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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)

Entries in Boeing (5)

Thursday
May122016

Knobs Aren't Knobs - Striving for the Perfect Knob

In Australia during the early 1980’s there was a slogan ‘Oils Ain't Oils’ which was used by the Castrol Oil Company.   The meaning was simple – their oil was better than oil sold by their competitors.  Similarly, the term ‘Knobs aren’t Knobs’, can be coined when we discuss the manufacture of reproduction knobs; there are the very good, the bad, and the downright ugly.

Boeing Knobs

As a primer, there are several knob styles used on the Main Instrument Panel, forward and aft overhead, various avionics panels, and the side walls in the B737-800 NG

If you search the Internet you will discover that there are several manufacturers of reproduction parts that claim their knobs and switches are exactly identical to the OEM knobs used on Boeing aircraft – don’t believe them, as more often than not they are only close facsimiles.

In this article, I will primarily refer to the General Purpose Knobs (GPK) which reside for the most part on the Main Instrument Panel (MIP).  Boeing call these knobs Boeing Type 1 knobs.

Why Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Knobs Are Expensive

Knobs are expensive, but there are reasons, be they not be very good ones.  

LEFT:  The real item – a Boeing Type 1 General Purpose Knob (GPK) and issue packet.  There can be nothing more superior to an OEM part, but be prepared to shell out a lot of clams (click to enlarge).

The average Boeing style knob is made from painted clear acrylic resin with a metal insert. On a production basis, the materials involved in their manufacture are minimal, so why do OEM knobs cost so much…   Read on.

There are two manufacturers that have long-term contracts to manufacture and supply Boeing and Airbus with various knobs, and both these companies have a policy to keep the prices set at an artificially high level.

Not all flight decks are identical, and the requirements of some airlines and cockpits are such that they require knobs that are unique to that aircraft model; therefore, the product run for knobs for this airframe will be relatively low, meaning that to make a profit the company must charge an inordinate amount of money to cover the initial design and production costs.

A high-end plastic moulding machine is used to produce a knob, and while there is nothing fancy about this type of technology and the process is automated, each knob still requires additional work after production.  This work is usually done by hand.

Once a knob has been produced, it must be hand striped and finished individually to produce a knob that is translucent and meets very strict quality assurance standards.  Hand striping is a complex, time consuming task. 

Additionally, each knob must undergo a relatively complex paint spraying procedure which includes several coats of primer and paint, and a final clear protective coating.  Spray too much paint and the translucent area (called the pointer) inside the twin parallel lines will not transmit light correctly.  Spray too little paint and the knob can suffer from light bleed.  There is a fine line during production when it is easy to ruin an otherwise good knob with a coat of thickly applied paint. 

Finally, any part made for and used by the aviation industry must undergo rigorous quality assurance, and be tested to be certified by the countries Aviation Authority.  Certifying a commercial part is not straightforward and the process of certification takes considerable time and expense.  This expense is passed onto the customer.

Replicating Knobs - OEM Verses Reproduction

It’s not an easy process to replicate a knob to a level that is indiscernible from the real item.  Aside from the design and manufacture of the knob, there are several other aspects that need to be considered: functionality, painting, backlighting, robustness and appearance to name but a few. 

LEFT:  Often disregarded during the manufacture of reproduction knobs is the inner metal sleeve.  The sleeve protects the material from being worn out from continual use (click to enlarge).

Backlighting and Translucency

To enable the knob to be back lit calls for the knob to be made from a translucent material.  Unfortunately many reproduction knobs fall short in this area as they are made from an opaque material.

The knob must also be painted in the correct colour, and have several coats of paint applied in addition to a final protective layer.  The protective layer safeguards against the paint flaking or peeling from the knob during normal use.  In the photograph below, you can see where extended use has begun to wear away part of the knob's paint work revealing the base material.

Set Screws and Metal Inserts

Often lacking in reproduction knobs is a solid metal set screw (grub screw).

The task of the set screw to secure the knob against the shaft of the rotary so that when you  turn/twist the knob it does not rotate freely around the shaft.  Plastic set screws can be easily worn away causing the knob to freely rotate on the shaft of the rotary encoder. 

