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Tips for positioning for landing


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Obviously "practice makes perfect" is the big thing here, but I can never seem to get my landing positioning right. I always come down really far over to the left of the runway, just missing the grass. I recorded my night approach to Nice (which was the subject of a whole other topic regarding approaches :P) and you can see the final approach and resultant landing from around the 10:00 mark. Can anyone give me any tips for helping line up better? Also, I'm well aware I'm coming in a bit too low, I am also having trouble visualising my path in properly...


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One of the most important things is, as Mr. Zippy says, to look well down the runway, not just in front of the nose. For alignment, in most aircraft you are seated side-by-side, thus the nose is off to your right (when in the left seat). This often results in alignment being off to the left because you're trying to align the center of the nose (spinner, etc.) with the runway. Instead, you should look straight ahead, perhaps over the top of the artificial horizon (attitude indicator) and DG -- at the forward end of the nose this means you are looking across the middle of the left side.


When you are on the runway, sitting still, look at the far end of the runway, then look just in front of the nose. Notice the difference in what you are looking across out on the nose, and/or on the panel. Those apparently small differences in viewing angle create a considerable difference in where you wind up.


Also, when you are turning final, the runway itself should appear to go straight up towards the top of the screen, not at an angle -- even a slight angle will have you off to the side.


I'm going to suggest an exercise I've always gone through with my students when they are learning to land. It's best to do it in a light single engine aircraft, to start with: Come down final as normal, but don't quite let the airplane land. Hold it a foot or so off the ground for most of the runway length, then go around, come back and do it again.


Each time, while doing this exercise, note the sight picture (the view out the front, the pitch attitude, everything about what it looks like), and memorize it. Once you can do this smoothly, then start to do it again, except that once leveled at a foot or so, cut the throttle and try NOT to let the aircraft touch. Obviously with power off you'll eventually touch anyway, but this is the technique you're striving for.


But remember that you must be looking well down the runway, not close in front of the nose.


Larry N.

As Skylab would say:

Remember: Aviation is NOT an exact Science!

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It's tricky knowing where the aircraft nose is pointing because airliner pilots seats are offset from the aircraft centreline, so a good trick is to imagine a vertical line going up from the control panel and use that to line up with the runway.

I've shopped a yellow line into this pic going straight up from the artificial horizon which corresponds to where the planes nose is pointing, and as you can see it's too far left.

So fly again and keep the imaginary yellow line on the centre of the runway.




PS- Also doublecheck your wind setting to make sure a crosswind isn't pushing you to the left.


And your seat looks a little low in your VC, so try raising your eyepoint a bit to see over the nose better with keys Shift+Enter.

(Shift+Backspace brings it lower)

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Thanks guys, lots of great advice here that I'm going to put into some practice over the weekend.


Scatterbrainkid: so my approach should be more like this? (marvel at my 1337 photoshop skills...)




Yeah it's a little skewed, I just cut and moved that part of the view over a bit...

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A very handy helper to know where the nose is while learning is to turn on the alignment guides. I use the four dots: Views- Axis indicators- 4 dots. Put the dots on the far end of the runway.


Use this to help you visualize where the center of the panel is compared to where the center of the runway is.


The advice already given above are excellent.


1) Learn in a small plane first so you have more time.

2) Even a tiny runway angle at a distance becomes a large one up close when not corrected.

3) Just like driving a car. Fixating on the bumper in front of you cause accidents. You need to watch the road and traffic as far away as you can see. Your brain will fill in the details near you without you thinking about it.

4) Use the ILS APP system so you can get it set in your mind what a good approach looks like, then you'll know when you have a bad one and need to improve.

5) Until your landings are consistently perfect, turn off weather by selecting the Clear theme.

4) Create yourself a saved flight at 4000 ft 20 miles from the runway, clear weather (no winds) with your speed perfect and lined up with the runway perfect. Then restore this flight over and over until you get the approach perfect every time. You can practice an approach 20-30 times an hour this way instead of once an hour. You'll learn much faster.




