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Majestic Q400 vs. PMDG 737NGX (Which easier to master)

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I am not a pilot, but have mainly flown GA planes like the Carenado and RealAir.  I recently bought the Just Flight A320 which I have enjoyed, but would like something more challenging.

 

My general question is which plane would have an easier learning curve: the Majestic Q400 or the PMDG 737 NGX.  I know these planes are like comparing apples and oranges, but they seem to be the ones that interest me the most.  Any other suggestions would be appreciated.

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First - they are both AMAZING sim planes. 

 

I go back and forth on them so I would recommend both. Very different experiences. 

 

I would say the PMDG is a little easier to master, as it is more automated. The Dash 8 has no auto-throttle and no auto land capability. You can literally let the NGX fly itself. 

 

At the moment I am flying the Q400 most. Using Horizon timetables and am hitting the arrivals wishing minutes of the real-life times. 

 

Buy both! But, if only one... I would go Q400 today. Just a little more to do... a quirky FMS... more hand flying. 

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This is a tough choice. Both of them are great, but I think I love Q400 more. It keeps me more busy and it is more challenging, but not exactly in the sense that you need to learn lots of new stuff.

 

If you are flying GA planes, and if you are familar with twin turbo prop planes, this is just a larger, little more complex version. So, many things would seem very straight forward to you.

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PMDG 737. As an owner of both, I do enjoy both aircraft and they have served me well. But I think the style of the NGX is a lot more "natural" if that makes any sense. And because It's a jet you don't have to learn anything prop related like the feathering, but that's just my opinion. The truth is, it all depends on whether your willing to read the manuals or not. Both aircraft are very similar in complexity, and if you get good at them then you can start them up and get going really quickly.

 

But, in your case it depends. I learned the NGX first, so when I went to the dash 8 and the whole dang plane seemed so "alien" to me but if you start out with the dash 8, you will think that that's the norm and the 737 is "alien." But both could take around the same time to learn or master, since as I've said above both have very comprehensive learning curves. I don't know though, the NGX has around 3,000 pages of manuals, and the majestic dash 8 is not really close to that, but still equally detailed. And it depends on the type of aircraft and preference as well. The two are very different types of airplanes, so that will need to come into account.

 

May I suggest to you the feelthere ERJ/E-jets? Those are aircraft that really aren't as hard to learn as the NGX, but are extremely realistic in terms of how close they are to their real world counter parts. The fms is a little different, but I would say it's a great transition aircraft because the just flight a320 up to the NGX is an extremely large jump in realism. But I've had a lot of fun with the E-Jets, they are simple, yet complex at the same time. 

 

Here's the thing. I can't relate that closely to you, because the NGX was the first addon I've gotten, which was about a week after I bought FSX so immediately I jumped into the deep end. Now I've pretty much mastered it after having it for about a year, but I'm still learning ;-) These aren't the only realistic aircraft out there though, so with that in mind you might check out the LDS 767, or the leonardo maddog md80. If you liked the just flight airbus, I would go with the AXE or the wilco one, which is actually pretty complex, but could be used as a transition aircraft. 

 

Anyways, best of luck to which ever you choose! I prefer youtube videos as opposed to the manuals for the quickest ways to learn about the aircraft, but still look into them.

 

Best regards

 

taneb

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I agree with the other answers here. Both are amazing planes, but I think the 737 is a little less intimidating. The Q400 has a much more hands-on approach, you are kept constantly busy throughout the flight. The 737 is more automated, with a less steep learning curve, in my opinion. But I have both, and I think you should do the same ;)

 

Cheers!

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I have the PMDG 737, but not the Q400. I found the 737 very easy to fly. I have had it for about 2 years now....The hardest part is probably the learning how to use the FMC/CDU, but after a few flights you get used to it. I heard the Q400's FMC is really hard to use, mind you I have no personal experience...... I'm guessing a Q400 pilot would find the 737 FMC Hard to master as well! 2 different concepts I guess.

 

Turn on the autopilot and the autothrottle on the 737, and it will practically fly itself all the way onto the ground. So if you like to hand-fly aircraft, like Haskell said, I would say the Q400 is probably a better choice. Hopefully I could help!!

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If you want 'more challenging' go with the Q400.  If you want 'easier learning curve' go with the 737.  Not only is the 737 highly automated, but PMDG makes it possible to enter the fuel and pax load and do a few other things straight from the FMC.  With the Q400 you have to enter your fuel and pax load with an external application and transfer to the sim at runtime.  The 737 allows you to import flight plans created from other applications whereas you must enter the flight plan manually with the Q400.

 

As others have mentioned, the 737 is automated to the point that once you kick on the autopilot there's not much you have to do thereafter. The 737 will hold your hand all the way to touchdown if you want it to. Not so with the Q400.  It is only automated only to the point that it's not completely overwhelming, which in my opinion makes it more fun to fly. Landings, particularly in bad weather or short runways, are a real challenge in the Q400.

 

I bought the 737 first and I think getting an understanding of its FMC helped me make the transition to the Q400's (which is the less intuitive of the two in my opinion).  Overall, my personal favorite is the Q400 but both are excellent simulations and you won't be disappointed either way.

