Sign in to follow this  
Guest Jock in a Frock

747-400 Newbie - First impressions

Recommended Posts

As a newbie on the PMDG 747-400, I want to share the following thoughts with both the developers and other users at large.First, a little bit about my FS experience. I have been using computers for around 25 years, and know my way around PCs pretty well. I have been simming on & off since around 1990 (previously on my Amigas, but on PCs with MSFS since about 1998), so I think I have a good understanding of various aspect of simming. I have even had a 2 hour real-life lesson in a Piper Archer PA-28/181. This prompted me to buy Flight1's brilliant PA-28, and I've loved GA flights around the Southeast of England. Airliners are a completely different kettle of fish!On Friday, I received my boxed copy of the 747 from Aerosoft, and dutifully installed it. I have to say I'm thoroughly impressed with the depth and quality of this package. The visual model is nothing short of stunning, and IMHO is the best looking plane I have in my hanger. Airliners are not usually my thing (I prefer GA aircraft), but after hearing so much about the PMDG offering, and reading the top review in PC Pilot magazine, I couldn't resist.Changes in my personal situation mean I don't have an internet connection at home just now, so downloading the Queen was not an option due to the e-commerce validation process. While I understand the reason why developers like PMDG use such systems, it was a real pain in the #### for me that I couldn't get my hands on a legal copy of the Queen. Now that Aerosoft are selling the boxed version, I am chuffed to bits. :-)Anyway, the plane now has pride of place in my hanger, and despite the steep learning curve of the FMC, I am getting there. I have several niggles I need to work through, but I'm sure with more reading of the PDF documents (and they are darned good too), and scouring this forum, I will get there.My main gripe about the FMC is a lack of understanding of routes, SIDs/STARs, Nav data etc. I have never really had to get involved in this area of simming, (do you need such stuff when doing circuits and bumps at Biggin Hill? ;-) ) but I do understand air navigation, VORs, ILS, etc. I have installed the latest Navdata cycle (0513) from the navdata.at website, and I installed the PMDG flight plans when I installed the Queen. However I still run up against a lot of "Runway Not Found", "Not In Database" errors, and such.I have FSNavigator 4.7 installed and I also updated that from the Navdata website, so I believe I have all the data I need. I just need to find a way to tie it all together in the FMC.Yesterday I set up and flew my first proper flight from EGLL to KJFK. Because of these errors I was receiving in the FMC, I went "old school" and programmed the route manually. First I got FS9 to built a route with it's own flight planner. This gave me the list of waypoints (VOR's ISECs etc). Then I manually built this route in the FMC. This didn't take as long as I expected, and was great practice in familiarising myself with the various FMC modes on offer (and, by gum, there are a lot of them!). My flight plan managed to find a STAR for RWY31L at KJFK so I included that too.After loading the Queen with several pints of AVGAS and about 250 pax, I flew out of EGLL rwy 27R and engaged LNAV and VNAV. What followed was terrific to watch, as the plane slowly climbed to FL340 and started tracking the flight path. After cleaning up and ensuring all systems were green, I then went to FSNav and started building the same route into it's flight planner (just so I had an easier view of the track). I have installed the FSNav - PMDG exporter plugin, so I know I could have saved some effort there by building it in FSNav then loading it into the FMC, but hey, give me a chance!I was encouraged to see that the plane followed the path that FSNav was showing incredibly closely, although I don't think that FS9's default route was the most economical I could have used. I need to look at other options for creating a route (is FSBuild what I need for this?).So now we're at FL358 and it's time to start messing with the systems, seeing what I can break. As I mentioned in another thread here, there is a problem with time acceleration in FS9 (and it's not just the Queen that suffers), but if I accelerate to 16x or above, the engines start to quit, and I quickly lose altitude. 4x is fine, and 8x is usually okay if I monitor it for problems, so I'm not overly concerned about this problem.As for messing with the systems, I used the time to explore more FMC functionality (RTE, LEGS, DEP/ARR functions etc), along with the EICAS display, hydraulic & pressurisation systems and suchlike. I was glad to see how integrated the package seems, and how PMDG have managed to make the whole thing seem like the functionality is built into the FS9 engine. I know this is not the case, and that the 747 is running on top of the FS9 engine, and is amost using it only for input/output, but they have done it in such a way that it's hard to see the join. This is a real tribute to the skills of the programmers at PMDG.As the flight comes towards an end, my plane is now tracking the STAR. Due to a misunderstanding on my part, I did not start my descent on time, and found myself at 5nm out from RWY31L with another 13000ft to lose! Panic set in! How could I come so far, only to screw up at the last moment?Okay, deep breath, disconnect the LNAV & VNAV functions and use the AFDS to perform a (highly illegal) 180

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Help AVSIM continue to serve you!
Please donate today!

Thanks for the insight Andy!A couple of points about route planning. I also own FSNAV and i use the export tool to export a flight plan into the FMC. Make sure you have a look at the departure and arrival waypoints on FSNAVs map before you export it, just to make sure theres no sharp turns or waypoints that might cause a 747 some trouble! :)Also i have recently started to use real life routes for my flights. You can find hundreds of real world routes in the Flight Plan forum on Avsim and type them manually into the FMC and choose your SID and STARS depending on the weather.There are a lot of route planning sites on the internet that will create a flight for you but since you own FSNAV thats just as good if not better as you can use the moving map and get a graphical representation of where you are flying.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Andy, haha! nicely documented. I always love reading first times. By the way, you load it with JETA1, not avgas :)When I get a new plane for FS, I do a lot of cockpit sitting and familiarization on the ground, and I do my first flight in a place where the navigation is not too complicated - Europe is nuts! :) I'd suggest simple routes for you, especially the domestic asian routes. They're pretty simple to fly and give ample time for you to adjust to the systems.cheers!mikeRPLL

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

nice comments. very interesting.I would recommend you run the sid/stars update not only for fsnav but for the pmdg products as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

>By the way, you load it with JETA1, not avgas :)Lol, I thought the engines sounded like a bag of spanners ;-) Thank God FS9 doesn't differentiate. :-O>I would recommend you run the sid/stars update not only for>fsnav but for the pmdg products as well.I have updated the AIRAC data for both FSNav and the PMDG. Am I right in thinking that this does not include SIDs/STARs?If not, what's the best source of these?Andy Scholes

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

>I have updated the AIRAC data for both FSNav and the PMDG. Am>I right in thinking that this does not include SIDs/STARs?>If not, what's the best source of these?You will find SIDs and STARs on the Fsnav site as well and I would suggest you simply download the 'All-in-one' file and by doing so you will get all the most recently updated SIDs and STARs.Happy flying!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

>>You will find SIDs and STARs on the Fsnav site as well and I>would suggest you simply download the 'All-in-one' file and by>doing so you will get all the most recently updated SIDs and>STARs.>>Happy flying!Yep, that's what I was missing, the All-in-One SID/STAR download. I'll install this tonight and report back :-) Thanks.Andy Scholes

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this