Boeing 747–400 Flight Notes
Required runway length
Engine startup

Many factors affect flight planning and aircraft operation, including aircraft weight, weather, and runway surface. The recommended flight parameters listed below are intended to give approximations for flights at maximum takeoff or landing weight on a day with International Standard Atmosphere (ISA) conditions.

Important: These instructions are intended for use with Flight Simulator only and are no substitute for using the actual aircraft manual for real-world flight.

Note: As with all of the Flight Simulator aircraft, the V-speeds and checklists are located on the Kneeboard. To access the Kneeboard while flying, press SHIFT+F10, or on the Aircraft menu, click Kneeboard.

Note: All speeds given in Flight Notes are indicated airspeeds. If you're using these speeds as reference, be sure that you select "Display Indicated Airspeed" in the Realism Settings dialog box. Speeds listed in the specifications table are shown as true airspeeds.

By default, this aircraft has full fuel and payload. Depending on atmospheric conditions, altitude and other factors, you will not get the same performance at gross weight that you would with a lighter load.

Required Runway Length

The length required for both takeoff and landing is a result of a number of factors, such as aircraft weight, altitude, headwind, use of flaps, and ambient temperature.

Lower weights and temperatures will result in better performance, as will having a headwind component. Higher altitudes and temperatures will degrade performance.

Engine Startup

The engines are running by default when you begin a flight. If you shut the engines down, it is possible to initiate an auto-startup sequence by pressing CTRL+E on your keyboard.


Maximum taxi weight is 853,000 pounds (386,913 kilograms).

Reverse thrust is forbidden for backing the 747–400 out of parking or at any time during taxiing.

  • The –400's response to thrust change is slow, particularly at high gross weights. Idle thrust is adequate for taxiing under most conditions, but you'll need a slightly higher thrust setting to get the aircraft rolling. Allow time for a response after each thrust change before changing the thrust setting again.
  • The –400 has a ground speed indication on the HSI. Normal straight taxi speed should not exceed 20 knots. For turns, 8 to 12 knots are good for dry surfaces.

In Flight Simulator, rudder pedals (twist the joystick, use the rudder pedals, or press 0 [left] or ENTER [right] on the numeric keypad) are used for directional control during taxiing. Avoid stopping the 747 during turns, as excessive thrust is required to get moving again.


The following table lists recommended maneuvering speeds for various flap settings. The minimum flap-retraction altitude is 400 feet, but 1,000 feet complies with most noise abatement procedures. When extending or retracting the flaps, use the next appropriate flap setting depending on whether you're slowing down or speeding up.

Flap Position < ½ fuel > ½ fuel
Flaps Up 210 220
Flaps 1 190 220
Flaps 5 170 180
Flaps 10 160 170
Flaps 15 150 160
Flaps 25 140 150

Remember, these are minimum speeds for flap operation. Flying slower than this at bank angles of 40 degrees would initiate the stick shaker. For VFE speeds, see the Kneeboard. Adding 15 to 20 knots to these speeds is recommended if maneuvering with large bank angles, and in general, provides a good safety margin. On climbout, lowering the nose to give an additional 15 to 20 knots will also give you better forward vision from the cockpit.

In adverse weather conditions, taxi with the wing flaps up, and then set takeoff flaps during your Before Takeoff checklist procedure. Likewise, retract the flaps as soon as practicable upon landing.

Flaps are generally not used on the 747–400 to increase the descent rate during the descent from en route altitude. Normal descents are made in the clean configuration to pattern or Initial Approach Point (IAP) altitude.


All of the following occurs quite rapidly. Read through the procedure several times before attempting it in the plane so you know what to expect.

Run through the Before Takeoff checklist, and set flaps to 5 (press F7, or click the flap lever on the panel).

With the aircraft aligned with the runway centerline, advance the throttles (press F3, or drag the throttle levers) to approximately 40 percent N1. This allows the engines to spool up to a point where uniform acceleration to takeoff thrust will occur on both engines. The exact amount of initial setting is not as important as setting symmetrical thrust.

