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Guest SparrowHawk7

Questions about MCP & FMC and route planning

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Guest SparrowHawk7

Hi. I've got FS2004, 737NG + 800/900 and Ultimate Traffic. I'm an old hand at FS from 1982 but new to this particular plane(more accurately called a simulator). I found an old copy of Timothy Metzinger's tutorial stashed in a corner of my HDD which I find more informative than others I've seen. I have no problem getting airborne and using the FMC to control the flight. But I've run into a couple situations that I cannot seem to get past. 1. Enroute with the FMC programmed for 315 knots at FL330, LNAV and VNAV active, the flight director on and autothrottle armed but the speed remains at 250 though I am at FL330. I've tried re-entering 315/330 in the FMC leg for the current one with no change in speed. I then tried clicking off of VNAV and trying other ways to increase my speed. However, every time I tried to click on VNAV after that to re-activate vertical navigation I got a complaint on the FMC about checking the alt on the MCP. That is set to 33000 which corresponded to the FL330 set in the FMC so I do not understand the problem. I'd clear the error but it would return as soon as I try to reactivate VNAV. I tried disengaging the AP and re-engaging as well as other things but had no luck. Surely I can re-activate VNAV enroute after it's been disabled, I just can't figure out the procedure. How can this be done? I have had a similar problem with the AutoThrottle before but cannot remember specifics so I can't really ask what went wrong there though the circumstances were similar. Once disarmed though, I could not re-arm it throughout the flight.2. FS2004 does not allow SIDS and STARS in it's route planner nor does it allow me to add them to the plan in order to file an IFR flight. I could fly the flight FS2004 figures and files for me but that would negate much of the fun of using the FMC - at least for arrivals and departures. Or I could plan and fly my own route by filing a VOR-VOR type route, letting ATC get me airborne and then canceling the flight plan, using the FMC plan and turn on flight following for chatter. That's fine until approach when I can find myself in conflict with traffic. How do you handle flight planning/filing with PMDG planes?Thanks,Ken

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1. First thing to check is the mode annunciator at the top of the PFD (above the attitude indicator). The left hand space provides a clue as to what the throttle is doing, and it should say FMC SPD. A normal climb in the 737 uses pitch to hold speed at 250 until the transition altitude (10,000) then lowers the nose to accelerate to the climb speed (shown on the CLB page). Check these things and let us know what's actually happening.2. FS2004 doesn't know anything about SIDSTARs, including it's very limited AI ATC function. I've turned it off and never used it since, and I had to do away with Ultimate Traffic too because it's traffic doesn't fly real airways or SIDSTARs either. There's a couple of alternatives, one is using VATSIM which many do; the other is just fly the fun stuff without dumbing it down to the level of FS2004 which is what I do. I have created realistic arrival and departure routes for all major US airports which programs the FMC to follow the same routes followed pretty much by real traffic. A good example is either JFK or LAX, found in the AVSIM library if you're interested. I'm hoping that FSX allows the programming of virtual traffic along specified routes instead of just point to point but so far I haven't heard that it does, and I'm not active in FSX until PMDG has a product for it.


