E-mail Subscription

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Syndicate RSS

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...)

No advertising on this website - EVER!


Find more about Weather in Hobart, AU
Click for weather forecast






If you see any errors or omissions, please contact me to correct the information. 

Journal Archive (Newest First)

Entries in Bill Bulfer (2)


B737 Cockpit Companion Guide by Bill Bulfer - Review

The B737 Cockpit Companion is a well known guide within the flight simulation community, having been published in several formats; each dealing with a specific release of a Boeing 737 aircraft series.

The guide, written by retired airline Captain Bill Bulfer, are very specialized and unravel each of the many B737 aircraft systems.  The 737 NG Cockpit Companion 600/-700/-800/-BBJ & BBJ 2 provides a detailed explaination into the following:

LEFT:  The companion may look small, but the information it includes is detailed and informative.  The small size allows easy storing in the throttle side pockets.  In my opinion, this guide is essential reading and answers many questions often asked by flight deck builders and virtual pilots.  Click image to enlarge.




  • AFT Panel
  • Forward Overhead Panel
  • Glareshield Panel
  • Captain’s Panel
  • Centre Panel
  • First Officer’s Panel
  • Forward Electronics Panel
  • Control Stand (throttle)
  • Aft Electronics Panel

It is important to note that this guide provides much more information than just indicating a name for something.  Each system's functionality is explained in detail along with comprehensive sketches, diagrams and fold out schematics.

For example, in the Captain’s Panel section, there are several pages that explain, the elements that make up the Pilots Flight Display (PFD) and Navigation Display (ND).  There are two pages that deal only with the speed tape providing information dealing with the various options indicated by the tape during ascents and descents. 

Another page details the intricacy of Navigation Performance Scales (ANP and RNP) providing operational information on how to read and decipher the scales in relation to whatever flight mode is set on the MCP. 

A final example is several pages that detail the functionality of the EFIS unit and what exactly occurs when you push a button on the EFIS unit.

Flight Deck Builders

The guide is essential if you are constructing a flight deck and want to simulate the B737 systems.  Apart from systems information, the guide indicates switch functionality and provides information to which lights illuminate for what functions and when.

LEFT:  Example of a page from the Cockpit Companion.  Click to enlarge.

The guide is not a procedures manual; it is a technical reference manual.  The content will not provide instruction on how to fly the B737.  Rather it provides a detailed study of each system and provides information explaining the relationship between systems. 

No matter what your skill level, It is a very handy reference and strongly recommended.  I often leaf through the pages to cross reference something that I don’t quite understand.

Pocket Reference - PFD / ND Flags and FMC Messages 

Often when you fly, a message will show on the Pilot’s Flight Display.  Remembering what all the acumens mean can be daunting, and often you don’t have the time to open an manual because of the flight phase you are in  (approach).

Enter the pocket reference guide.  This small and very handy leaflet guide outlines all the PFD, ND flags and FMC messages providing a brief description of the flag displayed.  The pocket reference is sold separately to the cockpit companion.  It's size is 10 cm x 5 cm.

Written by an Aviator for Aviators (real or virtual)

The cockpit companion, written by an aviator for aviators, is very concise, easy to read and understand.  As with its sister companion, the FMC Guide, it’s a high quality production.

If your serious about how you fly your simulator or are developing your own simulator project, the Cockpit Companion is certainly a must have in your training material.

The guide that is most relevant to the B737NG is titled: The 737 NG Cockpit Companion 600/-700/-800/-BBJ & BBJ 2

It can be purchased from Leading Edge Publishing.

I will be reviewing another of Bill Bulfer's text in the near future - FMC Guide

My Rating 10/10

Please note that this review is not endorsed.


FMC Guide by Bill Bulfer - Review

The Control Display Unit (CDU) is the pilot interface to the FMC (Flight Management Computer).  It’s one of the more complex items that real and virtual aviators need to the master.

Historical Context

First introduced on the B737-200 in 1979 as the Performance Data Computer System (PDCS), the Flight Management Computer (FMC) was a technological step forward in in-flight navigation  The PDCS was trailed on two in-service  737-200 series aircraft and crew reports indicated a fuel saving of 2.95% and an increase in trip time (based on  a 71 minute trip).  As a result, the PDCS became a standard fit and over time was developed to be reincarnated as the FMC will see today in the later 737 series aircraft.

The FMC is only one component of the Flight Management System (FMS) which is defined as being capable of four dimensional area navigation (latitude, longitude, altitude & time).  The FMS contains the navigational database. 

Learning CDU Functionality can be Frustrating if not Adequately Trained

Many virtual aviators blunder through the CDU line detents trying to understand what they do; often failing.  For the most part, the uninitiated will blame buggy software  for the aircraft’s sudden dive or climb in response to a CDU command. The algorithm behind the functionality of a CDU is not simplistic – it is complex, and mastering the  CDU is not achieved overnight.

LEFT:  Random page from the FMC Guide.  Click image to enlarge.

Real-world pilots attend lengthy pre-flight classes to understand the use of the CDU, and although there are several training guides available on the Internet, many are not peer-reviewed and fall short of being comprehensive.

Software Variations

One of the reasons that learning the CDU can be tiresome, is that the software that provides the intelligence behind the Flight Management System, has over time been upgraded to take into account technological advances.  This is in addition to there being several software variants available. Software variants have been developed to cater towards individual airline options; an airline may want, or not want a particular function available to its flight crews. 

Precision Manual Development Group (PMDG) produces a very good section in one of their manuals that deals with CDU usage  (PMDG B737 FMC Guide).  Tom Metzinger and Fred Clausen have also documented in their excellent tutorials, a segment on using the PMDG style variant CDU (PMDG use the latest sioftware version). 

To read these guides, navigate to the Training and Documents Section in this website.

Invest in Education - FMC Guide

If you are serious about your virtual flying or have a bent for technology, I strongly recommend you purchase Captain Bill Bulfer’s FMC Guide. 

LEFT:  Page from FMC Guide discussing fixed waypoints.  Click image to enlarge.

The guide is a real-world guide designed for real B737 pilots, and not only provides detailed information on a vast array of FMC commands, screens and nuances, but also examines many of the options relating to specific software versions. 


The guide is a high quality production and has been written in a style that provides clear and a concise guidance.  It can be purchased either in colour (recommended) or in black and white. 

Like anything in life, you get out what you put in.  With a good working knowledge gained from the study of this text, you will soon discover that the carrying out a procedural turn with altitude and speed restrictions, before flying a complex STAR and approach is not that difficult to fathom.

The information in this guide will allow you to be confidently and correctly operate the CDU.

To purchase a copy you can either navigate to Leading Edge Publishing.

I will be reviewing another of Bill Bulfer's text in the near future - The B737 Cockpit Companion.

My Rating 10/10

Please note that this review is not endorsed.