Anxu00

What's the appeal(s) of Flying Heavy Airliners?

Recommended Posts

All,

May be you all can help me appreciate the various PMDG planes that I have: NGX, 777, MD-11, 747.  I am always an enthusiastic guy when in comes to these birds, however, these are highly procedural sims, and the pilot fly the systems rather than the planes, so aside from getting the planes air born and land, with some very long cruise time in between, what's the real interests?  I "flew" these birds a few time, and admire the developer work going into them.  However, these days I found them interesting as collector items and have not flown them that often.  Partly due to the long prep times required.  So what is it that you heavy fliers out there like about this type of sim?

Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Help AVSIM continue to serve you!
Please donate today!

It's an excellent question, but one which the answer will vary from person to person.

I don't fly general aviation aircraft in flight sim as it's not nearly as challenging as flying commercial aircraft, and doing so there are many more doors to walk through in our hobby.  Learn the systems, procedures, and how to fly the aircraft, then do this on VATSIM where navigation, flight planning and operational procedures add the complexity of operating the aircraft.  Then do all of that in Shared Cockpit.  Transition to other, dissimilar aircraft and the learning curve mostly starts over again.  Add complex, realistic weather to the mix and the operational procedures become even more challenging as you seek out and fly in adverse conditions.

Always another door to open, which makes our hobby unique!

 

 

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post

I'd say that the OP covered my feelings on the topic quite well. The complex commercial airliners are just one facet in the flight sim spectrum that includes:

1. Helicopters - great for VFR low and slow VFR sightseeing. My favorite  example is the Milviz UH-1. Rotorcraft are the "Bizarro Superman" of the flight sim world. Just when you think that you've figured them out, you realize that you haven't.

2. Light GA fixed gear single piston aircraft. Any of the A2A planes are great for VFR short distance cross country flying with a dash of IFR thrown in variety.

3. Twin turbine prop planes like the RealAir Turbine Duke. These aircraft are good for flights of a couple hours or a bit more in a variety of both IFR and VFR settings. They combine moderate prep time with moderate skill level. I find myself gravitating to this type of middle ground aircraft.

4. Regional jets such as the Aerosoft CRJ and the TFDi B717. With these aircraft, the prep time is higher and the systems are almost fully automated.

5. PMDG NGX, triple 7 and 747. They require a lot of prep work and attention to detail. Personally, I don't fly them that often either. But they are a good change of pace when I feel the need to nerd out a bit.

6. Lastly, there are the various miscellaneous aircraft which are quirky and specialized like the VRS Superbug and the Aerosoft Twotter. 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
33 minutes ago, Anxu00 said:

All,

May be you all can help me appreciate the various PMDG planes that I have: NGX, 777, MD-11, 747.  I am always an enthusiastic guy when in comes to these birds, however, these are highly procedural sims, and the pilot fly the systems rather than the planes, so aside from getting the planes air born and land, with some very long cruise time in between, what's the real interests?  I "flew" these birds a few time, and admire the developer work going into them.  However, these days I found them interesting as collector items and have not flown them that often.  Partly due to the long prep times required.  So what is it that you heavy fliers out there like about this type of sim?

Thanks

Yeah, they're highly procedural up to top of decent but, coming down can be a real challenge!  There are all kinds of things that can mess you up and you have to be on top of the airplane, be able to recognize the situations and correct them.  Most people hand fly them down the approach.

I completely agree with you on the prep time.  You get it down some with experience but it's an airliner so there is that.  It's nothing like cranking up a GA airplane, poking in a flightplan and taking off...which I love.

For me, I fly big-iron when I'm just wanting to do something different.  I mostly fly GA...just alone, high up in the sky, enjoying the trip and the views.

Share this post


Link to post

I think for many, it's the complexity and the need for something different.  I love all kinds of aircraft, probably too much as I often find myself buying far too many aircraft and not having enough time to explore them to their fullest ... it's as if I'm planning for retirement 10 years early :)

Reading the manuals can be very interesting ... making time to read the manuals is difficult, but the manuals offer so much more that one would miss entirely if not read.  I rarely do flights longer than about 3 hours unless I'm testing out something specific.  Typically aim for a 1 hour hop be it GA or Commercial ... but it's easy to fly just about anything, but flying it by the book/numbers is an entirely different reward system.

