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The Simmer And Real World Aircraft

Aug 25 2013 01:24 PM | This article has been viewed 4533 times.
submitted by: G550flyer

THE TOPIC

 Ladies and gents, there have been some past discussions about a flight simmers ability to pilot a real world aircraft. The most recent topic comprised of flying a 737NG. There were plenty posts about the probability with varying perspectives. To have a good view point, one must understand what goes into flying a real world aircraft. For the most part, most of us are very familiar with the flight sim process. Some of us actually have real world experience in the flying biz. With that in mind, I think it's better to take a close in depth look at the possibility and how one would go about accomplishing the task.

 

WHY

Someone asked in an earlier post, "Why would a real world pilot even bother with FSX". Well for me, I learned a lot about flying from flight sim and the community. I was a flightsim addict when I was young. My dream of flight started with flightsim and it made the process easy. I've been flying for about 17 years now and I think flightsim paved the way by planting the seed. I know flying isn't for everyone. Some who are interested may never get the opportunity. It's in flight sim where many will get to experience flight. I returned to flight sim and the community to give back. If I can pass on experience or answer questions, I’m happy. I give advice to those who want to sim realistically. I've also been a part of a few beta test teams where I aimed to test flight dynamics against performance manuals and my own experience. This is why I stay active in the community.

 

THE SET UP

In this topic we will focus on an experienced flight simmer that uses add-on aircraft and flies them in a realistic manner. We can base it on a 737NG, but use jet aircraft in general. Here is the mind set. Most modern jet aircraft are the same in general. Systems are very similar. They are certified by the same requirements. They are typically flown the same. Some terms may differ by aircraft. Let’s look at the system that controls whether aircraft is in the ground or air mode. Lockheed called the components touch down switches (sws). Micky D called them ground sensing mechanisms. Some refer to them as squat switches. Gulfstream has called them nut cracker sys/sws and moved on to call them weight on wheel sys/WOW sys. Either way they perform the same function in the same manner. Autopilots, flight directors, auto-throttles and modes are the same throughout aircraft. What really changes between the aircraft are the flying procedures. Type ratings mainly focus on the procedures of that particular aircraft based on characteristics and capability. You have to know the automation/FMS procedure as well as the manual procedures when becoming qualified. This is what makes going from jet to jet easy. It also makes it easy for negative transfer. This is when you apply procedures from one aircraft to another. It's easy to do since the systems are similar. In reality, flying is all about habit patterns through repetition. We will look at the pros, cons and pitfalls of flightsim vs RW.

 

THE SCENARIO

Let’s say for some reason the walking dead have invaded your town and you need to get your family to safety. Or maybe Mayans were a tad bit off on the date and now you want to fly it out. So you happen to come across a 737BBJ or similar Boeing, you choose (no airbus). Someone has left the stairs down and the door is open. You scream "Get your @#%^& on!" in your Sam Jackson voice. If you are lucky, the jet is powered up. In this case it's not.

 

POWER UP

Above we mentioned how most jets are similar. There is usually an electrical control panel in the cockpit. The question would be, can an experienced simmer figure out how to power up the jet. In my experience, powering up a jet is straight forward and simple. Most jets are self sustaining, meaning you can operate the jet without any ground equipment. This can get difficult for the simmer. When I was flying heavies, there were plenty circuit breakers that would be pulled after flight. They were in the cockpit. This prevents some equipment from turning on while the aircraft is powered up. Radar altimeters, standby ADI, and probe heat were some of these items. Mx would install colored collars for quick identification of these breakers. Even though the DC10 had a ground service bus that only powered up the cabin, the breakers were pulled and full power would be applied. Now on the other side, in the Gulfstreams that I fly, things are all ways left on and no breakers are pulled. Even the radio, cabin, FMS, and SAT TV masters are left on. Some operators turn them off and some don't depending on the Mx costs they've experienced. I have found situations where the CDU and Display Units are dimmed to save on wear and tear. The Display screens are also turned off. Would the simmer be aware of these situations? Would he know to check breakers and sws? Most sim aircraft don't simulate these situations, but some do. An experienced simmer may be able to power up the aircraft. As I said it's straight forward. Due to add-ons, he may know that he needs the APU. He would also know that he has to turn the batteries on. A glance around the cockpit and he would surely find these items. In the real world, I all ways perform a radio check on VHF1 and APU/ENG fire test prior to starting the APU. In this case, he may not know and he doesn't need it. It would be nice to know that the APU fire sys works, but i haven't ever had an APU fire. Now in the aircraft I’ve flown, there were always flight pubs and aircraft pubs on board. In our jets we have laminated checklist and SOP briefing cards that are left in a pedestal slot. In the cabinets, we have the full set of flight and aircraft pubs. Our aircraft are all ways worldwide ready to go. I think the simmer would be able to power up the aircraft. The aircraft pubs greatly increase his chances if he finds/chooses to use them.

