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Airline2Sim Q400 First Officer Training Update + PMDG 777 Cadet Program *UPDATED Dec 15*

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Dec 2015 UPDATE****This information is now out of date, please go to page 3 of this thread for the update.***

 

So chaps, three months on from release it's time for an update.

 

I think it's safe to say now that the Q400 Cadet training has been a big success. We've won an Avsim Gold award, received overwhelmingly positive feedback and we're about to add Aerosoft, possibly the biggest flight simulation retailer in the world to our list of resellers. The Cadet training for the Q400 was in many ways the guinea pig product for both us as a company and for this concept, which was to try to make a training course that told a story and brought you along for the ride. Now we've done that, where do we go next?

 

Well, now I can fill in the gaps a little as to our plans for the next year and let you know what we're working on.

 

The next product will be the First Officer Training for the Q400, but this is taking longer to bring together than we had hoped. In the Cadet course as we taxi in from our first landing at Birmingham Airport, you may recall Josh and I having a brief conversation where he suggests that it's a lot easier to fly a real Q400 as you have two pilots to share the workload and that there are physical controls as opposed to having to make selections with a mouse. In his opinion, the one single thing that makes life tough inside FSX is the fact that even with a real rated Q400 pilot sitting over your shoulder you're effectively flying single pilot.

 

As we saw in the Cadet training, if you keep your eye on things and have nimble fingers it's just about manageable. Once we embarked on the F/O course, we pushed ourselves into the kind of flights where even trained crews in the real flight deck are working hard to earn their $$$.  For example, departing from a busy London Gatwick for a short positioning flight to Southampton, where a VOR approach in fairly rotten weather awaits. Then a flight from Southampton down to Jersey using the noise abatement procedure, where you'd depart in HDG SEL, before flicking to VOR mode to track the outbound VOR radial, before going to LNAV and a direct to an waypoint out in the channel. This is all happening as the gear is going up, along with the flaps, the bleeds, the autopilot coming in and the checklists being done in the right order. To do this single pilot and nail it all 100% is actually impossible as you simply don't have enough fingers to do it all when it needs to done. Trust us, we tried. A dozen times. Of course, you can cheat a bit by flying it in HDG SEL and manually track the VOR, or fly it in LNAV, or leave the bleeds off for a bit until you can look up, or leave the flaps or gear dangling out a bit later than you should but we will not charge you money for something that isn't the real deal. Our tagline is 'Real pilots teach you to fly' so if we can't do it the same way they do it in the real thing then we'll take our ball home. 

 

Let's take for example that VOR approach into Southampton; you could cheat and fly it with an RNAV overlay - or if the weather's alright you could just eyeball the PAPI from miles away to get yourself down the slope and turn it into a quasi-visual. The other option is to get yourself back to landing Vref with gear and flaps down 12 miles out and then just fly the vertical speed given on the chart for your given ground speed down to minimums, breaking off to line up at the last moment. But in the real world with fairly marginal weather a visual portion isn't really an option and with four aircraft behind you and two at the holding point burning fuel, reducing to 112 knots 12 miles out is also going to make you very unpopular with ATC. So you'll have to fly down the slope with your speed reducing as you configure and depending on whether you're a little high or low on the path you'll need to adjust your vertical speed to compensate. To do this, you really need someone else to read off the altitudes on the chart and prompt you for a higher or lower VS, along with doing all those distracting things like give you gear, flaps, run the checklist etc. 

 

So we're going to move a step further forward and we're going to use the (as yet Beta) shared cockpit feature of the Q400 to shoot the F/O course. There are some reasons behind this. Firstly and most importantly, by the time we've shot and edited this, we'll be nearer to (or even beyond) the release of the Pro version of Q400 with the shared cockpit, although I'm duty bound to say I know no more about the timescales for this than you do. But, we know it's coming and trust me - it will revolutionise the way you fly. All the really rewarding stuff that is very, very hard to do single pilot in an airliner, such as NDB approaches, VORs, CATII to minimums with a go around and high workload noise abatement procedures etc is so much easier when there's someone to allow you to concentrate on simply flying the aircraft. The other thing to point out is that this allows us actually show you how a real crew operates and how the workload is shared between them. In the Cadet training we strived for complete realism but ultimately the workload was still totally in one direction, which is not what happens in the real thing. For the first time ever, you'll not only hear a real Q400 pilot but you'll also see him actually demonstrating how the task of operating the aircraft is shared out in the flight deck. This is a ground breaker!  

 

But what if I don't buy the shared cockpit version or choose to fly alone, will learning how to do these kinds of approaches help me? 