I'm a big fan of weather, nasty weather and manual landings/flight ... crosswinds, low visibility, turbulence, etc.  ... the most challenging is definitely the MJC Q400 "so far" but very rewarding when you get it right.

Cheers, Rob.

  • Upvote 5

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, DaveCT2003 said:

I don't fly general aviation aircraft in flight sim as it's not nearly as challenging as flying commercial aircraft

 

1 hour ago, Gregg_Seipp said:

It's nothing like cranking up a GA airplane, poking in a flightplan and taking off...which I love.

Well, actually if a simmer wants to keep things as close to real as possible, flying a GA becomes definitely more challenging than flying complex airliners. An airliner pilot receives a scheduled flight plan, flies above the weather for most of the trip, has a much more performing (and, in RL, reliable) aircraft, lands on ILS capable runways most of the time, and has a copilot.

On the other hand, a GA pilot has to create a flight plan on his own, is alone in the cockpit, flies in the weather almost all of the time, is more likely to crash if an engine fail, if he's taking off high or hot, or if he flies VFR into IMC. etc. etc.

Most of these aspects can be recreated in a flight sim as well. So the concept that simming in an airliner is more challenging that simming in a GA is a sort of skewed impression of us flight simmers. :-)

I'm pretty sure that an airliner pilot has a higher probability of having an accident when leisurely flying in a GA aircraft, than when flying in his heavy metal office.

 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
46 minutes ago, Rob Ainscough said:

often find myself buying far too many aircraft and not having enough time to explore them to their fullest ... it's as if I'm planning for retirement 10 years early :)

This, oh sooo this.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post

The appeal can come from a mission accomplished, gate to gate. With immersive add-ons and no outside distractions its like I'm there. Whether a 2 hour hop in the 737-700 NGX or a 16+ hour haul in the LR, one has to acquire the love or be born to it.....its not for everybody.  

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post

I guess for me it's really understanding the systems. Reason based on the physical facts, why certain things need to be done. I like understanding complex systems and an airliner is very complex. I will never fly 16+ hours or something like that. I'll do short flights even if they are not absolutely realistic in the 747, to understand how it handles. Also play with the amount of fuel and weight to understand the actions required based on the fuel configuration, and also sometimes train failures. Jobwise I'm a programmer, so the failure system is like fixing bugs in software. You see the outcome but the reason why something happens might not be obvious, and I love the challenge.

So really I love flying GA, but for playing with a system airliners are amazing, even if I might not use the long-range ones in entirely realistic scenarios.

Share this post


Link to post

Let's not overlook what this "addiction" is... it's flight simulation.  The most attractive part of this hobby is that the platforms [Prepar3d, FSX, XP-11, etc.] provide individuals (possessing a vast array of interests and capabilities) the ability to coexist in an integrated environment where they can enjoy whatever type and complexity aircraft they desire.  There is absolutely no right way or wrong way to enjoy this hobby.  We should consider ourselves fortunate that, whatever our inclination, the available platforms provide us the opportunity to "scratch the itch".

For me, simulating real-world commercial operations is where it is at.  I do like GA from time to time, but 80% of my hours are in tube liners.  It is truly remarkable how much enjoyment one can get from a PC -based simulator.  We've come a long way...

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post

I do both almost equally.  I prefer part 121 simulation though.  I don't personally think the prep takes much longer in an airliner than a GA though.  You still have to find a flight plan, check weather, and set up the plane.  Unless you are just taking off and flying aimlessly.  I can get the PMDG 737 in the air in about 20 minutes, which is almost as fast as I get the A2A Comanche up.  I pick a flight plan from Flightaware and run PFPX with the parameters I want and use it for fuel and other calculations.  Takes like 5 minutes.  Then open the sim, load a short state and program the FMC, push back, start, and fly.  I suppose you could spend a great deal more time planning and simulating procedures if you wanted.  The Dash-8 (Q400) takes a slightly bit longer just because the plane is more complex to set up.  Either way it's maybe 10 extra minutes of prep.  I load the boarding phase on the Q400.  In the A2A Comanche you still have the walk around, GPS setup, and other little things to get it going.  Not much faster IMO.  