 

PREFLIGHT

The simmer wouldn't have an idea about the full preflight. Some operators have forms that are used for checking the status of the aircraft. You can check the Mx history in them. He would probably know that some items need to be turned on. There are also items that need to be removed. Once again, some sim aircraft simulate removing pins, and covers. The nice thing is that removable items are tagged with red streamers that scream, remove before flight in white. Some items are just red. The preflight turns on/test systems and prepare them for flight. Some things are critical like chocks, parking brake, and gear pins. These 3 will get you in trouble fast. Systems are easy to turn on. Most systems are grouped together and are clearly labeled. Chances are, they are left in the on position. He would have to know the things that are critical to flight. Some jets have hydraulic switches, trim switches, anti-skid, flight control sws etc. From jet to jet, some are always left on and some are turned off after flight. Modern aircraft are also designed in a way that you could easily tell if something is out a place. There are usually four colors that you will find. They are green, blue, yellow and red. We all know red is associated with something wrong. I find that yellow is usually associated with a switch in the off position. Blue is usually an advisory. Blue may tell you that you have selected something on. For example, in the G550, the APU master sws reads on in blue when it’s in the on position. It’s just a reminder that you turned it on and you have to select it off. There will also be a blue cas message that reads APU MASTER. Would the simmer know this, maybe? But he could easy look around and check for yellow and red lights. Most cockpits are designed in a way that when the aircraft is fully configured for flight, warn/caution lights are out and no messages are displayed.

 

FMS

The FMS and IRS systems can be interesting. Setting position can be a challenge. Most add-ons simulate this very well. There are some pitfalls. Both systems will be easy to find. Most INS systems will perform a self test on power up. You should turn them on first. Most systems will not accept position until the test is complete. They would have to be in the align or nav mode in order to accept position. The only difference between align and nav is that align will hold and keep the align state. In nav, the INS will start to drift as soon as the alignment is complete. If you load the pos before the 10 to 15 second self test is complete, you wouldn't notice it. They will start the countdown/alignment process. At the last state, the align lights will start flashing at you. The simmer could become confused if this was the case in the type aircraft he jumped in. He can fall into a cycle of this as he reset them. For the most part the FMS system is pretty easy. On power up, most will usually default to the NAV IDENT page. Software version, time, date, and active database will be displayed. You can select pos init from this page. The smart guy would load the GPS position. Another pitfall is the pos format. If you have to manually enter the position, it can confuse you. In older systems, you would load lat first and then long. In the Honeywell, you have to type the lat and long together, but it needs to be in the correct format. You can follow the last pos format and load it and you have a chance. If the jet was towed, you would still be within a mile you hope. The universal is more difficult. There is a specific page and way you have to load it. For the most part, the FMS will walk you through the order of what’s needed. It prompts you through the rest. The experienced guy would have no issues unless he is on an airbus. He could go low level VFR, or direct or add a complex route. At minimum, if he can't get the INS up, he can select ATT which will give you basic attitude ref minus the nav capability. He could also use air charts and navigate by nav stations.

 

FUEL

If the simmer can work the FMS, he can figure fuel requirements if the FMS is properly perfed. Adding routes can be easy. He may be savvy enough to be complex. He can also go direct or forgo the FMS all together. 15K or more, he can get somewhere. Less than 15K, options are limited.

