THE FS2002 PILOT'S ASSISTANT
with updates for FS2004

in association with

Tradewind Caribbean Airlines

Visit TCA Home Page!
 


 

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Introduction - Read This First! Where Do I Start?  FAQs
Flight Procedures Using FS2002/4 & FS9.1 Hints on Real World Flying
A-Z Index Notes & Definitions Rules of Thumb
Author's Note All TCA Tips (486 KB Zip File) Latest Updates (18-Dec-04)
A.I. Aircraft Aircraft Air Traffic Control (ATC)
Charts & Navigation Download Sites Flight Planning, Schedules
Flying FS Setup & Troubleshooting Miscellaneous Goodies
Neat Things To Try Online & Multiplayer Flying PC, Video Cards etc.
Scenery Simulator Controls What's New in FS2004?
 AVSIM File Library & Reviews Discussion Forums Flightsim's How To... Collection
AVSIM.com MSFS Gateway FlightSim.com
Pilot's Assistant Toolset FSVC Tips & Tricks Pilot's Assistant Directory

Search the TCA Hints & Tips Files:

PicoSearch
(also returns hits from other parts of 
the Pilot's Assistant Web Site)
Other Searches:
Google     Vivísimo    FSVC Tips & Tricks
(vivísimo groups results by context)

Language Translation:
babel.altavista.com

 

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Introduction

Welcome to a new part of the Pilot's Assistant web site!

The aims of this page are to provide guidance and tips for flight sim pilots, and to make it easier to find help on aviation, flight sim and PC topics. There is a lot of good information out there, and this page will try to point you at it rather than unnecessarily duplicate stuff.

If you need help, go straight to the FAQs!

One of the main services provided by this page is the collection of TCA Hints & Tips Files. These are edited versions of information shared by TCA pilots, organised into various topics - more information here.

This page is now being updated for FS2004 - see here for more details.

While the focus is on FS2002/4, some of the information will apply equally to earlier versions of the MS Flight Sim or to non-MS flight sims, some of it is guidance on real-world flying where this is useful background, and some of it is just other stuff that flight simmers might find helpful.

The information on this page is NOT intended for real-world flying - see Author's Note below.

You will see that the cells in the above contents table have different coloured backgrounds, which indicate the following:
Yellow
These point directly to topics in this web page. You will find more yellow cells like this in the A-Z index (keep reading)...
Green When you click on one of these links you will be taken first into the A-Z index - you will find several entries there relating to the same topic, including a link (in a green cell) to a TCA Hints & Tips file on this topic. The latter are simple text files that I maintain, and are now generally updated once or twice a month (except when I need a holiday!). Most of the information in these files comes from TCA pilots, some comes from people sharing information on public newsgroups. The files have .wri extensions and will normally open using Wordpad. New information is added to the front of these files.
Light green
Similar to the above, but the faded colour indicates that the TCA Hints & Tips file has not been updated in the latest update cycle.

BTW: if you would like to subscribe to the TCA mailing list (which has much friendly banter and other good stuff that gets edited out of the hints & tips files) you'll find details here.

Blue
These sections summarise and provide links to other useful sites and pages. You will find many other links in the Pilot's Assistant Directory (PAD).
Dark blue
A direct link to an exceptionally useful related site, for which no additional information is needed on this page.

The easiest way to look up information will often be via the A-Z Index, which also uses a similar colour scheme, or via Flight Procedures & Notes, which is organized around the various phases of flight, or via the site's FAQs. You can also search the TCA Hints & Tips Files for specific words and phrases (including, for instance, "FS2004").

If you have any comments, suggestions or corrections I would be delighted to have them - please email me.
 

VIEWING THIS PAGE:

This page is best viewed at 1024 * 768 - if you are at 800 * 600 you might find it useful to reduce the text size. You can do this in Netscape using Control + [ or in Internet Explorer via the View/Text Size menu. Alternatively, with Internet Explorer (or other Microsoft applications) you can alter the text size using the mouse wheel (if you have one) while holding down the Control key.

 

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Where do I start?

If you need a little help in finding your way around, check out the FAQs.

If you haven't done so already, do take a little time to become familiar with the contents table and how it works, as explained here.

If you are new to FS2002/4 or to flight simming, here are a few suggestions for getting started:

  • Do take time to become familiar with the huge amount of information available in the on-line help facilities of the MS Flight Sim.
  • Don't forget to read the readme file that comes with the flight sim. It contains good basic trouble-shooting and setup info that is often overlooked.
  • From the beginning, keep a careful paper log of everything you do when installing add-ons or making any changes to the settings of the flight sim. I use a little spiral-bound notebook. It may seem tedious, but trust me on this! I do this for everything on my PC, not just the flight sim, but for the flight sim you really will need it one day.... (You wouldn't wander into a complex cave system without a ball of string, would you?)
  • If you are learning simulated flying, I suggest that you spend time learning the basic flying skills in just one aircraft (preferably a simple piston aircraft, to start with). Practice until things become automatic, and leave ATC and complex navigation until later. It's a bit like learning to drive a car - you don't want to get into fast traffic and complex junctions, or find you way through a bewildering road system, until you can forget what your hands and feet are doing and give your attention to more important things!
  • If you'd like expert help in learning to fly, try this excellent introductory tutorial by Hal Stoen. You'll find other useful tutorials and textbooks described here in the Pilot's Assistant Directory (PAD). See also Hints on Real World Flying (including Rules of Thumb) on this page.
  • The section Flight Procedures on this page will take you through the various phases of a flight, and will point you at more information when you want to know about it... at least, that's the general idea!
  • But remember, there are lots of ways to enjoy the sim - a few of them are listed here.
  • When you're comfortable with basic flying, consider joining a Virtual Airline. Virtual Airlines are an excellent resource for expert help, flying training, routes to fly, aircraft, scenery, add-ons, and much else besides. There are a wide variety to choose from, with many flavours - see here in the PAD for some suggestions. If you would like to visit the VA that I belong to (especially friendly to beginners), go straight to the top of this page and click on the TCA logo.
  • And finally... As you go along, don't forget to occasionally check out those FAQs...
I hope that you find this site useful. Have fun!

 

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Author's Note

I am NOT a real pilot, and the information on this page is NOT intended for real-world navigation and flying, nor for any situation where errors could cause harm to anyone or anything.

Although I am the author of this web page, much of the actual information comes from TCA pilots and from people sharing information on web sites and public newsgroups. These people are gratefully thanked, and are identified wherever they are known. If you are one of these people and are not properly identified and would like to be, or you would like to correct or withdraw your information, please let me know.

I would also particularly like to thank:

  • Nick Dargahi for his excellent book ("The Ultimate Flight Simulator Pilot's Guidebook" 1998, ISBN 1-155828-574-1).
  • The long line of people who have contributed to FS2004 and its predecessors - the simulators themselves, and all the freeware additions.
  • The endlessly patient people who have helped out on newsgroup microsoft.public.simulators - Bill, Bob, Brett, Dennis, Jughead, Katy, RushMan, Trip, Walt, and many others.
  • Last but definitely not least, the friendly and knowledgeable folks at Tradewind Caribbean Airlines, "probably the best Virtual Airline in the world" - with a special thanks to Rainer Labie, President of TCA, who encouraged me to "go public" with the Pilot's Assistant toolset.
Brian Tooby
TCA Pilot #2658

To contact me, please visit my new flight sim home page - thanks!

 

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A-Z Index

A-Z INDEX

A B C D E F G H I J K L M
N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

 

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OTHER A-Z INFORMATION SOURCES

Pilot/Controller Glossary (P/CG) The P/CG is a really useful A-Z addendum to the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM), one of the FAA Air Traffic Publications. The P/CG explains all kinds of aviation terms. All of these references provide excellent and authoritative information.
Abbreviations Used in AIS Publications (section GEN 2-2)

Feb 04: updated URLs

This PDF document expands the many abbreviations (e.g. NOTAMS) used in the United Kingdom Integrated Aeronautical Information Package (AIP). The AIP is also a source of excellent and authoritative information (including free charts - see here in the PAD).
Notes and Definitions This is an alphabetically-organised section of this page which appears below. Entries in this section can also be reached from the A-Z index, from Flight Procedures and from other places in this page.

Green cells in the following table indicate TCA Hints & Tips Files (unlike the contents table, the green colours here don't fade with time). Other colour coding is as explained here.

 

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-A-

Adjusting throttle, props and mixture
Aircraft Approach Categories
Aircraft Doors - see SIMULATOR SETTINGS & APPEARANCE in FSVC Tips
Aircraft Performance Data - see here in the PAD
Aircraft Weight - Adjusting
Aircraft - see TCA Hints & Tips
A.I. Aircraft
A.I. Aircraft - see ADD ONS, AIRCRAFT VISUALS and ATC in FSVC Tips
A.I. Aircraft - see TCA Hints & Tips
Approach (flight segments) - see Initial Approach and Final Approach
Approach charts - where to find them and how to read them - see here in the PAD
APU
ATC - Virtual ATC and on line flying, see here in the PAD and also see Online & Multiplayer Flying
ATC - real world, see here in the PAD
ATC - see ADD ONS and ATC in FSVC Tips
 ATC - FS2002/FS2004 ATC TCA Hints & Tips
ATIS - see ATC in FSVC Tips
Autopilot - see ADD ONS and AIRCRAFT BEHAVIOUR in FSVC Tips
Autothrottle - see ADD ONS and AIRCRAFT BEHAVIOUR in FSVC Tips

 

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-B-

Ballooning in FS2002
Battery - see AIRCRAFT BEHAVIOUR in FSVC Tips
Beacon, use of a/c beacon
 Brakes - see AIRCRAFT BEHAVIOUR and SIMULATOR SETTINGS & APPEARANCE in FSVC Tips
Bush Flying

 

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-C-

Calibration - see CONTROLLERS in FSVC Tips
Carb Heat
Category A, Category B etc. - see Aircraft Approach Categories
CAT I, CAT II, CAT III - see ILS Approach Categories
Charts & Navigation - see PAD
Charts & Navigation - see TCA Hints & Tips
Checkride - see PILOT INSTRUCTION in FSVC Tips
Cowl Flaps

 

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-D-

Direction Indicator (Heading Indicator)
 Doors - see Aircraft Doors
Download Sites - see here and here in the PAD
Download Sites TCA hints & Tips File

 

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-E-

Easter Eggs

 

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-F-

Final Approach
Flight Dynamics - see AIRCRAFT BEHAVIOUR in FSVC Tips
Flight Planning - section in Flight Procedures
Flight Planning, Schedules - see TCA Hints & Tips file
Flight Sim Veteran's Club Tips
Flight Videos - see SIMULATOR SETTINGS & APPEARANCE in FSVC Tips
Float Planes - section in Neat Things To Try
Float Planes - see ADD ONS in FSVC Tips
Flying - see Pilot Instruction in FSVC Tips
Flying - see Flight Procedures
Flying - see General Aviation Information in the PAD
Flying - see Hints On Real-World Flying
Flying - see Lessons, Tutorials, Textbooks in the PAD
Flying - see TCA Hints & Tips File
Force Feedback - see CONTROLLERSin FSVC Tips
Frame Rate Slider
Frame Rates - see SIMULATOR SETTINGS & APPEARANCE in FSVC Tips
Frame Rates - see Frame Rate Optimisation and Other Miscellaneous Goodies in the PAD
FS2002/4 Troubleshooting
FS2002/4 Setup & Troubleshooting - see FSVC Tips
FS2004 Setup & Troubleshooting - see TCA Hints & Tips File
FS2002 Setup & Troubleshooting - see TCA Hints & Tips File
FS2004 - What's new in FS2004?
FS2004 - differences from FS2002 - see TCA Hints & Tips File
FS2004 Patch (FS9.1) - see this TCA Hints & Tips File
FSLandClass - see Scenery
FSNavigator - see herein the PAD
FSUIPC - see here in the PAD
FSVC Tips & Tricks
Fuel and Fuel Capacity - see AIRCRAFT BEHAVIOUR in FSVC Tips
Fuel Boost Pumps
Fuel Planning - section in Flight Procedures
Fuel Planning - see Pilot's Assistant Toolset
Fuel/Air Mixture

 

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-G-

Glider Towing - see MULTIPLAYER in FSVC Tips
Gliders - see Neat Things To Try TCA Hints & Tips File
Gliders - see Soaring entry in Neat Things To Try
Glideslope - see AIRCRAFT BEHAVIOUR in FSVC Tips
GPS
 GPS - see ADD ONS and SIMULATOR SETTINGS & APPEARANCE in FSVC Tips
Gyro Drift Realism - see the tip Making Gyro drift more realistic in Flight Sim Veteran's Club (FSVC) FS2002 Tips & Tricks