LEFT:  Detail of the grip and metal set screw.  The set screw is important as it enables the knob to be secured against the shaft of the rotary.    This knob previously was used in a Boeing 737-500 (click to enlarge).

The position of the set screws on the knob also deserves attention.  Correctly positioned set screws will minimize the chance of rotational stress on the shaft when the knob is turned.

Of equal concern is the hole on the underside of the knob where the rotary shaft is inserted.  The hole should be sheathed in metal.  This will increase the knob’s service life.  If the hole does not have a metal sheath, it will eventually suffer from wear (disambiguation) caused by the knob being continually being turned on its axis.   Finally, the knob must function (turn/twist) exactly as it does in the real aircraft.

Reproduction knobs may fail in several areas:

(i)    The knob has various flaws ranging from injection holes in the molded plastic to being the incorrect size or made from an inferior plastic material;
(ii)    The knob does not use metal set screws, and the set screws are not located in the correct position on the knob;
(iii)    The knob has a poorly applied decal that does not replicate the double black line on NG General Purpose Knobs.  The adhesive may not be aligned correctly and may peel away from the knob;
(iv)    The knob is made from a material that does not have the ability to transfer light (translucent pointer);
(v)    The knob does not appear identical in shape to the OEM part (straight edge rather than curved);
(vi)    The paint is poorly applied to the knob and peels off.  OEM knobs have several thin coats of paint followed by hard clear coating of lacquer to ensure a long service life;
(vii)    The colour (hue) of the knob does not match the same hue of the OEM product; and,
(viii)    The circular hole in the rear of the knob, that connects with the shaft of the rotary encoder does not have inner metal sleeve.  

The time it takes to manufacture a knob is time consuming, and to produce a quality product, there must be a high level of quality assurance throughout the manufacturing process.

Older Classic-style Knobs

It's common knowledge that many parts from the classic series airframe (300 through 500) are very similar, if not identical to the parts used in the Next Generation airframe.  Unfortunately, while some knobs are identical most are not.

The knobs may function identically and be similarly designed and shaped, but their appearance differs.  Knobs used in the Next Generation sport a twin black-coloured line that abuts a translucent central line called the pointer, classic series knobs have only a central white line.

Rotary Encoders

Although not part of the knob, the rotary encoder that the knob is attached deserves mention.

A fallacy often quoted is that an OEM knob will feel much firmer than a reproduction - this is not quite true.  Whilst it is true that an OEM knob does has a certain tactile feel, more often than knot the firmness is caused by the rotary that the knob is attached to.

Low-end rotary encoders that are designed for the toy market are flimsy, have a plastic shaft, and are easy to turn.  In contrast, rotaries made for the commercial market are made from stainless steel and are firmer to turn.

Also, low end rotaries and knobs are made from plastic and with continual use the plastic will wear out prematurely resulting in the knob becoming loose.

Final Call

Whether you use reproduction or OEM knobs in your simulator is a personal choice; It doesn't play a huge part in the operation of a simulator.  After all, the knobs on a flight deck are exactly that – knobs.  No one will know you have used a reproduction knob (unless low end reproductions have been chosen).

LEFT:  Many reproduction knobs fit the bill, and for the most part look and feel as they should.   It's easy to criticise the injected plastic being a little uneven along the edge, but this is unseen unless you are using a magnifying glass.

However, the benefit of using a real aircraft part is that there is no second guessing or searching for a superior-produced knob.  Nor is there concern to whether the paint is the correct colour and shade, or the knob is the correct shape and design – it is a real aircraft part and it is what it is.  But, using OEM knobs does have a major set-back - the amount of money that must be outlaid.  

But, second-hand OEM NG style knobs are not easy to find and often there is little choice but to choose the ‘best of the second best’. 

BELOW:  Cross section of a Boeing Type 1 General Purpose Knob.

Wednesday
Sep112013

OEM B737 Landing Gear Mechanism - Installed and Functioning

I have replaced the landing gear lever supplied by Flight Deck Solutions (FDS) with the landing gear mechanism (LGM) from a Boeing 737-500 aircraft.  The reason for the replacement of the gear was not so much that I was unhappy with the FDS landing gear, but more in line with wanting to use OEM parts.