 

WEIGHT and BALANCE

The BOW weight can be tricky. Most FMS systems will keep the last weight entered. Weight and balance is another issue. I doubt that a simmer can calculate weight and balance. If he is lucky, the aircraft will have a canned weight and balance book on the aircraft. Most smaller aircraft will have a chart that’s based on passenger load. The FMS will usually have weight and balance internally requiring only the basic weight and pax/cargo load. Other operators will use a system/program that calculates it for you. Out on the ramp, you may be out of luck. If you have no way to figure out the weight and balance, you are rolling the dice. If the weight in the FMS is close, you still need to know cg information in order to get a trim setting. Only a person with time around the aircraft might have an idea of how the aircraft sits empty and how the cg moves as pax and gas is added. Every jet will be different based on its configuration. The DC10s i flew had a range from 8 to 29 for flight. Empty, it sat 12 to 15. When loaded, the CG moved aft to 25 to 29. Most aircraft are tested to be controllable in an out of balance/trim situation. Here’s some experience for ya. I was flying a Gulfstream from NY to Shannon. During taxi, my CO had an issue trying to reach tower so I took the radios and got the clearance. On line up i performed the ground spoiler test and armed them. I did a quick safety check and pushed throttles up to takeoff power. As we hit 60 the yoke rose to neutral and the co called 80kts, controls free. I came off the tiller, grabbed the yoke and stated pilot’s controls. The CO called V1- Rotate and I added back pressure. The nose didn't lift. I pulled further back and the nose slowly rose as he called V2. I trimmed nose up while adding firm aft pressure. I glanced at the trim and noticed it was just passing into the green. We cleaned up and continued. During taxi, he had been pushing nose down trim instead of the PTT while calling tower (common). Unfortunately that model Gulfstream has no warning for trim being out of the green. It doesn't sound when in motion either. From that point forward i check trim when taking the runway.

 

WALK AROUND

Most simmers have rode in an airliner and watched the pilot complete the walk around. Training will teach you the specific items, but most aircraft are the same. Parking brake, gear/door pins, chocks, doors, panels, covers, flight controls and taxi area are the biggies. Other than that it's general condition. It's a 50% chance a simmer would know what to look for. Would he notice if something was missing? What should be open, and what should be closed? A simmer with ramp experience has about an 80% chance. As long as the biggies are covered, he can make it.

 

ENGINE START

Engine start is pretty easy. Bigger question is, would they be able to get the stairs up or pulled away from the aircraft. Some aircraft have an alternate way to enter the aircraft from the ground. If he is lucky, the aircraft may have internal retractable stairs. Most exits and doors have instructions near the controls. There are 2 things required for engine starting. We will need electrics and pneumatics. Aircraft these days are very easy to start. A quick scan of the overhead and pedestal will identify start controls and indicators. Most aircraft will have start arming controls along with starter sws and fuel levers. A checklist would be very helpful with configuring for start. Mainly start systems armed, AC packs off, throttles idle, parking brakes and accumulators set/charged and proper pneumatic pressure (30-40PSI). Most simmers could figure this out. Big thing in the old days was fuel scheduling. My past jets required fuel at 15% N2. Now days sophisticated aircraft will introduce fuel and ignition when the FADEC feels it’s appropriate. Last is to know start malfunctions. Rapidly rising EGT, hung starts, no starts, and failure of the start valve to close were the biggies. I can count on both hands the amount of times I’ve had start malfunctions during starts in 17 years of flying. This shows that they are rare. Modern jet engines start without complicated procedures. I think the simmer could handle this very easily. Also most engines require a 5 minute warm up period before takeoff. Finally one would have to reconfigure the panels after starting. We call this the after start flow. Again, the checklist would get you in the right configuration. Key note is that items in the checklist will most likely have SET written next to them. One would have to know the proper settings.

