5-Step ILS Landing Guide for Flight Simulator

Disclaimer: This guide assumes that you're familiar with using Autopilot controls

Trying to use an Instrument Landing System (ILS) in a flight simulator can be a daunting task if you've not tried it before, or if you're not familiar with instruments and aircraft systems though the whole process of setting up and landing a plane is very basic once you know how. I've designed a simple 5 step process which I would like to share with you.

When flying, Air Traffic Control will normally direct you towards the airport and runway you'll be landing on by telling you to fly a certain heading and giving you certain altitudes. This takes away the pressure of navigating to the airport when approaching it, giving you time to set up the plane for an ILS landing. Hopefully you will be familiar with using the auto pilot and will be flying to ATC's instructions with the Autopilot enabled.

Step 1: Gain information about the runway you'll be landing on.

ATC will tell you which runway you will be landing on. Let's say for this example you've been told to land on runway 04. There's two pieces of information you need to find out about that runway, its ILS Frequency and the Runway Heading. You can typically find these in a simulator by going into the Map and double clicking on the airport. Make a note of the frequency and heading, we'll use these in a moment.

Step 2: Make sure the plane's set to Navigate by Radio

Most planes have two forms of navigation, they can navigate by using a GPS system or they navigate using Radio frequencies. In the cockpit, there's a switch which allows you to choose between the two systems and you want to set this to "NAV" so that the plane is using Radio frequencies to navigate.

Step 3: Enter the ILS Frequency into the Nav1 Radio

Take a look at the radio stack and find the "Nav1" settings, you'll see two frequencies. One is Active and one is Standby. You can easily tell which is because you can only change the Standby frequency. Change this to the ILS frequency you made a note of earlier then make it the Active frequency.

Step 4: Change the Omni Bearing Selector to the runway heading

On smaller planes the Omni Bearing Selector will be a dial, on larger planes it will be a knob on the Autopilot panel. You want to change this so that it's showing the runway heading. In our example we said we would land on runway 04 so the heading would be 040 (but this could be anything from 035-045).

Step 5: Activate the Approach Hold autopilot switch.

Very simple final step, just press the Approach Hold button on the autopilot and the plane will take care of the rest. As you fly in line with the runway, provided you've done all the above steps, the plane will automatically turn and line up with the runway. Also when you get close enough it will also start to descend automatically. Then when you're happy with the approach and can see the runway, you can disable the autopilot and land the plane manually.

And there you have five straightforward steps to landing a plane using an Instrument Landing System! Easy huh? If you're a more visual learner, please see this video which uses this guide.