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How to Improve One's Flights Aboard Airliners?

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Important! To Read! those tutorials about the night VFR and IFR ratings, and about flying the airliners are not as accurate and reliable than those dedicated to the VFR flights. It's because we really practised the VFR flights, as we didn't ever qualify for the night VFR and the IFR ratings nor any commercial license! Our tutorials about such flights are based on our VFR experience only, and augmented with data and readings taken from the Internet! People who would like to find in those the same level of accuracy and details than in our VFR tutorials, should better turn to further websites or source. People who are just looking for a honest level of realism might be satisfied already with the level of our tutorials about the night VFR, IFR flights, and the ones aboard an airliner

note: the pecular format of this page is due to that it contains specifically formatted checklists. Your browser, thus, is unable to display this page in the same format than the other pages of this site

The airline pilot license, like Microsoft says, is the aviation world's PhD. As they usually have pursued long studies and a profound training -or they may come too from the careers of the Air Force- the airline pilots are taking in charge, from the short to long-range flights, to transport their passengers on the international courriers. For this tutorial, well take for a basis some sufficiently general and basic definitions and descriptions, as for the detailed description of an airliner flight, we'll take the Boeing 737-400 only. As far as piloting the Airbus is concerned, the logics of pilotage and those of the autopilot are not exactly the same than those at Boeing and, as we do not have a sufficient expertise with them, we will refrain to evoke them. Generally, our descriptions are to be used with the Boeing 737-400 and will have to be adapted to the Boeing you will consider to pilot. Additional checklists and flights videos are now more easily found on the Internet, using the search engines. The recent Boeing family, generally is not that far of what is following like the 747-400 or 777 as the 737-800 is very close, in terms of panels and controls of the 737 old generation: some digital readouts are to be found on the upper panel, along with more digital displays for the radio panel as 2 digital display controls are existing either side of the autopilot. They control the digital displays for engines, PFD (Primary Flight Display), and ND (Navigation Display)

arrow back
. Why is an Airliner Pecular, and How Its Pecularities are Rendered into the Flight Simulator versions?
. How does an Airliner's Flight Unfold in the Real Life. And how to Simulate one To the Nearest in the Flight Simulator versions?
. An Airliner Flight Simulated at Best in the Flight Simulator versions

arrow back Why is an Airliner Pecular, and How Its Pecularities are Rendered into the Flight Simulator versions?

Some points are making the airliners are pecular, like their control surfaces, flight controls, panels, engines, two pilots or a cabin crew

arrow back
- An Airliner's Control Surfaces and Flight Commands
- An Airliner's Panel
- An Airliner's Engines
- There are Two Pilots in An Airliner
- The Cabin Crew
- How to Try to Simulate to the Best the Pilotage of an Airliner in FS?

arrow back An Airliner's Control Surfaces and Flight Commands
thumbnail to a view of the control surfaces specific to an airlinerclick on the picture to a view of the control surfaces specific to an airliner

An airliner, basically, is a plane, like any other. Most of the surfaces and flight controls which are found on most planes -from the GA ones to the twin engines- are found back on those large airliners: wings, ailerons, a horizontal and vertical stabilizer, flaps, trims tabs, a yoke/wheel, a rudder. Some control surfaces however are specific to the airliners: some flaps are found ahead on the leading edge of the wing, are contributing to a better lift of the "heavies" at the low speeds. 'Spoilerons' are articulated surface, on the top of the wings, who come to add to the work of the ailerons (as the ailerons are located on the trailing edge); the 'spoilers' are articulated surfaces -sometimes linked, on some planes, with the spoilerons- which deploy just after landing and allow to swiftly spoil the speed of the plane by interrupting the airflow on the upper part of the wings. They act, thus, along with the 'inverters', those various technical devices of the engines, by which the air flow coming from those, is deflected in a direction the reverse of its normal direction, leading to more speed reduction. All those surfaces are giving some fine aspects to the airliners, when they are taking off, or landing -and even after landing, with the spoilers and inverters working. As far as the flight controls are concerned, their larger specificity is that they are de-multiplicated and enhanced in various ways, in the way that the action the pilots have to exert on them be not over-excessive. On some planes, the control of it on the ground is not acted through the rudder, but through a dedicated command wheel instead, for example. The pilot is actionning the wheel, independently of the rudder and the yoke! On an airliner, at last, the pedals of the rudder feature two functions, with the upper part, slightly 'thicker', being used for braking as the lower part keeps being used for rudder. The brakes, indeed, on the airliners, are no more used through a handle, like on small planes. As far as the concept of 'fly-by-wire' is concerned, this applies to that the links between the controls, in the flight deck, and the flight command, on the wings are performed with no physical links between both as the links instead are transmitted along electronical lines, with actuators relaying the control inputs. Before that, there was an actual mechanical link between the flight control in the flight deck and the flight command. What really differentiates a airliner from a GA plane, for example, is also the complexity of the systems it needs to accomodate the plane's working, and the passengers onboard: the air conditioning and pressure system allows for comfort and a adequate pressure inside a plane flying at high altitudes; the electrical system allows for computers, igniters, fuel pumps, external and inside lights, and numerous instruments and functions aboard to work as the fuel system accomodates for a number of reservoirs

