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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.

 

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Journal Archive (Newest First)

Entries in EPGWS (1)

Wednesday
Dec212016

RAAS Professional By FS2Crew - Review

Runway incursions are a leading cause of aviation fatalities and account for approximately $1 billion annually in aircraft damages. To help prevent such losses, close calls and collisions, the industry requested a safety system that would help maintain situational awareness during taxiing and preparing for takeoff and landing. 

Honeywell stepped in to fill the gap by developing an easy-to-install heads-up advisory system with aural alerts (call-outs) to increase flight crew situational awareness during ground and air operations relative to the runway. 

This system was then further improved upon, with the collaboration of Emmirates.

LEFT:  KLAX airport diagram showing the maze that hundreds of aircraft each day must safely navigate.  Given the complexity of many airports, it's amazing there are not more runway incursions (click to enlarge).

I previously used a shareware version of RAAS developed by PlaneMan in South Korea.  This small FS add-on worked well, however, recently it stopped working on my system for an uknown reason.  I wrote a review on FsRAAS in 2011.  Searching for a replacement I came across RAAS Professional developed by FS2 Crew.  

What is RAAS

RAAS is an acronym for Runways Awareness And Advisory System (RAAS).  RAAS was developed by Honeywell Aerospace as a simple to install but effective software addition to the Honeywell Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS).  Although the base-line RAAS is still in operation, Honeywell has improved the software by integrating additional aural advisory call-outs; in particular, relating to stabilised approaches.  SmartRunway and SmartLanding are the next generation of RAAS.

RAAS Professional replicates the complete aural Honeywell suite (RAAS, SmartRunway and SmartLanding), however, does not simulate the visual advisory displays.

Installation

Installation is via an installer and is straightforward.  The software installs a .ddl file which is loaded automatically when you begin a new simulation flight.  Once installed, a tab (RAAS Professional) will be added to the menu bar in flight simulator (FSX); this is where the user interface is opened to configure the program.  I did not experience any issues installing this program.

RAAS uses Simconnect to connect to flight simulator and does not require the use of FSUPIC.  RAAS will operate on FS9, FSX and P3D simulation platforms.  

Be aware that problems can occur when attempting to connect any add-on software that uses Simconnect (as opposed to FSUPIC).  If a problem occurs, the easiest way to rectify it is to re-install the Simconnect module of flight Simulator.

Initial Configuration (Managing the Runway Database)

The most important task to complete prior to configuring RAAS is to download a small standalone program called MakeRunways.  This software has been developed by Peter Dowson and is available gratis from his website.  The MakeRunways utility should be placed in your main flight simulator folder where the Scenery.cfg file is located.    

When MakeRunways is run it interrogates your scenery folder and generates several database files that include, amongst other things, the runways found in flight simulator.  The generated files are automatically saved to your main flight simulator folder, for programs such as RAAS, to access and read. 

It’s important to remember that whenever you install new scenery you must run the MakeRunways utility to ensure that the database is synchronized and up-to-date otherwise RAAS will not work with the new add-on airport scenery.

Advanced Configuration

RAAS, like its real world counterpart, is highly configurable from the User Interface (UI) accessed from the Add-Ons menu bar in flight simulator.

The following aural call-outs (advisory) are available.

Approaching Runway (On Ground): advisory provides the flight crew with an awareness of when a runway is being approached.
Approaching Runway (In Air): advisory provides the flight crew with an awareness of which runway the aircraft is lined-up with during approach.
On Runway: advisory provides the flight crew with an awareness of which runway the aircraft is lined up with on the ground.
Runway End: advisory is used to improve crew awareness of the runway end during low visibility operations.
Taxiway Take-off: advisory alerts pilots to excessive taxi speeds or an inadvertent takeoff on a taxiway.
Insufficient Runway Length (On Ground): provides the crew of an awareness of which runway the aircraft is lined-up with and if the runway length available is less than the defined minimum takeoff length.
Extended Holding on Runway: alerts the crew of an extended holding period on the runway.
Approaching Short Runway (In Air): offers an advisory of which runway the aircraft is lined-up with and if the runway length available is sufficient as defined in the Runways section.
Taxiway Landing: alerts the crew if they are not lined up with a runway at low altitudes.
Takeoff Flap Monitor: alerts the crew if the aircraft's flaps are not in the defined takeoff range.
Landing Distance Remaining: provides the flight crew with an awareness of the runway length remaining during roll-out.
Distance Remaining (Rejected Takeoff): provides the flight crew with an awareness of the runway length remaining during a rejected takeoff.
Landing Flap Monitor: advisory alerts the crew if the landing flaps are not set.
Excessive Approach Speed: is an alert if the aircraft speed become excessive compared to the final approach speed.
Excessive Approach Angle: is an alert if the aircraft's approach angle becomes too steep.
Altimeter Setting (Above Transition): alerts the crew if the altimeter is not set to standard after climbing above the transition altitude.
Altimeter Setting (Below Transition): provides the flight crew with an awareness of improper corrected altitude setting while below the transition altitude.
Long Landing: alerts the flight crew if the aircraft has not touched down within the pre-defined Touchdown Zone Length.
Caution Enabled: adds the phrase ‘Caution’ to select aural calls.