I personally like the complexity of them, but in reality they aren't that complex IMO.  I don't do flights longer than 2 hours, 3 at the most.  It just takes too long.  My time of real enjoyment is takeoff and landing.  During cruise I monitor but also look at other things on my laptop.  I think they're both equally as challenging in their own way.  The GA is a simpler aircraft usually, but the actual flying phases are the same.  You just go slower into smaller airports. 

Share this post


Link to post

Fantasy life. Come on now, who among us has not been at an airport and not envyed those guys strutting by in their fine blue suits with those gold strips dripping with an air of self confidence ? On the sim that's who you are until the wife hollers for something.

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post

I buy all the heavies after months of waiting for them to be released and it gets the anxiety out of my system once I have them, but in most cases I never do a full flight with any of them. 

 

Share this post


Link to post

GA can take more prep than Commercial when you factor in weather elevation and limited route options.  Fuel planning for GA is critical, bad winds and you can’t  make your destination and have to navigate to alternates.  Commercial that’s much less of an issue.

GA has less redundancy and real possibility of having to navigate old school.

Both provide a level of interaction that can be as complex or as simple as one wants to make it. 

Cheers, Rob

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
2 minutes ago, Rob Ainscough said:

GA can take more prep than Commercial when you factor in weather elevation and limited route options.  Fuel planning for GA is critical, bad winds and you can’t  make your destination and have to navigate to alternates.  Commercial that’s much less of an issue.

GA has less redundancy and real possibility of having to navigate old school.

Both provide a level of interaction that can be as complex or as simple as one wants to make it. 

Cheers, Rob

Interesting thoughts on GA.  You are right about making a flight as complex or as simple as one wants it.  The complex Airliner is an interesting proposition.  In a sense, it's actually can be setup quickly as the system is highly reliable.  Then at the same time, if one wants to be as real as possible, the throwing in PPFX, Fs3Crew, weather and 45 mins later, your will to fly simply sometime vanished, as it's like having a full time job.  Although, my friend who has a two RV (RV-7 and RV-10) also told me that GA is also a lot of work, so he can only fly in the week-end and it's usually a whole day affair.  Luckily for him, he lives in Texas with plenty of good VFR condition.  Flying for real is exhilarating with all the physical feedback and the full surround visual.  In a Sim, all you have is the visual feedback, so in a sense, the airliner is actually more real.  I am still very much conflict and ambivalent about an airliner.  However, if I don't make it as realistic as it can, may be I can find enough to enjoy without thinking about PPFX, FS3Crew.  Of course flying on non existing real world routes can be heresy to some, and indeed I find myself asking what's exactly is this flight that I am doing.  However, the fuel cost is nothing and I can always walk away from a crash.  Perhaps overtime I will find the sweet spot.:laugh:

Share this post


Link to post
2 hours ago, Murmur said:

 

Well, actually if a simmer wants to keep things as close to real as possible, flying a GA becomes definitely more challenging than flying complex airliners. An airliner pilot receives a scheduled flight plan, flies above the weather for most of the trip, has a much more performing (and, in RL, reliable) aircraft, lands on ILS capable runways most of the time, and has a copilot.

On the other hand, a GA pilot has to create a flight plan on his own, is alone in the cockpit, flies in the weather almost all of the time, is more likely to crash if an engine fail, if he's taking off high or hot, or if he flies VFR into IMC. etc. etc.

Most of these aspects can be recreated in a flight sim as well. So the concept that simming in an airliner is more challenging that simming in a GA is a sort of skewed impression of us flight simmers. :-)

I'm pretty sure that an airliner pilot has a higher probability of having an accident when leisurely flying in a GA aircraft, than when flying in his heavy metal office.

 

Your last paragraph is terrible generalization.

I understand how you would think these things, but still....a terrible generalization.

