So you would like to fly a Boeing 737?
Yep, I just bought the PMDG model for FSX and I’m thinking about going to the YouTube Channel and learning how to fly it. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but, I seriously doubt you will learn how to fly a 737NGX from watching YouTube videos.
Not that it is a total waste of time for it is not. There are some excellent tutorials to be found on YouTube. The difficulty lies in finding the good ones. It is more like wading through the mountains of trash to find that gem or two. When you do find that special one, it is most likely less than 10 minutes long and either very general or extremely specific. Unfortunately, the author will most likely sound like a 12 year old using English as a 3rd language.
You might find several to show you how to fly from London to Perth in less than 10 minutes, or you may find the 2nd of 5 ten minute segments on how to program the FMC from startup to ready for taxi.
I will be the first to acknowledge this is no easy task. No matter what someone’s cousin’s brother-in-law that dropped out of flight school has to say about it. Of course, you can always follow along with the printed tutorial that saved a few pdf pages, (why do they do that?) by not including the screenshots or forgetting to add page numbers and then when you get to page 198 you find out it is part one of part two and there is no set date for release for the 2nd leg. To add insult to injury, it starts with the engines running and sitting on the runway ready for takeoff.
Or you could enroll in the Angle of Attack professional level training that is specifically written and presented for the PMDG 737NGX for FSX. That is what I did. Way back when it was just a vision spinning around in Chris Palmer’s head. Well, maybe a little more than a vision as Chris had the PMDG 747 and PMDG MD-11 training on the shelves already. But not too long after hearing about Nick Collett and his now famous 15 minute walk-around or 1 hour cockpit thoughts video.
Let’s see, that was early September, 2011. The PMDG 737NGX hit the streets, or more accurately the download servers, a month and a half earlier. I spent most of August attempting to write an introductory flight tutorial from Copenhagen to Oslo.
I was going to do this because I felt there was nothing out there to help the first time users get it up and flying. If I remember correctly, the included tutorial totally avoided the startup sequence and the one leg flight was full autopilot with auto land and no follow on tutorial for the rest of the year. Bummer.
fter about 3 weeks of concentrated effort, I was almost to my first checkpoint, thinking this sure is a lot of work. I wish there was some organized training available for us flight simmers.
That email from http://www.flyaoamedia.com/pmdg-737-ngx-training announcing the PMDG 737 flight training was a welcome sight. I just knew they had a winner from day one. What I didn’t know was that it would be so unbelievably detailed and such near real world level training and that it would take sooooo long.
There is probably no correct timeline or totally proper level of training for this type of FSX add-on that will make everyone happy. If it is rushed to market, then something has to be left out of the curriculum and customers will be screaming for more. If every conceivable bit, piece, system, and procedure is included and made available in HD video with companion flow charts, checklists and guides then it will take a year or more.
A few of the early adopters gave up and are very verbal about their experience, while others managed to hang in there and support the team and are already well-versed Captains with logged flight time under their belt.
There is no doubt in my mind that the AOA Flight Training Program has already elevated the proficiency level of flight simmers that chose to fly the PMDG 737NGX to near the absolute limit. I would venture to name Angle of Attack as the Flight Safety International of desktop flight simulation training.
Those new customers that are just now joining the ranks will be the beneficiaries of a well thought out and professionally presented training program. Even though the early ones may have gotten a discount on the price, there are enough different packages and trial periods available that practically anyone and everyone should be able to find something of interest.
I like the seasonal sales like the one for Black Friday weekend. Those that pressed the
AOA likes to survey the customers so they can fine tune the finished product to be as close to what is expected as possible. If you don’t tell the cook the soup is too salty how is he to know? I love it when someone asks my opinion and then uses the information for something useful.
