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PMDG 747-400 Tutorial

Heathrow to Los Angeles International

Craig Read

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1 Introduction ........................................................................................................... 3
2 Tutorial Setup and Assumptions ........................................................................... 5
2.1 Tutorial Assumptions .................................................................................... 5
2.2 Tutorial Setup................................................................................................ 5
2.3 Setting Up the Flight Simulation................................................................... 6
3 Planning................................................................................................................. 7
3.1 Brushing Up .................................................................................................. 7
3.2 Flight Plan BA0283..................................................................................... 10
3.3 NATS (North Atlantic TrackS) Planning.................................................... 13
3.4 Weather ....................................................................................................... 13
3.5 Alternative Airports and NOTAMS............................................................ 14
3.6 Fuel planning............................................................................................... 16
4 Welcome to Flight BA0283 ................................................................................ 24
4.1 Introduction to the Cockpit ......................................................................... 24
4.2 Cockpit Safety Inspection ........................................................................... 25
4.3 Cockpit Preparation..................................................................................... 35
4.4 Push and Start.............................................................................................. 81
4.5 Taxiing to 27L for Takeoff.......................................................................... 91
4.6 Takeoff and Climb ...................................................................................... 96
4.7 The Cruise ................................................................................................. 127
4.8 The Descent............................................................................................... 141
4.9 Hold and Approach ................................................................................... 173
4.10 Taxi to the Gate and Shutdown ................................................................. 194
5 Supplemental..................................................................................................... 210
6 References ......................................................................................................... 211

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1 Introduction
I decided to write this tutorial as I never really found a single flight tutorial which
covered all the aspects of planning and flying this aircraft in the detail I wanted. This
is in no way a slight on other efforts, there are a number of other very good tutorials
out there that are very detailed, but this here is for the “average everyday” with little
knowledge of aviation or the operation of a 744 (Boeing 747-400). This tutorial
explains how things are done, when they are done, and why they are done. I’ve
attempted to give an understanding of the interactions with Despatch, Ground and Air
Traffic Control (ATC) to make the experience as close to real life as I can, and
educate those who are not totally familiar with operations.
The tutorial aim is to compliment already existing tutorials on the PMDG (Precision
Manuals Development Group) website, and also compliment the manual, there are
some elements of this tutorial that go beyond the PMDG manual (the Flight
Management Computer, FMC holds is an example). If you haven’t already done so, I
would recommend downloading and printing the PMDG tutorials and running through
them as they are an excellent insight to this simulation and 744 operations, and the
experience doing those will better equip you for this flight we are about to do.
The tutorial starts at Heathrow London and is a real world British Airways flight of
number BA0283. The flight is from London Heathrow (airport code EGLL) to Los
Angeles International (airport code KLAX), departing gate D10 at approximately
11:55 on the 25th April 2006 at Heathrow, with an expected arrival time 14:55 on the
25th April 2006 at Los Angeles, with an approximate flight time of 11 hours making it
a long day flight. This flight is a real flight number, real date and time and with the
actual airline that operates it, however the gate is fictitious, and with simulation speed
variability and omission of adverse weather, the 11 hours will go considerably quicker
so don’t panic!
Firstly, why did I select this flight? Well I wanted a flight that is truly representative
of 744 operations, the 744 is not the most efficient shuttle to and from close airports
and is used mainly for long haul flying. I wanted a real flight that the users of this
tutorial could relate to the real world, also a flight of this kind provides more scope in
terms of using the aircraft systems, for example fuel control and configuration.
The tutorial will take the enthusiast right through all stages, from installing the tutorial
files, to setting up the simulator, the despatch office and operating the aircraft from
pre-flight to shutdown with concise (I hope) step by step instructions and
explanations. The enthusiast will be given ATC dialogue, in the correct context and
language structure so interaction is understood.
There are however some areas where the tutorial is unrepresentative (sometimes this
is deliberate to demonstrate functionality and give the PMDG Queen the justice it
deserves), we are at the end of the day flying a PMDG simulation on Microsoft Flight
Simulator (MSFS) at our computers and not the real bird at Heathrow. However,
where the tutorial is non-representative for illustration or demonstration purposes or
due to limitation, this is highlighted and the real world likely event(s) outlined for the
user to take note of, so they can adapt their flying style (safety first, but oh yes, style
is important!).

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My hope is that users will then take this tutorial a second time as a reference guide
and not follow it to the letter, but make their own judgements and setups as they go,
as informed pilots. After all, that’s what real flying of this bird is all about!
This is a live tutorial, there will errors in here, I am not a qualified pilot and I want the
comments to correct and complete the tutorial to maximise the realism. This tutorial
is not only here for you, but also for me to update my knowledge and understanding
of 744 operations, procedures and practices, I will do my best to update it with
revisions (with revision notes so changes are very visual) so you can update your
knowledge too with me.
As for additional reading, this tutorial will be a lot easier if you have already had a
look at the PMDG manual and tutorials for the 747. If you’re an even bigger fan (like
me), I recommend buying the ITVV DVD Boeing 747-400 Virgin Atlantic, it is by far
the best DVD on flying the 747-400 that’s around and you’ll recognise a lot of aspects
of this tutorial within that DVD (I learned a lot about procedure and practices from
this educational film). The crew are brilliant and explanations of procedures and
controls are clear, concise and cover a lot of aircraft operations, in honesty I cannot
recommend that DVD enough it’s a must have for true fans. I found another ITVV
DVD Boeing 747-400 Cathay Pacific but this was not nearly as detailed or
informative as the Virgin Atlantic DVD. The captain did note that there were some
difficulties when the film was created and as a result it wasn’t quite as he planned.
The Cathay DVD is a much less in depth view of the aircraft and its operations, a
more introductory than educational film. However, on saying that, there are a few
moments within this DVD that are useful (climbing from stall speed, engine starts). If
you’re a big fan of the 744 buy them both, if you’re on a budget and can only get the
one, but the Virgin Atlantic DVD.
I really hope this helps you understand and operate the 744 simulation that PMDG
have created, I myself find it an excellent simulated aircraft to fly, and as a fan of
other simulations, I find this one is a very good representation, if not the best for the
744 within the MSFS environment.

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2 Tutorial Setup and Assumptions
2.1 Tutorial Assumptions
The following are a set of assumptions that I have made while producing this tutorial,
if you are unfamiliar with any of the following, please do a little reading up and
familiarise yourself before attempting this.
1. Familiar with MSFS 2004 controls and features including; weather, setting up
2. PMDG 747-400 Queen of the Skies is installed with all updates.
3. Familiar with Virtual Cockpit functions.
4. Familiar with operating aircraft switches in MSFS 2004.
5. Understand gauges, altitudes, airspeed indications, headings, and the meaning
of pitch, roll and yaw.
6. Reasonable level of familiarity with the PMDG 747 Queen of the Skies flight
deck layout.
7. Basic knowledge of aviation charts.
If any of these you would consider you’re missing, please brush up your skills or
knowledge before you attempt this.

2.2 Tutorial Setup

This tutorial comes with a set of files, these are as follows:
1. A flight plan for BA0283, “BA0283.rte”.
2. Save files for MSFS, “EGLL to KLAX Tutorial Cold and Dark.WX”, “EGLL
to KLAX Tutorial Cold and Dark.FLT”
3. PMDG panel state file, “EGLL to KLAX Panel State.SAV”
4. This document. “PMDG 744 EGLL to KLAX Tutorial Version 1.0.PDF”
The required programs and files are as follows (no charts are provided as some are
subject to distribution restrictions):
1. Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004.
2. PMDG 747-400 Queen of the Skies.
3. PMDG 747-400 Load Manager (Passenger).
4. The charts for Heathrow; SIDs, taxiways, holding areas. Try using
5. The charts for Los Angeles International airport; STARs, taxiways, holding
areas. Try using NAVGRAPH
6. British Airways Rolls Royce Engines livery for the 747-400 found on the
PMDG website at the following address,
7. ARIAC revision 702 navigation data is installed within the PMDG 747

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8. ARIAC revision 702 SID STARS are installed within the PMDG 747
The installation is as follows:
Step 1 - Copy the “PMDG Tutorial EGLL KLAX.sav” file to the C:\Program
Files\Microsoft Games\Flight Simulator 9\PMDG\747400\PanelState” directory.
Step 2 – Copy the “BA0283.rte” file to the C:\Program Files\Microsoft Games\Flight
Simulator 9\PMDG\FLIGHTPLANS” directory.
Step 3 – Copy the Save files for MSFS, “EGLL to KLAX Tutorial Cold and
Dark.WX”, “EGLL to KLAX Tutorial Cold and Dark.FLT” to your “My
Documents\Flight Simulator Files\” directory.
Step 4 – Install the British Airways livery via the PMDG install program.
If these files are not copied to the appropriate directories correctly, the tutorial will
not flow smoothly.
Please be aware if you plan to print this, that the tutorial is 211 pages long and has a
very high number of colour illustrations, as a result it may use a substantial amount of
paper and ink.

2.3 Setting Up the Flight Simulation

Before we start the flight, we must setup the Microsoft Flight simulator and the
PMDG 747-400 Queen of the Skies simulation. Load the PMDG 747-400 load
manager and set up the following as your weights:
1. Fuel weight 151,600Kgs
2. Pax Wt of 21969Kgs
3. Cargo Wt 31760Kgs
4. Check the Zero Fuel Wt is 232,535Kgs
Make sure the values are correct and then click save to file.
The elements of the simulation that need setting up are as follows:
• The current weather
• The ATC and traffic
The weather must be set to clear skies, I have inferred there is no weather other than
perfect conditions throughout. Once the user has completed the tutorial with no
weather, trying with real world weather might be good experience.
For the purpose of this tutorial, we are not going to use ATC at all, and also remove
the generated traffic from the simulation. I understand that this is highly unrealistic in
real world operations, but the ATC within Microsoft Flight Simulator is not
sufficiently realistic in itself to simulate IFR flights properly. I will prompt you with
appropriate dialogue with ATC as and when it would happen. For obvious reasons I
have not included every scrap of ATC to aircraft communication, it would fill this
whole document, I have highlighted those important parts.
Once complete, load the flight “EGLL to KLAX Tutorial Cold and Dark” from the
MSFS save menu, and let the tutorial begin.

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3 Planning
This section details the flight planning for this flight, along with fuel planning, step
climbs, arrivals and departures.
A lot of work has been put in to try to emulate the real world planning activities,
omitting weather chart information as we know the weather.
Although you have just loaded the simulation, it may be a good idea to pause, and
grab a coffee while we go through all the paper work at the dispatch office.

3.1 Brushing Up
Before we continue with flight planning there are some things that we need to
understand before doing our detailed plan. First is runway orientation, every airfield
has two runways, even if there is only one expanse of tarmac, the numbers of the
runways are a reference to their orientation, let me show you what I mean. At
Heathrow airport there are two runways, that run from East to West in a parallel
formation, with the terminal buildings between and to the south. Imagine the runway
as a one way street, we can’t have aircraft taking off and landing from either end, or
it’s going to get chaotic, aircraft may land and another aircraft be directly in front on
final for the same runway! Not good at all! So a runway is one way, at all times, but
which way? That usually depends on the winds at the airfield, there are some
exceptions due to noise and residential areas but essentially aircraft take off and land
into a head wind or as close as possible. So back to these numbers, two runway
tarmacs at Heathrow, and yet four runways!? Well it’s simple, if the direction of the
runways is East to West, the active runways are 27L and 27R, and the 27 indicates the
orientation, 270 degrees heading. If the wind were to change dramatically, ATC
would reconfigure the traffic to land West to East on 09L and 09R. How do you
know which is L and which is R? This is simply as you see the runways on your
approach, the runway to the left, is L and to the right is R. Let me show you what I
mean now on a diagram.

Figure 1 - Runway orientation.

As you can see approaching from the West, means we will land at a heading of
approximately 90 degrees. The runway on the left is 09L and on the right 09R as we
look at it. The same goes for 27 left and right. Using wind information we are able to
predict the runways that are likely to be in operation at a given time.
The next item to go through are Standard Instrument Departures (SIDs) and Standard
Terminal ARivals (STARs). These are essentially set routes for leaving an airfield’s
airspace and entering it. Think of them like small roads to and from a motorway,
except here the motorways are airways and the small roads are the SID (going to the
motorway) or STARs (leaving the motorway).
The understanding of SIDs and STARs are key elements of flight and are vital to all
commercial operation. SIDs and STARs have names, and charts that detail the routes
and heights that must be followed. Let me show you an example of one.

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Please dig out your WOBUN 2F chart, normally the chart will show 2 SIDs. These
are for Heathrow airport and the SIDs are known as WOBUN 2G, WOBUN 2F,
sometimes the SID chart will also display the 09 runway departures BUZARD 2K and
BUZARD 3J too. If you look closely you’ll notice that WOBUN 2F departs from the
27 right runway at Heathrow, and the WOBUN 2G departs from the 27 left runway at
Heathrow. When an aircraft is given IFR clearance, they are given departure
instructions, and often a SID to follow, this chart shows a selection of SIDs depending
on the runways in use. There are a number of different SIDs, some will depart south,
east and west depending on your flight plan direction you will be given an appropriate
Take a look at the chart, it shows waypoints, beacons, VORs and height restrictions.
An underline on the height means, at or above, under and over lines mean pass at this
altitude. The same exists but in reverse for approaches to airports, these are called
STARs, but they do not normally end at the runway itself, as often aircraft once
within a certain range, we be get vectored (directed, or steered) as they get close.
The other consideration is altitude transitions, QNH (milibars), Inches and Flight
Levels (FL). Altimeters use pressure differentials to calculate altitude at any given
time. Since the pressure outside changes due to weather, it is necessary to tune the
altimeter so the displayed 0 feet is in fact 0 feet (sea level, airfields will obviously be
above that, this is airfield elevation, for Heathrow this is on the chart and is between
71 and 79 feet above sea level) at the start of a flight. An airport weather station will
have the altimeter setting and will broadcast this on a set radio frequency along with
other useful information such as winds, temperatures, cloud cover and precipitation
using the Automatic Terminal Information Service (ATIS).
In our case we will not be using any adverse weather conditions, so the QNH and
Inches settings will be normal or standard at all altitudes, including on the ground.
The normal settings are 1013 for QNH (the UK uses QNH as the units for altitude
tuning) and 2992 for Inches (the USA uses the imperial Inches units for altitude
tuning). As you can see there are variations between the UK and USA systems for
calculating altitude. Once crossing over to the USA when we receive altimeter
settings they will be in inches, and while in the UK they will be given in QNH, the
altimeter you will see has both as options to aid tuning.
The setting units are not the only differences between UK and USA airspace rules.
The next subject to touch on will be “transition” altitudes and levels. In the UK a
standard transition altitude of 6,000 feet is commonly used, in some cases it can be
lower at 5,000 feet. SID charts like the one we just looked at often display the
“transition altitude” used for a set airfield departure, these are different to transition
levels, which we will touch on in a moment. Transition altitude is the altitude at
which the QNH or Inches settings of the altimeters becomes the standard setting
(1013QNH, 2992 Inches) regardless of the weather conditions or settings below.
Beyond this altitude, altitudes are referred to as Flight Levels (FL) and no longer in
Flight Levels (FLs) are in the following format, FL then the altitude in 100’s of feet,
for example 18,000 feet in standard setting after transition altitude would be refered to
as FL180 (spoken as Flight Level One Eight Zero), 32,000 feet would be FL320

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(spoken as Flight Level Three Two Zero) and so on (FL100, FL200, FL300, may be
referred to as Flight Level One, Two, or Three Hundred).
Why do we change to standard and use flight levels? Well essentially it is to ensure
that aircraft flying within the higher airspace are all using the same altimeter setting
datum, this helps planning and reduces the possibility of errors, whilst reducing the
workload on ATC (not having to update the settings all the time).
Let me give you an example; BA0282 is at Heathrow (so it’s in UK space and using
QNH), and the QNH given on the ground airport information, is 1017. The pilot will
then tune this into the altimeters on the aircraft, after take off the pilot starts the climb
to his 3,000 feet initial altitude, ATC may ask them to then contact departure. The
altimeter setting for departure may be different, perhaps 1016 (although since it’s so
close it’s unlikely it will change till a much greater distance), this will then be tuned
by the pilots. After ATC further clear the pilot to climb to 5,000 feet and then to
Flight Level 180. When passing 6,000 feet (the Transition Altitude in the UK for
Heathrow airfield) in the climb to FL180, the pilot will call “transitions” and then set
them the altimeters to 2992 IN or 1013 QNH and cross check all the altimeters to
verify they are reading the same altitude, this is known as “set and cross checked”.
Beyond this point all altitudes are flight levels and ATC will not use altimeter
As a matter of course ATC will never ask a pilot to hold at FL065, why? Well there
is a possibility that the ground altimeter setting when changed to standard may invade
the standard airspace above. There is usually a 1,000 feet minimum separation or
gap from the transition altitude, and the top of this extra 1,000 feet is known as the
transition level. Incidentally, if 6,000 feet is the transition altitude, the altitude
setting applies to an includes 6,000, the first flight level, will be FL070, the transition
I imagine you’re all looking confused now and wondering what on earth I am talking
about. Well imagine that your current altimeter setting is 1018QNH, as given by the
controller, as you pass 6,000 feet (transitions altitude) you then set the altimeters to
the standard setting 1013QNH or 2992IN you cross check the altimeters and verify
they are reading the same height. But remember, when you SET them to
STANDARD, you were NOT at standard settings, you were at 1018QNH setting, as a
result the 6,000 feet transition altitude at 1018QNH is in fact 6,100 feet at 1013QNH.
See what I mean? You may find that your altitude may read more at 6,150 for
1013QNH despite it reading 6,000 feet exactly for 1018QNH, or perhaps it could
even be the opposite and be 5,850 feet for what was 6,000 feet in the previous setting
before transitions. Take a look at Figure 2 and you’ll begin to see what I mean (TA –
transition altitude, TL – transition level).

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Figure 2 - Transition altitudes and levels.
Because there will be a difference, ATC will ensure you climb to 1,000 feet clear of
6,000 feet transition altitude (FL070) as a minimum to account for this possible
invasion of airspace, insuring you are not between transition altitude and level in the
transition zone. If you don’t understand this now, don’t panic you won’t need to
know this in detail for the flight in this tutorial, but you’ll need to know when flying
with real weather conditions and pressure settings on VATSIM or the like.
Another thing to remember is that in the USA transitions is not 6,000 feet, it is in fact
18,000 feet. You will notice that Boeing have set the transitions at 18,000 feet as
standard within their FMC and it may complain when you attempt to use 6,000 feet to
change your altimeters to standard setting, but there is no need to worry and we can
set the FMC to use the correct transition altitude by programming it.
There are also other subtle differences between the operations in the air. In the USA,
typically when you are asked to descend you will be expected to descend as rapidly as
possible initially and then reduce the descent rate to 500 feet per minute over the last
1,000 feet of the descent. The aim is to cut down on the number of traffic alerts and
allows ATC to judge if you are likely to attain your altitude target or not. Subtle
differences between operations but useful to know when flying there, and as pilots
you are expected to know! Try flying the tutorial again a second time with these
things in mind, using the avionics and automatics to manage the descents in this
manner, it might be good practice for you! At this point I’ve chosen to ignore this
subtle difference, although through explanation of various systems you will be able to
see how you could descend in this manner.

3.2 Flight Plan BA0283

Ok, with our brushing up out the way we are ready to start planning, let’s start by
looking at our flight plan for the day. Table 1 shows the flight plan BA0283 that we
will follow on this flight, you’ll notice that the time here is a little optimistic at less
than 10 hours 20 minutes, with real weather conditions and the taxi and takeoff times,
we’ll in reality we’d be pushing closer to 11:00 for our flight, however with our
weather settings (no headwinds aloft etc) we might get closer to 10 hours flight time.
It is also important to notice that the altitudes shown here do not include any other
climb, but set a constant altitude of FL380 throughout. In our case we will be cruising
initially at FL320 and using step climbs (a climb to another cruise altitude during the
flight), gradually climb to FL380 later on within the flight, giving us a more optimum
use of the fuel we have on the aircraft.

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The flight plan here will be using a planned departure route known as WOBUN 4F,
this is our SID given to us by dispatch (which we hope to be cleared for). There is no
STAR programmed into this flight plan yet, we will do this as we get closer as it is
highly likely that this could change due to weather conditions on route in reality, so in
keeping with real world operations we won’t set one. Normally pilots would check
the destination airport information and weather before take off and use the ACARS
(Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System) to keep an eye on this
in flight so they can predict the approach that will be requested, before departure
dispatch will often attempt to predict the STAR and if it is confirmed on route it will
be programmed. We’ll fly blind for now but we’ll probably be using an approach
from the East to the airfield, but we will have time to change our STAR as we
approach Los Angeles International Airport.

ID Name Distance Altitude Latitude Longitude Time

EGLL LONDON 8 80 N51:28:16 W00:27:10 00:00:00
BUR BURNHAM 12 2000 N51:31:08 W00:40:38 00:01:14
BNN BOVINGDON 13 5000 N51:43:34 W00:32:59 00:03:05
BUZAD BUZAD 24 FL080 N51:56:32 W00:33:08 00:05:06
DTY DAVENTRY 55 FL140 N52:10:49 W01:06:50 00:08:48
TNT TRENT 43 FL270 N53:03:14 W01:40:12 00:17:19
POL POLE HILL 19 FL380 N53:44:38 W02:06:12 00:23:58
SETEL SETEL 52 FL380 N54:43:19 W02:26:09 00:26:17
DCS DEAN CROSS 78 FL380 N54:43:19 W03:20:26 00:32:39
GOW GLASGOW 150 FL380 N55:52:13 W04:26:44 00:42:12
STN STORNOWAY 159 FL380 N58:12:25 W06:10:58 01:00:34
6010N 6010N 425 FL380 N60:00:00 W10:00:00 01:20:03
KEF KEFLAVIK 119 FL380 N63:59:13 W22:36:52 02:12:05
GIMLI GIMLI 80 FL380 N64:38:24 W26:58:42 02:26:39
6530N 6530N 251 FL380 N65:00:00 W30:00:00 02:36:27
6540N 6540N 251 FL380 N65:00:00 W40:00:00 03:07:11
6550N 6550N 251 FL380 N65:00:00 W50:00:00 03:37:11
6560N 6560N 231 FL380 N65:00:00 W60:00:00 04:08:39
YFB FROBAY 330 FL380 N63:44:30 W68:28:24 04:36:39
6280N 6280N 313 FL380 N62:00:00 W80:00:00 05:17:21
6090N 6090n 146 FL380 N60:00:00 W90:00:00 05:55:41
YYQ CHURCHILL 247 FL380 N58:44:30 W94:08:07 06:13:33
YYL LYNN LAKE 173 FL380 N56:51:51 W101:04:31 06:43:48
YVC LA RONGE 118 FL380 N55:09:30 W105:16:00 07:04:59
MEETO MEETO 130 FL380 N53:35:36 W107:21:24 07:19:26
YWV WAINWRIGHT 157 FL380 N52:58:53 W110:50:00 07:35:21
YYC CALGARY 134 FL380 N51:06:54 W113:52:55 07:54:34
ONEAL ONEAL 95 FL380 N48:58:09 W114:56:59 08:10:59
MLP MULLAN PASS 305 FL380 N47:27:24 W115:38:45 08:22:37
REO ROME 200 FL380 N42:35:25 W117:52:05 08:59:58

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ID Name Distance Altitude Latitude Longitude Time
FMG MUSTANG 49 FL380 N39:31:52 W119:39:21 09:24:27
GENNE GENNE 96 FL380 N38:42:54 W119:38:06 09:30:27
FRA FRIANT 111 FL380 N37:06:15 W119:35:43 09:42:12
DERBB DERBB 64 FL380 N35:15:21 W119:38:29 09:55:48
FIM FILLMORE 12 16000 N34:21:24 W118:52:52 10:07:18
SYMON SYMON 7 12000 N34:09:53 W118:48:38 10:09:27
SADDE SADDE 5 10000 N34:02:20 W118:45:52 10:10:42
BAYST BAYST 9 8000 N34:01:46 W118:39:49 10:11:36
SMO SANTA MONICA 9 5000 N34:00:36 W118:27:24 10:13:13
3401N/1 3401N/11816W 8 2000 N34:01:00 W118:16:00 10:14:50
KLAX LOS ANGELES 125 N33:56:33 W118:24:29 10:16:17

Table 1 - BA0283 Flight Plan.

The flight plan displays the name of the navigation waypoints we are going to use as
well as their identifiers (ID). The FMC (Flight Management Computer) on board the
aircraft will display these IDs during the flight on the navigational displays and within
the route, legs and progress pages of the management computer which we will come
to later. The latitude and longitude information is here so we can check our input
waypoints manually if we need to.
Note the trip distances when summed equal 4939NM (Nautical Miles), this is the
length of the trip we are about to undertake. It would be advisable to print out a copy
of this plan in rough form for checking against the plan stored within our FMC
onboard the plane (future reference, for creating flight plans I personally recommend
the FSBuild programme, which can be bought online at most good simulation
Now we have our flight plan, it is important to consider the alternative airports that
we could have to divert to. It is not practical to consider every single airport on the
route as a potential for a landing, but if something happens we’ll have to think fast
and program a diversion, so we need to know our options!
I like to keep a plan of what I’ll do in the event of a diversion handy, keeping copies
of charts for potential alternate airfields too. For the purpose of this flight we are
going to use Ontario or KONT as our diverted airfield, as it is close by and typically
less crowded than Los Angeles. So let’s look at Ontario International Airport so we
have an idea of what we can expect.
Ontario is about 50NM from Los Angeles, and actually we pass over it on the way to
the Los Angeles airfield, so not much of a diversion is required at all, it has 4 runways
all over 10,000 feet long so it can easily accommodate us, and not only that, it
supports large jets so we’ll have the ground equipment available for refuelling and
maintenance as well, an excellent choice I think.
Due to the close proximity of the alternative airport to the Los Angeles flight plan it is
fine to not worry too much about planning a diversion route. In reality any diversion
would be handled by ATC anyway, and the close proximity would mean a few minor
course corrections and FMC configuration changes for the approach, but certainly
nothing to be too concerned about.

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3.3 NATS (North Atlantic TrackS) Planning
This is an additional to the flight planning, in our current plan we simply opted for a
company route, or a pre-determined flight plan for BA0283, however in reality things
are not this simple. Flight planning for cross Atlantic trips is more complicated than
I’ve made out, it is not just a case of drawing in waypoints and filling them into the
FMC, North Atlantic crossings are actually carefully controlled and monitored. Let
me explain this further.
North Atlantic TrackS or NATS are pre-determined crossings for the Atlantic. These
tracks are updated on a regular basis and when creating a flight plan one would opt to
use one of the current tracks for that day. In doing so you need to obtain an additional
clearance for that particular track, why? Well the Atlantic Ocean does not have radar
cover over it, or at least not in its entirety, as a result ATC cannot see aircraft
travelling over the Atlantic. So how do they control them? Well aircraft when
requesting their IFR clearance will also request clearance for the track they have
opted to fly. This clearance is obtained, in our case from Shannon Centre, and comes
with times speeds and altitude restrictions. The times are for our entry (first waypoint
of the track) onto a North Atlantic Track (NAT), we must enter the track within set
times that we have been cleared for and verify that we have entered it. We must then
fly at the set speed and altitude assigned so that with projection Shannon Centre can
work out where we are as we fly the track and how far we are from other aircraft also
on that track to maintain safe separation. Also when flying the track we must give
position reports as we pass waypoints, giving height and speed to keep Shannon
informed of our progression and for them to update their view of the aircraft in the
track. If we wish to change our course, height or speed we must first obtain
permission from Shannon. The same system exists for Pacific crossings, and they are
known as NOPTS and obviously controlled from a different ATC centre.
If you wish to explore flight planning internationally over the Atlantic, further reading
on these tracks is necessary. However this would simply affect the routing and
clearance procedures and not much more for us in this simple tutorial. I do believe
that it is important to bring these aspects of planning to your attention and illustrate
the reality of Trans-Atlantic flight planning.

3.4 Weather
At this point in time I decided I would not complicate matters with difficult weather
conditions so we’ll set those as clear and sunny all the way. If you wish you try
different weather conditions for the flight please do so and see how you get along.
Challenging weather for takeoff and landing can be a lot of fun (on a simulator, not
necessarily in the air for real!) so give it a try and see how your newly found skills do.
Don’t forget to remember the altimeter settings for QNH and IN for the different
In reality we would optimise our route for high winds aloft and calculate an average
wind component that would influence the flight time and fuel burn. We will not have
this problem on our flight so we’ll ignore it. If we were to include it, it would
probably mean that we get to Los Angeles a bit later (due to winds, it’s quicker to fly
from LA to London than vice versa).

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3.5 Alternative Airports and NOTAMS
It is important to decide on route our potential landing airports. If for any reason we
were forced to land early, perhaps a technical fault, or perhaps a medical emergency
on the aircraft, it is nice to know the airfields that are available and their status. To do
this we must look at the weather charts for those airfields (which we know will be
sunny skies so every field that can accommodate us landing is a potential) and the
Notices to Airmen (NOTAMS) are very important before setting out our flight plan
alternate airfields. These tell us if the field is open, its status, for example if a runway
is closed, etc. if equipment on the airfield that we need to navigate is undergoing
repair. Company NOTAMS are also a part of the dispatch office paper work and
contain information regarding the company we are operating for, it may be simple
things such as promotions etc. but there is the potential for changes to flight plans or
operating procedures that need to be noted. I believe a big NOTAM would have been
when all flights were made non-smoking for British Airways for example. In our case
we checked the company NOTAMS and there were none that will affect our flight
So let’s look at our flight plan and the potential airfields on route, while doing so it’s a
good rule to calculate the equidistant point between two adjacent fields to give a good
idea as to which airfield we should divert to in case we have a problem (Airbus
aircraft do this automatically for you, I wish the 747 did!). For example, if we have a
problem over the early stages crossing the Atlantic, is Glasgow airport closer than
Reykjavik airport in Iceland? We can work out the distance between the two and
once we cross this half way mark, we know that we are closer to Reykjavik and will
divert there if we need to, simple huh? This information will come in mighty handy
and we can use it to program fixes (making full use of the aircraft systems) into the
FMC so we can see which airports are best suited for diversion, we’ll come to that
later on.
Now before we proceed and start selecting airfields and calculating distances, it’s
important to realise that not all the airfields we cross over will be suitable for landing.
Some will not be able to accommodate us as they have short runways, some may not
have adequate facilities to fuel, prepare unload or even protect us if we have a fire,
with lack of adequate fire cover for an aircraft of this size. So although we could
potentially land at some airfields because the runway is long enough, we’d really
rather avoid it and land somewhere with better protection for us and our passengers.
Only if we ABSOLUTLEY must get down in the quickest possible time would we
think about landing at such an airport.
So let’s have a look at our flight plan then and see where we are and which airports on
route might be suitable.

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Airport Name and Airfield Expected Previous Airfield and Next Airfield and Distance
Code NOTAMS Runways Distance
Manchester, EGCC None 24R Heathrow, EGLL Glasgow , EGPF
130NM 170NM
Glasgow, EGPF None 23 or 05 Manchester , EGCC Reykjavik, BIRK
170NM 700NM
Reykjavik, BIRK None 20 or 02 Glasgow, EGPF Kangerlussuaq Sondre Strom,
Kangerlussuaq Sondre None 28 Reykjavik, BIRK Iqualuit, CYFB
Strom, BGSF
730NM 1190NM

Iqualuit, CYFB None 18 Kangerlussuaq Sondre Strom, Coral Harbour, CYZS

Coral Harbour, CYZS None 18 Iqualuit, CYFB Rankin Inlet, CYRT
380NM 240NM
Rankin Inlet, CYRT None 14 or 32 Coral Harbour, CYZS Regina, CYQR
240NM 850NM
Regina, CYQR None 13 Rankin Inlet, CYRT Cold Lake, CYOD
850NM 300NM
Cold Lake, CYOD None 13 Regina, CYQR Missoula Intl., KMSO
300NM 500NM
Missoula Intl., KMSO None 11 Cold Lake, CYOD Reno Tahoe Intl., KRNO
500NM 550NM
Reno Tahoe Intl., None 16R or 16L Missoula Intl., KMSO Los Angeles Intl., KLAX
550NM 350NM

Table 2 - Alternate airports on route.

Ok Table 2 shows a selection the airports on our route that we could potentially use
and the rough distances between one another. This is not exact but we can use it to
figure out where we should land if we were to have a problem mid flight. Now I
know there are other airfields on route, but I have tried to select fields that we could
land on and that have the appropriate cover. Not all these fields will have all the
appropriate cover but if we were pushed we could use them, these are examples. If
you wish to do some more research and more accurately plan this stage please do so,
it’s good practice.
Let’s look at the Table 3, this shows the radius for the mid point between each of the
airports shown here along our journey.

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Airport 1 Airport 2 Distance Apart Radius Required

Table 3 - Rough radius between airports.

It is important to realise that these figures are not exact and will need a little fine
tuning on the flight, but for now they will do as a guide. What does all this mean?
Well it means that if we are say at 70NM from EGLL on our trip, we will divert to
EGCC, if we are for instance 500NM after BGSF we will divert back to BGSF. We
also have a rough idea of the runways in use for each of the airfields due to weather
expectations, so we could potentially plan and plot an arrival course into our FMC
too. This information will come in very useful if we were to have a problem or a
passenger we to fall very ill on the plane.

