IFR practice with FSX

With my Stage 2 check scheduled for the following day I decided to start up Microsoft Flight Simulator X (FSX) and practice a few of the skills I knew I would be required to demonstrate.  It’s been a while since I’ve used FSX for practice, so I was curious what I could do (in FSX) with all my new IFR skills. 

I got out my low altitude enroute chart and several IAPs for Stockton, Tracy and Livermore and strapped on my kneeboard.  I set the weather to foggy and departed Livermore eastbound towards Stockton, practicing several Holds and DME Arcs, all with great success and accuracy, along the way.

Once I was satisfied with my holding and arcing abilities, I flew several NDB and VOR approaches into Stockton, before turning westward for the ILS into Livermore.

During my simulated flight, two things amazed me.  First was that all of the navaids in FSX used the correct frequency.  That is to say, when I set the NAV radio to the actual ILS frequency for Livermore (as listed on the IAP), FSX responded correctly and I could hear the identifier for I-LVK when NAV1 was selected on the on-screen audio panel.  It’s not that I thought it wouldn’t be correct, but I was just sort of amazed that I could use all the real Charts and IAPs and have FSX respond correctly.   I may have said this before, but I’ve never been a big fan of flight sims simply because I’ve found them to be unrealistic for VFR flying.  However, now that I can use it to practice IFR procedures my opinion has changed, and I find that FSX is indeed a very useful tool.

The second thing that suprized me was just how much I’ve learned in the past few months.  When I bought FSX a few months ago, I really had no IFR or instrument approach experience, but today I am tuning radios and turning, or in this case clicking, OBSs like a pro.  As I mentioned I had the weather set to foggy, and I was amazed to see the rabits (strobes of the approach lighting system) appear ahead through the virtual fog as I approached DA.   Regardless of whether or not this was real, I was able to navigate between several airports just by instruments when just months ago I had no clue how to do any of this.  Pretty cool if you ask me!

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4 Responses to “IFR practice with FSX”

  1. 1 Brantel September 18, 2008 at 05:20


    Use it all the time as well. Great tool for driving those skills home!

    Although not a replacement for the real thing, it definately helps you stay current in between real flights!

  2. 2 Gerard January 18, 2009 at 22:27

    I’m experiencing problems with the ILS approach in lesson 2 of Flight Simulator X. I do the approach as told and at no stage does the instructor tell me that I am wrong. I stay on the glide slope and follow the localizer needle and land on the runway safely but the he tells me that my speed is to low and that I must speed up and I can not land. I realy need assistance if anyone can help me.

  3. 3 pilotbrad January 27, 2009 at 12:50

    Gerard, sorry for taking so long to get back to you. I haven’t flown that lesson so I can’t say specifically what it is looking for, but at what speed are you flying the approach? Assuming you are flying a C172 or similar, try keeping you speed at or above 90 KIAS all the way down to DA. When you figure it out, let us know.

  4. 4 sfbace March 26, 2009 at 16:19

    This is a programming bug in the lesson script.
    Here’s how to fix it.

    Using Notepad, open the file named “Lesson 2.abl”

    The file is found in
    C:\Program Files\Microsoft Games\Microsoft Flight Simulator X\Lessons\instr

    Find the line which reads (it’s in “case CaseFinal2″ section):
    if (cpOffice.Marker 0) then

    Change the line to
    if ((VHFNAV1.DMEDistance < 2.5) or (cpOffice.Marker 0)) then

    Now save the file, start FSX and fly the ILS lesson 2.

    Hooray! Bug resolved.
    Thanks to Chris for this fix which I found at


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© Brad Oliver and PilotBrad.com, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Brad Oliver and PilotBrad.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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