arrow back An Airliner's Panel

Due to the complexity of the heavies and to the fact that their engines are reactors -and not piston engines- the airliners' panels are more complicated than those on the other planes, both in its conception than in the flight commands displayed. As far as the general conception of the panel is concerned, an airliner's panel features three areas. The panel proper, first, which faces the pilots, like in any plane, the 'upper panel', collecting various systems' commands overhead, on the central axis of the plane, and the central 'console', the commands located in-between both the pilots' seats. The panel proper is composed of the fundamental flight, and navigation controls, with the flaps indicator and the command -and indicators- of the landing gear. The upper panel contains, above all, what concerns all the plane's systems. The console features, above all, the 'FMC' (see below), radios, the throttles (with the inverters), flaps, trims and the spoilers' lever. Another specificity of the modern airliners is what is called a 'glass cockpit'. A glass cockpit is a panel featuring, for most of the instruments, digitalized screens, instead of the ancient, analogic gauges. Such screens are displaying some data more readily readable by the pilots -those screens are available for both the flight, and the engines data. Two more particularities characterizes the panels -and working- of the airliners: the 'FMC', and the autopilot. The 'Flight Management Computer', or FMC (also termed CPU, 'Central Processing Unit') is an embarked computer, as the autopilot is, basically, an usual autopilot, controlling the plane by itself. The FMC is interfaced with those large, screen-keyboard looking devices, which are located at the top (and/or center) of the central console. Even the 737 is equipped with an FMC. The FMC now is the most usual feature of the modern large airplanes: as, before, the airline pilots were controlling their plane manually and through the autopilot, they are controlling it, now, through the FMC, and the autopilot (the pilots, however, keeps controlling the plane manually at takeoff and at landing). When the plane's captain embarks, one of its main tasks will be to enter the flight data into the FMC (with the keyboard used for that): all the flight is concerned with the operation, like the takeoff, the departing operations, the route, the arrival procedures, the approach, and lading. The pilots, thus are entering for data the geographic coordinates of the departing airport, the active runway, the data relative to the plane and takeoff (weight, the various takeoff-related airspeed (V1, V2, etc.); the winds; then the SID ('Standard Instrument Departure', a published procedure of departure, indicating the heading, altitudes, speeds to be followed by the plane for departing the airport airspace towards its cruise altitude and route); the route, then, with the jet airways used, the waypoints (which define or flag the upper airspace aerial routes), all those defining the 'legs' of the route; the STAR (the reverse of the SID, a published procedure, a 'Standard Arrival', defining the procedures to head to the airspace and runway of the airport of destination); the data, at last, for the final and the landing (active runway, landing speed, ILS or other instrument approach used). The FMC, once the plane airborne, will be triggered as it will send those data to the autopilot. The FMC and the autopilot being thus coupled, that's the way the planed is controlled along the whole flight. The autopilot, on an airliner, is more sophisticated than on smaller planes, as it allows for three navigation mode: 'LNAV', mostly used for the cruise part of the flight, when the autopilot follows the headings given by the FMC; 'VNAV', mostly used for the changes of altitudes during the climbs and descents; and 'HDG' by which it's the pilot which sets the headings to be followed. The pedestal ?is the place to comms and radionavs as it also features the parking brake, the thrust handles and thrust levers along with some security checks. The overhead panel, as far as it is concerned, is displaying controls concerning a series of systems like the navigation system's alignment (IRS), electrical system, the APU (for 'Auxiliary Power Unit,' a small engine located in the plane's tail and powering when the plane on ground), fuel system, engine start, hydraulic system, pressurization and heating, along with the miscellaneous plane's lights

thumbnail to a view of how the Boeing 737-400 upper panel is where most of the plane's systems are to be set!click on the picture to a view of how the Boeing 737-400 upper panel is where most of the plane's systems are to be set!
arrow back An Airliner's Engines

The airliners' engines are reactors. A reactor is a propulsion device by reaction, as a air flux is yielded by a combustion chamber. The chamber manufactures the push, which propulses the plane forwards. The reactors appeared during WWII, in Germany with, for example, the famed Me 262. They became generalized on most fighters following the war, then to the airliners. The reactors have endured, recently, some evolution, transitioning from the 'turboreactors' to the 'turboflows'. The turboreactors used to yield the push from the combustion chamber mainly only (with compressed air and fuel sent there, burned, and producing the exhaust gas, hence the push). The turboflows, now, are an improvement of the turboreactors, as they are adding more air flow to the air push, with a quantity of air simply accelerated by a turbine at the entrance of the reactor, and participating, at the exit, to the push. Like the Microsoft manuals pose it, the commands for the reactors are simpler than those for the piston engines: the air-fuel mixture is automatically generated; there is not propeller pitch to set; the throttles only are used, eventually. It's simply to notice that the time of reaction of a reactor has more inertia than a piston engine, and you'll have to take it in account when using the throttle manually (in the last part of the final, for example). The main value read, for a reactor, is 'N1', indicating the percentage of the action of it. The main values used of N1 are: 40 percent to start the takeoff roll; 70 percent for accelerating the roll further, and full throttle (not in the red however) to complete the takeoff. The other data displayed, on the panel, for the reactors, are to be used along in the checklists (exhaust gas temperature, oil pressure and temperature, vibrations rate, hydraulics, fuel flow, for example). for more about turbine engine, check our 'The Turbine Engine

arrow back There are Two Pilots in An Airliner

An airliner usually necessitates two pilots. A captain, and the first officer. This is due to the workload brought about by such heavies. This number of two pilots, further, is a recent evolution, as there were even a third guy in the cockpit before, the mechanic-navigation officer, who had as a role only to monitor the engines data, and to manage the navigation during the flight. Thus, out of a worry of realism -which is our aim on this site- you'll take care, while piloting an airliner, not to do every action. Some commercial softwares allows to simulate a co-pilot. The other way to procede is to perform the only tasks incumbing to the captain, really, as the ones incumbing to the co-pilot will be performed too -by you- albeit you'll authorize yourself to pause the sim, or not count such actions like being from your part (allowing for less accuracy, and energy, for example). Our checklists, later in that tutorial, will show you how the tasks aboard part between the Captain and First officer

arrow back The Cabin Crew

The work of the crew, relative to the important number of passengers, aboard an airliner, is performed by a cabin crew (the flight attendants and stewardesses). They are welcoming the passengers on board, help them to their seats, serve to them the possible meals during the flight, as their perform too the various briefings to them (safety, takeoff, descent, etc.). Some freewares with sound files allow to easily translate those announcements which unfold along a flight steps. There is also a interaction between the crew and cabin crew, the first one signaling important phases of flight to the latter

arrow back How to Try to Simulate to the Best the Pilotage of an Airliner in the FS franchise?

How, starting from there, to simulate to the best, in the FS franchise, the pilotage of an airliner?

arrow back How does an Airliner's Flight Unfold in the Real Life. And how to Simulate one To the Nearest in the FS franchise?