3.6 Fuel planning

Ok time to plan the fuel for the flight, to start off I've done this flight and used about
130,000Kg of fuel give or take 1,000Kg at a similar weight, so we know what we're
expecting. We have a ball park figure and if we're way off then we'll go back and
look again to check the figures, what I mean by way off is in the 10,000Kgs below,
I'm more worried about the fuel level calculation being below than above this value,
I'd rather have too much and be uneconomical than too little and have to divert, could
you imagine the headlines?
The first stage is to gather the information about the flight and the weights that we
will be using.
The weights are as follows (from the initial load sheet calculation in the dispatch
• Empty weight of the 747-400 is 178,806Kgs (394,088lbs)
• The PAX weight will be 22,296Kgs (49,140lbs).
• The cargo weight will be 33,348Kgs (73,500lbs).
• The max take off weight (MTOW) of the 747-400 is 397,005Kgs
• The max landing weight (MLW) of the 747-400 is 285,763Kgs (630,000lbs).
• The max zero fuel weight (ZFW) for the 747-400 is 242,671Kgs (535,00lbs).

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Ok, now we have all the weight information for our flight today, we need the flight
plan information.
The flight plan information is as follows:
• Distance of the flight is 4940NM.
• Planned cruise speed is 0.86.
• Planned altitude is standard cruise with 2,000 feet step climbs all the way to
maintain optimum cruise speeds.
• Alternate is Ontario (KONT) at a distance of under 100NM.
We also need some more information additionally to the weight and plan information:
• The airfield is Heathrow, we can expect reasonably short taxi time.
• Los Angeles this time of year should not be too busy so we can expect a short
taxi time.
• There are no adverse weather conditions on route or at our destination.
Like I discussed before, I am assuming clear skies all the way, in reality there would
be a wind component to consider and that must be taken into account when
calculating the fuel required.
Ok now it’s time to start work on calculating the fuel we require for the flight. The
first stage is to calculate the ZFW of the aircraft.

ZFW = Empty Weight + Pax weight (Passengers) + Cargo weight

178,806Kgs + 22,296Kgs + 33,348Kgs = 234,450Kgs
ZFW = 234,450Kgs

We can compare this with the max ZFW of 747-400 which is 242,671Kg, as you can
see we're below by 8,221Kg so well within limits.
The next stage is to calculate the planned landing weight (PLW) of the aircraft at Los
Angeles. The planned landing weight is the weight the aircraft will be if we land on
the runway without burning any of our reserve or contingency fuel. On a trip of this
length, typically a 747-400 will carry 45 minutes extra fuel for holding, alternate fuel
and a minimum fuel (MIN FUEL), so our planned landing weight (PLW) will consist
of those factors along with the ZFW of the aircraft.


Ok, so MIN FUEL is the first item we will deal with, this is typically 10,800Kgs on a
long haul international flight and about 8,500Kgs for an internal, we are international
so 10,800Kgs is the MIN FUEL we will use. Some companies will have policies on
this weight so if you are flying for a VA in the future you will have to adhere to their

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ALT FUEL (fuel required to fly to alternate) and HOLD FUEL (fuel required to hold
for 45 minutes) really require the weight of the aircraft at that time to be calculated
properly, but for the ALT FUEL in this instance you assume the minimum landing
fuel (MLF) plus the ZFW. Why do we do this? Because we'll have burned most of
our holding fuel before we divert, the holding weight will be:

Weight of the aircraft when holding = ZFW + MLF + ALT FUEL

As the weight of the aircraft will contain all our contingency fuel for the alternate and
minimum fuel as we won't have diverted to burn any extra yet, we are still holding for
Los Angeles after we have been in this hold and are diverted to the alternate, our new
landing weight will be the minimum landing fuel and the ZFW.

MLF (if we are diverted and use our hold reserve) = ZFW + MIN FUEL
245,250Kgs = 234,450Kgs + 10,800Kgs

At this point it is a good idea just to glance at max landing weight again and check it
against the MLF here, to make sure we're below, and we are.
The next stage is to calculate the ALT FUEL from the planned destination and the
alternate. Looking at the table on 2-9 of the PMDG manual we'll use 100NM as the
distance between Los Angeles and Ontario. In reality they are only 50NM apart but a
small contingency is not a problem here. Our weight of 245,250Kgs puts us in the
second column of that table, so the fuel required to get to the alternate is 3,300Kgs,
this is our ALT FUEL.

ALT FUEL = 3,300Kgs

The next stage is to calculate the HOLD FUEL. Generally, rather than trying to
calculate this definitively with the weight of the aircraft taken into account, we accept
45 minutes at a burn rate of 8,100Kgs per hour for our HOLD FUEL.

HOLD FUEL = 0.75 (45 minutes) x 8,100Kgs/Hr

HOLD FUEL = 6,100Kgs

With this information we can add this to our ZFW and get the planned landing weight
(PLW) of the aircraft.


PLW = 234,450Kgs + 6,100Kgs + 3,300Kgs + 10,800Kgs
PLW = 254,650Kgs

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Now as captain it is your responsibility to ensure that this is correct, so checks would
be a good thing to do. Also if you think we'll need more holding time, or perhaps the
weather means we have a longer vector into the runway, you might decide to beef up
these figures by 2 or 3 tonnes. I'm sticking with this as I know my estimate for the
alternate is a bit high, and the weather is going to be good.
So now we've got our figures we know our PLW is 254,650Kgs, as we don't intend to
burn our reserves or contingency if we can help it! Using this you can work out your
FMC entry for the RESERVE section (which we will come to later), it is typically:

FMC entry for RESERVE = MLF + ALT FUEL + 50% of HOLD FUEL
17,150Kgs = 10,800Kgs + 3,300Kgs + (0.5 x 6,100Kgs)

You might want to just enter 17,200Kgs into the FMC. The idea is that if your burn
drops below this and you get the INSUFFICIENT FUEL warning on the FMC, you
know you have less than half the contingency available to you, it's not a critical
warning more of a reminder!
Final thing to think about is the taxi fuel, I usually add an extra 2,000Kgs for that at
Heathrow to account for delays, giving us a contingency of 22,200Kgs.
The next stage is to build the flight plan fuel requirement into the calculations, we're
aiming for a weight of 254,650Kgs at Los Angeles when we arrive, so we can land
comfortably at the alternate airport with our minimum fuel if necessary.
First we'll estimate our fuel for the flight, take a look at the table on 2-8 of the PMDG
manual, this is the fuel burn chart based on a speed of Mach 0.86 with optimum step
climbs (we’ll go into this later). We’ll select FL380 as our altitude as it considers the
step climbs on route (which we’ll go into later) so it is a reasonable altitude.
On the chart we only have 5,200NM and 4,800NM shown so we want the figure in
between as our estimate, so about 95,000Kgs and 10 hours 20 minutes flight time
(close the prediction on our flight plan in Table 1) is what would be expected. The
chart is set for a landing weight of 216,000Kgs, and obviously our landing weight is
254,650Kgs, 38,752Kgs heavier. The charts allow an adjustment to the fuel based on
your weight in relation to this value. If you look at the top in the text, it states that for
every 4,500Kgs above 216,000Kgs it is necessary to add a burnout correction and
adjust the fuel burn for the flight. In our case the following applies:

38,752Kgs (heavier than 216,000Kgs) / 4,500 = 8.6 (roughly)

The burn out correction is 390Kg/Hr, and we have to multiply this for 10 hours 15

10.33 (10 hours 15 minutes as hours) x 390Kgs/Hr = 4,000Kgs (roughly)

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Once this is complete we then have to then multiply this by the correction due to the
weight difference between our landing weight and that of the chart, this was 8.6:

4,000Kgs x 8.6 = 34,400Kgs

We can now add this value to our flight plan estimate and we get the following:

95,000Kgs + 34,400Kgs = 129,400Kgs for the flight

Ok now knowing the fuel burn for the flight, and the fuel required for contingency
and minimums, we can calculate the total fuel required on the aircraft for the flight
from the stand to the landing.

Flight Plan Fuel + Contingency and Reserves = Total Fuel Required

129,400Kgs + 22,200Kgs = 151,600Kgs (with 17,100Kgs in the FMC as

So let’s summarise these calculations in a table for easy digestion.

Name Fuel Kgs Fuel lbs Description

Flight Plan Fuel 129,400Kgs 284,680lbs The fuel required for the flight
plan to be flown.
ALT FUEL 3,300Kgs 7,260lbs The fuel required to fly to the
alternate airfield.
HOLD FUEL 6,100Kgs 13,420lbs The fuel required to hold for 45
MIN FUEL 10,800Kgs 23,760lbs The minimum safe fuel to have
on board on landing.
FMC 17,100Kgs 37,620lbs The ALT FUEL , MIN FUEL,
RESERVE and 50% of the HOLD FUEL.
ZFW 234,450Kgs 515,790lbs The weight of the aircraft full
laden with no fuel.
TOTAL FUEL 151,600Kgs 333,520lbs The total amount of fuel
including all reserves.
TOW 386,050Kgs 849,310lbs Take off weight of the aircraft.
PLW 254,650Kgs 560,230lbs The planned landing weight of
the aircraft.
Table 4 - Fuel breakdown for the flight.

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The next portion of the planning will be determining when we are going to make our
step climbs. In order to do this we need to know our take off weight and then we can
calculate when we will be required to make the climb to the next altitude. Before we
go into this for our plan let me show you how this works.
If we look at the table within the PMDG manual on page 2 – 10 called FOUR
ENGINE MACH 0.86 CRUISE we have a list of figures calculated for our fuel burns
and optimum altitudes, using this table we can predict when we will be making our
step climbs.
We know our initial weight (and this is standard units so lbs will be used) of
849,310lbs, and our initial altitude of FL320, using this we can see our initial fuel
burn rate. We’re actually over 840,000lbs for FL320 but I’m going to use this value
anyway. 37,200lbs per hour is the fuel burn rate at that weight at that altitude taken
from the table, to get from 849,310lbs to 840,000lbs we must burn 9,310lbs. How
long will that take?

Lbs to Burn / Burn Rate = Time

9,310lbs / 37,200lbshr-1 = 0.25

To turn that into minutes, we multiply it by 60.

0.25 x 60 = 15 minutes

We now repeat this process for the next stage, to get from 840,000lbs to 800,000lbs
we need to burn off 40,000lbs, once again the maths is repeated.

Lbs to Burn / Burn Rate = Time

40,000lbs / 37,200lbshr-1 = 1.07
1.07 x 60 = 64 minutes

Now our weight has changed to 800,000lbs we have a new burn rate of 28,800lbs per
hour at FL320. We now repeat the process for the next stage, to get from 800,000lbs
to 760,000lbs, we need to burn off another 40,000lbs.

Lbs to Burn / Burn Rate = Time

40,000lbs / 28,800lbshr-1 = 1.38
1.38 x 60 = 83 minutes

As you can see on the table, the optimum altitudes for the weights are shaded, now we
are optimum weight for FL320 at 760,000lbs. You’ll also notice that the same weight

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is optimum for FL330. The new burn rate is 27,600lbs per hour, and we need to burn
another 40,000lbs to get to the next weight of 720,000lbs.

Lbs to Burn / Burn Rate = Time

40,000lbs / 27,600lbshr-1 = 1.45
1.45 x 60 = 87 minutes

At this point we’ve reached 720,000lbs and the new optimum altitude for that weight
is FL340, which is out step climb. We can total up the times now and find out how
long it will take us to get to the correct weight for the step climb.

15 + 64 + 83 + 87 = 249,
4 hours 9 minutes

We can repeat this now for FL340 to FL360 and then for FL360 to FL380, and we get
the following.

Climb From and To Time From Previous Cumulative Time

FL320 to FL340 4:09 4:09
FL340 to FL360 3:07 7:16
FL360 to FL380 2:49 10:05
Table 5 - Step climbs and cumulative times.

With this data we can now estimate where we will be when we make our step climbs
using our flight plan data and times.

ID Name Distance Altitude Latitude Longitude Time

EGLL LONDON 8 80 N51:28:16 W00:27:10 00:00:00
BUR BURNHAM 12 2000 N51:31:08 W00:40:38 00:01:14
BNN BOVINGDON 13 5000 N51:43:34 W00:32:59 00:03:05
BUZAD BUZAD 24 FL080 N51:56:32 W00:33:08 00:05:06
DTY DAVENTRY 55 FL140 N52:10:49 W01:06:50 00:08:48
TNT TRENT 43 FL270 N53:03:14 W01:40:12 00:17:19
POL POLE HILL 19 FL320 N53:44:38 W02:06:12 00:23:58
SETEL SETEL 52 FL320 N54:43:19 W02:26:09 00:26:17
DCS DEAN CROSS 78 FL320 N54:43:19 W03:20:26 00:32:39
GOW GLASGOW 150 FL320 N55:52:13 W04:26:44 00:42:12
STN STORNOWAY 159 FL320 N58:12:25 W06:10:58 01:00:34

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ID Name Distance Altitude Latitude Longitude Time
6010N 6010N 425 FL320 N60:00:00 W10:00:00 01:20:03
KEF KEFLAVIK 119 FL320 N63:59:13 W22:36:52 02:12:05
GIMLI GIMLI 80 FL320 N64:38:24 W26:58:42 02:26:39
6530N 6530N 251 FL320 N65:00:00 W30:00:00 02:36:27
6540N 6540N 251 FL320 N65:00:00 W40:00:00 03:07:11
6550N 6550N 251 FL320 N65:00:00 W50:00:00 03:37:11
6560N 6560N 231 FL340 N65:00:00 W60:00:00 04:08:39 STEP CLIMB 1
YFB FROBAY 330 FL340 N63:44:30 W68:28:24 04:36:39
6280N 6280N 313 FL340 N62:00:00 W80:00:00 05:17:21
6090N 6090n 146 FL340 N60:00:00 W90:00:00 05:55:41
YYQ CHURCHILL 247 FL340 N58:44:30 W94:08:07 06:13:33
YYL LYNN LAKE 173 FL340 N56:51:51 W101:04:31 06:43:48
YVC LA RONGE 118 FL340 N55:09:30 W105:16:00 07:04:59
MEETO MEETO 130 FL360 N53:35:36 W107:21:24 07:19:26 STEP CLIMB 2
YWV WAINWRIGHT 157 FL360 N52:58:53 W110:50:00 07:35:21
YYC CALGARY 134 FL360 N51:06:54 W113:52:55 07:54:34
ONEAL ONEAL 95 FL360 N48:58:09 W114:56:59 08:10:59
MLP MULLAN PASS 305 FL360 N47:27:24 W115:38:45 08:22:37
REO ROME 200 FL360 N42:35:25 W117:52:05 08:59:58
FMG MUSTANG 49 FL360 N39:31:52 W119:39:21 09:24:27
GENNE GENNE 96 FL360 N38:42:54 W119:38:06 09:30:27
FRA FRIANT 111 FL360 N37:06:15 W119:35:43 09:42:12
DERBB DERBB 64 FL380 N35:15:21 W119:38:29 09:55:48 STEP CLIMB 3
FIM FILLMORE 12 16000 N34:21:24 W118:52:52 10:07:18
SYMON SYMON 7 12000 N34:09:53 W118:48:38 10:09:27
SADDE SADDE 5 10000 N34:02:20 W118:45:52 10:10:42
BAYST BAYST 9 8000 N34:01:46 W118:39:49 10:11:36
SMO SANTA MONICA 9 5000 N34:00:36 W118:27:24 10:13:13
3401N/1 3401N/11816W 8 2000 N34:01:00 W118:16:00 10:14:50
KLAX LOS ANGELES 125 N33:56:33 W118:24:29 10:16:17

Table 6 - Step climb positions estimated on the flight plan.

So now we can see roughly where we will be when we are making our step climbs so
we can get ready for them on time. In reality we wouldn’t bother with the last step
climb and probably go right from FL320 to FL380, but this is just for demonstration.
Well that’s the fuel planning completed, we have our data regarding the step climbs
and times, we know our expected landing weight, I’d say we are fairly well prepared

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4 Welcome to Flight BA0283
Ok now is the time to start up the simulation and get started. We’ve had our coffee
and chat in the dispatch office, got our overnight bags ready and we’re booked in a
nice hotel near LAX for the night. It’s time to get out there and get started, but firstly
I will walk you through the set up so we are all “singing from the same hymn sheet”.
Before we move on, it’s important that we all understand checklists. A checklist is a
list of items that need to be set in order to continue, it is a way to ensure that pilots do
not forget anything! 90% of the time a checklist will simply be completed without
any further action necessary, or perhaps a short delay, but these are a double checking
procedure and are necessary.
First job is the walk around, pilots always give the aircraft the once over with a walk
around before getting to work, and from our inspection everything seems to be ok, no
damage, leaks or anything to worry about. The undercarriage is serviceable, no
damage to the wings, engines seem fine, the doors are secure and all the flight
instrument sensors are undamaged. However there is one thing seems to be a bit
unusual, and that is that despite the aircraft being parked, the flaps are extended, to
what looks like flaps 1 (as the rear trailing edge flaps are not extended, it’s just the
leading edge of the wing).

Figure 3 - Flap extension on the wing, looks like flaps 1 but we’re not sure.
Figure 3 shows what we see, no damage, everything seems ok but the flaps are
definitely extended. Well perhaps they were cleaning her up and the ground crew
asked for that extension to get in to clean something and it’s not been returned yet? I
think (don’t quote me) things like this would be recorded somewhere and pilots would
be aware before arriving for their walk around. I have assumed no prior knowledge,
so we’ll make a note of it, and check it once we get inside, or make some phone calls
to our ground crew.
Ok, well it’s time to get onboard and get started, we have passengers to take and
they’re all going to get annoyed if we stand around talking about these flaps all

4.1 Introduction to the Cockpit

Firstly, welcome aboard! I guess this is time to introduce you to the aircraft in all its
glory and get you used to navigating around the cockpit where you’re going to be

Page 24
spending the next few hours preparing, starting, taking off, flying, landing, parking
and shutting down this plane.
Let’s have a look around the cockpit first, and get familiar. In this initial stage of the
tutorial I am not going to go into massive detailed descriptions of all the displays, as
this would require a lot of effort initially. As we progress you will learn what the
displays show and how information is displayed and can be manipulated. I have
summarised the displays below, if you require more detail on the displays please
consult the PMDG manual for a detailed description.
Primary Flight Display (PFD) – The main display
ND – The navigational display, showing course direction speed, navigational aids,
VOR, DME, IRS, AFD, headings, weather conditions, approach displays.
LOWER EICAS – Engine Information and Crew Alert System, displaying various
different information pages, surrounding air conditioning (ACS), fuel control (FUEL),
engine control (ENG), doors (DOORS), status (STAT), hydraulic systems (HYD),
electrical systems (ELEC), landing gear and brakes (GEAR).
UPPER EICAS – Electronic Flight Information System, displaying engine status,
gear status, flap status, FMC messages, warnings.
MCP – Master Control Panel, concerned with the operation of the autopilots, and
automatic throttle controls, along with the flight director and LOWER EICAS menu
Thrust Levers – Controlling forward and reverse thrust on all engines.
Fuel Cut Off – Fuel controls to all the engines.
Radios – Navigational radios, and the Air Traffic Control radios.
Transponder – The aircraft transponder.
TCAS – The aircraft Traffic Crew Alert System
Overhead panel – Contains, fuel control, air conditioning control, electrical power
control, fire control, heat control, light control, IRS control.

4.2 Cockpit Safety Inspection

For the record, usually in a real situation the cockpit would have power and probably
be supported by the generators external to the aircraft. Ground crews often provide
external power supplies, but for the purpose of this tutorial, and to explain APU
starting procedures, I’ve opted for a cold and dark cockpit.

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Figure 4 - Cold and dark cockpit.
Figure 4 shows the cockpit as you enter it, the aircraft is not powered, and needs to be
woken up. As a captain you’ll sit on the left hand side and your co-pilot on the right.
So time to get comfortable and do a cockpit safety inspection. First job is to inspect
the cockpit and check all the switches are in the right positions, the PMDG manual
includes the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for you to follow, however within
this I will guide you through all the checks and we can get started. However I would
recommend afterwards to familiarise yourself with these SOPs as they are vital in 744
In a cold dark cockpit I usually like to have a look around before starting with
anything official, having a quick look at the positions of some key switches and
levers. First thing, and although fairly obvious, is the landing gear lever in the correct
position? Don’t worry, if it is set to up the wheels aren’t going to retract while they
are loaded. Looking at it in the cockpit we can clearly see it is in the down position,
which agrees with the wheels. The second item or items I like to check are the fuel
cut off switches near the thrust levers, are these all turned to off? Let’s have a look.

Figure 5 - Thrust and flap lever checks.

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Figure 5 shows the fuel control switches, and indeed they are all set to off, but (and
this was my next port of call due to the walk around) the flap lever seems to indicate 1
degrees flap. It seems to correspond to the flap position we saw outside but we need
to verify this, we don’t want the flaps moving while we are parked, we could injure
someone or damage ground equipment. My last quick scans are the extinguisher
controls, and a quick look over the Mode Control Panel or MCP.

Figure 6 - Flight deck MCP.

Figure 6 shows the MCP panel, the Auto Throttle or A/T ARM switch on the left here
isn’t set, seems that the previous crew or preparation crew have reset the MCP for us
nicely (as really they should to secure the aircraft). Figure 7 shows the fuel dump and
extinguisher controls. Looking at them everything seems fine, all the extinguisher
levers are in the right position and not pulled out. Well I think it’s time we powered
up now and started a more detailed safety inspection, with power.

Figure 7 - Extinguishers, and fuel dump controls.

Ok let’s get started, the first task it to get the aircraft powered and to do so we’ll need
battery power. This is the procedure, select battery power by pressing the BATTERY
switch (you may have to open the protective cap first see Figure 8), at the top of the
electrical power panel. Once this is done, rotate the STANBY POWER to AUTO, at
this point the panels should come to life, and you’ll hear a small fan start in the
cockpit as battery power is established.

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Figure 8 - Apply battery power.

Figure 9 - The overhead panel after battery power applied.

We now have electrical power and it’s time to do some quick checks before we power
up the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) and wake this bird up. First to be checked are the
Hydraulic Demand Pumps (HYD PUMP), these are all to be set to the OFF position
(the 4 rotary switches in the bottom left), notice that Hydraulic Demand Pump 4 has
another option AUX, I will explain what this is, and it will be used later. The
Hydraulic systems provide power to all the control surfaces on the aircraft, if they are
running when the APU spools up the pumps will pressurise the systems and the
control surfaces will move, this is dangerous if ground are unaware of it. You may
notice on some aircraft while they are parked that the ailerons and rudder lean
sluggishly, and that is because these pumps are inactive and the system has no
The next items to be checked are the electrical power system controls, these are on the
same panel as the BATTERY switch. Looking up at EXT PWR 1 or 2 we can see
they are not lit, if they were it would indicate that external power is available, but it
looks like we’re relying on the APU for power and bleed air (which I’ll explain later).
The starting procedures are somewhat different with external power, as it is this
power that provides compression for the bleed air generation for engine starts, once
started engines themselves have compressors to provide bleed air. The problem is,
before moving on the pushback the external power must be removed, so an engine or

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the APU must be started before we pushback to ensure we can provide bleed air to
start all or the remaining engines, we’ll discuss this later in more detail.
Let’s continue with the aircraft electrical system, check below that all the BUS TIE
switches are set to AUTO, the GEN CONT switches are all set to on (the button is lit
and the white ON is illuminated) but displaying the yellow OFF symbol (they haven’t
got electrical power yet), and finally that the DRIVE DISC switches are all closed and
showing a yellow DRIVE.
What have we just done? The aircraft has 2 main independent buses for power
distribution. There are 6 generators, 2 for the APU, and the other 4 are housed 1
within each engine, the GEN CONT buttons connects the engine generators to the
main power bus supplying power to the aircraft systems, these must all be ON if the
generators are to supply power in flight. The BUS TIEs are set to AUTO, which
means they will automatically supply the power bus with power when the generators
become available in the engines, they will also isolate this power if there are problems
with the generators giving power spikes. The DRIVE switches, are controls that
disconnect the engine drives from the engine generators. Once disconnected on the
flight deck using these switches, they cannot be reinstated at the push of a button,
ground crew and maintenance teams must reset the drives for the generators by hand.
That is why these switches have covers, to prevent you accidentally disconnecting
generators in flight! Checking these is important to make sure they are all set to run if
not we’re not going anywhere today until they are connected again.
Next things to check are that the rotary wiper switches, located at the bottom of the
centre overhead panel are set to OFF, we don’t want these moving and potentially
injuring someone, and besides, it’s not raining is it!
In doing all this we are making sure the electrical system is setup properly and
nothing is set to move before we apply APU power, this is very important.

Figure 10 - Further checks and setup for APU start.

Once the aircraft is powered with the APU the flaps will move if armed to, we
remember that the flap lever is set to 1 degrees flap, and from looking outside that’s

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their current position, or at least we think. We need to verify this before powering up
the aircrafts systems, a mistake may mean the flaps move and injure someone, get
damaged in transit or damage ground equipment. Looking at the upper EICAS,
shown in blue in Figure 10 it seems that the flaps are indeed set to flaps 1 and
indicating green (meaning they are in position and locked, when the indicator is
magenta the flaps have not finished moving and will move when power is established)
which corresponds to the flap lever position. That is the flap position verified, they
are not armed to move.
The next items to check are the alternate flap selector switches, aircraft such as the
747-400 carry backup systems to drive the flaps and landing gear in the event of a
failure. We must ensure that these too are not armed to move. The switches that
control and arm these auxiliary gear and flap extension systems can be found in the
centre main panel.

Figure 11 - Alternate flap and gear selectors.

Figure 11 shows the alternate flap and gear controls, neither of these controls are
illuminated and the rotary switch for the flaps is set to OFF, the flaps and gear are not
armed to move.
Switch the INBD CRT selector (indicated by Figure 10 in the red circle) to lower
EICAS and select the lower EICAS system to view the STAT page using the lower
EICAS menu buttons (indicated in the yellow circle in Figure 10). This enables us to
monitor the progress of the APU start, but let’s talk about that before we go ahead.
Figure 12 shows the lower EICAS STAT page, we’ll need to keep an eye on this as
the APU spools up. The APU is a small turbine that provides power through two
generators, like the aircraft engines there is the possibility that the APU may start
incorrectly, and may overheat. To safeguard against this we must watch closely as the
APU starts and if necessary stop the APU if it develops a malfunction to prevent fire.
N1 and N2, like the engines, are the shaft rotations of the APU in % of the maximum
revs per minute, N1 is the forward fan and N2 is the rear fan. As we start the APU
with the switch you’ll see these figures start to climb, N2 first, then N1. EGT is the
Exhaust Gas Temperature and we must ensure that the APU does not overheat on start
and monitoring this will give us that indication. A typical EGT for the APU running
normally is about 585 degrees, and the APU should take approximately 30 seconds to
start. It’s worth keeping an eye on your watch during the process or starting the clock
in the cockpit. You may notice that it reaches 585 degrees fairly quickly, and before

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N1 and N2 reach their peaks of 99%, just make sure it does not break the 600 degrees
mark and we’ll be fine. If there is a problem cancel the start of the APU by rotating
the switch (I am unsure but I don’t think the simulation supports APU malfunctions
anyway, but let’s pretend for now to enhance our flying experience) to OFF and
standby with the extinguisher lever for the APU if the temperature rises
uncontrollably. But we’re not ready to start it yet, so we’ll continue on for now.

Figure 12 - Lower EICAS STAT display page.

Ok we have completed our safety inspection, and we now know what we’re doing
with the APU start, but not before our cockpit safety inspection checklist!

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Checklist Time!

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Hopefully that checklist should have highlighted any errors, but for me it’s all
checked and I’m ready to go! If you have any errors please go back and correct them
BEFORE starting APU power.

Figure 13 - APU Start.

Before we start the APU, take a look at this panel, the two switches circled in red,
show the APU generators, APU GEN 1 and 2, these will provide our electrical power
requirements. Once the APU is running and the generators started, they will
illuminate “AVAIL” and must be pressed to provide power to the rest of the aircraft.
Another thing to be aware of is that upon start the Captain’s displays will blank, this
is normal, they will return quickly for you to continue the monitoring of the APU
Ok it’s time to start the APU, rotate the switch to START, it is spring loaded and will
move back to the ON position almost immediately, that’s normal. Once you have
done this you will trigger the APU starting system, you must monitor the APU start
on the lower EICAS which you moved to your main panel earlier.

Figure 14 - Starting APU on the lower EICAS.

Figure 14 shows the APU spooling up, and the EGT, N1 and N2 rising, if they look
like they won’t settle, turn the APU to OFF. The APU will reach temperature well
before the N1 and N2 are up to normal running speed, do not be alarmed at this just
ensure it does not break the 600 degrees EGT figure. You’ll notice that the MAIN
BATT V-DC and APU BATT V-DC are showing discharges, 28.0, 28.0, 23.4 and
20.6, this because we are currently running on battery power, these will blank once
the APU generators are activate.
Once started the STAT lower EICAS page should look like Figure 15, nice and
settled. You’ll also notice that the control surfaces now have their markers.

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Figure 15 - Running APU on the lower EICAS.
Electrical power should soon be available from APU GEN 1 and 2, Figure 16 shows
the APU powered up and the generators running, we must provide power to the
aircraft systems by pressing the generators APU GEN 1 or 2. In this case APU GEN
2 has been pressed and switched on, and is now providing power to the electrical
systems, APU GEN 1 is about to be selected too, turn on your generators and we can

Figure 16 - Power available from the APU generators, APU GEN 2 providing power.
Once the aircraft has electrical power from the APU, it is necessary to alert those
around that the aircraft is now powered. To do this we switch on the NAV lights,
these must remain on unless the aircraft has no power or is powered by the battery
only, the light controls are on the bottom right over the overhead panel.

Figure 17 - NAV light switched to ON.

With the NAV lights on, APU power established, and our safety inspection
completed, it is time to move to the cockpit preparation. Let’s check the lower
EICAS ELEC page for the electrical system schematic to make sure everything is
functioning as it should. Figure 18 shows how the page should look with the APU 1
and 2 providing power to the electrical systems, you can see the BUE TIES and the
engine electrical generators.

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Figure 18 - Lower EICAS ELEC page settings.
The GEN CONT and DRIVE are all off as the engines not running, the APU is
providing power to all aircraft systems including the Galley’s on board and power for
Utilities, this is the power the cockpit and flight systems run on. As you can see there
are 4 separate buses which are paired off, these pairs are separated by the SSB circuit
breaker, and function independently offering a very high level of redundancy and
preventing damage to the whole system in the event of overload on one of the

4.3 Cockpit Preparation

It’s now time to move to the next stage, and prepare the cockpit for our flight. In
doing so we have a lot of preparation work to do, we’ve got to:
• Prepare the Performance Statistics.
• Prepare the Navigational Systems.
• Prepare the Aircraft Flight Systems.
• Brief ourselves on the SID departure, and Rejected Take Off procedures.
• Keep the passengers informed with announcements.
We’ll start with preparing the aircraft systems, and begin with the right hand side of
the overhead panel.

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Figure 19 - Right side of overhead panel.
We’ll start here, the right hand side of the overhead panel shown above in Figure 19.
The overhead panel here consists of the lights at the bottom, the bleed air and air
conditioning packs, further up is the air conditioning controls from humidity control
cargo heat control, circulation control, release valve controls, temperature controls,
and at the very top, the yaw damper systems and emergency oxygen.
Before we proceed a little about the cabin air conditioning. There are 3 PACKS, each
PACK takes warm air from the engines and mixes it with cold air through various
heat exchangers before pumping it through the cabin. This maintains the cabin
temperature at altitude, outside the cabin temperatures can drop below -50 degrees
Celsius so we need this warm air in the cabin for survival purposes, it’s vital. The
PACKS also control and provide air pressure in the cabin (cabin pressure) to maintain
a breathable atmosphere.
Cabin pressure is also controlled using this panel and it is important to understand
what cabin pressure is and why it is important. As you perhaps know, an aircraft is a
pressure vessel, the pressure within the cabin is much higher than that outside of it
when it is at a cruise altitude, as the air is less dense. At sea level the cabin pressure is
more or less the same as the outside, why is this? Well the air at cruise is much
thinner, and we would struggle to breathe it, a breathable pressure must be maintained
for survival purposes, but this does not mean cabin pressure always remains the same.

