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ryanbatcund

What do I need to get into airliners?

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Inspired by Flightbeam's new KDEN I decided I'd like to TRY to get into airliners.  My background is all in GA (in real life) and 99% of my flying is GA related in FSX.

 

The closest thing to airliner flying I do is to fly the NGX, but I always fly under a N number and I always park at the GA ramps on the airport (treating it like a private jet).  It's funny how I buy a beautiful addon airport but only ever park at one tiny FBO/ramp...  there's a whole airport to explore and I never do.

 

Another reason why I've chosen to stick with GA is short flights....  with two crazy kids I limit my flights to absolute max of 2 hours - 1 hour is preferable.

 

So what addons really add to the immersion for big iron hauling?  What are the best airplanes and accessories?  Any strategies or comments/hints I should need?  How do I know what gate to park at?

 

Do a lot of people do pre-planning like fuel/W+B calc etc?  Once reaching the gate, are there addons for this too?

 

Thanks

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Ryan,

 

The NGX is, of course, an airliner. Would it be fair to assume you mean larger airliners? The PMDG 777 package is the current state of the art, and includes features that would allow you to fly heavy iron without letting the unattended kids destroy the house!

For example the 777 has 'auto step climb' and 'pause at top of descent' features which mean that once you're settled in the cruise, (an hours worth of work including planning and preflight) you can leave the PC unattended for however long the cruise portion of the flight is. Set an alarm for the rough time of descent, and then come back to finish the job, of course if something comes up in the meantime, the sim will be paused 10NM from the top of descent, patiently waiting for you to come back and pick up where you left off!

 

There is also a time compression feature that will allow you to speed the cruise portion up, so you can crank the cruise up as much as you need to and turn an 18 hour flight into a couple of hours. 

 

As far as planning, there are plenty of options.

 

For free access, I personally use www.gcmap.com to pick my city pairs and work out distances and flight times. I then use www.vatroute.net for european routes, and www.vataware.com for long haul and non-european routes. www.Fuelplanner.net can be used to get a rough estimate of the fuel burn required. You can then pop your finalised froute into www.skyvector.com to see whether there are any issues with enroute weather that you should be mindful of.

From there, you can do the rest of your preflight planning in cockpit, takeoff speeds and so-on can be calculated in the FMC as it is on the NGX.

 

The payware alternatives are more integrated, more accurate, more realistic and considerably more convenient. PFPX and TOPCAT together cover your bases and give you a one-stop-shop for planning a flight, including correct thrust settings for takeoff, ETOPS planning, alternates and a very accurate fuel prediction. The payware options are certainly not mandatory, but once you've used them you'll likely never go back to doing it yourself!

 

Hope that helps.

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There's a lot of different ways to do this, some of it based on personal preference, but here's what I like (and I'll try to keep the cost down by suggesting free alternatives when available). 

 

- A good plane, NGX, T7 or maybe the upcoming Airbuses if they are accurate in both flight model and systems. Here's the big kicker though: must have the original flight manual at least in PDF form, and the plane must correspond to it. 95% of your airliner simming will be out of those pdfs, whether doing routine checks or dealing with failures. The manuals are a huge part of the experience, and even if you don't read it all (I don't have time to read 3,000 pages, and I bet you very few people here actually do) you should still enjoy the process of looking things up - that's all it takes.

 

-Good weather engine, and one which can give you good forecasts. I know you had a problem with ASN, so I won't push the radar thing. Opus should be fine.

 

-Good planner capable of integrating things like wind, emergency alternates, ETOPS distances, and calculating fuel close enough that you can carry realistic (i.e. often times cutting it by the skin of your teeth) fuel loads. Your ability to come in under the fuel burn estimate will become a part of the airline simming experience and that can be stressful. The best on the market now is PFPX. SimBrief is a very strong alternative and free.

 

-Take off calculator. There's plenty of free takeoff calculators that you can use - even an excel sheet you can load on a smartphone - to calculate required thrust for takeoff. This calculation will become part of the weather forecast ritual, and pre-flight becomes a bigger part of the picture. 