 

TAXI

Taxi can get difficult depending on the aircraft. The many times I’ve seen tire marks in places they shouldn’t be around the airport. Let’s take my beloved DC10 for example. You sit 21ft above the ground. The point at which you can see the ground ahead of you was 55ft away. The point at which you could see the ground out the side window was 35ft away. The nose landing gear was 21ft behind you while the mains were 72 feet behind the nose gear. The wings were 165ft 4in from tip to tip and you could not see them from the cockpit due to the sweep. This made the aircraft difficult to taxi. You had to use many references in the cockpit in order to know where your wing tips, main gear, and engines were tracking along the ground. During 90 degree turns, your body would be physically over the grass before you start turning. You used references to imagine nose tire positions during turns. Turns made some uncomfortable. The most common taxi incident was running over taxi lights or putting a main in the mud due to under turning. The guys I know who did this didn’t realize it until they were called by the airport after departing. Would the simmer know these references? Probably not. Taxiing a Gulfstream is too easy, but as you move up in size so does the difficulty. Transitioning from the sim to the real aircraft creates a challenge. Staying on the taxi line and offsetting during turns will be key. Trouble usually starts when maneuvering around obstructions and other aircraft. Performing single pilot ops or having an inexperienced person in the other seat makes things very marginal during taxi. Is it possible? Probably. Also, taxi speed and brake use can be a factor. Too much speed and brakes can overheat things on a long taxi. I’ve heard of guys riding the brakes and tripping the thermal fuses in the rim of the tire. It’s very hard to taxi with flat tires. This is another great time to have that checklist to help set up for takeoff. Proper flap settings are critical. In FSX, most aircraft will get airborne with improper flap settings. In real aircraft, you can easily find yourself with hands full of stick shaker after liftoff. It’s been proven plenty times that aircraft will not fly with improper configurations.

 

TAKEOFF

Ahh, takeoffs are the most important/dangerous part of flight. You have to accel from a stand still through stall speed to get airborne with a high power setting. First we have V-speeds. Most simmers understand V-speeds. The takeoff roll itself might surprise an experienced simmer. Takeoffs in the sim can be misleading. Let’s look at this closely. Power application should be standard. One may find it surprising how spool up rates between engines may differ. This could lead to directional control issues initially. This is why it’s good to align the N1s/EPRs before applying power and applying smoothly. Crosswind controls become important. Some aircraft will weathervane easily into the wind and others tend to roll away from the wind like a barrel. This requires proper input to stay aligned and prevent scraping a wing tip or engine pod. New guys tend to zig zag down the runway. One should know that tiller use is discouraged especially above 80kts. Takeoff should be done with the less sensitive rudder pedal steering. Keeping an eye on speed may be a minor issue. Pilot performing the takeoff should have his/her eyes outside until coming inside during the rotation. Our simmer would have to peep inside from time to time which could lead to control issues. It’s so much easier when you have a CO who states those speeds for you. The next sneaky challenge is the rotation itself. Most jets are trimmed for V2. Initially during this 3 to 4 second rotation, the nose is a little sluggish requiring some input. As the nose lifts, you accel past V2 and the nose begins to rise quicker on its own. At V2+10, you will find yourself pushing forward on the yoke to keep the nose from rising. Experienced real world guys are already leading this issue by trimming nose down at some point during the rotation. You don’t find this in add-on aircraft.  So imagine our simmer trying this for the first time. He would not be familiar with the stiff yoke. If he rotates late, there will be even more force to overcome. This situation can easily lead to a power on stall. He could panic and over control the aircraft. The next sneaky situation is speed itself. If you are overwhelmed and caught off guard, you could over speed some things. An experienced simmer my know how to use automation to slow things down. Next are configuration changes. You have to be careful when and how you clean up. Most aircraft limit you to 15 degrees of bank during the cleanup. Anytime you are below min maneuver for your existing configuration, you should limit to 15 degrees. Retract too early and you meet the shaker again. One would have to be ready and on top of things after takeoff. You have 5 minutes on takeoff power. The power may switch to climb, but it’s still a lot of thrust churning. This is where the simmer runs into trouble as the engines could care less about speed limits. This is the regime where real world guys over speed things. You have to keep the nose up (pitch and power) to control speed until you can turn on the automation and enter into a good speed mode. Automation will help greatly with slowing things down as long as one knows how to use it properly.

