PMDG 737 Quickstep FMS programming. Let's first get you flying! The details come later

Below you will find the easiest way of setting up your 737’s FMS to get you flying.

I’m a firm believer of simmer-to-simmer tips and tricks at which you don’t need all the technical mumbojumbo that (real world) pilots overload you with during 90 minutes youtube videos. You’ll get to there once you’re intermediate or above. First you need to get ready to fly and have fun(!) with your new aircraft. You’re not an idiot, you just never sat in a 737 cockpit before and it’s pretty overwhelming at first.

You’ll get to all the technical details once you’re doing 5 hour flights between Amsterdam and Sharm el Sheikh and get properly bored during cruise (how’s that for immersion). First, let’s get you off the ground. Here and now.

*Moderators, please consider to not merge this thread in the big channel as it’s already getting quite repetitive due to it’s length. This guide is important for new community members.

First, work with me. Go to your Simbrief and select the Delta Air Lines flightplan format. It’s the only one I know that has a great(!) ‘flight summary’ on page 2 that we’re going to use to get you setup the FMS in under 3 minutes.

As we enter the PMDG 737 cockpit with our freshly produced flight plan, we need to prepare the aircraft for flight simulation first, or anything we’re doing here will be pointless. So go the FS Actions page on the FMS, select Fuel and set it to match the block fuel from your flight plan.

Now press RETURN and select the Payload page. Enter ONLY the Zero Fuel Weight.

Why? Because kilograms/pounds do not lie. There are different cabin layouts for the aircraft and that’s fine. Don’t be bothered by the amount of passengers and cargo being different from your flight plan, we ONLY need the zero fuel weight, it’s holy, like religion, we do not question it for now. It’s just simbrief profiles that can be different between single and dual cabin layouts and let’s not get into that now.

Now, log into the FMS and log into the right/copilot FMS too! It will copy your data from FMS 1 that we’re going to feed, but only if you log it on first. Put the IRS on the overhead panel to NAV as you should have done entering the aircraft, press INIT and you will find the position initialization as your first duty.

Small tip, quick way of getting a good position is to just enter the ICAO of your departure airport and it will give you some raw coordinates. That’s fine, the aircraft will autotune the precise coordinates later automatically, let’s not get into how mumbojumbo for now.

*I was using two different flight plans when setting up these screenshots, no problem though. The coordinates are off in my pic but this is about reproducing steps and you’ll do brilliantly.

Next, note how the FMS will walk you trough all it steps logically by pressing the bottom-right linekey for the next phase of data input. Neat!

Now pull up page 2 from your flight plan and find yourself the ‘flight summary’ again. This is all the data that you need to put in. It’s only this. It’s not so hard. With regards to the ISA value: when it says M01 like here it means -1, so adjusting it to -35 like in the example. Would it say P03, it means to do plus 3 degrees and adjust the preset value accordingly.

Do not be bothered by the FMS cruise level suggestion. It’s a raw estimate of the flight optimum but you have an approved flight plan on your lap, made by a flight dispatcher that calculated the winds up there. You are going to tell it what you want it to be and that’s just that. You’re the pilot in command, so command it.

You’re almost done! Press the key again for N1 setup. Don’t be bothered with flex temperatures yet, you can learn all that later. On a medium to long runway (say longer than 6500 feet) and with average weight it’s perfectly fine to select the derated thrust. Also, humor yourself with selecting Climb 2 or Climb 1. You will experience that after takeoff at about 1500 feet, the aircraft changes engine thrust mode to this pre-selected value and is a little easier to control without that tremendous amount of power blasting from your engines. This is easier to control, experiment a little with it pending the departure terrain allows for it.

Now, before selecting TAKEOFF, press the DEP/ARR page first. Because the takeoff settings are calculated for the specific runway you are going to takeoff on, so we need to feed that data first.

Look at your flight plan summary again and find your first part of the route, it’s your departure routing from the airport. Select that in the FMS. Select the appropriate runway for takeoff and done you are.

Now press INIT again, skip the pages you have filled with data until reaching TAKEOFF. Now press the CG line-key and it will automatically give you the CG setting based on all the data we have put in. We’re cheating here, but PMDG products will always give you the proper value for a box if you just click it while its empty and this particular setting is a bit complex so we don’t mind the cheat. Press the key again to fill the value.

Now the FMS gives you the proper takeoff trim setting. Spin the big wheel to set that setting on your trim. Tip: it spins a lot faster on your yoke trim switches than turning it manually.

Finally, confirm the V-speeds for takeoff and you are FMS PRE FLIGHT COMPLETE.

Happy flying!