LEFT:  OEM landing gear mechanism - large and hefty, but impossible to upgrade.  Note that spacer is attached (click image to view larger).

Before wiring further, there are a number of differing styles of landing gear mechanisms seen on Boeing aircraft depending upon the aircraft series.  For the most part, the differences are subtle and relate to wiring and connectivity between different aged airframes.  However, there is a difference in the size of the gear knob between the Boeing classics (300 through 500) and the NG.  The knob is the opaque knob located at the end of the gear handle.  On the classics this knob is rather large while on the NG the knob is roughly 20% smaller in size.  There is also a difference in the length of the stem - the NG being a little shorter than the classics.

The landing gear mechanism I obtained came from a United Airlines B737-300; therefore, had the larger classic style knob.  I replaced this knob with a NG style knob.

Anatomy of LGM

The landing gear mechanism is quite large, is made from aluminum and weights roughly 2 kilograms.  Most of the weight is the heavy solenoid that can be seen at the front of the unit.  A long tube-like structure provides protection for the wiring that connects the solenoid to the harness and Canon plug at the side of the unit.  The red-coloured trigger mechanism is spring loaded and the landing gear lever can be extended outward (toward you) when raising and lowering the gear.

Installation and Mounting

I am using a Main Instrument Panel (MIP) designed by Flight Deck Solutions which incorporates a very handy shelf.  Determining how to mount the gear mechanism was problematic as the position of the shelf would not allow the mechanism to be mounted flush to the MIP.  After looking at several options, it was decided to cut part of the shelf away to accommodate the gear mechanism. 

Once this had been done (rather crudely as I didn’t want to use a dremel on the actual MIP), it became apparent that, although the mechanism mounted flush to the MIP the landing gear lever was not in the correct position; the lever was too far out from the front surface of the MIP and the trigger was not within the half-moon plates when in the down position.

Spacer

The solution to this problem was to design and mount a 0.5 cm thick spacer to the front of the landing gear.  This spacer was made from plastic and cut to the exact measurement of the gap that the landing gear lever moves through.  Attaching the spacer to the lightweight aluminum of the landing gear mechanism was straightforward and was done with four small screws.  Once the spacer was attached, the position of the trigger in relation to the half-moon plate was more accurate.

Cutting the FDS Plate

Another minor hurdle needing climbing was to alter the aluminum plate located behind the FDS light plate.  The FDS landing gear secures to two ridges that are at 90 degrees to the MIP.  These two ridges need to be removed to incorporate the flat surface of the front of the OEM landing gear mechanism.  The trusty Dremel was used to cut through the thin aluminum to remove the two ridges

LEFT:  Carefully removing the two ridges from the FDS main backing plate)

Custom Bracket

The next issue was how to attach the landing gear mechanism to the MIP.  I made a bracket that fitted snugly to the upper part of the gear mechanism.  To secure the bracket to the gear mechanism, it was a matter of ensuring that the bracket leg covered two preexisting holes.  A bolt was then used to secure the bracket.  Two further holes at the front of the bracket secure the upper part of the gear mechanism to the MIP.  Once again, I picked up on existing holes in the MIP. 

LEFT:  Custom bracket that is used to secure the upper part of the LGM to the rear of the MIP.

To secure the lower part of the landing gear mechanism to the MIP, I replaced the existing bolts used to attach the half-moon to the MIP, with longer bolts.  I then drilled a small hole to the front plate of the landing gear mechanism and spot welded a nut to the inside of the hole.  The bolts could then be used to secure the gear mechanism to the MIP.  To stop lateral movement of the gear mechanism, I used a standard L bracket to secure the unit to the shelf of the MIP.

The reason for the secure mounting will become obvious later in the post.

Stem Length and Buttons for FS configuration

One aspect to take note is that the NG landing gear lever is one inch shorter than the classics; therefore, one inch of the lever needs to be removed.

To connect the actual up and down functionality to Flight Simulator requires the use of two configurable buttons; one for gear up and the other for gear down.  The two buttons (not pictured) are located inside the unit screwed to the inner side of the housing.

