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ajpongress

So I was thinking...

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You (the reader of this post), with the hundreds of dollars you've spent on your hardware and software in the name of flight simming, are a passenger on a commercial flight.Halfway through the flight, the PA system comes on..The announcement asks for anyone with flight experience.Well your hand shoots up in the air. You've got thousands and thousands of simulated experience you say (and maybe some real hours here and there).But you've never flown a commercial jet before.The flight attendant explains that both the pilot and co-pilot are incapacitated. There is no backup pilot.. None of the flight attendant crew have any flight experience.Can you fly (let's just say Boeing here) and land the plane?Issues:- you're so used to having your FSINN window up giving you everyone's frequency. Not anymore!- where are all the charts?!- you've never used ACARS in your life. PMDG doesn't count- what do you tell your fellow passengers? Do you say anything at all or just let the FA's deal with them?Obviously ATC is going to direct you to the nearest airfield for the medical emergency. Do you tell ATC that the only experience you have is flying PMDG and Level-D planes? (good chance the controller won't even know about those developers, but you might get lucky).At this point they will probably give you vectors all the way to final, hopefully with an ILS.Well I can say if the plane is either a 737, 747, 767, or J41 I'd be fairly comfortable around the cockpit.I wouldn't know jack about the system fail procedures, but let's assume the plane is perfectly ok and everything works as it should.I probably wouldn't make the right ATC calls from being nervous as hell, but I'm confident I could get the plane down with everyone alive.I just hope my co-pilot wouldn't be an IL-2 only junkie. Or...maybe I'd be the copilot and someone with more experience (twin engine certification, maybe even regional experience) would take the left seat.The point of this thread is I think the level of realism and detail that companies like PMDG, Level-D, and the makers of the Leonardo Maddog MD-80 put into their planes could theoretically prepare someone to fly the real deal without any formal training whatsoever.I'd be interested to hear from some real world commercial pilots here that also do flight simming (obviously if you're reading this!) if they think someone in the situation described above would have any chance whatsoever at making a safe landing.Conjecture away!

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People who know about my obsession with flight sim ask me this all the time. My answer:"I probably could, but better yet, I can definately tell the autopilot how to"

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I think about this a lot. My answer would depend on the aircraft. In the A320 series, for sure, yes. I have spent close to 1000 hours flying the Wilco one in FSX. I know the systems of the that are not near as accurate as PMDG's systems, but I think would know enough from it to figure out the MCDU and autopilot to successfully land the plane. I am also taking flying lessons, so some procedures and all phraseology is familiar to me. I have also spent enough time on the 757 that if nobody else was a pilot, I would probably be the best option. I've always thought about how cool it would be to be in this kind of situation where my flight sim experience was actually gonna save a bunch of people, but then again, I also remember I'd rather just let the real pilot fly biggrin.gif

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My experience is limited to the 747, if in that, I could probably be able to get it down. Navigating is not a big problem, so I would ask for a diversion to an airport with a CAT3 landing. Odds are, though, that the destination airport would have one.I fly on BVA, where we don't have FSINN, so I have to listen to the frequencies anyway. The charts are more of guidelines, and in an emergency situation, some leeway would be given. Besides, the FMC is programmed with all the SIDs, STARs and Approaches so that wouldn't be a problem.ACARS is for text communication, this could be done without.

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I was actually thinking about this at work today. If it involved the A320, then yes since I have somewhat experience from Wilco and real life from asking the captain and F.O a series of questions. I'll probably have enough confidence to be able to land a 757-200 or a 763 with the knowledge I've gained over the few months involving systems and controls..

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Trying to stay realistic...If all systems are working properly, little/no wind or traffic, a CAT III approach, I would still want someone else to do it. Flight sim is fun, but it really is nothing like the real thing. All it'd take is one breaker to trip or a simple mistake (forgetting to flip a switch or some such thing) to kill everyone aboard.EDIT: Besides, we know the systems simulated in FSX, not every variable a RL pilot must deal with.If I ever were faced with that situation, the no smoking light would definitely be turned OFF!

