Making a Visual Approach


When traffic is light and the weather is good , ATC and pilots can come to an agreement on a visual approach. I will give you some tips on how to use the FMC to guide you onto a good approach. A good landing comes from making a good approach especially the downwind leg at the right distance from the airport. The correct flown headings height and speeds are also important. For this illustration we are going to do a left hand circuit into Sharm El Sheik in Egypt. The first rule to remember  on any visual approach is to fly downwind at 220 knots at a height of 1500 ft above the airport. The distance should be 3 to 4 miles from the airport so that you can turn gently around onto base leg and final without frightening your passengers. 

This distance is hard to judge in Flight Simulator, so here is how to get a rough guide of the distance. 

 We  are approaching  the airport from the departure end, we can use the FMC to put a radius around the airport using the FMC.

Here is how to do it using the picture above for a guide.

Push the fix menu button on the FMC

Using the FMC type in L1 keypad the airport ICAO code in this case HESH.

In L2 type /4 this will light up the execute button. Now  push it.

After the Exec button is pushed In this case on the FMC the L2  now shows 216/4 but look at the moving map display you now have a green 4 mile radius guide around the airport. Do not worry about the 216 that is the radial you are on from the airport.

All you have to do is go to Hdg select and get the magenta guide to the edge of the circle and push in the button This will take the aircraft out to the required distance using  Hdg Select mode of the autopilot assuming you are in CMD.

Once you have got to the edge of the circle then turn the onto the downwind  leg  heading using HDG select mode

 ( which is 220-180= 40 degrees) watch out for wind drift.

Extend your runway centre line 

See the picture on the right below so you can see what the extended  runway centreline line  looks like.  Bring the final approach up into L1 in the legs page this is RX22L look at the heading between RX22l and RW22L in this case 219 then use that number type it into 6R intc crs and press execute this will then extend your centre line out. (I do this for every approach) I use a 4nm FAF leg on visual circuits to give a rough guide..

 The moving map display then looks like this below

range down the map for a better picture. I use this all the time for every approach


Downwind Leg

When flying the downwind leg Slow to 220 knots descend  also to 1500ft above the airport  before getting to the departure end of the airport. Fly this downwind leg heading until you get to a point abeam the approach end of the runway. (See picture below) Then start the stop watch.

then after 45 seconds turn onto base leg doing what is below in yellow


Then Do your landing check list make the landing



A point to note is do not start the landing flare before 10ft on touchdown or the aircraft will float.


 Land on the body wheels first not the nose wheel. Do not pitch up over 5 degrees or use speed brakes or you will get a tail strike.


now park at the gate ready to do it all again.

I hope this has given you a few tips on visual circuits. more can be found in the flight school. This FMC procedure can apply to most glass cockpit aircraft.