Reproduction or OEM

There are three main reasons for using an OEM landing gear mechanism rather than a reproduction unit.

LEFT:  LGM solenoid.  The LGM does have a handy foot beneath the solenoid for attachment to the MIP shelf; however, this foot sits too far forward of the shelf to be of use when the LGM is flush to the MIP.

The mechanism, as mentioned earlier, includes a solenoid.  This solenoid stops the landing gear from being raised or lowered at certain landing gear lever positions.  Reproduction units rely on software to replicate the function of the solenoid.  Using an OEM unit allows the solenoid to be used.

Another difference is the trigger.  Reproduction units usually do not incorporate a spring-loaded trigger as a solenoid is not connected.  The OEM unit requires a spring-loaded trigger to engage or disengage the solenoid.

Furthermore, reproduction units often do not provide correct positioning of the trigger in relation to the half-moon.  The half-moon and trigger are safety features and the trigger should be partially hidden between each of the two half-moons when the landing gear is in the DOWN position.

Interfacing

A Phidget 0/0/8 relay card was used.   The card interfaces the actions of the solenoid (on/off) and is then read by the avionics suite (ProSim737).  The relay card is mounted in the System Interface Module (SIM) and connection from the card to the landing gear mechanism is via the Canon plug discussed earlier. 

LEFT:  Canon plug on ABS plastic mounting plate.  The use of the Canon plug enables a cleaner wiring configuration.

Mounting the interface cards in the SIM provides a central point for card mounting with the benefit of also being able to use this card for other functions for other OEM parts with minimal wiring.

The solenoid requires 28 volts to enable activation.

Muscle Required!

To use OEM landing gear requires muscle!  Pulling the gear lever from its recess position is not a slight pull.  Likewise, moving the gear lever between down, off and up requires a bit of strength.  This is why mounting the mechanism securely is very important.

Operation and Safety Features

Boeing has incorporated several devices in the aircraft, such as squat switches, computerized probes and mechanical locks (down and up-locks), to ensure that the landing gear cannot be raised when there is weight on the main landing gear.  If weight is registered, then the landing gear lever lock is activated inhibiting the gear lever from being able to be placed in the UP position.  This lock is controlled by the solenoid.   

An override trigger in the lever may be used to bypass the landing gear lever lock.  Depressing the trigger will disengage the lock and allow the gear lever to be moved to the UP position.  The reason for the half-moons should now be obvious.  By partially covering the trigger, the half-moons act as a physical barrier to stop a pilot from easily accessing the trigger mechanism to disengage the landing gear lever lock.

After rotation, the air/ground system energizes the solenoid which opens the landing gear lever lock allowing the gear lever to be raised from the DOWN to the UP position.

How it Works in the Real Aircraft (Hydraulic Pressure)

In the real Boeing aircraft hydraulic pressure is used to raise the landing gear.  This pressure is supplied through the landing gear transfer unit.  

Hydraulic system B supplies the volume of hydraulic fluid required to raise the gear.  Conversely, hydraulic system A, by supplying pressure to release the up-locks, is used to lower the landing gear.  Once the up-locks have been disengaged, the gear will extend by gravity, air loads and to a limited extend hydraulic pressure.  

Moving the landing gear lever to OFF (following take off) will remove all hydraulic pressure from the system.

In-Flight Testing

The solenoid and trigger mechanism operate in the simulator as it does in the real aircraft.  When you start flight simulator and ProSim737 there is an audible clunk as the solenoid receives power.   Immediately after rotation, you hear another audible clunk as the solenoid is energized (to open the landing gear lock).

If you want to raise the gear lever to UP whilst on the ground, the only way to do so if by depressing the trigger to override the landing gear lock.

Obviously, hydraulic pressure is not simulated...

Condition

OEM parts have been used; there are rarely new.  Therefore, it's expected that any part removed from an operational airliner may have slight aesthetic damage. 

LEFT:  Scratching to the gear lever shaft.  Note the access pin on the shaft that allows removal of the retractable trigger.  Also note the smaller NG style knob which replaced the larger knob used on the classics.