Tags: approach alignment practice ILS saved flight

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A few thoughts from the real world. First, it is true that all pilot seats except for those on tandem airplanes (front and back single seats, such as the F-15E) are lined up to the left of the airplane's centerline. So, by the way, is the drivers seat of your car, and we all seem to get the hang of that! OK, it's true that we aren't trying to drive right on the centerline of the road, but in actual reality the difference is only a matter of inches, or perhaps 2 or 3 feet on an A-380, and it just doesn't matter! All pilots of large airplanes (and any pilot of any airplane that I am instructing) are taught to land with one foot on either side of the centerline. If you do this in the real world, the airplane may end up around 24 inches left of centerline, and that is eminently acceptable, even on an aircraft carrier!


Taxiing is a slightly different story. No matter if the airplane is a C-172 or a C-5B if you try to "put" the centerline under your right foot you will be close enough. Inches really don't matter, particularly if you are finding yourself wrapped around the axle about it. This is not worth worrying about in FS - just keep the centerline in the middle, or use an outside view to check on the nose wheel (the tires should be on opposite sides of the line, or if you have a single tire on the nose wheel it should be right on the line).


So when landing, aim the airplane at the center of the runway. This is a little tougher in FS due to the 2 dimensional nature of the view and the fact that you cannot shift yourself left or right (unless you are using TrakIR or the like). I find that, even with tens of thousands of hours of real big airplane time, I have to use the localizer if I want to be really lined up from far away.


Of course, being lined up from far away is also something that is not always necessary, unless you are approaching 28R at SFO and an AI A380 is off your left wing approaching 28L!


The image just above my post shows an imaginary center reference right through the primary flight display, but this depends upon the airplane, and how the panel designer set things up, and may not always be accurate either. Even in real airplanes, the PFD may not be perfectly lined up with your eyes, which is annoying. But what is always perfectly lined up with your eyes, in real airplanes at least, is the yoke or stick (sorry Airbus guys!).


What we teach real world students is that the aim point, the point at which the airplane is headed, should be the part of the scene that does not appear to be moving, either left/right or up/down. Laterally, this aim point should be the centerline of the runway. If that is moving left or right in your outside view, you are not lined up with it.


Likewise, your vertical aim point should not move up or down in the view, assuming the airplane is stable in pitch attitude on the descent. Again using the above picture, if the VASI's started marching upward in your view, then you would be trending low. The VASI's themselves will tell you how low.


Until you get very close in, over the threshold more or less, just aim the airplane at the end of the runway, and as you get close enough to see the runway numbers, make that your aim point. That is the point that should not be moving vertically in your view -- the world outside should be expanding uniformly around it. Just point the nose of the airplane at that point. This is more easily done in a smaller airplane like a Cessna, in which the airplane more or less goes where the nose is pointed in descent. Airliners and other larger airplanes tend to approach in a slightly nose-up attitude, so that while you can more or less point the nose at the runway from farther out (3 or more miles) and higher up (above 3000 feet or so) you eventually must get the airplane into the correct descent attitude and on speed. From there you will need to visualize the aim point, because it will still be stationary in your view, it just won't be where the nose is pointed, but rather somewhat below. In large airplanes we always use VASI or the glideslope for descent control even in VFR. It is sometimes difficult to visualize the proper descent path without these aids, which is why the Asiana crew had difficulty (of course, as professionals, they were expected to be able to handle this, as we all were).


The posts above about looking down to the far end of the runway apply to the flare portion of the landing maneuver. Once you have reached the point where continuing to simply aim the nose at the touchdown point would result in a crater, you start to level off a bit. Ideally, you want to be level just above the runway (a foot or so in a small plane and around 5 feet or so in a large one). From there landing is a matter of maintaining that altitude until the slowing speed reduces lift below that needed to sustain the airplane and it begins to sink. Contrary to popular belief, actually brushing the concrete with the wheels is a matter of luck as much as it is of skill, especially in a large airplane.


