Flight Simulator X Programming the FMC - Flight Management Computer

Using the FMC in flight simulator with Level-D and PMDG this tutorial boils down the manuals into an easy read guide on getting you started. Once you get the hang of it it shouldn't take you long to get a cold and dark cockpit up and running and ready for a flight. If you are doing so please see the cold and dark tutorial which guides you through the basic operations and steps to get you from gate to gate. If you are looking for the most "realistic" way like pilots do follow the manuals and check lists to add more dimensions to your flight.

Programs For flying with FMC:

FS98/FS2000/FS2002/FS2004 FSNavigator flight planner, flight management system and moving map. FSNav offers world-wide current airway and intersection database also. SID/STAR direct up-/download from dedicated Internet server and Flight Simulator compatible multiplayer client for Internet and Intranet with display of all involved airplanes. FSNavigator v4.70 is a plug-in for FS2004/FS2002/FS2000/FS98. All important navigation objects are derived from the actual Flight Simulator scenery that you have installed.


Programming the FMC

On the left side of the glass you will find a horizontal row of function keys. Press F and the FMC pops up. Drag it down on your screen to where it is convenient to work with. Line select 1L abeam FMC and the IDENT (identification) page opens up. Here you find information on type of aircraft, when your nav data were last updated. AIRAC is the organization that updates the nav data every four weeks. (0605 means the 5th 28-day period of 2006) followed by the period in which the data are valid.

Line select 6R: POS INIT (position initiation) and you get to the POS INIT page. Here you are supposed to tell the FMC where exactly it is located right now, information it needs to adjust its positioning systems geographically.

Write EKCH (that is Copenhagen Airport called Kastrup) in the scratch pad and line select 2L - then the co-ordinates of the airport will be shown. This is amply exact for our purpose. In real life you would also write the gate, where the aircraft is parked to tell FMC your accurate position. If you try you are probably going to get an error message: NOT IN DATABASE

Press 6R: ROUTE and you get to the ROUTE page.

A row of boxes means mandatory input
Errors in the scratch pad may be cleared with the CLR function key
Errors that are already in the screen may be deleted with the DEL function key - sometimes.
I haven't found out why - but now and then you get an: INVALID DELETE.
Another way is to line select the input just under the information you want deleted and move it up on top af it by which you will squeeze it out.

In PMDG's B737 origin EKCK from the entry on the previous side is already in the scratch pad - if not - just write EKCH in the scratch pad and line select 1L. Write EKBI in the scratch pad and line select 1R.

FMC cannot make a route direct between origin and destination but needs at least one waypoint in between.

Press function key NEXT PAGE
There is a left VIA column for jetways and a right TO column for waypoints.
There is no suitable jetway for EKCH to EKBI

But if you were going EKCH - ENGM (Gardermoen Airport near Oslo in Norway) you could make use of a jetway UL996 that starts in VOR/DEM: SVD and runs north far up in Norway.

You must enter and leave a jetway at a waypoint.
So in the scratch pad you would write SVD and line select 1R
Then you would write UL996 and line select 2L in the via column - and you would now see boxes in 2R telling you to inform FMC where you want to get off the jetway again.
You could write GOTUR - which is a waypoint near Oslo - then line select 2R

Principally a flight plan consists of 5 parts:

1) Origin

2) Is the connection between departure airport and the route. Leaving larger airports you would most likely use a SID (Standard Instrument Departure) which is a prearranged set of waypoints leading from the runway to the route. If you take off from an airport without a predefined connection to the route you can just enter the waypoints you find most adequate yourself. I shall show this later.

3) Route

4) Is the connection between where your route ends and the arrival airport. Large airports have STARs (standard arrival). If flying to an airport without STARs you may choose some existing waypoints that bring you to a convenient approach - aligned with the ILS and in proper distance to slow down and descend to the right altitude or make some yourself.

5) Destination

Now back to our flight.