 

CLIMB-CRUISE

 

Climb and cruise is very simple. There’s not much too it. The biggest threats are over speeding, no/loss of cabin pressure and running out of gas. These are very avoidable if the simmer is good with systems and the FMS. One other threat is weather. Manually loaded flight plans are not winded. This could cause some time and fuel miscalculations. One could take the actual winds and load them along the flight plan points. Last is weather radar operation. You have to dodge cells. He has to know how to paint cells and use the tilt to get a working idea of a cells make up. Day time is easier but the radar is essential when flying at night or in the clouds. One must also know when to use anti-ice. Most sim guys are sharp on these rules.

 

ARRIVAL-APPROACH    

 

The arrival isn’t difficult, but it’s the key to a good approach. The simmer would need to plan out his arrival. Most guys are familiar with the FMS and know how to pull info for descent estimation. Late descents lead to fast and rushed approaches. From the old school days I learned to use the 4 times your altitude to lose rule. For example, I have to lose 30,000ft to reach the IAF/FAF altitude. 4 x 30 = 120NM to make it. In this example, I need to start down no later than 120NM from the IAF. This has worked well in all the types of aircraft I’ve flown with idle descent. It also accounts for time to slow to 250 before passing 10,000ft. There are 2 ways to arrive. You have Instrument app or VFR pattern entry. The Instrument app is easy and can be accomplished using the FMS or NAV radios. The FMS is easy to setup and the ILS is easier. The simmer would be very familiar with approach procedures. Minimums/MDA settings will be more of a factor during approaches at night or in the weather.  Big thing is knowing when to slow and configure. What flaps to use and when to use them. Flap selections are either driven by speed along a certain leg, distance from the field, or position along the approach. It all depends on the type of approach you are flying.  Let’s look at the 737 for example. On initial setup/vectoring for a ILS/FMS approach, you want to be at flaps 1. Approaching intercept, you want flaps 5. At glide slope/path alive, gear down and flaps 15. When the path is a dot above, select landing flaps. The VFR pattern can be just a bit more challenging. You would have to have the proper displacement and altitude as you enter downwind.  You would prefer to have the runway on your side of the cockpit. VFR patterns in most jet aircraft are race track patterned. The turns from upwind to downwind and from downwind to final are constant. This keeps you in tight and within the airport airspace. In the jets I’ve flown, we fly the pattern at 180kts. The experienced simmer may not have the practical knowledge for the particular aircraft he may be flying. This is where the challenge resides. I’ve watched real world guys fly very good vectored instrument approaches and fly very sloppy circling and VFR pattern work. It’s very easy to become unstable in the VFR pattern. Misjudged displacement and rapid descents from downwind usually leads to excessive maneuvering and diving during short final. The flight sim makes it difficult to simulate unless you have Track IR. This is how I fly my patterns real world and I’ve used this in every jet I’ve flown. Enter downwind at pattern altitude, no less than 1000 to 1200 feet agl. I have a calibrated eye for displacement but you want to have 1 to 2 miles of displacement. After flying patterns for a while, you tend to know when you are in too tight or to slung out with a glance. You want to be at 180kts with maneuvering/go-around flaps. Turn off the FD and set the heading bug to the runway heading. The FD can be distracting, but the heading bug will give a good idea of how you are tracking in ref with the runway heading. Having the ILS tuned and displayed is a good idea if available even though ILS and visual glide paths may not match at some fields. Keeping an eye on displacement will help you gauge under/over shooting winds. Modern aircraft will display wind direction/drift on the MFD or in the FMS. When you are abeam the threshold, drop the gear. When the end of the runway meets your shoulder at a 45 degree angle, start your turn, descend up to 500fpm depending from your pattern altitude, and start slowing towards your approach speed. Depending on the winds, you may have to shallow or increase your bank angle. As you move through base during the turn, select landing flaps and pick up the visual glide path. At this point you can easily adjust your sink rate to get on the path. Without glide path indicators, you have to eye it by using the 3 to 1 rule (3nm for every 1,000ft). This is why the ILS is nice to have for reference without visual guidance. Aim to roll out on centerline and avoid angling towards the runway. If done correctly, you should be in the slot/good position for landing.

