Landing the Airbus A330-200 in FlightGear

Welcome to my blog, readers! Time to get some decent content in.

So, how do you land the A330-200 in FlightGear?

Well, you can always autoland, but many runways do not support this feature, and ‘real’ pilots don’t use autoland unless the weather forces them to. Then, the autoland tends to give a firmer landing, while you can have a really good manual landing.

First some facts:

Have a look at this link:

Google Images — A330 landing

So, first look at the gear. The rear mains touchdown first, followed by the forward. Then the pilot flying — not just pilot, dear newspapers — flies the nose onto the runway and engages the ‘stoppers’ – reverse thrust and spoilers.

Next, look at the nose. The A330 approaches and lands at quite a high nose attitude, and has a tendancy to nose-up after spoilers engage on touchdown.

So the normal profile is approaching nose up, flaring at 40′, and touching down on the aft, then for’ard main gear.

Now we know that, there are some general tips to learn:

Don’t float. Floating not only delays the spoilers, but gives a hard eventual touchdown, and perhaps even a tailscrape. Not to mention, on short runways, you can go off the other end.

For a good landing, the approach has to be right. If by 1000 feet you are not established on the glideslope and localizer — or VOR / NDB beacon –, go around. If in doubt, go around. If you are too low or too high, go around. Always be ready to go around.

Now the A330 stuff.

So here we are in Lisbon, on final to runway 21. We are nine miles out, established on the localizer beacon, glideslope coming down, gear down, flaps down, autobrakes armed, speedbrakes armed, and autopilot on.

LPPT NOTAMs report that the runway 21 PAPI is

Airbus A330, nine miles out from Lisbon
Airbus A330, nine miles out from Lisbon

in a testing mode; ie not to trust it. The only other issue of importance is that the runway has new LED lighting installed.

The ILS system is a standard Cat I ILS beacon, frequency 109.5, called ILB. For realism’s sake, we have input this into the MCDU; not the default menu.

The runway is sufficiently long that we should be able to vacate at either runway 17 for a ‘runway-taxi’, or the exit after runway 17. We’ll just use reverse idle and low autobrake, since it is a long runway

As we intercept the glideslope, we hit APPR, and then begin our descent down to the runway, which we already have in sight.

Tip One: A good approach makes a good landing

Tip Two: Make sure your frame rates are good

As we approach 2000 feet, we disconnect the autopilot. We will land manually.

We disconnect the autopilot on final at Lisbon
We disconnect the autopilot on final at Lisbon

Tip Three: Only make small inputs when needed.

The fly-by-wire ensures that with the controls centered at calm winds, one will maintain the same flight path down to the runway. However, today there was a bit of crosswind, and some gusts, so I had to make some small inputs. It is a lot better to make several small inputs than one large input.

Tip Four: If there is a displaced threshold, I like to aim at halfway down it, for a smoother landing.

Tip Five: On final approach, ignore the glideslope in the cockpit. Keep the eyes outside.

A330 at 700 feet, on final Lisbon
A330 at 700 feet, on final Lisbon

At 200 feet, I reduce my descent rate slightly. At this point, I am over the displaced threshold, at VLS, at a pitch of two degrees, and low on glideslope.

I begin my final crab to track the centreline (I had planned my approach so as not to be crabbed on the approach), and at 50 feet am over the threshold. I disconnect the autothrust at 50, and begin my flare at 30 feet, thrust idle moments later. I then kick left rudder to align with the runway for a near-perfect touchdown. We touchdown nose high, at five degrees, at 120 knots.

It doesn’t end here. We need to gently fly the nose to the runway. As the aircraft settles onto all four main gears, the spoilers come up, the wheels begin to brake, and the reversers are engaged to idle. We are slightly left of centreline, slightly crabbed, but only very slightly, so as not to stress the gear.

Welcome to Lisbon! A330 touches down at Lisbon
Welcome to Lisbon! A330 touches down at Lisbon

Nose comes down, and we are at 100 knots, losing speed.

We continue past runway 17 due to a slightly late touchdown (on the second marker after the touchdown marker), but turn off the runway at 20 knots, bringing the speedbrakes up and turning the landing lights off.

We gently coast along the apron, and come to a rest. Welcome to Lisbon!

In hindsight, not a bad landing!

Comments watching the replay:

I would have landed on the touchdown marker had I left the controls centered as I crossed the threshold. Try not to float.