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Flying A Smooth ILS Approach

 Featuring Bob Nardiello

Subscriber question:

"I'm working on my instrument rating and struggling with ILS approaches. I have a hard time configuring the airplane while tracking the approach (I fly a retractable). Do you have any advice or tips for flying an ILS approach, especially the final approach phase?" - Sara D.


"Turning onto the final, remember that at this point you need to be thinking about landing the airplane. As you turn onto the final approach course - the localizer in this case - you need to be thinking about dropping the landing gear if you have not done so already. A good place to do that is at glideslope intercept, but certainly not beyond glideslope intercept.

As you are going down the glideslope, you want that landing gear down, and you want your airplane configured for landing. That means if the airplane requires fuel pump - fuel pump on. It means flaps at approach if they are not there already. So, planning and knowing what is going to happen next makes things work a lot more smoothly.

As you are coming down the glideslope, halfway down the glideslope is not a good time to be looking at your approach plate, trying to determine what DA is, what decision altitude is in your case for this approach. You should know this already. You should be thinking about what kind of approach lighting system you are looking for. You should know this as well, and you should be prepared to look for that approach lighting system through the windshield of your airplane.

Now, another place that has caused problems, and I see it with students periodically, is at DA. At this point, assuming an approach to minimums, and assuming you have the approach lights runway environment in sight, you are going to be transitioning to visual conditions, and you are going to be landing the airplane visually. It is important to remember that decision altitude, in this case, occurs approximately a half a mile from the runway threshold. So, assuming your airplane is trimmed properly, no action is necessary relative to the power when you reach decision altitude. Don't upset the airplane. Let it continue down the glideslope to the runway."

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