As the engines stabilize (this occurs quickly), advance the thrust levers to takeoff thrust—less than or equal to 100 percent N1. Final takeoff thrust should be set by the time the aircraft reaches 60 KIAS. Directional control is maintained by use of the rudder pedals (twist the joystick, use the rudder pedals, or press 0 [left] or ENTER [right] on the numeric keypad).

Below about 80 KIAS, it's easy to stop the airplane on the runway using the brakes only.

  • V1, approximately 159 KIAS, is decision speed. Above V1, you probably won't be able to stop the airplane on the runway after an engine failure or other problem.
  • At Vr, approximately 177 KIAS, smoothly pull the stick (or yoke) back to raise the nose to 10 degrees above the horizon. Hold this pitch attitude and be careful not to over-rotate (doing so before liftoff could cause a tail strike).
  • At V2, approximately 188 KIAS, the aircraft has reached its takeoff safety speed. This is the minimum safe flying speed if an engine fails. Hold this speed until you get a positive rate of climb.

As soon as the aircraft is showing a positive rate of climb on liftoff (both vertical speed and altitude are increasing), retract the landing gear (press G, or drag the landing gear lever). The aircraft will quickly accelerate to V2+15.

At 1,000 feet (305 meters), reduce flaps from 5 to 1 (press F6, or drag the flaps lever). Continue accelerating to 200 KIAS, at which point you can go to flaps up (press F6 again).


As you retract the flaps, set climb power to approximately 90 percent N1 (press F2, use the throttle control on your joystick, or drag the thrust levers). Maintain 6- or 7-degrees nose-up pitch attitude to climb at 250 KIAS to 10,000 feet, then 340 knots to 25,000 feet, then 0.84 Mach to cruise altitude.


Cruise altitude is normally determined by winds, weather, and other factors. You might want to use these factors in your flight planning if you have created weather systems along your route. Optimum altitude is the altitude that gives the best fuel economy for a given configuration and gross weight. A complete discussion about choosing altitudes is beyond the scope of this section.

Let's say you've filed a flight plan for FL350. Approaching your cruising altitude, take 10 percent of the rate of climb or descent, and convert that number to feet. For example, if you're climbing or descending at 1000 FPM, start leveling off 100 ft before you reach the target altitude.

You'll find it's much easier to operate the Boeing 747–400 in climb, cruise, and descent if you use the autopilot. The autopilot can hold the altitude, speed, vertical speed, heading, or navaid course you specify. For more information about using autopilots, see Using an Autopilot

Normal cruise speed is Mach 0.85. You can set .85 in the autopilot Mach hold window and engage the Hold button (click the Mach button). Set the A/T Arm (click the switch to engage the autothrottles), and the autothrottles will set power at the proper percent to maintain this cruise speed. The changeover from indicated airspeed to Mach number typically occurs as you climb to altitudes of 20,000 to 30,000 feet (6,000 to 9,000 meters).

Remember that your true airspeed is actually much higher than your indicated airspeed in the thin, cold air. You'll have to experiment with power settings to find the setting that maintains the cruise speed you want at the altitude you choose.


A good descent profile includes knowing where to start down from cruise altitude and planning ahead for the approach. Normal descent is done using idle thrust and clean configuration (no speed brakes). A good rule for determining when to start your descent is the 3-to-1 rule (three miles distance per thousand feet in altitude). Take your altitude in feet, drop the last three zeros, and multiply by 3.

For example, to descend from a cruise altitude of 35,000 feet (10,668 meters) to sea level:
35,000 minus the last three zeros is 35.
35 x 3=105.

This means you should begin your descent 105 nautical miles from your destination, maintaining a speed of 250 KIAS (about 45 percent N1) and a descent rate of 1,500 to 2,000 feet per minute, with thrust set at idle. Add two extra miles for every 10 knots of tailwind.