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The flight attendants would probably go on the flight deck, get on the radio and then ask for assistance rather than panic the passengers with such a request over the PA.Unfortunately, the reality is that when that situation genuinely occurred once on a B737 NG, the flight attendant couldn't figure the cabin pressurisation out (this not being set properly was why the crew had passed out, the FA was using a portable oxygen bottle). Sadly, he also couldn't disengage the autopilot systems to descend the aircraft either, in spite of the fact that there were F-16s flying alongside contacting him on the radio to try and assist him, and he had some real life piloting experience too. He ran out of oxygen, passed out, the aircraft ran out of fuel, it crashed, and everyone on board was killed. And on that occasion, there was literally nothing wrong with the aeroplane's systems at all, just one switch on the overhead in the wrong position, this being on the co-pilot's side, which is probably why that brave flight attendant did not notice it and try it, since he had understandably climbed into the left seat.This is the difference between sitting at a computer with no pressure in a simulated aeroplane, and being thrust into an emergency situation in real life. Sadly, it doesn't always turn out as a nice Hollywood ending, with some fawning blonde flight attendant gazing admiringly at your calm heroics. We all probably know how to do it on our FS aeroplanes and many of us are real-life pilots too, but thinking clearly enough to do the right thing in a real situation when there is a genuine emergency, for example, hauling two gravely ill pilots off the controls and out of their seats and then somehow managing to calmly take their place and flip all the right switches, is a different matter entirely. Try it with a bunch of crying and panicking passengers milling around you, with warning sirens going off in the cockpit and all that kind of thing, and you'd not exactly be as calm as you are when flying your simulated airliner. Factor in for example that it might be a Tupolev 154 with a bunch of switches you can't even read the placards on, instead of that friendly-looking 737 cockpit you know from your PC.Sorry to stomp on what is likely every PC pilot's fantasy, but that's the way it probably would be if, god forbid, it ever did occur again. Anyone who has ever flown an aeroplane on their first solo will recall exactly how that feels compared to the comfort zone of having that instructor sat up there with them even in a plane you have some hours on, and that's not even an emergency, and invariably in a rather simple aeroplane too.I'm not saying it could never be done, but it's a fantasy indeed to imagine that a few hours on a PC aeroplane can teach you everything.Al

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That was a terrible accident. I think it was a Helios 733 maybe not an NG but it was very bad. Didn't something similar happen to a professional golfer in a private jet one time?

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Flight Simming is nothing like the real thing! I have a single engine land pilot's licence and about 800 hours in various types including B35 and C210 aircraft (I am also a reired ATC). In the 70's through a friend I was given the opportunity to fly a F28 over three legs, not the take-off but from early in the climb through to landing and roll-out with the captain handling the gear, flaps and power. After that experience I had a very big head and reckoned I could handle pilot incapacitation event. However fast forward the 80's and again another pilot friend (now retired) invited me into the cockpit. At abot FL120 I was invited to sit in the co-pilots seat and when I was settled offered the controls of a B727-200. I subsequently hand flew this machine up to it's cruising level. About an hour later and now in the dark it was TOD, and I started down the hill trying to set up 350kts. Very quickly I was in an oscillation and my friend took over and the co-pilot resumed his seat. Big head deflation and valuable lesson learned. The real heavy metal are NOT toys or high level flight simulations. So what would I do? If the aircraft were a newer Boeing with I would advise ATC immediately of the problem, leave the aircraft on the autopilot and set up the FMC for an autoland at a destination with an ILS of the capability. I would be asking for ATC or the company to get a pilot endoresed on the type to start talking to me and walk me through the procedures and checks, and MAYBE the end result would be OK, but I am under no illusions that I could hand fly the aircraft with any degree of confidence. If it was an Airbus type I would be very nervous as I am not at all familiar with the cockpit or the logic(?) of Airbus's philosophy.Maybe if you had 10-20 hours in an airline full motion simulator you might feel alittle more confident. The PMDG aircraft are capable of teaching us a great deal about the systems and how to start plan and operate an aircraft, but NOT how to really fly them.Neil Bradley

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Isn't planning, starting, and operating an aircraft flying it?I disagree to the idea that just because it's real life you don't know what you're doing.I was flying flight simulator when windows was at 3.1. I racked up a lot of time in that Cessna 172 all the way through FS2002 which was the first version to include 3D cockpits.When I started flying Cessna 172 aircraft for real soon after, the instructor said he was amazed how I knew my way around the cockpit without ever flying a real Cessna.I believe PMDG has created addons that do an uncanny job at modelling systems.Take the J41, and the manual that requires a forklift to get it on your desk. After reading that manual all the way through and spending 200+ hours flying it in FSX, you don't think someone would know what to do in the real thing?I think they would. I'm not saying they could be hired on the spot by an airline, but I am saying in an emergency they would be able to land that plane safely.