 

We think so. Just because these things are hard doesn't mean we shouldn't strive to learn and understand how they work, even though they might be tricky to do. As I pointed out, you can 'cheat' a little by flying with an RNAV overlay on a lot of these tricky approaches (and we'll show you how to do this) and of course when you're flying with a glass of beer in your own house one weekend no-one is going to mind if you're a bit wobbly with getting it all done in the right order at the right time. We however are striving to show you something that is as near to 'the real thing' as it can be, which is why we have to nail it as Josh does every day in the real one. We want to show you how it's done and leave it up to you to decide how far you want to go with the realism at your end. You'll ultimately have the option to go the whole way and share a cockpit with someone else (we'll look at setting up an Airline2Sim shared cockpit flying club, with folks who have watched the training so you're all flying to the same SOPs) to do it the hard (and most rewarding way) or if you just want to kick back with a cold one in your hand on your own, punch it into LNAV and watch the autopilot do it all for you. That choice is yours but this IS the F/O training - the big boy pants have to go on at some point. 

 

Is the First Officer course all about the flying?

 

Actually no - we also go deeper into some of the systems and do a full walk around where we discover something that might make you think twice about sitting at the back of a Q400 the next time you travel on one! There's also a lot of emphasis on the mindset of the operating crew. We'll introduce you the concept of CRM, the management of 'threats' around each given sector and also you'll see a lot more detail about the actual day to day operation of the aircraft on the line. We'll get fogged in, have angry passengers, have passengers having heart attacks on us, shout at de-ice crews and have baggage loaders trying to kill us, as well as French ATC doing their best to ruin our day. All the while you'll see how Josh has been trained to deal with each situation as it arises, which I promise you'll find very interesting. Couple this with the fact that we'll now be operating completely realistically as a two man flight deck - we really are now in the realm of 'it doesn't get more realistic as this'.  

 

So how long?

 

In the words of a famous chap who frequents his own forum on here - when it's ready. We're punting for the end of the summer, but this is subject to change. Prices, run times etc to be confirmed but it'll be in pixel perfect HD again and there will be discounts for purchasers of the Cadet course. 

 

And after that?

 

We've already announced that the next aircraft we'll train for after that will be the Aerosoft Twin Otter. We already have a fantastic pilot on board for this, a Dublin native called Conor who flies for one of the two UK operators of the Twin Otter. I suspect once we bring it out you'll probably work out which. Thankfully our friends at Earth Simulations have already blessed us with an amazing airport scenery to fly in and out of and I'm hugely excited about it as it's a very different aircraft to the Q400 but comes with its own set of foibles and challenges. Timescale is back end of this year. It won't be a multi part course due to the fact that the routes are short and the aircraft is fairly simple so will simply be called 'Aerosoft Twin Otter Pilot Training' and will be co-branded as an Aerosoft product. 

 

And after THAT?

 

Airbus - Cadet, F/O and Captain with an A330 'differences' course later on. Again this will be an Aerosoft co-operation and we'll be using the as yet unreleased A319. We've had an inside track on some of the goodies in it and it'll be perfect for the Cadet course. We've got a couple of Airbus pilots but the guy we really want to use is a bit like an Airbus version of Josh - he's mildly geeky about the aircraft, has only been flying it for a couple of years so all the type rating stuff and wise words of the trainers is still in his head and he's also still hugely passionate about it. We've found that a lot of the old salts know it all, but long ago lost the passion to convey their knowledge of it. I can't give you much more detail yet as we're still putting it together but expect a multi-part course along the lines of the Q400 where we'll take you from 'what does this joystick thing do' to fully fledged Airbus pro over the length of the course, all done in our usual style over multiple real-time sectors with real-world scenarios and challenges. Timescale - umm, the Cadet course hopefully in time for Christmas, but as ever, it depends on many factors. We're also planning a German language version, details TBC.

 

And next year?

 

The Q400 Captain's course, where we'll let the aircraft try to kill us and we'll show you how to save the day, land it with an engine on fire, taxi in and score with the hottest FA in the cabin. Or maybe just the first bit.

 

Ah then - well that'd be telling. But what I can tell you is it'll hopefully involve this thing:

 

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There's lots to come - we'll keep you posted! 

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Your Cadet program sold me on all your future products, if I own the plane or not. Good thing is I own the Otter, and the AXE also....so I can't wait.

 

I love the courses. Keep them coming, and looking forward to the next Dash program.

Thanks for the update!

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Ben, great idea, I know a lot of people are looking forward to Q400 Pro & the shared cockpit facility, not least because when it all goes wrong you can blame the guy in the right hand seat   :lol: 

 

Would you expand a bit more on this   ".......we'll look at setting up an Airline2Sim shared cockpit flying club......."