 

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-H-

Heading Indicator
Helicopters - see entry in Neat Things To Try
Helicopters - see new category in the PAD
Helicopters - see ADD ONS and AIRCRAFT BEHAVIOUR in FSVC Tips
Helicopters - see helicopter recommendations in this TCA Hints & Tips File
HSI

 

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-I-

Icing and De-Icing - see AIRCRAFT BEHAVIOUR in FSVC Tips
Idle Settings - What are High Idle / Low Idle Condition settings for turboprops?
IFR - Instrument Flight Rules
ILS - Instrument Landing System
ILS Approach Categories (Cat I, Cat II, Cat III)
IMC
Initial Approach
Inner Marker - see Marker Beacons
 Importing Aircraft - see ADD ONS, AIRCRAFT BEHAVIOUR, AIRCRAFT VISUALS, ATC and LIGHTING in FSVC Tips
Installation (Various) - see AIRCRAFT BEHAVIOUR in FSVC Tips

 

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-J-

Joysticks - see CONTROLLERS in FSVC Tips

 

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-K-

Key Assignments for FS2002
KIAS
KTAS

 

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-L-

Landing practice - see Dec 2001 in Flying TCA Hints & Tips File
Latitude and Longitude - see SIMULATOR SETTINGS & APPEARANCE in FSVC Tips
Latitude and Longitude - see information and calculations in the Pilot's Assistant Toolset
Lights, use of a/c beacon, landing lights etc.
Lights, see FSVC Tips
Lights, see Night Flying
Lights, adding FS2002 lights to older aircraft - see June 2002 in Aircraft TCA Hints & Tips File
Lockups - see SIMULATOR SETTINGS & APPEARANCE in FSVC Tips
Lockups - see Troubleshooting TCA Hints & Tips Files

 

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-M-

MACH Numbers
Manifold Pressure
Marker Beacons
Marker Beacons - see ADD ONS and SIMULATOR SETTINGS & APPEARANCE in FSVC Tips
Middle Marker - see Marker Beacons
 Mixture - Fuel/Air Mixture
Menu Bar - see SIMULATOR SETTINGS & APPEARANCE in FSVC Tips
Miscellaneous Goodies - see Frame Rate Optimisation and Other Miscellaneous Goodies in the PAD
Miscellaneous Goodies - see TCA Hints & Tips
Mountain Flying - one of the items listed in this entry in Flight Procedures
Multiplayer - see MULTIPLAYER in FSVC Tips
Multiplayer - see Online & Multiplayer Flying TCA Hints & Tips

 

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-N-

NDB
Neat Things To Try
Neat Things To Try - see TCA Hints & Tips
Night Flying in FS2002

 

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-O-

Outer Marker - see Marker Beacons

 

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-P-

Panels - see ADD ONS in FSVC Tips
Panels - tips on panels are included in the Aircraft TCA Hints & Tips File
PC, Video Cards etc. - see Graphics and Video Cards, Memory Upgrades, General PC Help in the PAD
PC, Video Cards etc. - see SIMULATOR SETTINGS & APPEARANCE in FSVC Tips
PC, Video Cards etc. - see Setting Up Your PC & Graphics Card, General PC Help
PC, Video Cards etc. TCA Hints & Tips File
Pilot's Assistant Home Page
Pitot-Static System
Playback - see SIMULATOR SETTINGS & APPEARANCE in FSVC Tips
Props, Fixed-Speed (Variable Pitch)
Pushback (FS2002)

 

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-Q-

QFE
 QNE
QNH

 

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-R-

Radio Frequencies - see ADD ONS and ATC sections of FSVC Tips
Runway Lights - see scenery add-ons section in the PAD
Runway Lights - see Night Flying
Runway Lights - see LIGHTING in FSVC Tips

 

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-S-

Scenery - see here in the PAD
Scenery - see SCENERY in FSVC Tips
Scenery - TCA Hints & Tips File
Simulator Controls - see Key Assignments for FS2002
Simulator Controls - TCA Hints & Tips File
Sinking - see ADD ONS in FSVC Tips
Slew - see AIRCRAFT BEHAVIOUR in FSVC Tips
Slew and landing practice - see Flying TCA Hints & Tips File
Soaring - see entry in Neat Things To Try
Soaring - see Gliders
Sound(s) - see ADD ONS, ATC and SIMULATOR SETTINGS & APPEARANCE in FSVC Tips
Speed Hold - see AIRCRAFT BEHAVIOUR in FSVC Tips
Starting at terminal instead of at runway (avoiding being repositioned when loading flight plan)
Strobe lights, use of
 Stutters - see SIMULATOR SETTINGS & APPEARANCE in FSVC Tips

 

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-T-

Taxi Speed of AI Aircraft, Changing to More Realistic Value - see June 2002 section of this TCA Hints & Tips File
Taxi Speeds - What rules should I follow for taxi speeds?
Terrain Mesh - see Jan 2002 section of the Scenery TCA Hints & Tips File
Terrain Mesh Resolutions - see Jan 2002 section of the Scenery TCA Hints & Tips File
TOGA or TO/GA (Take Off, Go Around) - see Using the FS2002 Autopilot and TO/GA
Traffic Tools (TTools) - see ADD ONS in FSVC Tips
Traffic Tools (TTools) - see A.I. Aircraft
Trim - see AIRCRAFT BEHAVIOUR, CONTROLLERS, and SIMULATOR SETTINGS & APPEARANCE in FSVC Tips
Troubleshooting - see FS2002/4 Setup & Troubleshooting

 

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-U-

USB - see CONTROLLERS in FSVC Tips

 

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-V-

V-Speeds
VFR - Visual Flight Rules
Video(s) - see SIMULATOR SETTINGS & APPEARANCE in FSVC Tips
Video Cards - see SIMULATOR SETTINGS & APPEARANCE in FSVC Tips
Video Cards - see PC, Video Cards etc. TCA Hints & Tips File
Video Cards - see Graphics and Video Cards, Memory Upgrades, General PC Help in the PAD
Views - see ADD ONS, AIRCRAFT VISUALS and CONTROLLERS in FSVC Tips
Views in Virtual Cockpit - see AIRCRAFT VISUALS in FSVC Tips
Views - see Zoom
Virtual Airlines - see this category in the PAD
Virtual cockpit - see AIRCRAFT VISUALS in FSVC Tips
Volume - see SIMULATOR SETTINGS & APPEARANCE in FSVC Tips
 VOR

 

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-W-

Weather
Weather - see Charts, Aeronautical Information, Weather, Flight Planning in the PAD
Weather - see ADD ONS in FSVC Tips
Weight - see Aircraft Weight
Weight - see Weight / Payload Planningin Flight Procedures
Wing Leveller - see AIRCRAFT BEHAVIOUR in FSVC Tips

 

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-Z-

Zoom - see AIRCRAFT VISUALS in FSVC Tips

 

Return to A-Z Index

Setting Up Your PC & Graphics Card, General PC Help

You will find all kinds of good tips on PC hardware and software in the PC, Video Cards etc. TCA Hints & Tips File. The February 2004 section of this file contains some particularly useful information for anyone upgrading their video card or drivers.

Highly recommended for everyone is Jimmy Richards' FS2004 and WinXP Optimization Guide V2.

When you are running the flight sim, you don't want any other unnecessary stuff using up machine resources. Two good sources of help here are:

You will find lots of other PC help information (graphics and video cards, operating systems, general PC help) from sites listed here in the PAD.

Setting up your graphics card is one of many topics in Flightsim's How To... Collection (Updated for FS2004).
 

 

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Flight Procedures

This section provides a list of procedures that are typically carried out in various phases of flight, which might be useful in itself, and also provides some notes and links to other background information. The phases (for this purpose) are: 
1. Pre-Flight
2. Before Engine Start
3. Engine Start
4. Taxi
5. Pre-Takeoff
6. Takeoff/Climb
7. Cruise
8. Pre-Descent
9. Descent
10. Approach
11. Landing
12. Taxi To Gate
13. Shutdown
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Rather than be too generic, some of the information is specific to one of three representative aircraft, colour-coded as follows:
Cessna C182S
King Air 350
Boeing 737

In addition, information that is specific to the simulator itself (e.g. control keys, setting time and season) appears in this colour. Where key controls (e.g. Control+Shift+F4) are shown, it should be understood that the same effect can usually be achieved using the mouse with various knobs, levers, switches etc. on the aircraft panel. Information that relates to real-world flying but may not be modelled in the simulator (unless certain add-ons are used) appears in this colour

In the yellow row that starts each section, you will see a symbol ¥, if you click on this you will go to the next section in sequence.

Also check out the UK Direct Airways Flight School, which provides a nice step-by-step guide to the various phases of a commercial jet flight from taxiing before takeoff to landing, concentrating on speeds and climb/descent rates, pointing out some differences between flight sim and real flying. 

For more aircraft-specific information (including for the 737) see here in the PAD.

One of the best sources of real-world flying expertise I have found so far are the AVweb Columns at www.avweb.com, and in particular John Deakin's articles, which I can't recommend highly enough. 

 

Return to top of Flight Procedures
   PRE-FLIGHT   ¥
Weather, Time, Season You are strongly recommended to use FSMeteo (excellent shareware) or GetWeather (freeware) rather than the built-in Real Weather facilities of FS2002. For details, see here in the PAD. If using FSMeteo, don't forget to check the set airport destination box under Options, and make sure that your Preferences setup has sufficient Destination to Adv Distance and Destination Lock Distance. This will avoid FS2002 ATC and other add-ons from getting confused about the weather at your destination, and hence changing your landing runway.

Set appropriate time and season from the World menu. Appearance of trees and vegetation etc. and the brightness of the landscape will depend on the season of the year.

Flying at night? Check out night flying in FS2002.

Flight planning You are strongly recommended to use FSNavigator rather than the built-in Flight Planner of FS2002. It's worth every penny, and will really open up the flight sim (and flight simming) for you. See Flight Planner Addons here in the PAD.

If you haven't already done so, check out Charles Wood's superb tutorial on Flight Simulator Navigation.

Rules for Flight Levels / Altitudes are summarised in the April 2002 section of this TCA Hints & Tips File. For the official info on these rules, see here (VFR) or here (IFR).

You might find other sections of the PAD useful, e.g. the section Charts, Aeronautical Information, Weather, Flight Planning.

Mountain flying? Check this out... and see How To Fly In The Mountains (one of Flightsim's How To... collection) and also several mountain-flying entries in Organised Flight Information in the PAD.

Weight / payload planning See Hal Stoen's tutorial A Weighty Issue. "This new tutorial addresses weight and balance issues in aircraft - why weight is important, and how out of CG operations can be fatal to your health."

Other articles and tutorials by Hal Stoen.

See also fuel planning and load fuel (next two rows).

Fuel planning Naturally, I recommend my freeware Pilot's Assistant Toolset for this! (which includes weight calculations with its fuel planner).

If you are using FSMeteo for real weather as well, you can establish winds aloft at various points along your route using FSMeteo:

  • If you are using FSMeteo 5.1, you can set the destination temporarily to various airports along the route, and use the "Decode Destination" button to read the met info there. Then set your real destination into FSMeteo. 
  • If you have FSMeteo 5.2 or later, you can now import any Microsoft Simulator flight plan from the Pilot folder for FS2000 or the Flights\myflts folder for FS2002 and display various weather and flight specific data for each waypoint in the flight plan. This includes wind direction and wind speed, as well as much other useful information.
Either way, you can then fairly easily determine an average wind correction, which affects the fuel you carry, using the Winds sheet in the Pilot's Assistant toolset.

For real world fuel planning, there's a good AVSIM thread "General airline flying procedures".

