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Tatave

Getting the most out of PMDG

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So, with the PMDG 747v3 around the corner, I started thinking: 

 

How do you get the most out of PMDG addons? I'm just wondering how everyone takes advantage of the extensive features put in place by PMDG. 

 

I usually fly short hops in the 777 and NGX, but I feel that, somehow, I'm not taking full advantage of what I could use, and that I'm barely scratching the surface of what each aircraft has to offer. 

 

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Set 20 failures per 10 hours of flying... let the fun begin.

 

Zipping around short hops is good practice for you to learn normal and non normal flying in the least amount of time.

 

The lax, sfo, las back to lax is an excellent triangle-like circuit to do.

 

Or stn, edi, dub back to stn for uk.

 

Or bne, syd, mel to adl for Aus.

 

Can always go vhhh to vhhx for something special.

 

Opportunities have never been so great for flight sim. 2017 will represent the beginning of a golden age.

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One of the things that I always do is to treat it exactly as a simulator. Most pilots will never face the failures or disasters for which they train in simulators, yet the purpose of the simulator training is to learn how to react in the unlikely event of a water landing.

 

So as Brian suggested above, program your plane for specific failures, get your manual out, study that procedure and learn how to handle the plane under pressure. That way, even if you do not actually encounter any kind of emergency, you have trained for it. On top of that, by training for different kinds of failures, you are also learning how to react to a failure.

 

By pushing the plane beyond the comfort of normal flight, you also learn exactly what they are capable of. Ever tried landing the 777 on one engine? Ever taxied it on just one engine? And those are just two the nicer things that can go wrong, try surprising yourself with a fire somewhere over the Arctic, that's fun. There is a world of learning opportunities present in these aircraft if you are willing to step outside of normal operations, and engage the different personalities of these planes.

 

It's a simulator, it will let you go as far as your imagination desires, and as far as you are willing to challenge yourself (think weather too).

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I think one of the best things that you can do is take it in segments. I've seen a number of people try to turn on the fire hose and drink from it, but that usually doesn't end well. Information overload sets in and they just get overwhelmed (understandably so - study-level sims are a lot to take in).

 

  • Start with the Tutorial. It'll give you a good baseline of "here's how a perfect flight goes without drowning you in too much detail.
  • Progress to another flight using the tutorial as a guide/template for a flight.
  • When you start doing longer legs, have a read through the Intro Manual while you're at cruise. There is a ton of information in there that will help you with a number of the "gotchas" that many people may get caught out by.

Once you're a little more familiar with the plane, start to change things up. I prefer to avoid breaking things, so most of my non-standard events tend to be situational:

  • ATC-related (a lot of people harp on VATSIM events for being disorganized, but I usually enjoy the chaos since I plan extra fuel for longer vectors, holding, ground stops, and so on - it takes you out of the standard LNAV/VNAV-the-whole-flight situation). You can also simulate crossing the NAT either during a VATSIM event, or just go through the motions on your own end (reset the XPDR to 2000, mentally walk through the position reports, request the altitude you want before crossing in case it's "too busy" to change while you're on the track, etc).
  • Simulating icing procedures (keeping the flaps up if there's "snow" on the ground, hitting the de-ice pad before you take off or minding the holdover time if you're simulating de-icing at the gate)
  • Repositioning flights
  • Cargo flights
  • Flights to airports where I know the weather is awful (and actually using your alternate if you don't see the field on approach)
  • Simulating the APU being deferred and having to use the start cart

 

Oddly enough, the biggest thing I think a lot of simmers miss out on...?

Visual, hand-flown approaches.

 

While most operators have an SOP that calls for having the ILS guidance up as an extra cue for your landing approach, ILS approaches (or instrument approaches in general) are actually relatively rare when compared to visuals (at least in the States). If you can see the field several miles away, get your eyes up and out, kick the AP off and try your hand at actually flying the plane. While you're doing that, try your hand at flying an entire SID, or at least up to about 10000. It'll keep your hand flying skills sharper and change things up a bit.

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Things I like to do SOMETIMES:

-If the temperature is too hot, I like to offload cargo while I'm doing pre-flight.

-Simulate with yourself a passenger offload. I'm always delayed by that in real life. During passenger boarding, start an offload, give the "ramp" a few minutes to find the baggage, and re upload the baggage cans.

Things I do ALL the time:

-Use real NOTAMS for the airports I'm flying to (Don't use closed runways, taxiways OR if I'm doing paciifc flights, get the NOTAMS from KZAK and get accurate PACOTS routes for my flight plan, do the same for NAT)

-Real world weather on  24/7/365.

-Service based failures. 

-Use SimBrief (a GREAT tool) to plan my flights, sometimes I use their High-alt map and plot my own flights based on weather, very accurate to real world. 

