How do you practice approaches and landing?

I’ve been having a lot of fun flying the MD-82 lately. I enjoy starting up at the gate cold & dark, planning a route, and completing it. Unfortunately my final approaches are a little sloppy. Considering the time investment in starting up an airliner and flying a route, I’ve completed relatively few landings as a proportion of my total flying time in the MD-82.

How do you practice approach and landing in an airliner? Do you start in the air 20 miles out? Do you fly patterns? Do you just suck it up and fly more routes? I’d love to be able to crank out landing after landing to improve.

Doing circuits at an airport with your airliner of choice is a good way to get more approach experience in. Depending on what you’re focusing on you can practice visual approaches, or flying an IFR pattern and doing the whole procedure - including missed approach and vectors back to the ILS.

Whenever I’m first flying a new plane in my hanger I usually fly patterns to get the hang of how it handles. I start cold and dark to practice the entire process.

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Circuits and touch and goes are your friend.

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You might want to check out FSIpanel if you are on pc. But it does cost money.

Edit: since you are flying md82, you are on pc. Missed that. Md82 is very well supported in fsipanel as I understand including failure sceneros and other items.

It’s pretty frustrating when you execute a nice flight from the gate and then bork the landing…a few seconds spoiling several hours of effort. Solution: you need ‘simulator time’ before you go fly ‘real’ flights in the sim.

Which means circuits, first visual then IFR. Use custom weather settings or presets to develop appropriate skills. Turn off live/AI traffic and fsltl and do it offline.

It’s pretty much the only time I’ll start on the runway. You can still punch in some performance data to get your v speeds and flaps

Good time to practice your go arounds too.


Just picked up FSiPanel this past week and love it! Definitely helps with landing practice. Also, know they are testing a version that will let you practice failures during takeoff.

I bought FS Instant Approach by FSInventions.
I had some trouble getting it to work right, but Support helped me understand that I had to install “As Adminstrator” and run it “As Administrator.” (I created a shortcut that has “Run as Administrator” enabled.)

Now it works perfectly, and lets me ‘instantly’ set up an approach to any airport, setting variables like wind speed/direction, time of day, approach profile, etc.

I’ve been starting to use it a lot. I need the practice… :wink:

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This is what I do. Tend to do it at a location I know so I can get an idea from landmarks etc what I might be doing wrong on lining up the approach.

Me too! I always fly circuits performing Touch and Gos when I first get into a new aircraft to get a feel for it and for visual practise.

After that I move to intercepting an ILS and hand flying it a couple of times to get the hang of setting the aircraft radios up etc. on the fly, so it’s really easy to re-configure if something enexpected (like a runway change) happens.

I don’t usually just fly circuits, but when I want to test an ILS approach, I’ll start at W88 (most of what I fly is small) and take off on Rwy 27 with the ILS for KGSO 23L already tuned. When I get over the lake, I hang a left and that puts me right in line where I want to be.

Twitch Streamer ForderLearntoFly, has a 3 part series of lesson, about takeoff, landing & flying the pattern, in a popular GA plane, the Cessna C172.

The last part of the series is due to stream next Tuesday, and all 3 parts of the series will be available on his twitch Channel as VODs.

ForderLeanToFly Twitch Channel

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Agree with some posts here. For airliner approach practice FSIPanel is a must…
If I remember well, the basic version is only 20 USD, the same you will pay for a custom made airport…
And this piece of software opens the whole world for you…

I only fly GA aircraft at the moment and usually go VFR so please factor that into my response. I have found in my limited sim experience that once I become familiar with an airport my landings improve to the point that I can nail them every time. However with a new airport, like some have mentioned, a perfect flight can end up with a ‘less-than-perfect’ landing. A tool I have found useful is Flight Recorder (GitHub - nguyenquyhy/Flight-Recorder: Record and replay flights in Microsoft Flight Simulator). If I record my flight, I can replay it - go to any point before landing and try it again. Set up the plane as you had it before, stop the playback and take over as needed ( I usually go to the TOD and go from there). This allows me to become familiar with an airport and its approaches (and landmarks) and get that needed experience with the approach and landing phase.

If you are getting really serious about landing analysis there is AviaWorx tool. It will give searingly honest evaluation of your approach profile and landing performance.

There is also MyFSFlights which is a new tool, which looks great but is a subscription based model (yuk), so I’ve not tried it.

One thing that will always help is to use the free Input Viewer tool available on

This, coupled, with recording of your landings (as suggested above) allows you to analyse exactly what you were doing with your controls during the approach and landing and can be helpful in identifying areas of weakness or bad habits.

It’s been told already (kind of) but since I made a video just about that I have to share it😇


Just to be clear :

VFR Pattern = Airport Pattern
IFR Pattern = Holding Pattern

You do NOT fly an Airport pattern when under IFR flight rules – you fly a published approach.

For GA aircraft I find just setting an arrival at your favourite airport will set you up on final about 5nm out. The slope guides help you understand the basics.

circuits at your most familiar airport

Pattern work.

Dont touch the automatics. Hand fly to tight tolerances. Practice nailing the altitudes, thrust settings, descent rates and speeds. Flying airliners is all about energy management.

Do maybe 10 rounds in the pattern every day and you’ll soon find that your approach technique improves.

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I will add that if you don’t have a decent yoke or flight stick, greasing the landings will be far more difficult. For two years I had the Logitech Flight Yoke. I got a Boeing TM yoke about five months ago, and landings are far more precise…I didn’t realize how bad the Logitech was.

There’s your justification for "capital investments’. :slight_smile: