Are you eager to learn everything about the PMDG 747-400 and you're thinking of hiring a licensed Lufthansa, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines or Northwest Airlines ATPL 747 co-pilot or captain who can help you master the PMDG 747-400? It would be a super idea but unfortunately, those pilots are not available and if they were, their fee is too high unless it’s your father, uncle or a close friend.
FlyAoAMedia, developer of this Angle of Attack DVD package, offers you a highly educational DVD package that brings your PMDG 747-400 knowledge to a new and higher standard.
You think you know already everything about the PMDG 747-400? If that’s so then either there’s no reason to read this review or I challenge you to read it and you'll probably see and read things you didn’t know before. Hey guys … sorry ..girls too…, what about procedures and flight preparation, including handling the aircraft during a normal and abnormal flight?
This DVD package is for all of you out there flying the PMDG 747 and still looking for new things. Checking your 747 knowledge, seeing if you can learn something new or find a different approach in the operation of a system. Remember, this aircraft is not like a Cessna 150 or 172, no, these planes are so complicated and realistic that flight dynamics and simulated systems are close to the real thing. By the way, these are not my words, but are generally said by many flight simmers and, of course, are supported by me. Before I continue, let’s have a look at the Angle of Attack Productions website and see what the makers of these training DVD's say.
"Have you ever dreamed of what it would feel like to pilot one of the world’s largest commercial jetliners across the skies, with the skills and effortless ability of a professional? It’s time to turn your dream into a reality. It’s time to become a professional captain of the 747-400.
Angle of Attack Productions, in partnership with PMDG, is pleased to bring you the Angle of Attack 747 Training Course. The six-hour DVD will teach you what you need to know in order to master the PMDG 747-400. From the teeth-rattling takeoff to the squeal of sixteen wheels hitting pavement halfway across the world, this DVD gets you up close and personal with this beautiful example of modern engineering."
Operating this famous giant should not be taken lightly. The systems, controls, and procedures present a vast amount of information that must be taught correctly. Real 747-400 pilots go through years of training just to earn the honour of sitting in the 747’s cockpit. Now you too can gain the training necessary to pilot this monster.
Visual aids, checklist, 3D diagrams, and amazing visuals make this a highly energetic and enjoyable way to learn and master the PMDG 747-400.
No, this review is not a tutorial or complete flight instruction about the PMDG 747-400. This review is all about additional training software where you need to go back to school. Then it’s time to listen to one of the narrators to get all kinds of information regarding the PMDG 744, but in a totally different way then you’re used to.
Despite all freeware paper flights or instructional tutorials which help you understanding the complex PMDG 744, and don’t forget the official tutorials from PMDG, all the PMDG books and even Mike Rays manuals, you still need to read a lot of things. Unfortunately, some manuals have pages full of text, text and even more text, and by the end you’re mostly lost and haven’t learned a thing!
Is it not a good idea to have a virtual private technicalinstructor and flight instructor who explains all of the ins and outs of this huge aircraft to you? Yes, that would be a good idea. But putting yourself on the list at an official Flight Academy like the rookie 747-400 pilots with KLM or SAS, you would have to pay lots of money so you could learn everything about the Boeing 747-400.
Forget it, first of all those real flight academies won’t allow you to apply, since you’re not an employee and I even think with the Boeing Company you can’t apply for a student seat. No, in the real world you won’t get a change to be instructed by real flight instructors apart from the fact that you probably couldn't follow the lessons or fly the real FFS (Level-D Full Flight Simulator) because it’s slightly different then the simulated PMDG 744.
But there’s light at the end of the tunnel with the MSFS PMDG 744 related technical and flight instruction DVD's from Angle of Attack.
Most tutorials are based on a specific AIRAC version where SID and STARS are used to create your flight plan. When there’s a difference between the tutorial flight plan setup and your actual AIRAC with procedures, then it could be that there’s a difference in the tutorial description while entering FMS CDU data. Is this problem solved with the AoA DVD package? In one way it is, by simply mentioning which AIRAC and procedures are used. For the beginner it’s clear how to start and follow the FMS CDU handling and for the experienced flight simmer, he/she can handle the different AIRAC versions.
