Review by Marlon Carter. So what exactly is UTEM? Well UTEM is the University of Temecula Press Inc. And they specialize in Aviation procedure manuals for aircraft such as the 747,757/767, A320 and 737 Classic. UTEM is operated by Capt. Mike Ray who was an airline pilot for many years.
Previously, I had the opportunity to review some of Mike Ray’s manuals and they are quite useful in teaching simmers how to achieve the most realistic experience while flying their favorite aircraft.
This time around we will be looking at the 737 NG Training Syllabus. With the release of the PMDG 737NGX this training manual will be an invaluable tool to those who already use the NGX and others who are beginners to the world of complex aircraft.
To get a bit more background on this manual I had an opportunity to interview Capt. Mike Ray on his latest 737 NG offering.
1. What prompted you to develop the 737 NG Training Syllabus?
I was motivated to develop the “737ng Training Syllabus” by the almost fanatical interest on the part of the Flight Sim community for this particular airplane, the Boeing 737NG. It seems to me that the arrival of the PMDG 737NGX offered a unique opportunity for ordinary garden variety simmers to experience this airplane with an extremely well researched and presented package for the MSFX and P3D environment.
The iFly version was another beautiful surprise, and although it doesn’t have the same depth as the PMDG product, it represents a terrific opportunity for the flight sim guys to “get their feet wet”. However, the actual operation of the airplane (and simulation) materials and literature on that subject seems unavailable to flight simmers.
Oh sure, those excellent .pdf manuals that come with the sims are filled with great technical stuff and even contain valuable information about some common operational situations; but for me, I thought that there was room for some additional conversation about how it all comes together in the real world. So I tried to introduce some additional material in a way that would lead the sim-pilot through what would happen in a “real world” situation.
2. How accurate is the information presented in this manuals?
The material that is presented in the book is predicated largely on my personal experiences in flying the 737-345 (and other airplanes). The technical details come from actual flight manuals and other reputable sources. The information that I try to pass to the simmers is ALWAYS as accurate as I can make it. What is presented in the “737ng Training Syllabus” is targeted at a “Check-ride” scenario at a Big Airline Training Center. All this stuff does not usually happen on an ordinary flight; but during the check ride … anything can (and does) happen.
3. What aspect of this manual would you like readers to pay particular attention to?
The reader or simmer is invited to address the issue of “what would I do if this happened”. The actual emergency (in the book I use an explosive de-compression at altitude) is not as important as what you do next. There is a whole thought process that brings into play everything that you know during the resolution of the problem. My goal is to address that issue and expose the reader to that thought process.
A flight simmer has ALL the tools in the PMDG simulation and bare-bones MSFX/P3D program to successfully handle any irregular or emergency situation that they can encounter. It is not the specifics of the problem (such as how to shut down an engine) … but the whole situational awareness envelope involved in successfully resolving the situation and getting the airplane safely shutdown on the runway.
4. Can these manuals be of any benefit to real world pilots?
ABSOLUTETY! I would have no problems recommending my book to a “new” 737NG pilot on any airline in the world. While I have directed the MSFX/P3D section towards the flight simmers, in no way would I detract from the realistic and accurate treatment of the problem. What is in the book is what a real pilot would be expected to do!
As always it was nice conversing with Capt. Mike Ray and it is clear to see that he has a lot of interest in simmers achieving the best results from using a flight simulator. This manual is not an unfounded opinion of one man but it basically sums up 37 years of experience within aviation and the major airline industry.
Next, I will be discussing some of the highlights of this manual and whether or not it will be useful to YOU.
In a nutshell, the manual is divided into three parts. The first part is more so targeted at beginners, the second part is targeted at advanced simmers who are thrusting for more and the third part focuses on the check ride segment that’s will test your proficiency.
To start things off, Mike Ray talks about the controversial topic of what is “Reality Based Simulation?” One of the statements I couldn’t help but applaud was the fact that default aircraft can only be classified as “Fantasy” based simulation. Since default aircraft (737) will never emulate the realistic systems and operations of the real thing, it would be unfortunate for anyone to think so.
Another area worth mentioning is the concept of light versions of aircraft systems. I couldn’t help but agree that in some respects a light version is pointless (other than the reduced cost) since you may as well stick to the default aircraft if you are not up for the challenge of learning more. He also advises that if you don’t intend to learn how to make full uses of high end reality based programs then you shouldn’t waste your money buying them.