You should now be on the RTE page 2/2
Write ODN which is a VOR (freq: 115.50) conveniently located halfway on the route
Line select 1R
Now FMC tells us that there is more than one VOR in the world called ODN and lists them for you to pick from. It puts the most likely (the nearest) on the top.
Line select 1L, the one we want.

You could enter more waypoints here but you can quite as well wait until later on.

The important thing is that you now have origin - route - or just a waypoint - destination (the minimum demand)

Line select 6R ACTIVE and press the lighted EXEC

Whenever you have made changes - see if the EXEC button is lighted. If it is you must press it to approve.
When you make changes the title of the page will be MOD RTE.
After EXEC it changes to ACT RTE.

Now FMC will take you to the PERFORMANCE INITIATION - 6R
Some manuals, however, want you to finish departure and eventually arrival if it is known at this time. I find that more logical since SID and STAR in many cases are of a considerable length and the FMC should consequently include them before calculating distance and fuel consumption.


Completion of flight plan with SID and STAR

Press function key DEP ARR and you get to the DEP/ARR INDEX page.

Press 1L <DEP and you get to the EKCH DEPARTURES page.

We will take off from runway 4L - line select 1R
We will need a SID that takes us as close as possible to our route (in this case it is only the waypoint ODN)
On my plate over SID's from rwy 4L I can see that the best choice will be DOBEL2A on page 2/3 - so I line select it.
Press EXEC

Press function key DEP ARR
Press 2R ARRIVALS> and you get to the EKBI ARRIVALS page
The wind is westerly so we want to land on rwy 27 so just line select 1R. (ILS27)
In the left column line select 2R and the available STAR's pop up.
Then line select RIDSI2F which is the best STAR for us
Press EXEC

We have now entered all five necessary parts of the flight plan.

Press function key LEGS and you get to the ACT RTE LEGS page 1/3

There is a discontinuity after DOBEL marked by boxes.
Line select the waypoint just beneath the boxes and move it up into the boxes.
You will have to go to page 2 to find ODN - go back to page 1 and line select 6L
Go through all pages with NEXT PAGE or PREV PAGE

You are making changes so the title is now MOD RTE LEGS

RIDSI must be moved up too.
If there are more discontinuities move the information under the boxes up into the boxes.
There must be no holes in a flight plan

Press EXEC - the title changes to ACT RTE LEGS


Completion of flight plan without SID and STAR

Press function key DEP ARR and you get to the DEPARTURE and ARRIVAL page.

Press 1L <DEP and you get to the EKCH DEPARTURES page.

We will take off from runway 4L - line select 1R - EXEC

Press function key DEP ARR again and you get to the DEPARTURE and ARRIVAL page.

Press 2R ARR> and you get to the EKBI ARRIVALS page.

We will land on runway 27 - line select 2R - EXEC

Press the function key LEGS where we will manually enter the missing SID and STAR

The SID for RW 4L consists of the following 4 waypoints:

CH400
CH368
CH371
DOBEL

Write in the scratch pad: CH400 and line select 1L
Write in the scratch pad: CH368 and line select 2L
Write in the scratch pad: CH371 and line select 3L
Write in the scratch pad: DOBEL and line select 4L

The STAR for runway 27 in Billund consists of the following three waypoints:

RIDSI
LOKSA
FO - neglect it as it is not in the data base

Write in the scratch pad: RIDSI and line select it just on top of RW27
Write in the scratch pad: CH368 and line select it just on top of RW27

They will squeeze in between ODN and RW27

Now go through the plan with NEXT PAGE and PREV PAGE and close discontinuities.

Press EXEC - the title changes to ACT RTE LEGS

We now have a complete flight plan.