Enough of this, it’s now time to see what these PMDG 747 AoA Training DVD's are offering and if this approach is really something new, but more importantly, what’s the learning curve when following these instructional DVD's?
Since we’re dealing with instruction DVD’s, I would like to make it clear to you that it’s not software, which is applicable to either FS9 and/or FSX. These DVD’s can be used in combination with the FS9/FSX PMDG 747-400 while – for fun – the additional DVD 1 AoA airplane livery, is only applicable for FS9. Don’t worry about the availability of the AoA FS9 livery. Via the following link, you can download the same livery for the PMDG FSX 747 version.
Installation, documentation and additional info
When ordering the AoA 747 Training DVD, you should be aware that this DVD video is made exclusively for the NTSC system. This means, when you intend to play it on a VCR/TV, you can enjoy all the training material available. But for me as European citizen, it won’t work since we have PAL. However, when you and I use it on your PC then there’s no problem.
The only thing you need is a computer DVD drive and the correct DVD player software. In most cases, the standard Microsoft Media player should work but other video players are available as freeware on the Internet. Unfortunately, a freeware video player is not packed on the DVD 1.
the AoA DVD package doesn’t come with a small paper
- except for the checklist – that informs the user
that additional software can be found on the DVD 1, you
have no idea that it's there.
You’ll get the idea once you’ve started listening
to DVD 1. Here narrator Chris talks of the existence
After the installation, there’s no shortcut on your desktop and no link under the Start menu button, but the following is installed – remember that this concerns Flight Simulator 9 only - on your C:\ drive, since another drive option is not yet possible:
1. C:\Program Files\Angle of Attack\747
2. C:\Program Files\Angle of Attack Productions\Queen of the Skies
3. C:\Program Files\Microsoft Games\Flight Simulator 9\Flights\Angle
of Attack 747
4. C:\Program Files\Microsoft Games\Flight Simulator 9\PMDG\FLIGHTPLANS
With items 3 and 4 there’s a problem and that’s when your FS9 is not located in the default directory or default drive. This means, like my system, FS9 and FSX are located on the D:\ drive, the installer adds files within these two folders (Flights and PMDG) under C:\Program Files\Microsoft Games\Flight Simulator 9. The point is, you need to manually move these files from the default FS9 directory to your own FS9 folder. Not a big deal but – as I wrote before - it would be a good idea that together with the three DVD’s, a small leaflet was added with these additional notes.
By the way; suppose you want to install the AoA livery textures. Tthen you need to do this manually by adding the necessary data into the Aircraft.cfg file and positioning the texture.AOA folder into the PMDG 747 directory. If you’re not really interested in this AoA texture livery, it’s up to you, but honestly it’s a very nice and fresh livery color combination.
When you don’t install this livery, you immediately get problems when you want to use it and I suppose if you want one of the Angle of Attack training files. Those can be found under Select a Flight -> Choose a category -> Choose a flight, as can be seen on the right hand picture.
For FSX, work is in progress and it's best is to keep an eye on the AoA forum. Chris Palmer promised himself and me that at or before October 31st 2008 there will be a new installer available. This installer is for FS9 and/or FSX and includes everything. It also allows the user to select his/her MSFS directory, if installed at a different location.
What’s the 747 Training DVD package offering?
The Angle of Attack 747 Training DVD package comes with three DVD’s, a paper checklist and that’s it. There’s no other paper manual, only three NTSC format DVD's so let’s see what each DVD is offering.