Dan Downs KCRP

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Guest SparrowHawk7

Thanks for the response, Dan. There is so much to the 737 ... I wasn't aware of the mode annunciator but watched it on a flight last night. Being new, I ran into some hitches on approach but I think it was cockpit error as so much happens so fast. The rest of the flight went as planned ... I did run into the FMC complaining about the MCP alt being off again, but this time it was right after a waypoint at top of descent so I just lowered it and the complaint went away. Quite different from standard FS autopilots which are very simplified. So much to learn.One problem I do consistently have is on takeoff. Immediately after I'm airborne and activate AP I get lots of noises that sound like a cash register. They don't sound very happy and they don't last for long but I'm unsure as to their cause. The MCP speed is at V2+20, autothrottle on, FD on, N1 active, heading hold at runway heading and alt set to initial clearance (in this case 5000). Throttles are full. The sound lasts for perhaps a minute.As for the planning. I downloaded FSNavigator and tried it. FS9 lets me do a SID and let me follow the FMC route but complained bitterly when I got to the STAR and it doesn't include jetways - instead it makes up waypoints - so it's not worth the money to me. I know what you mean about Ultimate Traffic patterns ... but they're better than the default traffic. I'm not proficient enough with the 737 and my time is often split into 10 or 15 minute patches of flying with half hour pauses so VATSIM isn't a realistic option for me.As for the ATC ... a friend of mine was the crew chief of departure and approach at the tower at Lambert-St.Louis for a number of years - as well as a few years spent at Salt Lake, Denver and Jacksonville. He watched me do a short flight awhile ago with a good deal of head shaking and strange facial expressions which confirmed my suspicions that the way FS9 handles ATC on departure and approach is pretty poor and often unrealistic. I just sort of like hearing chatter on those long stretches while I watch the world go by. Once in the air I can always use flight following and have some stuff to listen to. If I'm going to have other traffic I'll just have to get used to other planes taxiing through me from time to time. :-rollAnyway, next time I run into the FMC/MCP complaining I'll take better notes and get back here. And I'd appreciate your input about the cash register sound. Thank you.Ken

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Hi KenThought I would try and answer your cash register sound problem. If this is the same sound as I would call a "camera shutter clicking" then I think it is that when you put the auto pilot on and probably vnav then the sound is the plane making some auto adjustments in the trim value (i was told this as an answer to a similar enquiry i made here some time ago) I also wanted to say that FSNAV is an excellent program to compliment flight sim, even though it cannot enter jetways directly, the moving map is unbeatable, and when you do venture into on line flight, then connecting fsnav online with you will provvide the best map with all those flying around you online too. Its advantages far outweigh any disadvantages although i did notice you just said that it did not suite your needs, but didnt want anyone to mis interpret as i feel its a great program, and I use it in conjunction with FSBUILD to get the best from both programs.regardsJohn Calleja


John Calleja

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My preference is FS Build because it is a stand-alone program not requiring FS to be running. It interacts with AS6.5 to include winds-aloft in its fuel planning function. I've been using the 737 aircraft performance profiles included but they can be modified. There is no moving map but with the modern NDs and GPS instruments I find a moving map outside of avionics not required. TCAS shows AI on the 800/900 (and 600/700 with the 800/900 installed as well).FS Build includes an international database of routes and SIDs and STARs maintained by the author. Occasionally in the database he uses there is an errant waypoint entry causing a routing error. These are usually "soft" localized waypoints for airport procedures. You can edit the route table and elect to build from the editited route table as opposed from what appears in the route field area. The plan can be auto-generated or entered manually in standard ICAO syntax which includes airway designators. I think the airway designators can be included in the FMS export to show up on your legs page.If you need to maintain sync between the FMS and the an application that requires an FS9 format plan, then you export to the FMS and FS9 on your final build. All exports are converted to waypoints including those along airway routes. This avoids inconsistencies between the FMS SID/STAR database and the flight plan application. I do use the the FMS database for the final approach (IAP) as guidance or A/P on final if no GS is available so that I have altitudes for reference on final.For those interested, FSB 2.3 supports the standard FS8/9 format and the new FSX format exported flight plans. It can export to the current PMDG FMC for the 737 and 747 among other types.(I have no ties with the developer of FSB and am just expressing an opinion here.)


Ron Ginsberg
KMSP Minnesota, Land of 10,000 Puddles
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Guest SparrowHawk7

Thanks for the replies guys. I have nothing against either of those flight planning software packages and I hope I wasn't misinterpreted as saying I did. I haven't tried FSBuild - only FSNav. One advantage with FSNav that I did find was when the flight plan was exported to FS9 I was permitted to fly a SID as well as the FMC route without interference from FS9. The problem came on the approach when FS9 refused to allow the STAR. Since flying solo meets my schedule at the moment I think perhaps that one way to work it would be to fly the plan until I get flack from ATC and then disable IFR and fly the STAR I wish. If using other traffic then I run the risk of someone flying thru someone else or taxiing in a ghostly way, but I can deal with that for the short time it takes to shoot an approach and get to the gate.John ... thanks for the input about the shuttering. I will check my trim before taxi next time to see if perhaps that's it. There are so many warning sounds that it's confusing to figure out what's wrong. It took me awhile to figure out that my throttle being too high on my joystick when the plane is loaded causes a warning horn. :-doh It's simply a matter of practice and learning like anything else ...Thanks again,Ken