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Once the aircraft doors are closed the cabin is sealed, at this point the pressure is the
equal inside and outside of the aircraft, as the aircraft takes off the PACKS and air
conditioning systems will slowly start to reduce the pressure within the cabin (this is
why our ears pop), but it will only reduce the pressure to a certain level, in fact the
cabin typically simulates the pressure you would experience at 8,000 feet above sea
level. Why does it do this? Well the answer is fairly straight forward, as you know as
pressure increases in a container beyond the pressure outside of it, like for a balloon,
the structure needs to be strong enough to prevent failure. Unlike a balloon, the
structure of the 747 won’t expand very much and to keep a cabin at sea level pressure,
at cruise altitude the aircraft cabin would need to be stronger than it is now to cope
with the larger difference in pressure between the inside and outside of the aircraft.
This extra strength would mean extra weight, resulting in less efficiency and higher
fuel burns, so instead the cabin pressure is reduced to a pressure that is comfortable
for passengers but also so that the differential between the pressure inside and outside
the cabin at cruise is lower than if we tried to maintain a seal level pressure in the
cabin meaning the structure does not have to be as substantial.
You may notice “cabin altitude” on the upper EICAS panel and on the overhead
panel, this is the simulated altitude within the cabin at that time, the over head panel
can manually set an altitude, and the EICAS displays the current cabin altitude. As I
said earlier, typical figures are sea level, then during ascent the cabin will slowly
reduce the pressure until the simulated pressure reaches that for 8,000 feet, however
beyond this point the cabin pressure will not change, the cabin altitude will remain at
8,000 feet as the aircraft continues to climb and cruise. Cabin pressure will then
gradually be increased to that of sea level, or that of the airfield as the aircraft
The OUTFLOW valves control the pressure release from the cabin to the outside air,
in order to maintain a constant pressure inside. It works like a tyre, as the engine
compressors “pump” the cabin up with pressure, the OUTFLOW values “let it down”
to maintain a constant pressure. While we’re parked the OUTFLOW valves will be
open fully, as there is no need to change cabin pressure until we’re actually moving
and sealed.
Incidentally, since the cabin is a pressure vessel and at cruise the pressure inside is
greater than outside, the forces are acting OUTWARD, like they are in a balloon. The
doors to the cabin close and seal from the inside of the aircraft, and pushing outward
actually improves the seal. This design is no accident, at cruise even if a door were to
become unlocked, the pressure of the air within the cabin would continue to press the
door out onto the fuselage and passengers would be unable to pull it open.
If we were to get a cabin breach, it would result in loss of pressure in the cabin, the air
within the cabin will rush out equalising the pressure with the outside and make the
air in the cabin thin, difficult to breathe and suddenly cold. This is where the
emergency oxygen systems are important, as they provide warm oxygen via masks to
the passengers and crew enabling them to breathe at altitude while the aircraft
conducts an emergency descent. The emergency descent is (as I understand it)
typically below 10,000 feet as at this point temperatures are normally more tolerable
and the air is breathable. If there were a breach slowing down to below 250 knots
would also be advisable.
What is bleed air? Bleed air is compressed air generated by the engines, used to
power various pneumatics, de-icing systems and is required to start engines, this air is

Page 37
provided from the engine compressors, or the APU compressor. You’ll notice that
only the APU is not showing a yellow OFF for bleed air (green circle in Figure 19).
This is because the APU is running and therefore providing compressed air via its
compressors, engines 1 through 4 are shutdown and not providing bleed air hence
showing OFF. It is advisable to let the APU run for a period of time before taking
bleed air from it, so wait 60 seconds or so and then press the switch selecting the
bleed air for the APU, so it reads ON.
Now we need to start an air conditioning PACK, just the 1 for the moment, air
conditioning PACKS place extra stress on engines on starts and takeoffs, and we are
going to be starting and taking off shortly, this stress is something we could do
without! A single PACK is sufficient for now, we can activate the other packs when
we reach a steady climb configuration and the engines are less stressed.
You’ll notice A and B on the pack rotary switches, these select the controllers for the
PACKS, in the event of a failure a separate controller can be selected to control the
PACK, there is a lot of redundancy in this system. For now, let’s start the centre pack
just above the APU bleed air switch, rotate that switch to NORM. Upon doing so you
should hear the air conditioning system starting, note, that without bleed air the air
conditioning system will not run, ensure bleed air is provided by the APU before
starting the pack. The management systems will alternate between controller A and B
for you automatically, usually one trip will use A and then the return leg will use B to
ensure faults are picked up on the controllers. However this is all automatic and we
don’t need to worry about it, it’s just nice to know.
The next port of call is checking the isolation valves for the bleed air, these are the
switches between the PACK rotary switches and labelled L ISLN and R ISLN. These
need to be showing white horizontal lines indicating the valves are open, without
these open we will not be able to start our engines later. Looking at the panel, they
are already open. In an emergency where a PACK was contaminated with smoke or
fumes or stopped functioning, that pack could be isolated from the others and turned
The next panel up selects equipment cooling and other settings for the air
conditioning systems. Currently we don’t need extra cooling, and the other settings
are not necessary bar one, the GASPER, ensure that all the others are set to off and
the EQUIP COOLING is set to NORM. HIFLOW, HUMID, PACK RST are options
to use if the packs become inoperable or contaminated. Packs can be reset in an
attempt to restart them, HIFLOW can be used to pump out smoke in the cabin,
GASPER can be used to filter in cleaner air from the outside which is generally used
as a matter of course on flights anyway hence why we switched it on, HUMID can be
used to reduce the humidity within the cabin and around the aircraft avionic systems.
Moving up this panel further you’ll notice that ZONE RST is showing an amber fault,
this is simply because the TRIM AIR system is not up and running yet. Activating
the TRIM AIR by pressing that switch will clear the fault. Trim allows the aircraft to
configure itself in terms of its air weight and pressure distributions in flight. TRIM
AIR distributes air around the cabin in order to help achieve this, it is important
during flight. The recirculation fans shown as UPPR and LWR RECIRC will need to
be switched on too, these activate circulatory fans within the floors and ceilings of the
cabin that pump the air around. AFT CARGO HEAT, is required in order to prevent
cargo freezing in the cargo hold! On occasion there could even be animals in there,

Page 38
so please don’t forget about them, and check your load sheet for any items that need
special attention!
Select a passenger and flight deck temperature if you wish, I usually leave these on
AUTO, and in auto the system will maintain or attempt to maintain a steady 24
degrees Celsius in the cabin and on the flight deck.
The OUTFLOW valves have been discussed earlier, the buttons allow activation of
valves to OPEN to relieve cabin pressure or release smoked air, they are not required
at the moment and remain OFF.
You will notice a LDG ALT PUSH ON with a button and rotary selector next to it,
these controls allow the changing of the cabin altitude the aircraft will return to during
the descent to landing. It is not normally necessary, but may be in some situations if
the airport is at high altitude and the system has failed to pick this up. In this case the
cabin pressure would be higher than the automatically selected outside pressure and
the doors will be difficult to open due to the way they seal. It’s worth bearing that in
mind, worst case is we have to sit on the tarmac while the PACKS slowly equalise the
pressure, but for Los Angeles the system knows the airport elevation and therefore the
appropriate pressure and this control won’t be needed.
The YAW DAMPER UPPER and LOWER switches at the top are required for the
flight and are to be selected ON. These provide stability during manoeuvring and
normal flight be dampening small yaw oscillations, at the moment they are displaying
INOP as they are currently inoperative, however when we activate the hydraulic
systems these lights should extinguish. One final thing, the OXYGEN switch,
covered with the red protector, open this and set it to NORM then close it again.

Figure 20 - Right overhead panel prep completed.

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The cockpit overhead right panel should now look like this, and we should hear
PACK 2 controlling the air conditioning. Check that there are no amber valve lights
illuminated, the OFF lights on the bleed air for the engines are ok for now as the
engines are not running.
Once complete again time to check the lower EICAS, this time the ECS
(Environmental Conditioning System) page.

Figure 21 - Lower EICAS ECS page settings.

Figure 21 shows the lower EICAS ECS page, the air conditioning, climate and
pressure systems. As we set up, PACK 2 is the only pack running and currently
running with controller B. The DUCTS are pressurised to 19 PSI. The magenta
numbers in the top boxes are the target air temperatures set by the crew, the master is
that set by the flight crew on the flight deck, which for us is set to 24 degrees Celsius.
The white numbers indicate the actual air temperatures in the compartments and the
blue labels are the compartments in the aircraft, F/D (forward deck), U/D (upper
deck), A, B, C, D, E and forward and aft cargo bays, which run on the setting set for
the forward bay.
As we can see the whole aircraft is pretty much at the same temperature. The green
bar indicates the passage of the pressurised bleed air through the system, at the
moment the other two PACKS are not running (supplying heated compressed air) and
therefore air is not being passed from them into the duct, we’ll pop those on after take
off. WING TAI and NAC TAI are the wing and nacelle anti-ice systems, at the
moment the anti-ice is off and so there are no flows to these systems either. The OFF
just above the labels ENG 1, 2, 3 and 4, are the bleed air compressors within the
engines, the engines are not running, so no bleed air is available from their
compressors. The left and right OUTFLOW VALVES are shown on the top right and
for the moment remain OPEN and set to AUTO to maintain our sea level cabin
pressure. Well everything seems fine let’s carry on.

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It is now time to conduct our fire safety check, in order to do so we must press and
hold the FIRE/OVHT TEST button, waiting for 3 clear rings before releasing it, the
button is located in the top centre of the overhead panel.

Figure 22 - Cockpit fire safety check.

The cockpit fire safety check button is here, this will test all the fire detection,
overheat detection, extinguishing and alert systems on the aircraft. When you press
the panel should illuminate RED (see Figure 23) and the warning bell sound, the
upper EICAS will indicate the pass or fail of the fire test once it is completed. The
EMER LIGHTS need to be armed and set after we have completed the test, this
switch is to the right of the FIRE/OHT TEST button. These are the emergency lights
within the cabin, that will guide crew and passengers in an emergency.

Figure 23 - Cockpit safety check being conducted.

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Figure 24 - Fire test, result on the upper EICAS.
Figure 24 shows the result of the cockpit fire safety check, and clearly shows >FIRE
TEST PAS, showing the systems have passed the built in test, indicating the systems
are operating correctly. We’ll now arm the emergency lighting system and we are
finished with this panel.
The next panel we need to set up is the fuel control panel.

Figure 25 – Engine start, fuel control, anti-ice and windscreen heat panels.
Figure 25 shows the engine start, fuel control, fuel dump, anti-ice and windscreen heat
panels. We’re not ready to start our engines yet, but we will make sure the panel is
set for when we do. The green circle indicates the STBY IGNITION selector, this
should be set to NORM, and it seems it already is, this allows you to select the
ignition system in the engine, number 1 or 2, setting NORM will allow the engine to
select its own. Also the AUTO IGNITION system needs to be set to SINGLE, which
will mean only one of the ignition systems will be primed for the engine start. There
are in fact two systems that function independently of each other, and you can opt to

Page 42
start the engines with BOTH set to active. The IGNITION CON, should be off for the
moment, but we will require this later on during take off, it is also required in flight
when encountering turbulence. This will keep the igniters running even when the
engines are running, to prevent flameouts. The AUTOSTART switch should be set to
ON, looking at the panel it seems everything checks out nicely and we’re ready to
The fuel dump panel is indicated with the red circle, we do not want any nozzles or
fuel set to be dumped, so we must verify this with the panel. Currently no nozzles
display OPEN and the FUEL JETTISON switch is set to OFF. This is exactly how
we will leave it. Fuel dumping is only necessary if we are too heavy to land safely at
an airfield if we have a problem, because the maximum take off weight for the 747-
400 exceeds the maximum landing weight, fuel is dumped to compensate for this
differential in weight if it’s necessary.
The next port of call is the FUEL CONTROL panel. This panel controls various
pumps and valves within the fuel system of the aircraft. It is not uncommon to see the
panel set up in this fashion when you board the aircraft, it will become obvious why
as we continue through the flight. The panel seems to be setup for the TANK/ENG
condition, or tank to engine condition which occurs when all tanks contain the same
fuel amount during the flight. This is for weight distribution purposes, as it ensures
that all tanks contain the same fuel amount and therefore the distribution is even.
However our distribution won’t be even, so this panel is set incorrectly. We must
switch the FUEL X FEED valves ON indicating horizontal white lines. We won’t
arm the fuel pumps just yet as they are not required as we’re not running engines just
yet. The amber PRESS indicator is informing us fuel is available but the pump
pressures are low, this is because they are not on. Please note a large amount of the
fuel control and management system is hidden, behind this is an array of pumps,
salvage pumps and valves, these are controlled by the aircrafts fuel management
system, a job once done by the flight engineer.
The windscreen heaters indicated by the blue circle, can be activated now, we’ll leave
those on until we get to LA now, not really to stop our screen freezing up, but the
windows are in fact specially designed and require heat to maintain their strength.
Upon completion the panel should look like this.

Figure 26 - Centre panel initial prep complete.

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Check there are no amber valve lights (ignore the pump lights) illuminated and
continue to the next stage of preparation. If there were amber pump lights lit we’d
have to call maintenance.

Figure 27 - Left overhead panel preparation.

The next stage is to get the Inertial Reference System running. The red circle within
Figure 27 shows the IRS switch for IRS 1, there are in fact 3 IRS’ on the aircraft for
redundancy and cross referencing. These are navigational systems that use inertial
forces to give positional information, these systems are supported by GPS. At the
moment this one is turned to off, but we must turn all of them to the OFF position so
we can reset them properly. Rotate all the IRS switches to the OFF position, and once
in the off position the IRS’ reset themselves and we can turn them back to the NAV
position for re-alignment, ready to be used on the flight. This process will take about
10 minutes so while that is going on we’ll continue checking and programming the
flight systems. The progress of the alignment can be seen on the NAV display which
we will see in a moment.
Above the inertial navigation IRS rotary switches are the four engine controllers.
These are electronic controllers for the engines that allow the auto throttle to control
and monitor them. Check that these all display NORM, if any of these systems is not
operating properly the auto throttle will not operate.
The next stage is to check the electrical panel indicated with the purple circle once
more, ensure there are no problems and it is as before.
The final stage is to check the HYD Demand Pumps are all set to off, do not worry
about the SYS FAULT, PRESS amber signs. These are here simply because the
pumps are not working yet and therefore indicating a low pressure, once activated
these lights should clear. The blue circle and green separate pumps 1 to 3 and 4,
demand pump 4 has another option AUX which we will come to later.
Ok the top panel looks fine, it’s not time to look at our main panels, and configure the
FMC for our flight.
The FMC is a very important pilot aid, it allows control, input or manipulation of
navigation routes, performance data, fuel data, weather data, thrust limits, holding

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patterns and more. We will be using this a lot during our flight and preparation, so
let’s get started.

Figure 28 - FMC intro and the IRS align progress.

Figure 28 shows the FMC situated in the cockpit, this is the captains FMC, the first
officer also has one and there is a spare in the centre console further back. You also
notice a red circle on the Navigational Display (ND), and in here TIME TO ALIGN is
indicated along with L 7+ MIN, etc. This is the IRS alignment progress, Left IRS,
Right IRS and Centre IRS progress indicated, and looks like we’re in for a near
enough 8 minute wait. But that’s ok, passengers are still boarding we’re in no rush
really, and we’ve got our prep to do.
On the FMC there is a screen with buttons on each side, and a keyboard panel with
numerical, alphanumeric and menu selection buttons. Press the screen button against
the text FMC on the display and this is what you should see.

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Figure 29 - FMC Page 1.
This is an information page giving details about the aircraft, and it looks like PMDG
have added their mark to their software here, with the operating system program being
This first page provides aircraft details such as the engine type, the Rolls Royce
RB211 engines are fitted to this aircraft and sure enough they are indicated by the
FMC (RB211-524G), it also shows the DRAG/FF co-efficient used, (AIRAC-0506)
navigation data version, and model number. The model we all know, the navigation
data version is the database containing all waypoints, SIDs, STARs, airports, runways
etc. This database is updated from time to time and the FMC indicates which version
is currently installed within the system. The DRAG/FF figure is an adjustment to the
drag co-efficient and fuel flow rates. As the aircraft gets older it may get dinted here
and there, and fuel rates change as pumps wear, making it necessary for the
maintenance crew to adjust these figures so the FMC gives more accurate fuel
First thing we need to do is tell the aircraft where it is, as I said before the flight
systems on this aircraft use 3 IRS’, these need to be tuned to the current location,
which is Heathrow, or EGLL, so let’s do this.

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Figure 30 - FMC positional information.
Figure 30 shows the positional data currently within the FMC. As you can see we
have our last known point and the current GPS position at the bottom. We know our
position is at the gate here at EGLL, so we need to enter that into the system.

Figure 31 - FMC positional information page with airport added.

Figure 31 shows the airport added to the page and a position of reference for that
airport. This is where our checking comes in, is that a reasonable last position? It
looks the same, both the GPS and LAST POS are N51.27.6 W000.26.9, and the
airport position seems to be fairly close, but we’ll use the GPS position I think as it’s
probably the most accurate. To collect that position press the button next to the GPS
position indicated here, this position will then populate the scratch pad (part of the
FMC you enter information into and where the typed information appears) for
addition to a setting.

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Figure 32 - FMC position page position collected from GPS.
Figure 32 shows the position has populated the scratch pad, now it’s time to enter this
into the FMC for SET IRS POS. I got the following response from the FMC in
Figure 33, showing an acceptance right away of the position data.

Figure 33 - FMC position page updated.

You may not get this, and might be asked to input the FMC position twice, this is
normal and caused because there is a discrepancy between the FMC position you are
inputting and the last known position remembered by the system. In my case it was
ok as they were the same, but in your case you might get the following in Figure 34,
so let’s discuss it.

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Figure 34 - FMC position page with ENTER IRS POSITION.
Figure 34 shows the output of that action, the FMC has displayed the message
ENTER IRS POSITION, so why has it done that since you just entered it? Well it’s
quite a neat feature of the FMC, it knows its last position and the position you have
given it, if it thinks they are a bit too far apart (and the FMC can be picky) it will
throw the message ENTER IRS POSITION up before it accepts the position. What
essentially it is saying to you is, “are you sure that’s the right position, seems we’ve
moved since last time? I think you should enter it again.” It is the right position, so
we’ll clear the message by pressing CLR, then collect it again, and enter it over the
top of the SET IRS POS again to verify that yes this is the correct position and we are
happy with it, you will find this time the FMC accepts it with no trouble the second
time. The position data will disappear from the screen when entered into the IRS
systems, in this case it has not disappeared from the system, this is because the IRS’
are not yet aligned, don’t worry, that position data will be collected automatically
later on by the FMC when the IRS systems are ready for it.
Now it’s time to set some of the performance parameters, press the screen key next to
INDEX, and then select the PERF screen key, and you should be presented with this

Figure 35 - FMC weight, fuel, cruise performance page 1.

This is a performance page of the FMC, this page deals with aircraft weights as we
discussed before, fuel details, the cruise centre of gravity, the step size we’ll use our
cruise altitude and the cost index.
We need to wait for our load sheet before we can check all this off, I don’t have any
pictures of load sheets to show you, but they will detail the amount of fuel on the

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aircraft, the weight of the passengers and the cargo for signing off by the Captain. It
is necessary to be checked by the Captain to ensure everything is as it should be and
we have the right fuel amount on board for the prospective weight.
Remember our weights and fuel calculations? Well looking at the load sheet, we’ve
got a tiny bit more than what we asked for, and it looks like we are slightly less
loaded in terms of cargo and passengers (PAX). Our data for the fuel calculations
were 234,450Kgs ZFW with 151,600Kgs fuel, giving us a TOW of 386,050Kgs, but
our actual load is 100Kgs more fuel but a lower ZFW of 232,500Kgs, so we’re fairly
close on the numbers with a new TOW of 384,100Kgs. They were pretty accurate
loading us, so we’re happy with that fuel amount for the flight and can sign on the
dotted line of the load sheet for the ground crew.
The exact number in our case for the ZFW is 232,535Kgs (taken from our fictitious
load sheet), which when added to the 151,600Kgs fuel load gives 384,135Kgs which
is displayed (although rounded) on the FMC page here. With the FMC you can either
enter your own ZFW or you can select to agree with the FMC. We’ve done our own
calculations and checked with our load sheets, and the FMC has the right figure, we
can choose to accept this figure by pressing the screen button next to < 384.1, the “<”
symbol means the FMC requires our agreement. Once doing this you’ll notice the
FMC automatically populates the ZFW entry with the correct value. We could enter
it manually, but we’ve checked it so there is no real need. An important note here,
you MUST do your own calculations before hand and then recalculate with the real
fuel figures and payloads from the load sheet if they are significantly different, it is
your responsibility as Captain to get this right! In this case they are marginal
differences that will have virtually no effect at all so we can use our calculations we
did in the despatch office. It also might be worth thinking about take off rolls and
speeds in a moment.
Next on our agenda is our reserve fuel, our reserve as we have already discussed is the
10,800Kgs minimum fuel we are allowed to carry, along with our alternative fuel
(ALT FUEL) of 3,300Kgs and half the fuel for the holds (HOLD FUEL) of 6,100Kgs.
So this makes the entry for the fuel reserves to be 17,100Kgs, or 17.1. In order to
enter this type 17.1 on the key pad and then enter it into the “RESERVES” section of
the page by pressing the screen button next to it. The value should then be entered.
Our cruise altitude we also know, now make sure we enter the initial cruise altitude of
FL320, and not our final intended cruise of FL380. If we enter FL380, the FMC will
point out that we will not make that altitude at our current weight with an “UNABLE
NEXT ALT” message, so enter the altitude of 320 (the FMC automatically assumes
with small numbers such as these are you dealing with flight levels, 8000 entered
would be 8,000, 180 would be FL180, and so on) by typing it into the pad an then
entering the value by pressing the screen button next to CRZ ALT. We also know our
step size, this is 2,000 feet, so again we can enter this into the FMC computer. If you
have devised your own step climb profile, enter that step climb size into the FMC.
The last item to enter is the COST INDEX, this value determines the level of
economy the aircraft will use on the flight, the lower the value the more efficient the
flight will be, it will result in slower climb rates and reduce the fuel burn on the trip.
The higher the value the less efficient the flight will be, higher climb rates and more
fuel burnt on the flight. 90 is a good economic value to use, we have a responsibility
to the operator profit margins, albeit second to safety, and we will be using this on our
flight to get a good fuel economy. If we weren’t interested in economy a value of 500

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could be used which gives the FMC no restriction on fuel burning whatsoever, if you
want to experiments and see how the aircraft handles differently, try different values,
and observe changes in cruise speeds, altitudes, and the climb and descent profiles
calculated by the FMC.
Once complete the page should look like this.

Figure 36 - Complete FMC performance page.

Confirm this setup with the lower EICAS as follows, select the lower EICAS and then
the FUEL page, this should give you a schematic of the aircraft fuel system.

Figure 37 - Lower EICAS fuel page.

Often there is a slight difference between the two, but this is nothing substantial and
they seem to be more or less in agreement on this fuel load.
The FMC does not know our altitude or flight plan intentions yet, it’s now time we set
up the flight plan on the FMC. Press the RTE button on the FMC and after that the
following page should be displayed.

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Figure 38 - FMC route page ready to fill in.
This page allows us to enter the flight plan details, where we are flying from, and to,
and the flight number. In our case the flight number is BA0283 so we can enter that
into the FLT NO. on this page. Our departure airport is EGLL and our destination is
KLAX, however we don’t need to enter these values as of yet. CO ROUTE, is short
for “company route”, this portion of the RTE page allows us to call regularly used
flights by our airline and this aircraft type without having to manually enter them.
Our company route incidentally is stored under this regularly used flight plan, so our
company route is BA0283, once this is entered you will notice that the FMC calls the
route and automatically sets the ORIGIN and DEST parts of the page, incidentally it
also sets the RUNWAY, this particular flight plan has a runway assigned to it. For
your information, normally when I am entering company routes or building them and
adding them to the FMC library, I usually suffix the departing runway to the name I
give the route, it helps identify it properly, also a suffix for the SID on the name is
helpful. Once completed this page should look like this.

Figure 39 - FMC route page with the added information.

We are now almost ready to ACTIVATE the route, however it is a good idea and
good practice to verify the route before we proceed with activation. There could be
mistakes, or perhaps there has been a company NOTAM that told us of a slight
change to BA0283 that hasn’t been updated within the FMC yet, in our case there
wasn’t so we’ll just verify what the FMC has stored for our flight plan. We can do
this by pressing NEXT PAGE on the FMC and checking that against our flight plan
table with our waypoints in Table 1. Please do this, again it is your responsibility to
get this right!

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Once completed we can come back to this page press ACTIVATE and the EXEC
button on the FMC will illuminate, as shown below.

Figure 40 - FMC with the EXEC button lit ready to activate the flight plan.
Now is time to press the EXEC key to activate the flight plan within the FMC. Once
we’ve done this the flight plan will be loaded along with altitudes planned for ascent
and descent. The FMC automatically builds a vertical profile into the plan based on
the information you’ve entered, if we hadn’t entered a cruise altitude, it would give no
altitudes for the waypoints. Incidentally, it will not enter the step climb information
for you, but indicate when the climb is required, you as pilot will set the climb
yourself, it’s a good way of keeping you awake!
Now it’s time to explore the departure plan, we are going to do the WOBUN 2G
departure plan or SID today, from runway 27 left, however, this is not the SID that’s
loaded into the flight plan. Firstly let’s take a look at the DEP ARR page on the
FMC, by pressing the DEP ARR button, you should be presented with this page, and
you’ll see what I mean if you scroll through using NEXT PAGE, no SID is actually

Figure 41 - FMC DEP/ARR page.

This shows that the active runway denoted by <ACT> is runway 27 left and the SIDs
that correspond to that departing runway. However for now our plan is set up
incorrectly, it’s obviously configured for a departure on runway 09L or 09R as some
of the waypoints are for a SID departing on the 09 runways, have a look at the charts

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for the BUZAD SIDs and you’ll see what I mean. We will have to set the FMC to use
a different departure route, so we’re going to get some practice at changing the SID
for this departure! The departure SID that we are going to follow is the WOBUN 2G
departure, a standard WOBUN departure. In order to input this into the FMC the first
thing we must do is remove the old departure that was planned.

Figure 42 - FMC legs page for planning new departure route.

Interestingly an additional note here, using FSBuild the data when entered as a
company route will not select the SID as active within the FMC, as a result even
though the waypoints for the SID may be programmed, it’s not necessarily selected as
the active SID, as in this case. When using FSBuild, try to ignore the SID functions
of the planner and merely note them and then set them up manually, I am doing it this
way to demonstrate how to set a SID and modify and existing flight plan within the
Open the LEGS page and you should get something like this. The waypoints BUR,
BNN and BUZAD are waypoints associated with the BUZAD departure, and we need
to delete these waypoints. In order to do so, we must select DELETE on the FMC
and then press the key next to one of the waypoints we decided to delete. So start
from the top and remove BUR, BNN and BUZAD from the list, once you have done
so it should look something like this.

Figure 43 - FMC departure planning removal of waypoints.

We’ve removed the waypoints and the FMC detects a ROUTE DISCONTINUITY
within our plan. This is because there is now no departure route set for the plan, and
you’ll also notice that the EXEC button has illuminated. This is because we have

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altered the plan and the FMC wants us to verify this alteration, please do so by
pressing EXEC.
Now we need to program our new departure into the FMC, select the DEP ARR page
within the FMC and you’ll see this page.

Figure 44 - FMC DEP/ARR page.

Continue to the following pages until you get to WOBUN 2G or the WOB2G
shortened name, and then press the button next to that to activate that departure within
our flight plan. Incidentally if we were taking of from 27R, we would use the
WOBUN 2F departure.

Figure 45 - FMC DEP ARR WOB2G selected.

Once you have done so, you will see the following and once again EXEC will
illuminate indicating that there has been a change to the plan and the FMC wants
confirmation you wish to execute this change, we do, so press EXEC.
You’ll notice the <SEL> for the SID and <SEL> for the runway both change to
<ACT> as they are now the active runway and SID for this flight. Fantastic we’ve
successfully setup our new departure route!
Now it’s a case of making sure the route is correct and continuous because we’ve
selected a new departure that may not tie up with the first waypoint on our route. This
means that the FMC will insert a ROUTE DISCONTINUITY into the plan. If we go
the to LEGS page on the FMC and scroll the pages we should find that discontinuity
and be able to close it.

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Figure 46 - FMC route discontinuity.
We can close this by selecting the key next to DTY then pressing the key next to the
discontinuity shown here with THEN (indicating the FMC doesn’t know where to fly
to at this point in the plan) written above it, closing the gap and completing that stage
of the route. Once again EXEC will illuminate indicating there is a change and the
FMC wants to know if you accept this change, we do, so please press EXEC. Also
there is a further discontinuity in the plan between (580) INTC (this is not a waypoint
but we will discuss this later) and BUR, this also needs to be closed in the same
manner followed by the EXEC key again.

Figure 47 - FMC showing the new route with no discontinuities.

Our new route is now programmed! Familiarise yourself with the SID chart in Error!
Reference source not found., this shows the path that the aircraft will follow on the
SID route. Have a look at the WOB2G SID within the FMC legs page and you’ll see
how the London markers for the various distances from that beacon shown on the
chart, actually appear within the FMC LEGS page along with their associated
Now it’s time to input some settings for today’s take off. we’re going to need some
thrust limits and also the take of speeds. We should enter the appropriate thrust
setting before we input the speeds into the FMC, if we don’t the FMC will simply
reset the speeds and we’ll have to do it all again, so press INT REF on the FMC and
then select THRUST LIM> to get to the thrust limits page.
Select a thrust setting for take off is common practice, these increase the life of the
engines and also give passengers a smoother ride. If the aircraft were VERY heavy
we may opt to take off with no limits on the thrust, however today since we’re not

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bursting at the seams and the runway is very long we’ll de-rate it. The THRUST
LIMIT page is the place we set up our take off power limits. EPR or Engine Pressure
Ratio, is displayed on the top right of the page, this is the current take off thrust the
system will use in this mode. Currently the thrust mode is TO, or Take Off, and the
climb thrust mode is CLB. CLB and TO are the maximum thrust limit modes for both
climb and take off, the take off thrust mode will be used until flaps are retracted to
flaps 5 (or your desired trigger, we will discuss this later), at which point the climb
thrust mode will be engaged. For example in this mode, for take off, when we hit
TOGA (Take Off Go Around) the engines will be ramped up to a thrust setting, NOT
a speed target (THR REF mode for the A/T on the PDF) of 1.69 EPR, we will
accelerate and lift off at our V2 speed, once in the air THR REF mode will remain
active until we retract flaps to 5 (or the desired trigger), at which point CLB will
become the active mode and SPD will become the A/T mode. Figure 48 shows the

Figure 48 - Setting thrust limits on the FMC.

For light weight aircraft this might be a bit of a violent take off and we wouldn’t want
that, certainly not a good idea to go blasting down the runway when we don’t need to
and scare our passengers. In our case we are heavy, the runway is sufficient and we
could lift off with a de-rated take off thrust, but I prefer a larger margin here so we are
going to opt for a full thrust take off, so we don’t need to change the settings for the
thrust here.
If we wanted to we could change the thrust settings by moving them like Figure 49
shows, but keep them where they are for now, this is just an illustration for you.

Figure 49 - Thrust settings set in the FMC.

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SEL is the assumed air temperature for take off, the FMC assumes the OAT (outside
air temperature) is this temperature unless we say otherwise. What is the point of
that? Well it is in case the temperatures are changing rapidly, also if the aircraft is in
a hanger and the OAT in the hanger is lower or higher than the outside air. For us
we’ll leave it blank, there is no difference and the weather is glorious and the aircraft
is outside at the gate.
Now it’s time to select the take off speeds and flap settings, so press TAKEOFF on
the THRUST LIMIT page and we can begin the setup. We’ll be using flaps 20 for
this departure so add those to the top right of the FMC, the speeds should
automatically be calculated. At this point you need to check the FMC calculations
with yours to make sure they tally up, so let’s do that now, it is paperwork time again
I’m afraid!
In order to calculate the actual take off speeds we need to know the following
• The air temperature – The air temperature is 15 degrees Celsius.
• The airport elevation above sea level – The airport is 80 feet above sea level.
• The thrust setting – The thrust setting is full.
• The flap setting – The flaps will be set to flaps 20.
• The wind – There is no wind.
• Our take off weight – The take off weight is 384,100Kgs.
Using the PMDG manual and the Temperature Altitude Region Chart on page 1-4, we
can work out our operating region for the takeoff. Using the air temperature of 15ºC
and the altitude of 80 feet that puts us firmly within region B. We have no wind
component and the taking into account the full thrust we can work out the take off
speeds. Page 1-8 of the manual shows the Flaps 20 with a fully rated thrust chart, on
this chart we are interested in temperature region B. Our take off weight of
384,100Kgs, and rounding to 380,000Kg which is a weight on the chart we get the
following speeds:
V1 = 152 knots
VR = 168 knots
V2 = 178 knots
We now know the rough speeds we should be aiming for on our take off, so let’s
compare them with the speeds the FMC calculated.
Look at the FMC TAKEOFF REF page, this is a reference page for entering in the
information for the take off speeds and setup. We will be using a flaps 20 take off so
we can enter 20 into the FLAPS section of this page, once we do this the V1, VR and
V2 speeds will automatically populate with the FMC calculated figures.

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Figure 50 - FMC takeoff page with no data entered.
Let’s enter 20 as the flaps value and see what the FMC calculates for our takeoff
reference speeds.

Figure 51 - Take off reference speeds calculated in the FMC.

The speeds that the FMC has calculated are just a tiny bit over the figures we
predicted using our charts.
V1 = 0 knots different
VR = 0 knots different
V2 = -1 knot different
The figures are so close it’s not really worth our while editing them, and the FMC has
gone for a slightly slower V2 which is 1 knot different so there is nothing in it really.
To confirm the take of speeds they must be entered one by one. We can do this by
pressing the button next to V1, VR and V2, the font size will increase indicating the
speed is confirmed. We will also need to agree the CG setting (centre of gravity) the
FMC uses this to determine the trim to the take off. Let’s check that figure, on page
1-4 of the PMDG manual on the stabilizer trim setting table we can see 380,000Kg as
a take off weight and the CG of 19% which gives a trim setting of 6.0. We have a CG
of 19% on the load sheet, so I think a trim setting of 6.0 is good. We will also need to
confirm this trim setting too, again the font size will increase indicating the setting is
confirmed in the FMC.
The other thing I’ve changed here that you might notice, are the flap retraction height
and the engine out acceleration height. Why have I done this? Well we’re fairly
heavy today and I want to get as much out of the initial stages of the climb as possible

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to ensure that we hit the first altitude target of 3,000 feet. With the flap retraction
height increased, the aircraft automatic pilot will not begin accelerating to a clean
speed till we get to 2,000 feet, this will allow a longer initial climb and we should get
closer to the altitude target before we need to begin retraction and acceleration. When
we begin the acceleration our ascent rate will reduce and we don’t want this
happening too early. As a result I’ve selected 20/2000 for that which is shown here.
The engine out height I’ve brought up to 1,000 feet, as we’re fairly heavy I just want
to make sure that if we did have a failure we’re well clear of terrain but aren’t trying
to climb too much at low speed with 3 engines. This will mean we’ll accelerate much
earlier to a safe speed before continuing the climb and the horizontal profile of the
Ensure that all the values are reasonable and entered and I will now go on to tell you
what else this page can do for us. E/O ACCEL HT, is our engine out acceleration
height, at this height if we have an engine failure the aircraft will reduce the climb and
accelerate beyond the initial climb out speed, the aircraft acceleration height for the
normal take off is shown with the FLAPS 20 2,000 feet entry, with normal engine
operations this will be acceleration height. Engine out acceleration height is lower to
get to a safer speed before climbing further.
THR REDUCTION is the trigger for the thrust mode to change from THR REF
(thrust reference setting for the take off) to the reduced thrust setting, as I said earlier
this trigger is flaps 5 for our flight. Looking at the line on the page for THR
REDUCTION, the first entry is FLAPS 5 to correspond with the trigger that is set,
and the CLB-1 is the thrust mode that is currently armed to be selected once the
reduction trigger is met. If we were using flaps 20 for takeoff and perhaps a de-rated
climb thrust of CLB-2 with a flaps 10 trigger, this would be shown here as FLAPS 10
WIND/SLOPE is an additional option for information to further improve speed
requirement calculations and thrust requirements for take off on the runway. Speed
requirements and thrust requirements for take off will depend on the wind conditions
and runway pitch Uphill, or Downhill. Take off on a downhill slope will require less
thrust for the acceleration to V2, uphill will require more, a headwind will mean
slightly less ground speed is required to get the required airspeed, and a tailwind will
mean we require more.
We can set these variables within the FMC system, we can depict uphill and downhill
sloped runways by a U or D with the angle of the slope in degrees, and we can set the
headwind or tailwind component with an H or T followed by the wind speed in knots.
Currently there are no wind or runway slope considerations for us to input into the
FMC, and MSFS does not model sloped runways anyway. If we were to have a heavy
headwind of 5 knots for example, we could add H05/ to that line, if the runway were
0.5 degree Downhill, /D0.5 could be added and so forth. However here at Heathrow
today it’s glorious, there is no wind and the runways are near to flat as we could hope
Next, the RW COND, or RunWay CONDition is set to DRY. This is fairly self
explanatory and relates to the status of the runway being wet or dry. Obviously wet
runways may mean slightly more drag from the wheels due to the excess water that
might slow us down, and if we need to stop there is a skid potential, this all must be
accounted for. We could change this to WET if necessary but good weather has
prevailed and we’ll leave it well alone.