 

- Icing on the cake: I picked up GSX on sale for $30 at Christmas and it was well worth it. It sends little men out to fill the plane with fuel, food, baggage, and buses to take people away. It's just eye/ear candy but I got sold on it from FSDT KLAX and it really does add to the immersion, and works at every airport unlike AES. Some people also seem to enjoy traffic addons, and feel they are part of the hustle and bustle of an airport, but I can't sacrifice anymore FPS myself so don't do that personally. There are lots of ways to do the immersion thing, big airports, voice activated crew, and a lot of this is personal preference and imagination.

 

-Have fun and be willing to learn. There is always something new to discover. 

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The op said he doesn't have time for long flights so I'm sure he doesn't have time to read PMDG manuals.

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You are pressed for time just like me, so I will share what I do with airliner, and may be you will find something useful there.

 

Here goes:

 

1. Stick with NGX or Airbus X, or the MJC Q400 (this one give you plenty of things to do coming from GA!)

2. Those are all short/medium haul aircraft so now pick pairs of airports you like and buy the add-on scenery as

you see fit.  Many European airports are suitable for short haul.

3. Good weather injector, you already have one

4. Get PPFX, it will reduce the planning time as it will produce flight plan based on current weather and generate importable route, saving you typing into the FMC

5. Pick your livery and pack at the gate assigned to your airline livery and get GSX

 

Fly!  

 

P.S.  Since the MD-11 is mostly used for cargo these days, you can also fly it for short haul cargo route.  The PMDG MD-11 is something very different and interesting to learn and fly. 

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Ryan I also fly only short flight, usually no more than 1 1/2 hours. The big difference between GA and airliners is you cover more ground in the same amount of time. The NGX you have is good for what you want as are other short/medium haul tubes.

 

You need to decide if you want to spend that valuable time flying or 'pre flighting'. I also fly in 'real' life so in FSX I just want to do a minimal startup and get in the air. I enter the sim with engines running, set the AP and FMC, configure for takeoff and get airborne, the whole process takes under 5 minutes from entering to 'rotate' then I can spend the rest of my time enjoying the flight :-)

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Thanks for suggestions so far.

 

What I meant by airliners is more like flying airline routes.... flying under three letter callsigns like SWA, AAL, DAL etc.  Some GA fly under those like air taxi such as EJA, EJM, RSP etc etc - but mainly I want to focus on the life of a typical airline pilot.  I suppose I need to have a longer time set out to fly hmmmm

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Thanks for suggestions so far.

 

What I meant by airliners is more like flying airline routes.... flying under three letter callsigns like SWA, AAL, DAL etc.  Some GA fly under those like air taxi such as EJA, EJM, RSP etc etc - but mainly I want to focus on the life of a typical airline pilot.  I suppose I need to have a longer time set out to fly hmmmm

 

 

There's always time compression, but I don't know if the modern aircraft sims like the NGX, 777 or MJ800 support them, even though I own all three I don't get up in them nearly enough to know.

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Topcat is useful for PMDG jets to calculate appropriate engine ratings for takeoff.  And a good simulated crew program will go a long way.  The way you've described your style, the turboprops like J41 or Majestic might be a good fit.

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Since you like to fly on Pilotedge, and you already have the NGX, why not start with SWA runs from Vegas to BUR, LAX, ONT, SNA and SAN? Just keep going back and forth until you timeout. Haha

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The op said he doesn't have time for long flights so I'm sure he doesn't have time to read PMDG manuals.

 

What I said was: "The manuals are a huge part of the experience, and even if you don't read it all (I don't have time to read 3,000 pages, and I bet you very few people here actually do) you should still enjoy the process of looking things up - that's all it takes."

 

He doesn't have to read every word, but I cannot imagine how anyone could get into airline simming without atleast looking up a few things in the FCOM or QRH... and enjoying the process of doing so.  

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Based on the limited time you have available, I'd steer clear of any wide bodies (such as the 777) and stick with the NGX you already have or something smaller such as the Majestic Q400. You want to do flights in region of 200-400 nm which will give a max airborne time of around 90 minutes.

