Flight Academy

Using Flight Management Computer

This tutorial assumes you have already installed FSNavigator, generated the scenery database as described during the installation process, and have your flight simulator (FS) running. You start FSNavigator (FSN) by hitting the F9 key.


When you start FSN, you will have a screen that looks like this.

The screen is broken into 4 main windows. The upper left window is the Search Window located at and under the ID/Inputline. This is the area where you will search for airports and runways. The upper right window is the Flight Plan Window. This window will show your flight plan once it is built including departure and arrival runways and all of the Navaids used for the flight. The bottom left window is the Avionics and Autopilot Window used to control the aircraft during your flight. The bottom right window is the Map Window used to see your current progress in the flight as well as for adding waypoints to your flight plan. Other items to note are the following:

  • Tool Bar across the top
  • The FSN Menu area between the search and flight plan window containing Plan, Edit, Options and Help
  • The Map, Plan and FMS buttons between the avionics and map window
  • The World Map Switch Panel to the right of the map window
  • The status bar at the very bottom

Please take a minute to move your mouse over all of the icons to see what they do. You will get a popup window that gives a short description of each of the icons functions.



Designate an Aircraft

We need to click on the black airplane icon in the tool bar and designate the aircraft that we will be flying. Do that now and choose a 737-400 in the drop down menu. Set the climb rate to 2500. This is safer for the 737-400 with full tanks of fuel. We will stick with the altitude of 33,000' (known as FL330), cruise speed, climb, touchdown and descent rate. You can change these on a different flight.

Ok, we are getting close so just be patient. We are now ready to auto-generate our flight plan. Remember, so far we are flying direct to KJFK from KDTW, runway to runway in a straight line. Now FSN will build our departure, arrival and the various waypoints in between.



Building a Flight Plan

There are two simple ways to build a flight plan, one by using the Search Window and one by using the World Map. With the search window option, you will search for your departure airport, insert the departure runway, then search for the arrival airport and insert the arrival runway. In the world map option, you will locate the airport on the world map, zoom in close enough to see the runways and drag your departure runway into the flight plan. You will do the same for the arrival airport. We will build a flight plan from KDTW to KJFK flying a 737-400. Lets discuss the first option.



Building a Flight Plan - Search Window

In the top left of the search window you will notice an ID check box and an input line area that says "Inputline". If you know the airport id, then check the box and click in the input line box. This will light it up and have it ready for your input. Type KDTW and hit enter. You will see the airport as the first item and then all of the runways, gates and parking areas that are available. Note that not all of the runways are ILS runways. We will be departing from runway 3L so right click on 3L and click on "To Flightplan". This will now add 3L to the flight plan window on the right. You can also just drag 3L into the flight plan window by left clicking on 3L, hold down the left button on your mouse and drag it into the flight plan window. Our departure airport and runway are now in the flight plan window. You can also right click on the runway and use the popup window to move your aircraft to here though this is not suggested. You should always scroll down and use one of the gates for this.

Now we need our arrival airport and runway. The arrival airport is KJFK and the arrival runway will be 13L. As we did above, click in the input line window and type in KJFK and hit enter. Scroll down to runway 13L and drag it into the flight plan window. Your window should now look like this.

Take a min to review the information that is now available in the flight plan window before we move ahead and finalize this flight plan. The ILS frequencies are shown for both the departure and arrival runways. Also shown are the course, IAS, vertical speed, altitude, distance to fly, estimated time enroute and fuel used.

What we now have is a direct route from runway 3L out of KDTW to 13L at KJFK. You can see this in your map view window. Of course, aircraft do not fly plans like this so there is still a little more work to be done.



Calculate Auto Route

First, click on the green + sign two icons to the right of the aircraft icon. This brings up the Auto Calculate Route pop up window. Here we will set the final parameters of our flight plan before generating the flight plan.

We can fly with Low Altitude Airways, High Altitude Airways and from Navaid to Navaid. Click on the "from Navaid to Navaid" radio button. In the Search for box check SID, STAR, VOR, NBD and Insert Fix if no other waypoint is found. Set the Ideal waypoint distance to 75nm. What we have done here is tell FSN how we want to fly our route to JFK.

We will be flying from Navaid to Navaid using SID'S (Standard Instrument Departures) and STAR'S (Standard Terminal Arrivals) for our departures and arrivals if they are available, and VOR's (VHF Omnidirectional Range) and NDB's (Non Directional Beacon).

If you're confused, don't worry. We are one click away from this all making some sense. Hold on to your hat and click on the OK button in the Calculate Auto Route window.



The Route

Presto, a flight plan that should now looks like this.