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Finally the POS SHIFT option on this page, which is used in case we are not joining
the runway 27L right at the end threshold. If we were to enter the runway at a point
further from the threshold, we would have a shorter runway to use and this would
effect the calculations and the required EPR. If the available runway is shorter,
obviously we’ll need more power to get to speed more quickly in the short space, if it
is longer we can relax the thrust settings a little and take more time in our take off
Once the speeds are entered into the FMC they will show on the Primary Flight
Display (PFD) in green as reference speeds on the speed ribbon to the left. If they are
no speeds set, there will be a yellow NO SPD displayed and this FMC page will
require checking. Once completed your PFD should look like the example in Figure
Be aware that if you PFD does not look like this and looks blank with no visual
artificial horizon then your IRS is not yet aligned. Do not worry about that, once the
alignment is complete the PFD will put your set take off speeds on the speed ribbon if
they are entered, simply wait for the system to align and it will set itself up.

Figure 52 - PFD with the take off speeds added.

The red circle within Figure 52 should be the V1 speed for the take off and match the
FMC speed set on the take off page, looking at mine it does indeed match the FMC
Now it is time to sort out our cruise settings for this flight, so press the VNAV button
on the FMC for the CLB page.

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Figure 53 - FMC VNAV settings.
Figure 53 shows the MOD ECON CLB page, the title itself is informative, indicating
that the climb mode is ECON and that it is the MODification mode currently, other
modes are ACT showing this is the active FMC mode.
We can set out cruise altitude (CRZ ALT) to FL320 by entering 320 into that box and
confirm FL320 is set, the FMC will now use this altitude for computing the altitudes
for waypoints on the LEGS page if they are not already set by us (for instance those
set on the SID will remain, as they are specific altitude targets).
Let’s talk about speed restrictions for a moment. There are two options for speed
here. SPEED TRANS is the speed transition, this normally is 250/10000 by default as
that’s the standard speed restriction for flying, 250 knots below 10,000 feet, however
if the aircraft weight is such that this restriction means the performance of the aircraft
is not as good as it could be (and this is the case for us), the SPEED TRANS will
populate with a higher speed restriction figure. In our case I anticipate the figure to
be around 275 knots below 10,000 feet, and it’s 280 knots below 10,000 feet so I
wasn’t a million miles away. Try looking at this page with a very light aircraft, and
you’ll see that 250/10000 is set in SPEED TRANS.
SPEED REST is a different item altogether, in fact this is a hard set speed restriction
the FMC will follow during flight. Entering 230/10000 will mean the aircraft
automatic systems will not exceed the 230 knot speed cap below 10,000 feet. We
could use a speed cap here, but we’re not going to as the aircraft is quite heavy, we’ll
leave this blank and clear our speed with ATC before taking off.
The reality of speed restrictions sadly is not realised even on Vatsim with most
controllers enforcing the 250 knot speed cap below 10,000 feet ferociously. The fact
is speed restrictions are not concrete rules, but are open to sensible interpretation,
aircraft such as this when filing their plans can inform despatch that they are heavy
and higher speeds will often be cleared for their departure. It can be frustrating when
you have a heavily loaded 747, and you have to fly at an uneconomical speed up until
10,000 feet as a controller refuses to clear your speed beyond 250 knots! It also costs
a lot of money in excess fuel consumption and wear on the engines.
So for those who encounter controllers who are unwilling to negotiate for speed
restrictions, you will need to enter one here, I always ask if I can depart quicker than
If you wish to set up the speed restriction enter the speed restriction by inputting the
new restriction of 250/10000 into the FMC and then adding this to the SPD REST
line. If you remember the transition altitude for this area is 6000 feet, so change

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TRANS ALT to 6000. You will then notice that your 250/10000 entry into SPEED
REST is now a shown as 250/FL100 because 10,000 feet is above transitions, and
now a flight level. In the USA of course it will need to be 250/10000 as transition
altitude is 18,000 feet. I don’t want us to use this SPEED REST restriction so please
if you have tried it out, remember to delete it before proceeding.
AT BUR 3000A is the initial altitude target for the climb, if we look at our chart once
again, you’ll see it reflects the chart depiction of the WOB2G departure. There is a
clear turn at BUR, or Burnham with an indication 3000 (lines over and under mean it
is a set height, lines over mean at or below) next to it, the underline indicates “at or
above” this altitude, the A after the 3000 on the page here also means, at or above.
For further explanation, B is at or below, and no alpha characters after the level means
this is a set level, “pass at”.
The MAX ANGLE, is the maximum climb angle for the climb, in event of a engine
failure this will change to the maximum engine out angle for the climb in the current
configuration, if you had a look at the other charts on page 1-4 of the PMDG manual
you’ll see out engine out climb angle is the normal angle -1 degree. With this page
set, it’s time to move onto the next page, the cruise page.
ECON SPD is the economical climb speed after the speed restriction has been
revoked (we’re over 10,000 feet), our set speed for the climb is 339 knots, quite fast,
we’ll make sure we gently get to that.

Figure 54 - FMC CRZ page settings.

Hitting the NEXT PAGE button on the FMC will give you Figure 54, the CRZ page.
Again like the previous page this page title is informative, ECON is the current mode
and CRZ is the page, no ACT is displayed as this is not the active mode within the
VNAV or Vertical Navigation system.
Again we have some work to do here and some verification to do. The CRZ ALT
should already be FL320 as set before, if not add that to the FMC here. STEP TO
shows the next step climb altitude target, this may not be our desired step climb
target, it might be FL350 (the FMC should change it depending on the entry for step
size that we entered earlier) which is wrong we want to use FL340, in this case it was
FL340. If it’s incorrect input the new step climb target into the STEP TO option on
the page and verify the font size increases showing it is confirmed.
The ECON SPD is the current speed within the cruise, a speed of Mach .845 is current
and that’s a little slow for us, we want Mach 0.86, this is cleared with Shannon centre
for our Atlantic crossing and corresponds with our fuel plan. The rest of the page is
informative giving out OPT and MAX flight levels, and our estimated time of arrival
along with our expected fuel load. Our current landing fuel weight is expected at

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31,300Kgs, that will more than likely drop after our taxi and as we fly the route. The
other time here shown as 14:43z, is the expected time we’ll need to conduct our step
climb, also the distance to the step climb is included in NM. This page can be handy
during flight when we’re deciding what we want to do in terms of step climbs and
managing our arrival times.
One quick look at the LEGS page and you’ll notice now we have altitudes and flight
levels input into the plan which the FMC has calculated for us when it worked out our
Vertical Path. As Captain, it is your responsibility to check this, the FMC is an aid
not a faultless gadget you believe blindly, let’s just check it against out SID chart for

Figure 55 - FMC SID checking.

The LEGS page shows us our SID waypoints and their set heights. Let’s discuss this
a moment, on the left we have waypoints and between those waypoints we have
headings. These are the calculated headings for the line between the adjacent
waypoints. The first heading is 275 degrees, well out runway is 27L and actually at
273 degrees so that’s about right, the next 280 degrees, so a slight right turn to the
INTC (intercept) course. You may see INTC within your plan, I usually bridge over
this with BUR, by clicking next to BUR and entering it over INTC, giving the result
above. After the interception we turn to 306 degrees to BUR, then another right to
002 degrees to LON10, are you following me now? The rest is fairly self
explanatory, the middle is the distance between waypoints, and the next is
Looking at the chart in we can see we need to take off, turn right to intercept the 301
degree radial from BUR, hence the INTC and then BUR at 304 degrees, it’s slightly
off but that’s ok. We’ll then continue to climb passing LON DME 3 (London at a
distance of 3 NM) then LON DME 4 (as previous) to BUR, once at BUR (same as
LON DME 8) we’ll need to be a 3000 feet or above shown here as 3000A, the FMC
matches the chart so far, good eh? After that we’ll turn right for WOBUN on a
heading 359 shown here as heading 002 probably due to overrunning the turn slightly,
and as you can see it eventually gets closer to 002 with 001 at LON DME 16. Next ar
at LON DME 10 or LON10 we must be at 4000 or above, LON10 has a height setting
of 4000A so it again agrees. LON DME 16 (LON16 on the FMC) again shows a set
height of 6000, which again agrees with the FMC. What we do need to do here
however is close the intercept route up, and set the intercept course to active so we
collect it after takeoff. To do this we simply collect the (INTC) second from top
there, and enter it into the top and accept the change by pressing EXEC.

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Notice also that the FMC has calculated our speeds for these stages of the trip, 196
knots and then 280 knots, before the 339 knots climb speed within the VNAV page.
When doing this it has taken into account the flap retraction height set earlier, you’ll
notice that I have in fact changed the output here a little bit and changed the speed
from 280 knots to 240 knots for the LON10 entry. I’ve done this so the aircraft will
get a good chance to climb initially. With the original setup, we’ll take off, start to
climb, and at 2,000 feet start to accelerate at acceleration height, the nose will come
down our climb rate reduce and we’ll start flap retractions. This will continue until
the aircraft reaches 280 knots, which will take some time, as a result we’ll probably
miss our initial altitude targets, which isn’t so good. In doing this I’ve reduced the
time the aircraft will accelerate initially in order to ensure a good climb on the SID.
After LON10 we should be at 4,000 feet, and it’s quite some distance before WOBUN
where we need to be at 6,000 feet, so in this configuration the aircraft will start to
finish the initial acceleration to 280 knots after LON10, as anything prior to that
requires most of the energy being used for the climb.
Ok, with that checked, and knowing the FMC agrees with the chart it might be a good
idea to get a pictorial view of the departure so we can have a better look. Let’s add
some fixes for our convenience, press the FIX button.

Figure 56 - FMC FIX page.

Figure 56 shows the FIX menu, enter MID into the FMC and then click next --- below
the FIX to introduce it as a fix. In some cases the FMC has more than one point
associated with the prefix you gave it, it will ask you to clarify the point, Figure 57
shows this. In this case select the top waypoint, if you look at your chart you’ll notice
MIDHURST has an associated Latitude and Longitude associated with it, this is
510314N 0003730W, so this makes the selection of the right waypoint easier.

Figure 57 - FMC FIX clarification.

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Figure 58 shows the FIX page with a FIX entered in. MID for MIDHURST, if you
look at the SID chart you’ll notice that the track to WOBUN is on the MID beam of
360 degrees, as a result I have entered this into the FMC FIX page to see if our NAV
display agrees with my chart as verification. To add the beam simply enter 360 and
click one of the empty RAD/DIS slots, this will introduce the beam. To add distances
as circle distance markers, change the input to /10 if you wish to have a circle drawn
round MID at 10 miles. This comes in handy for selecting airports to land during
flight and we’ll go through that later.
If you wanted to check the London DME waypoints too, might be a good idea, in that
case LON is the waypoint and distance markers of 10 and 16 should cross LON10 and
LON16. This is a very powerful tool for verifying flight plans SIDs and STARs.

Figure 58 - FMC FIX page.

You’ll notice a change to the NA display, change the zoom so you can see the
Midhurst (MID) beam on the display.

Figure 59 - ND display with the beam.

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Figure 59 shows the ND, I have included the setting panel for the ND so we can all
have the same view of what is in here. It shows the runway 27L, our departure, it also
shows the leading lines for that runway, we can clearly see the INTC 580 and the first
waypoint BUR, the MID beam shows the line we should take to WOBUN and as you
can see they are pretty much on top of each other. Feel free to play with the fixes, it’s
a very useful skill to have and comes in very handy. But for now we have to press on.
Now just a final thing to do here is set the NAV RADIO for the departure, so press
the NAV RAD button on the FMC and we’ll enter the information. To enter LON
into the top right there, simply type in the frequency for that DME beacon, the
frequency is on the chart at 113.6, and can be seen here, do the same for Midhurst, or
MID, at 114.00, this again is on the chart and put this on the left. You can actually
add the names too, try adding MID and LON instead of frequencies and you’ll see
after a few seconds the FMC sorts it all out for you. Whoever thought of these FMC
things huh! Genius!
The ADF frequency for BUR or Burnham is 421 and again is shown on the chart.
Once all that is entered the NAV RAD page should look like that shown in Figure 60.

Figure 60 - FMC NAV RAD page setup.

To see this information on the flight display simply change the switches for ADF and
VOR on the display panel and view the ND. Figure 61 shows the ND display and the
display settings with the radios tuned. You can see BUR on the left ADF and LON on
the right VOR. If you switch over between the VOR L and R, ADF L and R you can
see the BUR on the right ADF and MID on the left as well.

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Figure 61 - ND setup with the radios tuned.
Before we continue, I want to talk about what we’ve just been inputting, VOR, ADF
and DME, I imagine those of you without knowledge of these things are all looking
puzzled and want to know what they are. So here we go:
VOR – Very high frequency (VHF) Omni directional Range, these are ground
stations that broadcast the station name and the angle to the station, so pilots can
know which direction to fly in to get to the station. Many VOR navigational aids also
have DME systems too, and sometimes called VOR-DME or VORTAC depending on
who operates the DME.
ADF – Automatic Direction Finding, these use a series of non-directional beacons
(NDB) on the ground to drive displays which show the pilots the direction to the
DME – Distance Measuring Equipment is another navigational aid, it is a radio aid
that provides distance from information by measuring the total round trip time of the
signal from an aircraft.
Don’t worry too much about all that, it’s not necessary to know all that in this tutorial
but certainly good to take a look at when you’re bored!
Ok, now I’d like to look at the NAV RAD page a little more and show how it can be
useful when you want to fly a set heading from a VOR. Go back to NAV RAD page
and enter 250 into the CRS section just below MID like shown in Figure 62.

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Figure 62 - FMC NAV RAD with course set for MID.
Now what have here is a course tuned into the VOR for MID, this will set our
approach VOR display of the ND to show the approach to the radial 250 degrees from
MID. Take a look on the ND and set it as I have here in Figure 63.

Figure 63 - NAV VOR on the ND for MID course 250 degrees.

As you can see the VOR section of the ND shows the VOR vectoring approach
markers that would help us steer the course 250 using the Midhurst (MID) VOR. Try
changing the heading in CRS within the FMC NAV RAD page.
Ok, it’s now time we were pressing on, set the FMC to the THRUST LIMIT page,
we’ll use that when we take off to verify the thrust mode changes. For now
everything is set as we want it in there and it’s time to prepare the other aircraft
systems for departure.
Next we’ll set the trim setting, as we saw in the FMC take off pages (if you’re not
sure go and have a look in the FMC then reset it to the thrust limit page) the trim
setting was 6.0, so let’s set that.

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Figure 64 - TRIM setting.
Figure 64 shows the trim setting set to 6, to change the trim use the numeric keypad
and the numbers 7 and 6 with NUMLOCK OFF, set the trim to 6 and we’re done.
Next is the MCP, what to put in the MCP I hear you ask! Well it’s all fairly straight
forward really, we need to input our takeoff V2 speed which is 186 knots, I usually go
a little over this for good measure and put in V2 + 5 (making it 191 knots), the manual
for PMDG and tutorials suggest +10, it is personal preference really. We need to add
our initial climb altitude of 6000 to the MCP, and the heading of the runway, of 273
degrees. So let’s put that information into the MCP, and once finished it should look
like this.

Figure 65 - MCP settings for takeoff.

Ok, the MCP is almost ready, now to get the system primed for the take off and flight,
to do so we can switch the two Flight Directors (F/D) on for the Captain and First
Officer displays and then set the LNAV and VNAV systems by pushing those
buttons, they should light up, but we’ll leave the A/T till later on. After that the MCP
should look like this.

Figure 66 - Set MCP.

Ok, with the MCP setup it’s time to set all the other systems ready for the departure
and flight. Set up the displays with these settings for the flight.

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Figure 67 - Display settings.
Make sure you set both the Captain and First Officer displays up, and remember to
change the BARO to HPA and not IN. I usually press the TFC too for traffic data
from the TCAS system at this point, and add the Flight Path Vector (FPV) to the PFD
display which I find useful. The FPV shows the actual aircraft line of motion on the
PFD rather than just the pitch and roll positions of the nose, we’ll cover this in more
detail later on don’t worry. The PFD should now look like shown within Figure 68.

Figure 68 - PFD after the MCP is primed.

Next our altimeters need to be set (well actually they don’t they’re already set but
we’ll go through it anyway). By pressing just above the button STD with the pink
circle in Figure 69 (in fact on BARO) we can change the altimeter setting from IN to
HPA. We want to use HPA so make sure that is selected, you can tell what is set on
the PDF as the altimeter setup in the red circle should show HPA for the setting.
Rotate the dial till it reads 1013HPA which is the standard setting, and the setting for
the current weather conditions here at Heathrow. The blue circle is the dial for the
auxiliary altimeter, and this should be set to the right setting too. Once set the
instrument setup is complete. Remember to do this for the First Officer as well as the
Captain! Figure 69 shows the altimeters setup for the flight instruments.

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Figure 69 - Altimeters setup.
Around this point I usually activate the FPV, Flight Path Vector. This will come in
useful during the takeoff and you’ll
Just a few more lower EICAS checks before we can continue, the following figures
all show the lower EICAS displays for various systems within the aircraft, the first we
will check is the GEAR page. Figure 70 shows the gear page of the lower EICAS, the
numbers next to the tyres are the tyre pressures, the figures within the tyres are the
brake temperatures. The gear door readouts are also shown here showing either
closed or open.
If there is a problem the brake temperatures will illuminate in yellow, at this point if
we are on the ground, maintenance staff would have to examine them and cool them
down before we would be able to taxi. If it were to happen in the air, we would slow
and extend the undercarriage, cooling the brakes in the air flow before landing.

Figure 70 - Lower EICAS GEAR settings.

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Figure 71 shows the doors page of the lower EICAS, any open doors or cargo holds
would be shown in yellow on this display. Currently no doors are open we’re all set,
everyone must be onboard.

Figure 71 - Lower EICAS DRS settings.

Figure 72 shows the HYDraulics page of the lower EICAS. At the moment the
pumps are inoperative as we’ve not primed them, but the quantity of fluid depicted by
the QTY tag seems to be good for all the pumps, at 97% or more for all pumps. Pump
4 has an additional AUX setting, this allows the nose wheel to be moved by the
ground pushing equipment without damaging the aircrafts hydraulic system. Once set
to ON the pump 4 will then provide power to turn the nose wheel.

Figure 72 - Lower EICAS HYD settings.

With that all checked and verified we are now ready to run through our preparation
checklist and continue. Might be a good idea to put on those seat belt signs and set

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brakes to Rejected Takeoff or RTO now and lock the cockpit door for the flight.
These can be found on the COMMS panel and within Figure 73.

Figure 73 - RTO and seatbelts.

While our passengers are all getting seated we’ll run through a brief after we get our
clearance. The clearance is for the flight plan we filed, and we’ll be on an IFR flight
plan. The clearance ATC dialogue will go something like this:

You: “Heathrow delivery, Speedbird 283 is type Boeing 747 with

information Bravo request IFR clearance to Los Angeles as filed.”
Heathrow Delivery: “Speedbird 283 you are cleared IFR to Los
Angeles as filed on a WOBUN 2 Golf departure from 27 left, no higher
than 6000 feet squawk 5227.”
You: “Heathrow delivery, Speedbird 283 is cleared IFR to Los
Angeles as filed on a WOBUN 2 Golf departure on 27 left,, no higher
than 6000 feet and squawking 5227.”
Heathrow Delivery: “Speedbird 283 your readback is correct contact
ground on 119.34 when ready for pushback.”
You: “That’s 119.34 for the push, thank you Speedbird 283.”

Before we proceed here, I’d like to make an additional point. This is not entirely
accurate, in fact we would have to obtain two clearances for trans-Atlantic flying as I
mentioned earlier in the planning stage, our NAT clearance from Shannon. For this
we would call Shannon and get our clearance for a NAT at a flight level and cruise
speed, Shannon would then (hopefully) grant this clearance and notifying us of a time
window within which we must enter the track at our provided parameters. This will
then be used to predict our path and exit times for the track. For us we’ll go for a
simple clearance, and neither MSFS or Vatsim support this clearance system, but it’s
certainly useful to know when considering trans Atlantic operations.
We have a squawk code, so enter that into the radio stack, this will enable us to be
identified once we are in the air. Figure 74 shows the stack with the squawk code
entered, I have just made this code up, so it does not correspond to any set standard.

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Figure 74 - Squawk code and TCAS test.
Figure 74 shows the squawk code entered and the light blue circle depicts the TCAS
controls. Select TEST and wait for the system to complete its test, you will hear an
audio confirmation when it is completed. We’ll use the TCAS system later, but for
now we’ll just test it and then it will automatically resume on standby.
All we need now is the brief! The brief is important and can change from flight to
flight depending on a number of factors. I have used a brief from one I heard on a
DVD for the 747-400 as a template which I have adapted for our take off, this is as it
should be said on the flight deck. For the moment it might be a good idea to explain
the purpose of this brief and how it can change.
The purpose is simple, to ensure that the pilots know what to expect and what to do if
problems arise. It is to check too, if there are any problems or things that might have
been overlooked. As Captain it is your responsibility to carry out this brief, and your
departure brief for today will be as follows:

So.. there are no technical defects that will effect our flight today, it’ll be
a standard left seat takeoff, using flaps 20 on runway 27 left here at
Heathrow Airport. We’ll have one weather radar on for departure (the
simulation doesn’t actually simulate these), there’s no need for the anti-
ice and the wind right now is calm but we’ll reassess that when we get
out to the holding point. Taxiing from D10, we’ll probably expect a
standard routing via Tango then Sierra to hold at Sierra Bravo 1 for 27
For emergencies on the runway, if I decide to abort the takeoff I will call
stop. I will simultaneously close the thrust leavers, manually deploy the
speed brake and utilise the RTO function of the Autobrakes. I will also
select sufficient reverse thrust to bring the aircraft to a complete stop on
the runway. If it is an engine problem could you call inboards or
outboards and I will then apply appropriate reverse thrust on the
engines. If you see the Autobrakes message on the EICAS, if you could
inform me please then I will use manual braking and also would you tell
ATC that we’re stopping and call me 100 80 60 in the deceleration,
we’ll come to a stop on the runway and reassess the situation at that
time. However, if I decide to continue the take off, I will call go, with
gear selected up, aircraft under control, could you restate the failure for
me please. After 250 feet I’ll ask for an appropriate autopilot, above
400 feet, I’ll ask for the appropriate checklist, if you could carry that out
I will continue to monitor what I can from here, I will also fly the
horizontal profile of the SID.
Today’s SID is a standard WOBUN departure, WOBUN 2 Golf
departure, on 27 left, it’s straight ahead to intercept the 301 bearing

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towards Burnham NDB by London 3 DME. Burnham is on both the
ADFs and identified, we’ve also hard tuned London on the right and
Midhurst on the left, they are also identified on the ND. At London 3
DME, we then intercept the 301 to Burnham, then the routing after that
is the 360 bearing north, to the Wobun intersection. We’ve set a fix with
beam 360 out of Midhurst as well just for good measure. As for height,
we’ve checked the legs page within the FMC and we are showing
Burnham 3000 feet or above, London 10 DME 4000 feet or above and
London 6000. We’ll keep the speed at 240 knots until we’re clear of
LON10 to ensure a good climb to 4,000 feet, then fly at a higher initial
climb speed of 280 knots and this has been cleared by ATC.
For minimum safe altitudes we’ll use 3000 feet initially round London
then 5000 after that to keep us clear of anything in the Lake District.
Standard transition altitude is 6000 feet today and there is an initial
speed restriction of 250 knots below flight level 100, although ATC have
said we can expect faster later, are there any questions on the brief?

So that’s the brief! Now, let’s make sure that we’ve completed these checks early,
then wait until our scheduled off the blocks time (preparation for pushback removing
the blocks on the wheels) to ensure that we’ll get to the NAT entry point within the
allotted time Shannon centre has specified.
Well since we’ve got a bit of time, might be worth our while giving a quick public
announcement to our passengers, and as Captain that’s your job!

Ladies and gentlemen I’d like to welcome you onboard this British
Airways flight from London Heathrow to Los Angeles International
Airport. I’m your Captain for this flight and, I have two first officers
flying with me today. We’re all ready up here now and are awaiting
our time slot for departure, currently there are no delays and the
weather for our flight looks very good so we should get some nice
views of Greenland, Canada and the United States, in particular the
Rocky Mountain range. The weather at Los Angeles at the moment is
warm and sunny, and it looks to be staying that way for our arrival.
I hope you enjoy the flight, if we can do anything to make your flight
more enjoyable please don’t hesitate to ask our staff on board the
plane. Thank you, and thank you for flying with us today.

OK, we’re now ready for our Before Start Checklist!

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Checklist Time!

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Hopefully that should all pass without too much difficulty, we’re now ready to get
ourselves ready for the start. We have our clearance, all the initial checks are
complete and its time to get moving, the cabin has just confirmed that we’re secure
and everyone has their belts on. Let’s get the aircraft ready for the push and start, so
let’s call for it on ATC. Before we do, we’ll have a word with ground, see if we can
pressurise our hydraulic system without hurting anyone. Once we do this all the
control surfaces (rudder, ailerons, tail) on the plane will be come active and move into
their correct positions, it’s important to get clearance before you do this so not to hurt
anyone or damage anything, so let’s ask.

You: “Good morning ground.”

Ground: “Go ahead.”
You: “Ok we’ve waiting to push, I can see from here that all the doors
are closed but could you confirm that all doors are closed and secure,
cargo doors checked latch closed and that all gear pins are removed
and only the steering bypass pin remains and are we clear to
pressurise the hydraulics?”
Ground: “I can confirm all doors are closed and secure, and all pins
removed only bypass pin remains, and you’re clear to pressurise.”
You: “Cleared to pressurise, thank you very much.”

The pre-start actions you’ll be pleased to hear are not nearly as complicated as those
and almost all involves the upper panel, the first step is the hydraulics.

Figure 75 - Demand pump settings.

Figure 75 shows the hydraulic demand pumps, we need to set all these to AUTO bar
the final pump 4, this must be set to AUX. Remember the reason for this? It is that
the final pump provides power to the nose wheel, and in order to prevent damage to
this system is set to AUX to allow the wheel to move freely while ground push us
back. So set these pumps as shown and check on the lower EICAS with the HYD

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Figure 76 - Lower EICAS page for the pumps.
The lower EICAS shows that all pumps are running and the pressures are normal at
roughly 3000 each with pump 4 running the AUX system. Next is the fuel system, air
conditioning and the lighting systems. While we are looking at the hydraulics here,
you may notice the extra pumps in yellow, they are there to provide extra hydraulic
power when it’s required, typically when retracting or extending the undercarriage or
flaps, try watching the display when the flaps or gear is moving you’ll see them
become active (PMDG really did simulate a lot here).

Figure 77 - Fuel, lights and AC settings.

Figure 77 shows the next stage, priming all the fuel pumps shown in blue here apart
from the STAB L and R pumps. The light blue is the air conditioning system and that
is turned off to maximise the bleed air for the start. The pink shows the beacon light
which must be set to ON before moving the aircraft.
Set the panels as shown and verify that these settings using the lower EICAS.

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Figure 78 - Lower EICAS fuel for start.
Figure 78 shows the fuel pumps running for the fuel tanks, the blue shows that the
pump is set to run but based on the FMC fuel management system it is not required
and so sits in standby for the moment. Green shows the pumps are running.

Figure 79 - Lower EICAS ACS for start.

Figure 79 shows that all the packs are off and we are now ready to set our transponder
to XPDR (a strange abbreviation for transmitter transponder). Figure 80 shows the
transponder set to XPDR.

Figure 80 - Transponder set to XPDR.

Ok well that was quite quick wasn’t it! We’ve done all the hard work now, we’ve
checked the doors already, and set the passenger signs up so no need to repeat our
workload here. We’re now ready for the push and start, but first, let’s get our
clearance for it, this should go something like this.

You: “Heathrow Ground, Speedbird 283 type 747 at Gate Delta 10

ready for push and start.”

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Heathrow Ground: “Speedbird 283 you’re cleared push and start
now, QNH 1013 face towards the North East on Tango.”
You: “Cleared push and start now, QNH 1013, facing North East on
Tango Speedbird 283.”

You’re probably wondering what they’ve just told us, but essentially they want us to
face the Sierra taxiway, the right way, so we don’t need to mess about on our taxi to
27L, makes sense doesn’t it? They’ve also given us our QNH again, that’s our
altimeter setting which we must read back to them, however we’ve already checked
this and might be worth a quick glance so I’ll let you do that and then we’re ready for
the next phase.
Oh, one more thing, the now isn’t them being rude, it’s just that Heathrow is a busy
airfield and clearances don’t last forever, once you’ve given it, they really expect you
to be getting on with it pretty quick, but since this is a simulation and tutorial we can
relax a bit!
Push cancel then recall on the MCP to check for anything we might have missed, it
should look like it does within Figure 81.

Figure 81 - Upper EICAS recall checking.

We’re ready for the next stage now, leave everything as it is and we’ll carry on, it all
gets busy from this point on though!

4.4 Push and Start

This next stage is going to kick off with a checklist for our push and start, but we’re
now ready to get rolling and get this aircraft warmed up, so let’s get started.

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Checklist Time!

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Ok it’s the bit you’ve all been waiting for, time to get off the chocks and up into the
big blue. Let’s run through what we’re going to do here, first, we’re going to get our
ground crew sorted out (with their panel PMDG gave us).
The PMDG provides a small simulation of a pushback which is very useful, and we’ll
use this on this flight. I’m off the blocks at 11:57 that’s 10:57z. Z is for Zulu time
which is a standard time that all aircraft operate to all over the world, currently it’s 1
hour behind GMT our local time here at Heathrow.

Figure 82 - Off the blocks at 10:57z.

Figure 83 - Pushback panel.

Figure 83 shows the pushback panel for the ground crew, in order to activate it, right
click on RST, then enter the appropriate numbers, these will be ours, don’t do this
now, but when you’re ready right click on the RST button again, but first let’s talk
about our start procedure before we carry on.
We’ll start engine 4 first, then 3 and then 1 and 2 at the same time. The procedure
goes like this, we’ll start the push, then switch 4 engine fuel CUTOFF switch to RUN,
and then pull the appropriate starter at the top. Once pulled the starter switch will
light up and we will watch the start on the upper EICAS and lower EICAS to check
for hot starts or engine failures. So for now set the lower EICAS to ENG and we’ll
discuss the start further.

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Figure 84 - Upper EICAS and lower EICAS engine start procedure.
Figure 84 shows the upper EICAS and lower EICAS panels, upper EICAS on the
right. What will happen on the start? Well first you’ll notice the DUCT PRESS on
the upper ICAS will increase to 40 or 41, this is because the APU is now proving
bleed air to the engines for the start, the N3 will then start to increase, then N2 and the
OIL P (pressure) and OIL T (temperature) will start to increase. At about 20% N3,
the fuel flow will start to the engine, this is shown as FF on the lower EICAS. If there
seems to be a problem stop the start of the engine by setting fuel to CUTOFF again.
Once 4 is started, start 3, and then 2 and 1 at the same time, the aircraft APU is
capable of starting two engines at once. Although it is personal preference some
choose to start them all one at a time, some in pairs.
Just before we do carry on here, it is important to say that we would have to obtain
clearance from the ground crew before we can start the engines, they will let us know
which engines we can start and at what point within the push.

You: “Flight deck, ground.”

Ground: “Go ahead.”
You: “Ok, we’ve been cleared for the push and start, if you could put
us facing north on Tango and let us know when we can start the
engines please.”
Ground: “Ok, standby…..”

To start select the CUTOFF to run as shown within Figure 85 and once this is done
start the starter by pulling the starter shown in Figure 86. This is showing a number 4
start, the first start we’ll do.

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Figure 85 - CUTOFF set to RUN on the thrust levers.

Figure 86 - Start switch to go and lit.

Start this procedure AFTER you have begun the pushback and not before. So left
click on the pushback button and follow grounds instructions and we’ll get the start
underway! They’ll ask you to release the park brake, and then you’ll get clearance to
start engines.

Ground: “Cleared to start 4.”

You: “Starting number 4.”
Imagine the rest of the procedure as follows.

Ground: “Cleared to start 3.”

You: “Starting number 3.”
Ground: “Turning 4…….. turning 3…”
Ground: “Cleared to start 1 and 2..”
You: “Starting 1 and 2…”
Ground: “Turning 1…… Turning 2….”

