We have a bit of a treat for you tonight, with the first formal round of prerelease previews of the upcoming PMDG 777-200LR/F Base Package for FSX!
As we begin the official wind-up to release, I think it is important to point out that we have been intentionally quiet about our progress on this project. I have been telling you via this forum for some time that the best way you can tell that we are nearing completion is when we start showing off the airplane for you and demonstrating its many features and functions. Over the past few weeks we have seen some really wild conjecture as to the state of the PMDG 777-200LR/F Base Package, so let me put that drama to bed by stating the following quite clearly:
The PMDG 777-200LR/F Base Package for FSX is essentially complete. We are well into the phase of cleaning up loose ends, adding some pieces of minor functionality that we feel will round out the product nicely, and putting the airplane through some very rigorous verification processes to make certain that it is market ready on release day.
How long will it be until we make her available to you? I dunno... We will schedule her for release when (And ONLY when) we feel she is ready for market. However long that takes is how long that takes.
As I have repeatedly promised- we will let you know when release is formally scheduled. She won't appear in the middle of the night without any warning. I promise you that much!
Okay- so lets move on to the images, shall we? First- please take note of one important detail:
The images that follow are of an in-development product. Certain imperfections, flaws, errors and omissions are present in these images that have already been corrected in the product, or are soon to be corrected.
I know there is a subset of users out there who cherish the opportunity to demonstrate to everyone in the forum how much they know about the minutiae of any particular airplane, but in **most** cases we vacuum all of these things up in the testing process- (50,000 or so pages of documentation have to be worth something!) so there is no need to hyperventilate and pass out from fright just because you see that the letter "R" is 1 pixel left of the cross hyperphallic induction valve animation on the lower equipment cooling display.
Okay- on to the fun stuff!
First up- lets take in an overall view of the flight deck:
As with the NGX, no effort has been spared in making the flight deck as realistic and convincing to the eye as possible. Subtle wear on surfaces like the MCP shield, to oiling and smoothing of surfaces frequently touched by fingers. Unlike the NGX cockpit, in which we showcased a truly filthy and worn cockpit, the 777 flight deck shows a bit more care and cleanliness, without becoming sterile or overly even-toned in the texture application.
The view behind the pilot stations is equally detailed, with particular attention being paid to the kinds of detail that provide a convincing, realistic quality when viewed in-simulator. You will notice for example that the crew has a stash of papers located in pedestal between the two observer seats, all of the various airplane licenses and certificates are affixed to the cockpit bulkhead, and subtle detailing such as placards and instructions are located appropriately and accurately on the flight deck.
(Note: As always- we make some subtle changes to the cockpit door structure and locking mechanism. We do this for our own peace of mind and because it would be irresponsible to do otherwise, in our opinion...)
As previously discussed, we have included the entire suite of electronic checklists. This covers all of the normal, and non-normal checklists that are on the airplane. (Yes- all of them...)
The ECL system is clean, easy to use, and integrates right into the simulator. If like me, you are fond of flying the simulator using just your flight controls and a mouse by panning the view around and using the mouse as your hand, you will find that the ECL is very intuitive. When you have an ECL displayed and you move your mouse over the screen showing the ECL- you will find that you are moving the ECL pointer around on the ECL display just as if you had your finger on the touch-pad that the pilots use on the airplane. This makes for a very smooth, intuitive use of the ECL which is fully integrated into the airplane and is aware of FMS and system configuration inputs from the airplane.
The entire ECL package operates just as it does on the 777 airplane and accentuates the QRH beautifully!
Two notes here: 1) We are still tuning the night backlighting color/hue using spectrum data from our friends up in Seattle... unfortunately FSX messes with this stuff so it takes a bit of manual labor to get the proper end result. 2) We are not currently planning to allow customization of the ECL, but there is some interest in such a feature from the industry side- so you may be the beneficiary that over the long run- but in the beginning we feel it is important for the ECL to match the QRH you have in your hands...
We aren't quite finished with the cockpit night lighting, but continuing forward with the floodlighting process developed by Michael Frantzeskakis for the PMDG MD-11, we are taking that process yet another step forward by allowing multi-zonal flood lighting. This provides a significantly more realistic look, softer lighting edges, and allows you to create some very interesting moodiness on the flight deck.
In the image above, you will notice that Vin has turned down the first officers panel flood lighting, leaving the captain's side and the MCP well lit. You can also see that the center pedestal flood lighting is on, but the forward pedestal flood lighting has been left off, resulting in a very interesting and realistic shading and contrast as your eye moves forward along the center pedestal.
Personally, I have always been a "nearly pitch black flight deck" kind of pilot, but if you like to have some back lighting during your flying- you will find that the PMDG 777-200LR/F provides the best lighting yet!
No preview would be complete without a good overhead panel shot- but we decided to give you a look at it from the captain's seat.
You will notice that this particular LR is equipped with the AUX fuel tank, as evidenced by the switch layout of the fuel control panel in the lower center of the image.
We have provided a range of aircraft options to match those offered by Boeing, so you will be able to select whether your LR carries no aux fuel, one aux fuel tank, or three. The entire fuel system is managed properly according to Boeing's specs, and even adjusts the operation of normal fuel flow and jettison to protect the airplane CG from exiting the CG envelope. (More on this in a future update!)