I would argue thst they are safer than most leisure flying GA pilots. The experience they have managing the operation in the airliner day in and day out will manifest itself in the GA by making their decision making more conservative. They are used to thinking about how certain decision affect the operation as a whole. They also know how to think outside the immediate action of flying the airplane.

Long story short, they have a better idea of the big picture which I'm sure most leisure GA pilots don't have.

Same goes for the GA pilots who fly for a job....They are going to be safer than ones who don't.....mostly ;)

Share this post


Link to post

It is the cool factor period.  When I was kid, I was fascinated by all the buttons, screens and what not. And now in VR, I get that feeling like virtually I am inside the cockpit.  And too, flight sim creates the airplane fantasy for cheap and in an entertaining way. 

End of the day - it is fascination and curiosity on learning about these heavies virtually.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post

I think the fasination for flying the heavies vs GA is the fact most of us have flown on many of the heavies and few have flown on GA flights.  I know many like GA because that's what they have personally flown as a pilot or passenger and they would like to replicate the experiences and learn more.

Share this post


Link to post

Since moving to P3DV4, the only airliner I've bought is the NGX 737 (flown it alot). Been spending more time with the GA planes to get the feel back again of being in full control. I've compromised by almost exclusively flying the XP Lear 25 only using automation when at altitude for the cruise. Seems to make it more enjoyable for me.

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, ahsmatt7 said:

Your last paragraph is terrible generalization.

I understand how you would think these things, but still....a terrible generalization.

I would argue thst they are safer than most leisure flying GA pilots.

Of course it's a generalization. Statistics are a generalization by definition.

Maybe I did not explain myself properly, I never stated that an airliner pilot is less safe than a GA pilot, I just stated that an airliner pilot has (statistically) a bigger chance to be involved in an accident when he flies in a GA aircraft _compared_ to when he flies in his airliner, so statistically speaking I'd say GA ops are more challenging than airliner ops (in real life).

 

Share this post


Link to post
2 hours ago, Jim Young said:

I think the fasination for flying the heavies vs GA is the fact most of us have flown on many of the heavies and few have flown on GA flights.  I know many like GA because that's what they have personally flown as a pilot or passenger and they would like to replicate the experiences and learn more.

I'm sure that's a factor. It is for me, anyway.

I don't have a pilot's license, but I'm retired from a career as an editorial/advertising photographer that involved occasional aerial work -- everything from flying over South American jungles in light overhead GA planes with the door off, to shooting boat ads in South Florida from Jet Rangers with the door off. I had to learn enough about flying to understand what the various platforms could do, what to ask for, and what to avoid asking for. You learn to work closely with the pilot.

It's the most fun I've ever had with my clothes on, although there is always some stress in "getting the shot" when the client is footing the bill.

At my age I'll never do that again, or at least never get paid to do it again. But it's probably why I have a strong preference in flight sims for overhead wing bush planes, and helicopters. I can have fun flying and explore parts of the world I was never able to visit in person, from lower altitudes that I remember vividly from real life. And with a new challenge of flying in heavy weather, because you don't do aerial work unless the weather is perfect. Now I go looking for the heavy stuff to fly in.

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post

As I've probably said in the past, there it is very individual and it depends upon what gives you the most enjoyment.

If "flying" to you means 'poling' an aircraft around, then GA flying will probably give you more pleasure. It is a very different discipline to operating a modern airliner, which to me is much more of a thinking game: much less about heaving controls around and much more about planning, anticipation and strategy (although there are undoubtedly situations where manual handling dexterity is also essential!). The automatics are there to give you the space and capacity to think and to manage the flight; in the cruise there's potentially a lot to think about. Weather avoidance, fuel management, monitoring the progress of the flight, descent planning, systems management, contingency planning -- I was speaking to a long-haul pilot a while back who said that the most challenging aspect of the job is having the discipline to be constantly planning for the worst and to know what options might be available in the event of a catastrophic (or even a less catastrophic) failure at any given point in the flight, whilst knowing in the back of one's mind that in all likelihood all that thought and effort will never be put in to practice.