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Once the push is complete you’d hear something like this conversation between you
and the ground crew.

Ground: “Ok we’re done down here, could you set the parking brake

At which point you set the park brake and confirm it is set on the EICAS.

You: “Ok that’s the park brake set, we’ve got 4 good starts up here,
thank you very much, can you disconnect now and could you show us
the steering pin on the left please.. and we’ll see you next time..”
Ground: “Ok.. we’ll disconnect.. and show you the steering pin on the
left.. have a good flight..”

Ground crew will most likely know your sequence and often let you know when your
engine outer fan starts to turn. Once they’ve disconnected you’ll see the ground crew
wave the steering pin at you so you can see it is removed.
With that complete and the start concluded, following the ground instructions we
should be parked nicely with our park brake on. You’ll notice there is a warning on
the upper EICAS.

Figure 87 - After start warning on upper EICAS.

It’s telling us that the pressure isn’t right on pump number 4, this is because it’s still
set to AUX, as part of the after start items we’ll set this in a moment but it’s perfectly
First item after start is the APU, this needs to be turned to OFF. Figure 88 shows the
APU power set to off, once it is powered down the APU GEN 1 and 2 will extinguish.
You may have noticed during the start that the APU GEN 1 and 2 stopped providing
power, once the engines began to run they provided electrical power to the aircraft

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and their generators automatically take over. If you so wish have a look at the lower
EICAS ELEC page and have a look at the power distribution system within the plane

Figure 88 - APU set to off after start.

Then next stage is to reset the air conditioning systems for the flight. Reset PACK 2
to NORM and verify with the lower EICAS it is running. Figure 89 shows the panel
as it should look after the “after start items” are completed.

Figure 89 - Air conditioning back to on.

I usually check the anti-ice at this point, on our upper lower EICAS display we can
see the outside air temperature is 15 degrees Celsius, and as a result the anti-ice is not
required for this take off, so we’ll leave it off for now.
Next, since we are about to taxi, turn on our taxi lighting, Figure 90 shows the taxi
lights turned on.

Figure 90 - Taxi lights on.

The final stage setting of the after start items are the flaps, set these to flap 10 using
the lever and ensure they are down and green as shown on the upper EICAS display.
Figure 92 shows the flaps set to 20 degrees and green, indicating they are locked. It is
a good idea to do a RECALL on the upper EICAS panel before proceeding. Figure
91 shows the RECALL button and CANCEL button for the upper EICAS. Hit
CANCEL to clear the warnings and then RECALL to bring back any warnings that

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are still valid, check that the display on the upper EICAS looks as it does in Figure 91
with no amber or red warnings, just white advisories and no APU RUNNING. If
there are additional items find the appropriate checklist and conduct the procedure.
You may find that the APU RUNNING message is still displayed despite you turning
it off, this is normal as it takes the APU a while to run down. You can watch the
rundown of the APU on the STAT page of the lower EICAS, just be patient and the
advisory will eventually go out.

Figure 91 - RCL and CANC buttons for the upper EICAS.

Figure 92 - Flaps 10 and RECALL.

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We are now ready for our taxi and taxi clearance, I told you things would get a lot
quicker now! A few more things before we proceed, there is a pin within the nose
steering wheel at the front of the aircraft. This should be removed by the ground crew
and visually displayed to the Captain or First Officer before we move.

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Checklist Time!

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4.5 Taxiing to 27L for Takeoff
The next stage is to get the aircraft moving and to our runway for takeoff, so let’s get
Unfortunately the next stage would normally be done within the taxi but I’ve not
changed my settings on the controls so I have to do this before I taxi, and that is check
the flight controls. Set the lower EICAS to the STAT page and using your joystick
check the flight controls, left to right on the ailerons and up and down on the
elevators, finally the rudder left to right.
Figure 93 shows me testing my flight controls on my aircraft before I begin the taxi to
the runway holding point, I am testing a right turn on my ailerons. Conduct your tests
and prepare for your taxi.

Figure 93 - Lower EICAS STAT control checks.

Once you’ve completed your checks you’re ready to taxi, so let’s get our taxi

You: “Speedbird 283 at gate D10 requesting taxi to the active.”

Heathrow Ground: “Speedbird 283 taxi via Tango Sierra hold at
Sierra Bravo 1 for 27 left.”
You: “Taxi via Tango Sierra hold at Sierra Bravo 1 for 27 left.”

Now let’s be sure we know where we are going! Getting lost on Heathrow taxiways
is not only bad news for you, but a disaster for ground control who will spend most of
the day cursing you if you go the wrong way!

You: “Clear on the left.. can you check the right please..?”
Your First Officer: “Clear on the right..”

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As you look ahead you are on the Tango taxiway, this then meets the Sierra taxiway
which runs left to right of your current position. 27L is right, on this taxiway, so we
will taxi to Sierra and then turn right. You follow this taxiway then to the hold at
Sierra Bravo 1, or SB1. If you have the Heathrow taxi charts this information is on
there in detail. It should be obvious in theory where you are going from where we are
right now but just in case, I will show you this.

Figure 94 - Taxiway map.

Tips for taxiing this big aircraft. Don’t rush is the number 1 rule, you’ve got plenty of
time, so take your time, 20 knots is a pretty quick taxi speed and I’d usually roll up to
the Tango Sierra meet around 10 – 15 knots and depending on other traffic potter to
the runway at about 15 knots reducing to below 10 knots for the turns. Always slow
down for the turns and try to keep the aircraft moving at all times, you use a lot of fuel
getting over the initial inertia of the aircraft.
To get her rolling you don’t need a lot of power, these engines pack quite a punch.
Push them up around 38% N1 and let the aircraft slowly get up to taxi speed, then
gentle changes in the thrust settings. Sometimes I use differential thrust to turn on
tight turns, but for this routing it’s really not necessary at all. Try not to drop the
engine power too much and use the brakes sparingly as you go. As we get close to
the holding point switch the A/T to ARM ready for the takeoff and TOGA modes.

Figure 95 - A/T set to ARM.

Now we’re ready for the next stage as we are getting nearer to the holding point
somewhere along Sierra, maybe passing that second terminal building. As you
approach you may be told to go to Squawk mode Charlie, this means put on your
transponder. Let’s imagine at this point we’ve been asked to.

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Ground: “Speedbird 283 squawk mode Charlie.”
You: “Squawk mode Charlie Speedbird 283.”

In order to do that set the transponder panel to TA/RA.

Figure 96 - TCAS and transponder set to ON.

Figure 96 shows the transponder and TCAS system now active. Now we’ve finished
this phase it’s time to progress!

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Checklist Time!

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If there is a delay, might be as well to let the passengers know right?

Ladies and gentleman, we’re just waiting for the aircraft in front of us
in the queue to take their turn taking off, we’re currently 3rd in line for
our take off, and it shouldn’t be more than 5 minutes or so before
we’re lining up. You’ll be pleased to hear we left the blocks just 2
minutes late, and as a result we’re going to be making good time on
our trip. Thank you.

As we get closer and closer and are approaching the hold (10 metres or so) it is good
practice to “ding” the cabin crew by turning the cabin signs on and off twice. Now
would be an excellent time to do this. Figure 97 shows the cabin signs control panel
and just switch the seatbelt signs on and off quickly twice as an indication to the crew
that take off is imminent.

Figure 97 – Seatbelt and smoking signs.

As we get closer to the runway we’ll probably be given clearance to take off, usually
comprises of the following:

You: “Speedbird 283 at Sierra Bravo 1 hold for 27 left ready for

You might either be told to hold in which case you acknowledge that hold, or you’re
given clearance.

Tower: “Speedbird 283 cleared for takeoff 27 left wind 2 at 220.”

You: “Speedbird 283 cleared for takeoff 27 left.”

Before take off an item to set is the INGNITION CON button on the starter panel
shown in Figure 98. This operates the igniters within the engines and prevents
flameouts during takeoff or turbulence, we’ll use this on our takeoff. Normally these
get used during precipitation, turbulence and takeoffs to ensure a good running of the

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Figure 98 - IGNITION CON set.
Once IGNITION CON is set to on, on the upper EICAS this should be reflect this,
and looking at Figure 99 you can see it does.

Figure 99 - Upper EICAS showing the CON IGNITION ON.

The strobes won’t be on yet, switch on the lights as you cross the holding point. Then
concentrate on lining up, the lights are shown here in Figure 100.

Figure 100 - Strobes and takeoff lights.

It might be a good idea to hit TFC on the display for TRAFFIC from the TCAS, so it
will be displayed on our ND. TCAS is extremely useful when flying within civil
airspace, and although we have configured this simulation with no traffic, let’s get
into the habit of turning on the traffic alert system.
Figure 101 shows the TFC button on the ND display panel to activate the TCAS
display on the ND.

Figure 101 - TCAS TFC button on the ND display panel.

You’ll notice once this is complete, if you look at the ND, you’ll see a small TFC in
blue on the right hand side near the bottom.

4.6 Takeoff and Climb

Ok well it’s time to line up now and get our takeoff underway! Really not very much
to do between these checklists now is there, here comes another!

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Checklist Time!

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Well this is the bit we’ve all been waiting for and now it’s time to get up there in the
big blue!

Figure 102 - Speedbird 283 ready to go 27L EGLL.

And there she is lined up and ready to go, what’s the procedure? Well I find that
PMDG did an excellent lesson on takeoff technique. But I will run you through it
We’ll ramp up the engines to around 70% N1, we’ll then watch the engines stabilise
at that and the aircraft will begin to move, at which point we’ll check we are lined up.
Once stable, we’ll engage the TOGA system and the aircraft will automatically set the
takeoff thrust that we gave it within our FMC programming, we’ll then monitor the
takeoff. The first officer will call 80 knots, then V1, before V1 we abide by our brief.
If we decide to abort we call STOP and then 100, 80, and 60 knots respectively. If
it’s engines inboard or outboard and the appropriate reverse thrust with RTO braking.
If you want to refresh yourself with the brief it’s all in there.
Once at VR, rotate speed, we will lift the nose by pulling back, do this gently, she will
probably take some lifting at this weight. Lift gently till you’ve got about 10 degrees
up and hold it, let her leave the tarmac very gracefully and at a reasonably low pitch,
this allows more acceleration and those extra 5 knots will help. Once 40 or 50 feet
clear, using, increase the pitch till the acceleration has stopped. The thrust is a THR
REF setting and will ignore the speed of the aircraft so try manage it yourself.
This will all happen very quickly. Once above 100 feet passing maybe 150 and
you’re safely established in a climb, call “positive rate gear up”, then retract the gear,
you’ll notice you get a bit more speed as the drag of the gear is taken away as it
retracts. Now it’s time to watch for flap scheduling. On the PFD you will notice 5, 1
and UP on the left in green on the speed ribbon. These are your flap retraction
speeds, follow these.
As you retract to flaps 5 you’ll notice CLB1 on the lower EICAS display, indicating
the CLB-1 take off climb thrust we set in the FMC. It’s all going swimmingly isn’t it!
At about 500 feet or 600, or if you’re feeling brave, whenever you want, engage the
autopilot and let the aircraft fly the SID, after transitions, flaps are up and some other
items are complete, you will carry out your after take off checklists.
We’ll go through this in more detail so it might be a good idea to pause the simulation
and come with me on my take off and SID procedure so I can walk you through
what’s happening.

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Well the first stage as I said before is to bring the engines up to about 70% N1 and in
Figure 103 we can see the engines being brought up to that level. It’s good to bring
the engines up to that level and let them stabilise, in doing so you can ensure that
you’re correctly lined up, perhaps a little steering left or right and then we’re ready to
continue the roll. Once the engines have reached the level are stable and the roll is
straight, it is time to apply takeoff power when we hit TO/GA.

Figure 103 - Takeoff upper EICAS before TOGA.

The displays should look something like Figure 106 with TO/GA engaged. The TO1
thrust rating is shown on the upper EICAS in the green circle, the blue circle shows
the aircraft on the runway on the ND. Once the thrust reaches the set take off thrust
of 1.64 EPR the first officer will call “power set”.
The PFD on the left shows acceleration and THR REF for throttle mode and TO/GA
modes for roll and pitch, note FD is engaged (shown as green on the PFD) meaning
that we are in control of the plane.
The FD produces the two magenta lines on the PFD, these lines show the pitch
(horizontal line) and roll (vertical line) of the profile of flight the FD has determined
is required in order to achieve the altitude and directional targets set on the MCP or by
the autopilot. Currently we are in TO/GA mode for the roll and TO/GA for the pitch,
at takeoff the TO/GA mode maintains the runway heading, hence the vertical magenta
line (roll portion of the FD) is in the middle and indicating no left or right
requirements. The pitch mode for the TO/GA is to pitch to maintain the altitude set
(although it’s never active long enough to do so), which explains why the pitch line
(horizontal magenta line of the FD) shows a required pitch of 8 degrees. The SID can
be seen on the ND and within the PFD we can see LNAV and VNAV are armed
modes (armed modes appear in white under the active modes) for the autopilot. Also
in the green circle we can see the 1.63 EPR setting we had primed in the FMC for the
takeoff, all engines are now showing that thrust level.
You’ll also notice on the PFD a small square in which in the centre, this is our current
orientation in terms of pitch and roll. In order to fly the FD profile we manoeuvre the
aircraft so its orientation sits where the FD magenta lines for pitch and roll cross.

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Another very useful take off aid is the FPV, or Flight Path Vector indicator, we can
switch this on using the FPV button the Captains panel controls.

Figure 104 – FPV button on the ND display panel.

Figure 105 - FPV on the PFD.

The FPV is the small white symbol in the centre of the PFD showing the direction of
motion. This is not the orientation of the aircraft but its overall direction. Let me
explain what I mean, if you’re driving your car for example and you are driving on
ice, you may turn the steering wheel right and the car might change its orientation so
it faces right, however due to the lack of traction and the momentum of the car it
continues to go forward. If our PFD here were fitted to that car, the white square
would show the cars orientation facing the right, but the FPV would show the
direction of travel which would still be straight on. The FPV of course not only does
this for the roll put also for pitch, you’ll see the FPV in action in a moment and it will
all become clear I promise you.

Figure 106 - Take off instruments after TO/GA.

What do we expect to happen here? Well we expect that during the takeoff TO/GA
will be the active mode for the takeoff. As we start to climb LNAV will take over as
the new roll mode after a set altitude, around 250 feet. This roll mode follows the
horizontal profile of the flight plan, in this case our SID, and will give demands left
and right on the FD magenta vertical line for roll left or right accordingly.
Figure 107 shows the acceleration continuing beyond V1, there have been no
malfunctions and so far the takeoff is going very well, as we pass V1 the first officer
will call V1. Notice the HOLD on the thrust mode, this is because the thrust mode

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has now obtained the level of thrust required, the correct EPR, and will now HOLD or
maintain it during the takeoff. It is NOT holding a target speed!

Figure 107 - PFD for V1 and VR.

Figure 108 shows us passing V1 we are shortly followed by VR, this is the point at
which the nose is lifted, you can see this as the white square is set at just over 5
degrees indicating the orientation of the aircraft. The acceleration at this point will
decrease as the aircraft rotates to begin its climb but the aircraft should continue to
accelerate into the initial climb with no trouble. On the right however there is no
positive rate of climb yet and like discussed earlier the FPV has indicated no lift, the
direction of travel it indicates is still horizontal on the runway, you see how the FPV
works now?

Figure 108 - VR rotating the nose.

Figure 109 clearly shows the aircraft rotating before it is airborne, the importance of
lifting the nose slowly is to avoid the tail hitting the tarmac, a tail strike. In this case
the nose was lifted very gently up to 8 degrees and held there for a sensible gentle
climb until the tail is clear of the runway.

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Figure 109 - Tail strikes.
Figure 110 shows the PFD at this point, the aircraft is now clearly climbing, we have
a positive rate of climb or 1800 feet per minute (shown on the right of the PFD) and
now we are travelling through 180 feet (according to the radio altimeter showing 68
feet on the top right, radio altimeter is a beacon under the plane that bounces a signal
off the ground, it operates to 2,500 feet), we are over 250 feet on our normal altimeter
and as a result LNAV has become the active roll mode, when a mode changes it is
boxed in this fashion to alert the pilot.
The speed you’ll note is higher than the target, this is because the aircraft is still
accelerating and set to a thrust hold not a speed target. We now need to adjust the
climb rate to maintain this speed in the initial climb in order to put all the potential
energy from the engines into the climb.

Figure 110 - PFD climb positive rate.

With a positive rate of climb now clearly achieved we need to bring the gear up.
Moving the gear level to UP puts the gear in transit as shown in Figure 111. The
cross hatched box shows us the gear is now moving.

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Figure 111 - Gear up in transit.
We now wait for the gear to be stowed, you’ll notice a difference, as the gear does
provide a lot of drag in the climb and the energy being used to overcome this drag can
now be used in the climb.
Figure 112 shows the gear up and stowed in the body of the aircraft. We can now
select the gear lever to the OFF position, turning off the hydraulics within the gear as
it is locked within the aircraft body as they are no longer required and provide an
unnecessary drain on the aircraft systems. The UP box with GEAR written below
shows its status, this will go blank after a few seconds have elapsed as the information
becomes redundant.

Figure 112 - Gear up and off on the upper EICAS.

We are now climbing well, and I’m going to let the autopilot take control now, to
engage I’ll simply press the L CMD on A/P ENGAGE for the left autopilot to
command this is shown in Figure 113.
There are 3 autopilots on this aircraft, Left, Centre and Right, they all are identical
and are there for redundancy and cross checking during auto landings which we’ll
cover later. It is customary for the captain of a flight to use the left autopilot and the
first officer to use the right. However any autopilot will do here, they are all the same
and perform the exact same function.

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Figure 113 - Engaged autopilot.
As the autopilot is engaged a series of events will happen, the PFD will display CMD
in green for COMMAND indicating the autopilot is in command, and the modes of
the autopilot will be displayed for roll and pitch, in my case LNAV and VNAV SP
(VNAV SPEED) are the respective modes. You’ll remember the pitch mode was
TO/GA but now we’re at a sufficient altitude and the flight management systems will
automatically deem TO/GA redundant and switch to a more appropriate mode.
So what is VNAV SP? Well it’s a pitch mode that maintains a speed rather than an
ascent or descent rate. VNAV SP will ensure the aircraft maintains the selected speed
by adjusting the pitch accordingly, if you’re going to slow the pitch will reduce and
the climb rate will drop and we will accelerate to the set target speed, if we are going
to fast, our pitch will increase and we will decelerate to the set target speed.
VNAV SP however, if climbing will never allow a descent, you will need to manually
configure for a descent in order to bring speed back to where it should be, VNAV SP
will only reduce (if the target is a climb) or increase (if the target is a descent) the
climb rate to 0 feet per minute, that is important to know.
So, the aircraft is still trying to maintain the target speed during the climb. The ND
shows that we are on the SID, flying our route to BUR. I have circled the marker for
the heading here in green as this should agree with aircraft heading, I will need to
change that in a moment to 311 degrees. Why do we need to do this? Well it’s good
practice, and enables headings to be selected much more quickly if intervention is
required, so make sure you update your heading selector with the appropriate heading
of travel as the flight continues.

Figure 114 - Autopilot engaged and flying the SID.

Figure 115 shows the autopilot engaged and close to flap 10 speed. Remember that
we set the system up so that it will not begin to accelerate to flap retraction speed
before 2,000 feet? As you can see here, the aircraft is maintaining the take off speed
for the moment, as we pass 2,000 feet it will start to lower the nose and increase speed
to 240 knots as we programmed.

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At the moment the climb is quite steep, but when we begin to accelerate to 240 knots
the climb rate will reduce. A set target of 3,000A for BUR is active and this should
be ok, I think we’ll pass BUR at just over 3,000 feet, as we already passing 1,720 feet
and have 5.4 nautical miles to go. The dotted white line on the ND is the orientation
of the runway 27 left at Heathrow, our departure runway, we need to change this on
the MCP to indicate the new heading of 302 degrees (or whatever was set in the
FMC). Continue to monitor the climb and retract the flaps as the aircraft accelerates
past the retraction speed, these can be seen on the speed tape.

Figure 115 - PFD shows aircraft accelerating to flaps 10 speed.

Notice our speed target has increased to 225 knots, this is the VNAV system
managing the climb for us. VNAV will automatically change the target speeds
keeping them within the parameters set within the FMC. As the flaps are retracted
VNAV will update the speed target to something more appropriate and depending on
our limits. Since we’ve passed the 2,000 feet limit on flap retraction speed that we
programmed into the FMC, the aircraft has started to reduce it’s climb rate in order to
get to a faster speed. This speed is the flaps 10 retraction speed, we will retract flaps
to 10 as we pass the marker on the speed ribbon.
Figure 116 shows the flaps being retracted to flaps 10, at this point I am passing 2,450
feet, and the aircraft ascent rate has dramatically reduced. If we continued climbing at
the present rate we would not make the 3,000 feet target for BUR. However if you
remember we limited the speed the aircraft could accelerate to, this limit is 240 knots
before LON10. Since this is the case the aircraft will reach 240 knots and then start to
climb again before the speed restraint is removed after passing LON10, this should
allow a faster ascent and allow us to reach our altitude target for the SID.

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Figure 116 - Upper EICAS display flaps in transit to flaps 10.
When the flaps are shown in this way, with a magenta mark, this means the flaps are
in transit. Once they are in position and locked they will change from magenta to
green. Once fully retracted, like the landing gear, the flap display will show flaps
retracted for a few seconds and then blank.

Figure 117 - Flaps at 10 and set.

Figure 117 illustrates the flaps in flap 10 position and set with the green marker
displayed. Once we pass the flaps 5 speed we will continue the retraction and VNAV
will then further update the speed. If we had no restrictions VNAV would select an
appropriate speed for flaps 1, but since we have a speed restriction of 240 knots I
imagine VNAV will shortly set the speed to 240 knots and keep it there until we pass
LON10, where it will increase to 280 knots.

Figure 118 - PFD and Upper EICAS showing flaps 5 retraction.

What we can see here is that the speed as we thought is now set to 240 knots, it looks
like 240 knots is just below flaps 1 speed, so unfortunately we’ll be flying a flaps 1

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configuration for a little longer than we’d perhaps like. You may have noticed that
the red marks and yellow line on the speed ribbon changes once you select a different
flap setting. Firstly what do these show? They are showing the stall and buffet zones
at the lower end of the ribbon (yellow is buffet, and red is stall speed), at the higher
end of the ribbon, the red shows the speeds at which the flaps could be damaged by
the high speed air flow over the wings.
Why do these change as we retract flaps? This is because the flaps generate lift and as
they are retracted, the aircraft needs to be flying at a faster speed in order to generate
the same lift as a result the stall speed is higher. Different flap settings can withstand
different airspeeds, flaps 30 is the least resilient and flaps 1 the most resilient.

Figure 119 - Thrust restriction changes to CLB.

As we retract flaps to 5, the mode of the thrust will change to the rated thrust setting
CLB, as we programmed in the FMC. If we’d selected a de-rated climb thrust of
CLB1 this would have been CLB1. This is indicated on the upper EICAS, and only
comes into effect once the aircraft passes the trigger (which as you remember was
flaps 5). We are closing now onto BUR, and approaching 3,000 feet so we are on
target. The system has selected 240 knots and we are nearly at that speed so we are
doing well.

Figure 120 – Passing BUR at over 3,000 feet flaps reduced to flaps 1.
Figure 120 shows the turn at Burnham (BUR), we’ve passed at 3,200 feet and now the
speed is limited to 240 knots so most of the climb thrust is now increasing our ascent
rate. You’ll notice I retracted flaps to flaps 1, as the speed 240 knots was slightly
higher than the flaps 1 retraction speed indicated by the FMC. We’ll now continue
the climb to LON10 up to 4,000 feet, at LON10, we’ll then begin our acceleration to
280 knots, as our 240 knot reduction for this waypoint no longer applies, once we do
this we’ll pass flaps up and we’ll have a clean configuration.

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Figure 121 - Passing LON10 the speed restriction is gone.
Figure 121 shows the speed restriction of 240 knots is now no longer in effect and the
aircraft target is now 275 knots. We passed LON10 at 4,800 feet and are well on
course, LON16 is 8NM away, and WOBUN further still, so we will easily reach the
6,000 feet set altitude on time.

Figure 122 - Flaps set to up new target of 280 knots, reduced climb rate.
As we pass the flaps up reference speed, I retract the flaps to UP and the aircraft
ascent rate reduces to accelerate once more. As we approach and pass 5,100 feet,
you’ll notice a beep, this is a warning for the flight crew to indicate that we are
approaching the set altitude on the MCP. Also on the PFD, you’ll notice a white box
lights up the current altitude. At this point the first officer or captain would call
“1,000 feet to go”.
Although VNAV computes the climb to FL320, if the restriction in the MCP is for
6,000 feet the aircraft will level and VNAV ALT be displayed as the altitude mode,
indicating it is holding at a designated altitude, and not continuing with the climb as
determined in the flight profile.
Before we continue we still have continuous ignition on for our engines, this is no
longer required and we’re going to turn this off, so once again on the overhead panel
switch continuous ignitions off and verify this with the upper EICAS display.

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Figure 123 - Continuous ignition off.

Figure 124 - Upper EICAS with no continuous ignition.

Figure 123 shows the switch off and Figure 124 shows the upper EICAS with the
IGNITION CONT no longer displayed.

ATC: “Speedbird 283, climb and maintain FL180.”

You: “Climb and maintain FL180, Speedbird 283.”

Ok, we’ve been clearance to climb to FL180, we set the MCP to FL180 and then push
the button below twice, once to select the new level and the second to instruct VNAV
to ignore the restrictions of height within the Legs page of the FMC and continue the
climb to our requirements. This can come in handy as often ATC will clear you
above set altitudes for future waypoints within a SID before you reach those
In reality we probably wouldn’t be cleared to this level right away, probably a much
more steady climb, perhaps FL120 or maybe even lower, a much more controlled
climb by ATC. Since we’re the only aircraft flying now, and we know how to control
the MCP to manage the altitude levels for the autopilot there is no need to go into this
and increase the workload too much, however we will be controlling this climb in
some fashion to illustrate the point.

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Figure 125 - MCP new altitude target.
Before we pass 6,000 feet however we must prepare to set our altimeters to the
standard mode, luckily for us it happens to be the same! As we pass the 6,000 feet we
must press STD on our altimeter panel and call out our altitudes to verify the first
officers and captains altimeters are in fact reading the same height, this is called cross
checking. So we’ll do that now, it goes something like this.

First Officer: “Transition height”

You: “Altimeters set to standard on 1013 milibars (or QNH) reading
6,125 feet.”
First Officer: “Altimeters set to standard on 1013 milibars (or QNH)
reading 6,125 feet, set and cross checked.”

Now we’re stable in a climb we can re-instate the PACKs on the aircraft for the air
conditioning, so let’s do that now and get on with managing and monitoring this
climb. Figure 126 shows all the PACK switches are now on, and the upper EICAS in
Figure 127 backs this up.

Figure 126 - PACK set all to on.

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Figure 127 - Upper EICAS with all PACKs on.
We now can check the lower EICAS on the ECS page to check all is well with the air
conditioning system. Figure 128 shows the lower EICAS with all three PACKs
running with controller B active on each.

Figure 128 - Lower EICAS showing the ECS page with all PACKS on.
Also we can see that the anti-ice is still inactive as we wanted, and that the DUCT
pressure is 34 which is normal. Quick look at the temperatures and the OUTFLOW
VALVES, although we don’t have to, we can see everything is going very well
I think now, since we are established in a nice and gentle climb, and we’ve passed
transition altitude it’s now time for the after take off checklist.

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Checklist Time!

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With our after take off checklist complete, and just a slow potter to our altitude of
FL320 to go, and we’re nice and stable and it’s not bumpy, I think we can let our
passengers move around the plane a little. So I’m going to turn off the seatbelt signs

Figure 129 - Passenger signs off.

It all gets a little less hectic from this point on and we can relax a little. All flights
these days are non-smoking so the non-smoking signs stay on permanently.
Now it’s your turn to do your take off, so see how you go, if you’re concerned about it
save the flight at this point and if you make a mistake or feel like trying again reload
it. I also recommend a good review of the PMDG lesson on take offs before you
conduct this one.
After you have completed your take off and got this far it’s now a case of managing
the aircraft as it climbs to the initial cruise altitude of FL320, and monitoring it. Our
current status now is flying the SID, having passed transitions and approaching FL070
with FL180 on the MCP and ATC cleared.
So let’s continue our climb and manage it a little more, we can relax now and let the
aircraft climb to FL180 as has been set. But we need to turn off our Landing Lights at
FL100, that’s quite typical for departure lighting. So at FL095 or 9,500 feet at
standard setting we’ll reach up and just switch those off.

Figure 130 - Landing and taxi lights off after takeoff.

One more thing that you should notice at FL100, the aircraft will start to accelerate to
climb speed. This is the speed indicated by the FMC on the VNAV page. Figure 131
shows the FMC VNAV page for the climb, and the climb speed is going to be 339
knots, or to make it easy 340 knots.

Figure 131 - FMC climb speed setting.

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I don’t know about you, but I think 340 knots is probably a bit too high for our climb
right now, so we’ll take over the speed for a little while, and bring it up to 300 knots
for the moment, and we might put it up a bit more later on as we carry on.
There are several things we could do here though, we could change the speed here to
a lower figure, perhaps 300 knots, or we could go manual on the auto throttle and set
a demanded speed ourselves, I think for now we’ll do the latter. So let’s manage the
speed manually here, go to the MCP and look at the speed panel, you’ll notice it’s
Figure 132 shows the blank speed display, if you were observant you’d notice that the
speed went blank the moment VNAV was engaged. Why is this? Well the VNAV
system is now in control of the speed selection for us, if we left to its own devices it
would go for 339 knots in the climb, but I think we’ll give the engines a bit of a break.

Figure 132 - MCP speed area.

So how do we intervene with the speed selection of the VNAV system? Well it’s
quite simple really, we just press that big circular dial in the middle and you’ll see the
display comes to life, displaying the current speed target VNAV is using, that’ll be
339 knots.

Figure 133 - MCP with speed set to 300 knots.

Figure 133 shows the speed now selected to 300, we are now in control of the speed
of the aircraft, and have selected a lower climb speed for us to achieve, if we wish
VNAV to take control again, we simply press the centre dial as we did before, the
display goes blank, VNAV is then in control of speed selection once again, but for
now we want to keep it like that.
The target speed once again is shown on the PFD and also you’ll notice it reflects the
300 knots selected. The aircraft will now reduce its pitch in order to get to the correct
set speed target, as this is the characteristic of VNAV SP.

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Figure 134 - PFD after the new speed is entered.
Figure 134 shows the new entered speed in one circle, the speed bug on the ribbon (on
the left) in the other and the reduced climb VNAV is using in order to allow the
acceleration to the selected speed.
Well now there isn’t too much to do apart from manage this climb to our cruise level,
But we are going to simulate something a little different in a moment, and that is a
minor course deviation and then back to our course. This exercise will illustrate the
effectiveness of the LNAV system and how to change the heading of the aircraft
manually. So are you ready? As you pass FL120, I want you to imagine we get this

ATC: “Speedbird 283 turn right radar heading 020 and continue
climb to FL180.”

This instruction is taking us off our course, LNAV will not be able to obey this
instruction as it’s not on the plan, so we’ll have to help the Autopilot a little here by
inputting the heading ourselves. We will need to reply to this message from ATC so
we will do so as follows:

You: “Turn right onto radar heading 020 degrees and continuing to
FL180, Speedbird 283.”

We’ve acknowledged the instruction, it’s now time that we act on it. If you’ve been
good then your heading on your MCP will match that of your current heading of 001
Before we go on, something to know about the HDG dial and selector system, you
can set the HDG to any heading without actually engaging it. LNAV will ignore
information within the HDG selector as it continues to follow the flight horizontal
profile. Pretty obvious really when we think about it, how else would we have been
able to have LNAV fly the SID with the HDG selected to the runway heading of 273
if it accounted for it!

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Currently our heading control looks like Figure 135, or at least should do if we’re
flying by the book.

Figure 135 - MCP HDG set to 001 degrees.

However we’ve been given a clear directive to fly 020 degrees and must comply, so
select that heading using the dial to 020 and to arm it, press the SEL button on the dial
in the centre shown in Figure 136.

Figure 136 - MCP HDG selected to 020 degrees.

You’ll notice that the LNAV light is lit, however after selection LNAV extinguishes,
see Figure 137.

Figure 137 - MCP heading selected no LNAV.

LNAV has extinguished because we have manually told it to fly a different heading
and ignore the horizontal profile. So why didn’t VNAV extinguish when we changed
the heading speed? Because VNAV is still flying a vertical profile calculated within
the FMC, it is just flying with our manual target speed.

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Figure 138 - PFD and ND displays with the heading selected.
Figure 138 shows the PFD and ND displays after the turn to 020 was selected, I’ve
circled all the applicable heading points on the displays in red for you. You’ll notice
the new roll mode is HDG SEL, heading select, you’ll see 020 degrees as the new
course on the compass rose at the bottom of the PFD. Also the new projected course
and heading bug on the ND on the larger compass rose.
Also notice that we’re now at our target speed of 300 knots (circled in green) and
therefore the climb rate has now risen back up to 2000 feet per minute as VNAV finds
a pitch that is sufficient to maintain that speed in the climb.
The ND displays one other thing here that you might have noticed before, and that is
this green arc, that I have circled in purple. That arc is the predicted point at which
we will reach our altitude target of FL180. Let’s have a look at these displays as the
aircraft turns to the new course.

Figure 139 - PFD and ND in the turn to 020 degrees.

Figure 139 shows the aircraft turning to intercept the new heading of 020 degrees.
I’ve circled the turn projector for the aircraft, these dashed white lines. They indicate
the projection of the current turn angle, these will change as the aircraft levels the
wings and intercepts 020 degrees. While turning ATC give us another message.