 

LANDING

 

The landing has some pit falls for the simmer. One would be crosswind controls. I feel that FSX fails to effectively simulate an aircraft’s behavior during crosswinds. I am a wing low guy. I like to apply my crosswind controls at short final. I get a good feel of what’s required instead of waiting till the flare. Another would be sensory overload. I even see this with experienced pilots transitioning a new type. There are a lot of things that go through your mind during landing. New guys get into the “penguins on an iceberg condition”. There are only so many penguins that can fit on the berg until some fall off. As you learn new things, you tend to forget old things. The new guys tend to give up crosswind controls after touchdown, because their minds switch to other things. They forget to use the reversers or to go beyond reverse idle. Some forget to fly the nose to the runway. Firm landings tend to freak new guys out causing them to slam on the brakes and get squirrely in steering. If this can happen to experienced pilots, imagine a guy who has never flown before. He may accomplish these things easily in the sim, but now there are other sensory stimuli he could not get from the sim. Let’s take a look at things he would have to wrestle. Once on final, he should be focused on aim point, glide path, and airspeed. Some guys use N1 settings or a given fuel flow to maintain airspeed. This comes from experience. It’s Easy to set a fuel flow that will get you to a speed instead of jockeying the throttles to get there. Depending on the aircraft, throttle movement would affect pitch.  The simmer would not have any of these techniques to assist him. Even in the DC10-30 we used 10% of your gross weight plus 23 for a good N1 setting when landing with flaps 35.  While he monitors those, he should be going through the landing in the back of his mind. It would help if he has some knowledge of the flight manual landing procedure. He would be thinking of flare and power pull timing, crosswind controls before and after touch down, getting the reversers unlocked after touch down, flying the nose down, up and aft on the reversers, and when to apply the brakes. When these are second nature, it’s very easy to do. When you are new at it, it can be a task to remember all. On approach he will have to fight for centerline while making small corrections to stay there. This is another reason I’m a wing low guy. It’s Easier to judge my track when my nose is pointed right down the runway. Just keep your inside foot on the centerline and you will get there. As the plane enters ground effect, it may act different. In some, the nose tends to dip while others it may raise.  I find flare timing easier when done off the radio altimeter call outs. I picked it up in the DC10 and now its habit. Most aircraft only need about 2 to 3 degrees of pitch change in the flare. Again, some add-on aircraft will not give you a good representation. Most planes you add your flare and hold it till touch down. Pumping the yoke for smoother touch downs after the flare will lead to floating and loss of airspeed. If done correctly, the aircraft will continue to sink on its own. The MD80 gets floaty in ground effect and will climb if you pitch a little higher than required. The G5/550 is notorious for this also. It approaches at -.5 degrees and will float if you get the nose higher than 2 degrees. We pull to idle at 50ft in the 5 and 100ft in the 550 because of the slipperiness. We raise the nose a couple of degrees at 20 feet and she settles nicely.

 

TOUCH DOWN-ROLL OUT

 

Once on the ground, the game isn’t over. Flight sim is missing a lot of aircraft characteristics. Let’s look at crosswind controls. When the mains hit the ground, the ground spoilers pop up. On most aircraft, the roll spoilers become ground spoilers. This requires immediate added upwind input. The aircraft is still flying after touch down and will tend to roll away from the wind and drift. Some aircraft like the gulfstreams will weathervane into the wind. This has happened to me with new guys and I’ve had to add aileron or push on the rudder when guys didn’t use enough or totally relaxed crosswind controls after touch down. This can get the simmer into trouble very quickly. Where ever your nose is pointed on touch down, that’s exactly where she wants to go. I’ve been scared enough that I’ve tapped the brake as a new guy broke my comfort zone while drifting on a touch n go. You could scrape an engine or depart the runway without crosswind controls. In flight sim, this effect is missing. The ground spoilers will also affect pitch control. On the DC10 the nose will tend to rise as spoilers deploy. You had to prevent this and fly the nose to the ground. I’ve watched many new guys yanking at the reversers in confusion wonder why the levers won’t all go past reverse idle. The reverse idle interlock for #2 will not release until the nose strut compress and put the aircraft in ground mode. The Gulfstream nose will fall rapidly as the spoilers deploy requiring a quick pull on the yoke to prevent the nose from slamming. One would have to know when to use the tiller.  Use it higher than 80 kts and you can get into trouble. Even at 80kts, my hand is resting on the tiller not using it. The simmer would have to know when to use the brakes. Yes, you can apply the brakes after touch down but it would be a shame to have a fire after successfully landing the plane. After touch down, I usually use just slight pressure to ensure operation and then release. I stay off the brakes until 80 kts unless I need to stop rather quickly. When braking, you apply even pressure till moderate deceleration is felt.  The simmer could get into trouble while braking and using rudder. I find that new guys tend to sway and zig zag during this time. Usually it’s crosswind rudder that causes them to apply more pressure on one brake than the other. This causes the guy to modulate the rudder leading to oscillation. Too much of this and off we go for a ride off the runway. It’s not uncommon to have hotter brakes on one side during crosswinds.  Thrust reverse use is pretty simple. On some aircraft, one reverser may open quicker than the other or they may spool at different rates. This could lead to control issues if it’s not quickly countered or stowed. For the most part that’s it.