Load fuel ... and if you want to try altering the simulated weight of the airplane for cargo and passengers as well as fuel, try Scott Campbell's Aircraft Loader Utility - see April 2002 section of the TCA Aircraft Hints & Tips File.
   BEFORE ENGINE START ¥
Preflight walkaround & cockpit checks Before walkaround: Check ignition, throttle, mixture, avionics and electronics are all OFF (we don't want to be fried by radiation, and we don't want engine to start when touching the propeller).
Establish power From battery, external source or APU.
Check avionics functioning Use local nav aids - VOR, DME, ILS, ADF as applicable - check correct indications on instruments corresponding to these local nav aids. You can use the mouse-wheel to adjust frequencies etc. in FS2002.
Set avionics for departure ... using nav aids as required for first section of the flight
Compute or check take-off data ... meaning mainly the critical take-off and flap retraction speeds, depending on aircraft weight and atmospheric conditions 
Set speedbugs ... or if speedbugs are not provided on the simulated panel, at least ensure that you know the critical speeds
Check fuel load is correct  
Check fuel tank selector is in correct position  
Check parking brake Set with Control+. if necessary
Check for unusual indications on warning systems  
Check altimeter Usually using QNH (set local QNH with B key and check height corresponds to airfield height), sometimes with QFE if you have been given that (set local QFE and check height shown as zero, or vice versa)
Check and set gyro instruments These should already be powered up now. Confirm no failure flags present, confirm horizon is erected i.e. showing wings level with correct nose attitude for this aircraft, ensure turn coordinator is centralised, ensure DI or HSI is stabilised on correct heading.
Departure briefing For an example, see ITVV cockpit videos/DVDs (details in section Lessons, Tutorials, Textbooks of the PAD)
Check for full, free and correct movement of controls Except for rudder movement if the rudder is linked to the steering wheel - we need to be moving in order to check rudder movement in that case, otherwise it's like trying to turn the wheel in a stationary car!
Beacon ON To show we are about to move - see lights
Pushback procedure (if appropriate) See FS2002 Pushback
   ENGINE START  ¥
Check parking brake ON Control+.
Check area is clear  
Air conditioning OFF In order to reduce load for engine start
Piston: Mixture FULL RICH (knob fully IN) (unless airfield is above 3,000 feet, in which case you may need to lean the mixture somewhat)
Turboprop:Jet: Fuel flow ON
Control+Shift+F4 - set full rich, or fuel flow ON
Control+Shift+F3 - enrich the mixture
Control+Shift+F2 - lean the mixture

See notes on Fuel/Air Mixture.

Fuel pumps ON See notes on Fuel Boost Pumps.
Piston: Cowl flaps OPEN See notes on Cowl Flaps.
Cessna C182S: Prop FULL INCREASE (HIGH RPM) (knob fully IN) Control+F3 - increase prop RPM
Control+F4 - maximum prop RPM

See notes on Fixed Speed (Variable Pitch) Propellers.

Start engines
(Actual sequence of operations depends on aircraft type)
Control+E - automatic start sequence (on some panels, you'll be missing a lot of fun if you use this, try a proper engine start instead)

E followed quickly by 1 - select engine 1
E followed quickly by 1 and then 2 - select engine 1 and 2 (etc.)

Air conditioning ON  
Jet: APU OFF, make other power and hydraulics adjustments now that engines are supplying power  
Get taxi clearance  
   TAXI ¥
Taxi light ON (if available and required) See lights
Throttle/prop speed as required See What rules should I follow for taxi speeds?
See What are High Idle / Low Idle Condition settings for turboprops?
Apply wheelbrakes to check them when low speed reached (about 2 knots)  
During taxi, check rudder for full, free and correct movement of controls If we weren't able to check it before (as indicated above)
Check gyro instruments as we manoeuvre As the aircraft changes direction during taxiing, make sure that instruments correctly reflect these changes in direction
Set up (but don't engage) the autopilot... ... see Katy Pluta's tips on use of autopilot
Remember to cut the throttle when releasing or applying brakes This is to avoid surging forward, or wearing out the brakes. In piston aircraft, we normally don't keep revs at idle for long because of protecting the spark plugs.
During taxi, do as many pre-takeoff checks as possible Flaps, speed bugs, altitude bugs, radios tuned... 
Kneeboard (F10 key)
   PRE-TAKEOFF  ¥
In piston aircraft do engine run-up checks Maybe 50 yards or so before runway, turn in order to face the aircraft into the wind (to one side of the taxiway, don't block other aircraft), in order to cool the engine during these checks.
Pitot Heater ON See notes on the Pitot-Static System.
Jet: arm auto-spoilers, set auto-brakes  
Hold short of runway  
Complete pre-takeoff checks Kneeboard (F10 key)
Contact tower for permission to take off ("Ready for Departure")  
After clearance received, Strobe Lights ON 
(and Landing Lights if required, being careful not to blind other aircraft)
See lights
   TAKEOFF/CLIMB  ¥
On runway, check Heading Indicator Compare DI/HSI with magnetic compass
Autothrottle ON  ... see Katy Pluta's tips on use of autopilot
During acceleration, check instruments quickly, check engine behaving as it should  
At Vr, rotate as in the following rows: See notes on V-speeds
Cessna C182S: gently apply up elevator. Allow airplane to take off by itself. VR = 50-60 knots. Initial climb rate shouldn't exceed 500 fpm. Once climbing, adjust pitch gently (which might be downwards) to maintain best rate of climb speed VY = 80 knots. After reaching 70 knots, you must NOT allow airspeed to fall below 70 knots, lower the nose if necessary.
King Air 350: rotate smoothly to about 10º. Allow airplane to take off by itself. VR = approx 104 knots. Once climbing, set 90% power, 1,600 rpm, pitch about 6º-7º.

See notes on Fixed Speed (Variable Pitch) Propellers.

737: Rotate smoothly to about 18º, taking about 6 seconds. Allow airplane to take off by itself. VR depends considerably on weight of aircraft
Positive rate of climb - GEAR UP ... in a/c with 2 or more engines, confirm positive rate of climb on both rate-of-climb indicator and altimeter

Key G raises/lowers the undercarriage.

Passenger jet climb profile (speeds, climb rates, flap retraction, during different segments of the climb) For excellent guidance on this (among other things) see the UK Direct Airways Flight School.
Further autopilot settings... ... see Katy Pluta's tips on use of autopilot
Piston: at about 1,000 feet AGL, transition to Cruise Climb Cessna C182S: now that we are at a safe altitude, we don't need to maintain best rate of climb speed, so lower the nose to increase speed to about 90 knots.
Piston: at 2,000 feet AGL, fuel pumps OFF ... or in IMC, at pilot's discretion.

See notes on Fuel Boost Pumps.

Piston: at 2,000 feet AGL, or Turboprop/Jet: after flap retraction, carry out departure checks Use the FREDA mnemonic to help remember these checks.

As part of the engine checks: have you reduced climb power (if required)?

Cessna C182S: above 3,000 feet, lean the mixture Control+Shift+F2 - lean the mixture
Control+Shift+F3 - enrich the mixture

See notes on Fuel/Air Mixture.

Landing Lights OFF (altitude varies) See lights
When crossing transition altitude, set altimeter to 29.92/1013 (QNE) ... or outside US, do this about 2,000 feet before reaching assigned flight level unless you first have to report leaving a particular altitude below transition altitude, in which case wait until you have done that.

See notes on QNE and Transition Altitude.

   CRUISE ¥
Piston: Set Carb Heat and Cowl Flaps (if any) as required See notes on Carb Heat and Cowl Flaps.
Cessna C182S: adjust the mixture to maintain peak Exhaust Gas Temperature (EGT) for economy cruise.
For best power, adjust for peak EGT and then enrich the mixture (push in the knob) so that EGT drops 125º (5 scale divisions) below peak.

-- this information is due for revision

Control+Shift+F2 - lean the mixture
Control+Shift+F3 - enrich the mixture
U - select EGT bug (pointer), then Shift+= or Shift+- to increase or reduce the bug setting (in order to mark peak EGT)

See notes on Fuel/Air Mixture.

About every 10 minutes, carry out FREDA checks  
   PRE-DESCENT  ¥
Descent planning See Descent Rules of Thumb.

See also Desc. and DscTbl sheets in Pilot's Assistant Toolset.

About 50 miles from destination, get ATIS information (this might happen during descent)  
Arrival briefing Handling pilot prepares for this by studying charts.
Missed approach procedure established.
For an example, see ITVV cockpit videos/DVDs (details in section Lessons, Tutorials, Textbooks of the PAD)
Piston: Set Carb Heat as required (before reducing throttle, if throttle is reduced) See notes on Carb Heat.
Piston: Set Cowl Flaps (if any) as required - usually CLOSED See notes on Cowl Flaps.
   DESCENT ¥
Passenger jet descent profile (speeds and descent rates during different segments of the descent) For excellent guidance on this (among other things) see the UK Direct Airways Flight School.
Set throttle as required, carry out FREDA checks  
When crossing transition altitude, set altimeter to QNH ... or outside US, do this when cleared to descend to altitude unless you first have to report leaving a particular flight level, in which case wait until you have done that.

See notes on Transition Altitude and QNH

   APPROACH   ¥
Entering Initial Approach, at latest, Landing Lights ON See notes on Initial Approach.
See lights
Compute or check approach & landing data ... meaning mainly the flap extension and landing gear extension speeds and the final approach speed, which may vary according to aircraft weight and other conditions
Set speedbugs ... or if speedbugs are not provided on the simulated panel, at least ensure that you know the critical speeds
Between starting Initial Approach and commencing descent on Final Approach, perform Pre-landing Checks (or Downwind Checks in VFR) Use the BUMPFFGHH mnemonic to help remember these checks in a piston aircraft (also helps with other aircraft).

See notes on Initial Approach and Final Approach.

See also Hal Stoen's tutorial: How To Land Airplanes (which starts with the approach!).

Other articles and tutorials by Hal Stoen

Confirm minima in IMC See notes on Marker Beacons.
Obtain clearance to land  
   LANDING ¥
If you are landing a small aircraft in a crosswind... ...check out Isaac Conwell's detailed real-world advice in the July 2002 section of the Flying TCA Hints & Tips File.
Vacate the runway before carrying out the following... ...it has been known for the undercarriage to be accidentally retracted while aircraft still on runway!
Pitot Heat OFF See notes on the Pitot-Static System.
Piston: Carb Heat - check OFF See notes on Carb Heat.
Lights - Strobes OFF, Landing Lights OFF, 
Taxi Lights ON if required, check Beacon ON
See lights
Retract flaps ... unless required for taxiing e.g. in the rear-engined MD-80 where 15º flaps help to prevent foreign objects being sucked into the engine.
Weather radar OFF  
   TAXI TO GATE  ¥
Throttle/prop speed as required See What rules should I follow for taxi speeds?
See What are High Idle / Low Idle Condition settings for turboprops?
   SHUTDOWN   ¥
Parking Brake ON  
Jet: APU ON or establish external power  
All avionics OFF that are not required  
All electrical load (e.g. heaters) OFF apart from beacon See lights
Engine OFF Piston: turn off engine by fully leaning the mixture (knob full out), not by switching off the ignition.

Control+Shift+F1

Beacon OFF  
Everything else OFF  

 

Return to top of Flight Procedures

Using FS2002/4 & FS9.1

A.I. Aircraft
Frame Rate Slider (FS2002)
GPS
Night Flying in FS2002
FS2002 Pushback
Where Has That Dratted Menu Bar Gone?
Where are the FS2002 Key Assignments defined?
How do I start a flight at the terminal, without getting repositioned at a runway when a flightplan is loaded?
Using FS2000 Aircraft in FS2002

This section currently relates to FS2002, although much of it may also apply to FS2004. 
For information about FS2004 on this page, including the FS2004 patch (designated here as FS9.1), see here.

 
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A.I. Aircraft

The best information on how A.I. Aircraft work in FS2002 (that I know of) is contained in the documentation for Lee Swordy's TrafficTools

Information on using these tools, and FS2002 A.I. Flight Plans and other utilities for use with TrafficTools, will be found here in the PAD.

See also How To...Create AI Traffic (one of Flightsim's How To... collection).

See also the A.I. Aircraft TCA Hints & Tips File, which among other things includes a tip on Increasing the taxi speed of A.I. aircraft in the June 2002 section.

More information and links on A.I. aircraft will be found here in the PAD.

 

Return to Using FS2002

Frame Rate Slider (FS2002)

See the excellent tip FPS slider - the full explanation (posted originally by William and Amy Thomas) in the FS2002 Simulator section of FSVC Tips.

Note that the behaviour is different in FS2004.
 

 

Return to Using FS2002

GPS (Global Positioning System)

See How To Understand The Inner Workings Of The GPS by Stephen R. Goldsmith (an article in Flightsim's excellent How To... Collection).

