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Mission Statement 

The purpose of FLAPS-2-APPROACH is two-fold:  To document the construction of a Boeing 737 flight simulator, and to act as a platform to share aviation-related articles pertaining to the Boeing 737; thereby, providing a source of inspiration and reference to like-minded individuals.

I am not a professional journalist.  Writing for a cross section of readers from differing cultures and languages with varying degrees of technical ability, can at times be challenging. I hope there are not too many spelling and grammatical mistakes.

 

Note:   I have NO affiliation with ANY manufacturer or reseller.  All reviews and content are 'frank and fearless' - I tell it as I see it.  Do not complain if you do not like what you read.

I use the words 'modules & panels' and 'CDU & FMC' interchangeably.  The definition of the acronym 'OEM' is Original Equipment Manufacturer (aka real aicraft part).

 

All funds are used to offset the cost of server and website hosting (Thank You...)

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Journal Archive (Newest First)
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Monday
Jan162012

Flight Testing - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

 

Flight Testing - Hardware & Flight Models

Now comes the fun and not so fun part - field testing.  Everything has been configured (throttle, MIP, yoke, etc) and requires flight testing to ensure correct operation.  Reliability is related to repeatability, therefore; to ensure reliability you must replicate the outcome several times before you can state something is working correctly.  This takes time and a lot of touch and gos.

As you can imagine, there are many systems that inter-finger to achieve the desired outcome, and all the systems, hardware, software and components must be correctly communicating between themselves to replicate flight.  Often a small problem can develop from something as insignificant as a loose wire or a incompatible computer part.  I've already had a few "spanners thrown into the mix" with faulty power  packs, problematic USB cables and USB ports and a few "user " issues

It's during this test period that I hope to "iron" out any "niggle" problems to ensure a robust and trouble-free system for the future (touch wood).

Word of Advice - Go Slow & Be Methodical

To determine the solution to any problem that may arise, it's important to know which hardware or software is causing the problem.  When in the test phase, it's best to only have the basic software installed.  When your happy with the result, add another piece of software and test.  This is the best way to build a robust system.  The temptation is to install everything and then field test, only to find an issue and not be able to work out what is causing the problem.  Develop and build in stages, try to take your time, be methodical, take notes and replicate the results before moving on.  It's a slow and often tedious process.

One benefit of "going slow" is that you will have the opportunity to learn your software and know what it can do and more importantly what it can't do. 

BUGS

Often individuals will state a piece of software has "bugs" as it doesn't do what "they" believe it should be doing.  Certainly some software is "buggy" and should be avoided, however, for the most part high-end software and hardware is often functioning correctly.  A piece of software or hardware can only function within the  constraints provided to its framework by the computer, motherboard and other software you have installed.  It's not uncommon for one individual to state a "bug" whilst another has no issues what-so-ever.  Before crying BUG, it's best to check, double check and then check again.  Often the fault will be your computer set-up or your lack of knowledge to what the software can or cannot do.

Examining The Flight Models

Testing also includes evaluating the two flight models that interest me: the PMDG FS9 and default FSX 737.  At the moment I prefer the former; probably because this is the aircraft model I've used since it was release.  Each model has its differences and nuances.

I'll post a separate entry in the Journal outlining my thoughts on the two models in due course, although this is a personal preference.

Unfortunately, the CP Flight MCP PRO I purchased appears to be faulty and have been returned to Italy.  Using the virtual Sim Avionics MCP achieves the same outcome, but it's a bit ungainly using a mouse and separate MCP screen.  Hopefully a replacement MCP will arrive in a few weeks time which will flying easier and more enjoyable.

Testing Duration ?

It depends upon my availability, but to do it properly requires at least a few weeks, probably longer. When I'm happy with everything and any issues have been tweaked or repaired (hardware, software, add ons, wiring, etc), then I will remove FSX from my main computer, reload Windows 7 and do a complete reinstall of FSX.  I intend to mirror FSX using a ghost program.

Eye Candy

The outside model, what the Americans call "eye candy" is not of great importance to me.  Most of the time I like to fly IFR in inclement weather, so looking out the front or at the exterior isn't that important; I spend most of my time reading instruments, manuals and looking at charts (yes I like paper charts although I do also have an electronic flight bag).

External Visuals

To view the outside world from the flight deck I'm using a rather small computer display.  Ideal when building and testing, but not that exciting to fly with.  Now that construction has been more or less completed (does it ever "actually" end), I'll begin to investigate projectors, screens and television displays.

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