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ATC: “Speedbird 283 cleared further ascent to FL230.”
You: “Cleared to FL230, Speedbird 283.”

Well I think you can manage that one now yourselves, I’m sure you’re getting the
hang of it. Just a quick change to 23,000 on the MCP and a press of that button in the
middle, and the altitude target will increase automatically for us.
Flying now at a heading of 020 degrees we’re going off course, ATC probably had us
deviate for traffic spacing, they are aware of our filed flight plan and will bring us
back shortly I am sure. But let’s talk about what will happen when we do this.
We are currently flying away from our horizontal track, ATC no doubt will at some
point turn us left to re-intercept our original flight plan track. LNAV is quite
sophisticated in the fact that it will know when we are heading back to intercept the
track or not.
If we give it a few moments till we are clear of our track and try to engage LNAV, we
will get and FMC message and LNAV will fail to initiate. The FMC will display
“NOT ON INTERCEPT HEADING”. What this is telling us, is that LNAV has
looked at our profile and sees no point within a set range at which our current heading
and that profile intercept each other. If we are on an intercept heading LNAV will
know this and arm itself, IT WILL NOT become the active mode immediately! HDG
SEL will remain the active mode until the track is within range and then LNAV will
take over from HDG SEL at that point. So let’s see all this in action, oh no, hold on,
let’s wait for ATC to give us the instruction and then see it in action!
Wait till just after we pass FL150 and let’s imagine we get a message from ATC to

ATC: “Speedbird 283 turn left heading 320 and continue as filed on
own navigation.”
You: “Turning left 320 degrees and continue as filed with own
navigation, Speedbird 283.”

What we are being told here, is to turn to a heading of 320 degrees and then fly this
until we are again on our horizontal profile, and then continue with our own
navigation on that filed profile, so lets key in this new heading.
You’ll notice that the aircraft now responds immediately to your selections, turning
the moment you turn the dial. This is because HDG SEL is the active mode and is
constantly reading and checking the current heading demand you have given it, the
moment it is updated the aircraft will turn to that heading. If you want to be a bit
clever here, you can press the HOLD button just below the HDG dial and then select
your heading. Doing this will make the aircraft HOLD the current heading until SEL
is pressed, it will then read the heading and turn towards it.

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Figure 140 - PFD and ND standing by to turn to 320 degrees.
Figure 140 shows the ND and PFD once again, we can see the new roll mode is HDG
HOLD and the HOLD button is active on the HDG panel of the MCP. We can also
see the aircraft is not turning, there are no turn projections shown on the ND and there
is no roll on the PFD artificial horizon. The heading is selected to the ATC target of
320 degrees. We’re now ready to activate the turn, without pressing SEL on the HDG
panel of the MCP the aircraft will continue to fly the current heading indefinitely.

Figure 141 - PFD and ND with heading selected on MCP HDG panel.
Figure 141 shows the panels a moment after SEL was pressed. HDG SEL is lit on the
PFD as the new active mode, indicating heading select has been pressed. The HOLD
button the MCP HDG panel has extinguished showing the aircraft is no longer
holding the 020 heading set earlier. We can see the turn on the horizontal horizon and
the turn projection on the ND.
Ok so let us let the big bird do her turn and level her wings, and we can move onto the
next stage, and that’s get ready to intercept the horizontal profile again.
This requires a little thinking, LNAV will want to turn to reacquire the track where we
left it, and that’s not practical, if we try to engage LNAV now, it will complain we are
not on an intercept heading. Currently the autopilot has an intent to fly to DTY from
WOBUN, which you can see within Figure 141 with DTY highlighted as the target
waypoint in the top right. OBVIOUSLY we don’t want to bother with that stage of
the flight now and continue with our flight plan from the point we intercept the track.

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In order to do this we need to construct and intercept course before the aircraft will
continue to the next waypoint.
We do all this with our FMC, go to the LEGS page of the FMC. Just take a look at
the bearing from DTY to TNT shown in Figure 142. The bearing of our flight profile
from DTY to TNT is shown between the two waypoints within the LEGS page and is
currently 344 degrees. If you look at you ND you can see the bearing on the line
drawn on the map, this bearing is our course to intercept.

Figure 142 - FMC LEGS page with bearing from DTY to TNT.
What does that mean? Well, we don’t want to fly directly to TNT, we were instructed
to fly and continue as filed, which would have been a course from DTY to TNT, this
course would have been 344 degrees. This is the intercept course we will tell the
autopilot to go for. Let’s walk through this and it will all become clearer.
Select the TNT (our target waypoint) and then enter it into the top over DTY in the
LEGS page. You will see that TNT replaces DTY and also there is an option to
intercept the track on a bearing. Now currently the bearing displayed is 327, which is
not really what we want, we want to intercept at the heading we would have flown
had we continued on course, and that bearing is 344 degrees.

Figure 143 - FMC intercept heading for TNT.

So enter 344 into the FMC and enter it over the top of that 327 right there for the new
intercept course (INTC CRS). So let’s do that and look at the ND as we do.

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Figure 144 - FMC LEGS page with the intercept course of 344 selected for TNT.
Figure 144 shows the new 344 bearing for the intercept course onto TNT entered into
the FMC. Figure 145 shows the pictorial display on the ND of the new intercept
course, and look, that’s perfect, exactly what we were looking for so we will execute
that change into the FMC and make it permanent to the plan.

Figure 145 - ND intercept course on TNT of 344 degrees.

With the change made the ND in Figure 146 shows the new intercept course and no
longer the DTY waypoint, the new target is TNT.

Figure 146 - ND showing intercept course.

We are now free to arm LNAV again, and it will no longer complain that it is not on
an intercept course, it is on an intercept course to that bearing to TNT and will arm

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LNAV is now armed to engage and will do so when the cross track error is about
5NM or less, we can see this error by looking on the FMC PROG page and pressing
NEXT PAGE to get to page two.

Figure 147 - ND and FMC with the cross track error.

Figure 147 shows the ND with LNAV armed and the cross track error within the
FMC PROGRESS pages, we’ll just keep an eye on this to make sure nothing
unexpected happens.
While we wait we’re getting closer to our set altitude, so let’s slow the ascent a little
bit so we don’t bust our altitude, we can do this by pressing VS on the MCP and
setting it to 1000. This will give us a nice 1000 feet per minute climb, a bit slower
than it is now and give ATC chance to give us further ascent without us having to
break off the climb. Figure 148 shows the new ascent rate on the MCP and PDF
agrees with the bug set at 1000 feet per minute. The new pitch mode is V/S, Vertical
Speed mode which sets a descent or ascent rate, in this case +1000. By turning the
wheel next to this we can change the value. Notice that since V/S is engaged, VNAV
is now no longer active and the light is extinguished, we are no longer on the ascent

Figure 148 – V/S engaged on MCP and PFD shows 1000 feet per minute ascent rate.
V/S as a mode will maintain the descent or ascent rate at the expense of speed, so be
careful to keep an eye on your airspeed when using this mode, but since we were

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ascending at over 1,500 feet per minute earlier with little trouble at 300 knots, I
certainly can’t see how reducing that rate is any concern right now, it’ll just give ATC
that bit of time to give us a higher climb.
You’ll also notice the throttle mode is now SPD, the auto throttle system is now
maintaining a speed and no longer a thrust setting.

Figure 149 - PFD and FMC showing intercept.

Figure 149 shows that LNAV is now active and we’re are 4.9NM from the cross track
point. Everything seems to be going well, LNAV will now steer us back on course.
Oh! ATC have just got in touch again:

ATC: “Speedbird 283, climb and maintain FL290.”

You: “Climb and maintain FL290, Speedbird 283.”

That was handy, we were getting close to FL230, well we know the procedure, simple
reset of the MCP to 29,000 on the ALT dial, but a minor change this time. We will
re-instate VNAV I think now, and let it manage our ascent again. However when we
do this the speed will again go blank as VNAV gets control of the speed again, as
earlier, lets get control of the speed once more by pressing the speed dial and dialling,
let’s see, 310 knots sound ok for now? Yes I think so, 310 knots on the speed dial.
Verify with the PFD that these are selected and the active modes are what you want.

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Figure 150 - PFD and MCP with the new speed and altitude settings.
Figure 150 shows the MCP and PFD with the new settings, as you can see VNAV is
now engaged once again, and since we are accelerating, the throttle mode is now set
to THR REF for a thrust reference. Make sure your MCP is the same and confirm the
modes and we’ll continue our climb. Now, what about that track intercept, surely
we’re getting close now!

Figure 151 - PFD and ND turning on the intercept to TNT.

Figure 151 shows the aircraft now turning on its intercept course for TNT.
Everything seems absolutely fine, we’re getting higher now, just a case of waiting till
we get into cruise and listening for any more ATC instructions. But to be honest, I
think the work has been done now. Shortly before FL290 we’ll get clearance for our
cruise altitude, we’ll just gradually bring that speed up to the cruise speed on our way.
We can find the cruise speed within the FMC, it is calculated for us. If we go to the
FMC VNAV page and then select NEXT PAGE, we shall see the current cruise speed
that’s active and will activate once in the cruise. Figure 152 shows this cruise speed
to be Mach 0.860, currently we’re travelling at around Mach 0.689 but this will
increase as we get higher. We might pump up the speed later on as we climb but for
now let’s leave it alone, we know what we’re expecting in cruise, we know what
speed we’re doing now, we’ll wait and increase it gradually.

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Figure 152 - FMC CRZ page with the cruise speed.
You’ll notice that on this page, there is a setting for the STEP TO, this is the step
climb setting. At the moment, it is set to climb to FL340, you’ll remember from our
flight plan that this is correct, our step climb will be for FL340 and then 2,000 feet
again and again so we need to change this and update it as the flight goes on. As we
do you’ll notice that the predicted time and distance to the step climb will be updated
to reflect our new choice.
Ok let’s settle down and watch the climb, now it’s pretty much a waiting and
monitoring game for the flight. Might be worth while our thinking about some
airfield fixes now for alternates, let’s have a look at where we are. If we hit the ARPT
button the display panel for the ND we get Figure 153, I’ve also increased the range
to 60NM.

Figure 153 - ND with airports displayed.

As you can see EGCC is just up the top there, probably about 50NM away, our LON
VOR is still on the right there if you look at that’s showing DME 80.2NM, and that’s
more or less at Heathrow. So I think we can safely say if we divert now it’ll be to
Manchester. So let’s grab that table of alternate airports (bet you forgot about that
didn’t you) and get some of these into the FMC.

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First I think we’ll put in the distance markers for EGCC and EGPF, so go to the fixes
page as before put in EGCC and then the radius of the circle of 85NM for each and
take a look at that.

Figure 154 - FMC fix for EGPF.

Figure 154 is here as a reminder for inputting fixes into the FMC, go to the FIX page,
put the fix at the top, in this case Glasgow (EGPF), and then to enter the radius of the
distance marker around it, put in a slash and the distance you want, in our case /85.
Looking at the ND now and changing the scales and getting rid of those airport labels
you can see how useful and powerful this tool is.

Figure 155 - ND with the markers for EGCC and EGPF.

Figure 155 clearly shows us when we have to diver to the next airfield now, the green
circles indicate the exact position on our flight plan where we cross the mid point
between these airfields. As we continue on the flight and pass the mid point between
Glasgow (EGPF) and Manchester (EGCC), we’ll set the EGCC fix to BIRK which is
Reykjavik airfield and the radius of the marker to 350NM, and so on down that list as
we continue our flight. It’s always worth having a quick look, they won’t all be
perfect like that one so they might need a bit of adjusting on the way.
It also might be worth retuning the FMC to TNT and SETEL respectively on the
NAV RAD page as we did before. Simply putting in the name of the waypoint into

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each should do that. And, importantly don’t forget to change the MCP heading to the
current heading as we go.

4.7 The Cruise

Just before I continue here, I have noticed that some airlines have a “Climb Checklist”
I have opted out of this as most of it is covered within my after take off checklist.
Also on the ITVV DVD for Virgin Atlantic, I heard no Climb Checklist performed.
Well it’s time for the long stage of the trip, and that’s the cruise, we’re currently
finishing our climb and as we approach FL290, sure enough ATC contact us once
more to give us our final clearance.

ATC: “Speedbird 283, climb FL320.”

You: “Climb FL320, Speedbird 283.”

Now again, reset the MCP with the new altitude target, might be worth handing over
the VNAV now on the speed so we can relax. Simply press the speed dial button
once more and it give VNAV authority over the speed for you automatically. Just
keep an eye on the ascent and monitor it.
As you climb you’ll notice the speed bug decreases the speed, as the air pressure and
density changes the actually airspeed with relation to the Mach number 0.845 reduces.
Before we level off if you take a look at the ND you’ll notice a small T/C on the flight
plan in green, this represents the Top of Climb for our current climb rate, a prediction
by the FMC where we should reach our cruise level.

Figure 156 - ND showing the T/C on the flight plan.

Figure 156 shows the T/C in green on the ND, just before POL on my ND for my
flight today. Depending on how you’ve been flying you shouldn’t be far ahead or
behind really.

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You’ll also notice that as you level off the active thrust limit changes from CLB to
CRZ, VNAV becomes VNAV PATH as we now follow a vertical path profile, the
throttle mode changes to SPD to maintain the cruise speed. Check the displays and
ensure that the appropriate changes are shown on the upper EICAS and the PFD.
With the aircraft in CRZ mode it’s easy till we get closer to Los Angeles
International, so you can sit back and have a cup of coffee or tea.
Take a look at some of the nice views we get from up here, admire the model PMDG
have put together for us, we’ve been a bit busy to up until now, but here she is, a work
of art!

Once in the cruise it’s a case of monitoring the systems, and checking fuel
calculations. There is no need to do this constantly obviously or it would make a very
tedious trip! A quick glance at the progress page as we pass over waypoints to check
our predictions, a quick look at the VNAV page to see when the step climb is due and
of course keeping an eye out for turbulence. Obviously with perfect weather there
will be no turbulence, but in case there were the turbulence penetration speed of the
747-400 is Mach 0.85. What is this? Well generally we consider turbulence to come
in one of three categories:
1 – Light turbulence, the aircraft remains under control with only minor changes in
speed and altitude, with some tiny vibration (like a car on a motorway). Basically it’s
only a time to worry about your coffee spilling and you might put on the cabin seat
belt sign.
2 – Moderate turbulence, the aircraft is making moderate changes attitude and/or
altitude, but still the aircraft is under control at all times. Changes in aircraft airspeed
that are quite noticeable, along with altitude bouncing, perhaps giving a g of 0.5 to 1.0
at the centre of gravity. It makes it difficult to walk about in the cabin and the seatbelt
can give strain on passengers when the aircraft jolts. In this case generally instruct the
cabin crew to sit down, scoff your sandwich, drink your coffee quick, put your own
seat belt on and call ATC for an ascent to some clearer air.
3 – Severe turbulence, the aircraft is making abrupt changes in speed, pitch, roll,
altitude with over 1.0g. The aircraft is actually out of control for short periods of time
(the autopilot then attempts to correct and bring the aircraft back on course). People
are thrown about in their seats and could be knocked from their feet if walking, loose
items will go bouncing around the cabin, people will be upset and frightened.

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Generally at this point you’ve spilled your coffee all over yourself and are cursing,
just be thankful everyone is belted up, set the aircraft to turbulence penetration speed
(Mach 0.85) then call ATC and tell them you NEED some cleaner air now!
There is no need to panic even in severed turbulence conditions in a cruise, the
aircraft is more than capable of soaking up the bumps, even from some of the worst
turbulence you can imagine. The aircraft wings are constructed so they can flex quite
considerably at the wing tip and take some immense pounding without breaking a
sweat. The real danger comes from not being strapped in and being thrown around
the cabin unexpectedly! There have been a number of serious injuries from this and
even in some extreme cases (and I MEAN extreme) fatalities. In the PMDG
simulation we don’t have a weather radar, to keep an eye out for choppy air, but better
to be safe than sorry and keep the belt sign on till you’re sure any chop has passed.
Ok, we’ve been up here and stable for quite a while now, and I’m just coming to the
KEF waypoint. Let’s have a look at the FMC PROG page to get our current
estimated time of arrival (ETA) into Los Angeles, and see if we’re on time. My taxi
was fairly swift so that shouldn’t be much of a factor and I entered the Atlantic track
at about the right time, slightly on the early side actually.

Figure 157 - FMC PROG page.

Figure 157 shows the FMC PROG page, and here we can see our current ETA for Los
Angeles is 21:05z time, which is 22:05 GMT, in Los Angeles that will be 14:05 on the
25th April, so I’m actually running ahead of schedule! GO ME! This is of course due
to the lack of any high winds due to the weather being turned off in MSFS, with the
weather on I would be more or less on time as I’d have a prevailing headwind for
most of the trip.
Let’s look at this a little more though before we discard it, it would appear that my
excess fuel is a bit higher than I anticipated at 29,800 Kg for the landing, I had
bargained on 20,200 Kg for the landing. However that might all change as these
calculations on the FMC don’t take into account the fuel we’ll use for the step climbs,
they are based on our current cruise configuration. But the important thing is that I am
within limits of the reserve at 17,100Kg. Do you remember setting the 17.1 in the
FMC for the reserve? Well we’re not eating into that so we’ll be fine, all is well!
Let’s look a bit more at this, 15:16z for the step climb to FL340? Let me see, it’s
13:03z for me now, I was off the blocks at 10:57z (11:10z in the air), my taxi was
really short and swift, so I’ve probably been in the air about 2 hours. 13:03z to

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15:16z is just over 2 hours to go before the step to FL340. If we work out the time
we’ve been flying exactly, so I would say 11:10z take off, to 15:16z being the times,
we’ve been flying 4 hours 05 minutes before the first step climb, and when you look
at our planning we’re very close at 4 hours 09 minutes.

Figure 158 - FMC showing OPT and MAX altitudes.

The FMC is a more precise calculator than I am, and there is a fairly big margin of
error as the first stage of the flight will have been the initial climb. Why is this? Well
the calculations that I have done initially didn’t take into account the initial fuel burn
for the climb, they also are slightly out with me using the wrong burn rate for the first
The first table shows the times again, exactly the same as those shown earlier in

Climb From and Time From Cumulative Expected

To Previous Time Waypoint
FL320 to FL340 4:09 4:09 Between 6560N
and YFB
FL340 to FL360 3:07 7:16 Between YVC
FL360 to FL380 2:49 10:05 Between FRA
Table 7 - Step climbs and cumulative times.

So there are some differences and we’ll compare these predictions with the FMC
predictions as we travel.
I’m hoping that by now you’re feeling a bit more confident with the aircraft, and don’t
need as much prompting with the tasks during the cruise. So far we really have
learned a lot, we know take off procedures, how to set up the FMC for a flight, the
intricacies of flight and fuel planning, and the list goes on! Right now we are about to
enter our NAT, normally our operating procedures we mean a call to Shannon telling
them we are about to enter the track, after that it’s a case of periodically giving our
position height and speed as we continue along the track. Waypoint calls for Shannon
Centre, are mandatory when crossing the Atlantic, but doesn’t hurt to give fairly

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regular updates. I wouldn’t contact the controllers every 5 minutes, or you’ll make
them very annoyed with you, but on the half hour as well as when you pass over track
waypoints is a good rule of thumb. Try to have a think about what you would tell
Shannon and how you would extract that information from your instruments to
enhance your Atlantic crossing experience; speed, altitude, next waypoint and
distance, previous waypoint and distance.

Figure 159 - Upper EICAS and lower EICAS fuel warning message for CTR L and R.
Figure 159 shows the upper EICAS with the fuel warning messages and the centre
tank pumps shown here in yellow on the lower EICAS FUEL page. Yellow means
the pumps are inoperative, but there are no problems with the pumps, it’s just an
indication that a low pressure has been detected. Looking at the fuel quantity within
the centre tank, it is less than 1,000Kgs, as a result the output pressure on the pump is
probably low and this has given rise to these messages. We need to turn these main
pumps off now, with the remaining fuel within the tank will be transferred to MAIN 2
using smaller salvage pumps.
So let’s turn those pumps off. Within Figure 160 you’ll notice that the pump switches
on the overhead panel are illuminated with an amber PRESS light indicating that the
pressure is low. This is a repeat of the warning on the upper and lower EICAS on the
fuel panel to help pilots easily find the corresponding pumps to the caution messages.

Figure 160 - Fuel pumps CTR L and R lit.

Let’s shut down those pumps and look at the panel. Figure 161 shows the panel after
the pumps are turned off. They not longer display the amber PRESS light, as the
pumps are inactive and a low pressure is normal.

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Figure 161 - CTRL L and R pumps off and no longer lit.
Let’s look back at the upper EICAS and lower EICAS and check everything is ok.

Figure 162 - Lower EICAS and upper EICAS with salvage pump running.
Figure 162 shows the upper EICAS and lower EICAS after the centre pumps L and R
have been switched off. You’ll notice the upper EICAS messages are now clear, and
there is a green arrow on the lower EICAS. This arrow is the salvage pumping the
excess fuel from CENTER to MAIN 2 and is depicted as such.
Later in the flight if you keep an eye on this page you will notice on the lower EICAS
that the reserve fuel transfers to the forward MAIN 2 and MAIN 3 tanks during the
flight. Again depicted in the same way, with small green arrows between RES 2 and
MAIN 2 and also between RES 3 and MAIN 3 (RES 1 is the STAB tank). These too
are salvage pumps and move the fuel for weight distribution purposes. In the old days
before automated fuel management systems, fuel control would have been managed
by the flight engineer, if you looked at a 747-200 panel you would find the controls
for all these pumps there.
Ok we’ve done the change to the fuel system, verified that the pumps are doing what
we expect them to do and the advisory message is cleared. We can hit RECALL if we
like to make absolutely sure that it’s clear, I usually do after clearing any caution
notice as a matter of course, RECALL as shown before is a way of verifying that
caution messages are no longer valid, when pressing RECALL any active message
will be redisplayed to the crew, it’s just making certain that caution has been dealt
with. With all that done, once again it is time to admire the view and monitor the
flight systems.
There are a few more things to come during the cruise, centring on fuel and cruise
level management. The first is, what is known as the TANK TO ENGINE condition
or FUEL TANK/ENG, which we’ll go into later, and the other is the step climb which
we’ve discussed and set up earlier.

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The step climb is due to our weight changing over the course of the flight. Initially
we were heavily laden with fuel and now a significant proportion of that fuel has been
burned, we are no longer carrying it and our weight is less. Now a higher flight level
will be more economical for our cruise, so we can ascend to a higher level to keep our
fuel burn low and save the operator money, and this is exactly what we’re about to do.
You’ll find we get to the step climb before we have the TANK TO ENGINE
condition, so we’ll cover this first. Keeping an eye on the FMC PROG page from
time to time, we can check our progress on the FMC to the step climb point in the
flight plan. It might be worth while reading this section before you conduct your
climb so slow the simulation down or pause it about 50NM before your climb is due.
The FMC has already worked out when we need to conduct our step first climb to
FL340. If you recall in our flight planning we worked out that the step from FL320 to
FL340 is around 6560N and YFB and the FMC has chosen calculated a point in the
plan where the optimum choice for the climb is, you’ll see that the FMC has put in an
S/C marker meaning Step/Climb. This S/C marker shows the point at which the FMC
has calculated the best point for economy to conduct the step climb we have chosen, it
is where we expected it to be, perhaps a little further past the waypoint 6560N marker
than we thought but before YFB, brilliant! Our planning is paying off nicely you see?
No surprises so far.

Figure 163 - S/C appears on the ND.

Figure 163 shows the S/C for Step Climb appearing on the ND display, and we are
closing on the YFB waypoint. The range on the ND is indicated at 160NM so YFB
should be shortly coming into view, we will keep an eye on this, watching as we get
closer. Checking the FMC VNAV page you’ll see the OPT (optimum) and MAX
(maximum) cruise altitudes which in my case are FL329 and FL371. Our new
altitude target is FL340, or 34,000 feet standard so I’m between the optimum and
maximum for now so I’ll shortly be climbing to get a more economical cruise.

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Figure 164 - FMC VNAV page showing the step climb in 78NM.
To initiate the climb we need to enter 340 into the cruise altitude CRZ ALT of the
FMC VNAV page, but before we verify the new altitude, you’ll remember the MCP is
still set to FL320.

Figure 165 - FMC showing the step climb is due.

At the point where the step climb is due the FMC will look like this on the VNAV
page, indicating NOW, for the time for the step climb, so we’re ready to climb.
So we’ll need to change that when the time comes too or the MCP will prevent the
ascent to FL340, however before we do that, we need to request our new altitude from

You: “Speedbird 283, requesting immediate ascent to FL340.”

ATC: “Speedbird 283, ascent cleared, climb and maintain FL340.”
You: “Cleared ascent, climb and maintain FL340, Speedbird 283.”

Well I guess that settles it, we’re cleared to climb to our new flight level, so I guess
we’d best get on with it. Reset the MCP altitude to 34,000 feet first and after we will
activate the new cruise altitude within the FMC, by inputting the value 340 into CRZ
ALT and pressing the EXEC key to execute the change. Now the aircraft will begin
climbing to the new target of FL340, you might notice a decrease in our airspeed, this

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is normal and the FMC will have altered the cruise speed to reflect the new cruise

Figure 166 - PFD, ND, MCP and FMC after step climb has been set.
Figure 166 shows the PFD indicating the climb with a change in pitch and auto
throttle modes to THR REF and VNAV SPD as the new altitude target is set and the
climb begins. The MCP shows the new dialled altitude of 34,000 feet along with the
confirmation in the PFD at the top right in magenta. The FMC set CRZ ALT is
FL340 and the new altitude target is active in the FMC plan. The green circle on the
FMC displays the information for the next step climb to FL360. The green arc on the
ND shows where we should expect to attain our new cruise altitude.
Once at the new altitude, let’s check the PROG page of the FMC (I’m sure you can
monitor that while taking a quick look at our progress) to check we’re still on time
and the fuel predictions are holding up for us.

Figure 167 - PFD after step climb is complete.

Figure 167 shows the PFD after the step climb is complete, once again a typical cruise
PFD with SPD, LNAV and VNAV PTH set.

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Figure 168 - FMC after the step climb is complete.
Figure 168 shows the new PROG page on the FMC, you’ll notice a new step climb
has been calculated for FL360, we’ll be doing that later. Our time of arrival is 21:00z
which is 14:00 in Los Angeles local time, so we’re actually going to be quite a bit
early, if we’re too early we might have to hold for a moment or two, but we’ll have to
see when we get there. But fuel prediction seems to be good, still well above my set
reserve, so no trouble there.
The next step climb is predicted at 17:45z making it 7 hours 35 minutes into the
flight. If we look back at our table we can see how close we are with our estimate,
which is 7 hours 16 minutes. As you can see we’re quite close now and can expect
our next step climb to FL360 around Calgary, or YVC as we thought.
Interestingly, and just for additional information not really applicable to us right now.
In the case of Concorde there is no step climb as such, but what they call a climb
gradient. This is a steady climb throughout the whole flight over the Atlantic to
maintain optimum performance, these are usually cleared with Shannon before
crossing the Atlantic and form part of NAT clearance. It’s more monitoring now until
we get the next item we need to deal with which will be more fuel management and
step climbs for us. The step climb procedure, is simply replicated every time the step
climb is required.

Figure 169 - Fuel system on lower EICAS showing transfer from RES to MAIN tanks.

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Just before the second step climb, looking at the lower EICAS you can see the salvage
pumps for RES 1 (reserve 1) and RES 2 (reserve 2) tanks pumping into MAIN 2 and
3. If the STAB (reserve 2) tank contained fuel, this would be pumped into the
CENTRE tank and then the process would continue as it has now.

Figure 170 - FMC showing the next step climb can be carried out now.
The next step climb can be carried out now, it’s the same procedure as the previous
but the heights have changed. At the moment I am about 35NM from the next
waypoint YVC, so our predictions are about right. As you can see the new OPT
altitude is now FL350, with a MAX of FL392. Complete the next step climb and
keep monitoring the systems.
Our next predicted step climb is FL380, you’ll notice that the FMC does not populate
an additional step climb into the plan, that is because the FMC has deemed it
inappropriate, and rightly so. I however have added this climb for you to practice and
since we’re not flying the real aircraft to real budgets we can do as we please to some
When the fuel gets to 50,000Kgs we will have the >FUEL TANK/ENG condition in
the flight, and the upper EICAS displays the advisory message in yellow.

Figure 171 - Upper EICAS showing FUEL TANK/ENG.

Firstly let’s take a look at the lower EICAS FUEL page and see what’s going on here.
In my case all the tanks contain 12,800Kg, in your case there may be an imbalance.

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There is a reason why there is a difference, it is because I loaded this example earlier
and upon loading a new flight the PMDG loader automatically reconfigures the fuel
system for you. But don’t panic I will explain what to do with your fuel system if it is
not perfectly balanced like this one.

Figure 172 - EICAS lower just after TANK/ENG warning.

Figure 172 shows the EICAS lower display for the fuel system for my flight. The
point of tank to engine is to ensure that we have a nice evenly spread fuel load for the
rest of the flight. What we are looking for is the same amount of fuel in the MAIN 1
to 4 tanks, around 13,000Kgs or more. Sometimes when we get the message to shut
down the central main pumps there is quite a lot of fuel left which the salvage pumps
move to MAIN 2, in our case around 900Kgs. Of course if you’re thinking about this
you will see that if that’s the case, MAIN 2 will have 900Kgs more fuel in it than
MAIN 3. In this case we’ll need to do a little tinkering with the fuel system to get
things to even out a little and balance the aircraft.
What I tend to do is leave the fuel system running with just the one tank giving the
fuel to engines 2 and 3 until the imbalance is rectified. How do we do this? Well,
let’s have think, firstly I would close the X FEED valves for 1 and 4 and let them use
their own tanks for a moment and isolate them from engines 1 and 2. I will then shut
down the pumps and OVRD pumps on tank MAIN 3. This means engines 2 and 3 are
being supplied with fuel from only MAIN 2.

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Figure 173 - X FEED configuration for imbalances.
Figure 173 shows a number of things, firstly it shows the configuration of the fuel
panel and the PRESS lit in amber on the MAIN 3 pumps. This is telling us there is a
low pressure, as fuel is still in these tanks the system thinks there is a problem and
brings it to our attention, of course we know why, because we turned them off so it’s
nothing to be concerned about. The reason OVRD 1 FWD and AFT are not lit, is
these pumps provide booster pressure for MAIN 3 and are not essential to the fuel
coming from MAIN 2, as a result they will only show a light if they have failed.
OVRD 2 FWD and AFT are essential to provide the fuel pressure to pump fuel
around the system to engine 3.
The pump caution messages are also shown on the upper EICAS with the two
warnings FUEL PUMP 3 AFT and FUEL PUMP 3 FWD. If we look at the lower
EICAS on the FUEL page you can see what I’ve done here. MAIN 2 in purple is
supplying fuel to engines 2 and 3, engines 1 and 4 are getting fuel from MAIN 1 and
MAIN 4 respectively and are isolated. I have closed the X FEED valves indicated in
yellow and you can also see the main and override pumps for MAIN 3 are all shut
down, also indicated in yellow. I will now continue flying with this fuel configuration
until MAIN 2 fuel is equal to MAIN 3, at which time I will once again reinstate the 4
pumps for MAIN 4 and open the X FEED valves in THAT ORDER.
At this point MAIN 2 and MAIN 3 will have more fuel than MAIN 1 and MAIN 4, so
we’ll have to wait for the system to balance once more before the tank to engine

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condition is realised again. Once this is the case I will close the X FEED valves and
turn off all the OVRD pumps as a normal TANK/ENG condition would have us do,
but we’ll go into that in detail in a moment. It is important to take care when turning
off tank pumps, so if your aircraft is only slightly imbalanced, do this slowly and then
monitor carefully.
When you’re ready to conduct the procedure for tank to engine, it goes like this, let’s
look at the fuel panel a moment.

Figure 174 - Fuel tank to engine panel.

Figure 174 shows the fuel panel at the point the caution on the upper EICAS is
shown, but what do we need to do? Well, firstly close the X FEED valves on the fuel
system, and monitor their close on the lower EICAS FUEL page. Then the OVRD
pumps are not longer necessary as we do not need booster pressure as the engines are
close to their respective tanks, so we can turn those off too. The fuel panel should
look like Figure 175, the red shows the cross feed valves that need closing and the
green the override pumps that can now be shut down.

Figure 175 - Fuel panel after TANK/ENG.

Finally we’ll check the system on the EICAS lower which should look like Figure
176, and hit RECALL on the upper EICAS to ensure that there are no other problems.

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Figure 176 - EICAS lower after TANK/ENG condition set.
Once the tank to engine condition is achieved, and there are no more warnings on the
upper EICAS, the fuel system (so long as there are no more failures) does not need
anymore planned attention from us. However, periodic checks to make sure the fuel
management system isn’t doing something silly is always a good idea!
You will notice the other X FEED valves here that we have not used, the inner valves.
These are on the fuel control panel overhead and are covered in a protective flip case
to guard against accidental activation. These are rarely required in any flight, they are
used to isolate either engine 2 or 3 from the fuel system. The outer valves as you can
see here are enough to isolate 1 and 4 from the system. This is only done in the event
that it is unsafe to supply fuel to that engine, or there is potential of fire spreading
from that engine to the other tanks and engines via the fuel system. Pulling the fire
controls for the extinguishers for any engine or the APU will automatically isolate the
fuel system, but this is an extra precaution that can be taken if necessary.
I conducted my final step climb at REO, a bit earlier than scheduled as the optimum
altitude was above my current altitude at that point. I ascended to FL380 at REO and
continued the trip.