It appears to me that the time consuming part of building the training program is behind us now and eight more flights are in-work or being planned for fairly quick delivery. The inaugural flight was a short hop from Gatwick to Rotterdam. The full list of flights is as follows:
- Gatwick to Rotterdam (EGKK – EHRD)
- Rotterdam to Innsbruck
- Innsbruck to Nice
- Nice to Madeira
- Buffalo to Dulles, Diversion to La Guardia
- La Guardia to Dulles
- Dulles to Ft. Lauderdale
- Ft. Lauderdale to Phoenix
- Phoenix to Las Vegas
We will continue to log valuable left seat PIC time and see some realistic flights unfold as we gain flight proficiency.
When I started flying in FSX in August 2009, an add-on at the level of the PMDG 737NGX was just a rumor and the quality of training available today was not even thought possible at that time. We really do not need to discuss how complex, how perfect, maybe even how impeccable this particular aircraft has been replicated by PMDG. The bottom line is this is the one – the flight simmer’s dream airliner. I really don’t think you could ask for more in an add-on.
Yes, there are variations that are yet to be delivered and they too are expected to have even more improvements. The one I am most interested in is the military variant – the Navy P-8A Poseidon. I know many others are eagerly awaiting the BBJ Business Jet variation. Another large group is chomping at the bit for the big brother, the 777, to arrive later this year but that is a whole ‘nuther' story.
As far as which airlines, which country of registration, what particular colors or paint scheme is available, they are all available or nearly so. This has to be the most painted or repainted airplane in the history of flight simulation. A quick search of our Avsim library reveals 166 entries. Many of these have multiple choices and several others are misfiled or mislabeled. I even got into the fray by contributing a U.S. Coast Guard scheme, a Navy C-40 look alike and the fictitious JetBlue selections.
Many of these artists will paint to order or nearly so. A few are truly talented and spend an enormous amount of time dressing up the NGX so the exterior paint scheme for a particular airline is as realistic as the flight dynamics and systems.
Flyaoamedia has their own special repaint. This is the company colors as such and is a variation of the sister ships at AOA.
Starting off with just Chris and Nick working around the clock, a full international team has been added over time. I think the manpower at the peak of GroundWork Training was almost an even dozen.
They now use color coded storyboards and use terms like Asset Criteria when designing a segment of training. This is basically the script, broken up into color coordinated parts, those parts representing whether it's an animation, FSX footage, or text; how many and how they relate to the subject matter. These are pretty impressive documents that really go to show just how much goes into what they do, and how much coordination is required.
Speaking of coordination, the team has guys in the United Kingdom, Romania, Chile, Michigan, Georgia, Colorado, Utah, Canada, Singapore and Alaska. I would guess just the time zones would make for some complications.
Any given conversation will include words like flows, checklists, voiceovers, animations, illustrations, panning, zooming, highlighting, videos, rendering, pdf files, kneeboards, uploading, downloading. Practically every unit has a Lesson Introduction, General Overview and Summary with the middle being all the technical details of the subject matter.
I would like to do a little recap showing how the 737NGX training evolved and illustrate a few of the details. Just to demonstrate the level of detail of these HD video lessons that come in streaming Full HD and Downloadable 720P and Mobile formats. That means you get your training any way you want it. You can watch the training video online, or download the 720P and watch full screen on your desktop or send the Mobile version to your iPad or tablet for watching anyplace, anytime. The Flightwork Preview video is a compilation of the necessary steps for the first flight. The 5 ½ hours of video breaks down like this:
- Preflight Paperwork/Dispatch 1:10:00
- Arriving at the Aircraft 0:10:00
- Originator Setup 0:12:00
- Walk Around 0:27:00
- FMC Programming 0:31:00
- Flight Deck Preparation 0:54:00
- Before Start 0:09:00
Engine Start & Pushback 0:12:00
- Takeoff & Climb 0:15:00
- Cruise 0:08:00
- Descent 0:15:00
- Approach & Landing 0:06:00
- Taxi to Gate/Parking 0:10:00
- Shutdown 0:05:00
- Debrief 0:10:00
Not long after the website got organized a ‘dashboard’ was setup for users to select which training they we logging on to view. I have no idea about the number of customers but the interest is quite high as there are 9,794 members of the 737NGX AOA forum.