Some other things that it's useful to know (which FS2002 Help doesn't tell you):

  • The FS2002 GPS works from a flight plan that you create using the Flights/Flight Planner menu. You can also create a flight plan from FSNavigator and export it to FS2002.
  • You can bring up the GPS window by clicking the little satellite dish symbol on some panels, or by a key combination such as Shift+2 or Shift+3.
  • If you want to use GPS, your panel should have a small switch that toggles between Nav and GPS. Set this to GPS. Your Nav1 gauge is now linked to GPS rather than a VOR. In fact, the VOR has effectively been replaced by a "virtual VOR" which is positioned at your next waypoint, with the selected "radial" corresponding to the GPS course to the next waypoint as established in the flight plan. If you are to the left of your planned track, the needle will deflect to the right (telling you that you need to turn right), and vice versa. As usual, the small dots represent 2º divisions, so full scale deflection represents 10º. Being 2º off track (say) means that the "radial" from the current airplane position to the next waypoint (where the "virtual VOR" is located) is at an angle of 2ºto the intended track to the next waypoint. Note that adjusting the OBS on the Nav1 instrument has no effect when GPS is selected, since the current course is established by the flight plan.
  • If you want GPS to steer your airplane, the final step is to engage the autopilot, if it isn't already, and select Nav mode. This will now detect differences from your planned track and steer the airplane accordingly.
  • For other info on using GPS see the Help information.
  • As an alternative to having GPS fly your airplane, you can use FSNavigator to do the same thing. In FSNavigator, the Shift+F9 key gives FSNavigator control of various aspects of your flight - the simplest form of which is to let it control the Heading bug. In this case, you need also to engage the HDG mode of the autopilot in order to let FSNavigator steer the plane. There is much more that FSNavigator can do, though!
For background information on GPS in the real world, see World Time, UTC, Time Zones, GPS in the PAD.

 

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Night Flying In FS2002

There are several tips here...


First tip: you need to fly in a darkened room, or a room with a dim red light! Otherwise you will be missing out on a great experience.

When you do this, you may find that the panel is much too bright compared to the view outside - ruins night vision. First, look up the tip in the Lighting section of FSVC FS2002 Tips on How to change the panel / gauge night lighting.

At the bottom of panel.cfg you get something like this for the King Air:

[Color]
Day=255,255,255
Night=225,117,89                -- panel "wash" with Nav lights on
Luminous=233,109,72             -- instrument glow with Nav lights on

What works for me is to change the Night settings, dividing each of the three Night figures by the same number (reducing illumination but not colour). Didn't change the Day or Luminous settings at all (although you might want to reduce the Luminous settings also if you find the instrument glow is now too bright).

For the default 737-400, after experimenting I ended up with half the original figures, i.e. ended up with:

Night=100,50,50

For the default King Air 350 I ended up with a third of the original figures, i.e. ended up with:

Night=75,39,30

These figures probably depend on the panel and personal preferences, but I thought I would pass on the main tip, which is to divide each of the original figures by the same amount.


You might want to pick a nice moonlit night to fly (great reflections off the water). Check on phases of the moon for particular days and times here, and times of moonrise and moonset here


For improved stars, water reflections, night textures on the ground, runway lights and moon textures, see several entries in the scenery add-ons section of the PAD.


If you have a FF joystick with an all-black plastic shell, you might also find it useful to fill in the little circles around the throttle with something white (I used Tippex correction fluid), and also mark the throttle position with white. It's quite useful anyway, but really needed in a dark room!


Thanks to Joe Watson and Bob Brown, the State of Florida is now a great place to fly at night, as well as in the daytime. See this review, and also the November 2002 section of the TCA Scenery Hints & Tips File.


Finally, try searching the TCA Hints & Tips files (particularly Scenery and Aircraft) for "Night Flying" here.

Brian
 
 

 

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FS2002 Pushback - how it really works...

(Note that the very much superior pushback by Lago is now available with FSAssist for FS2002 - for details, see frame rate optimisation add-ons section of the PAD. With the Lago add-on, you also have the option to start engines during pushback, in situations where this is an allowed procedure.)
  • In order to use the standard FS2002 Pushback, first make sure that the Num Lock key is off.
  • At airports that require it, obtain authorisation from Ground Control to push back (not an FS2002 ATC option at present).
  • Release the parking brake.
  • Choose a view, e.g. spot view, and stick to it throughout the procedure. If you mess with some controls during the actual pushback then the pushback software can get confused.
  • Press Shift+P to initiate the pushback. The plane will start reversing in a straight line. After this point do not press any other key or control other than 1, 2 or Shift+P, otherwise the pushback software can get confused.
  • To initiate a 90 degree clockwise turn (tail moves left), press 1, for the other direction press 2 (use the normal number keys, not the keypad keys). The plane will continue to move in a straight line for approximately its own length, and THEN start to turn. After it has turned 90º it will continue moving backwards in a straight line. You can repeat this step again by pressing 1 or 2.
  • To stop the turn early, press either 1 or 2 while the aircraft is still turning. The plane will stop turning and continue moving backwards in a straight line. If you want it to KEEP moving backwards in that straight line then you need to keep pressing 1 or 2 occasionally, often enough so that the aircraft doesn't have time to reverse for its full length. Otherwise after the aircraft has reversed its full length in a straight line then it will initiate another 90 degree turn in the direction of the key.
  • To stop the pushback completely, press Shift+P again.
  • Set parking brake.
  • Wait for ground crew to indicate that it is safe to start engines (not an FS2002 option at present).
 Brian

 

Return to Using FS2002

Where Has That Dratted Menu Bar Gone?

It depends whether you are running full screen mode or windowed mode.

If you are in full screen mode, you won't normally see the menu bar at the top. In order to see it, hit the Alt key.

If you are windowed mode, you may or may not see the menu bar at the top, depending on the option you set. If you don't see it, right click the main window area and uncheck the Hide Menu Bar option at the bottom of the pop up menu. If you do see it, and want to hide it, right click the main window area and check the Hide Menu Bar option at the bottom of the pop up menu.

To switch between these two modes, use ALT+ENTER.

See the next hint also. 

 

Return to Using FS2002

Where are the FS2002 Key Assignments defined?

Several places:
  • The default key assignments are defined in the first section of the Kneeboard (F10 key).(Btw: pressing F10 several times selects different sections of the kneeboard.)
  • The current assignments are defined in file FS2002.cfg in the main FS2002 folder, although you don't normally need to know that. If you want to make sense of this information, look for FS2002 Controls amongst Pete Dowson's excellent stuff at www.schiratti.com/dowson.html.
  • The best way to see and change the current assignments is to visit the Options/Controls/Assignments menu in FS2002. If you want to see what a particular key is currently set to, the easiest way is to pretend you are going to change an assignment. Select any current setting and click Change Assignment. Now you can press any key or joystick button and it will tell you what it's currently set to. Click Try Again and try another key, and so on. Of course, click Cancel when you have finished, unless you want to change anything!


 

Return to Using FS2002

How do I start a flight at the terminal, without getting repositioned at a runway when a flightplan is loaded?

This annoying "feature" of FS2000/FS2002 is one of the many things you can improve by using Pete Dowson's FSUIPC.DLL. This is an applications interfacing module whose main job is to allow "external" add-ons such as FSMeteo to communicate with the Flight Sim. However, it also has many intelligent features that improve the Flight Sim, even if you aren't using any external add-ons. You "install" it simply by adding it to your Flight Sim Modules folder. For more details on FSUIPC, see here in the PAD.

In order to avoid this particular problem, first install FSUIPC as described in its documentation, then start the Flight Sim, go to the Menu Bar and select Modules, select FSUIPC, select the Technical tab in the FSUIPC Options & Settings Window, and check the box No reposition on GPS plan load.

 

Return to Using FS2002

Using FS2000 Aircraft in FS2002

 
Return to Using FS2002

Neat Things To Try

Fly Floatplanes
Bush Flying
Aircraft Carrier Landings
Dangerous Airports
Easter Eggs
Helicopters
Ballooning
Soaring
Sightseeing Trips
Navigate Long Distances Over Water Without GPS
Use FS2004 Textures To Improve FS2002 ("FS2002 on Steroids")
Fly "Jump Seat" In An A.I. Aircraft, And Other Tricks For Viewing A.I. Aircraft
Increase Taxi Speed of A.I. Aircraft
TCA "Neat Things To Try" Hints & Tips File
TCA "Miscellaneous Goodies" Hints & Tips File
Tip: you will often find other neat things to try and other good tips on the TCA home page, which is regularly updated. Go straight to the top of this page and click on the TCA logo!
 
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Fly Float Planes

  • ...And to have real fun doing it, why not join the Seabirds, a.k.a. the Tradewind Domestic Seaplane Service (TDS), a new division of Tradewind Caribbean Airlines? New scenery and web links especially for seaplane users, a new TCA Seabirds Hangar for seaplanes to fly, and great company along the way. Check it out!
  • And don't forget Ed Truthan's great new water textures and water effects (which have a zero frame rate hit) - details here in the PAD.
  • You can download a selection of FS2002 float planes (as well as a few that claim not to float - just skip 'em!) from here and a selection of float plane scenery from here in the AVSIM library.
  • You can download a selection of FS2004 float planes from here and a selection of float plane scenery from here in the AVSIM library.
  • See also this real-world article: Learning to Fly Floats, by Rick Durden (from one of the AVweb Columns).


 

Return to Neat Things To Try

Bush Flying

  • A great place to start is "Bush Flying FS2002" by AVSIM's Steve "Bearracing" Cartwright - details here in the PAD. Scenery, techniques, forums, books, VAs and much more! Check out some of the other links listed in that part of the PAD, too.
  • For more bush flying techniques, try searching for Bush Flying in the TCA Flying Hints & Tips File.
  • If you're looking for a VA, check out Tradewind Alaska, a division of Tradewind Caribbean Airlines.
  • Float planes - see above!


 

Return to Neat Things To Try

Aircraft Carrier Landings

You'll find all kinds of things relating to naval operations here:
  • ArrestorCables trap, cat, inflight refueling/fuel dump, and battle damage utility
  • Scenery Add-ons  (high-quality aircraft carriers, landable helipads on frigates, aircraft-centered radar, etc.)
Thanks to Pär Bensered for this update!

 

Return to Neat Things To Try

Dangerous Airports

  • See Organised Flight Information in the PAD.
 
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Easter Eggs



See this entry in the AVSIM File Library:
Category: FS2002 Miscellaneous
Filename: fs2002_easter_eggs.zip "Easter Eggs & Other Effects" Author: A. Holford Size: 2kb


In addition other people have noted:
  • Las Vegas fireworks, time set to 22:00 (Trip)
 
Return to Neat Things To Try

Helicopters

 
Return to Neat Things To Try

Ballooning

A great new way to enjoy VFR!  
Return to Neat Things To Try

Soaring

Try this Soaring Challenge from the Official FS2004 Site:

"Thousands of pilots all over the world seek the challenge of navigating through the air in the silence and serenity of a sailplane. No engine or headsets to distract them, only the hope of finding that fantastic thermal that will carry them aloft.

"In Flight Simulator, you can fly the Schweizer 2-32 sailplane. Although it is not a high-performance sailplane judged by today's standards, the Schweizer is still widely flown for fun and for instruction.

"This Flight will challenge your soaring skills as you work your way across the Columbia River and the flatlands of eastern Washington State, followed by a short hop over the mountains near Wenatchee, Washington. You can try several soaring techniques to reach your goal. If you go for speed, you'll need plenty of altitude before leaving a thermal. The faster you go, the faster you will also spend altitude. You can also try to make each goal by flying more efficiently. Although you won't set speed records between thermals, you won't need to spend as much time climbing in thermals, either."

You'll find more info and the soaring challenge zip file here.

Also try this interesting Google search: Thermals in FS2002/FS2004/FS9.

 

Return to Neat Things To Try

Sightseeing Trips

  • See here in the PAD.
  • Are you going somewhere on holiday? Do you want to know what the weather's doing there? Why not crank up the flight sim, load real weather, and go check the place out?
  • In order to see how realistic VFR can be in the sim, check this out


 

Return to Neat Things To Try

Navigate Long Distances Over Water Without GPS

 
Return to Neat Things To Try

Fly "Jump Seat" In An A.I. Aircraft, And Other Tricks For Viewing A.I. Aircraft

Rainer Labie, President of TCA, writes: "When staying at an airport, I sometimes 'tune in' ... and I can listen to the a/c talking with ATC, I can jump into any AI plane and fly with them on jump seat (e.g. in the default MD-83 you can see the pilots in front of you in the cockpit, really like flying jump seat), and I can follow any AI aircraft in spot view."