Often the damage occurs when someone removes the part from the aircraft at the scrap yard.  In the case of this part, the landing gear lever was scratched.  Although it has been repainted, the scratches are still apparent if you look very closely. 

Historical Perspective

It's easy to forget that a separated part actually did one belong to an operational airliner. In this case the landing gear mechanism belonged to United Airlines 737-300 registration number N326UA. 

Although arbitrary, I like the idea that the part I'm using was actually used on a real aircraft, has flown the miles and served the airline.  It makes the simulator "feel" a little more real.

LEFT:  United Airlines N326U landing at KLAX (Los Angeles) airport on 26 October, 2008.  Photograph courtesy of Airliners.Net.

Is the effort of installing an OEM mechanism to the simulator worthwhile?  I believe the answer is yes.  The use of the solenoid provides added realism as does the use of a spring-activated trigger, while the tightness of the movement of the gear handle between a reproduction and OEM unit is obviously different.

Acronyms

OEM - Original Equipment Manufacture
FDS - Flight Deck SolutionsMIP - Main Instrument Panel
LGM - Landing Gear Mechanism
NG - Next Generation (B737-800NG)
Half-moons - the two plates that are positioned either side of the trigger of the landing gear when in the DOWN position

Saturday
Sep292012

List of B737 Carriers Worldwide - Interesting....

A Boeing B737 takes off or lands somewhere in the world on average every 5 seconds!

To date, the Boeing series of airliners is the most successful airliner the world has seen.    Boeing's success revolves around, amongst other things, the ability to be able to upgrade their aircraft from a basic overall design that has changed little since the first B727 rolled out of the hanger in the 1968, earmarked for the German airline Lufthansa.

So which nations place their trust in Boeing?  This link provides a list of worldwide carriers by nation.

Sunday
Aug262012

JetStream 738 by ProSim737 - Review

After flight testing several aircraft models, I decided to use the B738 (FS9 version) produced by Precision Manuals Development Group (PMDG).  This flight model, once the PMDG flight logic is removed, functioned exceptionally well and is very stable.   

One of the potential problems when using a flight model produced by another company is compatibility and functionality with your chosen avionics software suite.  Minor problems are often solved by tweaking the aircraft.cfg file; however, tweaks are just that, and often issues will occur which cannot be identified and rectified.  In my experience, tweaking the .cfg file may solve your initial problem, but may cause additional errors elsewhere.

Different Aircraft Models – Different Solutions

To ensure various aircraft models operate with their software, Sim Avionics provide users with specific aircraft.cfg files that correspond to the particular flight model they are using.  These files are optimally tweaked to the Sim Avionics software.

ProSim737 has handled the problem of aircraft model variances slightly differently.  Rather than provide a tweaked aircraft.cfg file to allow you to use whatever flight model you wished, they took a holistic approach and produced a complete aircraft dedicated ONLY to their avionics software suite.

Creating an aircraft model that is designed to only operate with their software has many advantages.  First and foremost is trouble-shooting.  Everyone is using the same software, meaning that if a problem does present itself, finding a solution is usually easier.  Chasing ghosts rarely occurs as the same company that produced the avionics suite produced the aircraft flight model.

At this stage, you may think that ProSim737 only works with their dedicated aircraft.  This is incorrect; ProSim737’s avionics suite will work with numerous aircraft models including the default FSX 737 and the PMDG FS9 737, however, if you want to achieve harmonious inter-connectivity with the avionics software, then using the dedicated flight model is highly recommended.

Hello “JetStream B738”

The JetStream aircraft is more a flight model than an actual virtual aircraft.  Don’t expect to see “wow” factor visuals with this model.  Instead, expect to experience “wow” factor flight dynamics that work in perfect unison with the flight avionics software.

Virtual pilots using a fully developed simulator often do not need what is offered in many aircraft models: virtual flight decks, pop-up gauges and GPS consoles are not necessary.  As such, the JetStream doesn’t provide these additives.  You will, however, see the default FSX panel layout of the B737.  This can easily be permanently removed by either editing the panel.cfg file or removing the panel images.  

