of the airfields and also the maximum temperature that this takeoff could be performed at with this weight, is also entered. This enables the FMC to figure out the minimum thrust settings the engines can use on takeoff so as to lengthen the life of the engines. This calculation is called the 'Assumed Temperature Thrust Reduction' however after takeoff the thrust during the climbout will be increased so as to speed up the climb and save on fuel burn, as a long climb would cause more amount of fuel to be burnt.


Next I consider the climb itself. First of all I calculate the V speeds. I tend to do these myself and then check them against the FMC and as with all my speed calculations. V speeds are calculated by this simple method: for V2 60 tons at flap 1 is 160 kts, then subtract 15 kts for 50 tons and another 15 kts for 40 tons. For any weight in between use your high math skills and figure it out (calculator I think!). To then calculate the speeds for use of flap all you have to do is take off the amount of flaps in knots. E.g. for 60 tons flap 15 V2 is 160-15=145. This gives a rough indication of your V2 speed. I then check this against the V2 speed from the FMC; if it agrees then I refer to the other V speeds that the FMC gives me. All I really am doing is checking one speed is correct and then following what the FMC tells me for the other speeds. I also take a similar approach to the Vref speeds for the landing, but to save time I won't explain it all out, but it is all similar. This table here shows how a simple table can also be used to find out rough speeds for Vref.






The next stage of the pre-start is to set up the automation of the flight that we will employ once airborne. This means setting the speeds for your departure; these may be speed limitations within your SID that have to be obeyed. If so, set the first one in the IAS window, or maybe you have no ATC speed restrictions, so you can use 250 kts till FL100, or a speed that will give you an economic climb (best use N1 for this), it all depends on your objectives for the climb. Also I decide if I'm going to use the IAS speed setting or for an economic climb, I may use N1 which uses the settings for N1 speeds from the FMC, this will enable maybe a more economic climb if set in the FMC. Next set any altitude restrictions in the altitude window that a SID may dictate, I will always set the first altitude of my SID at this point.


Flying The Aircraft - Start Up

Now that all the passengers are aboard and the pre-start checks including paper work with hand over from ground crew have been carried out, the aircraft is ready to start and pushback. At sea level we need 30 psi (pressure) to start the engines, this pressure is found from the APU (auxiliary power unit) which has been started previously as part of the pre start checks. This pressure is then bleed into the engines and the engine bleed valve closes allowing no pressure to escape from the engine until the engine has started. This pressure will cause the engine starter motor to rotate which rotates the N2 compressor through a gear system. This then will continue to rotate. Next, fuel is added into the engine, and this takes place when N2 is at 25% which is indicated on the engines' gauges on the main panel. The fuel ignites and sets off a continuing ignition of fuel and combustion. If the fuel is let into the engine early then it can lead to a hot start. When the engine is starting/started the fan will rotate at the front of the engine providing a lot of bypass air in the engine. As each engine is started and the fuel is let into the engine we look for certain values in the engines to show a normal start these are the following:


N1 21.5%  
EGT 475°C (May vary from 450°C - 650°C)
N2 60.3%  
FF 3.26  


These figures are the signs of a normal start. From this point we can now engage the after engines start procedures. If we get a bad engine start then we shut the engine back down following a set of procedures. A bad engine start can be identified from several factors which I won't show as it would mean explaining a lot of other things, but things such as high engine exhaust temp or not having enough engine rotation etc.


If all goes to plan then we can switch the power and pressure operations from the APU to the engines, this means we are now drawing our power from the engines and pressure is also being bleed off of the engines. At this point we can fully switch on all hydraulic systems so that all the aircraft systems that require hydraulic power can be used.


Flying The Aircraft - Take Off And Cruise

I won't have a section on taxi as this would be too small, but basically remain under 25 kts whilst straight and under 15 kts for turning. This will stop you busting up the suspension and catching the engines if heavy loaded.






Take off data has been gathered before this stage so we know what flap settings we will be using for the runway length and how fast we need to be going before we even attempt to pull this bird off the ground. We also know what altitude we are aiming to climb to and at what speed. With all this information in front of us the takeoff run seems much easier.