After the theory, let's go to practice, now! How does a commercial flight unfold? How to simulate one to the best in the Flight Simulator franchise?

arrow back
- A Flight in the Real World
- How to Render That at best in FS?

arrow back A Flight in the Real World

A airliner flight, in the real life, first is related to an airline. Most of the large commercial flights are assured by large airlines, which, further, are united between themselves into larger, worldwide alliances, like 'Oneworld', 'Skyteam,' or 'Star Alliance' which are the main ones, as those groups are used to share some common resource like the terminals lots, the planes' technical hubs, etc. The captain, and the co-pilot however are the people which performs the main of the flight; those are those who pilot the plane. They are however helped through some important logistics, like with the technical and prep crews (de-icing, etc.), the loading-unloading, cleaning, or cattering crews. As far as the flight, more precisely still, is concerned, it's the flight manager who, in an airline, is preparing the flight for the pilots (departure time, SIDs, route). Such a route sheet is given to the captain, who will confront the route with the weather and who, function of the load of the plane, determines some more specific elements, like the takeoff, landind speeds, the plane's center of gravity (COG), etc.). Once studied their flight plan, pilots meet with the cabin crew, performing a briefing. You'll have to know too, than an airline is keeping the contact with its plane in flight with onboard devices akin to telescriptors, allowing it to transmit data to the pilots. The cabin crew, at last, like said, is taking care of the passengers during the flight. Then the flight is beginning

illustration for the tutorial How to Improve One's Flights Aboard Airliners?: an airliner on a flight
an airliner on a flight (non-clickable illustration)

arrow back How to Render That at best in FS?

How to render what you have learned above about a airliner's flight will of course depends upon what version of the FS franchise you will use. Freeware or commercial softwares along with protocols should do to the closest real!

Note! People wishing to use our former documentation which was more FS2002 focused, will find it there, as if like we backed it up

arrow back An Airliner Flight Simulated at Best in the Flight Simulator Franchise

In that last part, we are giving like a example the procedures and checklists we are flying aboard our Boeing 737-400. They have been contructed from real-life printed procedures and checklists along with real-life videos available on the Internet. A flight, generally, is unfolding according to a series of 'procedures" -- or of actions -- which are confirmed by checklists. Each procedure and checklist below shows who performs, the Captain ('C') or the First Officer ('FO'); usually when the Captain or the First Officer mostly performs actions during a flight's phase with no checklist, the other pilot calls 'CHECKED' for the action. The autopilot setting otherwised said are controled by the Captain. Also of note that, according to a recent tendency, FMC (for 'Flight Management Computer') is termed CPU ('Central Processing Unit'). Fine videos of a Boeing 737 flight are kindly made available on the Internet by the Baltic Aviation Academy, a Lituanian flight school; look for 'Baltic Aviation Academy flight', or 'Baltic Aviation Academy demonstration' in a search engine. A important source of data useful for flying and understanding the diverse types of Boeing 737 is The Boeing 737 Technical Site

->The Use of Smartphones With The FS Franchise
As the smartphones now get widespread, some brands are featuring applications to be used into the FS franchise (check more with a search engine on the Internet). Microsoft operating systems for smartphones however do not feature much such applications. A idea, to remedy that, is just to appropriately formalize checklists or flight plans unto a .gif or .jpg picture, for example, as you will be able to use those instead of the FS default kneeboard. Fine, as finally that is not that much different of the tablets airline pilots are now tending to use. check the Boeing 737-400 checklists!

On the other hand once all that said, understood, consulted by interest or curiosity, one can alleviate the prodecures. Indeed -- besides that a airliner is piloted by two pilots -- to well follow the reality of airliner's flight may represent a workload. Thus, once everything integrated, just simplify and ease as soon as you know you could make more detailed when wished. Everyone, in that case, will find its own way to simplify

arrow back
- Preflight
- Pushback and Engine Start
- Taxiing
- Takeoff
- Climb and Cruise
- Descent
- Approach
- Final Approach
- Landing and Runway Cleared
- Taxiing, Systems Shutdown, Plane Secured
- The Missed Approach Procedure

arrow back Preflight
illustration for the tutorial How to Improve One's Flights Aboard Airliners?: the flight deck as the Captain steps in
the flight deck as the Captain steps in (non-clickable illustration)

The Captain is now onboard. He and the First Officer proceed with the cockpit preparation, or 'preflight procedure.' The preflight procedure is the preparation of the plane to any operations once Captain aboard. It consists mainly into checking the plane's systems and preparing them to next phases of flight. A Boeing 737-400's systems may be summarized like the electric panel, hydraulic panel, fire tests, engine start, fuel pumps and crossfeed valves, anti-ice and heating, the system of air conditioning and temperature, and the passengers signs

(all preflight procedure performed by FO)
Battery: ON
Alternate Flaps Master Switch: GUARDED
Windshield Wiper Selectors: OFF
Electric Hydraulic Pumps Switches: OFF
Landing Gear Lever: DOWN, 3 GREEN
Weather Radar: OFF
Parking Brake: SET

Ground Power Available Light: ILLUMINATED
and ON (all lights available now)
Panel Lights: ON
Panels Lights (behind yoke): SET LEFT
Flood and Panel Light (lower left 
pedestal): SET

Fire and Overheat Protection
inoperative lights, and OVERHEAT AND DETECTION
lights left of the A/P (cancel both) AND
release the test
Overheat and Fire Test: SELECTOR TO THE RIGHT,
BELL (cancel) and check for lights (left and 
right of the A/P: fire warning, master caution,
overheat detection); THREE ENGINE AND APU LIGHTS,
wheel well fire, engine 1 and 2 overheat
Test again for checking bell cutout on the
pedestal (and again check all lights)

Fire Extinguisher Circuits: 1 AND 2 THREE
LIGHTS (2 engines and APU)

Setting the IRS
about x minutes before the IRS alignment complete

Evacuation: on ARMED
Flight Control, Spoilers, Alternate Flaps: 
Yaw Damper: ON
Instrument Transfer Switches: to NORMAL
Fuel Valves: CLOSED
Cross-Feed: CLOSED
(press 3 seconds) and APU starting
Galley Power: ON
Standby Power: CLOSED
Generator Drive Disconnects: CLOSED
meanwhile the APU started (light APU)
Generator 1: ON BUS
Generator 2: ON BUS
Equipment Cooling Zone: NORMAL
Emergengy Exit Lights: ARMED
No Smoking: ON
Passengers Belt: ON
Windshield Wipers: OFF
Window Heat: ON (4 top lights)
Electrical Pumps: OFF
Engine Pumps: ON, STANDBY
Pressure Differential: approximately 0
Cabin Altitude: OK and not climbing nor
Air Circulation Fan: ON, AUTO
Left Pack: AUTO
Isolation Valve: AUTO
Right Pack: OFF
Engine Bleeds: ON
APU Bleed: ON (the APU has run more than
1 mn; immediate pressure rise)
Master Caution: CANCELED
Pressurization Panel: flight level SET,
cabin altitude SET, landing altitude SET,
switch ON GROUND, pressurization in AUTO 
Lights Panel (bottom overhead): CHECKED
Position Light: ON