He does this using Rodolfo Arata's AIMap Utility. Rainer has written a detailed account of how he does it, which you'll find (along with a lot of other stuff on A.I. Aircraft) in the TCA A.I. Aircraft Hints & Tips File. Look in the Feb 2002 section there under USING THE AI MAP GAUGE, and see also the August 2002 section under AI AIRCRAFT VIEWER.

 

Return to Neat Things To Try

Increase Taxi Speed of A.I. Aircraft

The taxi speed of A.I. aircraft can be unrealistically slow. Tips on increasing it using John Stottlemire's utility can be found in the June 2002 section of the TCA A.I. Aircraft Hints & Tips File. (It was very sad to hear that John Stottlemire died in June.)

 

Return to Neat Things To Try

What's new in FS2004?

Tip: a quick way to find the latest information about FS2004 in the Hints & Tips files is simply to search for "FS2004". However be aware that for this particular search the Picosearch facility appears to return only the first few hits that it finds in each file - there may be more stuff than first appears!
  • The new features of FS2004 are summarised here on the official Microsoft FS2004 site. See also the Microsoft Flight Sim Insider.
  • The FS2004 Patch (also referred to as FS9.1) is available from Microsoft here. You will also find hints and tips on the patch from TCA people in this TCA Hints & Tips file. You can also find the latest patch information on this site by searching here for "FS9.1" or "Patch".
  • For FS2004 questions, see simflight.com's FS2004 FAQ and flightsim.com's FS2004 FAQ, also avsim.com's discussion group thread called Read me first! (another FS2004 FAQ in disguise!).
  • There's a batch of new articles relating to FS2004 in Flightsim's excellent "How To..." series
  • Differences from FS2002 and some reactions to the new flight sim are described in this new TCA Hints & Tips File.
  • The other TCA Hints & Tips Files now contain information on FS2004 as well as FS2002. To get to these files, follow the green cells in the contents table, as explained here.
  • In addition, you'll find plenty of discussion about FS2004 (a.k.a. FS9 or FSCOF) in the various discussion forums
  • If you are looking for general Microsoft Flight Sim information (including how to give your inputs to Microsoft), you'll find a number of links here in the PAD.
 
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Where is "The FS2004 Pilot's Assistant"?

Sorry folks... this is still "The FS2002 Pilot's Assistant", based mainly on FS2002 but with many updates for FS2004 (see above).

One day, when I get time to do some sim flying again, I hope to convert this page to "The FS2004 Pilot's Assistant" - or maybe "The MSFS Pilot's Assistant". Watch this space!

Meanwhile, much of the information for FS2002 still applies to FS2004, and I hope that FS2004 pilots will find this page useful.

 

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Hints on Real-World Flying

Rules Of Thumb (Quick Calculations For Speeds, Turns & Descents/Climbs)
Adjusting throttle, props and mixture
What rules should I follow for taxi speeds?
What are High Idle / Low Idle Condition settings for turboprops?
When do I use the strobe lights, beacon lights and navigation lights?
FREDA Checks (Mnemonic)
BUMPFFGHH Checks for Piston Aircraft (Mnemonic)
How To Do Crosswind Landings In A Small Aircraft

Hints on Approximating Real-World Flying Using FS2002:

Getting A Smooth Response When Engaging Autopilot, And Other Autopilot Tips During Taxi & Takeoff
Using the FS2002 Autopilot and TO/GA

See also:

"Flying" Entries in A-Z Index
 
Return to Main Contents Table

Rules Of Thumb (Quick Calculations For Speeds, Turns & Descents/Climbs)

The following tables gives some quick calculations that are often useful. For more information and for more accurate calculations, see the Pilot's Assistant Toolset.

 

Return to Hints on Real-World Flying

SPEEDS

Conversion of KIAS to KTAS:

(reasonable approximation for KIAS up to about 200 Knots)

In order to get KTAS, add 2% to KIAS for each 1,000 feet of altitude.

Example: When KIAS = 150 knots, Alt = 4,000 feet, KTAS is approximately 150 + (4 * 150 * 2%) = 150 + 12 = 162 knots. (The accurate figure in this case is 158 knots.)

This approximation becomes increasingly inaccurate above 200 KIAS, especially at higher altitudes - see the PAT for more accurate calculations (including MACH Numbers).

 

Skip down to next table

 

TURNS

Bank angle (2 min): = (KTAS / 10) + 7 degrees (approx.)
Bank angle (4 min): = (KTAS / 10) * 0.75 degrees (approx.)
Turn radius (2 min): = KTAS / 200 nm (approx.)
Turn radius (4 min): = KTAS / 100 nm (approx.)
Note: IFR flying normally uses 2 minute turns ("Rate 1") with a max bank angle of 25º. This maximum bank angle limits a 2 minute turn to a maximum of 170 KTAS (at higher speeds, the turn takes longer), but the rules of thumb above are still reasonably accurate up to about 200 KTAS. See the PAT for more accurate calculations.
When do I start to roll out of a turn? Start to roll out when you are about half the bank angle away from the desired heading, e.g. if you have a bank angle of 25º, start to roll out about 12º before the desired heading.

It might (or might not!) help to realise that in a 2 minute turn the aircraft is turning at a rate of 3º per second, or 12º in 4 seconds. So from a bank angle of 25º, you start to roll out about 4 seconds before the time when you would reach the desired heading if you didn't roll out... which means that you have something over 4 seconds in which to complete the roll-out manoeuvre from a 25º bank angle.

 

Skip down to next table
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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DESCENTS & CLIMBS

How far from my destination do I start to descend? If descending through a vertical distance of X,000 feet, you should start the descent (3 * X) nautical miles before your arrival point. Round your vertical distance to the nearest 1,000 feet. For example, to descend 20,000 feet (or 20,400 feet) you would start the descent 3 * 20 = 60 nm before the arrival point. Add 2 miles for every 10 knots of tailwind. For example, if tailwind component is average 50 knots then the wind adjustment distance is 5 * 2 nm = 10 nm.

Grady Boyce has used a similar method when flying an MD-88 for DAL. He computes a distance made up of 3 parts added together:

  1. The first part is the distance required to descend from cruise flight level to 10,000 feet, using the above formula. 
  2. The second part is an allowance for slowing down to 250 KIAS, equal to 1nm for each 10 knots to be lost - for example, slowing from 320 KIAS to 250 KIAS at 10,000 feet requires 70/10 = 7nm. If ATC says, "Cross X Intersection at 10,000 and 250KTS" then in this case he would plan to be level at 10,000 feet at least 7 nm before the X intersection. 
  3. The third part is the remaining distance to the airport. He uses an allowance of 30 nm as a rule of thumb when approaching smaller airports and not under continual ATC control. For example, in response to "Pilot's discretion descend and maintain 10,000" Grady wants to achieve this by at least 30nm from the airport.
Grady's posts on this subject, and more good tips from other people, will be found in the AVSIM thread "Descent Calculations-". (Link updated)
When do I start to level off from a climb or descent? Divide your rate of climb or descent by 10. For example, if you are climbing at 2,000 feet per minute, this gives a figure of 200 feet. Start to level off 200 feet (in this case) before you reach the desired altitude.

It might (or might not!) help to realise that one-tenth of your climb/descent rate in feet per minute represents 6 seconds of climb or descent at that rate. So you are actually starting to level off about 6 seconds before the time when you would reach the desired altitude if you didn't level off... which means that you have something over 6 seconds in which to complete the level-off manoeuvre.

Given a desired descent angle of (say) 3º, and your speed in KTAS, what is the corresponding descent rate in feet per minute? Rule of thumb: for descent angle of 3º, multiply your speed in KTAS by 10 and then divide by 2 to give descent rate in feet per minute. (Or just multiply by 5 if you find this easier in your head.)

Example: if speed in KTAS is 150 knots, descent rate is 150 * 10 / 2 = 750 fpm (3º gradient). Add 50 to this value if you want to be a bit more accurate, so more accurate value = 800 fpm.

Add a third of this value for every degree over 3º, so for a 4º angle the descent rate would be 800 * (4/3) or 1050 fpm approximately.

These calculations also work for climbs, of course…

Am I on the correct descent path?

(If you are a certain distance from the airfield, you might want to know whether you are on the descent glide path, or too high or too low)
 

The descent gradient (actually 319 feet per nm for a 3º glide path) gives you this information. However multiplying by 319 in your head isn't easy, so a quick mental check that the author does goes like this:
  • I am 10 nm (say) from landing. Descent angle is 3º, say 300 feet per nm (instead of 319) in order to make the initial calculation easy. At 10 nm I should therefore be at an altitude 10 * 300 = 3000 feet above the airfield.
  • In order to be a little more accurate, first add 10% (descent gradient 330 fpnm), which gives 3,300 feet. The answer that I want is then a little over halfway between 3,000 and 3,300 feet, say 3,200 feet.
  • If the airport elevation is 850 feet above MSL (say), then I should be at 3,200 + 850 = 4,050 feet above MSL.
  • Alternatively, but only when the descent angle is 3º (as it often is), divide the distance from landing by 3 and multiply by 1,000. This means that I should be at an altitude above the airfield of 10 / 3 = 3.333 * 1,000 = 3,333 feet when I am 10 miles out. (This approximation gives a result about 5% too high.)
The same calculations can of course be applied if the end of the glide is a "bottom of descent" position in space, where you level out after a descent, instead of a landing point at an airfield.

 

Return to Rules of Thumb

Adjusting throttle, props and mixture

These three controls (coloured black, blue and red respectively) often need to be considered and adjusted as a group.
Throttle
Props
Mixture
Visualise the controls ranked with the throttle on top, as on the left. When increasing power, or when preparing for a possible increase of power in a go-around, you need to make adjustments in the upwards order (Mixture, Props, Throttle). When decreasing power, you need to make adjustments in the downwards order (Throttle, Props, Mixture).
When increasing power, the important thing is to enrich the mixture if it was previously leaned for a lower power setting. Adjusting the prop setting to higher RPM is done for much the same reasons as changing (shifting) down a gear in a car.

For further information see the notes below on Fuel/Air Mixture, Fixed Speed (Variable Pitch) Propellers, and Manifold Pressure
 

 

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What rules should I follow for taxi speeds?

You will find useful information on real-world taxi speeds in these discussion threads from newsgroup alt.games.microsoft.flight-sim.

I hope to add more information here at some point in the future.
 
 

 

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What are High Idle / Low Idle Condition settings for turboprops?

You will find useful information on this subject in the AVSIM thread "High Idle/ Low Idle Condition settings for turboprops".
 
 
 

 

Return to Hints on Real-World Flying

When do I use the strobe lights, beacon lights and navigation lights?

  • Sitting at the gate with external power or APU running, nav lights only.
  • Prior to engine start or pushback without an engine running, nav lights and rotating beacon.
  • Taxi lights are used during taxi only at night as necessary to find your way around the airport.
  • Landing lights and strobes are turned on once the takeoff clearance has been received.
  • After takeoff, above 10,000 ft (or FL180 may vary according to company procedures) Landing Lights - OFF (Day & Night)
  • Descent Check (Below FL180 or 10,000) - Landing Lights - ON (Day & Night)
  • After Landing & Clear of the runway - Landing Lights & Strobes - OFF
From an original post by Diane Torrance

---

Beacon: On all the time. Fire it up before you start the engine, day or night. To those on the ground, this shows that there is a pilot in the seat and the plane might be preparing to move.

Strobe: On just before you take the active runway (for departure), and off just after you leave the active (after landing). Day or night.

Nav lights: - used to illuminate the panel. Best used from dusk to dawn. I recall reading the tip in the older, better manuals of FS's gone by that if you use the nav lights all the time, you risk burning out a crucial instrument's light (if certain realism settings were enabled).

Landing lights: - typically when in the landing pattern, day or night. Off as soon as possible after you land or after you depart the pattern. It's main purpose is to allow you to be seen by other aircraft while you are in the air on approach. Provides runway visibility for the pilot just prior to touchdown.

Phil Rainford

See the tip separating the Nav/Beacon switch coupling in FS2002 in Flight Sim Veteran's Club (FSVC) FS2002 Tips & Tricks, so that you can control strobe and beacon lights separately. (Ignore what it says about strobes in the daytime, though.) 

Note also that in FS2002 you can tilt landing lights down, up, left, right and centre using Control+Shift+NumPad 2, 8, 4, 6 and 5.