I tend to stick to one aircraft type at a time and learn it inside out, both in terms of systems and flying characteristics. Being able to put the aeroplane in exactly the place one wants it, to be able to consistently fly a CDA where the thrust levers are closed at FL350 and only come back up again at 1000R on the approach, to be constantly ahead of the aeroplane and what's happening next in a dynamic situation, perhaps with online ATC in a busy environment and a complex airfield, is not necessarily a manual handling challenge but it is a mental challenge, often equally as exhausting and no two situations are ever quite the same! The most satisfying flights I've done -- and the ones where the cruise has flashed by in a moment -- have been the ones where I've been really 'on top' of everything -- I've planned adequately and made good decisions at the pre-flight stage, during the flight I've always been ahead of the aircraft and been able to anticipate what's coming next and adapt the plan as necessary, and I've flown as accurately as I possibly could. I can whip up a plan, jump in and fly but I'm never quite that satisfied when I'm 'winging it'.

A long haul flight is like a strategy game: decisions you take early on, even in the pre-flight stage, can have a massive knock-on effect later in the flight. How much fuel do you load, bearing in mind you could be MTOW or indeed MLW restricted, and to arrive at your destination with an extra 20 minutes' worth of fuel might require you to load three times that initially as you will burn two thirds of it enroute just to lug the extra fuel halfway around the world. The forecast for your destination might be clear in the planning stage, but forecasts can change significantly over the course of 12 hours -- how confident are you in the met man's abilities and what will you do if halfway there you get a weather report and suddenly the visibility at your destination has dropped to 200 metres? Likewise with upper wind forecasts and enroute weather.

Having said all that, I run our training at BAV. The initial course is a VFR basic flying course in essentially the default C172; almost without exception the first thing all my trainees say after their first lesson is "I never realised there was so much more to this"! When you operate the aircraft according to the POH and best practice, throw in staying outside controlled airspace, navigating with map, compass and stopwatch, dodging clouds, scanning for traffic, dealing with ATC, keeping an eye out for a suitable field in case the engine stops, doing your enroute FREDA checks, applying proper circuit joining procedures, updating a navlog all whilst hand-flying the aeroplane the workload can be surprisingly high even at 90 KIAS!

I have to say that if I properly plan a VFR cross-country flight it takes me just as long - if not longer - than the planning and preparation for an airliner flight by the time I've researched the destination, got my chart, protractor and whizz wheel out, checked the weather, calculated the drift, ETE and fuel requirements for each leg and all the rest of it. The reward, of course, is arriving to see one's destination appear just off the nose after an hour and a half having calculated everything by hand!

As I say, it's a very individual thing - for me personally, regardless of the aircraft type to me flying -- simulated or real -- is as much, if not more, a mental exercise than a physical one. Anybody with a bit of practice can fling an aeroplane around the sky: to be a pilot, however, is a state of mind.

  • Upvote 4

Share this post


Link to post

In discussing my flight simming with a friend who is a real 777 pilot, I was surprised when he asked me if I trim the aircraft during flight.  I said I only trim for takeoff, and the aircraft auto pilot does all the trimming for me.  He then said that in his real cockpit, he hand flies the aircraft all the way up to Top of Climb, manually using power and trim, and only then does he connect the auto pilot.  He does the exact opposite upon reaching Top of Descent, including hand flying the approach.  I asked him why he does this.  He said his route is Los Angeles to Sydney Australia,  and because it is so long, he maxes out his allowable flying hours with only two round trips  per month.  How many of us simmers hand fly our departures and arrivals without use of the autopilot?  Doing that would make flying the tubes much more like a GA aircraft in immersion and satisfaction.

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
3 hours ago, Murmur said:

Of course it's a generalization. Statistics are a generalization by definition.

Maybe I did not explain myself properly, I never stated that an airliner pilot is less safe than a GA pilot, I just stated that an airliner pilot has (statistically) a bigger chance to be involved in an accident when he flies in a GA aircraft _compared_ to when he flies in his airliner, so statistically speaking I'd say GA ops are more challenging than airliner ops (in real life).

 

You know, I have seen several accident reports of high time airline pilots Lossing their lives in GA accidents sometimes even making rookie mistakes. I don't know if over confidence gets them or forgetting the limitations of the equipment. Perhaps just the law of averages.

 

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now