It is at the very end of the approach, as you cross the threshold, that you should begin to look up toward the end of the runway. The reason for this is that you can judge your descent rate much more accurately this way. If you keep looking just over the nose, the "rush" of the earth passing ever closer and seemingly faster will fool you into leveling off too high.


As I said, master this in something like the Cessna first. I can't imagine how long it would take to teach someone to land a 747 from scratch!


Try flying an approach to a runway that has VASI. This will make your vertical aim point easy to visualize - the VASI's themselves are located right where you should ultimately be aiming. Point the nose at the VASI and fly the airplane so that is is always aimed there. Keep yourself laterally on the centerline, so that it looks like it is straight up and down, and not at some kind of angle. When you get to around 10 feet above the ground, level off and try to fly down the runway at an altitude of 5 feet or so, making a go-around at the far end. Practice this until you have mastered the process of flying the correct descent profile. Then try it on a runway without a VASI, using visual cues like the shape of the runway as your guide.


After you get this down pat, try it in a larger airplane, like the King Air, and then tackle the jets.


There are some good videos on YouTube about landing real airplanes that will probably be of great use.


Happy Landings!

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As you said yourself Chris, practise makes perfect.


To add to what has been said above, and this was my own personal trial and error method.....


When I was first trying to land on the centre line in the default 737 and 747, while on the ground and on the centre line I used a marker point in the cockpit that lined up roughly with the centre line. Although not an exact science (as Larry also mentions) it gave me something to practise with. Over a period of time you get the feel of the aircraft and eventually land (not always) on the line or pretty well near it just by visual means and not using any cockpit marker points.


I fly mostly VFR with ILS as this lines you up pretty much on the line with a bit of tweaking here and there as you come in last minute with auto pilot off :pilot:

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Let me throw a few new sensational screenshots into the playpen-


1- to find a particular aircrafts imaginary "yellow line" (in this case a stock FSX 747), use Slew to sit it pointing down any runway-





2- Go to the VC cockpit and mentally note where the yellow line is, in this case level with the right-hand edge of the square screen-





3- So in future whenever you're coming in for a landing like this with the yellow line aligned with the runway-






4- you'll be sweetly lined up..:)


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Thanks guys, lots of great advice here that I'm going to put into some practice over the weekend.


Scatterbrainkid: so my approach should be more like this? (marvel at my 1337 photoshop skills...)




Yeah it's a little skewed, I just cut and moved that part of the view over a bit...


Remember every flying machine is different, and also remember zoom and eyepoint settings can affect where the yellow line should be, so bear that in mind too..:)

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The axis indicator might be a help to you, provided it shows up where you can see it - I just tried invoking it and on one airplane it showed up on the instrument panel!


At least the indicator is lined up with longitudinal axis of the airplane!


Oh, and keep crosswinds out of it, until you get the hang of things!


Another thing - you need to set up your viewpoint to be higher, so that you can see over the panel. This would be the electronic version of raising your seat. One reason you may be coming in low is that you are trying to keep the runway in sight over the top of the panel, and "sitting" as low as you are, that would result in a lower pitch attitude than required for the correct glideslope. In addition, when you do raise the nose you then cannot see if you need to correct left or right, adding to your troubles. You need to be able to keep the entire runway in view at all times during an approach.


For my tastes, you are also "sitting" too far back from the panel, and if you achieved this by using the zoom settings you are making additional difficulties for yourself. One of the problems with FS is the limited ability to move the seat back - when you do this using CTL-ENT you get to the point where the "seat" in the VC blocks your view. And yet CTL-ENt is the only way to move back without zooming out. Zooming out results in a view not unlike a wide angle lens, and just like the right hand rear view mirror on your car, "things are closer than they appear"! This results an artificial view, an appearance of being lower than you are, and the view during the last 1/2 mile or so seeming to run much faster than normal. To judge this effect, try landing in the 2D cockpit, without zooming the outside view out (ie, 1.0 on the magnification). I rarely use the 3D cockpit for this reason, although with some panels it is possible to move the seat back far enough. But no one would fly with the seat as far back as you have it in the video, and that may be part of your challenge.

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