Sorry to stomp on what is likely every PC pilot's fantasy, but that's the way it probably would be if, god forbid, it ever did occur again.
Has this situation happened more once?If not, how can you say without a reasonable doubt it will happen exactly the same way when you only have one example to base your conclusion off of?In that situation, it sounds like panic was what made that plane crash, not the fact the acting pilot wasn't capable of flying the plane due to lack of real experience.

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That was a terrible accident. I think it was a Helios 733 maybe not an NG but it was very bad. Didn't something similar happen to a professional golfer in a private jet one time?
Payne Stewart in 1999

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Hi guys,Just to add my 2 cents here - I've seen this sort of topic come up on simulator forums quite a number of times during the years - always with strong arguments ensuing!A few important things always seem get neglected, one of them there is actually a JAA ATPL subject (and PPL) and Im sure that its a subject in other states as well,its called "Human performance and limitations" - we look at things like stress and what they do to you, how they affect your decission making capability etc. One would be safe to presume that you would be highly stressed in this situation - lets add some weather to the mix for good measure, perhaps its night-time as wellIn high stress conditions human performance of an untrained individual is likely to take a serious knock - this will probably be exacerbated heavilly by extenuating circumstances - ie weather, the fact that this is real and its happening, adrenaline and dopanine will be released into your blood in what we call the chemical cocktail - this is likely to make your hands shake (different people will react slightly differently) it is also likely that your rational brain will take a back seat and your emotional will be in charge, fear and panic are very good at disrupting concentration patterns.Remember you will be in a dynamic fast moving enviroment, having to try to remember things and having the stress of it all building up constantly - all this lends itself to mistakes...which will further stress...and so the cycle goes.I think it all hinges on how you handle stress. And sitting in your nice comfy sofa in a nice warm calm room fantasising is very different from the reality.The other questions to bare in mind are:How are you going to get through the locked flight deck door?How many of you have ever had to carry an unconscious body before? (its not easy - especially from a slumped position in a crampt flight-deck and lets say weighing in at 200 Lbs - thats going to be a challenge on its own!Coming back to the Helios disaster the cabin crew had more than a few hours, if I recall correctly, he held a valid CPL!Just my two cents - and no I didnt say it was impossible either.... :(

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I have a standing offer to actually try this scenario in a level D NG sim (I've never flown a transport category aircraft or sim in my life outside of FS)... I will do a write up when I finally get to do it. I'm guessing the answer will be yes, but maybe not as smooth as some pax would like on the landing... I'm positive I could do it autolanding, but I'd rather see if I could actually hand fly the landing.

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wow, had a dream of that last year. Im 13 a hijacker kills all the pilots, people restrain the hijacker. No one onboard has flight experience, at the end I say I am familiar with how to fly a 747-400 (thanks to pmdg tongue.gif) and I go up to the flight deck fly to the destination and make the best landing ever! Everyone knows me, Im a superstar and ohhhh it was awful when I woke upCry.gif

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A little while ago I was able to try my hand at flying both an A320 sim and a 737-800 sim on an open day at CTC. Though it is difficult (the 738 is far more difficult than the Airbus I must say), it isn't as difficult as many people make it out to be. I managed to land them both safely - and the guy set up a fairly stiff crosswind on one of the approaches!If that situation were ever to arise, I would feel pretty confident I could program the autopilot to bring it to a safe autoland through my experiences in Flight Simulator. ATC communication shouldn't be too difficult - as long as you tell the controller it's currently tuned to the situation he/she should guide you all the way through it.Regards,Tom Wright

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I have a standing offer to actually try this scenario in a level D NG sim (I've never flown a transport category aircraft or sim in my life outside of FS)... I will do a write up when I finally get to do it. I'm guessing the answer will be yes, but maybe not as smooth as some pax would like on the landing... I'm positive I could do it autolanding, but I'd rather see if I could actually hand fly the landing.
Now thats a slightly different scenario Ryan and I am sure you will do a great job mate! In fact I think that any of the hard core users of Flightsim and quality, hi fidelity addon aircraft would do and have done (if they're lucky enough to get to have a go) really well in a Level-D full motion training simulator.Whats the difference? Well it comes back to stress levels. For example: I can train someone in all the correct control and restraint techniques in the world and I can teach them of the dangers of sleeper holds and neck holds and extended use of the prone position (and believe me, I go on for a good four hours about it!) - and yet when it all kicks off and they have to use it outside the classroom in the real world I've seen people freeze up or use all the techniques that I told them never to use! All because of the stress of the event.All I am saying is do that same sim ride with a gun to your head...and performance may drop a bit! :(