You can always go to INIT/INDEX REFERENCE page by means of <INDEX
If you cannot get to it - press function key INIT/REF and you will find <INDEX in 6L


Control of route

Press function key LEGS

Just to the left of the autopilot panel you will find a small control panel with 4 dials, 2 switches and a row of push buttons. I believe it's called EFIS
On other aircraft you will have to find the EFIS on the radio panel ore elsewhere.
The lower left dial is the MODE SELECTOR. Turn it from MAP to PLN
Notice that 6R on the LEGS page in the FMC now says STEP>
Each time you press STEP> it will center the next waypoint on the route in the NAV DISPLAY on the panel.
To get a better overview turn the RANGE SELECTOR to 20 or 40 nm.

Does the route look reasonable? If not you'll have to make changes in the LEGS page.

Turn the MODE SELECTOR back to MAP


Performance initiation

Press function key PERF INIT or INIT REF

Cost index

A value of 0-500 where 500 is the least economical but also the fastest flight mode
One manual I have read says 0-100 - I don't know what is correct - but in this case 80 probably would correspond 400.

A reasonable entry would be 400
Write 400 in the scratch pad and line select 5L


Cost index

For a short haul and a small airliner I would suggest 4 tons
Write 4 in the scratch pad and line select 4L

Line select 3L and the ZFW is inserted automatically
We started with the load master and keyed in 100 passengers and 2 x 2 ton freight from which a Zero Fuel Weight of 53.8 tons was calculated. But if you want another ZFW just write it in the scratch pad and line select 3L. It then overwrites the calculated value.


Fuel and gross weight

are calculated automatically.

CRZ Altitude

The max possible altitude is shown and in the boxes you can key in the cruising altitude you prefer.
Write 180 in the scratch plan and line select 1R
The value can be entered as 180 (flight level) or as 18000.

You can also enter wind on the runway and temperature. If it has any effect I don't know. But there are no boxes so it is not necessary to fill them out.

Press EXEC and N1 LIMIT> will be shown in 6R
Line select 6R and you get to the N1 LIMIT page


N1 Limit

In the left column you have 3 choices
L2 is max power during takeoff - short runways
L3 and L4 are reduced power - less stressing for the engines.

In the right column you can choose climb mode
R2 is max climb - mountains at the end of the runway
R3 and R4 are more moderate climb modes.

Let us line select 3L and 3R

During takeoff you will notice a little green R-TO in the engines screen on your panel. At 1500 feet it changes to R-CLIMB indicating that we have chosen restricted takeoff and climb.

Press 6R TAKEOFF>



Takeoff

Write 5 in the scratch pad and line select 1L

Let FMC calculate V1, VR and V2 by line selecting 1R, 2R and 3R

V1: Until this speed you can break off the takeoff
VR: Lift off
V2: Min. speed for proceeding with only one engine

You don't need to remember the values as they will be shown on the PFD in the right side of the speed tape.



Control

Press function key LEGS
FMC has now calculated altitude and speed over each waypoint on our route.
Make sure the approach is smooth. I find it a good idea to be at max. 3500 feet at least 10 nm from the runway so I often reduce altitude and speed a little more than calculated.

Write your correction in the scratch pad and line select the waypoint you want to make changes for.

Speed and altitude correction: 200/3500
Speed correction only: 200/
Altitude correction only: /3500
/3500A means at or above
/3500B means below

I never make corrections for the values for the runway. At this part of the approach I have long since activated the APP that overrules all other settings except speed.

Now the FMC is set.

I suggest you draw it up to the upper left corner and reduce the size by means of the small double headed arrows that pop up when you touch the right and the bottom edge of the FMC.


