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Study level aircraft - what's your approach?

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(No pun intended)


A couple of questions for owners of study level aircraft like the PMDG NGX, Majestic Q400, Leonardo MD80, FSLabs Airbus etc...


  • How many do you have installed? Which ones?


  • Do you fly all of them regularly or prefer to conentrate on one for a while?


  • How do you approach "learning" a new study level aircraft or getting back up to speed on one you haven't flown for a while?


  • Which did you find easiest to master? Why?


  • Which is your favourite and why?


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Hi Holdit,


I have many study level aircraft and find I am like a jack of all trades, master of none. Most of my time however is in the PMDG NGX and this is the aircraft that I know the best. I am at a point where I have memorised most of the flows from C&D to shutdown.


When the FsLabs A320 is released I will remove all other aircraft from my sim and concentrate on it alone.


I would suggest the following:


Pick an aircraft that suits your type of flying first i.e. Short haul/Long haul


Pick an aircraft that has good video tutorials/training (payware if you can afford it, YouTube if you can't)

Angle of attack do the NGX and 777

Airline2sim do the Q400 and 777 and a320 in future


Learn the cockpit flows/checklists from C&D to shutdown so you become proficient at operating the aircraft in normal conditions and can conduct a flight from A to B as close to real world procedures as possible. (Very satisfying when you master it) this will get better with every flight so stick with it.


While in the cruise on each flight, read as much as possible about about your chosen aircraft so you know as much as possible about it.


That's how I will do it when they release the A320 for P3D




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I have PMDG 737 NGX and PMDG 777 as far as study level aircrafts are concerned (got 2 A2A birds too but they are far less complex IRL, so no need to bring them up).


As a first step I always spawn on default airport and look around the cockpit to see what do I know from other aircrafts and what I don't know, where is the radio and nav stack, where is the engine panel, APU switches and so on - just to have some general awareness. I usually spend around an hour looking around to familiarize myself with cockpit layout.


Next step are tutorials. Whatever manufacturer provided in his package. This allows me to understand how to fly the aircraft. With PMDG I did it in following way: 1. Fly tutorial flight from and to destination which it was designed for. 2. Fly tutorial flight again but change destinations to ones I'm familiarized with procedures wise (e.g. EPKT to EDDL which I fly frequently). This allows me to go out of the comfort zone of tutorial where I can't do everything exactly step by step, but systems wise I'm still being held by hand.


After completing this, I usually get myself a checklist and start to practice flows. Whenever I don't know where to find the button, switch or understand why am I switching it I start to use google.


After I feel comfortable enough to fly from one place to the other following normal checklist, I start to read rest of manuals supplied by manufacturer when in Cruise. I don't read them from beginning to the end (exception is 737 manuals, I read them all twice when on holiday :) ). I usually come up with some challenge and try to find answer there, e.g. "how to fly VOR approach" with this baby or "what is RNP". Usually I read about one subject per flight and try to memorize what I learned. With time, I got to know most of 737 systems and procedures enough to get myself FS2Crew and fly it more realistically (although decreasing the workload but increasing the immersion). To practice I try to fly one flight by myself with FS2Crew switched off - I usually do it once per quarter with some challenging approach to make sure I don't forget important stuff.


One thing I realized is the more complex and intimidating at first the aircraft is, the easier it is to fly it later when you learn new systems. E.g. - I didn't use FIX page in NGX FMC for 1 year. After I learned it I understood how powerful thing it is and how it can assist me in various situations.


After I feel comfortable with systems programming, I move on to manual flying. Currently I usually hand-fly 737 to 10k or from beginning of STAR manually, to increase workload and have more fun. But it took time to get there for sure.


Practice, practice and practice - I have almost 1 thousand hours on NGX and I would not exchange this time for anything else. But one thing is worth to mention - with study level sim you HAVE TO study. Only after that time I felt comfortable enough to turn service based failures on, print out QRH and wait what will happen :) (although lately I started to practice non-standard situations like engine fire on takeoff or cabin depressurization in flight to ensure I'll know what to do if it happens when I'm not so prepared.)

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PMDG 777, PMDG 737, Dash 8 Q400. Waiting for the release of FSL A320 for P3D so i can dedicate my whole attention to it.


Been waiting for too long for an Airbus, it just keeps growing on me.

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I've got quite a few fancy FS add-on aircraft (PMDG, FSL, SimfFlyers, Leonardo etc). Most of the Boeing ones were essentially a 'type familiarity' relatively simple learning curve, owing to the amount of Boeing stuff out there and knowledge of how they work. Some of the other stuff required a bit more study. Generally speaking, when that is the case, I'd do all the tutorials which came with the thing (reading the manuals eh? now there's a novel idea lol), then if I felt that there was more to master, I'd probably get the real thing's manuals or a sim-oriented book on the subject (a lot of Captain Mike Ray's books and PDFs are great for that).


They are all installed, but how I fly them is based upon what I'm up to in simland at the time. Generally speaking, I like things such as Air Hauler and FS Passengers to give me a reason to fly the things, so that often dictates which one I'll fly, since some are more practical than others for my virtual airline endeavours.

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How many do you have installed? Which ones?

Aerosoft Twin Otter Extended and Milviz B737-200 - That's it!  I've used the Aeroworx King Air X-Treme and Level-D B767 for FS2004 in the past.



Do you fly all of them regularly or prefer to conentrate on one for a while?

I stick to the one for a long time.


How do you approach "learning" a new study level aircraft or getting back up to speed on one you haven't flown for a while?

I just fly and focus on new subjects for each flight. That's the beauty of a simulator. I also have a lot of pilot friends that I use for reference. It doesn't hurt to have a copy of the real aircraft POH either! Good tutorials are indispensable. The ones "Yoda" made for the Aeroworx King Air are some of the best I've come across! 


Which is your favourite and why?

The Aerosoft Twin Otter. It has a truly remarkable interactive checklist that will help you learn the aircraft rather quickly. I can fly it anywhere, from bush strips to larger airports, in any climate, on skis or floats. Also love how icing is simulated. The only thing I miss is speed - so its only usable for very short flights.


But, my favorite has been released yet. I'd like a study level Gulfstream, Dash 7 or Dash 8 100/200-series. But I also can't wait to see the Milviz King Air 350i with steam gauges. 

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