The Get Started box was the gateway to the Training Updates, the GroundWork Study Guide, downloadable special AOA repaint used throughout the training, EZCA camera setup and such.
The GroundWork where you find most of the depth of the details starts off with a video walkthrough of the Members Area. Kind of like an open house for the share holders, without the d’oeuvres and finger food.
I looked back through my email and see the Emergency Equipment section was released on October 14, 2011. Two weeks later we had Fire Protection, quickly followed by Ice and Rain Protection. Seems like Lighting was also very early on. I remember a break for a few months, and then a big video about Hydraulics was released.
This is about the time we started getting encouraging announcements about the upcoming FlightWork. In early April, Chris announced the 4 flights in Europe and the 5 flights in the U.S. Although his comments were filled with cautions about the amount of work left to be done he stated:
“Throughout FlightWork, we’ll be teaching you most everything there is to know about flight operations. At first we’ll be slow and methodical to make sure we get every step covered. Eventually we’ll start speeding up the process to reach a flight crew’s real pace.
One of the major challenges is managing an aircraft meant for two, with just one; you. This is something we’ll take into account at every single step of the training, making sure that you can stay ahead of the aircraft at all times, and not be chasing making mistakes by being behind.
With use of flows, checklists, real world procedures and so on, you can take the knowledge you gained from GroundWork and have an in depth grasp on the aircraft that no other flight simmer can attain. Really, we believe that. The knowledge shared here can’t simply be learned through manuals.
We also realize that although the above flights will offer us a wide variety of procedures to work with, they won’t be enough. Once you’re done with FlightWork, you’ll be able to move on to LineWork. There you will be at full speed, flying live on VATSIM or IVAO, handling traffic, real world weather, a tight airline schedule, and so on.
“As things stand now, I (your FlightWork instructor) am in the beginning stages of getting this training started. However, I have such a great start that I wanted to let you guys know that it won’t be long now.
We’re so encouraged by the progress of GroundWork that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and know that FlightWork is coming soon. If we start getting FlightWork sections done before GroundWork is completed, we’ll be releasing those before GroundWork is done”
As our friend Bill Womack put it: Yes! This is the section I've been waiting for more than the others. Not that there's anything wrong with learning the ins and outs of the systems, of course, but this is where the rubber... uh... leaves the road.
In early April, 2011, Primary Flight Controls and Secondary Flight Controls were available. Before the end of the month, we had Landing Gear & Brakes and Engines & APU. Early June brought us the Electrical session. A month later we had an early look at a spiffy new Groundwork Study Guide. A couple of weeks later, on July 19, 2012 the following was posted at the Members Only site.
It is Complete!
20 lessons, 9 hours, 27 minutes, 54 seconds
“Now, this isn't someone on screen talking like those YouTube videos you've seen. These are fully legit, professional videos. These hours, minutes and seconds are jam packed.
Over the past year we have worked tirelessly on this training. What our team has created is a video training course you cannot find anywhere else, and information that would take months to gather.
With our GroundWork package, we teach you all about the systems of the 737. Having an intimate and detailed knowledge about the aircraft systems allows you to be ahead, instead of behind, for increased safety and more efficient flight management.
Not only that, this is knowledge that not many people in the flight simulation community have. This is knowledge only the hardcore simmer or future 737 pilot desires to learn.”
The next day the final version of James Crowther’s GroundWork Study Guide was available for download. This is a very professionally prepared and useful document. This is a 21 section Study Guide for the entire GroundWork lessons. This provides a graphic and text overview for each of the major lessons with a couple of key questions for each section.
Quality and Level of Detail
The first word that comes to my mind is ‘unbelievable’. The quality of the entire presentation is absolutely top notch by any measure. You have a large class of eager beavers waiting with baited breath for the any given next installment.