Tuning Of Radios

Press R on the horizontal row of function keys to the left on the panel
NAV 1 is tuned to the ILS frequency of runway 27 in Billund (110.70)
NAV 2 is tuned to the VOR/DME called ODN (115.50)
Remember to switch them from stby to active

In the center of the radio panel just over the rudder trim to the left there is a small dial. It is on stby. Turn it to TA/RA. This enables you on the ND to see traffic in the air around you

Press R again to hide the radio panel

Just to the left of the autopilot panel you will find a small control panel with 4 dials, 2 switches and a row of push buttons. The lower right dial is the RANGE SELECTOR. The center of the dial is black - the TRAFFIC SWITCH. Press the TRAFFIC SWITCH
On the Navigation Display (ND) to the left you will now see a blue TA ONLY
Other aircraft will show as a white diamond and a -6 for instance if the aircraft is 600 feet below you. A circle of white dots will show around the aircraft symbol.
If it gets menacingly close it turns yellow and if a collision is imminent it turns red and you get an oral warning in both cases.

On the same little control panel - activate the VOR1 and VOR2 switches and the VOR's you just tuned the radios to will show at the bottom of the ND.

The ILS in Billund in VOR1 has a very limited range - so you will not see anything until the approach, but the ODN VOR/DME in VOR2 reaches 195 nm out and will show shortly after takeoff.

The panel also has a row of push buttons. When activated they will show various information on the ND like airports, waypoints and estimated time of arrival at the waypoints on the flight path. Experiment with them yourselves.



Autopilot

Set speed to V2 + 20, that will be around 165 kts
As we are not flying with ATC you can set altitude to the cruising altitude, 18.000 feet
Autobrake: RTO
Flaps: 5
F/D: On
A/T: Arm
Lights: On (lower part of the overhead panel)
Press Q on the keyboard and the sound is back


Takeoff

There will probably be an alarm light on the panel. Press it to turn it off.

Racing down the runway, look at the speed tape in the PFD. The V1 and Vr will come down from the top. But you will get oral warnings at 80 kts, at V1 and Vr - rotate and V2
After liftoff aim at a 15 degrees climb
Retract gear when you have reached positive rate of climb
Activate AP - the first of the two CMD buttons to the far right in the auto pilot panel.
Activate LNAV (lateral navigation) at 400 feet agl (above ground level)
At 800 feet activate VNAV (Vertical Navigation)
Retract flaps as usual (when the little green 1 and 2 pass the center of the speed tape.)



Climb

In the top of the PFD you will see written in green: N1 LNAV VNAV SPD telling that the flight is progressing as entered in the FMC.
In the top of the engine screen there will be a green R-CLB - restricted climb

When VNAV takes over it decides the speed no matter what you entered in the MCP

On top of the speed tape in the PFD it will say 250 (kts). When you pass altitude 10,000 it will change to 315 according to the values shown on the LEGS page in the FMC and the aircraft will accelerate.

In the ND you will find a green t/c on your flight path close to waypoint CH371. It indicates the point where the aircraft expects to reach cruising altitude.
You will hear a bell when you reach an altitude approximately 800 feet below CRZ ALT.

You might get a fuel warning.
Go to Aircraft in FS9 - Fuel and payload - Change fuel - set center tank to 40% - OK
The fuel alarm disappears (this is tanking in the air)

The green arc crossing your flight path also indicates where planned altitude will be reached.
I find it of little use as its behavior is rather unstable.

Just before reaching CRZ ALT the green messages in the top of the PFD change to FMC SPD LNAV VNAV PTH. I am not sure which effect this has.

I assume you are familiar with OPTIONS - SIMULATION RATE.
I normally fly long even legs with 2 x speed.



Cruising

At the end of the cruise phase there will be a green t/d meaning that you now start the descent.

Prior to crossing it you will hear a bell and there will be a message in FMC: RESET MCP ALT (MCP is the same thing as autopilot)
Change altitude to 3000 feet - you are probably not going to use this setting since you will be approaching by means of the APP function that will follow the glide slope to Billund Airport no matter what other entries you have made.
The message in FMC disappears

Each time I also get a warning about the air conditioning which I ignore by pressing the alarm light.



Descent

When the descent starts a vertical indicator with a magenta diamond shows up in the right part of the ND telling where you are vertically compared to where you were planned to be.
It is rather good-natured and normally finds its way to the center.