 

SUMMERY-CONCLUSION

 

We talked through what an experienced flight simmer might face when it comes to operating a real world aircraft. Some items such as weight and balance would be a big issue. It’s difficult to pick up weight and balance if you are not familiar with it. I remember my first attempt at a manual weight and balance form. It was no fun. Once I tried it a couple of times, it became easier. If my computerized version was to fail, I could knock one out by hand very easily. As I mentioned before, it’s a crap shoot. If the simmer has flown his aircraft in a realistic manner, he would have a chance. It’s an uphill battle but it’s possible and the odds would be against him. As long as there weren’t any failures or aircraft issues, he may be able to pull it off. Add 2 experienced simmers and the probability increase greatly.

 

Rick


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15 Comments

rick

thanks for a great read ... & a very real one as well.

my many real world hours were a bit lighter than yours, but yes simming lacks a lot in many ways but it's still "educational" for me, "driving" aircraft i never had the opportunity to !!

your most poingnant note for all .... 4 hands & feet along with 2 heads make a big difference !!

cheers
john
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Thanks to Tom for the front page publish and thanks to all who read it.

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Not a big tin guy but I liked it! C.
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rick

 

somehow i think tom should list your editorial as "recommended reading" ... particularly for all those who "discuss" 2D vs VC  !!

 

the real as you highlighted is the only 4D...

 

cheers again

john

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Nice read! Now let's all cross our fingers, pray for a zombie apocalypse and free 737's on your local airport:-)

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And we must find the key... It will not be easy

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This has to be the "dream" of many simmers. However, if my co-pilot even passed out I would not ask for someone who flew PC based flight simulation to help me out. Contrary, I would prefer someone who did not know a thing and would sit there and be afraid to touch anything. The worst thing you want in an emergency situation is someone who thinks they know what they are doing.

 

While most airplanes are crewed they are capable of being flown single pilot. Remove the plethoria of systems, black boxes, and RNAV and you still have stick and rudder flying. Every pilot is certfied to do this, even if some do it much less then they should. Hey my co just went down, now is not the time to bury my head into the FMS. I want radar vectors to the ILS, Thank You very much.

 

I have heard all the arguments, simmers are as good or better than fully trained crews, they hand fly more often, and it's been proven on many times they are able to fly real world airplanes (Cessnas) or Full Motion Sims. That is fine for hanger talk or arguing on the forums. Heck, I am someone who started on sims and became a real world pilot. The real secret is; no your not that good. I have over 25 years experience and over 13 years in the same aircraft. I have studied how every volt travels through the electrical system, I have been a drop of oil, a drop of fuel, I am one with my airplane.

 

I am a professional and this is not something I do after hours. It is my livelhood and I am serious about it in all respects. I am not there to inflate you ego, I am there to safely get my passengers from point a to point b as effecnetly as possible.

 

So if that 737 is sitting on the deck what would I do? "Is anyone a rated pilot on a 737?" Otherwise I'd aim for an airplane I am certified to fly.

 

How would you like to show up at a hospital in critical condition and find out your ER doctor is not board certified but played "Microsoft Suregon?"