 

In terms of addons there is a lot of overlap with GA in that you'll want a mesh (FS Global 2010), textures (GEX or Orbx and REX), landclass (UTX) and a weather engine (ASN or FSGRW, FSRealWX (free) or Opus. As for airport specific sceneries I'm more familiar with Europe where the major airports are closer together and so better suit short haul, there's a list of some addon airports at http://viaintercity.com/forums/general-discussion/recommended-addons/

 

You can preflight plan relatively straight forward without reporting to expensive addons, you can use simroutes.com for routing within the USA, airnav.com for the charts and most addon payware airliners include a fuel planner or you csn use something free like SimBrief. if you want convience then PFPX is good but not cheap.

 

For immersion enhancement I really rate FS2Crew but the learning curve is steep. There are ground addons such as AES and GSX but they're mainly eye candy in my opinion. You can get FS Passengers but it's not my cup of tea, I find it unrealistic and annoyance, I don't think pilots choose the ambient music or when dinner is served!

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He doesn't have to read every word, but I cannot imagine how anyone could get into airline simming without atleast looking up a few things in the FCOM or QRH... and enjoying the process of doing so.

 

This is actually one thing that keeps my NGX, 777 and Q400 away in the hangar; just not enough time in one day to spend time going through the manuals. However, I did manage to go through the complete startup of the JS4100 and now can do it with my eyes closed 6 months later, and it's a blast to fly on short hops around the Pacific Northwest.

 

One thing I can say for sure that helped me get into the "procedural" birds was a good checklist that made starting the engines and getting to the threshold as quick and painless as possible.

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Hi, if you want to have airline callsigns in your flightsim, download editvoicepack at http://www.editvoicepack.com/%C2'>

 

After you load editvoicepack, run the program and choose your basic options. Save and hit install.

 

When you turn on FSX, go to free flight, choose the NGX for example, click on "aircraft details"on aircraft choice page, and scroll down for the callsign you like, then click okay.

 

When you fly, the tower will then contact you as (for example): "Delta 211 contact Ground"

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This is actually one thing that keeps my NGX, 777 and Q400 away in the hangar; just not enough time in one day to spend time going through the manuals. However, I did manage to go through the complete startup of the JS4100 and now can do it with my eyes closed 6 months later, and it's a blast to fly on short hops around the Pacific Northwest.

 

One thing I can say for sure that helped me get into the "procedural" birds was a good checklist that made starting the engines and getting to the threshold as quick and painless as possible.

When I first started looking at NGX YouTube videos asking myself "do I really wanna open this can of worms?" I remember seeing videos of people who took an hour to prepare for flight and thinking "these people are deranged"... Now I am one of those people!  :lol: More than half of my sim time still lies with GA/bush planes, but I learned to enjoy the ocd elements of airline simming.

 

The JS4100 is an incredible plane and if you can handle the old-school fully-manual preflight methods used on it you should be able to handle the procedures on almost any other plane just fine. NGX is complex, but atleast it doesn't like to catch fire so easily.     

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The JS4100 is an incredible plane and if you can handle the old-school fully-manual preflight methods used on it you should be able to handle the procedures on almost any other plane just fine. NGX is complex, but atleast it doesn't like to catch fire so easily.

 

She really is, and I have managed to fly the tutorial flights of the NGX but haven't gone much farther than that...

 

It's a good thing those turbofans don't have to be feathered, because otherwise there would be a lot of angry passengers... just like there were when I was learning the JS4100. ;)

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If you already are flying the NGX, then I think you can fly any payware you choose. IMO, the 777 is LESS complex for the pilot than the NGX. (The 777 has tons more going on behind the scenes, but you (the pilot) would probably not notice all of it in regular airline ops).

 

Airline Pilot life: I'd suggest you take your already purchased NGX and fly it from KMSP to KORD. Use any airline you like (or if you are a stickler for realism, I'd say check flight schedules (flightaware.com can search airports, aircraft and airline) out of KMSP to see who uses 737s out of there and try that out.) The next thing to determine is how real do you want to get. Cold and Dark at a gate or on the active with engines running? W&B is usually handled by the FMC so a random load works for any flight. I'd suggest PFPX only if you like airline ops.

 

Time commitment: I don't think you need a longer time commit. What's the time from KLAX to KSFO with a Cost Index of 65? Under two hours. I am in a similar situation as you are and I can squeeze in up to two hours. SFO to LAS? EWR to IAD? KIAH KAUS? KIAH KMSY? There are real flights with short flight times with the NG and larger. Please don't let the time commitment defeat you as you can most certainly fly commercial and live the virtual airline life.