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I just hope my co-pilot wouldn't be an IL-2 only junkie.
I remain a proud IL-2 junkie and as your co-pilot will be more than happy to handle visual checks out the windows and radio communications.The only thing I need to know is where the cannon triggers are to illuminate your descent path with tracer fire. The 737NGX is equipped with cannons right?:Whistle:And if you are forced to make an ahem "water landing" my years of driving submarines around the Silent Hunter realm will sure come in handy too!Heck once you land the aircraft I'll take over the steering as I feel fully confident in parking us hull-down thanks to Steel Beasts.Big%20Grin.gif**edit**Chuckles aside I have had the opportunity to spend many hours in a variety of full-motion Level-D certified simulators for my previous work (including FSI and various military organizations globally) and the three thing they all have in common with our home-based sims is a "pause" button, a crappy crash graphic, and a "reset" button.

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There's NO WAY IN HELL i can do it. I will be so nervous that i will forget what the throttles are for... I will be like "Pasengeeeeeerrrs!!!! Tonight we land IN HEEEELL!!"

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I think it was a Helios 733 maybe not an NG
Yup you are correct, my mistake, Helios 522 was indeed a Classic, was thinking it was an 800 because Helios had a couple of those in the fleet too.Al

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When it comes to automation, FS will get you up to speed on how to use it. That's not to say that you will be fumbling around at the start of a flight in a simulator. Why? because, the actual location of the knobs and switches is not programmed into your brain. You will have to look around to find somethings. In FS, the VC is all nicely laid out for us on a monitor. Flying the airplane will be different and challenging all at the same time. Why? Because you wont be used to how heavy the airplane feels. Our joysticks and control yokes are totally different than the yoke and the actually resistance you will feel in the aircraft. The biggest thing that would screw someone up in a sim or in the real aircraft is the speed at which things happen. FS offers us the luxury of sitting at a stationary seat. The real aircraft will give the true perception of speed because you can feel the airplane and see things moving by you. In FS the desk tricks our minds into thinking that things don't happen as quick. Why would they anyways, you aren't even moving. In a nut shell, we all can fly through clouds and do approaches to minimums in FS all day long. Its easy. Why? Because we don't get hr true perception of speed. Try flying an approach all the way to minimums in IMC and see how easy it is. Better yet, do an approach with a broken layer of clouds, when you see how fast you are flying through the clouds, you will get screwed up really quickly. Long story short, FS does nothing to get you ready to fly a transport category aircraft. IT only works with automation and systems. I have experience in an erj-145 sim......quite a bit actually. I could fly the thing pretty easily but I seriously think it was because I already had real world experience and a pilot cert. In some peoples defense, using fs for pleasure did help my in basic stick and rudder skills when I first started my training because I knew what to expect. I still had to learn how to actually fly the aircraft. I had to learn what the sight picture looked like on flare. I had to learn how a stall really feels like and how slow flight actually worked. FS is just for familiarity.....nothing else.

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I've been in a 737-800 sim a couple of times and having the experience I gained from MSFS, it does put everything into practice. It seems impossible and sounds rudiculous but hand flying an ILS approach is very possible and incredibly surreal. In fact, I spoke to a captain after a flight I was on once and was talking whether MSFS really does help and he said, and I quote; "Oh hahaha, I can't do flight sim - it's too difficult!!"