Brian

 

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FREDA Checks (Mnemonic)

 
F Fuel. One of these checks is to make sure that the correct tank is selected. Forgetting to change over tanks can be dangerous or lethal! In FS2002, see Fuel Selector in the Aircraft/Fuel menu, or some panels may provide fuel tank selectors. There are also some notes on cross-feed in the Feb 2002 section of this TCA Hints & Tips File.
R Radios (comms and nav)
E Engine settings, temperatures and pressures. In a piston aircraft, this includes adjusting cowl flaps as necessary in order to maintain engine temperature in its "green" range.
D Direction Indicator (Heading Indicator). Check for gyro drift, comparing against magnetic compass. We generally do these checks when the plane is not accelerating/turning because the magnetic compass would then give errors.

Gyro corrections can be simulated using the D key; if you want this level of realism you should also check "Enable Gyro Drift" in theAircraft/Realism Settings menu, and check out the tip Making Gyro drift more realistic in Flight Sim Veteran's Club (FSVC) FS2002 Tips & Tricks.

A Altimeter - in Britain, check when crossing between altimeter setting regions. Altimeter setting procedures for the UK are defined in section ENR 1.7 here in the AIP (PDF - allow time for file to open).

 
 

 

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BUMPFFGHH Pre-Landing Checks for Piston Aircraft (Mnemonic)

You'll have to decide how to pronounce this one!
 
B Brakes. Check Parking Brake OFF. Check toes off brake pedals.
U Undercarriage.
M Mixture. Full rich in case we have to go around.
P Propeller pitch and speed, as appropriate, set to give max power in case we have to go around. 

See notes on Fixed Speed (Variable Pitch) Propellers.

F Flaps
F Fuel - correct tank selected, boost pumps ON
G Gauges - DI aligned with compass
H Hatches
H Harnesses

Another similar mnemonic is GUMP (Gas, Undercarriage, Mixture,Prop(s)).
 
 
 

 

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How To Do Crosswind Landings In A Small Aircraft

Check out Isaac Conwell's detailed real-world advice in the July 2002 section of the Flying TCA Hints & Tips File.

 

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Getting A Smooth Response When Engaging Autopilot, And Other Autopilot Tips During Taxi & Takeoff

Many people find that when they engage the AP, the response is anything but smooth. Katy Pluta writes:



Check the VS setting in the AP, when you switch the AP with ALT HLD ON be sure that your own VS is about the same so the AP will not have to "jump" to another angle to compensate while reaching the AP VS... For example you are climbing at 2.500ft/m and it is set to 1.800, the AP will "nose down", if the speed is also different and you turn the AT and IAS HLD at the same time, that will make thrust and attitude to hunt for, and a yoyo effect <g>

Here's a quick example for how I "do take-offs" <grin> with the default 737:

  • During taxi I enter the runway heading in HDG and FL in ALTITUDE (were given by ATC during clearance) and speed in IAS/MACH, enter a VS as well if you do not want to use the default one for the aircraft (in the aircraft.cfg it is 1.800 for the default_vertical_speed)
  • Once cleared for take-off and the aircraft configured (flaps) I position the aircraft on the RWY and I turn on the AT (auto-throttle) and hit TO/GA
  • After take-off, gear up, I turn on the AP (sets the WING LVL ON** so you follow the RWY HDG) and IAS HLD. 
  • At 1.500ft AGL I retract flaps and maintain manually a 1.800ft/m VS, then turn on ALT HLD and then follow ATC direction by entering HDG then turning on HDG HLD
  • Once following own nav I turn on NAV HLD with the NAV/GPS switch turn on to GPS
...this is just a personal example, not "the way" to do it :-)

Note about speed: maintain 250kts max below 10.000ft MSL for the US, enter less for more maneuverability while following the SID or ATC instructions during departure if you wish, also do not forget to reset the altimeter to the standard 29.92 when crossing FL180 (18.000ft MSL), and set it back (easy way: B key) when you cross that level again during descent...

 Katy



** Note that FS2002 is realistic in doing what Katy says here, but some people may previously have followed advice to remove this automatic setting of the wing leveller when the AP is engaged - if so, you may want to re-think this. See Using the FS2002 Autopilot below.
 

 

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Using the FS2002 Autopilot and TO/GA

(Following on from Katy's tip above)

In FS2002 you may notice when you first engage the autopilot that the Wing Leveller is now set, so you can't steer the plane manually. This is realistic in some aircraft, for reasons that Microsoft describe here.

The fix for this "problem" is often given as follows:

Add the following 2 lines to the [autopilot]section of the aircraft.cfg file:

use_no_default_pitch = 1  // 0 = Default to current pitch mode, 1 = No default pitch mode 
use_no_default_bank  = 1  // 0 = Default to Wing Leveler mode,  1 = No default bank mode

The first line removes "default pitch mode". The second line removes "default bank mode". But what exactly are these modes that we are removing? After experiments and help from other people, I have concluded that:

  • The effect of "default pitch mode" is that when you engage the autopilot, the autopilot maintains whatever pitch attitude you were at when you engaged the autopilot. This mode lasts until you select ALT HOLD.
  • The effect of "default bank mode" is that when you engage the autopilot, the autopilot levels the wings of the aircraft, even if they were not level when you engaged the autopilot. This mode lasts until you select HDG HOLD.
Both modes seem useful in real life, at least in some aircraft. Engaging the autopilot after takeoff, in the initial steep climbout, maintains the initial pitch attitude and heading, until such time as either of these need to be changed. You might find this useful in some aircraft, so if you have added the above lines, consider removing them again, or change the values from 1 to 0 in order to restore the original FS2002 behaviour:

use_no_default_pitch = 0 // original FS2002 behaviour
use_no_default_bank  = 0 // original FS2002 behaviour

Now if you want to follow Katy's tip exactly in FS2002, you would need to remove "default pitch mode" (otherwise you can't manually adjust pitch) but keep "default bank mode". In other words your lines would become:

use_no_default_pitch = 1 //allows manual control of pitch after engaging autopilot
use_no_default_bank  = 0

However with the autopilot restored to the original FS2002 behaviour (values = 0), you can also get a smooth response from the autopilot, at least in the default 737 when I have tried it. Do what Katy says, but just turn on ALT HLD when you want to change the initial steep pitch attitude to an attitude corresponding to the VS setting on the autopilot. Remember that setting ALT HLD removes "default pitch mode" and uses the VS setting on the autopilot instead.

Use of TO/GA for Takeoff

Which brings us to the TO/GA (Take Off, Go Around) button and what that does, in combination with the original FS2002 behaviour of the autopilot. What follows is my "best guess" from experiments and reading...

You are on the runway and have previously armed the autothrottle (A/T) but you have NOT engaged the autopilot yet. In the default 737, make sure the throttle quadrant is visible - SHIFT+4 - and manually increase the throttle settings to get about 40% N1 (or whatever is correct for your aircraft/engines), in order to get the engines stabilised (why? - see the PPRuNE thread "Questions from a sim pilot about real-world use of TO/GA" ). Then push the TO/GA button which is just above the throttles (or press CTRL+SHIFT+G). The TO/GA button will illuminate, indicating that you are under TO/GA control, and the autothrottle will smoothly apply power for the takeoff. Once you have taken off, confirm positive rate of climb, gear up, then engage the autopilot. Now, because you have opted for the original FS2002 behaviour of the autopilot, the autopilot will maintain the wings level and will control the pitch attitude. However, because you are in TO/GA mode, another line of the aircraft.cfg file comes into play, also in the [autopilot] section:

pitch_takeoff_ga=8

This is the pitch attitude in degrees which will be maintained by the autopilot in the conditions discussed above, with TO/GA set. Now rightly or wrongly, I want an initial pitch attitude of 18º. So in my case I change this line to:

pitch_takeoff_ga=18

So when I take off as described above using TO/GA, and then engage the autopilot, I get held in the initial steep climbout attitude (or set into this attitude if I am not already pitched right).

The TO/GA light will go out when you select IAS HLD. This causes the autothrottle to change the throttle setting as previously controlled by the TO/GA to whatever is required to maintain the selected IAS; however it does NOT remove "default pitch mode", and the autopilot will continue to maintain the pitch_takeoff_ga setting (18º in my case) until you remove "default pitch mode" by selecting ALT HLD, which you might do at around 1,500 feet AGL for the cleanup. The VS setting on the autopilot (1800 fpm, say) will then come into effect, and in my case the nose of the aircraft drops smoothly and the aircraft accelerates.

Use of TO/GA for Missed Approach (Go Around)

The second situation where you use the TO/GA switch is, of course, the Go Around following a missed approach. Once again, we have opted for the original FS2002 behaviour of the autopilot.

On your final approach you might have disengaged the autopilot for a manual landing, or for an ILS approach you might have the autopilot engaged in APR mode, but you are controlling the speed manually. Either way, set up the autopilot for a possible missed approach, using information from the IAP chart. This will include setting HDG, IAS, ALTITUDE and VERT SPEED as required for the Missed Approach Procedure. In these circumstances these settings have no immediate effect.

If you can't make the landing, you use the TO/GA switch much as for a takeoff - see above. The autothrottle starts to smoothly increase power. If the autopilot isn't engaged, engage it. The autopilot is now holding wings level and controlling pitch (to 18º in my case). Once you have a positive rate of climb, gear up, reduce flaps to 5º. The TO/GA light will go out when you select IAS HLD. This causes the autothrottle to change the throttle setting as previously controlled by the TO/GA to whatever is required to maintain the selected IAS. At the altitude specified in the Missed Approach Procedure, or as directed by ATC, engage HDG HOLD in order to steer the required heading. When you reach the altitude for the cleanup, remove "default pitch mode" by selecting ALT HLD.

Well, there it is. This is my best guess at what should be going on, but please don't take it as gospel - if you have any updates or corrections, please email me!
 

 

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AVSIM File Library & Reviews

The AVSIM File Library (a service of www.avsim.com) has improved enormously in 2002. I also recommend the compact, positive and informative mini-reviews provided by Steve Cartwright ("Bear's Cave"), Aidan Williams ("Forgotten Jewels"), and others. When you want to know what's new that's good, and what isn't so new but is well worth checking out, these are good places to start.

You'll also find many other excellent similar resources listed here in the Pilot's Assistant Directory.
 

 

.

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FAQs

I'm new to the flight sim or to flight simming -  where do I start? Start here!
Where can I find information on a particular topic in flight simming and aviation? Try looking in the Pilot's Assistant Directory (PAD) or the A-Z Index.

Alternatively check out the Flight Procedures & Notes section, which is organized around the various phases of flight. For example, info to do with planning a flight can be found here, info to do with the approach phase is here.

Where can I find all the good flight sim sites? You'll find them all neatly classified and described in Tony Smith's MSFS Gateway.
Where can I communicate with other flight simmers and real pilots? Try these discussion forums - they're very helpful!
Where are the FS2002 FAQs? You'll find answers to some very commonly asked questions about FS2002 (which will often apply to FS2004 also) here on this page, and in simflight.com's FAQ.

See also How do I trouble-shoot a problem? below.

Where are the FS2004 FAQs and the FS9.1 FAQs? See simflight.com's FS2004 FAQ and flightsim.com's FS2004 FAQ, also avsim.com's discussion group thread called Read me first! (another FS2004 FAQ in disguise!).

See also How do I trouble-shoot a problem? below.

For information on the FS2004 Patch (FS9.1), see What's new in FS2004?.

Where can I get help on things to do with PCs, graphics cards, improving performance and frame rates etc? Here!
Where can I get help on learning to fly and to navigate? See here in the Pilot's Assistant Directory (PAD). 

Also see Flight Procedures and Hints on Real World Flying on this page.

Also you may find that my Pilot's Assistant Toolset is a helpful learning aid.

I want to have fun with the flight sim - what are some neat things to try? Try some of these suggestions!
Where are the TCA hints & tips? Follow the green cells in the contents table, as explained here.

You can search these files here.

Where can I find other hints & tips? Check out Flightsim's excellent "How To..." series, including several new additions for FS2004.

See the excellent Flight Sim Veteran's Club (FSVC) FS2004, FS2002 and Computer Tips & Tricks.

Also at AVSIM there is a new forum (April 2003) for MS Flight Simulator Tips and Tricks.

How do I trouble-shoot a problem? If it's an FS2002 problem, one of the most helpful places to look is the FSVC Tips. Supposing you have a problem with a dead battery - try looking up Battery in the A-Z Index, and you'll see it tells you which part of the FSVC Tips to look in for a possible solution. Also see these Microsoft Knowledge Base articles on FS2002.