Installation

The JetStream software comes with an .exe installer.  Installing is as easy as following the prompts.  When installed, a JetStream 738 folder will be found in the simobjects/aircraft folder.

JetStream Textures

The Jetstream uses the default texture pack belonging to the B737-800 FSX aircraft; therefore, the outside views mimic the same texture details seen on the default FSX model.  

I think the outside textures (especially with a repainted airline livery) are just as good as many payware add-on aircraft textures.  Certainly, PMDG NGX textures surpass the JetStream textures, but you must remember that the aircraft has NOT been designed as a pretty aircraft to look at, but a flight model to read and accurately output defined flight dynamics.  Think of it as flying “ones and zeros”.

Video Makers & Virtual Airlines

Video-makers or those who wish to mimic a particular airline can easily re-texture the aircraft skin to reflect a specific colour scheme or airline livery.  Search through the ProSim737 forum and you will find several dozen repaints.  Installing additional textures is identical to the method used in FSX.
If you search this website you will find mention of the 164 liveries pack.  This pack provides many liveries and re-textures.

Outside Views & Animation

Many individuals concern themselves with the outside view of an aircraft.  Whilst it’s enjoyable to inspect the aircraft from the outside, the quality of the external visuals has absolutely nothing to do with the way the flight model behaves.                    

This said, the movement of essential equipment can be observed: the rudder, flaps, ailerons, spoilers and landing gear.  Landing and other outside lights are also replicated including a functional taxi light which is bright enough to “read by”.  The outside view is far from sterile.

Taxi Light – Too Bright & Intense

One downside to the external view is the actual positioning the taxi light.

Historically, Micro$oft have never animated the taxi light correctly.  ProSim737 have created their version of a taxi light, which is more a ball of light than a taxi light.

The taxi light is bright – very bright.  On lift off, the fall of the light beam covers the lower portion of the front screen view.  This obviously does not occur in a real aircraft.  Although I have not altered the files, I have been informed that this cosmetic issue can be rectified with a small tweak to the aircraft.cfg file.  

I would have liked ProSim737 to have developed the external lights from scratch with a dedicated taxi light with no fall off on the lower portion of the computer monitor.  Good external lights are essential if you fly predominately at night.

Flight Dynamics – flying Ones & Zeros

This is why the JetStream was developed – as a platform to replicate complicated flight dynamics to realistically mimic the movement and handling of a real jet aircraft.  This is where the “wow” factor begins and is where the JetStream leaves it’s contemporaries behind.
I am very impressed with the flight dynamics.  During several hours flight testing, the model was exceptionally stable, handled as you would expect, and interfaced with the ProSim737 logic flawlessly.  

Fine-Tuning & Stability Testing

ProSim737 has been designed to be operate with MCPs (Main Control Panel) manufactured by several companies.   I have been informed that, depending on the MCP type, problems can be experienced with the sensitivity of the auto pilot.  To alleviate this, ProSim737 allows the sensitivity of the MCP to be adjusted.

The JetStream manual suggests that a good method to determine possible over-control (i.e. oscillations) is to increase the simulation speed to 4x and observe if oscillations occur, and if the autopilot is able to hold either heading or altitude”.

I performed this stability test at x4 acceleration and noted very mild pivoting of the wings as the aircraft slewed along it defined navigation track.  When I morphed back to normal speed, the aircraft was in the same direction, attitude and altitude that it was when I entered acceleration mode.  Only at faster acceleration speeds (x16) did the aircraft loose position (which is to be expected).

Hardware Calibration

The JetStream requires careful and fastidious calibration of your yoke and rudder pedals to ensure solid performance.  

Calibration isn’t as important if you use the auto pilot to do most of your flying, however, if you prefer to hand fly to and from FL10, correct calibration of your yoke and rudder is paramount.
It’s essential to take the time to calibrate your hardware correctly using the Windows and FSX calibration tool, using FSUPIC to fine tune the results.

Your hardware control settings play a huge role in how the plane behaves, so before blaming the flight model, please test it with different controls and settings.  

