Flight Academy

The Instrument Landing System (ILS) Approach



The tutorial places you at around 20 miles south west of KSEA, Seattle/Tacoma, and discusses the methods that are required to achieve an ILS landing on runway 34L, including interrogating the navigation data in Flight Simulator to check the required navigational radio frequencies, headings etc. The tutorial also makes extensive use of the panel features including all the main instumentation, the autopilot and radios.


A basic knowledge of the operation of Flight Simulator, especially the menu systems, the instrumentation and panel operation of the default Boeing 737-400 (FS2004) or Boeing 737-800 (FSX). If you are unsure, I would recommend reading some of the information provided within the Flight Simulator Learning Centre and even trying out some of the interactive training flights.

Saved Flights

ADD SAVED FLIGHT SITUATION FOR DOWNLOAD FOR FS2004 AND FSX for those that can't be arsed to move thier aircraft.

Flight Situation for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 - Default Boeing 747-400
Flight Situation for Microsoft Flight Simulator X - Default Boeing 747-800


OK, let's start...

First of all the setup. Plan your approach before you start or else it will go pear shaped very quickly...


Overview of the Approach

This is an overview of the approach. We will be positioned around 20 miles southwest of Seattle airport with an approach to runway 34L. Our initial heading will be 011 (30 degrees to the right of the ILS approach course) to allow us to intercept the localiser, at an altitude of 3000 feet and a speed of 180 knots.


Finding the information we need

Next we'll need the ILS information including the frequency. Open up the FS Map, locate your destination and click on the airport or zoom in and click on your preferred runway.


The Airport information

Click on the runway detail to get the ILS information.


The ILS information

Runway 34L has an ILS frequency of 111.70MHz, with an approach course of 341 degrees. The identifier for the ILS frequency is "ITUC". Make a note of this information as you will need it later on.


Tuning the Radios

Tune the radio well before you intend to start your approach. Things start to happen very quickly if you are not prepared. Open up the radio panel and tune NAV1 to the ILS frequency 111.70MHz. You will need to change the standby frequency then flip it to the active radio.


Flight Check

So back in the cockpit, lets check the instruments. First the Auto-pilot console. We have the Auto-throttle armed and the Auto-pilot in CMD mode. We have the ILS course dialled in (341), a heading of 011 degrees, a speed of 180 knots and level at 3000 feet. The AP is holding the Heading, IAS and Altitude. With 5 degrees of flap we are holding around 4 degrees nose-up (attitude indicator). Checking the HSI, we can confirm we have the correct ILS frequency dialled in by the ILS Identifier "ITUC" and the DME confirms we are 19.4 miles out. Also the HSI confirms we are left of the localiser and well below the glideslope.


Capturing the Localiser

As we approach the loacaliser, switch the AP to "APP" mode (Approach). This will disengage Heading Hold but will maintain the current heading. We are still holding 180 knots IAS and 3000 feet altitude. At this point drop the flaps to 10 to enable easier capture of the localiser. While we are here with nothing to do, arm the spoilers.


Nearing the Localiser

Nearing the localiser, the aircraft will turn to intercept the 341 degree course. We are still below the glideslope, holding 180 knots and 3000 feet altitude. The HSI confirms we are turning on course and we are now 15.9 miles from the runway.


Capturing the Glideslope

Continuing the approach, now 8.6 miles out, the HSI confirms we are now aligned with the localiser approach course and are "One Dot" below the glideslope (in other words the glideslope is coming down to meet us).


Approach Checks

Things start to move quickly now. As we capture the glideslope, reduce speed to 160 knots and add another notch of flap to 15 degrees. Lower the gear (better not forget this one as nasty things can happen).


Speed and Flaps

As the runway approaches, drop the speed further to 130 knots, adding flaps to 40 degrees as the speed falls. Here we are just over a mile from touchdown at 130 knots and full flaps.



At approx 100-200 feet above the runway (depends how brave you are) disconnect the Auto-pilot and the Auto-throttle. At 50 feet flare the aircraft to get the main gear on the deck. At this point your spoilers will deploy, apply reverse thrust to take the speed down to 60 knots, below 60 knots cut the reverse thrust and apply the brakes.


 The usual disclaimers ... for simulation use only. Don't blame me if you drop out of the sky 100 yards short of the threshold.


I'll also repeat what has been said before...Practice..Practice, then Practice some more. Try it at night, try it with reduced visibility, then at minimums. You should be able to do an ILS approach without any ground references. However if you cannot see the runway at decision height, call "Missed Approach" and go to your alternate.