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G550flyer

Passenger Comfort

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Greetings ladies and gents,

 

Rick here with some more tips for your operating pleasure. Back when I was flying cargo jets, I never cared much about passenger comfort. Turbulence never bothered me and I would never change altitude as long as I could still read my magazine. I would hear airliners constantly requesting ride reports and altitude requests. Now days I’m all about ride reports and altitude changes. Turbulence is a big factor in my filed routes and altitudes. I decided it may be a good idea to pass along some good tips for smooth operation.  Some of you gals/guys that fly for virtual airlines may be seeking smoother ways to handle the aircraft. I will discuss some that I use in real world ops.

 

TAKEOFF/INITIAL CLIMB

 

Departure conditions can drive how you handle the aircraft. Big thing is to be smooth with power application. SID and obstacle requirements can lead to max power takeoffs and high climb rates. When not required, reduced power takeoffs can smooth things out and slow them down. The key to being smooth is staying ahead of the aircraft. One way to do this is to slow things down.  High rates of climb can rush things along. High rates of climb may not cause comfort problems, but the high pitch will. One thing we use a lot is vert speed. When clear of obstacles, we select 2000fpm on the vert speed. This puts the aircraft into speed mode and lowers the pitch. This works very well at light gross weights. You now have a more controlled/managed aircraft.

 

CLIMB

 

The next opportunity for smoothness is acceleration and climb. I know a lot of guys love flight level change. It is a nice feature, but I find it sluggish after Mach change over. VNAV works well when you are cleared up to cruise altitude. In the real world, you are given speed restrictions/small altitude changes due to traffic. Most sim guys just hit FLCH and let her rip. This leads to a quick power surge and aggressive pitching moment. This gets worse at lighter weights. The smoothest way is to set 1,000 to 2000fpm for acceleration.  Once you reach your climb speed, smoothly increase the vert speed until the engines reach climb power. At this point, select FLCH and no one notices. The next chance is at Mach change over. This usually occurs at FL280/FL290 depending on the aircraft.  The problem is that Mach has more variance between numbers than IAS.  There is a big difference between .80 and .82. Because of this, the real world aircraft has a difficult time being solid in the climb. Pressure and temperature changes will cause the Mach indicator to move around a bit. This leads to speed hunting and pitch oscillations as the jet chases the speed. I’ve seen this in every aircraft I’ve flown. The jet gets a little slow and lowers the nose a bit. It then gets a little fast and the nose rises aggressively. Suddenly we are way slow and the nose dumps aggressively. I usually demonstrate this to new guys when flying empty. The aircraft is smoother when it’s heavy. The key to this issue is vert speed. You have to keep a watchful eye on vert speed/power in order to stay on speed. The last technique is for altitude changes while in vert speed. Just as we did at acceleration, slowly click in vert speed changes so that the aircraft makes smooth gentle pitch changes. I usually start with 200 to 300 fpm to get it going, and once the plane reacts I increase it. This works well with speed changes also. Ripping the speed knob either way causes the throttles to make large corrections.  Smooth changes lead to smooth auto throttle movement. When done correctly, altitude and speed changes are subtle.

 

DESCENT

 

Descents are pretty easy going. Once again, I start with a low descent rate and smoothly dial it in until throttles reach idle. At this point I use FLCH. I have used 4 x the altitude to lose for all of my jets and it has worked well for a descend by distance point.

 

PASSING 10,000FT

 

I believe that spoilers were put on aircraft for a reason, but I avoid them if I can. In the DC10 and G5/550 I use the 13 by 13 technique. This works by setting 1300ft per min at 13,000ft which works very well at reaching 250kts by 10,000ft.  In the PMDG 777 I use about 1200fpm at 13,000 or 14,000ft. I adjusted the drag in the cfg to reach the average descent rates in the FCTM. This technique works very well and removes the need for leveling or using speed brakes. In some slam dunk situations, you have no choice but to use speed brakes. Picture lying in bed while your spouse/significant other is sleeping. If you need to get out of bed without waking them, you ease out. When you return, you ease in. This is how speed brake use should be. Ease them out slowly so that the autopilot has time to adjust pitch smoothly. I’ve seen guys rip out the speed brakes and the plane instantly settles down and the nose aggressively pitches up. Same thing happens in reverse when you yank them in. Passengers should only notice the rumble.

 

APPROACH

 

Not much that can be done for approach. The big thing here is pitch. Some aircraft have low min maneuver speeds. This can lead to high pitch in level flight. The DC10 was infamous for this. The easy fix is to configure and fly a little faster. I try to keep the pitch below 5 degrees. This works well for level flight and turns.

 

CONCLUSION

 

These were some real world tips to help you with your virtual passengers. In corporate aviation passenger comfort is vital. I knew of a couple of guys who were fired after a rough flight/landing to Vegas. The owner had just purchased a couple of G5s and had new hires to his flight department. After a rough flight and hairy landing, those guys were fired and new hires were flown out to bring him home when he was ready. In the flight sim world, we don’t care much for passenger comfort. That’s exactly how I was when I flew heavy cargo jets. When moving over to passenger flights, I learned a lot about passenger comfort. 


 

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Thanks for the information. As an airline simmer I try to simulate passenger flights and FLCH is my go to. I'll try to incorporate your tips with my virtual PAX.

 

Looking forward to more from you, sir!

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I've been using those exact techniques for years, thanks for articulating them

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Thanks!!!, and thanks for the read gents. I will continue to provide info and tips when ever I can!!

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