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After I retired from Northwest Airlines in 2003 my daughter presented me with Microsoft's 'Century of Flight' otherwise known as FS9. I fooled around with it for a while but then I discovered the wonderful world of add-on aircraft, scenery, weather engines, and airports and my newly found hobby took off. Now I had the opportunity to fly the equipment my seniority would never permit in a highly realistic environment. My airline career spanned 26 years and 22,000 flight hours and as with most real world jobs it included great fun, hard work with periods of boredoom puntuated by moments of shear terror. The simmer's world can be as demanding and realistic as you want it to be but for me it was a great opportunity to just enjoy all the things I cherished most about my profession namely the stunning visuals outside the wind screen, the vast array of airplane and airport sounds,and the hands on feeling of being  in control of a sophisticated aircraft albeit through the muted  pc venue. Now with pc simulation I've left behind things like the lurking FAA inspector in the jetway, airport security, really scarey weather, icey and wind blown runways, and last but not least 'you bet your job' otherwise known as company check rides with full blown emergencies,Remember in the real world of professional flying especially in the airlines you have at your finger tips a vast array of experts ranging from talented maintenance personel ,dispatchers, meteorologists who provide you with usable data for your flight and it's safe completion.The biggest difference between these two worlds on one hand is the kinestetic sense of being strapped to a large piece of equipment rather than an office chair and having direct control over it. and on the other the realization that bad decisions and miscalculations can have serious and often dire consequnces to your self and your aircraft. I may have gone off the end of some runways on my pc trips but so far that wing of my house is still intact.

 

Tom Helwick, Livingston, Montana

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Thank you very much Rick for this text - one of the most interesting one I've ever read on AVSIM!

 

The text on how to start up the ultralight I fly would be much shorter! Insert key, battery on, ignition on, choke, and push the starter button! :D

 

Ken, I've been flightsimming since around 95 and would say I know pretty well my way around in many jetliner cockpits in MFS (and FLY!). I also know equally well that if I ever ended up in that  "pilots unable to fly the airplane, what will you do"- scenario, my mind would go totally blank and I would at most remember how to operate the flight controls. In a Level-D sim, sure, but with lives actually at stake - no way.

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I'd like to add my thanks and appreciation for this article too. I have a couple hundred hours of RW Cessna flying, and always wanted to be an airline pilot, although my career took a different path. So I love the references to the DC-10, one of my all time favorite airliners. I've spent hundreds of hours riding in back of them, I've sat in the captain's seat at the gate and can appreciate the sense of accomplishment one must feel having the skills to guide such a huge machine safely across continents and oceans. 

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Thanks Rick for taking the time and making the effort to write it all down and publish it for our enjoyment.  Great job.

 

Ray

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ClearedtoLand
Aug 27 2013 04:55 PM

Awesome. I fail on all accounts pretty much, but a great motivation to get those manuals out again. I live near Stansted, a Ryanair hub, so plenty of 737 800's hanging about there to cart me off to ... well, somewhere in Spain would be nice. Thanks PMDG for preparing me for the Zombie apocalypse. There are also a few 747-8's based at Stansted ... just saying, since their range would be a lot better depending on the speed at which said zombies are conquering the world.

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Very interesting article indeed. Thanks a lot. Been flying with MSFS since its second release.  I have also been flying some hours in the full motion FS at BA Training Center at LHR, both the 747-400 and the 737NG, which is a big step closer to the real thing.  The PMDG NGX and 744X gave me the possibility to get sufficiently familiar with some of the essential  systems allowing you to operate the plane in a normal situation. But the big step is to feel the laws of physics when you lift off a 280t plane from the ground (with the limitation of a FM simulator), and you start to feel the yoke pressure against you and simultaneously you have to manage/balance the planes roll and yaw effects. But the with training from MSFS , and also having hours from real single engine aircraft, it was not that difficult in good flying conditions.

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Thank you very much!! it has been helpful for those who are 'out of reality'.

Will get my PPL after I graduate from Electronic Engineering (3 years left).
My dream: to own a C182!!!!! (or whatever is good enough for cross-Country flights)

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What a wonderful read Rick. Thank you.
I will take this snippet "The reverse idle interlock for #2 will not release until the nose strut compress and put the aircraft in ground mod" and code it into my DC-10 panel :)
Regards
Ed
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