On the A/P: flight director ON, course SET
Pedestal Check: speed brake DOWN DETENT AND NO LIGHT,
thrust levers FORWARD IDLE, flaps ZERO, parking 
brake SET AND LIGHT ON, engine start levers CUT OFF,
cutoff switches lights ON NORMAL
Radio Panel (either side) Check: frequencies CORRECT, ILS SET 
AND AUTO, other items OK, transponder 2000 STANDBY, trims OK

SETTING THE FMC the Captain or the First Officer programs 
the CPU, the other check the entries
Ident Page: correct plane model and engine rating,
navigation database correct and active
Pos Init Page: airport displayed, time correct
Route Page: origin, destination, flight number
Dep Arriv Page (button): DEP (runway, possibly SID), ARR
(button again; approach, possibly STAR)
Route Page: ACTIVATE, EXEC (-> PERF INIT displayed)
Legs Page (button): matches the route page
Route Page (button): go to PERF INIT
Performance Init Page: ZFW, Fuel, Gross Weight (and center
of gravity matching load documents), reserves, cost index, 
cruise altitude, transition altitude EXEC
Takeoff Page: temperature, flaps, gross weight correct,
V speeds computed, Next page: thrust during takeoff (N1),
and Previous page

MCP (A/T) Panel: autothrust ARM, V2 speed SET, rwy departure 
heading SET, initial altitude SET, course (both side) SET

called C, read FO checked C
[ ] Oxygen: TESTED
[ ] Instruments Transfer Switch: ON NORMAL
[ ] Window Heat: ON
[ ] Pressurization Mode: AUTO
[ ] Flight Instruments (both side): OK (of which QNH: SET)
[ ] Parking Brake: SET AND LIGHT
[ ] Engine Start Levers: CUTOFF
[ ] Landing Gear: CHECKED
[ ] Gear Pin: CHECKED
FO Preflight checklist completed
passengers: BOARDING
arrow back Pushback and Engine Start

It looks like the engine procedure start was changed recently, with both engines started once the plane pushed back, and the right engine (number 2) started first and then the left (number 1) engine. In the FS versions not allowing that differentiation, that will simplify action as Ctrl+E will do, albeit starting the number 1 first and them number 2. First, we will now ask our IFR clearance, which the ATC will clear, usually according to our flight plan and indicating the main departure data like the active runway, departure frequencies, etc. Before that, we will have check the weather with the ATIS frequency which will have given us a hint about the active. It will be time to check the appropriate radio and radionav frequencies at the radio panel left and right. The crew then proceeds with the "Before Engine Start Procedure" and the Before Engine Start Checklist as passengers will have ended boarding and the crew have help them seating. Now, the taxi and takeoff briefing, a summarization of actions to come. The Captain is reading to the First Officer something like 'We're to takoff on the runway 2-20, Denver International; the wind is at 8 kts, coming from the forwards left. V1 is at 142 kts, Vr at 146, V2 at 154. We'll follow the runway heading after takeoff as we'll fly the HINTE SID') as the crew now asking ground crew for push-back. The push-back is the operation with a tractor pushing the plane off the gate or the parking stand to its taxiing position. Push-back communications are established with the ground push-back crew. Once pushed back, we will proceed with engine start. On most of important airports, engine start requires to ask a engine start clearance to ATC. Engine start will begin with engine number 2 (the right one)

IFR Clearance: CLEARED FO Thence he sets frequencies
ordered by C, performed by FO
Pushback and Start Clearance: CLEARED
Both Fuel Pumps: ON
System B Electrical Hydraulic Pumps: ON
System B Electrical Hydraulic Pumps Low Pressure 
Left Air Cond. Pack: OFF
Brake Pressure: 2800 PSI MINIMUM
System B Pressure: 2800 PSI MINIMUM
System A & B Pressure: 2800 PSI MINIMUM
Anticollision Light: ON
Aileron 0 UNITS, Rudder 0 UNITS
Passengers Boarding: COMPLETED
Cabin Doors: CLOSED
Flightdeck Doors: CLOSED-LOCKED
called C, read FO checked C
[ ] Flightdeck Doors: CLOSED AND LOCKED
[ ] Low Pressure Lights: EXTINGUISHED
[ ] Passengers Signs: CHECKED ON
[ ] Anticollision Light: CHECKED ON
[ ] Flightdeck Windows: LOCKED
[ ] Autopilot: V2, HEADING, ALTITUDE
[ ] Speed Gauge Bugs, V1, Vr, V2: SET
[ ] CPU Preflight: COMPLETED
[ ] Rudder and Ailerons Trims: CHECKED
[ ] Transponder: STANDBY, 2000
[ ] Taxi and Takeoff Briefing: COMPLETED
FO Before start checklist completed

The Captain asks for the Pushback and Engine Start 
Clearance: ASKED
Establish communications with ground personnel C, asking
for pushback and engine start (engine number 1 may be
started during pushback, engine 2 is started once pushback 
completed; in both cases, a engine start clearance has to be 
asked toground personnel
Right Engine
C actions controls, FO monitors
Air Cond. Pack: 2 OFF
Right Engine Area: CLEAR
Hyd. Pumps: ALL ON
Stroboscopic Light: ON
Throttles: IDLE
Right Engine Start Switch: TO GROUND
Duct Pressure: 30 PSI
Right Engine Start Lever: IDLE DETENT AT N2 25 PERCENT 
RPM (Captain keeps hand on engine start lever until RPM, 
EGT and fuel flow stabilized)
Right Engine Fuel Flow: CHECKED
Right Engine EGT: CHECKED
Right Engine Oil Pressure When Engine Stabilized at
Right Engine Start Switch: CHECKED TO OFF at 56% N2 RPM
(Start Valve Open Alert: EXTINGUISHES, call 'STARTER CUTOUT') or when ignition auto, CHECKED TO AUTO idem and idem) 
Right Engine Stable at Idle: CHECKED, PARAMETERS CHECKED (N1, 
N2, EGT, Fuel Flow, Oil Pressure)
Left Engine
keeping with 
Flaps: 5 (C orders, FO performs)
overhead scan performed FO
Unnecessary Lights on The Overhead Panel: NO LEFT
Generator 1 and 2: OK AND BOTH ON BUS
Overhead Panel Scan: Feeder Static Heat: BOTH ON, Engine TAS FUNCTION OF EXT. TEMPERATURE, Right Pack AUTO, APU Bleed OFF, Left Pack AUTO, Ground Switch:
FLIGHT, APU OFF (the APU goes off)
System A Hydraulic Pumps: ON
arrow back Taxiing