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Guest SparrowHawk7

Hi Carl ... I don't think so. I saw that setting SOMEWHERE in the FMC but I've no idea where or how to get back to it. But I remember thinking that was probably for flying in different countries where the restrictions might be different but since I'm only flying in the US for now I didn't change it.I did run into a couple questions on a recent flight however ... perhaps someone would be so kind as to tell me what these mean. As I was happily going along I saw a yellow thing come up just below the MCP annunciator on the left side. There was another one at a different time ... the first one was IPE/253 in strikeout and the other one a bit later was IVDI/246 again in strikeout font. Both went away but left me wondering what they were ... ?And this is the second time I've had a complaint on the annunciator panel concerning the A/C. I went to the overhead panel and checked that both packs were on auto and recirc was also on auto. I fiddled with them some, reset the annunciator and still had the complaint. Any ideas?I think my problems with the LNAV and VNAV are a lack of understanding on my part. I had not realized just how intertwined the FMC and MCP really are. More practice and making more mistakes should correct the cockpit error.Thanks so much - just trying to make heads and tails of this,Ken

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Oh, and the strike-out font in yellow is caused by the fact that you have only one of the nav radios tuned to the ILS. You need both tuned for the autoland to work. But what if you want nav2 tuned to a different frequency? you ask. I ask that too, so maybe we'll get an answer here.CheersGeoff


Geoffrey Kent

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Hi againMy interpretation of the yellow strike out, is that on your route you are close to an ILS of the frequency that you have tuned in COM1 but it is not the ILS that is associated with your landing airport hence the yellow strike out. Also of interest to me is the question above, If you were going for a full CAT3 autoland and have both radios tuned to the same frequency for the simulation to work and established on the ILS and glideslope, I do not know why one would need COM2 to be tuned to any other nav aid, further comments would be welcome as this is a learning curve.regardsJohn Calleja


John Calleja

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Guest SparrowHawk7

Thanks guys. I was enroute at the time and had not set the nav radios to the ILS frequency so they were set to whatever it is they default to which is obviously both different. As I said, I'm very new to this plane though not flying. I was an avionics technician in the USN for years but understanding how the electronic circuits work on individual components is altogether different from using them as an entire system which you do not do on a repair bench. And most of what I worked on were weapon systems, HUD electronics and communication radios (SSB mostly) which aren't present in passenger birds. The little actual flying I've done was in a tail dragger Helio which has only very basic instrumentation - although it's impossible to stall.OK ... I see how that works. I just started out FS9 as fly now with the 737/600 and saw ISEA/341 in yellow strikeout. I played with the radios and found that 110.30 on both NAVs turned it white without strikeout. Learn something every day.I haven't got a problem at all with startup, takeoff or following a flight plan - even modifying it enroute (for the most part) but I've never yet managed a successful approach and I've got a lot to learn about the FMC/MCP relationship/function so I'll be having lots more questions I'm sure. But I'll just learn one thing at a time and eventually I'll manage to land at the right airport on the correct runway without breaking the bird. :-roll Incidentally ... has anyone got an idea as to why I sometimes get a complaint about the airconditioning?Thanks again,Ken

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The AC alarm is probably due to the cabin altitude not set to the same as your actual cruise.After you play with it for a couple of hours it's time to hit the books that come with it. Honest.


Dan Downs KCRP

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Guest SparrowHawk7

Thanks Dan ... I'll look into that. With my background as an avionic tech, the first thing I do is RTFM but there is so much here that I either didn't run across it in my reading or even more likely, I forgot what I read. Thanks again,Ken

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Glad you've cleared the strikeout problem, but it still doesn't explain why the text needs to be in strikeout if you have only one nav radio tuned to the ILS. It's clearly designed to work that way, but on my display it makes the yellow text illegible. If, in the RW, you can still read the yellow text when it's in strikeout, then I guess there's no problem, but surely yellow, without strikeout, would have served the same purpose. Maybe they found pilots were overlooking it.Geoff


Geoffrey Kent

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