 

For Weather , if you use Active Sky or similar, use the following to plot and plan according to real world weather:

Use this for multiple resources - https://aviationweather.gov/iffdp/

TAFS - https://www.aviationweather.gov/taf?gis=off

Prognostic Charts - https://www.aviationweather.gov/progchart

 

For PIREPS I use this to get an idea:

http://aviationweather.gov/airep

 

For NOTAMS: 

https://pilotweb.nas.faa.gov/

 

If you have enough paper and ink, printing all of these documents , I would suggest printing so they are on-hand.

All that being said, Flight simulation on PC can be as realistic as you make it. 

It's as real as it gets!

Regards,

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Thanks very much to you all! Will definitely give all of this a go next time I fire up the sim! 

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in general) are actually relatively rare when compared to visuals (at least in the States). If you can see the field several miles away, get your eyes up and out, kick the AP off and try your hand at actually flying the plane. While you're doing that, try your hand at flying an entire SID, or at least up to about 10000. It'll keep your hand flying skills sharper and change things up a bit.

 

Yes, this!

Its a handfull I can tell you. Disable AP/AT(!)  an start with 500 ft, raise to 1000 ft and more.

Flying the approach and departure with hand also is a handfull.

No need for failures.

Do above until very good at it, THEN add in extra stuff.

 

Oh, and I believe most Greek airports are infact officially military airports (wich allow civilian)  and dont have ILS.

A great place to try it out there.. Kos, Rhodos, Corfu... etc.

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Why not join a Virtual Airline?

 

For me it's the best way, whithin a simulated environment, to be in touch of real world operations. Real routes, real destinations. I guarantee that you will put a lot of mileage (or hours) in those planes, and they will truly be paid off sooner than you can think of.

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One thing that I forgot to fully cover that Gabriel reminded me of is delays.

 

The FAA keeps a real time status of delay and other info in a tool called the OIS: https://www.fly.faa.gov/ois/

 

It shows you:

  • All national programs: Delays for a particular airport or segment of airspace (note the DA link at the far right - this basically tells you how many minutes of delay you'll take for your planned arrival time; you can simulate taking this delay at the gate, in the airport's "penalty box," or by using a slower speed in the air)
  • Ground stops: Aircraft hold at their departure airport to mitigate an issue at a destination airport (e.g. there are storms at IAH, so all aircraft bound for IAH cannot depart until the stop is lifted)
  • General delay info: Usually departure delay (DD), but could also show arrival delay (AD). AD is usually taken in speed restrictions, or holds when not part of a national program
  • Airport closures: Find another flight to fly, or, if airborne, go to your ALT
  • Deicing: Useful for knowing when to simulate going through those motions
  • Runway/Equip Info: Consult NOTAMs in the end, but this usually lists runway and ILS outages at major airports

If you want more info on all of this, I have an entire video on it on my YouTube channel (the channel name is just my actual name, and the video is called "Understanding Delay Info" or something like that).

 

There is also an International Status link on the left side of the OIS page. It's very basic, and only really takes care of major international events (volcanic eruptions, major international destination airport closures and so on).

 

 

 

If you're feeling like getting more into dispatch info, you can also try to route around airspace-based national programs. These will be given names instead of airport codes (usually something like "FCA253") and are basically lines drawn in space where - if you cross it - you will take a delay. These aren't so much to mitigate an issue at a specific airport. Rather, these are to mitigate issues in an entire area.

 

As an example, a huge line of storms is passing through the Midwest. Kansas City Center (ZKC - you can see the center codes if you click on "Tier Info") has started to vector people around the storms (or allow pilots to deviate around the storms on their own). This disrupts the smooth flow of traffic, and also increases pilot and controller workload. In order to mitigate that, they need to slow traffic down to ensure pilot and controller (mostly controller in this case) workload isn't too high. They do this with an FCA to delay traffic flying through the stormy area. Say your path from LAX to IAD passes through the north end of the FCA. You can actually route yourself further north to 'escape' the FCA and not take any delay. This may increase your route distance, but you may still get there ahead of when you would otherwise get there after taking potentially hours of delay trying to route through the flow constrained area (where 'FCA' comes from). This bit will really get your mind going about routing and contingency fuel values.

 

If the weather improves en route, then you could simulate getting a re-route back onto the route you would have originally flown. If the weather shifts, you could simulate re-routing further out of its path, while also re-evaluating how much that cuts into your contingency fuel.

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Crew addons like FS2Crew is almost a must for me because it gives you a small sense of crew management.

This may sound silly but I like to Google the place I fly to and learn a little about the airport and town or country. If you fly to say Tokyo, go to a Suzi bar that night. I know,  I know it's not the same and it sounds silly but kind of fun.  :smile: 

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One thing I do for fun, not just with PMDG, but the A2A/Realair GAs as well....look at the weather on Skyvector, find the worst weather....go there. It might be more practical in small planes and short trips, but I think you can look at aviationweather charts and get some good forecast weather. Work that in with your flight planning, so you are actually looking at the weather radar dodging thunderstorms.

 

Part of the fun of the sim is flying in situations that would be NO-GO in real life, just to see why you would decide that situation is NO-GO in the first place.

Cheers
TJ

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