1 – SYSTEMS (± 03:21:00
The EICAS (Engine Indicating and Crew Alerting System) is discussed in detail whenever a sub system is explained. Let’s have a look to some screenshots of this DVD and remember, these are just screenshots and should give you an idea of what can be expected. And although it’s nice to see, the videos are much more impressive since it really allows you to be a part of the 747 Training. Ok, here we go:
What I wrote before, and I really want to make it as clear as possible although most aircraft systems are covered on this DVD, there’s still a need to read the official PMDG manuals. Although DVD 1 is a good learning DVD with lots of information, some systems overviews – read schematics - are not discussed, so therefore the PMDG manuals will help you with further details.
You’ve got your thoughts about the depth of the lessons? Let’s give you an example; the FMS part takes around 1 hour 8 minutes or the MCP takes almost 20 minutes! By the way, the times can be found behind each individual or combined chapter(s). Although an almost 6 minute oral explanation of the Fire Protection system doesn’t seem too long, believe me, in 6 minutes you can show and explain a lot about it. And when it’s going too quick, no problem. You simple stop the video or rewind it and start all over again. Hey, wouldn't it be nice if you could do that with a real instructor!
The previous pictures were randomly chosen all over DVD 1, so let’s make six other shots from only one system. Since I said something about the Fire Protection, let’s take this as an example.
Disc 2 – PROCEDURE (± 01:52:00
Together with the video examples, you’re able to print out the necessary charts, which are accessible via the earlier discussed setup.exe installer. One other thing which needs some attention is that whenever the approach is discussed, there’s not a good link or guide telling the user/reader/student which Acrobat file is needed. A quick look at finding the correct approach chart will probably be no problem for an expert user, but what about a less experienced flight simmer? Here we miss the correct reference as to which chart is needed to follow the specific approach. I know, you see the charts flying over the screen (see the LH lower screenshot below) but it is better when the specific Acrobat file was identified, in my opinion.
Ok, let’s have a look at the following screenshots which were also randomly taken from DVD 2.
My overall impression is that it offers the different and important parts of the possible take offs and the many approaches. Visualizing all the possible approaches is much more effective than reading a book, in my opinion. Let’s put it is this way …. Seeing is learning and doing right away!
Remember this; when listening and following the DVD on your second TFT, a notebook or whatever you have, and at the same time trying to reproduce this with your PMDG 747 in FS9/FSX, it's really a challenge. You can either stop the DVD or you can pause the simulator. Ok, it’s not that challenging when stopping the sim with “P”, but you’re in a learning curve and everything is possible.
How you do it? That’s up to each individual and who am I to say what’s the best way. Most important is the balanced relationship between the necessary charts when looking to the different approaches and the didactical instruction. Sometimes it’s going a little too quick but you can always rewind to start it again.
Let’s give you one other example when mastering the handflown ILS, for example. So here we go …… jump into the right hand seat, relax while Captain Chris is performing the handflown ILS approach.
Is there more? No, there’s no climb, cruise or descent example on this DVD. Is it necessary or important to know those flight phases? Of course it’s necessary to know but you’ve got the third DVD, which offers a complete flight profile from San Francisco to Frankfurt in Germany.
See this third DVD, with all the available charts, as a completion of the previous DVD's. After DVD 1 you should have enough knowledge of the aircraft systems, including the EFIS components, the MCP and FMS, and you’ve been instructed via DVD 2 in different take offs and approaches and finally it all comes together when you’re going on a virtual trip with Captain Chris and co-pilot Dan to Frankfurt.
Of course, the less interesting part of the whole flight - cruise – is reduced to just 20 minutes or so. Those things which are important during the cruise are explained, but the rest of the cruise flight time Chris and/or Dan stay awake while you can sleep or is it the other way around?
3 – FLIGHT (± 02:15:00
These are the sub-chapters you’ll be dealing with and together should give you enough knowledge and background information to make a successful flight plus more flights by your own. Don’t forget that these DVD’s, and especially DVD 3, should explain to you lots of things, but finally, you will need to be able to collect all the new data for every flight you want to make.