The following is an excerpt from the JetStream read me file:

  • Most 738 models available represent a truly overpowered engine/dynamics ratio, The flight model tries to follow the real curve, don't expect it to reach high speed/AOA values as other flight models do, especially immediately after rotation.
  • As in FSX, nose-steering is nothing else but rudder, without FSUIPC's given steering routine and a hardware wheel, do not expect acceptable results on the ground.
  • The VC was deliberately removed from the model.
  • Trim related values do depend on hardware behaviour.  This relates to whether hardware has been calibrated with or without FSUIPC.
  • Idle N1 value is OAT dependent. You will get 20.7 at 15C.
  • Set General Realism Slider to Maximum! It is vital for the model!

PMDG (FS9) and Default 738 Verses JetStream

I outlined in the opening paragraph that ProSim737 can be used with several other add on aircraft, including the default FSX 738.  My limited testing proved that these aircraft fly well with ProSim737, however, nuisances do occur and tweaking of the aircraft .cfg file is needed to solve niggling problems with often undesirable outcomes..

The JetStream was designed from the bottom up to be the flight model for ProSim737.  Therefore, many of the nuisances observed when using other flight models do not exist.

As an example, the FS9 version of the  PMDG aircraft at Vr, with the yoke pulled to aft position, exhibits a slight delay of a second or two before actually lifting off the runway.  A positive rate is rarely achieved before V2 is called.  This is completely different with the JetStream which is far more responsive.  Pull back slightly on the yoke at Vr and the aircraft is airborne before reaching V2.

No matter what I did with the PMDG flight model, the only way to achieve rotation at Vr was to pull back on the yoke a few seconds before actually hearing the Vr call out.

This is but one example, illustrating why it’s solid sense to link a dedicated flight model to a specific avionics software suite to achieve harmonious integration.

FS Add Ons - Top Cat Compliant

Many virtual pilots use a popular add on flight tool called Top Cat.

Top Cat is used, amongst other things, to calculate weight, takeoff and landing performance.  The JetStream is compatible with Top Cat and the JetStream manual explains how to incorporate this advanced FS add on.

JetStream User Manual

A detailed user manual is included which is well written and informative.  It’s important to read this manual to ensure you get the most from the JetStream flight model.

Updates & Improvements

ProSim737 currently produces one aircraft and one avionics software suite.  While some may find this lacking, I find it reassuring.  Rather than become tired down to developing other aircraft and software, ProSim737 focus their attention on one aircraft – the B738.  This translates to regular updates and improvements which can only benefit the end user.

Support

Support is provided either by a dedicated forum or via personal e-mail communication.  

To date, all requests have been answered quickly and efficiently.  If you need help, support is available.  You are not left to feel as if you’re withering on a vine, waiting for assistance.

 

I try to be impartial and accurate when I make a review, however, if I have missed something or have made a mistake, feel free to make a comment.

This review is based solely on my experience with the JetStream and ProSim737.  I have no affiliation with the company.

My Rating is 9/10

Saturday
Nov052011

Throttle Quadrant & Center Pedestal on the way (finally)

The QANTAS strike in Australia has sure left me stranded - not personally but with freight.  Even though flight operations were only cancelled for a few days, the backlog of freight and essential cargo that has been delayed is staggering. It just proves that Australia really does need another major airline so that Qantas does not hold the nation to ransom.

Throttle Quadrant & Avionics Bay

After almost a month in transit (who said air freight was fast), the 737 throttle quadrant and avionics bay has arrived in Sydney, only to be sitting on the floor of the Qantas warehouse for a week!  My customs forwarder advised me on Friday that Qantas finally has released the freight for dispatch to Melbourne then onwards further south to Hobart.  Arrival time is mid next week (touch wood).

MIP

The main instrument panel, I have been reliably told by Peter Cos of Flight Deck Solutions has been wired and will be ready for dispatch later next week.  I'll ensure this freight is NOT sent via QANTAS....Maybe I'll use DHL.

In the interim, whilst waiting for freight to arrive, I've been kept busy working through computer set up networking challenges in WIN 7, and solving an assortment of compatability issues with regard to software.  After many hours, it seems that many of these matters are now well on their way to be solved.  I've also been spending considerable time researching the various flight models that can be used with Sim Avionics.

It will soon be time to begin the build phase of the project.