Should it arrive with a typo or an item out of sequence or some really minor flaw, the response is instant with constructive criticism and suggested improvements. A misspelled word here and there should be expected with the international crew assembling pieces around the world and working to a tight schedule.
The graphics are drawn exceptionally well and can be printed as presentation quality or zoomed up on a large monitor without losing resolution. Full color drawings of all panels are available to the members and can be printed up to wall poster size.
The audio and video are also of very high quality. The completed videos are available to view online in almost unlimited sizes. They can be also downloaded for offline viewing at your leisure in 720P or slightly smaller files for Mobile units like tablets, iPads or smart phones. I have no difficultly watching the 720P version full screen on a 24 inch widescreen monitor.
The additional files and extras are a class act themselves. You can download a script to follow the narrative if you not comfortable listening to the audio in English. There are several additional files and documents that support a given lesson and those are usually packaged for easy viewing.
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A full package is always assembled as needed. The Flight #1 has a folder for full Navigraph charts for both airports including the SIDs and STARs and approach charts, the Coroute file for the FMC, all the weather files, flight sequence files, the PMDG panel state files, a 10-page file briefing file, the Topcat calculations file, and the How To Install it all file.
I see the GroundWork is now available at the PMDG website with a full description and a sample video.
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LineWork – Let it Flow
Based on the Flightwork announcement above I was expecting LineWork to be at the end of the training. That was not to be the case as it is now evident that LineWork and FlightWork were flipped and the next 6 months was a steady stream of Flows.
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It appears the dashboard boxes still remain out of order with LineWork following FlightWork.
The conclusion of GroundWork seems to have ushered in the first wave of LineWork Flows. Most of these ‘Flowcharts’ are single page views of several panels with the sequence of actions shown by numeric boxes. Only the longer or slightly more complex flows need two pages to avoid the spaghetti bowl look as the work flow lines snake through the panels.
The first wave of LineFlows were the Originator (first flight of the day), FlightDeck Prep, Before and After Start, Approaching Runway for Takeoff, 10K Climb and Descent and the 18K Climb and Descent, Cruise, Bleeds, ThroughFlight, After Landing and Engine Shutdown.
It seems a filler or bridge heading was introduced to stretch the completed GroundWork and LineWork Flows to the FlightWork that was in-work. The FlightWork on Approach was evidently a circling approach as it took from September, 2012 to January, 2013 to get to the PushBack segment for the first scheduled flight.
We were introduced to Micro-Lessons for the very comprehensive Pre-Flight to get the aircraft, the simulator, and ourselves ready to fly for the first time. We learned the vast range of options programmed into the CDU. This is when I learned that it was ‘strongly recommended’ the students have the paid version of FSUIPC, TrackIR and EXCA. This was followed by yet another list of ‘Recommended Add-ons’, a Kneeboard for all the charts, flows, checklists and other necessary flight documents and finally a surprise unannounced Obstacle Course flight through a canyon in the Alaska wildernesses.
Fortunately, I have many of the recommended airport scenery packages along with REX, Orbx Scenery, Navigraph and Topcat.
The Obstacle Course flight was for us to get the feel of hand flying an airliner while scraping the treetops and trying to avoid plowing into the mountainside. This was advertised as necessary to break the notion that the 737NGX isn’t controllable by hand and to give us a good sweat. That it did and in spades.
"Hand-flying will be a major focus of FlightWork. Skills of this nature are not easy to come by, and take a great amount of practice. What better way to practice than to have a bit of fun?”
If I had been a little smarter I would have taken an extra change of underwear with me on this flight. But, it certainly does demonstrate how much fun it is to hand fly a big airliner out in the wild away from ATC, holding patterns, and approaches.
Provided you made it back to Ketchikan (PAKT) in one piece and had a buddy repair all the dings and scratches you are now officially ready for FlightWork Flight #1 PREFLIGHT. This is where we are introduced to a new unreleased product from the makers of Topcat. Professional Flight Planner X (PFPX). Here we learn to wade through the necessary mountain of paperwork that your Dispatch Office and First Officer would normally prepare for your review and approval. But, seeing as this is a one-man flight crew, it is necessary that we learn all the details by doing it ourselves.