Once in a position allowing to taxi, the crew prepares the plane further and a taxi clearance is asked for the active runway to the ground personnel. Once the surroundings checked clear, one may taxi to the active (one's taxiing at a speed between 10 and 20 kts). When stopping along, or in any other procedure, just set the parking brakes. There is no 'runup' proper for a airliner and the preparation of the plane at that step is usually performed while taxiing: the Captain is asking to the cabin crew to demonstrate the safety procedures to the passengers as the flightdeck crew keeps preparing the plane. Taxiing ends with the asking to the tower for the takeoff clearance. In some case the plane's preparation may be performed stopped as the cabin demonstration will have occur during taxi in any case

all following by FO
Cabin Doors: ClOSED
Left/right Air Cond. Packs: OFF
Generators: BOTH ON
Pitot Heat: ON
Anti-ice: OFF
Isolation Valve: AUTO
Engine Start Switches: CONTINUOUS
Autobrakes: RTO
Yaw Damper: ON
Engine Start Levers: IDLE, DETENT
Flight Controls: CLEAR
APU Bleed: OFF
Taxi Lights: ON
Left/right Air Cond. Packs: ON FLIGHT
TCAS: TEST (sound and TA/RA)
called C, read FO checked C
[ ] Generators: ON
[ ] Probe Heat: ON
[ ] Anti-ice: AS REQUIRED
[ ] Isolation Valve: AUTO
[ ] Engine Start Switches: CONTINUOUS
[ ] Recall: CHECKED
[ ] Autobrake: RTO
[ ] Engine Start Levers: IDLE, DETENT
[ ] Flight Controls: CHECKED CLEAR
[ ] Ground Equipment: CLEAR 
FO Before taxi of after start checklist completed
FO asks taxi clearance, C pilots plane's taxi

C and FO
Flight Controls: CHECKED
Rudder, Aileron and Stab. Trim: SET
Cabin Doors: LOCKED
Takeoff Briefing: REVIEWED
Lights, Strobes: ON
Takeoff Clearance: CLEARED FO
called C, read FO checked C
[ ] Speedbrake: ARMED
[ ] Flight Controls: CHECKED FULLY FREE
[ ] Takeoff Clearance: ASKED, CLEARED
FO Before reaching runway checklist completed
arrow back Takeoff

Two variants there. If one performed the pre-takeoff procedure and checklist rolling, and once the takeoff clearance gotten, one may keep rolling unto the runway, perform the takeoff procedure and checklist (always rolling), and taking off. Or if stopped for the pre-takeoff, one may then enter the runway, and the same (in that second case, one may perform a second stop on the central axis of the runway -with the parking brake set- to perform those; in the first case, the most usual case is that one keeps rolling)

C and FO
Parking Brake: RELEASED
Both engine start: on GEN
Landing Lights: ON
Taxi lights: OFF
Wheel Well Lights: ON
Runway Turnoff Lights: ON
Belts Sign: ON
Auto-throttle: ARMED
Autopilot: HDG on the runway heading, ALTITUDE: first used
read FO checked C
[ ] Stabilizer Trim: TAKEOFF VALUE
[ ] Belts Sign: ON
[ ] Transponder: TA/RA
FO Before takeoff checklist completed

For the takeoff proper, either the Captain will fly it manually, or he will take off in an automatic mode. He first checks that the brakes are released. Mostly now, captains are taking the plane off automatically with the TO/GA ('Takeoff/Go Around') switch engaged (which makes the throttles controled automatically): the First Officer advances first the thrust levers to about 40 percent of N1 and allow engines to stabilize; then the Captain engages the TO/GA switch as the correct takeoff thrust is applied. The Captain at that moment now controls the throttles as he keeps his hand on the thrust levers until V1 (for a manual takeoff the procedure would be: N1 to 40%, stabilization, then N1 to 70% and then throttles to almost all N1, the red line excepted. The First Officer meanwhile monitor engine instruments). he plane is now accelerating; reaching 80 kts, a value announced by the First Officer, triggers a swift instruments crosscheck (both the Captain and the First Officer set of instruments are checked giving the same readings). Keeping accelerating. Reaching V1, 'V1' is called by the First Officer, then Vr comes just after (the same), as the pilot gently pulls the yoke (to avoid a tailstrike) to get a 15-degree pitch to the artificial horizon. V2 (announced by the first officier), as the positive climb rate is ascertained. We're airborne! Thence the FO calls, Captain performs actions, even flaps as he also radioes with the ATC the plane is now airborne or ask for departure route clearances, setting values at the autopilot. One applies some brakes on the wheels (they are still rolling from the roll) and landing gear UP (three lights red; landing gear getting up; three lights off; the landing gear is up). By 400 ft, LNAV (mostly heading) is engaged at the autopilot. By 1,000 ft, 210 kts, flaps 1. Then flaps 0 and autopilot engaged (First Officer): ON and then the CPU engaged as it will manage the departing phase of the flight and following then

Cabin Crew: START WORK
Air Cond. & Press.: CHECKED
Landing Gear: UP AND OFF
Wheel Well Lights: OFF
Runway Turnoff Lights: OFF
Engine Start: OFF
Autobrake: OFF, RTO
called C, read C checked C
[ ] Engine Bleed: ON
[ ] Packs: AUTO
[ ] Landing Gear: UP AND OFF, NO LIGHT
[ ] Flaps: UP, NO LIGHT
[ ] Spoiler: DOWN, DETENT
[ ] Altimeter: QNH, CROSSCHECKED
C After takeoff checklist completed
arrow back Climb and Cruise