One last thing for ILS-approaches as I see some struggling a lot with that. This is not an Airbus that tunes everything automatically. Upon arrival, select your arrival route and runway as you normally would. Again, calculations are runway-specific so we need to feed that first. Now press the INIT page and you will indeed find there the runway length to decide on your autobrake power, it will also give you the ILS frequency and the inbound course. Lovely!

THIS DOESN’T AUTOTUNE HOWEVER, that misassumption comes by a lot on the fora. Take this data, and set it to you navigation radio and into the course selectors manually on both sides if you’re planning to do an autoland which I know 98% of new users will do to end a flight nicely.

With regards to the autoland: once you have pressed the APPRoach mode button, press Autopilot B too and you will see both autopilot lights being on. This is only possible during this phase of flight so don’t bother experimenting with it before. A 737 autoland requires both autopilots to cross-reference their data in conjunction with each other. That’s why they both need the same frequencies and inbound courses too.

So after happy flying now comes happy landings too. Good luck!


From another thread about a PMDG-confusion…

Just make sure you set the Fuel/Payload pages first because it does not(!) feed the data of the Simbrief flightplan, it feeds the data from the current/actual weight of the aircraft. I’ll bet PMDG will come up with that later with the EFB but its not there yet and people are confused about it because the FBW did it better.

So this option is also not for during the loading of the aircraft through the realtime ground services, but only after they are done.

Set the proper fuel and weights first, prior to everything else. Get the aircraft ready for flight simulating or as mentioned everything you’re going to do is pointless.


Thank you good sir! I am opening up the game to try this tutorial. Thanks, it is appreciated

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This is very helpful. I’m still unable to get matching ZF weights even if I set correct PAX and CARGO values (probably because Simbrief has too heavy passengers? :).
If I understand it correctly, setting the ZFW from the get go gets around this issue.

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Correct, the ZFW value is what the flight plan calculations are based upon. The exact number of passengers and cargo aren’t overly important.

However I did make an accurate simbrief weight model for the single class cabin layout. Feel free to use it. With this one, setting the cargo and pax manually will make the ZFW correct too. The other way around it doesn’t, as it will randomly weight-out passengers and cargo. But again, it’s not so important as long as the ZFW is correct.


Thank you very much!

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Set some nice cozy rain weather in the fixed weather settings and switch on the virtual air condition.
With all the rain and fog (that makes it literally impossible to fly by hand) you will enjoy the wonders of IFR and the FMC and ILS landing.

Thank you very much for these tips, and can you please also make an ILS landing tutorial? This is some point of aviation I still don´t really understand and that´s why I have to always land by hand. But why landing by hand when the flight computer can do soooooo much better? :wink:

No problem, I’ll make one for the autoland too, including some FMS descent planning.

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@SkyVagrant4490 : Could you create a PDF version of your Quickstep FMS programming which we can download? It would be great to be able to read it on a second monitor without having to remain logged-in.
Thanks for your time and I’m looking forward to your future guides :wink:

Thanks a lot, i can actually fly now within an hour :joy:

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Wellll… I think you can just print this page to a pdf. I don’t think I could upload a pdf file through here.

Thanks for the info, very handy.

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Yes, please. I was concerned about that😊

Thank you so much for putting this together, very practical, useful, valuable!

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Sorry for the extremely simple question… but what do you mean when you say “log into the FMS”?

Extremely simple questions usually don’t lead to extremely simple explanations in a cockpit. :smile:

The FMS-unit generally consists of two systems, the Flight Management System as we know it in the simulator and the ACARS system to exchange short text messages with the airline operations department. (Currently not simulated at PMDG).

When you start up the aircraft in cold and dark you will find the FMS pre-select menu with ‘FMS-1 < REQ >’ on the left side and the FMS-2 < REQ > on the copilots side. In the real world, there’s a line below that with ACARS < REQ >, allowing you to change systems. Simply clicking this FMS- REQ on both sides logs in both units and once you do, they both feed data into the system as they connect together.

Not so long ago, on the forum, there was a question from someone about why he had the normal navigation- and primary flight displays on his left side, but not on the right side. He did everything right and as he should have so surely it must have been a bug, right? …It wasn’t. He indeed did everything right except for logging in FMS-2, it was still on the initial page waiting for position data to feed and as it couldn’t, it couldn’t make the right side of the cockpit to work.

Thanks for this. I’ve been flying this bird since FSX days, so its awesome its finally in FS2020. But its great to see simmers helping simmers. Personally I use ACA (Air Canada) format for my details, but I actually load in the passengers and cargo (use # of Pax * 35 for cargo weight) and its pretty close to the number generated by Simbrief. In my sim-brain doing it this was feels more authentic. Like getting a final loadsheet after all the pax are onboard. (FENIX did a really good at that).

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