As mentioned in the DVD, charts and checklists are one of the basic tools you'll need to successfully master this aircraft. Follow the procedures step-by-step, don’t do anything out of your mind and when if you do, confirm it afterwards with the checklist. Sometimes I say that pilots are “trained monkeys” and that doesn’t sound too good, but I really mean it. Not in a negative way but simply check and re-check. Even as a PPL holder and flying in a Cessna 150 or 172, the checklist is important even though the flight instrument systems are very basic.
Back to our NAT flight; for this long transatlantic flight – duh, every transatlantic flight is long - you need several things: enough time, no bed, lots of study, no wine, no beer, only cold water, English- or Chinese tea or even better litres (gallons) of coffee. Furthermore, you need the KSFO-EDFF.PLN file and lots of charts.
When you used the setup program found on DVD 1, you will find afterwards under “X”:\Program Files\Angle of Attack\747\Charts\Flight Charts, where ‘X’ is your own drive, all the necessary EDDF and KSFO charts including the PLN MSFS file. You need to manually install the PLN file in the following directory -> Users\<User Name>\Flight Simulator Files or if you’re flying with the FSX PMDG 747, in Users\<User Name>\Flight Simulator X Files folder. Not that difficult to figure out.
Once you’ve started DVD 3, you can sit back and relax. Oops, there’s no time to relax. You need to work hard and there are lots of things needed to be checked. You need, or let’s say it's advisable, to print out not only the KSFO and EDDF charts but also the Dispatch Acrobat file. This is a replica of what real pilots get in thier hands and is a real lookalike dispatch form with all the information like the filed flight plan, dispatcher remarks, needed fuel, alternate airport, weather forecast charts along the route, ADDS (Aviation Digital Data Service), en-route weather, winds aloft report, the navigation log (needed later for verifying with the FMS CDU flight plan) and colour satellite prints of the route. That’s a lot of information but Chris helps you while listening to DVD 3.
Once you’ve started the DVD with the first chapter- Preflight – it automatically continues with the next one and so on. When there’s a need, you can always via rewind a chapter or jump back to a previous one. Find below a collection of six screenshots which shows something of what you can expect when flying along with Chris and Dan on this trip.
We’re almost at the end of what this DVD package offers. The 747 Training package also offers a small checklist, which is also used in combination with the NAT flight. Don’t expect too much from it, since it’s just a small checklist format.
And this is it. There’s nothing more, no manual(s) or whatever. To be honest, there’s nothing more needed except the original PMDG manuals but that doesn’t belong to AoA and is not their responsibility. I wrote it before and once again; you need to read those manuals before flying or let’s put it in a different way. It’s a good idea to read the PMDG manuals as well, since DVD 1 can never replace all the PMDG manuals. After the reading, it’s time to continue with these DVD's. Perhaps you think its better the other way around? I'll leave that up to you since everybody is different with his/her learning curve.
How to start and where with the AoA 747 Training?
As usual, you should start with DVD 1, followed by number 2 and finally with disc 3. Oops, that sounds very straightforward but there’s something behind it.
In principle, each DVD can be used without having the PMDG 747, but if that’s the case, there’s no reason to buy this DVD package. So, I suppose you own either the FS9 or FSX or both PMDG 747’s. DVD 1 and 2 can be used without loading the PMDG 747. In other words, you can load either DVD in your notebook, game PC of whatever PC you want to use. If your VCR can handle NTSC, then you can even watch via the VCR on the TV.
For DVD 3, I strongly advise you to load the DVD and run it and that you start the PMDG 747 at the same time and put your Queen of the Skies at the same position as in the example movie. Don’t forget this; the Angle of Attack movie is based on the FS9 PMDG and not on the FSX one. It doesn’t make any difference but it’s just a reminder!
Ok, what’s the use of doing it this way? The “FLIGHT” DVD 3 is created and setup in a way that you can practice at the same time with your flight simulator. On one display or separate computer/notebook you run the AoA DVD disc, while on your game PC you run the same procedure but actually and directly in FS9/FSX. This is fun!