Before we call ready for departure there are a few things to check. Landing lights must be on so that we can be seen, the flight director is activated (this is an indication on the EADI that shows what the auto pilot would do if active - see picture (purple lines), check our speeds for rotation and set our flaps if not already. We now switch on the auto throttle as we will use the takeoff thrust mode to allow the aircraft to select the correct thrust setting N1 for the airfield temperature. This is so that we don't over stress the engines and reduce their life span.


At the point of rotation we rotate the aircraft to a nose up attitude of about 15 degrees. This allows a quick climb away from the deck. After V2 the gear goes up and as the speed rises the flaps are deselected, the aim is to have flaps up by about 200-210 kts. This allows for our best climb performance aerodynamically. In the climb we use the best rate of climb and a speed of V2 + 120 kts. After the initial climb we then accelerate if allowed to at 250 kts until FL100 (or 10,000 feet, depending on what country you are in). During the climb stick to SID altitudes or ATC altitudes which can be selected into the altitude selector screen. We can then use a set vertical climb rate to achieve this or set the aircraft to fly at a certain speed, e.g. 250 kts, and then allow it to find the best rate and angle of climb to achieve this speed.


Once above FL100 the speed of 310 kts can be used or start to use Mach to increase your speed. In the cruise I allow the FMC to climb me unless under ATC, this will get me to my assigned altitude. Once in the cruise I will monitor the fuel burn to see if it's efficient and if not then maybe a different flight level needs to be used to conserve fuel. I will not talk much on the cruise, as to me the cruise is about small corrections in altitude and speeds (N1) settings to achieve a good speed and efficient fuel burn. Once again it all depends on what your objectives are for the cruise/flight.


Flying The Aircraft - Descent And Landing

When descending the aircraft I use the FMC when not under ATC till FL100. FL100 brings me off of the FMC and on to my own control, still however via the MCP (auto pilot). I set a speed of 250 kts for under FL100. I am now setting the aircraft up for the approach. If all the fuel planning has been correct I shall be landing within limits, which enables me to flare the aircraft quite shallow and still have a smooth touch. I try to be at 210 kts by the ILS at 12 miles out.


If you wish to plan your descent then there are some great planners out there, I tend to use my FMC for altitude references so I don't use other planners. If you can get hold of airport information then you may be able to find out if they have a set speed for the ILS, for example the set speed for aircraft on the ILS at Heathrow (EGLL) is 160 kts till 4 miles out. This can cause the approach for a 737 to be changed as at 4 miles out the aircraft has to be slowed down fast.


On a normal approach though I tend to fly the aircraft as follows. Once I am on the glide slope I use my power setting to set my speed and my rate of descent by pitch. Before the glide slope capture I have read that you should use the pitch to control speed and the rate of descent is controlled by thrust. This is a little like the control of landing in a smaller prop aircraft. Before the landing gets too complex it's time to set my autobrake to 2 for a normal landing and also auto arm my spoilers. To start with try to have the nose up at about 5 degrees for the flap settings 1-10. Then 2-3 degrees for flap 30 with about 55% N1 set. This will be a starting point, from here you can gain what you need to do to achieve your approach speed. Try to be between -600 fpm and -800 fpm on the approach and don't go below -1000 fpm if you can help it.


Now look at the runway and aim for the touch down markers or make your own marker in your head. Fix this point so that you're flying towards it and not pitching up and down. At 6 miles out I lower my gear and get the landing speed in my head ready (see earlier table). As the aiming point travels under the aircraft look about 3/4 down the runway to find a point; this will help you judge how and when to flare the aircraft. At about 15 feet you should bring the aircraft back to 3 degrees and cut the thrust. If the weight and speeds are set correct this should let you fly the aircraft down to the runway and not float it down. Once the aircraft touches down then the auto brake will be active and the spoilers will deploy. Use the thrust reverses until slowed to 60 kts. Then using brakes only slow the aircraft so that you can taxi safely off of the runway.


Taxi back to the gate and shut down. Seems a little much to write as I explained the pre-flight procedures in some detail earlier and I don't want to bore you.


I hope this helped you. I know it's not perfect and I'm happy to have people tell me where I'm wrong but thought it may give a good insight into the flying of the 737, I really do love flying this aircraft a lot, as I'm sure you can tell!


Thanks for reading if you did, or hello or you've just skipped to the bottom to find out who wrote this lot!


Happy simming all of you!


Simon Lloyd

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