To descend, disengage the autopilot if you turned it on during cruise, or set the airspeed or vertical speed into the autopilot and let it do the flying for you. Reduce power to idle, and lower the nose slightly. The 747–400 is sensitive to pitch, so ease the nose down just a degree or two. Remember not to exceed the regulation speed limit of 250 KIAS below 10,000 feet (3,048 meters). Continue this profile down to the beginning of the approach phase of flight.

Deviations from the above can result in arriving too high at the destination (requiring circling to descend) or arriving too low and far out (requiring expenditure of extra time and fuel). Plan to have an initial approach fix regardless of whether or not you're flying an instrument approach.

It takes about 35 seconds and three miles (5.5 kilometers) to decelerate from 290 KIAS to 250 KIAS in level flight without speed brakes. It takes another 35 seconds to slow to 210 KIAS. Plan to arrive at traffic-pattern altitude at the flaps-up maneuvering speed about 12 miles out when landing straight-in, or about eight miles out when entering a downwind approach. A good crosscheck is to be at 10,000 ft AGL (3,048 meters) 30 miles (55.5 kilometers) from the airport at 250 KIAS.


The 747–400 won't slow down quickly just because you throw the gear and flaps down. Have your aircraft configuration (flaps and landing gear) set and your target speed hit well in advance. Excess speed in the –400 will require a level flight segment to slow down.

If you're high coming into the approach, you can use the speed brakes to increase descent. If possible, avoid using the speed brakes to increase descent when wing flaps are extended. Do not use speed brakes below 1,000 feet AGL.

On an instrument approach, be configured for landing and have your speed nailed by the final approach fix (where you intercept the glide slope), usually about five miles from touchdown.

Set flaps to 1 (press F7, or drag the flaps indicator or lever) when airspeed is reduced below the minimum flaps-up maneuvering speed. Normally, this would be when entering the downwind leg or at the initial approach fix, so you should be at the desired airspeed by this point. You can then continue adding flaps as you get down to the speed limits for each setting.

Flaps 30 is the setting for normal landings. At flaps 40, which is used for short runways, the aircraft settles rapidly once you chop the power.

When the glide slope comes alive, extend the landing gear (press G, or drag the landing gear lever).

The proper final approach speed varies with weight, but a good target speed at typical operating weight is 135 to 140 KIAS.

With landing gear down and flaps at 30 degrees, set the power at 55 to 60 percent N1. This configuration should hold airspeed with a good descent angle toward the runway. Use small power adjustments and pitch changes to stay on the glidepath. You're looking for a descent rate of about 700 fpm.

Prior to landing, make sure the speed brake handle is in the ARM position.


Maximum landing weight is 630,000 pounds. Select a point about 1,000 feet (305 meters) past the runway threshold, and aim for it. Adjust your pitch so that the point remains stationary in your view out the windscreen.

As the threshold goes out of sight beneath you, shift the visual sighting point to about ¾ down the runway. When the aircraft's main wheels are about 15 feet (4.5 meters) above the runway, initiate a flare by raising the nose about 3 degrees. Move the thrust levers to idle, and fly the airplane onto the runway.

To assure adequate aft fuselage clearance on landing, fly the airplane onto the runway at the desired touchdown point. DO NOT hold the airplane off the runway for a soft landing.

Set the autobrakes before landing. When the main gear touch down, apply brakes smoothly (press the PERIOD key or Button 1—typically the trigger—on the joystick).

If you armed the spoilers, they will deploy automatically. If not, move the brake lever into the UP position now. Add reverse thrust (press F2, or drag the thrust levers into reverse). Make sure you come out of reverse thrust when airspeed drops below 60 knots.

Retract the flaps (press F6, or drag the flaps lever), and lower the spoilers (press SLASH [ / ], or click the brake lever) as you taxi to the terminal.