With the charts printed out, the KSFO-EDDF.pln file put at the right location, the FMS data file placed in position, you’re visually ready to go with the AoA DVD and at the same time, you actually do it.
Whenever you decide to follow and listen to the DVD and at the same time practice within MSFS, don’t worry when the DVD flight is ahead of you. Simple click the pause button and continue with your own MSFS flight until the conditions are in line again.
The following screenshots show you a possible way of using/listening the Angle of Attack DVD 3 on the right hand side and mastering the PMDG 747 on the left hand screen. In my case, it’s on two TFT’s next of each other but of course, looking and listening to the DVD can also be done on a separate notebook.
When listening to DVD 3, it seems that checks in the cockpit are done with nothing? Of course that is not true but unfortunately there's no reference given to the normally used checklist. Although these DVD's can't be used in real aviation, it's still a good habit to point out how to handle things via the checklist. Not doing so could result in failures or strange situations. In other words, the missing of pointing out that the user should always use the checklist disappoints me.
Let’s give you an example; when DVD 3 starts with the Overhead panel check, it starts according to the additional AoA checklist but nothing is said about this while listening to the DVD. I expected it's now time to grasp your AoA checklist or refer to another checklist and follow this step by step, side by side with the DVD.
Ok, here’s another example. During the cockpit preparation (DVD 3) at counter 00:26:57, an example of entering (FS9) fuel quantity is given. As said, this refers to the FS9 menu, but it's no problem when using it in combination with FSX. The only thing to keep in mind is that the PMDG menu is now not available as shown in the video but via the FSX Add-ons menu.
At around video counter 00:27:34, the APU BLEED AIR is selected ON although the APU itself is not running yet. Ok, Chris tells the rookie captain why this is done, but I’m a little surprised. Why? When checking this AoA cockpit initialization process with the Boeing Company 747 Operations Manual (Normal Procedures), it seems that first the APU must be started before the APU BLEED is selected ON. It could be that there are different procedures used within airliners, but it’s odd. Not that it's really a problem since the APU is control and monitored by a black box and this one takes final care of the generator and bleed air, with or without the assistance of other 747 board computers.
During my MSN chat with Chris, it came out that this procedure as shown in the video is the one from Captain Mike Ray, so it seems there are different possible procedures for the APU BLEED ON selection.
By the way, sometimes there’s a quick reference to the checklist, for example, with the timer at 00:55:08 (DVD 3). Here the checklist “After engine start" is requested so the flight simmer is forced to follow the steps of Captain Palmer via his own checklist and this is how it should be. The only thing is, this part of the checklist is not available on the AoA checklist.
Does it mean there are no procedure glitches at all in the DVD? Apart of the few items mentioned above, it could be that there are a few others but overall, I’m very happy with it.
The dangerous part of all of this is: don't learn these steps from DVD 3 and try to memorize them! See it as a structured video guide of how to perform efficient cockpit procedures, using your checklist and re-checking things you’ve done!
Ok, it sounds very logical not to do this, but suppose you're a beginner and you start copying what Captain Palmer is doing, you need to try to understand what every step means.
When you understand the necessary steps, you could use them for any other flight! Does the simulated flight from San Francisco to Frankfurt Main explain everything? No way, and this is the same for the other DVD's Therefore, I pointed out that the original PMDG manuals are still needed and don't expect that these DVD's will replace all PMDG manuals! No, these DVD's are a great visual instructional/training tool to master the 747.
Overall impression of this DVD presented NAT flight to Frankfurt Main Airport is great. Ok, a few small discrepancies but that’s it and it should not be any problem since even real pilots can make small mistakes during their cockpit procedures. We’re all human and nobody is perfect, myself included. The shown double screenshots where I tried to run and follow the AoA flight crew, was, no it still is, really fun.
Sometimes it seems that Chris is in a little bit of a hurry but when he’s going too quick and you can’t follow it, just rewind Chris a little bit or pause the DVD player, which gives you enough time to perform the necessary cockpit preparations. Apart from that, I had fun.