Any of the aural call-outs can be turned on or off and several parameters are configurable from the UI.  Additionally, specific parameters can be changed depending upon aircraft type or airline policy, such as:

•    Aircraft type.
•    Runway takeoff and landing length, runway length and touchdown zone.
•    Hold times (initial hold time and repeats).
•    Flaps configuration (takeoff, landing, upper and lower altitudes).
•    Approach speeds.
•    Transition altitudes.
•    Extended hold times and frequency of the aural call-out.

If you fly different aircraft, any number of user profiles can be created.  The profiles are associated with the aircraft type selected in flight simulator.

Comparison - RAAS Professional to the  Honeywell System

RAAS Professional by Fs2Crew replicates the real Honeywell system surprisingly well.  The aural call-outs are identical and the female voice sounds very similar to the voice used by Honeywell - which provide either a female or male voice.  If you’re keen to compare RAAS to the Honeywell system I recommend you visit the Honeywell website and watch the three (3) videos at the bottom of the webpage.

LEFT:  RAAS Professional User Interface (UI).  Click to enlarge.

Turning RAAS On and Off (RAAS Master Switch)

RAAS can be turned on and off ‘on the fly’ from the User Interface (UI) or by assigned a hot-key (key event API) in flight simulator.  By default the on/off function has been assigned to the water rudder (R) function (from within the flight simulator control panel).  It is also possible to assign this functionality to a switch/toggle.

Sound Cards and System Test

RAAS has been designed to be used within multiple speaker environments, and changing the speaker preference is made directly in the User Interface (UI).  With a little tinkering you should be able to dedicate the RAAS aural call-outs to a separate speaker while maintaining engine noise and Air Traffic Control to other speakers and a headset.  A master volume control tab enables the sound levels to be adjusted (if the speaker does not have volume control knob).

The UI has a System Test to determine correct configuration and connection (audio test) and an error log.  The error log can be used during troubleshooting (if necessary).  

Voice Sets and Memory Use

Currently RAAS only supports English in a female voice.  I believe that additional foreign language voice sets may be released in due course.

When RAAS is running, there is no discernable effect on the computer or flight simulator.

Support

A detailed and easy to read manual is supplied with the program.  The manual, in addition to providing detailed installation instructions, also has a very good troubleshooting section in the unlikely event that you have problems during the installation process.

RAAS supports a dedicated support forum and the developer replies to questions when asked.  

Program Shortfalls

At the moment it is not possible to install RAAS on a client computer and run the program  across a network.  Although RAAS does not use a lot of computer resources, some users may wish to display the UI (when required) on a client screen in association with the Instructor Station.

Another shortfall is the inconsistent operation of the key event API that enables you to connect a switch/toggle to the on/off function (RAAS Master Switch).  Sometimes it works and at other times it does not work correctly.

Final Call

If you seek realism, RAAS is a worthwhile addition to flight simulator.   When configured to an appropriate aircraft, the aural call-outs are timely and helpful to situational awareness.  Two features I particularly like are the ability of RAAS to remind you to set the appropriate flaps detente prior to takeoff, and the aural call-out that is generated which identifies the runway you are aligned with during final approach.

I must admit there was one occurrence when I was conducting a VOR approach to a parallel runway in limited visibility.  The aural call-out stated I was aligned to runway 24 Left when I was supposed to landing on runway 24 Right!  But isn’t this the reason RAAS was designed – to stop incursions and provide situation awareness to flight crews.

References and Affiliation

This article was written with reference material obtained from Honeywell Aerospace.  

Please note I have no affiliation with FS2Crew.  I have not been provided with ‘free’ software, nor did I receive a discount in return for a favourable review.  The comments and recommendations I have made are my own.  Nore information on RAAS Professional can be obtained directly from the FS2Crew website.

Flight Simulator, in this article, refers to FSX/FS10.  I use the B737 avionics suite developed by ProSim-AR.

BELOW:  Honeywell promotional video (courtesy & with permission Honeywell).

BELOW:  RAAS Professional promotional video (courtesy FS2Crew).