Runway Alignment Tips

Why is alignment important?

It may seem trivial but what comes naturally (I hope) when driving a car is extremely important when piloting an aircraft, even though for ourselves Flight Simulations enthusiasts it is only a virtual aircraft. The alignment is important in these phases: taxiing, takeoff, approach and landing.

On the ground while taxiing you should align your aircraft with the continuous yellow centerline. The double yellow line marks the edges of the taxiway. It is important to maintain the nose of your a/c aligned so that your wings do not collide with objects adjacent to the taxiway.
Takeoff and Landing
It is expected that you align the nose of your a/c with the runway centerline during both takeoff and landing. At those high speeds with contact on the ground you cannot afford to make sudden side movements that can lead to a serious accident. The runway centerline is a white dashed line.
During the approach phase you would first align your a/c with the runway in sight where you will land. As you come more and more into your final approach phase the actual runway centerline will become clear and becomes even more important to be properly aligned.

Know Thy Aircraft

Though we are not flying a real aircraft we still want to do it well (most of us at least), especially because you don't want to become the laughing stock of Virtual Air Traffic Controllers when "flying" your virtual aircraft in online networks such as VATSIM or IVAO.

I would say that in a virtual cockpit (PC simulation) it becomes more difficult to know how to align your virtual aircraft. Every cockpit is different and so as we change planes it is also important to know how to align it as well. In this section I will show you visual tips to align the nose of several virtual aircrafts known in the Flight Simulator community.

Cessna 172 with Classic avionics

This is the stock FSX C172 with the classic (old fashioned for some) aircraft instrumentation.

C172 Classic Cockpit

Cessna 172 with Glass cockpit

This is the stock FSX C172 with the Garmin G1000 glass cockpit.

C172 Glass Cockpit

Maule 7 260C

This is the stock FSX Maule 7-260C and apparently the only Maule aircraft in the flight simulation world and Microsoft modeled the 260C. Unfortunately the stock model is the tail dragger version rather than the nose gear version, and therefore it is very difficult to actually see the runway while taxiing.

C172 Glass Cockpit

The Maule 7-260 produced by Maule Air.

Piper Seneca II

This is the Carenado Piper Seneca II. An excellent twin piston engine aircraft suitable for IFR flights. Not so great for visual flights because you won't be able to enjoy the nearby scenery due to the low wings and the large engines obstructing your view, but like I said excellent if you really want to practice your IFR skills.


The Piper Seneca II is produced by Piper Aircraft headquarterd at Vero Beach Municipal Airport (KVRB).

Piper Meridian 46T

This is the Carenado Piper Meridian. A beautiful single engine aircraft with turbo propeller, high speed and Garmin glass cockpit. It is nice to fly especially if you want to cruise high and get there fast. Unfortunately in a PC flight simulator environment the Garmin avionics are very difficult to read (for proper IFR) -much unlike the real aircraft- due to the screen size. Best option is to dock the Garmin avionics on a separate monitor.

PA46T on approach
PA46T on runway

The Piper Meridian is produced by Piper Aircraft headquarterd at Vero Beach Municipal Airport (KVRB).

BAe Jetstream 41

This is the PMDG Jetstream 41. It is a dual engine aircraft with turbo propellers and while a pleasure to fly it has a relatively high workload for the virtual pilot. Perhaps the most difficult part of it is managing the engines to prevent them from burning up.

Jetstream 41

The Jetstream 41 was produced by British Aerospace which produced about 100 of them. Its main competitors are the Saab 340 and the Embraer Brasilia.


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