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Both are must haves for anyone interested in airliners. But if you’re starting with little knowledge of either, the Q400 is going to have speeds closer to what you’re probably used to. Also the FMC isn’t as much of a requirement in the Q400 you just need to be aware of your AC weight for V speeds.

 

As others have pointed out the Q400 has no autothrottle, so there’s a little more work there, but in most cases you’ll leave the power in the takeoff detent until TOD.

 

Another thing to keep in mind is that if you ever plan to move to P3D you would need to purchase a new license to use the PMDG 737, but the Majestic Q400 license is good for both.

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Thanks all for the wonderful replies.  I am leaning towards the 737, although will take a close look at the feelthere ERJ/E jets also.

 

Also considering the Qualitywings 146.  Is anyone familiar with that one?

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I have and love the QW146.   Not quite as complex as the PMDG NGX, which I also own, but it has plenty to learn to get it up and running.  It is a little buggy compared to most of the other planes that have been mentioned in this thread.  Most issues have workarounds, but it can be maddening trying to learn it when some things really don't behave like the manuals or forum posts from admns say they do.   But it is a really great package for the money, and a blast to fly.  

One other fantastic and complex plane is the Coolsky DC-9.   No FMC at all, only 2 NAV radios and an ADF!   But it is gorgeous, flies beautifully, and has loads of features like a navigation tutorial function to help you learn VOR and Airway navigation, and a really cool failure simulator.   Excellent software!

I was afraid of the NGX when it first came out, and that was silly.  Once I got it, I was surprised at how easy it was to get up and running. 

I don't own the Q400, but I am going to get it for Christmas! 

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One not mentioned here is the Aerosoft Airbuses. They are complex aircraft, but you can have the help of a copilot who can take as much or as little of the tasks as you want. This way you can gradually take over as you learn to fly it.

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Thanks all for the wonderful replies.  I am leaning towards the 737, although will take a close look at the feelthere ERJ/E jets also.

 

Also considering the Qualitywings 146.  Is anyone familiar with that one?

 

Go for the NGX. It is less complex than the Q400 and it takes less time to set up a flight. Some things take considerably more time in the Q400 like setting up the FMS (no possibility to upload routes planned in a flightplanner into the FMS), looking up V speeds, etc. Once you learn how to fly the NGX it gives you the optimal trade-off between complexity and time from stand to take-off. And it never gets boring. That's a problem with the less complex add-ons like, for example, the Aerosoft Airbus (which I also own and like very much). The less complex ones get boring because you just have less complexity to discover.

 

And if you can afford it, then also get the Q400. It is a wonderful aircraft as well and it will give you additional choices because you can fly to/from smaller airfields...

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Also consider the PMDG J41, it's a handful but tons of fun.

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I have over the years flown the PMDG 737 FS2004 and FSX versions and the JS41extensively.  I also have the Dash 8 and perhaps to my own shame I never rewally got to grips with it until I went back to the 737, which I now fly exclusively.  

 

No doubt turboprops are instrinsically more difficult due to the absence of autothrottle, the need to manage propellor pitch etc and some people like that but there is something about the 737 that makes it feel right.  There's nothing stopping you flying your approaches manually of course and I do do that when the weather isn't too challenging!

 

All three of these planes have FS2Crew available for them, which gives you a co-pilot who will take on a big (and realistic) part of the button pressing to leave you to fly the thing according to the correct SOP's.  I am an advocate of FS2Crew products not because I have any interest in them but because they are so good.  Have a look at those, which may help you with the learning curve.

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Speaking of turboprops without autothrottle, 737's are not supposed to be landed with autothrottle on unless you're doing an autoland, and the generic procedure is AP-on, AT-on and AP-off, AT-off except for takeoff TO/GA, as far as I remember. That's part of the difference negated.

 

And, of course, both are neat planes! Also Q400's VC is surprisingly fast while being this detailed with so much glass footprint, probably the fastest in its class out there.

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I agree with most of the points already made. In order of difficulty for the key addons mentioned I'd say (1 being the easiest):

 

1) Aerosoft A320 Extended

2) Quality Wings Avro RJ (BAe 146)

3) PMDG Boeing 737 NGX

4) Majestic Dash 8 Q400

5) PMDG BAe Jetstream 41

 

All those aircraft are perfectly manageable providing you spend some time reading. Most include a tutorial flight with walkthrough guide, and completing those will quickly give you a good grasp of the basics.

 

I'd take the props over the jets as there's more to do and thus keep you entertained because modern jetliners are essentially "set and forget" above 3000 ft; some people enjoy this high level of automation but I don't want to be a spectator or manager, I want to be involved hands-on! I also prefer short sectors between 40 and 90 minutes, which suits the props better.

 

All the FMS have a similar level of difficulty, although the Q400's UNS-1 goes about things in a slightly different way to the others. The 737 and A320 have performance and vertical navigation capabilities that aren't on the props though.

 

The lack of autothrottle is not the hindrance some folks will have you believe; the Q400 and Avro RJ have FADEC so you push the throttles to the "RATING" detent and then engine power is adjusted for you based on phase of flight. Normally you only fine tune the throttles when levelling off or leaving the level, the autopilot's IAS and VS hold modes do the rest until approach.