The plane now flies and is climbing. All commands now ordred and/or performed by the Captain as any action is called CHECKED by either. Speed may increase as, after 10,000 ft, it may pass over 250kts (usually at 300 kts) as the landing lights are turned off at that point. VNAV engaged (mostly altitude control by the autopilot). Cabin sign belts are turned off. When reaching the 'altitude transition,' that point when one passes the altimeter setting from the local pressure to the standard one allowing flight levels ((29.92 inches of mercury, 1013 mb), speed passes into Mach and tuned to 0.69. The transition altitude is at 18,000 ft in the USA and much lower in Europe, for example. The ATC may communicate along the climb phase. When reaching the cruise flight level, the speed is set to Mach 0.82 or less function of the cruise altitude. When reaching the cruise flight level, one computes the speed and used fuel as one checks whether that keep staying in the forecasted. One also consider the flight level for a hike or a decrease. When cruising, pilots check that the aircraft is on the forecasted route indeed, and also the fuel use, the fuel temperature (as the latter may freeze) along with a whether following via METARs and TAFs. As no special procedure is applied when reaching the flight level, a good practice along the route, albeit the plane is controlled by the CPU, is to dial the heading of every leg at the autopilot. The other main action while cruising is to manage the fuel flow, usually using the right reservoir during 1 hour, then the left one during that same time (using the X-Feed command on the upper panel); the duration may be lessened when the flight is a short one. One gets back to all reservoirs for the approach. For the reminder, the plane on its IFR flight now is passing for a control center to another as the cabin crew is providing the passengers with the amenities allowed on the flight like cattering, free tax products, etc. Pilots may ask for a change of flight level in case of weather or function of winds aloft, for example, and they have to adjust the fuel consumption forecast relative to the actual conditions of the flight

illustration for the tutorial How to Improve One's Flights Aboard Airliners?: FL 320
FL 320 (non-clickable illustration)
arrow back Descent

The flight now has unfolded (usually without any troubles, except, sometimes some turbulence leading to reduce the speed to Mach 0.73 -- when Mach 0.82 the cruise speed) as we are now closing the point whence the descent will begin. Mostly that will bring us to about a distance of 8 NM from the point where the instrument -- or visual -- approach will start. This point is determined according to the way Microsoft prescribes it. By substracting 10,000 ft from the flight level, and multiplying by 3 the two first numbers obtained to get the distance from that point in NM (example: we're flying at a flight level 330 (33,000 ft), descending to 10,000. 33,000 minus 10,000 is 23,000; 23 multiplied by 3 are 69. We'll have too to add to that with the distance needed for the approach maneuvers needed to intercept the approach axis. Thus, some time ahead from the TOD' (for Top of Descent') we computed, we will prepare our descent, approach and landing. The current practice however might have changed -- mostly in Europe where the transition altitude is very low -- and that preparation occurring later in the flight as the crew already began its descent from its flight level towards the destination airport. Whatever where the descent and approach procedure begins, that consists into contacting the local ATIS and ATC to get the most recent data there and then to configure the plane for descent, performing the approach and landing. The descent should not begin until the plane slowed down to 300 kts IAS. Thence we will set the autopilot data, frequencies, CPU and otherwise preparing the plane. Actions to prepare the plane are performed by the Captain and checked by himself of the First Officer. When done, a 'approach briefing' is done, which is the Captain reading loud to the First officer a recap of the descent, approach and landing data. The descent preparation and the approach and missed approach briefings should typically be completed 10 minutes before reaching TOD to prevent increasing workload and rushing the descent preparations. Usually nowadays, the descent of a airliner since TOD is automatically managed by the FMC, which even manages the pressurisation. That occurs once the ATC gave the clearance to leave the cruise flight level. Pilots just monitor that the automation occurs as the Captain merely set the initial level approved for the descent into. Here is a example of what it may sound like (data are fictitious). 'We are going to begin our descent to Denver Intl where we'll fly a ILS approach to Runway 17. The ILS frequency is 112.2, the locator outer marker at 314 with the final approach course 174°. Our Decision Altitude will be of 400 ft AGL, touchdown zone elevation is 78 ft, and the airport elevation at 79 ft. [in case of a night landing, enounce the lighting system availability on that runway]. The visibility required is one mile, so with 4 miles we should be fine. Runway length is 13,400 ft. Flaps at 30, autobrakes on 2. Before that, we will fly headings and altitude according to ATC radar. Once landed we'll turn on the Hotel or Kilo taxiways. The plane will be on the autopilot then I will have the plane's control and I'll slow the aircraft after landing and you'll contact ground once cleared. The Missed Approach procedure is climb to 5000 ft outbound via the TTT VOR on the R-176 to JASPA ISEC at D35.0 TTT. In the case of a Missed Approach, I’ll press TO/GA and call 'go-around thrust, flaps 15, positive climb, gear up.' We have enough fuel for holding and the missed approach. Any question?'. The First Officer could answer: 'I'll contact ground once cleared and other than that, I don't have any question.' During the descent, pilots check the fuel use, the forecasted landing weight, and the weather

illustration for the tutorial How to Improve One's Flights Aboard Airliners?: passenger view
passenger view (non-clickable illustration)

mostly performed by C
Approach and Landing Data: OBTAINED
Fuel Reservoirs: ALL
Autopilot: COURSE SET 
Radio, Radionav Frequencies: SET
Autobrake: AS REQUIRED
Instruments: CROSS-CHECKED
Decision Altitude: SET
Beacon: ON
Pitot Heat: ON
Approach Briefing: PERFORMED
called C, read FO checked C
[ ] Air Cond. & Pres: SET
[ ] Cabin Altitude: SET
[ ] Landing Altitude: SET
[ ] Recall: CHECKED
[ ] Autobrake: SET
[ ] Landing Gear: UP AND 3 GREEN
[ ] Landing Speed: 146 KTS
[ ] Decision Altitude: SET
[ ] Engine Start: CONTINUOUS, Engine Anti-ice AS NEEDED
[ ] Approach Briefing: COMPLETED
FO Descent checklist completed, we are ready to descent
arrow back Approach