 

Realism: A few posters mentioned "don't buy the 777". IMO, the time compression feature is made for folks like us who can't sit at the computer for that flight from KJFK to WSSS or KLAX YSSY. You can do KEWR to KSFO in an hour at 8x time compression. The rest of the time you can use for pre flight or post flight or neither! (If you like the immersion I'd also suggest GSX to replicate the ground environment and sounds.) I respect the simmers who do the Ultra Long Hauls in real time, but for me, I like maximizing my time and flying to places I either paid for or have never flown to  before. The 777 allows you to do those flights, and with time compression, allows you to do those flights at a substantially reduced time commitment.

 

Good luck and have fun regardless!

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I suppose I need to have a longer time set out to fly

 

Not necessarily. For the 737/738, check out Southwest's city pairs. Most are under or right around 2 hours. Also, many flights within the EU are about the same duration.

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Great thanks!

 

I did download GSX because I learned it works for free with FB or FSDT airports (of which I have many).  First try I parked my NG too far forward and the marshaller dude was waiving his hands frantically...  that probably means stop LOL - but part of me thought it meant keep coming forward hahaha.  

 

I might just keep it simple for now and avoid PPFPX or whatever it was or Topcat.  I don't really like to start C+D but I will power up the FMS and do all that calc stuff and maybe do the gate interaction stuff with GSX (pretty cool btw).

 

One question though: How do you guys know where to park?  Is there a map that says a typical parking spot for XYZ airline?

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A door.

 

I was thinking 'stairs' to myself the second I saw this topic on the main page!  :lol:  

 

That said, there's a ton of good info shared here; I'm going to add my thanks along with Ryan's, since I too am looking (again) at dipping my toes in a bit further with airline stuff. The recent release of the Airline2Sim Q400 tutorials have had me rolling the Q400 out of the hanger lately; I hadn't flown it for some time.  I also have the MV 732 as well - it makes for a good pairing with the Q400 since they both have the same(ish) FMS installed.

 

I occasionally look at perhaps purchasing the NGX, but I always keep finding other stuff to spend my money (and time!) on.

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One question though: How do you guys know where to park?  Is there a map that says a typical parking spot for XYZ airline?

 

Ryan, in the aircraft.cfg there is typically an entry for atc_parking_type which can be like GATE, RAMP or CARGO, and there is also frequently an entry for atc_parking_code, which is the ICAO airline designator, such as ual .  I'm sure you've seen them before when adding repaints.  So if you use default ATC, the airplane has the appropriate entries,  and the airport has the right designators associated with it, then you would be directed to taxi to a realistic parking spot.

 

In practice, this stuff is not always in there, so you might have to add them.  If not, and you don't feel like messing around with it all, obviously your best option is simply to refer to real world sources about where to park, and then just park there!  A good resource for tube guys is flightaware.com, because it will tell you all sorts of good things you can use to simulate your own flights, including gates.

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Ok good I basically just googled where the airlines are at airports.  Currently doing AAL from LAX to LAS on Pilot Edge.

 

Which brings me to another question.  What are the procedures for gate operations?  I'm at the departure airport, is my APU running while pushing back?  And do I start engines at that point or after PB?  What lighting do I need on at what stages?  These are all complex to me because in a GA like the Legacy or Duke I just turn on the beacon if the engine is on, and turn on strobes and LL when on active runway and that's about it.

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Which brings me to another question. What are the procedures for gate operations? I'm at the departure airport, is my APU running while pushing back? And do I start engines at that point or after PB? What lighting do I need on at what stages? These are all complex to me because in a GA like the Legacy or Duke I just turn on the beacon if the engine is on, and turn on strobes and LL when on active runway and that's about it.

Sounds like you are really getting into this!!! :-)

 

General info....

While at the gate you would normally be on external power and start your APU prior to pushback. Once you get clearance to "push and start' you would wait until the marshaler (sp) tell you that you are clear to start via ground comms.

 

RE lighting: NAV lights ON at gate when aircraft is 'alive'.... beacons ON prior to starting engines....taxi lights on prior to taxi...takeoff and strobes ON just prior to entering the active runway...and reverse all that for landing and taxiing to the gate :-)

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