I've used the 737NG series aircraft developed by Precision Manuals Development Group (PMDG) since its release for Flight Simulator 9 (FS9). Overall, I've found the flight model reliable and the software stable. Although a functional glass flight deck is available within the PMDG model (on the computer screen), there are considerable software limitations if wishing to utilize PMDG software on a simulated flight deck. Further, since the release of FS9 there have been considerable enhancements within the flight simulator platform culminating in the release of FS10 (FSX).
The base software is Micro$oft Flight Simulator 10 (FSX).
Avionics Suite - Which One ?
The three contenders to supply the avionics suite (the software that provides much of the flight logic) were ProSim737, Project Magenta and Sim Avionics.
Project Magenta: was eliminated early in the process because of problems and instability, and the need for several computers with the installation of, what appeared to be complex software.
Sim Avionics: (Sim-A) is engineered by Mark Hastings and developed further through Flight Deck Solutions (FDS) and is the software marketed to any prospective purchaser of a FDS Main Instrument Panel (MIP).
As I am using an FDS MIP, Sim Avionics became the software of choice by default.
After using Sim Avionics for close to 6 months I've realized that the platform, although very robust, lacks many features that I believe are required for a high-end flight deck. Further, the inconsistencies with VNAV and run away trim situations became rather problematic with my particular simulation set-up.
ProSim737: Three real world commercial pilots recommended ProSim737. Therefore, in May 2012 I contacted Hanne at PS737 and was supplied with their avionics suite to trial for 4 weeks. I am VERY impressed with this avionics suite which is continually being upgraded with more features.
Updates and evaluations of the flight software and flight models have been published in the journal section.
Flight Model - Which One?
Four flight B737-800 models were evaluated: FSX default B738, PMDG 738 (FS9 version), PMDG B738 NGX and the JetStream B738.
Default B738: The simulation initially was using the standard default FSX B737 flight model. (tweaked for greater flight realism). Although the aircraft.cfg was tweaked, I wasn't pleased with the overall result.
PMDG B738 NG (FS9 Version): In my opinion, the PMDG (FS9) 737-800NG flight model (with flight logic removed) provides a realistic flight model. I have had no issues with this flight model, although there is a slight delay at Vr.
PMDG B738 NGX: In April 2012, I decided to upgrade the flight model to the PMDG 737-800 NGX (FSX version).
The NGX model appears to replicate the real aircraft much better than that depicted in the earlier FS9 version. However, although the model is more advanced, there are teething issues interfacing the flight model with Sim Avionics (and other avionics suites). Initial testing indicated; severe pitching above FL14, incorrect behaviour when using level change, and incorrect responses when using V NAV.
PMDG have made it very difficult to successfully remove the flight logic from the program, and many functions are interrelated. Remove something and something else doesn't work!
Clearly, the NGX is not able to be used with Sim Avionics (as of April 2012). ProSim737 also do not recommend this aircraft with their avionics suite.
PROSIM737 JetStream 738: I am very impressed with the performance of the JetStream 738. Designed to integrate with the ProSim737 avionics suite, the flight logic behaves very similarly to the PMDG FS9 version, but is more responsive in some situations (such as during Vr).
EVALUATION COMPLETED - 16 June 2012:
The evaluation of the ProSim737 avionics suite and JetStream B738 flight model has been completed.
I have flown many scenarios testing the software during the last four weeks. The flights consistently produced the same result.
I am very happy with the ProSim737 avionics suite and JetStream 738 flight model. The software has proved to be robust, stable, easily up-datable, accurate to the B738 flight characteristics, and feature rich. Further, continual improvements and upgrades are frequent.
- After comprehensive evaluation, ProSim737 will be the avionics suite used in the simulator and the flight model will be the B738 JetStream.