Our flight level over waypoint ODN is planned to be at 15000 feet with a speed of 315 kts.

The next waypoint is RIDSI that should be passed at 250 kts, altitude 10,000 feet.
On the path between ODN and RIDSI you will see a little green circle. That's where FMC has planned to start decelerating from 315 to 250 kts.



Approach
We should now start preparing for the landing. If you haven't planned it because you didn't have the information about which runway to use when you loaded FMC in Copenhagen - it will be here you enter the data in DEP ARR after ATC in Billund has informed you. We know that we shall land on runway 27 so the only thing you have to do is to set the autobrake as you like and to find out the proper approach speed.

Press function key PERF INIT in FMC
Line select 6L <INDEX
Line select 5L <APPROACH and you are on the APPROACH REF page.

It tells you:

1) Gross weight is 61.5 tons which is within the limits for landing
2) Rwy 27 in Billund is 10,172 feet or 3107 m long
3) ILS is set to frequency 110.70 - tune both nav radios to 110.70
4) Runway direction 269 degrees - set course an heading to 269.
5) Approach speed at different flap settings.
As far as I know a B737 will normally use flaps 30 for landing

Line select 2R and 30 degrees flaps and approach speed 144 kts will be moved to 4R.
I don't know what effect this has.
In 5R you will see a wind correction of 5 kts. This means that you have to add 5 to the panned approach speed i.e. 149 kts
Remember 149 knots as you will need it later on.

If you have set the traffic to a high value there is a chance you will be forced to go around because of arriving or departing aircraft. To make sure that you can land as planned you could do this:
Chose OPTIONS - SETTINGS - TRAFFIC and set the Air Traffic Density to 0.
Move it back when you have landed so that you don't have to taxi to an absolutely deserted airport.

Press function key T (for throttle) on the panel
Move the speed brake lever to armed. A green SPEED BRAKE ARMED will light up just over the ND.
Press T to hide the throttles

A bell rings and there is a message in FMC: DRAG REQUIRED
I have a letter on my key board assigned to this function SPOILER EXTEND/RETRACT
I cannot activate the Spoiler lever in the Throttles panel - only by pressing my letter on the keyboard which I now do.
When the message disappears in FMC press the letter again to retract them.
I cannot retract the spoilers this way on my computer - only when the aircraft is sitting on the tarmac - but I can go to the throttles panel and push the lever back to armed.

The magenta diamond in vertical ILS glide slope scale is now visible.
Ignore it as we are supposed to creep under it and not to intercept it until we reach it from beneath.

You might want to change the range on the ND to 20 or 10 nm to better follow the progress.

Extend gear (speed must be lower than 270 kts) and gradually the flaps
Coming down from the top of the speed tape in the left side of the PFD there will be a number of small red boxes.
When they reach the center marker there is no room for further flaps. As the speed is reduced they will move upwards and you may set further flaps.

When the magenta diamond in the glide slope scale on the right side of the PFD gets close to the center mark press APP.

The VNAV function stops and SPEED lights up
The speed setting is no longer taken from FMC but from the autopilot (MCP) but is left to you to decide manually

The information at the top of PFD now says: MCP SPD VOR/LOC G/S indicating that the auto landing function has taken over.
You must now engage the second computer at 1500 feet AGL (radar altitude), CMD B, to execute an autolanding.
There will be a yellow SINGLE CHANEL until both radios are active.
Then you will see a grey FLARE at the top of the PFD. It turns green when the aircraft actually starts to flare - about 50 feet above the threshold.

I set flaps to 30 and reduce the speed to the approach speed of 149 kts and make a perfect auto landing.
I have made this short flight with the three different aircraft. I don't think that any of the FMCs would pass a test for use in real life. Of course you make mistakes - but don't blame yourself for all of the errors. I firmly believe that none of the programs are perfect and still need a lot of testing.



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