4.8 The Descent

Well I’m about 500NM from our destination now, we have a lot of time and we’ve
just got our expected arrival STAR on our ACARS (this is not simulated, but let’s
imagine we have). Our arrival into Los Angeles International will be on runway 24L,
and we will be using a YENNI 1 STAR arrival. ATC are expecting us to go direct to
the start of that STAR (HEC) as we pass DERBB on our flight plan. The STAR starts
at waypoint HECTOR or HEC.
Now there is good news and bad news, the bad news is, this FMC has not got this
approach pre-programmed in, so we are going to have to do the programming
ourselves, the good news is, we have plenty of time to do so and it’s very good
practice for you.
If you wish to pause the simulation at this point feel free to do so although you do
have bags of time, and we’ll go through it step by step. First thing we have to dig out
our chart, I’ve put a copy of this chart in this tutorial for you to look in Figure 177.

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Figure 177 (found here is
the complete STAR approach plate for the YENNI ONE arrival for Los Angeles
International Airport. As you can see the approach is from the North East of the
airfield, bit of a bummer that we’re coming in from more or less the North West then
huh? Oh well, not to worry, that’s probably why they asked us to go direct to HEC
from our waypoint DERBB.
Ok, well before we press on let’s get it clear in our minds what is going to happen on
this approach. Firstly, we’re going to continue on our flight plan as we said, we’ll
request our descent as and when we need it and descent in VNAV, we might decide to
intervene with the descent rates a bit later on.
Incidentally in the US the expectations of a descent are a little different, ATC will
expect you to descent relatively quickly to your assigned altitude, but as you approach
it, within 1,000 feet, to slow your rate of descent to 500fpm, so they can predict if
you’re likely to go through the restriction or not.
Anyway back to the plan, we’ll start our descent as normal, probably around DERBB
at some point, we’ll then turn right direct to HEC as requested. As we pass HEC
we’ll turn right onto a heading 211 degrees out of the YENNI fix. As we pass the
YENNI fix we’ll then turn right again onto a heading of 225 degrees and continue to
the LOMAA fix (I hope you can follow this on the chart). At this fix we expect to
pass at 18,000 feet or above and at a speed of 270 knots. In which case we can figure
out the entry in our mind for the FMC, 270/18000A, remember? Let’s continue, as
we approach KEACH we expect to be below 17,000 feet but above 16,000 feet
maintaining 270 knots. So let’s think about this, how could we ensure that? Well
that’s easy, set the MCP to 16000 as we pass IOMAA that way VNAV will not
descent any further that 16,000 feet and set 270/17000B in the FMC for that
waypoint. Once we pass that waypoint, we pass the HAMRR fix, and then to the
JSHUA fix where we make a further right turn to 249 degrees towards TOVRR. At
TOVRR we expect to be below 15,000 feet but above 12,000 feet. So again MCP to
12,000 and the FMC to 270/15000B for that waypoint, see it’s not that complicated
really is it? Next waypoint is SUPAI, and we expect to cross that between 11,000 feet
and 10,000 feet. So again after TOVRR, the MCP goes to 10,000 and the FMC entry
is 240/11000B. Why 240 knots, it’s not on the chart? I hear you all ask. Well it’s
simple as we approach 10,000 feet there is a speed restriction of 250 knots, just like in
the UK, although on take off we were allowed to exceed this, on an approach this is
rare so we’ll get the aircraft slow for the landing, this is probably why the change in
altitude is so small between TOVRR and SUPAI, to give us chance to slow the
aircraft. I’ve set the speed to 240 knots to ensure we don’t go too fast, after this point
I expect ATC will give us speed instructions if they haven’t already.

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Figure 177 - YENNI ONE STAR chart for KLAX.
After SUPAI it’s LYVIA which we’ll pass at 9,000 feet or above, so the FMC entry is
240/9000A, CRISY is the next waypoint which we’ll pass at 8,000 feet or above so
again we know the drill, the entry will be 240/8000A in the FMC for that waypoint.
After that I expect it won’t be long before we’re localiser established and cleared for
an ILS approach to 24L.

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So are we clear now what we need to do? Let’s recap the waypoints and settings once
more. The FMC settings are for each waypoint and the MCP setting is what it should
read as you PASS the waypoint, not before.

Waypoint FMC and MCP settings height and speed

DERBB Happy with the FMC altitude prediction here with MCP at cleared altitude.
HEC Happy with the FMC altitude prediction here with MCP at cleared altitude.
YENNI Happy with the FMC altitude prediction here with MCP at cleared altitude.
LOMAA 270/18000A with MCP reset to 14000 upon crossing.
KEACH 270/170000B with MCP at 14000.
HAMRR Happy with FMC altitude prediction here with MCP reset to 12000 upon
JSHUA Happy with FMC altitude prediction here with MCP at 12000
TOVRR 240/15000B with MCP reset to 10000 upon crossing
SUPAI 240/10000A with MCP at 9000
LYVIA 240/9000A with MCP at 8000
CRISY 240/8000A with MCP at 8000
Table 8 - FMC programming and MCP settings for approach STAR.

Table 8 shows the settings for the FMC on the approach, now let’s get this
programmed into our FMC and then look at the approach to the runway a bit closer.
Obviously if there are any specific requests from ATC regarding altitudes, headings
or speeds we will adhere to them!

Figure 178- FMC STAR programming deleted waypoints to DERBB.

Figure 178 shows the first stage of the programming, I’ve deleted nearly all the
waypoints up to DERBB, note that I left RW25L and it is still active, we’ll fix that in
a moment so relax about it for now. The next stage is inputting all the data in the
FMC from Table 8. To add the new waypoint after DERBB, simply type the new
waypoint code then enter it on top of the RW25L waypoint. This will insert your new
waypoint before this entry, when you get to the bottom of the page go to the next
stage and continue till all the new waypoints are added.

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Figure 179 - FMC STAR programming new waypoints added page 1.

Figure 180 - FMC STAR programming new waypoints added page 2.

Figure 179 and Figure 180 show the newly programmed waypoints into the FMC, if
we go to the next page we will see RW25L again on it’s own on the page (well at
least I do at this point). If you haven’t done so, make sure you enter all the height
information into the pages too, like I have.
Figure 179 and Figure 180 show the height and speed information programmed into
the FMC, so let’s execute the changes with the EXEC button and check the progress
page again to check our arrival time.

Figure 181 - FMC PROG page with the new flight plan added.

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Everything looks good here on the progress page in Figure 181, our arrival time is still
early, the fuel is ok at 27,300Kg expected when we land which is well over our
reserve of 17,100Kg. We have got 10,200Kg to play with and perhaps hold with if
Let’s look at the latter stages of the approach now.

Figure 182 - Approach to runway 24L.

Figure 182 (found here shows the

approach path to the runway from HURLR, incidentally HURLR is not required as
CRISY is in fact after this waypoint anyway and already has a higher altitude
restriction of 8,000 feet or above, so I’m going to disregard that waypoint. We can
use this like we did the previous chart to plan the final stages of the approach to the
runway. So again let’s think of our FMC entries.

Waypoint FMC and MCP settings height and

HURLR We’ll ignore this as it’s 26.5NM from the
threshold and CRISY is 25NM from the
threshold and we have a set altitude for
that, which incidentally meets HURLR
requirements anyway (7000 or above and
we have 8000 or above set).
JULLI FMC 220/4000A
SUTIE FMC 180/2200A
CORTY I’ll leave this one as we’ll be well
established on the ILS by this point
Table 9 - FMC entries for close runway 24L approach.

Table 9 shows the FMC programming for the waypoints on the later stages of the
approach to runway 24L at Los Angeles International Airport. It’s the same
procedure that we used for the earlier stages of the approach, however we can make
this simpler using the FMC. Selecting the ARR/DEP page, and pressing the ARR

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option for KLAX (Los Angeles) we’ll see the option to use DILS24L on the right
hand side. This is our 24L approach, currently 25L is selected and this is not our
runway so we’ll have to change this and we can do so by selecting the new ILS
approach here. Once we have done so, the FMC will provide options as to how we
are approach this runway, larger airports such as Los Angeles have more complicated
approach patterns for runways and often TRANS waypoints are included in the
approach in order to make programming easier. Our TRANS option, as you might
have guessed since it’s on our flight plan now due to the approach YENNI ONE, is
CRISY, the final waypoint of the approach, it’s all very convenient isn’t it? It’s
designed this way to make it easier for us. Selecting CRISY as our TRANS waypoint
means the FMC will use it when plotting the final approach to runway 24L for us.

Figure 183 - FMC approach to runway 24L selected.

Figure 183 shows the DILS24L approach selected (denoted by <SEL>), along with
the TRANS waypoint CRISY which corresponds with our plan. You’ll notice that
once again EXEC illuminates for you to accept the change to the plan, do so and we’ll
get Figure 184 as our new screen.

Figure 184 - FMC arrival for 24L executed.

This shows that the DILS24L and CRISY waypoints are now our set active (denoted
by <ACT>) approach procedures. Again we have more programming to do, and
checking of the FMC, so let’s go back to the LEGS page and see what we need to do.

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Figure 185 - FMC legs page with the final approach planning.
Figure 185 shows the final approach planning for the 24L arrival, as you can see once
again the FMC has determined its own altitudes for the approach, however we know
the altitudes from the approach chart (Figure 182) and must enter those. The
programming is also not quite right, you’ll notice the HURLR waypoint is not
included in the approach and rightly so, like we mentioned earlier CRISY is after it
and has an altitude restriction with is higher (cross at or above 8,000 feet) than
HURLR (at or above 7,000 feet) and therefore it is not required. JULLI will be the
next waypoint on route to the runway so we can close the discontinuities in the plan
here. We now need to set the altitude restrictions for the other waypoints and they
should look like Figure 186 when complete.

Figure 186 - FMC final approach information set for 24L.

Great, our arrival is set and planned, our next stage is the missed approach. It is
important as pilots that we consider our missed approach procedure and understand it,
obviously in case we need to call on it if our approach has to be aborted for whatever
reason. You’ll notice that on the complete approach chart (part of which is shown in
Figure 177) the missed approach procedure is outlined for us. It states the missed
approach for this runway to be, climb to 2,000 feet on runway heading of 249 degrees,
then turn right onto the 260 radial from the LAX VOR out to the holding point at
RAFFS intersection at 15.1NM from LAX VOR. Sounds fairly straight forward, let’s
consider a fix for this, what do we need? Well let’s think, I think a circle of radius
15NM around LAX VOR would be a good start along with a radial at 260 degrees
from that same VOR too. So let’s enter that information into a fix on the FIX page of
the FMC.

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Figure 187 - FMC with missed approach FIX shown.
I hope you remember how to put fixes into the FMC, course you do! You would have
been entering them all along your route for you alternates. Look at Figure 187, this
shows the settings for the LAX VOR fix. I’ve set two entries, one a distance marker
of 15NM, and the other the 260 degree radial. Let’s take a look at that on the ND for
a moment, so switch your ND to plan mode and we’ll step through the waypoints to
see what it looks like. I hope you remember how to do that, if not pop up to the other
sections earlier on and refresh your memory.

Figure 188 - ND and FMC with the data for the missed approach.
Figure 188 shows the missed approach on the ND and our newly added fix. The FMC
is showing the rest of the approach to runway 24L, as we can see it’s pretty good.
The FIX display on the ND clearly shows the 15NM mark and the radial is good at
260, but wait!? Someone has added this hold in for us already? Well as part of the
DILS24L approach we entered and activated earlier, the missed approach is already
pre-programmed into the FMC and includes the hold, fantastic no more work!

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Figure 189 - FMC with the pre programmed missed approach.
Figure 189 shows the missed approach in the FMC, it looks about right 261 degrees
out to RAFFS after the intercept, 1 degree off probably due to the turn after the
runway. 5.9NM from the runway to the intercept then a further 11NM to the holding
point making it 17NM in total, but remember we are not flying direct to RAFFS, we
are travelling in a sort of “L” shape, so it will be a bit longer for us. The holding point
is set for a 230 knot speed and 2,000 feet. Holds over land are usually higher, but
we’re actually over the sea and this point so that’s plenty high enough really. So we
are familiar with what to expect now for our missed approach, so if Tower were to tell
us to abort or we execute a missed approach, we know what to do.
Ok, what else do we need to think about? Well autobrakes is one and the VREF
speed for our landing, let’s tackle VREF for the landing first. I’m going to use flaps
30 for my landing. You can use 25 if you wish, it just means your procedure is
slightly different to mine that’s all and you’ll land at a slightly higher speed. We set
the flaps setting we’ll use within the FMC, once again it will compute the landing
speed for us at that flap setting which is good, but remember, any computed data from
the FMC really needs checking. It is almost always right but as Captain this is your
To check the speeds we’ll start with our predicted landing weight, which is about
250,000Kgs give or take a bit, we don’t need to be that precise really. Using this
weight with the landing reference speed tables for the aircraft we can see that at flaps
30 our landing speed will be about 149 knots. I might put a bit more than that just to
be on the safe side, but so long as the FMC is in that ball park, we’re on to a winner,
let’s note that down for later. I’m not really close enough yet to set that so I’ll wait
for now and do it later on, but I have a figure in mind already.
Let’s have a look at the runway, it is fairly long, on the chart it shows 10,285 feet in
length, well over 3,000 metres. We can use a fairly relaxed Autobrake I think for this
landing, it’s not wet either (is it ever in Los Angeles?) which helps.
The Autobrake system is detailed in the PMDG manual and it shows the calculated
decelerations for each brake setting with just the braking system and no reverse thrust
from the engines, so let’s have a look. Setting 1 for example slows the aircraft down
at a rate of 1.2 metres per second every second (1.2 ms-2), the relationship of knots to
meters per second is every 1 knot is roughly 0.5144 ms-2, about a half. Using this
relationship we can see how many seconds it will take us to stop from 143 knots.

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149 knots = 149 x 0.5144 ms-1
143 knots = 76.65 ms-1

So we will with a decrease of 1.2 ms-2 it will take us:

76.65 ms-1/ 1.2 ms-2 = 63.875 seconds

We can now calculate how far we’ll travel in that time using the average speed and
the time taken assuming a deceleration in a linear nature (which isn’t strictly true as
the brakes will be less efficient as they heat up when applied and hot brakes will have
a reduced performance). The calculated average will be:

76.65 ms-1/ 2 = 38.325 ms-1

And since speed multiplied by the time travelling is the distance travelled, we get:

38.325 ms-1 x 63.875s = 2448 metres

So we’re well within limits here, in fact we can work this all out in a neat table and
select an appropriate setting.
Autobrake Setting Distance With Just Brakes
1 2448
2 1958
3 1632
4 1277
Table 10 - Autobrake settings.
Table 10 shows us how much runway is required for the Autobrake to stop us alone
with no reverse thrust from the engines or spoilers. I think that really we could use
any of these settings if we wanted to, but let’s think about aircraft maintenance and
how we might reduce the life of the systems. If we use MAX AUTO for instance, we
will not only stop but break our necks in the process and probably make some of our
passengers sick!
I think I’m going to go with setting 2, probably because I just want to be totally sure
we’ll stop fairly quickly and I can probably disengage the brakes and use the drag to
roll to a slow speed and leave the runway without much braking at all. You can select
a setting you feel as appropriate, you’re the captain on your flight!
Set your Autobrakes, and once you do so you will notice the upper EICAS displays it
in white as an information message, seen within Figure 190 here.

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Figure 190 - Landing Autobrakes to 2 and displayed on the upper EICAS.
Ok with our approach considered and programmed, we can just wait till we get a bit
closer to the Top of Descent (T/D) and then we’ll give the brief and the passenger
announcement, and set out VREF for landing.
As we approach FRA at about 30NM to go, we get the following message from ATC.

ATC: “Speedbird 283 after FRA turn left direct to HECTOR and
maintain FL380.”
You: “After FRA turn left direct to HECTOR and maintain FL380,
Speedbird 283.”

Well, that’s some good luck, perhaps we’re in the way over DERBB and conflicting
some traffic? But it does mean that we’ll cut out a lot of time taking this short cut
ATC have given us, let’s set the FMC for the direct track to HEC. As before it’s very
easy, simply open the LEGS page, take the HEC waypoint and place it over the
DERBB waypoint, then hit EXEC leaving you the following.

Figure 191 - FMC direct to HEC after FRA.

Figure 191 shows the new LEGS page and Figure 192 shows the ND with the updated
flight plan.

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Figure 192 - ND with the new routing direct from FRA to HEC.
I wonder what that’s done to our progress? Let’s have a look, open the FMC PROG
page and check. Figure 193 shows the new PROG page with the new routing and it’s
looking good, we’re still early and there is plenty of fuel left.

Figure 193 - FMC PROG page with new routing.

Ok well I’ve had a cup of coffee now, and I’m just approaching the start of the
descent (shown as top of descent). I’m about 150NM from the top of descent, and
now it might be a good idea to brief the crew and passengers at this point as we’re not
all that far now.

Ladies and gentlemen, in 20 minutes or so we will be beginning our

descent for Los Angeles International Airport. This is just a courtesy
call to advise you that once we begin the descent I will be putting the
seat belt signs on and it won’t be possible for you to move freely
around the aircraft. If you need the bathroom or anything else that
requires you moving from your seat, please do this now, and would

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you be so kind as to help the cabin crew tidy and secure any lose items
or rubbish in the cabin before the descent.
I’m still waiting for Air Traffic Control to clear us for our descent into
Los Angeles, but I anticipate this shortly. We’re currently running 20
minutes early, and the weather at Los Angeles right now is clear with
sunny skies which should make for nice views as we approach the Los
Angeles basin and then the airport. The wind currently, which we
don’t anticipate will change, is a very light breeze, meaning our
landing ride should be very smooth and pleasant.
If there is anything we can do for you please ask a member of the
cabin crew. I hope so far you’ve enjoyed your experience with us
today and I’ll speak to you all later when we land at Los Angeles.
Thank you.

Ok, that’s the passenger announcement, now we need to think about the flight crew
along with the final stages and radios for the landing. We’re pretty much set up with
just a few little things before the final descent and approach brief can be given.
The radios we’ll use are LAX on the left VOR so let’s set that up now. So let’s go to
the NAV RAD page and set those, also let’s confirm the ILS frequency and course for
the 24L landing.
As per the chart, the frequency for the VOR point is as LAX on 113.6, let’s set that in
the FMC NAV RAD and confirm the ILS of 111.7/249 for the ILS frequency.

Figure 194 - FMC with the NAV RAD page with the landing radio details set.
Figure 194 shows the NAV RAD page of the FMC with the data included. The ILS-
MLS is set correctly and currently in PARK. This is normal and as we approach the
runway the frequency will become active automatically.
Excellent with those set we can put that LAX VOR on our ND and use it as we come
into the landing. We have the fix set for the missed approach and just one more thing
to think about, and that is the Minimum Safe Altitude we’ll use or the MSA, on the
chart it actually specifies an MSA of 7,700 feet when coming from 240 degrees,
which is roughly our arrival direction, so we’ll use this in our brief and when flying.
Ok, well I think that about covers everything, the new transition altitude is 18,000 feet
in the USA, I hope you didn’t forget! So remember to change over the altimeter

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settings at that altitude or we’ll be in trouble! Ok, just the crew brief then, let’s wait
till we’re a bit closer maybe 60NM before the top of our descent and then we’ll give

Lovely sight isn’t it, that’s my bird approaching the large basin that surrounds Los
Angeles, it’s not long to go now really.
Ok 60NM till top of descent, the T/D marker in green has now come into view on the
ND display.

Figure 195 - ND with the T/D marker displayed.

Figure 195 shows the green T/D marker as it approaches the 60NM limit on the ND
display. I think now it’s time for those passenger signs to get these people seated for
the landing, so let’s get those on.

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Figure 196 - Passengers signs on for descent and landing.
Let’s set the VREF now for the landing in the FMC, so go to the INT REF page and
we’ll set it up.

Figure 197 - FMC INT REF page for the landing VREF.
Figure 197 shows the FMC INT REF page, when you enter this page you’ll notice
that the set speed for our landing is blank, I’ve completed my page as above by
selecting the 30 degree flaps with the 149 knot landing speed. We simply press the
key next to that and then enter it into the space below FLAP/SPD. The next thing we
notice in red on the bottom left is the runway length for runway 24L, which we
already know and can use to decide our autobrake setting, of which mine is 2. And
finally the weight in the top left, indicated as 268,900Kgs (254,650Kgs was
expected). We need to check the landing speed in the manual to make sure it’s
correct, the table on page 3-3 of the PMDG manual shows a speed of 150 knots for a
weight of 270,000Kgs. Our landing weight is slightly lower so 149 knots would
check out, we agree with the FMC.
I think we’ll give the brief now the cabin crew are working to get all the
passengers seated so let’s make a start. Just hit RECALL on the EICAS and
make sure there are no warning or caution messages and we’re all set, just
waiting on the cabin crew to give us the word.

Descent is going to be in 60 miles, we’ll descent in VNAV and it’s

going to be a YENNI ONE arrival for the expected runway 24L at Los
Angeles. In the descent we’ll use 7,700 feet for the minimum safe
altitude until we’re within 25NM from the airfield.
Transition altitude is standard 18,000 feet here in the United States
and the descent profile is as follows. We’ll begin our descent shortly
before the HEC waypoint, turning left direct to HECTOR from FRA
and deviating from our plan has reduced our time and given us a bit of
extra fuel. Once at HECTOR we’ll turn right onto the heading 211

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degrees to YENNI on our STAR course as indicated on the chart.
We’ll continue past LOMAA where there is an altitude restriction,
pass at or above 18,000 feet along with a speed restriction of 270
knots, and this is confirmed on the FMC with that speed restriction
and altitude selected for that waypoint on the LEGS page. Continuing
our approach towards KEACH again another restriction of altitude
between 17,000 and 14,000 feet, which again is reflected in the FMC
by 17,000B, if you could set the MCP after passing LOMAA to 14,000
feet if ATC permits please, then we continue to HAMRR. Next we turn
right at JSHUA to intercept the 249 to TOVRR where there is another
restriction between 15,000 and 12,000 feet, again the FMC is set to
15000B and could you please ensure the MCP reads 12,000 feet ATC
permitting. Continuing on the 249 we’ll pass SUPAI, where there is
yet another restriction of between 11,000 and 10,000 feet, the same
applies, FMC is confirmed set at 11,000B and set the MCP to 10,000
feet after passing SUPAI. Approaching 24L we’ll pass CRISY at or
above 8,000 feet, shown in the FMC and then it’s the approach to 24L.
I expect that as we approach we’ll won’t be given vectors as the
approach takes us right in, I expect it’ll be runway 24L as of our
ACARS message says. Looking at the approach chart for the runway,
it’s fairly standard with 4,000 feet or above indicated for JULLI, 2,200
feet or above for SUTIE and I expect we’ll be cleared for ILS
approach either before that or very shortly after that point. Again
these height restrictions are in the FMC.
It’ll be a flaps 30 landing with a VREF of 149 knots confirmed in the
FMC, with Autobrakes 2 selected. The ILS frequency for runway 24L
is 111.7 and the course is 249 degrees, this is confirmed within the
FMC NAV RAD page and the final approach fix is at LAX set on the
left. The weather looks good with light to no wind at all on the final
approach, but we’ll reassess that as we get closer to the airfield.
Our decision height for this landing is 200 feet, if I decide to continue
with the landing I will call land, if I decide to abort the landing I will
call abort. In the event of a missed approach, I will activate the
TO/GA system, ensure the aircraft begins to climb, once safely
climbing if you could retract flaps to 20 and pull the gear up please. If
it is a failure could you carry out the appropriate checklist and if
you’d let ATC know that we’re going around along with a reason. I
will then fly the horizontal profile of the missed approach procedure,
and once level and under control at the holding point I will talk to
The missed approach procedure is as follows, climb to 2,000 feet via
the runway heading of 249 degrees and then out on the LAX VOR
radial of 260 degrees to the holding point at RAFFS intersection 15.1
miles out. That is out to sea so no problems with the minimum safe
altitude we’ll hold at 230 knots or our slowest clean speed which we’ll
try to get clearance for, and plan for our second approach. I expect
ATC will vector us in from there anyway for the second approach.

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As for alternates, our alternate today is Ontario International which
we’ve allowed 40 minutes for and should be enough time including
potential holds. It’s also a fair distance away so shouldn’t be subject
to the same weather conditions. I would say there is a chance we’ll
have to hold as we are early.
Ok, we’ve discussed the approach, RECALL is checked on the upper
EICAS, map integrity is checked and Autobrakes are set to 2. That
concludes the brief, are there any questions?.... Ok, we’ll wait for the
cabin crew to indicate secure then it’s time for the descent checklist.

Excellent, that’s the cabin secure, our nice flight attendants have just given us a call
and let us know so let’s get on with the Descent Checklist!

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Checklist Time!

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Ok with the brief over and the checklist complete it’s time to monitor the FMC PROG
page and the ND for T/D as it comes closer and closer.

Figure 198 - FMC with RESET MCP ALT as we approach T/D.

Figure 198 shows an FMC message and I’ve also highlighted the T/D distance which
is currently 14NM for me, we’ll be beginning the descent very shortly. Figure 199
shows the MCP and the 38,000 feet set for the cruise, the FMC message “RESET
MCP ALT” is informing us that VNAV will be unable to descend with the MCP set in
this way, and we are now close to the start of the descent path calculated by the FMC
so it issues a caution notice on the upper EICAS. We can’t change this until we have
clearance to descend.

Figure 199 - EICAS and MCP on RESET MCP ALT.

Ok as we approach the top of descent, at about 10 miles from it, we’ll request
clearance to start our descent from ATC.

You: “Speedbird 283 requesting descent.”

ATC: “Speedbird 283 descend and maintain FL250.”
You: “Thank you descend and maintain FL250, Speedbird 283.”

Ok this means that we can start our descent, and continue on our present course, so
let’s set the MCP to 25,000 feet and make a start shall we? We’ll set the value on the
MCP to 25,000 and VNAV should automatically begin the descent as we go past the

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T/D point. As we reset the MCP you’ll notice the FMC advisory message on the
upper EICAS and FMC saying RESET MCP ALT will extinguish.

Figure 200 - The MCP with the new altitude target of FL250.
Figure 200 shows the MCP configured with the new altitude target or 25,000 feet, the
FMC MESSAGE caution on the EICAS and the RESET MCP ALT on the FMC will
now extinguish as VNAV is able to conduct its descent, albeit partially to FL250.
As the descent begins, shortly before we pass T/D you’ll notice the engine throttle
mode will change to IDLE and the engines will power down. After the engines have
steadied at idle the throttle mode will then change to HOLD as the thrust setting is
held in the descent. VNAV will not change from VNAV PATH as it is still following
the vertical profile set by the FMC.

Figure 201 - PFD and ND just before the descent begins.

Figure 201 shows the PFD and the ND just before we pass the T/D marker. Here we
are still set in a cruise configuration, with SPD, LNAV and VNAV PTH as active
modes. Figure 202 shows just after we have passed the T/D marker, SPD has
changed to IDLE and the engines are now reducing (Figure 203), also on the ND a
further descent display has become active, similar to the glide slope on an ILS (which
we will come to later) this tells us how the aircraft is performing in relation to the
predicted descent path. Currently, and not surprisingly since we’ve just started our
descent, the magenta marker shows we are right on the vertical profile mapped by the
FMC. Since we are still flying the vertical profile VNAV PTH is still the active pitch
mode, and since we are still flying our flight plan LNAV is the active roll mode.

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Figure 202 - PFD and ND just after T/D.
Figure 203 shows a little further along, the throttle mode is now HOLD, holding the
idle thrust for the descent. You can see the thrust level on the upper EICAS and it is
indeed approaching IDLE at this point.
The PFD also shows the descent rate, which currently is quite steep at 2,300fpm, this
also is reflected in the marker on the ND, showing we are now well below the
magenta marker for the vertical path set by the FMC. However we are still in VNAV
PTH mode as the autopilot is still trying to maintain that descent path.

Figure 203 - PFD, ND and upper EICAS during descent.

If we let the autopilot settle and just monitor it carefully, you will shortly see that
VNAV PTH brings the descent back to the path, so let’s monitor and make sure it
does. Use the speed brake if it looks like we’re too high on the path to help bring the
aircraft back on the descent profile.

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Figure 204 - FMC descent page of VNAV.
Figure 204 shows the FMC VNAV DES or descent page. On this page we can see
our descent target speed of 290 knots and the next set point by us in the FMC descent
profile, that is LOMAA at 18000A at 270 knots, if you go back and check you’ll see
this is the first entry we set rigidly that VNAV did not calculate itself. It stays there
as a reminder of our descent profile settings. The top left shows us the End of
Descent E/D at the runway 24L, the runway is at an elevation of 176 feet above sea
level. Might be worth setting a speed restraint here at 250/10000 too, so let’s do that.

Figure 205 - FMC descent page of VNAV with SPEED REST.

Figure 205 shows the VNAV DES page with the new SPEED REST set at 250 knots
below 10,000 feet. You’ll notice the ECON SPD has changed to 290 knots, this is the
descent speed we’ll use unless specified by an FMC leg entry, or an entered
As we approach FL260, we’ll request a bit more of a descent.

You: “Speedbird 283, requesting further descent.”

ATC: “Speedbird 283, descend and maintain FL200.”
You: “Descend and maintain FL200, Speedbird 283.”

ATC have now cleared us to FL200, so let’s set the MCP to reflect that as in Figure

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Figure 206 - MCP with further descent to FL200.
Ok, well the descent is going well so far, seems we’re nicely on the vertical path,
we’ll shortly be coming up to transition altitude, where we will be resetting the
altimeters to the inches setting. Do you remember? In the USA it’s not QNH but in
fact INCHES, so we’ll expect 2992 as our setting as we have clear skies and perfect
weather, if there were real weather, ATC would give us the setting before we go
through the transition altitude.
Do you remember how to do transition altitude setting? We simply set the QNH or in
this case INCHES setting as appropriate and then when passing 18,000 feet in the
USA we press the STD button on the display panel for the ND and also reset the
manual altimeter in the centre of the main middle panel. We must crosscheck the
altitudes then with our First Officer to ensure that they are in fact set correctly. But
this is coming up later we need to monitor for now, but, always good to be prepared!
As the descent stabilises and we get closer to the descent path, VNAV PTH becomes
the active mode once again. Everything now looks good, we’ve just got to wait
further clearances from ATC and we can continue along with out descent.

ATC: “Speedbird 283, continue descent for LOMAA at 18,000 or

above altimeters will be 2992. Passing LOMAA at 270 knots.”
You: “Continuing descent for LOMAA at 18,000 or above, altimeters
2992. Passing LOMAA at 270 knots”

ATC have now cleared us to continue our descent to 18,000 feet, they’ve passed us
our altimeter settings and looks like they are following the charts with the speed
setting too, most of the work is done for us as VNAV will pass LOMAA around
18,000 feet anyway and at 270 knots, good isn’t it? 18,000 now goes on the MCP
and we can continue the descent.

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Figure 207 - PFD, ND and MCP approaching LOMMA.
Figure 207 shows the MCP with the new 18,000 feet set, the ND shows us
approaching LOMMA as planned and the PFD shows that the aircraft has selected the
new target speed of 270 knots for LOMMA automatically as we programmed in the
FMC for the descent earlier. No need for us to do anything really, except monitor the
descent further. I found at this point extending the speed brakes was wise as the
speed didn’t drop very easily, so I helped her to slow to 270 knots. Figure 208 shows
the speedbrakes extended to help the reduction to 270 knots.

Figure 208 - Speedbrakes extended to slow down.

Letting those out for a while to slow to 270 knots is advisory and after that speed is
reached it should be maintained.

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ATC: “Speedbird 283, descend and maintain 17,000.”
You: “Descent and maintain 17,000. Speebird 283.”

Ok again, simple case of resetting the MCP to 17,000 feet and making sure we slow to
the target speed.

Figure 209 - PFD and ND on descent to KEACH.

Figure 209 shows that the speed brakes have worked nicely and I’m now stable at 270
knots and approaching KEACH with 17,000 on the MCP.

ATC: “Speedbird 283, descend and maintain 14,000.”

You: “Speedbird 283, descent and maintain 14,000.”

Ok again quick reset on the MCP and we’re away, things are going very well so far
it’s all looking rosey!
We get some nice views from here by the way, just before you pass KEACH at about
this point we see Ontario International Airport, our alternate.

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Looks nice from up here doesn’t it? As we pass 18,000 feet make sure that you set
2992 on your altimeters and take them off standard setting. At this point do the First
Officer altimeters too, just as the climb a cross check is required.

First Officer: “Altimeters.”

You: “Altimeters set to 2992, passing 17,480… now.”
First Officer: “Altimeters set to 2992, passing 17,480 on your mark,
set and cross checked.”

This is important dialogue, I did the cross check while passing 17,700 and they are
checked with the First Officer altimeters and the auxiliary altimeter on the central
panel. After setting the panel the PFD should look like it does within Figure 210.

Figure 210 - PFD showing the altimeters set for the approach.
Now that the altimeters are set, and all our other pre-landing work is complete again
it’s back to managing the descent and continuing on.

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There is something that we can do now though, and that is set up our minimum
descent altitudes and decision heights. I usually use 200 on RADIO and 400 on the
BARO meters as my rule of thumb, the ultimate decision goes on the RADIO 200 feet
height. At this point the First Officer will call out “decide” at which point you will
either call “abort” or “land”. To set these heights you use the top display panel for the
ND and PFD and the twister on the right. Set it to RADIO then turn till RADIO is
200 feet, and then BARO and turn till BARO is 400 feet. Your display should look
like Figure 211 afterwards.

Figure 211 - PFD with the decision heights set for RADIO and BARO.
Ok, so with that done we’re really getting close now, cleared to 14,000 feet we’re now
making some good progress.

ATC: “Speedbird 283, hold at HAMRR due to traffic at airfield,

inbound on 225 degrees at 14,000 feet maintain 270 knots, left turn
with 5 mile legs.”
You: “Hold at HAMRR inbound on 225 degrees at 14,000 feet
maintain 270 knots, left turn with 5 mile legs, Speedbird 283.”