The 777 cockpit concept is based around a "dark switch" approach, so the absence of indicator lights generally means that all is well. When lights are supposed to turn on, they turn on, obviously- but we have taken it a step further by programming in the appropriate delay between detection of a problem, display of an EICAS message related to the problem, and activation of any aural or annunciator lights on the various panels. In many cases you will notice that certain types of failures are obvious on the raw data, but even as much as 30 second may pass before the eicas message appears... and maybe another 3-20 seconds before the annunciator light comes on...
Yes- we took the detail level that deeply... (I don't know why... we can't help ourselves sometimes...)
This image is interesting because it gives you a good overall view of the texture quality. From scuffing and dirt on the rudder pedals to age and wear on the glare shield, cockpit display dirt and other signs of continual, but gentle use. The cockpit looks as though it has been flown and subjected to a couple of C and D checks along the way with the occasional off-colored panel, scratch or mechanic's fingerprint left behind. In a couple places you will even see a bit of "goo" left behind when a "Deferred Item" decal was removed upon completion of a required fix....
One last glamor shot before we wrap up for the night....
This image gives you a bit more feel for the depth of things on the 777 flight deck. (NOTE: Something about the image makes the CDU displays look crunched... they aren't... it is just the angle the image was taken from...)
You can see there are a few checklists that can be run from the EICAS message area... The fit and finish of the flight deck is excellent and grows on top of what we learned packing incredible levels of detail into the NGX.
A couple of product related notes, since I know these questions will come up:
Pricing?: TBA, but a bit less than $165,000,000.
Release Date: Please scroll back to the top and read from there...
What is Included: The base package will include the 777-200LR and 777F airplane. The 300 series airplanes will be included in an expansion package, similarly to what we did with the 737-600/700. We are still reviewing how to roll the 200ER and previous models into the entire package- as they have VERY different systems, flight models, sound models and engine models in many cases and these differences need to be coded into the sim. I'll get back to you with more information on that as we make those decisions...We might even stuff the ER into the base package if testing drags on...we'll see!)
Release Date?: Did we talk about this already? Scroll back to the top and read from there...
How long until the 300s are available?: Not terribly long. The airplanes are done but we have to put focus on the engines, flight models, sound and system differences so that they are accurate.
Release Date?: Really... We DID already discuss this....
Will it have <insert your favorite, obscure, "i read this on airliners.net" and I want to impress you with my 777 knowledge feature here>?: More than likely. We have WAY too much documentation on our hands and we have really gone to ridiculous levels of depth that 99% of our customers will never explore... I don't know why either... but we had the documentation, so why not?
So When Can We Buy It?: Nice try.
Is there anything in the NGX that this one won't have?: When you purchase a 777 from Boeing- you don't have nearly the breadth of options available as on the NG line- but if the 777 has it, we have most likely included it. From a simulation standpoint, we haven't taken anything out of the core technology when moving from NGX to 777....
What have you added that the NGX didn't have?: Wow... uhm... TONS... mostly because the 777 is a much bigger, more advanced machine. Mixed VNAV modes according to Boeing's specs, improved SDK capabilities for external developers, tons and tons of advanced fly by wire functionality for all three axes, continued refinement of the autoflight process, multiple autothrottle controllers (NG airplane only had one... this one has two- and the way they interact is extremely sophisticated and realistically modeled.) A much more advanced wingflex model to account for the added span...
Multiplayer Cockpit and EFB?: Multiplayer cockpit is on our list of things to incorporate into the NGX/777/744v2.0- but we do not have an ETA. More than likely this will be something we surprise you with one day with an unannounced drop-in... (yes- that is a hint... subtle, huh?) On the topic of EFB: To provide the true functionality of an EFB there are a couple of technical hurdles we need to clear. All of these hurdles involve the use of data for airport layouts, charts, navigation data, and tabular aircraft performance data for the entire range of PMDG products. Current list price to license all of that information for our own internal use is about $5,250,000. Ryan won't cough up his credit card- so we are working on alternatives... To explain it differently: An EFB is a tool that contains a TON of data that is used by the flight crew. The concept of displaying charts is really quite minor in terms of what EFBs provide to pilots in the air. While we can extract some of the data from within our own simulation of the 777 and NGX, the vast majority of it needs to be licensed for the specific purpose of having it available in an EFB simulation. This is an extremely expensive endeavor and we are still working to help some of the data providers understand precisely what it is that we are looking to accomplish... The process continues- but eventually we would like to offer a unified EFB that works with each of these three (and some future) PMDG airliner simulations... We'll let you know when we break through the barriers currently in the path...
So how about telling us when.... NO. When it is done. That kinda makes sense when you stop and think about it.
What else is in it that I probably won't even notice?: The usual bunch of functionality that we have been shipping with our products for years, mostly. Unique, customized soundsets based upon recordings made on the actual airplane being modeled, fully customized physics models for everything from the inertia of the fans during acceleration and deceleration to autobrake friction levels, heat transfer of brakes, fluid temperature transfer for hydraulic and oil systems, etc... Alternate gear operation, alternate flap modes, PRIMARY, ALTERNATE and DIRECT fly-by-wire modes... Primary, Alternate and Secondary flap modes... A full potpourri of failures (WAY more than the NGX... can you believe?!) You know... All the "It's in there because it makes it realistic" kind of stuff....
Will I be able to buy it as a mother's day gift for my mum?:
Okay- i think that covers us for tonight... We wish you all a pleasant weekend!
(We'll be here working...which seems to be the usual of late!)
I'll be back with further updates, including a few in-depth system overviews for the techies in the crowd...
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