The NGX is by far a very high end reality based program and it is the basis from which this manual was written. With that said, if you fly a default 737 or a 737 with “light” systems then this manual may not be very beneficial. This manual is more so for individuals who are undaunted by challenge of digging deeper in order to learn aircraft systems and flying procedures.
Level One is aimed at beginners and it focuses on the basic setup of the 737 NG. At the beginning of this segment you will learn how to navigate your way around the NGX cockpit and to set up other features that are contained in the FMS such as fuel.
The next portion discusses many of the displays of the 737 and what each indication means. I personally found this to be beneficial as even experienced simmers may forget what various symbols and indications mean.
Other areas that are covered include the MCP and FMS. The section that covers the FMS should be of particular interest to everyone since it is a feature that many cannot do without. If you are a beginner and a little bit intimidated by the FMS, Mike Ray does a fine job at breaking down the operation of the FMS and also provides an example of how to load a flight plan.
Following this segment you will also learn how to properly setup the 737 cockpit. This includes added details on how to use the (Mode Control Unit) MCP and the ECU (EFIS Control Unit). To conclude Level One, Mike Ray takes us through a thorough tutorial the following:
- Level One Pre-Takeoff Checklist
- How to Takeoff
- Takeoff protocols
- Passing 1000 feet
- At 3000
- Approach Ref CDU page
- Tune both radios
- Arm Auto-spoilers
- Arm Auto-brakes
- Set Lower altitude
- Slow down-Extend Flaps
- Gear down- Flaps 40
- Arming the Autopilot for Auto-land
- Managing the touchdown
The tutorial itself is not very long since it only comprises of a takeoff and landing at YSSY. While this may seem VERY short, it is sufficient to learn the list of concepts listed above. In the end, you will definitely feel more confident to take on the challenges that lay ahead in Level Two.
Level Two focuses on an in-depth Tutorial flight from YSSY to YMML. Unlike the short flight in level one, we will be starting off with the aircraft in a cold and dark panel state. This may sound scary if you have never fully set up an aircraft before, but this manual assumes that you are up to the challenge of learning!
The first segment tackles the topic of flight planning in a very comprehensive manner. You will learn how to correctly setup your flights from selecting the airports to route planning (through FSX flight planner) and how to source the necessary charts for your flight. Another important part of your planning is gather weather data.
After the planning is complete, it’s now time to bring the NGX to live. The next segment focuses on starting the NGX from a cold and dark condition. If you are not sure on how to select the Cold and Dark option, the manual nicely explains how to do this by means of picture illustration.
The Cold and Dark setup may seem a bit intimidating but through picture illustrations, Capt. Mike Ray will walk you through each step of the Power Up Checklist. After this has been completed, we move on to the Cockpit Preparation Checklist.
For the benefit of those who are not yet quite familiar with the cockpit of the 737 NG, there are graphical illustrations that group and identify various sections of the cockpit and instruments. If you know your way around the virtual cockpit you will be at a tremendous advantage and you will definitely move through this section quite quickly.
As we move through the checklist, I was quite pleased that Capt. Mike Ray was able to provide some commentary on how each checklist item should be carried out and what indications you should look for. One should note however, that the graphical illustrations presented in this manual MAY look different to what your NG cockpit looks like.
This isn’t a shortcut on the part of this manual but it simply is based on the fact that various airlines have different layouts of their cockpit. The PMDG NGX is a very dynamic aircraft in that you can select many of these options to customize your cockpit to suit various airline options. With that said it shouldn’t be difficult to match your simulator cockpit to the ones presented in this manual if you wish to do so.
After the preceding steps have been completed we more on to the loading of the CDU/FMS. In this section you will learn how to access the CDU, CDU Flows, Loading the MENU, IDENT, POS INT and ROUTE pages and a host of other tasks including SIDS, PERF INIT and N1 LIMIT page. To put it bluntly, you will learn all these is to know about the CDU in order to feel confident in using it.
The pushback checklist that follows is very easy to follow and it provides a detailed review of the entire checklist and the flows required to carry them out. Areas of interest that many of you would appreciate are the actual engine start and take off procedures which are very detailed. The “meat” of these lessons come with the after takeoff procedures which extend from After takeoff through Climb and Cruise all the way to Landing.
These sections were extremely informative and I guarantee that you will learn many things you perhaps never knew before or would have taken for granted. Nearly each system of the autopilot is discusses and not just in a “what does this do” method of explanation, but a “how can I utilize this” method of teaching.
| || |
| || || |
One of my favorite sections of the manual discusses how to calculate descent. I have always found this topic to be quite intriguing because in my earlier years of using a flight simulator, I would almost always be too high on my approach or far too low. Even though the NGX has the ability to calculate a TOD (Top of Descent), it is always encouraged that as pilots/virtual pilots you should be aware of how to fly an aircraft manually at any given phase of flight. The descent is a very crucial part of flying and the methods and calculations presented for doing this correctly are spot on!
