Landing Challenges: aiming for 0 FPM at touchdown is unprofessional

Aiming for 0 FPM vertical speed at touchdown is bad practice and potentially unsafe (especially in larger aircraft). Aiming for a very soft touchdown makes it less predictable and can result in extended floating above the runway (for instance if the wind picks up slightly), risking a long landing or off center line. Even if you touchdown at the right spot, your landing distance will be significantly longer in larger aircraft because it will take longer before enough lift is lost to start braking (autospoilers will be delayed too).
In good conditions an airline pilot will aim for a soft landing, but never something near 0 FPM.
In less optimal conditions (windy, gusty, x-wind, wet/short runway) you need to land firmly to minimize all risks.

So the right way to learn landings (besides a stable approach, etc.): for an airliner anything between about 50-150 FPM should be considered perfect (in extreme weather maybe 100-250 FPM), only outside such safe range the score should decrease.

Typical touchdown vertical speed of a large airliner

Compliments to the developers of this great sim!
A retired airline pilot.


I’d be happy to get consistently below 500 atm :slight_smile: Did a 1998 fpm bone-shaker on one of the challenges (got 2 points for it as well!).

The technique I was taught in a PA28 was to settle on the runway almost at stall speed (fine for stall warner to be going off on the flare) - this method isn’t translating well for me to the jet airliners though, I’ve not figured out how to land these 10s of knots above stall speed without either floating or bouncing.

In my opinion airliners are a bit easier to land in real life, especially pulling back the stick during flare seems more fiddly in the sim than in reality. If the final approach speed is correct than the plane shouldn’t float or go up again unless pulling back excessively and/or too early. On a stable approach you’ll start flaring gently around 30 ft and progressively pull back more as you get closer to the ground.

Btw. during flare you don’t check the vertical speed indicator, you should be looking outside and judge from visual clues.

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yeah because you fly airliners onto the runway. for a boeing on a normal 3deg glideslope at vref +5 knots, you chop the throttle at 30ft agl, pitch up about 2-3 degrees and let it settle. ideally it touches down at vref about -150fpm.

you dont “hold it off” like a 172 (or pa28) – it should be nowhere near stall speed at touchdown

thanks, how does it ‘stick’ to the runway though if still well above stall speed? Is this where the spoilers auto-deploy come in?

you got it. spoilers

cool, so if your spoilers are broke, then you do need to land cessna style?

i think it should still stay down, between autobrakes and reverse thrust and the nose coming down just less effectively

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Spoilers after touchdown obviously assist in rapidly reducing the lift produced by the wings. Even though the aircraft may be well above the stall speed, touching down at the correct speed combined with the achieved angle of attack at touchdown the wings should not be generating sufficient lift to allow the aircraft to become airborne again, even without spoiler activation.

An aircraft may bounce if the rate of descent is excessive and wind gusts during touchdown sequence may also cause a problem.

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This isn’t normal operating policy but you can also do ‘aerodynamic braking’ with an airliner: after touchdown start pulling up the nose as far as possible without causing a tail-strike (or without going airborne again), this will increase drag of the wing/flap surfaces (and looks quite spectacular).

Yeah, that bothered me too when I first saw it. I’ve said to others that to get a higher scores I need to fly a bit differently to real life so I don’t really chase the scores. As long as their not low and my landing is safe I’m happy :slight_smile:

Cool, I wonder in what scenarios you might need to do that though.

On the subject of 0 fpm landings, perhaps there is a better metric that could be used for their scoring system e.g. as close to x fpm as possible (where x varies per aircraft). Still landing at less than 1 fpm must take a lot of skill so for the competitive gaming side of this I can see why MS chose it.

I’ve put a feedback suggestion in for landing challenge specific targets: Achievement levels for the landing challenges

i think target airspeed and especially the actual touchdown point on the runway are better metrics

Zero feet per minute could be acceptable on a runway that has a significant uphill slope.
Think about it… your actually having some amount of glide slope to the runway in that situation.

Yeah, MSFS is a sim but it is still a game. If I really cared about high scores it would be more annoying.

Re: “I wonder in what scenarios you might need to do that though”. Landing for real as close as 0 feet per minute? In normal operation, none that I can think of. We can land on soft ground but the key there is keeping the front wheel off the ground as long as possible. The problem with putting down close to zero is you will likley skid and skidding in an aircraft is not fun and not safe. You also can’t apply brakes if all gear isn’t firmly on the ground.

hehe, reminds me of a Qantas flight to Brisbane many years ago. The 737 landing what felt like left mains first then front gear second and we squirreled over the runway. I think we nearly ended up on grass. I looked at the guy next to me and said “that was interesting” and he said “yeah” with a tight look on his face. We could see on approach that the cross wind was horrible.

Anyway, don’t get me wrong, I’d love to get a high score. But all I play are sims and in all of them I behave and do things I’d do in real life so I won’t try to get 0 feet or try to use an external camera to get perfection or any other non-realistic tactic people may do/find. But to each their own. I won’t criticize someone that does want to do it.