If it's an FS2004 problem, see the FSVC Tips as described above, and also these Microsoft Knowledge Base articles on FS2004.

For any problem, then have a look at the FAQ files mentioned above. Then try this pages's search facilities, or look directly in these TCA Trouble-Shooting Hints & Tips Files. Then try searching the various discussion forums, and if you don't find an answer, people in those forums will be only too pleased to provide one!

 

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Flight Sim Veteran's Club (FSVC) FS2004, FS2002 and Computer Tips & Tricks

Thanks to John Consterdine who originally put these excellent tips together, and to the many other people who have contributed tips to this collection.

As of October 2004, these Tips & Tricks have been significantly updated and are now located (and can be searched) here in the Flight Simmer's Corner FS Portal.

 

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Flightsim's How To... Collection (Updated for FS2004)

This is a collection of generally excellent articles (more than just hints & tips) on practical issues with various flight sims, including FS2004, provided at www.flightsim.com.

You will find the full collection of articles here, including several new ones for FS2004.

The articles are not sorted into categories, but include a wide range of subjects, for example:

... and many more!

 

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The Pilot's Assistant Directory (PAD)

I maintain this information resource for flight simmers as part of the Pilot's Assistant Web Site. Information is divided into the following sections and subsections:
 
Pilot's Assistant Directory Main Menu
 (tip: use this link if you want to check for recent updates to the directory)

 

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Discussion Forums (Usenet Newsgroups & Others)

Usenet newsgroups are a great place to get help on a wide variety of subjects. If you can't subscribe to these directly, you can still access and post to them at Google Groups, which maintains a searchable 20 year archive of over 700,000,000 Usenet articles.

Tip: try an Advanced Groups Search for topics in articles by one of the star contributors (e.g. Katy Pluta) if you want a real goldmine of great information!

Some useful Usenet groups that you can access at Google (the complete list starts here):
 

alt.games.microsoft.flight-sim
microsoft.public.simulators
rec.aviation.simulators
microsoft.public.windowsxp.* (several groups for Windows XP users)

Tip: it can take several hours for a posting to appear on Google Groups. You can get faster access to the above flight sim newsgroups (and more) here at Simradar.com, which also provides other useful forums of its own for flight simmers.

Other discussion forums:
 

AVSIM MS Flight Simulator General Discussion Forum
Other AVSIM Forums (many topics, e.g. Radar Contact Support, ActiveSky SupportMSFS Scenery Design Forum)
Flightsim Network FS2004 Message Forum
Flightsim Network FS2002 Message Forum
Other FlightSim Network Conferences
PPRuNe (The Professional Pilots RUmour NEtwork) Question Forum (where you can get answers from professional pilots, if you ask nicely!)

For people interested in the laid-back, friendly and helpful atmosphere of Tradewind Caribbean Airlines (a little different from the occasional atmosphere in some newsgroups!) you can subscribe to their mailing list simply by emailing here (message content doesn't matter). Get expert help and make friends at the same time!

 

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Pilot's Assistant

Pilot's Assistant is a freeware toolset providing information and calculations for flight planning (including fairly realistic fuel planning), navigating (including wind corrections, magnetic variations, latitude/longitude calculations, great circle routes), computing various kinds of speeds and altitudes, and executing common flying manoeuvres. It contains fuel/performance data for several popular aircraft, and is intended to be a useful learning and reference aid for several aspects of simulated flying.

Pilot's Assistant is provided as an Excel multi-sheet spreadsheet, with one tool on each sheet (if you don't have Microsoft Excel, look here). These tools include calculations and information as follows:

  1. Flight profiler / fuel planner
  2. Performance data for a number of simulated aircraft (can be extended by the user)
  3. Altitudes and altimeter settings
  4. Standard Atmosphere table
  5. Speed conversions (KIAS, KTAS and MACH)
  6. Wind corrections
  7. Descent planner, climb and descent calculations
  8. Altitudes, Temperatures, Speeds and Descent/Climb Rates table 
  9. Latitude/Longitude calculations (distance, heading, great circle routes, magnetic variations)
  10. Turns, bank angles and manoeuvres involving turns
  11. Unit Conversions
The toolset is not intended to be a "magic calculator" that produces results by hidden methods, but rather something that explains the calculations being carried out, and provides rules of thumb for pilots to carry out calculations quickly or in their heads.

For more information, and to download the toolset, visit the Pilot's Assistant Home Page.
 

 

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Notes & Definitions 

Entries in this section can be reached from the A-Z index, from Flight Procedures and from other places in this page.
  
Aircraft Approach Categories Aircraft approach category means a grouping of aircraft based on a speed of 1.3 Vso (at maximum certificated landing weight). Vso and the maximum certificated landing weight are those values as established for the aircraft by the certificating authority of the country of registry. The categories are as follows:
  • Category A: Speed less than 91 knots.
  • Category B: Speed 91 knots or more but less than 121 knots.
  • Category C: Speed 121 knots or more but less than 141 knots.
  • Category D: Speed 141 knots or more but less than 166 knots.
  • Category E: Speed 166 knots or more.
Referred to, for example, on Instrument Approach Plates. See Initial Approach below.

From Federal Aviation Regulations 97.3, accessed from www.risingup.com, a great site for real-world aviation resources.

AGL Above Ground Level  
AIM Aeronautical Information Manual. Official guide to basic flight information and ATC procedures published by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Links and further information will be found here in the PAD.
AIP Aeronautical Information Package. Part of a comprehensive service provided by UK National Air Traffic Services Ltd (NATS). Links and further information will be found here in the PAD.
APU Auxiliary Power Unit. Small turbine engine mounted in the back of an aircraft, supplying power before the main engines are started, and also used to supply bleed air and pneumatic power in order to start the main engines. APU on Boeing 737-3/4/500 series - real-world information from the Boeing 737 Technical Site
Carb Heat Carburettors on aircraft piston engines are subject to icing, due to the refrigeration effect of vapour expanding in the carburettor (blow on the back of your hand through pursed lips, then blow with open mouth, and check the difference in breath temperature - that's refrigeration). There is also additional cooling due to the actual vaporization of the fuel. The problem is worst at low power settings, low altitudes and in humid conditions.

Carb Heat directs warm air from the engine to the carburettor. This air is usually unfiltered in order to avoid loss of power, which in any case is reduced because the warmth expands the air. Because the air is unfiltered, we normally turn Carb Heat OFF for taxiing, in order to keep grit out of the engine.

Carb Heat on/off is Key H

Common settings:
FULL COLD (IN) - on ground, taxying, whenever about to increase power
FULL HOT (OUT) - before and during a prolonged descent, whenever about to reduce power to idle (except on ground)

- but see manufacturer's recommendations.

Cleanup The stage of the climb where (slats and) flaps are being retracted. Follows the initial steep climbout for a passenger jet; the pitch attitude is reduced and flaps are progressively reduced as the aircraft accelerates.  
Cowl Flaps These direct cooling air to the engine when open, which is most needed when the engine is running at or near full power. They are generally open and then adjusted as necessary during climb, adjusted as necessary in cruise, and closed during descent. Open Cowl Flaps (in increments) CTRL+SHIFT+V

Close Cowl Flaps (in increments) CTRL+SHIFT+C

Hal Stoen's manual: Cowl Flaps & Engine Cooling.

Other articles and tutorials by Hal Stoen

DI Direction Indicator, also called Heading Indicator. A directional gyro instrument that is subject to gyroscopic drift, and which therefore needs to be periodically calibrated against the magnetic compass.

Gyro corrections can be simulated using theD key; if you want this level of realism you should also check "Enable Gyro Drift" in the Aircraft/Realism Settings menu, and check out the tip Making Gyro drift more realistic in Flight Sim Veteran's Club (FSVC) FS2002 Tips & Tricks.

See also HSI.

 
Final Approach This segment of the flight is where we are aligned with the landing runway and within 10 nm of the runway. For a passenger jet, typically flown at 160 knots reducing to about 140 knots, depending on aircraft and conditions.

The approach procedure may depend on the aircraft's Approach Category.

See also the note on Marker Beacons.

NDB Approaches (section of Charles Wood's tutorial on Flight Simulator Navigation - this section also explains how to read Instrument Approach Plates)

VOR Approaches (section of Charles Wood's tutorial on Flight Simulator Navigation)

ILS Approaches (section of Charles Wood's tutorial on Flight Simulator Navigation)

When are approach plates flown in real life (or with VATSIM)?  (Good AVSIM discussion thread - URL updated)

If you are looking for free or cheap Instrument Approach Plates or other charts, see here in the PAD.

Fixed speed (variable pitch) propellers Varying the pitch (angle of attack) of a propeller is done for much the same reason as changing (shifting) gear in a car. When you want to climb a hill in a car, you change down, and you get increased revs and more pulling power (and more noise and more fuel consumption). When you want to cruise, you change up, you get decreased revs and less pulling power (and less noise and less fuel consumption). 

Increasing prop pitch (pulling out the knob) is like "changing up", reducing prop pitch (pushing in the knob) is like "changing down". Increasing prop pitch allows the prop to pump more air for a given RPM, but requires more power to maintain that RPM.

The "fixed speed" part comes from a governor that adjusts prop pitch to maintain a particular RPM.

In addition, "feathering" a propeller (maximum pitch) is a safety measure to prevent windmilling of propellers when the engine is unpowered.

See also adjusting throttle, props and mixture.

It helps to visualise the following keyboard controls as RPM control, rather than pitch control, since in general going from F1 to F4 increases settings in FS2002 (and moves knobs or levers into the panel or away from you). "Changing down" involves increasing RPM.

Control+F1 - minimum prop RPM/ maximum pitch ("select top gear", safety position) - knob fully out
Control+F2 - reduce prop RPM/ increase pitch ("change up") - pull knob out
Control+F3 - increase prop RPM/ reduce pitch ("change down") - push knob in
Control+F4 - maximum prop RPM/ minimum pitch ("select bottom gear") - knob fully in

For background info on the development of this type of propeller, see here.

In-depth article "Those Marvelous Props" by John Deakin.

Other articles by John Deakin

Fuel/Air Mixture In piston engines, the correct ratio of fuel to air is important. "Enriching" the mixture increases the amount of fuel compared to the amount of air, "leaning" the mixture does the opposite. Too rich (a "rich condition"), and there isn't enough air for proper combustion - result, loss of power and waste of unburnt fuel (although some beneficial engine cooling may also be obtained). Too lean (a "lean condition"), and various problems result, including misfiring (rough engine noise!), overheat, detonation rather than combustion, and finally engine cutout. We generally want to err on the rich side, rather than the lean side, especially in a situation where we might quickly need more power - opening the throttle increases the proportion of air, i.e. has a leaning effect.

As altitude (and temperature) increases, the air thins, and the fuel/air mixture will automatically become richer since the relative proportion of air is reduced. Above 3,000 - 5,000 feet, we need to compensate by leaning the mixture (pulling out the knob). When taking off from high altitude airports, we need to lean the mixture somewhat during the full-power runup test, prior to takeoff.

As altitude (and temperature) decreases, the fuel/air mixture will automatically become leaner since relatively more air is added. We automatically compensate somewhat for this if we reduce throttle (which has a slight enriching effect), but we may also need to adjust the mixture control (enrich). Before landing, we normally set the mixture full rich (knob fully in) because we don't want a "lean cutout" if we have to go around.

See also adjusting throttle, props and mixture.

Control+Shift+F1 - set full lean, or fuel flow OFF - knob fully out
Control+Shift+F2 - lean the mixture - pull knob out
Control+Shift+F3 - enrich the mixture - push knob in
Control+Shift+F4 - set full rich, or fuel flow ON - knob fully in

In-depth article "Mixture Magic" by John Deakin.

Other articles by John Deakin

How To Fly In The Mountains (one of Flightsim's How To... collection)
 

Fuel Boost Pumps These pumps are used in aircraft where fuel from the tanks is not fed by gravity, i.e. where the tanks are not mounted high enough above the engine(s). The engine(s) also drives a fuel pump(s) when it is running. When the engine is off, fuel boost pumps must therefore be ON in order to supply fuel to the engine. When the engine is running, fuel boost pumps act as a backup to the engine-driven fuel pumps, and hence are normally left on for some time after takeoff, and turned on some time before landing* *There are exceptions to this, check the manufacturer's handbook for details.
HSI Horizontal Situation Indicator. Combines a Direction Indicator (Heading Indicator) and Course Deviation Indicator into one instrument. Hal Stoen's tutorial: The HSI: The complete guide to this invaluable instrument. How it works, how to use it, how to set it up.