Ok, let’s see what’s just happened here, we’ve been asked to hold at a waypoint,
probably because we’re a little early and they’re trying to fit us in on a slot for
landing. A lap or two of a holding pattern isn’t that uncommon these days and it’s an
easy programming step. Let’s just look at the information we’ve been given for a
moment so we can understand what is being asked of us.
Well firstly if you look at the chart you can see the hold at HAMRR anyway, so
we’ve got a good idea what they’re after already. The inbound course of 225 is the
approach course to HAMRR on the STAR anyway, which can see that looking at the
chart (if you don’t remember scroll up to Figure 177 and take a look again). So the
course inbound is already in our FMC for our flight plan. If we think about this hold
a little it looks about 5 miles long and we fly our route and turn left to enter it.
Looking at the ATC instruction this backs this up, with left turn 5 mile legs. The

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other stipulation is the 14,000 feet height and the 270knot speed. They might not
want us to slow down too much, probably why the legs are quite long.
So let’s program this into our FMC, go to the HOLD page of the FMC and we get the
following as in Figure 212.

Figure 212 - FMC HOLD page.

This shows the hold at the end of our missed approach procedure, do you remember
it? Out to RAFFS intersection and hold at 2,000 feet? Here it is look FIX at RAFFS
it has the inbound course and L TURN indicates a left turn to enter the hold. The leg
distance is 3.0NM. Looking at this we can see how we can enter our hold into the
FMC, so let’s do that. Press the NEXT HOLD button to enter our new hold.

Figure 213 - FMC HOLD setup legs page.

Figure 213 shows the FMC after the NEXT HOLD button was pressed. It now wants
us to input where in the flight plan we’d like to setup the hold. There is an option for
another position entry with PPOS, but since we know the waypoint and it’s on our
flight plan we can simply enter HAMRR and enter it over those empty boxes on the
bottom left there.

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Figure 214 - FMC HOLD page setting for HAMRR.
Figure 214 shows the FMC as soon as we have entered the HAMRR waypoint as the
holding point on our route. The FMC has automatically set up some parameters here
but we need to change them. The legs are wrong, the height is wrong, the speed is
wrong and also the first turn is wrong., so we’ve a lot to do. First let’s change the
turn, that’s easy simply enter /L and put that over the current INBD CRS/DIR entry
and that should change to L TURN. Next enter the new speed and altitude targets for
the hold the speed is 270 knots and the altitude 14,000 feet, and like any other
waypoint entry it is simply 270/14000, we enter this over SPD/ TGT ALT on the top
right. Finally we’ll change the leg size to 5.0NM, we need to enter that over the LEG
DIST, not the LEG TIME, we’ve been given a distance rather than a time. Once
entered in the LEG DIST setting the LEG TIME will automatically blank. Once
complete the FMC will look like Figure 215.

Figure 215 - FMC HOLD page with settings entered for HAMRR.
Press the EXEC button and the changes should update the flight plan that we have,
and the hold will show up on the ND.

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Figure 216 - ND with the HOLD at HAMRR.
Figure 216 shows the hold setup on the ND on our flight plan. The aircraft will enter
this hold as it passes it and we can control when the aircraft leaves.
At this point I’ve decided to intervene and take over with the speed control, and
reduce to 270 manually. Remember how to do this? Well we simply press the centre
dial it will open and we key in the figure and the aircraft auto throttle systems will
maintain this speed for us.

Figure 217 - Speed reduced on MCP to 270 knots.

Figure 217 shows the new speed entered into the MCP, and we’re just about to enter
the hold now. I think now, before we enter this hold, it would be good to do our
approach checklist and get that out of the way before we continue.

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Checklist Time!

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4.9 Hold and Approach
Ok well we’ve now completed our approach checklist and everything seems fine.
We’re all set now, but since we’ve been given a hold to follow due to a busy airfield!
We’d better let the cabin crew and the passengers know what’s going on.

Ladies and gentleman, your Captain again. I’m sorry about this but
due to traffic at Los Angeles International and our slightly early
arrival, we’ve been asked to hold here while we are slotted in for our
landing. This type of thing is very normal for these busy airfields and
just means we might have to do 2 or 3 laps of our holding pattern
before they give us our permission to approach the runway for
In the mean time just sit back, relax and enjoy the view, I don’t
anticipate this taking too long perhaps 5 to 10 minutes at the most.
Sorry for the delay.

Ok with the passengers informed and us now flying our pattern it’s just a simple
waiting game before we can be let out of the hold and continue on our merry way to
the airfield.
Monitor as the aircraft enters the hold and ensure that it remains in it’s pattern as you
commanded it to.

Figure 218 - PFD and ND showing the aircraft entering the hold.
Figure 218 shows the aircraft entering the hold, you can see the left turn and the
projection of the turn on the ND. You can also see the throttle mode changed to SPD
indicating the auto throttle is now holding my target speed for me. It’s again a case of
monitoring and making sure everything is ok. Also I’ve just bust through 14,000 feet
a little but that’s now correcting itself, and only be 30 or 40 feet or so anyway.
Everything looks good so far! You might also notice that UP is shown in green on the
PFD speed ribbon. This is the flap speed where we will start our flap extension.

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As we continue on the hold see how the aircraft handles itself and manages to
maintain the holding pattern, we’ll probably need to do 2 or 3 of these depending on
ATC, but we’ll see, hopefully just 2 at most as these are expensive in terms of fuel
Ok well I’ve just completed my first lap now, and still no word, obviously the airfield
is a little busy, hopefully this time round ATC will ask us to exit the hold on this lap.
These laps are expensive for an airline!
Ok entering lap number two, take a look at Figure 219.

Figure 219 - PFD and ND showing the second lap of the hold.
Ok hopefully, this time we’ll get a message.

ATC: “Speedbird 283, leave hold at HAMRR and continue own navigation on the
You: “Leave hold at HAMRR and continue own navigation on the YENNI ONE STAR
for 24L, Speedbird 283.”

There! Great, we can leave the hold and continue, so how do we do that? Well
they’ve instructed us to leave the hold at HAMRR and continue on course on the
STAR approach. We’ll have to complete this lap, but before we do so instruct the
aircraft that this is the last time it will do this hold at HAMRR. Let’s open up the

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Figure 220 - FMC HOLD page showing EXIT HOLD.
Figure 220 shows the FMC with the EXIT HOLD option indicated in the bottom
right. Pressing this will instruct the aircraft that it needs to exit the hold the next time
it passes the HAMRR waypoint and continue as the flightplan is set. When you push
the EXIT HOLD will change and light up with EXIT ARMED shown within Figure
221. This is the FMC telling you that the exit procedure for the hold is armed and this
is the last lap. You must however execute these changes with the EXEC button as it
is a flightplan alteration.

Figure 221 - EXIT ARMED shown on the FMC HOLD page.

With that all set up it’s time to let the passengers and crew know what’s going on so a
quick message to them would be helpful.

Ok ladies and gentleman, I’ve just had word from Air Traffic Control,
and we’ve now got permission to approach the runway for landing at
Los Angeles. Thank you for your patience.

Ok well, now we’re ready let’s just monitor and ensure the exit of the hold goes
exactly as it should and we reacquire the original flightplan correctly.
FYI and as an addition, you may notice some strange routing on the ND, ignore it.

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Figure 222 - PFD and ND showing the aircraft leaving the hold.
Figure 222 shows the aircraft leaving the hold, we’re still at our set 14,000 feet limit
and as you can see we’re losing the vertical path. VNAV ALT is displayed on the
PFD showing that VNAV is holding an altitude target for us and is ignoring the path
for the moment, I anticipate the ATC will ask us to descend shortly, but let’s ask

You: “Socal Approach, Speedbird 283 requesting further descent.”

ATC: “Speedbird 283 reduce speed to 250 knots descent and maintain
You: “Speedbird 283 reduce speed to 250 knots descent and maintain

Socal Approach is the approach for Los Angeles International Airport and we can
resume out descent. Set the MCP to 9,000 and press the dial so VNAV can continue
the descent for us, also change the speed dial to read the 250 knot target given by

Figure 223 - MCP with new speed and altitude targets.

The MCP should now look like Figure 223, we’re getting quite close now and soon
we’ll be below 10,000 feet. Below this marker we need to be turning on our landing
lights to make ourselves nice and visible. So as we pass 10,000 feet let’s reach up and
switch on our landing lights as in Figure 224.

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Figure 224 - Landing lights for the landing at Los Angeles.
As we get close ATC will give us further and further descent, and as we approach
eventually we will acquire the localiser and begin our final approach to the runway.
We’re well prepared now and handling everything nicely. I also think now there is no
need for the anti-ice so we’ll turn that off as shown in Figure 225.

Figure 225 - Anti-ice off for landing.

Ok bit closer now, just about to pass SUPAI, let’s ask for some more descent.

You: “Socal approach, Speedbird 282 looking for further descent.”

ATC: “Speedbird 283, descent and maintain 7,000.”
You: “Descent and maintain 7,000, Speedbird 283.”

Again a matter of resetting the MCP we can leave VNAV in control of the descent as
it matches the STAR and ATC will be expecting this.
Remember our minimum safe altitude (MDA) before 25NM? Well this was 7,700
feet, so let’s set the MCP to 7,700 feet until we pass the 25NM marker for LAX,
might be a good idea to add that to our LAX FIX we set up putting in /25 as our
distance marker and checking that off as we pass 7,700 feet. I hope you’re getting the
hang of this now, and can see how useful these fixes can be for our planning.

Figure 226 - PFD, ND and FMC showing the ILS and descent.
At this point the First Officer would call “localiser alive” due to the frequency
becoming active, let’s discuss the displays and explain it. Figure 226 shows the

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descent continuing, I’ve updated the LAX fix with the new 25NM marker which
we’re about to cross over. After this point we can descent below the MDA we set,
we’re currently at just under 10,000 feet and 7,700 feet is set on the MCP, I’ll reduce
that now to 7,000 and probably ask for a further descent as I pass 8,000 feet.
The red indicates the ILS has just become active. We’re quite close now at 25NM
from the airfield so the LOC marker can be seen for the runway on the bottom of the
PFD. As you can see it’s magenta marker is almost right in the middle so we’re doing
well already. The FMC shows the frequency is now not longer in PARK and is active
with an A. The white text on the top left of the PFD is showing the DME for the
airfield and indicates just over 25NM. Everything is going well now just some more
monitoring is required.
As we pass over CRISY I am going to ask for further descent.

You: “Socal Approach, Speedbird 283, requesting further descent.”

ATC: “Speedbird 283, descend and maintain 5,000 feet reduce speed
to 230 knots.”
You: “Descend and maintain 5,000 feet, reducing to 230 knots.”

Ok, so a further change of the MCP to reflect this with the new height of 5,000 feet
dialled and the new 230 knot speed.

Figure 227 - PFD, ND and MCP showing updated settings.

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Figure 227 shows us the current situation nicely, the glideslope marker is now on the
PFD you can see it on the right of the artificial horizon. Looks like we are a little
high, and the ND supports that, about 500 feet over our track right now. That’s not a
problem, we’ll extend the speed brakes and get that down. Soon I expect ATC to ask
us to get established on the runway localiser.

The picture shows the aircraft flying in to Los Angeles, you can see downtown and
the speedbrakes are extended to slow the aircraft down and get us back on the descent

Figure 228 - PFD approaching the glide slope.

As you can see in Figure 228 shows us getting back on the path nicely. At about
20NM DME we get the following instruction.

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ATC: “Speedbird 283, descent and maintain 3,000 reduce speed to
220 knot.s”
You: “Descend and maintain 3,000 reduce to 220 knots.”

Ok, once again set the MCP and check that it’s set on the PFD. While doing so we
need to key in the new speed of 220 knots too and start that descent. As we reduce
you’ll notice that our flap settings on the PFD speed ribbon pass the current speed.
We are now able to start flap extension, the first flap extension will be flaps 1, so let’s
do that now.

Figure 229 - PFD, ND and upper EICAS on approach.

Figure 229 shows the approach further on, I’ve now extended flaps 1, and I’ve slowed
to 220 knots and continuing my descent, as you can see I’m now well on the vertical
path for the approach, and I hope you are too. If you find yourself going too fast or
getting above the vertical path use speedbrakes to adjust it.
At about16NM DME we get the following instruction.

ATC: “Speedbird 283, reduce speed to 180 knots, report localiser

established for 24 left.”
You: “Reducing to 180 knots, and will report localiser established for
24 left Speedbird 283”

Might be as well to pause here so I can explain what’s going it. It looks like they
want a further reduction now and want us to use our localiser. This is simply a matter
of arming the LOC on the MCP, once we do this LOC will become armed on the roll
mode of the autopilot on the PFD, I doubt it will stay armed for very long if at all, as
the localiser has been tuned for some time now and we can see the marker on the PFD
already so the aircraft should change roll mode to LOC and begin it’s lining up
process for the runway. Established means that the LOC marker at the bottom of the
PFD is exactly in the centre and we are well on track, at this point I’m going to put
down the undercarriage and while that is in transit we will call ATC and report that
we are established. We’re pretty much established already, so we’ll just make sure
everything goes smooth and then report to ATC we’re ready.
So the process, first MCP LOC button and check LOC is armed. Observe the PFD
and check it becomes the active mode. Set the new speed of 180 knots, and extend
flaps as per the green markers on the speed ribbon of the PFD.

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Figure 230 - MCP with LOC set and new target speed.
Figure 230 shows the MCP just after LOC is armed, notice that the LNAV mode is
now inactive as LOC is now in control of the roll mode. This might not happen this
fast, but since we are on the track pretty much already for the runway LOC became
active right away. You might find in other landings that LNAV remains the active
mode while LOC is armed and visible on the PFD, once it becomes the active mode
LNAV will extinguish. I’ve also set the new 180 knot speed on the MCP as requested
by ATC.

Figure 231 - PFD with LOC established.

Figure 231 shows the PFD with the LOC mode active for the roll mode. For me it
became active instantly as I said earlier. The bottom there is the magenta marker for
the LOC, that should be moving towards the middle and now I’m pretty much
established on the localiser for 24 left at Los Angeles. On the left the flap indicators
are shown, I will extend flaps 5 when I reach 180 knots, a bit early but it’s ok.

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Figure 232 - PFD levelling at 3,000 feet and established on LOC.
Figure 232 shows the aircraft now levelling off nicely at 3,000 feet. Some of that
speed will start to scrub off now and we can get a good deceleration to 180 knots and
start flap extension. The LOC is now right in the middle and we’re blow the glide
slope which you can see on the right with that magenta marker running up and down
the artificial horizon. I’ve also shown you that since we’re levelling off and VNAV
can’t continue it’s programmed descent because we’re set to level at 3,000 feet that
the mode for VNAV is now VNAV ALT, indicating it’s now holding our set altitude
in the MCP. Now we’re established we can report this and we’ll probably be given
clearance for the ILS approach to 24 left.

You: “Speedbird 283, established on the localiser for 24 lefts.”

ATC: “Speedbird 283, continue descent with the ILS for approach on
24 left, reduce speed to 160 knots till 4 DME.”
You: “Speedbird 283, descend with ILS for approach on 24 left,
reduce to 160 knots before 4 DME.”

Ok, well now we’re pretty much set for the landing so gear down at this point.

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Figure 233 - PFD and upper EICAS showing gear in transit down and flap extension in transit.
Figure 233 shows the gear in transit down and the flaps moving, you’ll also notice
we’re on the glide slope now so let’s move quickly. Set the MCP to APP by pressing
the APP (approach mode) button. You’ll notice that when the MCP is in APP mode
the PFD will show GS as the pitch mode, this is the glide slope mode for the autopilot
pitch control, that will follow the ILS to 24 left for us. Also you’ll notice the speed
button will light, this is for us to set the approach speed for the landing, 160 knots for
now, but 147 knots for me after 4 DME. We also need to set our missed approach
altitude now to 2,000 feet, remember? That’s the height of the hold at RAFFS
intersection. You’ll notice that in GS mode the autopilot will take us through 2,000
feet, this is normal, in land mode (we’ll see in a moment) the autopilot will ignore the
MCP altitude setting and follow the ILS, it will use this altitude when climbing in the
event of a missed approach. Phew! You got all that? Ok, after setting things up our
instruments should look like this.

Figure 234 - Landing instruments.

Figure 234 shows the MCP and instrument panel after setup. The GS is active LOC is
active on the PFD and the aircraft is now slowing to 160 knots. I’ve also extended the

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flaps to 10 which is now in transit and the gear is down and green. The MCP shows
the new 160 knot speed setting, the 249 course of the runway (which the LOC will set
automatically when it becomes active ), 2,000 feet as our missed approach altitude
and you’ll also see all three autopilots are now engaged. This is normal for a landing
as they are all used as a cross reference to ensure a safe approach. All we need to do
now is monitor for the 4 DME (remember, that’s the white in the top right of the PFD)
at LAX reduce the speed to 147 knots at that point and extend flaps fully.
At this point I’m also going to arm the speedbrakes for the landing and ding the cabin
crew for the landing. Remember how to do that? Just a flick on and off of the
seatbelts signs twice should give them their warning.

Figure 235 - Speedbrakes armed for landing.

Figure 235 shows the speedbrakes set for the landing for 24 left.
The reason we are asked to maintain 160 knots till we are closer is for aircraft
separation, this helps ATC maintain sensible separations between traffic and manage
the flows.

You get some lovely visuals as you continue the approach worth having a look at.

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Keep monitoring and extending the flaps accordingly on your approach, you’ll notice
as we get closer the PFD mode will change from CMD to LAND3.

Figure 236 - PFD with the radio altimeter.

Figure 236 shows the PFD with the radio altimeter now displayed, you also will hear
the audio call for 25 hundred from the ground proximity warning system or GWPS.

Figure 237 - PFD with outer marker displayed.

Figure 237 shows the blue OM marker on the top right of the artificial horizon. This
is the Outer Marker indicator, so we’re now fairly close at 7.8NM, not long before
we’ll need to reduce to approach speed.

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Figure 238 - PFD with LAND3 and ROLLOUT FLARE armed.
Figure 238 shows the PFD very shortly before touchdown. LAND3 is indicated
which is the category of the autopilot landing we are going to have. This will be a
fully automated landing, I toyed with the idea of a manual one but it would be too
hard to write up and it’s something you should practice and master yourselves. You’ll
also notice I have extended flaps to 20 early, I’ve done this to save time later on in the
transit from flaps 10 to 30, obviously flaps 20 to 30 will be a lot quicker. 6.0NM now
to the runway, you’ll also notice ROLLOUT and FLARE are the armed pitch and roll
modes. ROLLOUT will follow the runway track of 249 degrees after touchdown and
FLARE will engage just before landing to flare the nose (lift it a little) before we
settle on the runway to make it nice and soft. At this point I’ve set the speed to 149
and set flaps to 30. I know you think it’s a bit early, but remember the LAX beacon is
actually further down the airfield!

ATC: “Speedbird 283, cleared to land runway 24 left.”

You: “Cleared to land 24 left, Speedbird 283.”

Run through the landing checklist now!

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Checklist Time!

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Figure 239 - G/A the new thrust mode.
Ok here we go, ready to go, lovely views from up here. Figure 239 shows the new
thrust mode, G/A or Go Around, this is set in the case we need to abort the landing
and hit TO/GA (TakeOff and Go Around). The autopilot automatically selects this
mode on approach to a runway.

Figure 240 - Landing at Los Angeles International Airport.

Figure 240 shows the final setup for the panel as we approach, as we touch down set
the reverse thrust and keep that on till we reach 80 knots then turn it off, and let the
wheel brakes slow the aircraft down to about 30 knots then release them and we can
taxi off the runway.
So here we go! Good luck, only joking, I’m sure you won’t need it now!

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Thought I’d include a shot of my landing for you.
As you get close you’ll notice the PFD changes a little.

Figure 241 - PFD with the landing runway markers shown and yellow radio altimeter.
Figure 241 shows the green runway threshold marker on the artificial horizon, as you
can see I’m right on it, and the radio altimeter reading 68 feet as I get low to the
You hear “minimums” called out, that’s where you as Captain decide if the landing is
a go or not. As captain you could call “land” to land and “abort” to abort. I am happy
with my approach, I hope you are too! So I am calling land.
With that called we are committed to landing the aircraft now.

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Figure 242 – PFD shows FLARE and IDLE as active modes.
Figure 242 shows the PFD shortly before the wheels touch the ground, you’ll notice
that FLARE is armed and that the autothrottle has set the throttles to IDLE. This is to
let the aircraft glide down gently to the runway and land with the nose up so the main
gear comes to rest first. Notice that these modes have only just become active and
that we’re only 12 feet off the ground at this point. Also notice that the glide slope is
now inactive and off the scale. These only run to the runway threshold and are
ignored beyond it.

Figure 243 - PFD shows ROLLOUT as active mode.

Figure 243 shows the PFD after landing has taken place, the FD has disappeared and
ROLLOUT is now the armed roll mode, this will keep us on runway heading as we
begin to slow down. The picture below shows the aircraft at this point.

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After we come into contact with the runway, the speedbrakes will automatically
deploy and we must apply the reverse thrust manually. The picture below shows this
on my landing.

Figure 244 shows the automatically deployed speedbrakes as the wheels rest on the

Figure 244 - Speedbrakes automatically deploy.

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Figure 245 - PFD, ND and upper EICAS on the landing roll.
Figure 245 shows the instruments as the deceleration begins on the runway, as we can
see it’s fairly rapid and ROLLOUT is now the active mode. Notice the REV on the
upper EICAS display for the engines, indicating the reverse thrust activated on the
Also notice that the VREF speed is now not present and NO SPD is set in yellow on
the PFD. We’ll continue this roll with reverse thrust till we reach 80 knots, then I will
cut the engines reverse thrust and set them to idle. I will allow the aircraft to slow
under autobrakes till I get to about 50 knots then I will call “manual braking” and take
over from there. I’m going to let her roll right to the runway end, on the way I can
configure some systems.

Figure 246 - MCP after landing roll is completed.

Figure 246 shows the MCP, the first system I am going to configure. Shortly after the
main roll is completed and the aircraft is under manual braking, I will disengage the
autopilot system by pulling the paddle down. I will get an audio warning, and at this
point I will also disengage the Flight Director. Both are indicated in this picture.

Figure 247 - Upper EICAS messages.

Figure 247 shows the instruments after the disengage, the yellow AUTOBRAKES
notice, informs me that the autobrakes are no longer armed and the aircraft is under
manual braking. Right now I am letting it roll and slow down, currently at 21 knots.
So it’s slowing well, at this point I will probably give her some thrust to keep the
speed up till I reach the runway end and I turn off.

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Figure 248 - Retract flaps after landing roll completed.
On exiting the runway, I will check the spoilers are no longer deployed, they should
reset themselves but it’s worth checking and also the flaps need retraction. Figure
248 shows the flap retraction taking place and the picture below is a clean
configuration and nearly ready to taxi.

Upon leaving the runway there are a number of things that must be done, first the
lighting needs to be changed.

Figure 249 - Landing lights off for taxi.

Figure 249 shows the landing lights after the runway is vacated, the landing lights go
off and the strobes go off. The taxi light goes on.

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Figure 250 - Transponder and Autobrakes after landing roll completed.
Figure 250 shows the settings for the transponder, this must be turned off after
vacation and we must report the runway vacated which we will do in one second. The
Autobrakes are now turned off, that will clear the amber message on the upper

4.10 Taxi to the Gate and Shutdown

Ok we’re on the last stages of the flight now, let’s report the runway vacated now to
the Tower so it can go about its business with the other aircraft.

You: “Runway 24 left vacated, Speedbird 283.”

ATC: “Roger Speedbird 283, contact ground on point niner.”
You: “Ground point niner, Speedbird 283.”

After changing the radios we’ll ask ground for their assistance.

You: “Speedbird 283, request taxi to the gate.”

ATC: “Speedbird 283, taxi to gate 121 via taxiway Echo 17, left on
Echo, right onto Quebec, left on Delta, right on Delta 10 then to the
You: “Taxi to gate 121 via taxiway Echo 17, left on Echo, right onto
Quebec, left on Delta, right on Delta 10 to the gate, Speedbird 283.”

Ok now we have our taxi clearance we’ll get on with that, it sounds complicated but
really it’s not. Echo 17 is actually where I exited the runway, so we’ve already done
that part. That taxiway to the left of us is the Echo taxiway that runs to the gates. We
continue down this till we get to Quebec taxiway where we will turn a 90 degree
right, then after an immediate 90 degree left to Delta. Delta 10 is a link taxiway
between Delta and Echo, it also runs down between the gates on the pier. This is our
right 90 degree turn to the taxi way. Our gate is the second gate on the right.
Figure 252 (found here shows the
airport diagram and I have highlighted in red and the taxiways to use, while drawing
some of the route. I hope that helps you with your taxi to the gate.
It’s also worth mentioning here than at Los Angeles due to noise laws aircraft in
reality would have to power down their engines before going to the stand on a tow.

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However in the simulator we’ve not really got that option, but I thought it worth
mentioning so you get all the facts.

Figure 251 - Los Angeles International diagram for the taxi.

Ok, so let’s get on with this taxi, we also need to do some more preparation and start
the APU for ground services that we’ll need later, so let’s do that now, I trust you still
remember how? Make sure you monitor the start on the lower EICAS STAT page.

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Figure 252 - APU started after landing.
Figure 252 shows the APU spooling up for use on the ground later, and now I think
with all that we’re ready for our after landing checklist!

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Checklist Time!

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On the taxi I also switch off the auto throttle, this is no longer required now.

Figure 253 - MCP with auto throttle disconnected.

Figure 253 shows the MCP and upper EICAS displays after I disconnect the Auto
throttle system. I get a warning message and audio warning sound, notice too that
now the APU is running. At this point I would reset the autopilot disengage lever to
its original position.

Figure 254 - MCP autopilot lever reset.

Ok, with all that complete I’ve now taxied safely to the gate and just parked up at the
stand and once there I can now begin to properly shut the aircraft down. First of all I
want to set the parking brake, I will do this and verify it is set with the upper EICAS.

Figure 255 - Upper EICAS and parking brake set.

Figure 255 shows the PARK BRAKE SET on the upper EICAS as well as the lever in
position. We’re now quite stable and it’s time to do the shutdown so we can let the
passengers move around and finish up here.

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First I’d ask the First Officer if they are finished with the engines, they will then
conduct the shutdown procedures and start to power down the aircraft systems.
With the park brake set, I’ll turn the bleed valves for the engines to OFF and verify
that the valve lights are lit up. Figure 256 shows this setup here and the bleed systems
are now inactive on those engines.

Figure 256 - Bleed valves for engine 1 through 4 off and verified OFF with the amber warning.
Also check that the APU bleed air and L and R ISLN valves are open, which in my
case they already were. Also a quick look at the lower EICAS to verify everything is
as it should be.

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Figure 257 - Lower EICAS with bleed valves closed.
Figure 257 shows the lower EICAS agrees with the upper panel and the valves are
indeed closed. You’ll also notice the amber warnings on the upper EICAS appear.

Figure 258 - Upper EICAS bleed air warnings.

The next stage is to set APU power, we’ll reach up and do that now.

Figure 259- APU power selected, engine generators off.

Figure 259 shows the APU is now providing electrical power for the aircraft and the
engine generators are now off. Again we can check the lower EICAS to confirm the

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electrical system is operating as it’s configured, and as Figure 260 shows, it is with
the APU 1 and 2 providing power and the generators for 1 through 4 off.

Figure 260 - Lower EICAS ELEC page.

Now it’s time to turn off the engines, in order to do this we will need to throw the
CUTOFF switch for each engine in turn and monitor its shutdown. Typically call
“cutoff 1” and then once the engine begins to shutdown call “running down” then
continue to the next one. So let’s do that now, I shut down engine 4 first, and work
backwards in order.

Figure 261 - Engine 4 cutoff and then running down.

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Figure 261 shows engine 4 set to CUTOFF and the EICAS displaying the ENG 4
SHUTDOWN message and the visible signs of the engine running down. Let’s
continue this till all 4 engines are shut down.

Figure 262 - Upper EICAS engine shutdown complete.

Figure 262 shows all the engines are now running down or shutdown, as they
eventually finish rotating, the values for N1, EGT, etc. will blank.
The next stage is to shut down the hydraulic systems, and we start with setting all 4
hydraulic demand pumps to OFF. Keep an eye on this panel, eventually SYS
FAULT, PRESS should light up for all 4 pumps. I usually wait till this is the case
before continuing.

Figure 263 - Hydraulic demand pumps all off.

Figure 263 shows all pumps off and the SYS FAULT and PRESS lights illuminated.
Again selecting the lower EICAS to the HYD page will confirm the pumps are off.

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Figure 264 - EICAS lower HYD page.
Figure 264 once again shows the system is shutting down, if you look you might
notice the hydraulic pressure dropping, eventually it will level at 40. This is
obviously the system shutting down and quite normal.
The next stage is the fuel pumps, these all need turning to OFF.

Figure 265 - FUEL panel with all the pumps set to OFF.
Figure 265 shows the fuel panel and everything now set to OFF as it should be, again
notice the PRESS lights illuminated, they are informing you that the pump pressure is
low (because it’s off) but the tanks still contain fuel. Once again back to the EICAS
lower to check the fuel system status. Figure 266 shows the EICAS lower FUEL
page, and sure enough all the pumps are now shutdown.

Figure 266 - EICAS lower FUEL page.

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I’ve left the X FEED valves as they are, as they reflect the current configuration of the
fuel system in terms of the quantities in the tanks.
Let’s configure the equipment cooling, this is important, and especially important
while we are here. If the outside air temperature (OAT) is about 22 degrees Celsius
or higher we’ll se the system to OVRD, if it’s less we’ll set it to NORM.

Figure 267 - Cooling and Air Conditioning.

Figure 267 shows that the OAT is in fact 16 degrees so NORM is selected for the
cooling, also I have shut down all the air conditioning systems. If I were going to
leave the aircraft powered for the next crew, I would leave these on. To keep the
aircraft cool, but since I’m going for a full shutdown now, I will turn it off.
Last but not least, the lighting system. We’re stationary so there is no need to taxi
lights, or the beacon. In fact the only lights now required are NAV and the wing and
tail lights. So let’s set up that panel.

Figure 268 - Lighting panel setup.

Figure 268 shows the lighting panel setup for the park, with that complete I think
we’re about done so, let’s run through the shutdown checklist!

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Checklist Time!

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It’s a good feeling to finally get to the stand and be shutdown, now let’s secure
everything here and go and have a sit and coffee. The passengers can move about
now so let’s turn off the seatbelt signs.
A quick announcement to passengers is always a good thing while we secure at the

Ladies and gentleman, your Captain again. Apologies for that short
delay, we have arrived at Los Angeles International Airport, we are
actually ahead of schedule here at Los Angeles. The weather here
today is lovely with clear skies a light breeze and temperatures around
16 degrees Celsius. I’d like to thank my crew in the cabin and my 2
first officers with me on the flight deck, but above all thank you for
choosing British Airways. I hope your flight has been as comfortable
and enjoyable as possible and look forward to seeing you again.
Thank you.

Ok, with that done, it’s pretty much a case of going down to the door and seeing
everyone off the plane. The only thing we could now include is the complete
shutdown of the aircraft before it would be taken to a hanger. This would be done
after the aircraft is vacated, and really in a ramp situation. Normally we would end at
the aircraft secure for the next crew (without turning off the air conditioning of
course) and a ground crew would do the rest of the shutdown, but let’s get to it
anyway, so you know about it all.
First step is to turn off the emergency lights on the upper panel, to do this open the
switch cover and then select the switch to OFF.

Figure 269 - Emergency lights set to off.

Figure 269 shows the aircraft emergency lighting set to OFF, with the flap left open
for the next crew. On closing the flap you’ll automatically put the switch back to
Set the PACKS on the air conditioning system all to OFF, confirm with the lower

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Figure 270 - PACKS all off and confirmed on the lower EICAS.
Figure 270 shows that the PACKs are now set to the OFF position, and the lower
EICAS shows this too. You’ll hear the fans stop running now the conditioning
system is not working anymore.
Turn off bleed air from the APU, and wait 60 seconds before continuing. The APU
should be allowed to run for 60 seconds without supplying bleed air in order to
lengthen its life.

Figure 271 - APU bleed set to OFF.

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Figure 271 shows the EICAS just after APU bleed is selected to the OFF position.
The DUCT pressure you’ll notice is now 0 as there is no more pressure within the
pneumatic system provided by the APU or the engines.
After the 60 seconds have passed, set the APU to OFF and wait for the upper EICAS
to stop displaying APU RUNNING. You will notice there are a lot of EICAS
messages on the upper EICAS, use CANCEL to get back to the messages regarding
the APU.

Figure 272 - Upper EICAS after the APU has shut down.
Figure 272 shows the upper EICAS after the APU has been shutdown, again notice
the DUCT pressure is at 0, the EICAS also shows the PACKS OFF message.
Only two more things left to do now! Set the Standby power switch to OFF on the
upper electrical panel, and then open the battery switch cover and select that to OFF
and everything should go out!

Figure 273 - Electrical system and Battery OFF.

Figure 273 shows the cover open BATTERY OFF and the STANDBY POWER set to
OFF. The batter should be turned off after the power switch is set to OFF and not
Right, well it’s a nice day in Los Angeles and you’re done bar the last checklist, just a
bit of paperwork to write up and then you can go to your nice hotel suite and have a
relaxing evening, till the flight back tomorrow. now a cold dark cockpit again! We’ve
done a complete cycle, just the shutdown checklist to come!

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Checklist Time!

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5 Supplemental
I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial and I hope it’s given you some insight into the
operations of the 744. This tutorial is not 100% accurate and I hope that with
opinions and comments I can improve it. Please feel free to e-mail me with your
comments and suggestions at, look forward to hearing from

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6 References
It is important that the reader realises I did not create this whole document alone, a lot
useful information was required from the following sources.

Helpful material PMDG Manual

when writing:

PMDG Tutorials -

ITVV DVDs – 747-400 Virgin Atlantic, 747-400 Cathay Pacific


US Charts: NACO - US Charts for KLAX-

UK Charts: N/A

Applications: FSBuild 2.3 -

PMDG Queen of the Skies 747-400 -

PMDG Queen of the Skies 747-400 - British Airways Livery -

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 -

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