March 2008 Issue

Five Top ILS Cheats

Flying an ILS approach to minimums doesn’t have to be hard. Use these tips to simplify it and stay focused on the important stuff.

When engineers developed the ILS so many years ago, they simultaneously created one of the most reliable and accurate navaids ever. The basic ILS is in use throughout the world and, with appropriate air- and ground-borne hardware, site prep, training and certification, we can use it to fly down to and land without seeing much at all out the windshield. But those engineers couldn’t do everything. They couldn’t, for example, eliminate the ever-narrowing of the desired course and descent path as we get closer to the runway. They also couldn’t eliminate the need to descend in the first place. In the bargain, we’re "saddled with" a well-understood and predictable means to transition from straight-and-level flight in the terminal area to sitting upright at the airport bar, with a few moments of needle-chasing thrown in for good measure. Like so many things in life and aviation, there are ways to cheat—err, simplify—the ILS. Many pilots—especially those with a newer instrument rating—may not have grasped them yet.

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