You now have a flight plan that can be flown from KDTW to KORD. All you need to do is show up at KDTW at the gate, taxi to runway 3L and take off. Once you are in the air and your gear is up, hit shift+F9 and turn on the autopilot and auto throttle. The plane will now follow the flight plan. Don't forget to raise your flaps once above 2000'. And, if you're wondering what the green bars are to the left of your flight plan, these designate that you have a SID departure or a STAR arrival.

I also don't recommend letting the plane land by itself. What fun is that? I suggest that once you reach the beginning of descent (BOD), you should take the autopilot off and fly the descent and approach on your own. That's what it is all about anyway, right?



Building a Flight Plan - Map Window

When building a flight plan in map view, you will be navigating the map and dragging and dropping your waypoints into your flight plan. I will not go into great detail on this but just want to give you a few pointers. This can be a time consuming way to build your plan, but once you know the basics you will be able to alter the Auto Generated flight plan using the same techniques.

On the right side of the map is the map toolbar. The + and - are zoom buttons. You can zoom into an area of the map by clicking on the + button. This may not zoom you into where you want. You can right click on any portion of the map, a popup window will appear and click on "Center Map". Zoom in on KDTW and locate runway 3L. When you put the pointer over the end of the runway, a pop up window will show all of the details of the runway including ILS, length, altitude and if it has a glideslope or not. Left click and drag the runway into the flight plan window. This will only work if the popup window is visible. If it is not, you are not at the end of end of the runway with your pointer. Now zoom out so that you can see most of the eastern United States and locate KJFK. This is the hard part. You can right click on any portion of the map and drag the mouse to form a zoom window. When you let go FSN will zoom into the box that you drew. Once you locate KJFK, drag runway 13L into the flight plan window. You now have a direct route from 3L to 13L. Your map window will look something like this.



Setting the Departure

Now lets zoom back in on KDTW and add a couple of departure waypoints. Before we add any waypoints, make sure that in the map view tool bar the intersections, VOR, NDB and ILS buttons are turned on. If they are not, you will not be able to see all of the Navaids available to you. Lets go out about 7nm from 3L at KDTW and locate the ILPUT intersection. Drag it into the flight plan just under the runway 3L. Our basic departure is now set.



Setting the Approach

Setting up your approach is a little more fun and takes a little more thought. Zoom into the JFK airport and locate the F273G intersection. You can quick zoom by double clicking on the 13R line in the flight plan window. Pretty sweet move isn't it? You can do this to any line item in the flight plan window to move your map view to there. Drag the F273G intersection into the flight plan just above the 13R runway line. You now have a direct GPS route with departure and arrival plans.

We still need to add a couple of waypoints in between so that our Nav radios can work and tune into them.



Enroute Settings

Locate the ERI, SLT and SBJ VOR's and add them into the flight plan by dragging them in. You can find them by unchecking the id box in the search window and typing them into the inputline box. Then double click on the name in the search window. Now zoom in using the + button in the map toolbar. The flight plan is now looking a little more reasonable except that on arrival we will need to make a 48-degree turn to intercept the ILS. We need to flatten this out to be approximately a 30-degree turn. Although there are many intersections in this area we could add to flatten out this approach, lets learn how to add a fixed point and then we are done.

Locate the DWURF and the MORNS intersections. These are in the localizer beam for the Essex Co. airport. Left click and hold on a spot in between the two of these intersections and drag this "Fixed Point" into the flight plan just above the F273G intersection. There you have it. We have flattened out our approach turn to something a little more manageable. Your plan should not look like this. I have shown the map view zoomed in on the approach. That's all there is to building a plan in map view.




So, here is what we have learned in FSNavigator Basic Training.

There are two simple ways to build a flight plan, one by using the Search Window and one by using the World Map. With the search window option, you will search for your departure airport, insert the departure runway, then search for the arrival airport and insert the arrival runway. In the world map option, you will locate the airport on the world map, zoom in close enough to see the runways and drag your departure runway into the flight plan. You will do the same for the arrival airport.

  1. How to use the input line to locate airports. You can also use it to find Navaids just by tying them in. If you don't know the airport id, then uncheck the box and type in the airport name. This will bring up anything that resembles the airport name including all Navaids. Give it a try.
  2. How to drag items from the search window into the flight plan window.
  3. How to set up FSN for the type of aircraft you are flying, the altitude you are flying, ascent and descent rates and cruise speeds.
  4. How to use the Auto Generate Route button after completing the first three steps above.
  5. How to use map view to build a flight plan dragging in runways and waypoints.
  6. How to insert a fixed point to flatten out an approach

This basic training is enough to get you in the air and fly online with other pilots, generating flight plans at lightning speed. You will no longer be left at the gate building plans in Flight Sim while the others are on their way. Keep your eyes open for the next in the series of FSNavigator Training.


Information written and compiled by Jim Hodde