If you are not comfortable trying it manually, you will also learn how to setup the FMC in a way that will give you radius rings around an airfield or any other fix in order to properly plan your descent. An interesting point that is discussed is the use of VNAV and LVL CHG and when is the appropriate time to use either of these AP functions.
Another point of interest was the section on Extending Flaps. When approaching an airport and you see the UP, 1, 2 indications on the PFD, some have mistakenly thought that this means flap one should be lowered when the speed matches the “1” indication. If this is your understanding of the matter then you are incorrect.
The “1” indication actually shows the MINIMUM speed at which you should operate the aircraft without Flap 1 already selected. The NG manual is filled with interesting facts such as this and it will definitely help you to fly the NGX more accurately.
A final topic that I found interesting was the section on Emergency Descent. While this is not a common occurrence in the simulator, in the real world there may be situations that warrant an emergency descent. I was very pleased to see this topic discussed in great detail since it provides a procedural approach to handling this maneuver with the aid of the autopilot. Other related topics you will find interesting are the discussions on Engine Out procedures, In-flight Engine Shutdown, In-flight Re-start and Diversions.
| || |
| || || |
To conclude on this Level Two, I was very impressed with the realistic approach to flying the 737. On another note, this manual wonderfully showcases how in-depth the systems of the PMDG 737 really are. The level of teaching in this section of the manual can only be provided by someone who has had airline experience since and it can be utilized by persons who are training to fly the real 737 NG.
Hands down, this is a tool that goes wonderfully with the PMDG NGX and I would definitely recommend this to anyone considering whether to buy the NGX or to persons who already own the NGX and are looking for a more realistic approach to flying this wonderful aircraft.
The final section of this training manual focuses on an assessment of what you have learned. A check ride for any pilot can be a nerve racking experience but through a study of this manual your confidence in meeting any challenge will be rock solid. The modules covered in this section are the Instructors Manual, Check-ride Rules & Flight Plan and the Check-ride Evaluation Progress sheet.
Each of these modules are discussed in detail and there is a tutorial check ride that you can use to test your abilities. All in all it was a fitting conclusion to what I would describe as the best 737 training tool aimed at simulator enthusiast and users of the PMDG NGX. The teaching method and writing style of Mike Ray is never boring and is always filled with humor that makes learning an enjoyable experience.
| || || |
| || || |
So do you really need to buy this manual? Well it depends on what you are looking for. If your aim is simple to own the best FS add-ons and not delve into the systems or practice complex flying procedures then this manual may not be for you.
This manual is aimed at individuals who own the PMDG NGX or even the ifly 737 who want to achieve the best overall airline experience while flying. If you have a thirst for knowledge and you are willing to read and to benefit from this manual then yes, it is definitely worth your consideration. You will learn things about the PMDG NGX that you may not have been aware of as well as the procedures involved in flying this aircraft like a professional.
The manual is available in two formats; you can buy a color bound version for $89.95 or a PDF version for $49.95. Which is better? Well for me personally I am not the type to sit behind a computer or to steer at a tablet to read for extended periods. If you are the same way, then I would suggest the hardcover version of this training manual which I also inspected and found to be well constructed.
While the price of $89.95 may seem like a lot of money, the List Price is really $119.95. In the end, you can save $30.00 by purchasing it now if the price remains as is.
On the other hand, if you prefer reading on your PC, Laptop or Tablet then the PDF version may be the best choice. Either way it all boils down to comfort preferences when reading to a view of learning things that are very in-depth.
Capt. Mike Ray’s contribution to the FS community is invaluable and if manuals such as the NG Training Syllabus is utilized correctly it will yield a community of simmers who are much more professional and proficient in their approach to virtual flying
What I Like About 737 NG Training Syllabus
- Durable construction (hard copy)
- Very helpful in understanding the 737NG
- Information adds a high level of professionalism to MSFS
- Picture illustrations along with a humorous and down to earth instructional style helps learning these complex systems easier
- Available in soft copy (PDF)
- Comes with a 737 NG checklist
What I Don’t Like About 737 NG Training Syllabus
- This isn’t really something I don’t like, but I thought I should mention that these manuals are lengthy so be prepared to dedicate some time to reading them thoroughly.