 

Autoland is another thing some folks just can't do with out; it IS cool but the novelty soon wears off and then it's just taking away the fun of landing. In reality, autoland is a rarity and only used in very poor visibility or for practise, 95% of landings are hand flown.

 

If cost is a concern the PMDG NGX is the most expensive, especially if you're planning to move across to P3D or you want to fly the smaller -600 and -700 since these are charged in addition. QualityWings probably give you most for your money, and everything else falls somewhere in between. I believe the props give you the best overall value for money though.

 

FS2Crew is a superb addon but I recommend you learn fly the aircraft on your own first, because FS2Crew has a steep learning curve itself.

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Thank everyone for your informative and very complete answers.  Also a special thanks to the folks who wrote the longer responses.  I know this took some time and thought.  What we have is some very useful info (I think) for non-pilots like me.

 

I have come up with a game plan.  I first will buy FS Commander to master creating flight plans, and to understanding SIDS, STARS, Air Routes, etc, etc.

Then I think I will buy and master the Aerosoft Airbus.  Once I get proficient with that, it will be the 737 NGX.

 

Happy Flying, PDX

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1) Aerosoft A320 Extended

2) Quality Wings Avro RJ (BAe 146)

3) PMDG Boeing 737 NGX

4) Majestic Dash 8 Q400

5) PMDG BAe Jetstream 41

 

 

 

That's a really helpful list, thanks.

 

Where would you put the Quality Wings 757? Simpler than the Airbus?

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I would be biased as we've not made a training course for the NG yet, but I love the Dash 8 and Majestic have done an absolutely amazing job. We've just finished editing our 15th hour of training videos for it and there's still a ton of stuff remaining that we haven't even mentioned yet. 

 

It's a proper pilot's aircraft that makes you work for your lunch. Yes it has a glass cockpit and all the bells and whistles but those big powerful engines can get you into trouble (as well as out of it, thankfully) but the FMS, the autopilot and the sheer lunacy of its many design flaws, all of which Majestic captured beautifully will do their best to ruin your day.  

 

And of course, the biggest Q400 gotcha of them all....

 

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That's a really helpful list, thanks. Where would you put the Quality Wings 757? Simpler than the Airbus?

Yes, the QW757 is probably the simplest of them all. But it's missing some features such as climb VNAV and it's a bit dated now (both the sim model and reality).

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Yes, the QW757 is probably the simplest of them all. But it's missing some features such as climb VNAV and it's a bit dated now (both the sim model and reality).

 

I already have the 757, Airbus, 146 and Q400 but still fly mainly GA, but have been thinking about making the transition. It's interesting that you've put the J41 at the top of the complexity list, because I was considering buying it - I would never have imagined it (or the Q400 for that matter) would be more complex than the PMDG 737.  A least I know the best order in which to attack them all now. I'll kick off with the 757 to ease myself in...

 

Thanks again.

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...interesting that you've put the J41 at the top of the complexity list... I would never have imagined it (or the Q400 for that matter) would be more complex than the PMDG 737.

 

Turboprops are almost always more complicated than jets because you have to manage the propellers, they are more prone to icing and are typically less automated older designs. Makes them the most fun though, with the challenge comes reward!

 

PMDG J41 systems are fairly straight forward (probably more so than a 737, as the J41 is newer and simpler). The complex bit is having to completely rethink how you understand engines because if you try and operate it like a piston or jet aircraft then two simultaneous engines fires are very likely; this frustrates many people who couldn't be bothered to do the tutorial, so they end up abandoning it! Once a few hours have been spent mastering the engines, it's no more complicated than anything else.

 

The PMDG J41 is my all time favourite FSX addon (and you can feel all smug knowing many simmers can't handle it properly :P)

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Turboprops are almost always more complicated than jets because you have to manage the propellers, they are more prone to icing and are typically less automated older designs. Makes them the most fun though, with the challenge comes reward!

 

PMDG J41 systems are fairly straight forward (probably more so than a 737, as the J41 is newer and simpler). The complex bit is having to completely rethink how you understand engines because if you try and operate it like a piston or jet aircraft then two simultaneous engines fires are very likely; this frustrates many people who couldn't be bothered to do the tutorial, so they end up abandoning it! Once a few hours have been spent mastering the engines, it's no more complicated than anything else.

 

The PMDG J41 is my all time favourite FSX addon (and you can feel all smug knowing many simmers can't handle it properly :P)

 

Tempting...heh, heh. Just one more...where would you put the Leonardo Maddog on that list? I picked it up on sale price recently - couldn't resist. I know, I know...

 

(Apologies to the OP for the thread-hijack.)

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I've no first hand experience of the MD80 or its derivatives, however the cockpit looks broadly similar to a 737 Classic, so it's probably a bit harder than the 737 NGX (so between 3 and 4 in me list). I'm aware the MD80 has a few quirks you need to watch out for.

 

The Leonardo Maddog has always had a good reputation for realism and systems depth but it's rather dated and thus lacking graphically.

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