From TOD, we now have begun our descent, or we are already descending towards the approach. A useful concept about transitioning from a descent to the approach procedure -- one of those charted, for example or like indicated by ATC -- is that, about a distance of 8 NM from the beginning of the instrument approach, the controllers will head you to what they call a 'approach gate' to the approach, which is a close point (or 'fix') to it, from where they will direct and head you to intercept! That point may not be at less than 5 NM from the runway threshold and may be considered usually located at between 1 and 3 NM from the published point where one intercepts the instrument approach slope (which for a ILS translates into catching the glide slope, and for another approach there where the descent segments to the runway begin). Such points are to be found on the instrument approach charts. A distance of between 4 and 13NM (with an average at 7) is, otherwise, a good approximation. The altitude of that point relative to the ground too is available on the charts, as 1,700 ft AGL ('Above Ground Level') is a good use (to be adjusted with experience). The altitude of the approach gate is the altitude of the slope' interception as the controllers will take care too to vectorize you in such a way that you won't have to perform a sharp turn to get in! No more than a 20-degree angle to the axis when the approach gate is within 2NM from the interception and no more than 30 degrees when farther than 2NM. You will note that the controllers never use the terms 'approach gate' with their communications to the pilot, as that last heading is, in the real world, enounced like 'Turn right heading three four zero, maintain two thousand until established on the localizer, cleared ILS runway three six approach', for example. When approaching the approach gate, the practice now -- mostly in Europe -- seems that the crew is contacting the ATC when reaching about 6,000 ft or the altitude transition (but that may be higher in the U.S.A. as the altitude transition there is 18,000 ft). Coms during descent are performed by the First Officer as the Captain controls the settings set at the autopilot function of the ATC orders. Passing the transition altitude and ATC clearance obtained, requires the setting of the altimeter to QNH instead of standard (QNH: SET AND CROSSCHECKED) and then the 10,000-foot mark have the landing lights turned on (Landing Lights: ON) and speed reduced at or under 250 kts IAS. During the descent, the cabin crew will have instructed passengers to be back to their seat. Once the ATC tuned, they mostly will give you heading and speeds for such altitude, as the crew had to call back at that altitude. When reaching the approach gate, the QNH may also be given at that time. A approach checklist occurs then. Nearing the interception, we'll have now to progressively slow the plane to allow a better alignment with the runway/landing navaid (at about 27 NM from the runway: 230 kts and flaps 2; about 19 NM: 210 kts and flaps 10

called C, read FO checked C
[ ] Altimeter: SET, CROSSCHECKED
[ ] Approach Setup: CHECKED (autobrake SET, Engine Start LIKE DECIDED, De-Ice IDEM)
FO Approach checklist completed
arrow back Final Approach

As we are now flying at a speed of 180 kts with flaps 20, the cabin crew is notified to 'Prepare for Landing' and cabin checked secure, as the First Officer keeps handling coms. The Captain controls the autopilot and now orders actions to the FO. The Approach ATC gives a intercept heading to the landing navaid (the axis of an ILS, for example). When on that heading the ILS is checked tuned and identified, the LOC and G/S pointers shown in the display and the crew arms the APP mode at the autopilot. The crew switches frequency to Tower. The plane now begins flying on the navaid course and slope (when the latter automatic). The First Officer calls 'ILS ALIVE,' for example, then 'GLIDE SLOPE ALIVE.' At glide slope alive, the Captain calls 'GEAR DOWN' which is done by the First Officer (checking THREE GREEN), Speed 150 (autopilot by the Captain), 'FLAPS 15' (done by First Officer) and the First Officer positions Engine Start Switches to CONTINUOUS. At one dot of ILS, for example, which is about 5 NM from runway's threshold, the crew slows the plane at the landing speed and flaps (140 kts IAS, flaps: 25; idem above), arms the speedbrake, turns the seatbelt sign on, sets the missed approach altitude set at the autopilot. And the Landing Checklist is performed

ordered by C, performed by FO
Landing Lights: ON
Wheel Well Lights: ON
Runway Turnoff Lights: ON
Engine Start Switches: LIKE DECIDED
Seat Belts Sign: CHECKED
called C, read FO checked C
[ ] Engine Start Switches: CONTINUOUS
[ ] Speedbrake: ARMED, GREEN LIGHT
[ ] Landing Gear: DOWN, THREE GREEN
[ ] Cabin: SECURED
FO Landing checklist completed
arrow back Landing and Runway Cleared

By 1,500 ft AGL, the Captain calls 'Stabilized' (meaning that the plane is on due course and attitude). When passing 1,000 ft AGL, the Captain is taking control of the plane. He desengages the autopilot (the First Officer calling: 'You have control!'), then the autothrust (the same) and then the Flight Director as the First Officer tells the taxiways possible and then calls the tower: 'America 158 fully established ILS runway 18!' as tower gives wind, clears for landing and recall the runway in use. Few before the decision height, the GPWS altitude enouciation system calls: 'Approaching minimums!' then, at the decision height: 'Minimums!' If the visibility conditions like stated by the approach plate are respected, the Captain confirms then 'We keep landing!' At the decision height the Captain, in case of bad visibility, may ask the First Officer if he has a visual reference to the ground. In case of fair weather, the ground and likely the runway threshold are already in view! If the conditions of visibility are not respected, the crew engages the missed approach procedure. Landing now! The GPWS keeps on: 'ONE HUNDRED, FIFTY, ETC.', the touchdown occurs, speedbrake automatically triggers, the Captain engages throttles' autoreverse (the engine are pushing reverse and braking the plane). First Officer calls '80' or '70 kts' which brings the Captain to desengage autoreverse and apply foot brakes. Usually the First Officer is ordered to all flaps off from that moment on, turns the landing light OFF and taxi lights ON. Once runway cleared, they start the Runway Clear Procedure, de-configuring the plane for landing and preparing it for taxiing, with taxi clearance asked

illustration for the tutorial How to Improve One's Flights Aboard Airliners?: Captain performing the landing!
Captain performing the landing! (non-clickable illustration)
ordered by C, performed by FO
Wheel Well Lights: OFF
Runway Turnoff Lights: OFF
Engine Switch, Packs: ON, OFF, OFF
Stroboscopic Light: OFF
Pitot Heat: OFF
Flight Director: OFF
Autopilot: RESET (IAS 110, ALT 10,000)
Stabilizer Trim: 3 UNITS
Speadbrake: DOWN, DETENT
Autobrake: OFF
Clearance Taxi: ASKED C
Transponder: STANDBY 2000
arrow back Taxiing, Systems Shutdown, Plane Secured