Time to get the cockpit ready
We have now moved the PRE from FlightWork to PRE-Pushback. We are in the cockpit putting all this knowledge to good use. Or as the Member Area announcement states:
“Finally it is time to jump in the simulator and commence this journey. You're setup at Stand 53 in Gatwick, the aircraft is completely powered down with no ground services, and it's up to you to do each and every step.
Now, this is a HUGE video. It’ll take you quite some time to get through it all, and you’ll undoubtedly have to repeat everything several times if you’re new to the aircraft. But the lessons are here for you to repeat. Just make sure you practice those flows and checklists. That’s big stuff!
This lesson title was a little disappointing to me. 737 FlightWork #1 Post PushBack
“The aircraft is all setup, and now it’s time to push and start, and take this journey all the way to Rotterdam. Finally, it’s time to go flying.”
This one was the real deal. Close the doors, light the fires and go fly to Rotterdam.
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Wouldn’t it been better to name this Lesson ‘Flight number 1 – Gatwick to Rotterdam (EGKK – EHRD) or something a little more grandiose than Post Pushback. Oh well.
| Publisher: Angle of Attack |
Format: Online Video
Reviewed By: Ray Marshall
Well, there you have it. It has been slow, even agonizingly slow at times, waiting to learn enough to request your takeoff clearance and a few short minutes later your call as Flight Captain for Gear Down in your very own Boeing 737NGX.
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It has also been very rewarding, even exhilarating to be able to comprehend the myriad of systems and procedures, flows and checklists, planning and pre-planning necessary to command an aircraft of this size and complexity.
I highly recommend anyone even casually interested in knowing more about flying this airliner or even a similar one in FSX to explore what AngleofAttack has to offer. I am quite certain there is no better training available to a FSX simulator pilot anyplace at any price.
I can hardly wait to check my email each morning for the next announcement as I wait for Flight #2, then Flight #3. I have a ton, well at least 5 ½ hours, of HD professional video and a bucket full of pdf files loaded on my hard drive and many on my iPad so I have no excuse now for not being able to safely fly higher and faster.
Obviously, every bit and byte of this data was conceived, drafted, written, converted to audio and video, edited, checked, rechecked and published just for me to learn how to fly the PMDG 737NGX. But, it is perfectly OK with me if you would like to use it for your personal training also. Good Luck and Godspeed.
A sampling of comments from the Members Area.
Flows vs. Checklists
A flow is a basic methodology for running through system checks and setup of the aircraft in varying phases of flight. The purpose of the flows is to have a way to run through all the checks of the aircraft without having to run through an actual, multi-hundred point checklist. A flow does not have to be exactly the same thing every time. Chances are, you’ll be jumping around from one thing to another, getting a radio call here or interacting with the cabin crew there.
Flows are incredibly useful for knowing how to quickly setup the aircraft during different phases of flight operations. The crew can speed through things, much like the scenario I started off with in this post, yet still safely and comprehensively setup the aircraft.
A checklist is a short list of essential items that must be checked for flight safety. Only items critical to flight safety are on these lists. Unlike flows which may be hundreds of steps long in some cases, the checklists are short and to the point. They do not cover everything - only those items that are completely essential. In other words, requirements.
Flows can be rushed, checklists cannot. Steps can be omitted in flows, steps cannot be omitted in checklists.
Find your balance, and keep a good head on your shoulders. Learn your flows, and your checklists. Follow the checklists with exactness. Flows can be rushed, checklists cannot. Steps can be omitted in flows, steps cannot be omitted in checklists.
The next time someone tells you to ‘just go with the flow’, you will know exactly what he or she is talking about.
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Chris and www.Flyaoamedia.com for providing the flight training.
The Flyaoamedia flight training team members for their tireless efforts to bring this to market.