OK, Chris and Dan expect that you’ve studied the previous DVD’s and you’ve got enough technical background by reading the manuals. Remember, if you want to be a real virtual 747 captain, then you need to study and I mean HARD STUDY!
I sincerely hope that this last part of the review offers you a good view behind what DVD 3 can do for you. Are you ready for it?
MSM interview with Chris Palmer, founder of AoA
Asking questions of the developer or lead manager is mostly done via e-mail. Meeting the developer, CEO or founder of a MSFS company is generally impossible because of the distances between each other. This is the same with Chris Palmer, founder and CEO of Angle of Attack who lives far away from the Netherlands. Lucky for me, I had the opportunity to chat with Chris Palmer via MSN to help me with answering some questions and offering additional background information of the current 747 Training material and upcoming AoA packages.
So here's the MSN chat I had with Chris Palmer regarding some clarifications and background information.
current setup program doesn't allows the user to redirect to the correct
FS9 folder. Will this be changed in a
or will the
installer be able to detect via the Windows Registry, the correct
The DVD’s are related to the FS9 PMDG 747 but what when the
flight simmers own or prefers to fly the FSX version?
Question: Will there be also a PAL format for the DVD packages?
Region free means that there’s no limitation on a PC or @#$%^& ...
I've else no clue?
What I miss is a kind of questionnaire for the rookie 747 pilot or if you
wish the beginner, to check his/her knowledge
a chapter and the other I miss is a kind of leaflet
fitted together with the 747 DVD box that tells the users what's on
the setup program
what it is about after the installation?
the future bringing?
Summary / Closing Remarks
First of all and probably the most important thing you want to see; is it worth your $44.95 US and is it a good didactical tool?
Lets first start with the didactical value of the Angle of Attack DVD package? As a real world technical aviation maintenance instructor, I absolutely think that this DVD package offers a lot of video material which helps you master and professionalize yourself on the PMDG 747. Ok, it will not replace the PMDG books but many items, procedures and a complete flight profile are discussed. When following the DVD's in the correct order, there’s indeed thought about the didactical value towards every kind of flight simmer.
Then there’s our second question; is it worth your money? Yes, I think it is! Ok, it doesn't sound not that convinced, but believe me, it is. The reason I’m writing this is because I’ve got no idea about other flight simmers knowledge of the PMDG 747. Apart from that, these DVD's offer lots of information, it’s well structured, understandable, technically built with an educational setup. Altogether, there’s no competitor on the market which makes it even easier to buy an instructional DVD product. It’s professionally done and I’ve got the feeling that I “own” my own real 747-400 pilot.
This package doesn’t come with paper or digital manuals but instead it comes with three DVD’s full of useful information. DVD 1 covers more or less the most important aircraft systems. DVD 2 comes with important procedures needed for any flight to get this Queen successfully in the air (take offs) and back on the ground (approaches). Finally DVD 3 covers, in detail, a complete North Atlantic flight.
another question; is it usable for beginners, intermediate or experienced
This is not that easy to answer.
When you’re an experienced 747-400 PMDG captain, you could think that
you know every detail of this Queen. You’re the only person who can answer
this since I don’t know, but on the other hand, you can see it as a challenge
by checking your own knowledge compared to the instructional DVD's It could
be that even experienced users learn something new or get a different approach
of system operation and flying procedures.
What I personally miss is a kind of questionnaire. Listening to these DVD's is great but nothing about this information being retained in your brain is being checked. In other words, there is no double check to see if you really understood what you’ve heard. To do this, the best way is to check via an interactive questionnaire or separate manual. In one way or the other, a quiz would trigger your mind.
I think I covered most of it but saying that I covered the DVD's fully 100%. As far as possible, I checked things related to the manuals and by the way, Chris used not only the official Boeing manuals but also Mike Ray 747-400 book as a reference. I listened to all the DVD’s and made parts the NAT flight to Frankfurt.
What I Like About These Training DVD's
What I Don't Like About These Training DVD's
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