 

I ask because a lot of fsx pilots, worldwide, already fly online with DigitalThemePark (DTP) using their two servers, one set to UTC & the other UTC-8 achieving daylight pretty much wherever you may want to fly. DTP also provide there own Teamspeak facility with dedicated channels for numerous flying clubs. It does seem to me that a future "Airline2Sim Flying Club" would fit nicely into the mix especially as the founder of DTP is a beta tester for the Majestic Q400.

 

Further information available if required

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I love *nearly* everything I've just read above, and have already earmarked a chunk of money to get the next Q400 course. The only thing I'm still hesitant about, as I've mentioned in other posts, is using the Aerosoft Airbus. I think its more than adequate for the first level of training, but if you want to go deeper into the systems later on then unless the A319 is a massive improvement on the A320 AXE then I suspect it's going to lack something. I'd much prefer to see you wait until the FSLabs bird is released and see how that compares (even if it takes a few more months to get it finished), as my reading suggests its going to be comparable in quality to the Q400. 

 

Either way, I'll be buying any and all future courses regardless. :)

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I love *nearly* everything I've just read above, and have already earmarked a chunk of money to get the next Q400 course. The only thing I'm still hesitant about, as I've mentioned in other posts, is using the Aerosoft Airbus. I think its more than adequate for the first level of training, but if you want to go deeper into the systems later on then unless the A319 is a massive improvement on the A320 AXE then I suspect it's going to lack something. I'd much prefer to see you wait until the FSLabs bird is released and see how that compares (even if it takes a few more months to get it finished), as my reading suggests its going to be comparable in quality to the Q400. 

 

Either way, I'll be buying any and all future courses regardless. :)

 

Hi Frosty. You make a valid point, and we're on the case. The A319 has some nice toys in it, certainly enough to get us up and running with the Airbus philosophy and as you say is more than capable of doing the job. After that, we've got a plan. Bear with us.  

Ben, great idea, I know a lot of people are looking forward to Q400 Pro & the shared cockpit facility, not least because when it all goes wrong you can blame the guy in the right hand seat   :lol: 

 

Would you expand a bit more on this   ".......we'll look at setting up an Airline2Sim shared cockpit flying club......."

 

I ask because a lot of fsx pilots, worldwide, already fly online with DigitalThemePark (DTP) using their two servers, one set to UTC & the other UTC-8 achieving daylight pretty much wherever you may want to fly. DTP also provide there own Teamspeak facility with dedicated channels for numerous flying clubs. It does seem to me that a future "Airline2Sim Flying Club" would fit nicely into the mix especially as the founder of DTP is a beta tester for the Majestic Q400.

 

Further information available if required

 

Biggles - this is just an idea in my head at the moment as I did a bit of shared cockpit flying with one of our team and we were all over the place with the workload as we had really no idea who does what!  As I said, the shared cockpit concept is mind-blowing but if you don't work to the same SOPs and are very clear about who's doing what when it will end in a lot of tears as unlike a real flight deck, you can't actually see what the other guy is doing until he's already done it. Clear communication and SOPs are the key to this, which is what we'll bring you in the F/O course.

 

As you say, this is a nice fit and definitely something to explore as we get closer.  

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I would be interesting in the FO course for the Q400 to include something on the use of FS2Crew as the first officer.  The reason is that for almost all of us working out a suitable shared cockpit flight is going to be tough and at least with FS2Crew you can fly in crew mode any time you like.

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All great news.  I've enjoyed the Cadet course, looking forward to the next.  Also looking forward with interest to the Twin Otter course!  Although I never feel quite as overwhelmed in the Twin Otter as I do in the Q400, it'll still be neat to see the run through of the proper procedures.

 

The Twin Otter is more than capable of biting you if you don't pay attention... I has a flight just the other day where I spent a bit too much time dealing with navigation on take-off, and not enough time paying attention to the engines.  I about jumped when the fire bells started ringing on both one and two!  I was over some pretty rugged country when it happened, but I had enough altitude that I was able to at least get to an even patch of highway to bring it in on! 

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Great news ben cant wait

Regards

Your friend who waited two months for the checklist

 

We got there in the end Faisal - we weren't to be beaten by the Saudi Post Office :)

 

I would be interesting in the FO course for the Q400 to include something on the use of FS2Crew as the first officer.  The reason is that for almost all of us working out a suitable shared cockpit flight is going to be tough and at least with FS2Crew you can fly in crew mode any time you like.

 

Good point Mark - we'll consider how we can make life easier for those who are flying solo. 