Other articles and tutorials by Hal Stoen

IFR Instrument Flight Rules

For the UK, these are defined in section ENR 1.3 here in the AIP (PDF - allow time for file to open). Related information on flight levels is defined in the ALTIMETER SETTING PROCEDURES (section ENR 1.7) here in the AIP.

For the US, refer to the AIM.

Hal Stoen's tutorial: Understanding IFR.

Other articles and tutorials by Hal Stoen

ILS Instrument Landing System The Instrument Landing System (section of Charles Wood's tutorial on Flight Simulator Navigation) - an excellent description of the system (including marker beacons) and how it is used.
ILS Approach Categories ILS Category I. An ILS approach procedure which provides for approach to a height above touchdown of not less than 200 feet and with runway visual range of not less than 1,800 feet.

ILS Category II. An ILS approach procedure which provides for approach to a height above touchdown of not less than 100 feet and with runway visual range of not less than 1,200 feet.

ILS Category III

IIIA. An ILS approach procedure which provides for approach without a decision height minimum and with runway visual range of not less than 700 feet. 

IIIB. An ILS approach procedure which provides for approach without a decision height minimum and with runway visual range of not less than 150 feet. 

IIIC. An ILS approach procedure which provides for approach without a decision height minimum and without runway visual range minimum.

These definitions are from the FAA Pilot/Controller Glossary.

See article on a real-world CAT IIIb autoland in a H.S. Trident, unfortunately without pictures (thanks, Katy).

IMC Instrument Meteorological Conditions - basically flying in clouds, rain, haze, fog, snow and smog, or conditions that do not fall within VFR Weather Minimums. Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) apply to IMC, but also apply in other circumstances.   
Initial Approach This segment of the flight starts at an Initial Approach Fix, which will usually be marked as IAF on approach charts. During this segment we set up for the Final Approach, adjusting heading, speed and height as necessary. For a passenger jet, typically flown at 210 knots reducing to 180 knots. AERAD procedures are generally shown for 180 knots.

The approach procedure may depend on the aircraft's Approach Category.

NDB Approaches (section of Charles Wood's tutorial on Flight Simulator Navigation - this section also explains how to read Instrument Approach Plates)

VOR Approaches (section of Charles Wood's tutorial on Flight Simulator Navigation)

ILS Approaches (section of Charles Wood's tutorial on Flight Simulator Navigation)

When are approach plates flown in real life (or with VATSIM)?  (Good AVSIM discussion thread - URL updated)

If you are looking for free or cheap Instrument Approach Plates or other charts, see here in the PAD.

(K)IAS (Knots) Indicated Air Speed (measured via air pressure)  Useful for performance, e.g. a stall speed expressed in KIAS is equally valid at different altitudes. For this reason, instruments normally show KIAS rather than KTAS.

As altitude increases and the air grows thinner, the Indicated Air Speed increasingly "under-estimates" the True Air Speed. At higher altitudes (typically above FL270-FL300) MACH Numbers are used for controlling the speed of jet aircraft.

(K)TAS (Knots) True Air Speed (true speed relative to still air)  Useful for navigation, when adjusted for wind speed. For the relationship between KTAS and KIAS, see here.
MACH Number A decimal number (M) representing the true airspeed (TAS) relationship to the local speed of sound (e.g., TAS 75 percent (.75M) of the speed of sound where 100 percent of the speed of sound is represented as MACH 1 (1.0M)). The local speed of sound varies with changes in temperature. Named after Ernst Mach, a 19th century Austrian physicist.

MACH Numbers are used at higher altitudes (typically above FL270-FL300, depending on aircraft type) for controlling the speed of jet aircraft. MACH Numbers are also used in any situation where the local speed of sound might be approached or exceeded.

Manifold Pressure In piston engines, this misleadingly named term actually measures the degree of suction caused by the demand for air by the engine.

See also adjusting throttle, props and mixture.

Just about everything you could possibly want to know is contained in John Deakin's article "Manifold Pressure Sucks!".

Other articles by John Deakin

Marker Beacons Marker beacons are components of an ILS, used to alert the pilot that an action (e.g., altitude check) is needed. This information is presented to the pilot by audio and visual cues. The Outer Marker is associated with glideslope intercept, the Middle Marker is associated with the Cat I Decision Height, and the Inner Marker (when available) is associated with the Cat II Decision Height.
 
Click image to hear the audible marker signal OUTER MARKER - A marker beacon at or near the glideslope intercept altitude of an ILS approach.
It is keyed to transmit two dashes per second on a 400 Hz tone, which is received aurally and visually by compatible airborne equipment. The OM is normally located four to seven miles from the runway threshold on the extended centerline of the runway.
 
Click image to hear the audible marker signal MIDDLE MARKER- A marker beacon that defines a point along the glideslope of an ILS normally located at or near the point of decision height (ILS Category I)
It is keyed to transmit alternate dots and dashes, with the alternate dots and dashes keyed at the rate of 95 dot/dash combinations per minute on a 1300 Hz tone, which is received aurally and visually by compatible airborne equipment.
 
Click image to hear the audible marker signal INNER MARKER - A marker beacon used with an ILS (CAT II) precision approach located between the middle marker and the end of the ILS runway.
Transmits a radiation pattern keyed at six dots per second and indicating to the pilot, both aurally and visually, that he is at the designated decision height (DH), normally 100 feet above the touchdown zone elevation, on the ILS CAT II approach. It also marks progress during a CAT III approach.
For further details see ILS above.

The definitions are from the FAA Pilot/Controller Glossary.

In order to hear the audible marker tones (which you can hear now by clicking the images to the left) in FS2002, you need to bring up the radio stack and click the MKR switch.

 

NDB Non Directional Beacon NDB Navigation (section of Charles Wood's tutorial on Flight Simulator Navigation)
Pitot-Static System The pressure altimeter, vertical speed indicator and airspeed indicator are among the instruments driven by the pitot-static system. The pitot tube is a small-diameter tube externally mounted, pointing into the wind. The airspeed indicator is driven from a comparison of air pressure in the pitot tube with pressure in a source of static (unmoving) air.

The pitot tube can become clogged with ice in clouds or freezing temperatures, causing incorrect instrument readings, and a pitot heating element is used to prevent this. This system is modelled in FS2002, so don't forget to use Pitot Heat where necessary!

Also, avoid using Pitot Heat when the aircraft is stationary or taxiing, since the element may overheat and burn out if there isn't sufficient air flow.

 
QFE QFE is used only by a few nations (among them the UK). The altimeter is adjusted on the ground so that zero elevation is shown. In flight, the altimeter indicates height above a particular reference elevation at a particular aerodrome (not taking into account nonstandard temperatures). QFE is used for takeoffs, circuits and landings, and for maintaining vertical separation in a Military Aerodrome Traffic Zone (MATZ) where military planes may be taking off and landing using QFE.

Mnemonic for QFE: "from end of runway".

See Altim. sheet in Pilot's Assistant Toolset
QNE QNE is when altimeter is calibrated to 29.92 in. Hg or 1013 mb.  This setting is always used above the transition altitude. The transition altitude varies between countries, and is generally related to the altitude of the highest mountains found there. Within some countries the transition altitude may also vary in different areas of controlled airspace. Above the transition altitude, altitudes are described as flight levels. In the USA, the transition altitude is 18,000 feet, in the U.K. it is generally 3,000 feet. With QNE set, the altimeter reads pressure altitude.

Mnemonic for QNE: "n-e-where" or "anywhere", since it applies universally above the transition altitude.

See Altim. sheet in Pilot's Assistant Toolset

Altimeter setting procedures for the UK are defined in section ENR 1.7 here in the AIP (PDF - allow time for file to open).

QNH QNH is when altimeter is calibrated to current reported surface pressure. The altimeter indicates altitude above sea level (not taking into account nonstandard temperatures). On the ground, the altimeter indicates elevation of airfield above sea level.

Mnemonic for QNH: "nautical height", since calibration and altimeter reading are with reference to sea level.

See Altim. sheet in Pilot's Assistant Toolset
VFR Visual Flight Rules

For the UK, these are defined in section ENR 1.2 here in the AIP (PDF - allow time for file to open). Related information on flight levels is defined in the ALTIMETER SETTING PROCEDURES (section ENR 1.7) here in the AIP.

For the US, basic VFR weather minimums and VFR Cruising Altitudes and Flight Levels are defined here.

See also the excellent VFR information (including details on routes to fly) provided at www.flyingaustralia.com, described here in the PAD.

Hal Stoen's tutorial: VFR Flight.

Other articles and tutorials by Hal Stoen

VOR Very high frequency Omni-directional Radio  range - a transmitter that broadcasts two signals in all directions, one with a fixed phase and one whose phase depends on the magnetic direction (radial) in which it is transmitted. The VOR receiver on the aircraft compares the phases of the two signals in order to determine which radial from the VOR is being received. VOR Navigation (section of Charles Wood's tutorial on Flight Simulator Navigation)
V-Speeds Some important speeds are defined in the following rows, and you will also find speed definitions in FS2002 Help, Glossary Section, V-speeds.

See FS2002 Kneeboard (F10 key) Reference sectionfor speeds for an actual FS2002 aircraft.

 
V1 Takeoff decision speed. Maximum speed in takeoff at which the pilot must take the first action to stop within accelerate-stop distance. See this extended discussion on V1, Vr and V2 speeds in newsgroup alt.games.microsoft.flight-sim.
Vr Rotation speed See the above note for V1.
V2 Takeoff safety speed See the above note for V1.
VX Speed for best angle of climb  
VXSE Speed for best angle of climb - single engine  
VY Speed for best rate of climb  
VYSE Speed for best rate of climb - single engine  
VB Design speed for maximum gust intensity  
VA Design manoeuvring speed  
VLE Maximum landing gear extension speed - maximum speed at which the airplane can be flown with landing gear extended  
VLO Maximum landing gear operating speed - maximum speed at which the landing gear can be safely extended or retracted  
VFE Maximum flap extended speed  
VSO Stall speed or minimum steady flight speed in landing configuration  
VREF Approach speed (based on weight and conditions) = 1.3 x VSO  
VAPP Approach speed = 1.3 x stalling speed of the aircraft with the flaps in the approach configuration and the gear up  

 
 
 
 

 

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Change History

General note: recent updates to the TCA Hints & Tips files are marked with brighter green colours in the contents table, as explained here. Other changes (unless very minor) are noted below.

24-Oct-04: After an enforced absence of several months, I am now starting to update the TCA Hints & Tips files again, although it will take several more weeks to clear the backlog. Also I have fixed broken links to the Flight Sim Veteran's Club (FSVC) FS2004, FS2002 and Computer Tips & Tricks. Also there is new information on the FS2004 Patch (a.k.a. FS9.1), including a new TCA Hints & Tips file specific to that topic.

24-Apr-04: There have been a lot of updates to the TCA Hints & Tips files this week, including a backlog from March and some great product reviews in Miscellaneous Goodies. Also a language translation link added to the search section, and update to Discussion Forums.

3-Apr-04: Update to section on Setting Up Your PC & Graphics Card, General PC Help. Updates to Neat Things To Try (including new section Soaring) and to Fuel Planning section of Flight Procedures. You will probably have noticed that the contents table has been re-arranged somewhat and a couple of extra direct links (dark blue cells) added for convenience.

6-Mar-04: Update to the trouble-shooting section of FAQs. Thanks to Ken Salter for the MS Knowledge Base links.

28-Feb-04: No updates to hints & tips files this week, but many other changes scattered around including to FAQs and Flight Procedures. All the broken links to discussion groups and to UK aeronautical info on the NATS site should have been fixed. Continuing updates to the PAD.

22-Feb-04: No updates to hints & tips files this week, but significant changes to Where Do I Start? and FAQs. Also there have been quite a few updates to the PAD.

17-Feb-04 and 6-Feb-04: Another update to section on Setting Up Your PC & Graphics Card, General PC Help. Also there have been some updates to the PAD.

10-Jan-04: Update to section on Setting Up Your PC & Graphics Card, General PC Help. New Vivísimo Web Search engine added to search section (returns results grouped by context - a good tip from Enno).

24-Dec-03: If you're interested in The Lord of the Rings and/or New Zealand, check out (among other things) the recent entries to the Scenery Hints & Tips File. And may I wish everyone a happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year!  
 

For earlier updates, see here.

 

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