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I'm a real world pilot, and often enough if I have some time and I'm chatting to an aviation enthusiast, be it before the flight or after, and they bring up the topic of how "I could land this you know, I've done it a thousand times on my sim on the PC, I can program the FMS and all", it almost makes my blood boil. Its disrespectful to my career to think some Joe Blogs, who is really enthusiastic and has read all the books and done all the sims for different aircraft comes as long and simply compares the years of training I have done, the thousands of hours experience I have gain in my 23 years flying, can all be substituted by a year or two playing flight sim and make them believe that they could do our job if it were needed. Most of us pilots will agree that the flying is the easy part, the hard part is making the executive decisions, whether or not to leave a passenger because they're late, whether or not to fly through the weather or to go around it, whether or not to leave the gate or to wait another 5 mins for the WX to clear. The amount of information we learn in our training is vast, and covers some the most advanced principals of engineering, physics and meteorology out there. Being able to do "Smooth Landings in the PMDG MD-11" is no substitute for my knowledge. But your question was slightly different so I'm sorry for my rant. You probably could set up the AP for an autoland, but lets keep in mind that most aircraft aren't actually able to do an autoland, not every airline goes for that option. Would I trust a simmer with my son's life or my daughter's life if it came down to it, that depends, you would be a step up from the rest of the SLF but not by much. I remember as a child I used imagine what would happen if the pilots fainted at the controls and would I be able to step up, and back in those days we didn't have flight simulators. So of course it is natural to imagine one's self in these situations, everybody wants to be the hero, but dont get too ahead of yourself. Flying IRL is totally different to that in the sim, just ask any of the real world pilots on this forum, be they Commercial or Private, you feel the bumps, the accel, the turns, the climbs and descents. The controls feel different to those in the sim, you cannot pause in real life and switch to spot view to see if you are in line with the runway. It is different in that way, but system wise with aircraft like PMDG your getting fairly close to the mark. Didn't really mean to be discouraging there, but thats just the way I feel, I enjoy FS too but just don't take it too seriously... Enjoy it. By the way if I may ask, who here actually knows where the PPT buttons are in the aircraft? Thinking.gifPS. If you ever meet a pilot at the airport, DO NOT tell him you can land the plane, do his job, program the FMS ect. Because any chance you may have had to see the flight deck just went out the window faster than a Concorde at cruise speed...Rónán O Cadhain.

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I have spent about 50 hours in the PMDG 747 in FSX and I went to the United Airlines training center where they train and certify pilots and got the chance to fly a 747 full motion simulator. It took me a few minutes to get the hang of hand flying it, but once I did, it was a breeze. I knew all of the systems very well also. My instructor did a demo landing which was pretty darn smooth, but when I got my chance, I greased it smoother than him the first try. He was very surprised and had me land twice more, and seemed after the first landing he thought it must've been a fluke. Much to his surprise, I greased it down twice more, each one a little bit softer than the last. Under pressure, I may not have done so well, but man, I can't emphasize how much my sim time helped. Had that been a real 747, chances are I could've hand flown a visual approach and landed just fine.

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Flying IRL is totally different to that in the sim, just ask any of the real world pilots on this forum, be they Commercial or Private, you feel the bumps, the accel, the turns, the climbs and descents. The controls feel different to those in the sim, you cannot pause in real life and switch to spot view to see if you are in line with the runway. It is different in that way, but system wise with aircraft like PMDG your getting fairly close to the mark.
Yes, I concur. Unlike you, I don't fly heavy metal, but the principal applies for GA too. Think about this common scenario. (This is probably somewhat limited to smaller aircraft do to their lightness in weight, but I'm only a measly PP not an ATP so I can't say for sure.) Anyway, I'm turning from a right base, to final in my plane, and everything is going well. I'm flying into a slight crosswind, but I'm slipping and my glideslope looks good. As I am decending on short final, a very strong gust hits me and I get pushed up and to the right of the approach path. The first thing I have to decide is whether or not I'm going to continue the approach. To do this, I need to evaluate whether I can safely return the aircraft to the correct altitude for the glideslope, and have the aircraft correctly slipping towards the runway once again. (remember that now I'm high and to the right of where I should be.) I determine that I can safely return to the landing envelope without going around. The next thing that I need to do is use the correct combination of pitch, power, and flaps to return to the proper G/S. I also have to return to the correct lateral position of the approach using aileron and rudder inputs. This is a real scenario that actually happened to me. If I was a passenger, I wouldn't want a sim pilot trying to make these decisions and correct the approach, even if they were PMDG simmers. The reason is that you simply haven't felt the way the aircraft moves around in the air, and I doubt that you could manage the controls in the right sequence to get on the ground safely. This is the same reason that in a lot of the FSX utube videos I watch, it astounds me some of the bank rates that people are using. You can't bank a piper like you can a fighter. In some of these videos, the virtual pilot quickly "jerks" it into a bank. You just can't do this irl. (part of this is probably do to poor flight dynamics in the sim)Another thing I notice in utube sim videos is that 99% of the turns I see are not coordinated. When I'm flying irl, I'm not looking at the turn coordinator, I can just feel if I'm slipping etc. and apply appropriate rudder input. Again. I'm not trying to bash anyone, but like Rónán said above, there are certain things that you just can't learn flying in a desktop sim. Quite frankly I wouldn't have a lot of confidence that you could land a GA plane in anything but PRISTINE conditions. No offense.EDIT: Cory, I realize that I posted after you, but I want to assure you that my post was not directed at you in any way. Really neat experience btw.

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In a level-d sim, I've proven I can :( Got about 5 hours on a level-d 737NG simulator :(

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