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We got there in the end Faisal - we weren't to be beaten by the Saudi Post Office :)

Hey ben i wrote my post on my phone so the emoji i added on it didn't seem to appear on the laptop . so sorry if my comment was a bit harsh its supposed to go like this : Your friend who waited two months for the checklist  :P (you know emojis can actually change the intention of the comment :lol: )

cheers

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The Q400 Captain's course, where we'll let the aircraft try to kill us and we'll show you how to save the day, land it with an engine on fire, taxi in and score with the hottest FA in the cabin. Or maybe just the first bit.

 

Sold.  Not that I need help or anything. Lol

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"It does seem to me that a future "Airline2Sim Flying Club" would fit nicely into the mix especially as the founder of DigitalThemePark DTP is a beta tester for the Majestic Q400"

 

Another thought is that having a common place for A2S Q400 cadets to gravitate towards, to fly together, talk to each other on line & feed of each others experiences etc would definitely be beneficial. I know, from experience, as I was stuck on an aspect of VNAV & a guy from Australia who I was flying the Birmingham to Guernsey leg with helped me out in no time at all.

 

As I said previously the founder of DTP has close links with the aircraft as you can see from this informative video, "Majestic Q400 Post Release Party" was hosted by DTP with speakers from Horizon Airlines

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5eJXY1WhwM

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Found the course entertaining and for a newbie on the Dash, it's a great introduction. I'm am a real world Dash 8 pilot and I was critical with this package. There are many variations with Airline specific operations, over all very well done, but for god sake, clear the bloody master warning and cautions as they come up, it drove me mad, every start and taxi the warnings and cautions were ignored. Also u may want to check that these are standard and expected for the particular phase of start etc. If their was a real issue and u miss the original caution or warning, with in a few seconds u will have multiple warnings or cautions and it will become very difficult to diagnose. Just something to maybe think about when ur filming the FO package. One more thing, please don't talk over the instructor, to much chatter adds to confusion and makes the operation look and sound very untidy. Well done, it's a good package, I will be interested to see how the next one turns out.

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Hi Mark, thanks for your kind words. Obviously this is the Cadet course and in that sense I was a rookie so we will look to make sure that details you mention such as cautions and alerts are taken care of in a timely manner in our future productions.

 

Regards

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Biggles, I'll update this thread tomorrow. There is news, but currently I'm on a train with limited wifi so bear with me until then.

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Okay... tomorrow is today.... Bring it on.... Can't wait to have the shared cockpit and some more A2S training.

 

BTW... Any chance of a 737NG training?

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Okay guys, here's the update on the Airbus course. I've no more news yet about the Q400. It's work in progress...

 

'We'd like to welcome on board Captain Bill Hagan as our trainer for the upcoming Aerosoft A320 family Cadet course. Bill saved over 400 lives whilst in command of a 747-400 from London to Nairobi in Dec 2000 when he wrestled with a crazed passenger who had invaded the flight deck, grabbing the controls. Woken from his crew rest by the wild ocillations of the aircraft, Bill entered the flight deck to find the passenger's hands locked onto the Captain's control column, fighting for control with the First Officer.

 

During the ensuing struggle, the aircraft - registration G-BNLM - lost over ten thousand feet in altitude, entered a stall twice and almost went inverted. Only Bill's quick thinking and the First Officer's efforts on the other control column saved the day. After retiring from BA, Bill flew the Airbus for easyJet for over ten years, retiring recently. With many thousands of hours in command, Bill is one of the most experienced pilots in Europe and is the perfect guy to teach us how to fly this technical marvel of an aircraft. 

 

The training will show how the A320 family is operated on high-frequency European routes, including demonstrations of ILS, VOR, RNAV and visual approaches at a variety of interesting and challenging destinations such as Nice Cote D'Azur, Salzburg, Geneva, Glasgow, Jersey and Belfast with realistic scenarios and ATC communication. Initital base training at Cardiff Airport, Wales, including a demonstration of late go-arounds and touch and goes in a variety of different landing configs will be included, along with an in depth tour of all the major and minor flight deck controls and systems, including the various Airbus laws. There will also be an interesting intro video featuring Bill talking about his long career flying jets, including the BAC Trident 3, the Boeing 757 and 767, the 747-400, 737-300 and finally the Airbus A319 and A320. There will also be an in-sim recreation of the Nairobi 747-400 incident, with Bill explaining how close that particular flight came to being one of the worst passenger aircraft accidents in history. Release is expected early 2015.'

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any news on the Aurasim stuff by any chance?

Not much to tell you on this. We won't be developing the 777 EFB any further as there is another one out there. The Q400 EFB will remain free for the time being. We will have to put a small registration fee in place at some point as we paid a not insginficant sum to Aurasim to take it over and we cannot absorb that indefinitely. We're only talking a few dollars a year, however.

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Any news on the Q400 FO training? :-)

It's in progress. I'll have some preview stuff to show you soon.

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