With the taxi clearance, the crew was given it gate -- or parking -- stand number and the taxiways to be used to get there. The Captain pilots the plane during taxi. Somewhat before reaching gate or parking, Captain orders taxi lights off (not to dazzle ground staff), APU ON GENERATORS and the First Officer leaves the ATC Ground frequency. Arriving to gate or parking, the Captain applies the parking brake, shut the engine levers (right then left) down which shuts the engines down and he calls the ground personnel. Thence one proceeds with the Shutdown Procedure, then the Secure Procedure consisting to shut all the plane's systems down and to secure it for its sojourn at the gate or parking stand. Passengers meanwhile have disembarked. Function of what is needed, the plane once turned off, may be powered either by its APU or a ground power unit. Flight over! The Captain thanks the First Officer for the flight. After a flight, the crew procede with a debrief regarding the fuel use

ordered by C, performed by FO the autopilot settings excepted by C
Every system is turned down, from right to left, up and down at the
over head panel: (note not in order) air cond. alimentation, deice systems, Fuel Pumps OFF, Cabin Signs OFF, Windows Heat OFF, Pitot Heat OFF, Electric Hydraulic Pumps OFF, Air Cond. & Pressure 1 pack, Bleeds ON GRD
Autopilot: CHECKED
Anticollision Light: OFF
Engine Start Switch: OFF
Autobrake: OFF
Speedbrake: DOWN, DETENT
Parking Brake: AS REQUIRED
Engine Start Levers: CUTOFF
Transponder: AS REQUIRED
called C, read FO checked C
[ ] Fuel Pumps: THREE OFF, ONE FOR APU
[ ] Probe Heat: OFF
[ ] APU: ON
[ ] Right AC-Voltemeter-Selector: APU
[ ] Fire and Overheat System: OFF
[ ] Hydraulic Panel: SET
[ ] Flaps: UP
[ ] Parking Brake: SET
[ ] Engine Start Levers: CUTOFF
[ ] Recall: DISENGAGE
FO Shutdown checklist completed

performed FO
Cabin Power: OFF
Electrical systems: AS REQUIRED
Ground Power: AS REQUIRED
Pumps: OFF
All Lights: OFF
Cabin Signs: OFF
IRS Mode Selectors: OFF
Air Cond. Pack: OFF
Flightdeck Lights: OFF
called C, read FO checked C
[ ] IRS: OFF
[ ] Emergency Exit Lights: OFF
[ ] Windows Heat: OFF
[ ] Packs: OFF
[ ] Ground Power: AS REQUIRED
[ ] Battery: OFF
FO Secure checklist completed
arrow back The Missed Approach Procedure

The so-called Missed Approach procedure or also termed Go Around, for an airliner, is the procedure which has to be performed if, when on an instrument approach and once arrived at the DH (Decision Height) or MDA (Minimum Descent Altitude) points, the weather conditions required are not met (mostly the runway not in sight). The pilot then must fly a 'Missed Approach'. The Missed Approach Procedure is always described on the instrument approach chart. Generally, the plane will have to reach a given altitude at a given location, following headings at the effect that the aerial controllers will be able to vectorize the plane again towards the beginning of the instrument approach, for a new landing attempt!. The Missed Approach procedure is written-depicted in the text accompanying the chart and is figured on the chart self too. Once at the final location prescribed by the Missed Approach procedure, the pilots will have to perform a hippodrome-shaped 'waiting pattern', one of those patterns which, more generally, is flewn at a given altitude and speed by a plane asked by the ATC to wait, for a reason or another. The values of a Missed Approach procedure may have a dedicated page inside the CPU of the plane as the Missed Approach, if needed, is triggered from there but, most of the time the Missed Approach is flown by the crew. Of note that a Missed Approach may have to be flown for other reasons than a bad visibility, like a engine fire at landing, for example

Let's describe the unfolding of a missed approach! The plane now is reaching to the end of the final approach and configured like needed. The missed approach procedure altitude has been already set at the autopilot and, the speed also, when the crew turns the autothrottle off. The plane is now reaching to the altitude at which the runway must be in sight. The captain calls 'Minimums!' and then, when the runway is not in sight, the First officer 'No visual!' and 'Go around!'. The First officer pushes throttle forwards for a full takeoff thrust and now a kind of events similar -- but not equal -- to what occurs after takeoff is occurring. Following with the crew following the missed approach chart data as it sets them on the autopilot, which flies the plane. At a moment, occurs a 'after takeoff checklist,' that's its name! When the missed approach procedure is completed, the crew proceeds with a kind of briefing as the Captain says: 'We are going to try a second landing approach to Denver Intl, on the ILS approach to runway 17 and hope we will have a better visual. Otherwise we will divert and fly to our divert aiport, which in that case is City Of Colorado Springs Mun (KCOS)!'


C calls 'MINIMUMS!'
FO calls 'NO VISUAL!' and 'GO AROUND!'
FO pushes throttles: TO TAKEOFF THRUST
C sets: TO/GA
C calls 'Flaps 15' and sets: FLAPS 15
C calls 'HDG select at the autopilot' and sets: HDG SELECT
C orders, FO calls: CONTACT TOWER (to announce a Missed
Approach procedure)
Reaching 1,000 ft FO calls AUTOTHRUST C performs
FO calls C performs: SPEED 165 AT THE AUTOPILOT
FO calls C performs: FLAPS 5
FO calls C performs: SPEED CHECK
FO calls and performs, C check: AUTOPILOT ENGAGED
FO calls C performs: GEAR UP
FO calls, performs, C check: HEADINGS
At a moment, FO calls C performs: FLAPS 1
FO calls C performs: FLAPS UP, NO LIGHT
C calls, reads FO check: AFTER TAKEOFF CHECKLIST
Keeping flying the Missed Approach chart
C calls the new landing attempt
called C, read C checked FO
[ ] Engine Bleed: ON
[ ] Packs: AUTO
[ ] Landing Gear: UP AND OFF
[ ] Flaps: UP, NO LIGHT
C After takeoff checklist completed

Here you are ready for realistic flights aboard a airliner in your Flight Simulator version! Some versions may allow to accelerate time along a flight, easing the length usually needed for as how acceleration works will depends upon your FS version. Good flights!

Website Manager: G. Guichard, site Lessons In Microsoft Flight Simulator / Leçons de vol pour les Flight Simulator de Microsoft, Page Editor: G. Guichard. last edited: 3/31/2018. contact us at
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