• Sign in to follow this  

    REVIEW - Virtual CDU by Virtual Avionics


    WR269

    Review

    by Marlon Carter

    VIRTUAL AVIONICS

    PRODUCT: VIRTUAL CDU 747, 777,737 & A320.

    PLATFORM: ANDROID/iOS

     

     

    INTRODUCTION

    Virtual Avionics is a Brazilian company created by a team of electronic engineers who are passionate about aviation. Their goal is to provide a realistic experience that is focused on flight simulation and they’ve certainly done so with the release of a unique app that takes your flight sim experience to another level.

     

    Over the past decade or so, we have all enjoyed the release of add-ons that featured highly detailed systems such as the FMS/MCDU. The problem however, is that using the FMS required changing your view or pulling up a 2D panel. In addition to this, manipulating the controls require use of the mouse rather than actually touching the unit. While this may not seem like a big issue, and we may have never complained over the years, for some simmers that come from a real world flying background, using the FMS in this manner may be a bit cumbersome and pulling up a 2D panel can easily distract a virtual pilot while flying.

     

    For years, the only alternative to using the virtual cockpit or 2D panel FMS was a completely separate FMS unit used by cockpit builders. For these fortunate individuals, having the actual replica of an FMS unit was a dream come true since it provided the ultimate in realism. For those of us who are not fortunate enough to build an entire cockpit in our homes, the next best thing may be a Virtual CDU which is accessed via a tablet or phone.

     

    Thanks to Virtual Avionics, users of the PMDG 737/777, iFly 747 and Aerosoft A319/320/321 can now have the pleasure of having easy access to their FMS/MCDU from the comfort of their tablets or Smartphones. Here is a breakdown of the features of these products (each sold separately).

     

     

    FEATURES:

    VIRTUAL CDU 747

     

    001_T.jpg

     

    Our Virtual CDU 747 application is compatible with the following add-ons:

    iFly 747-400 (FSX SP2 or Prepar3D V1 and V2)

    The application is available for iPads, Android tablets and Smartphones, and necessarily requires that an original version of the add-on supported is installed.

     

    It connects to the flight simulation system via a WiFi network, and allows the user to change application on the tablet / Smartphone without compromising flight. This is especially useful for long-haul flights.

     

    It's necessary to be used with VA Interface software that is available on our download area and shall be installed on the computer running the iFly 747.

     

     

    VIRTUAL CDU 777

     

    002_T.jpg

    003_T.jpg

     

     

    Our Virtual CDU 777 application is compatible with the following add-ons:

    PMDG 777-200LR/F SP1 or newer

    PMDG 777 P3D Version

    It works with FSX (SP2 and Steam) and Prepar3D (V1 and V2, V3 is being tested)

    The application is available for iPads and Android tablets and Smartphone, and necessarily requires that an original version of the add-on supported is installed.

     

    It connects to the flight simulation system via a WiFi network, and allows the user to change application on the tablet / Smartphone without compromising flight. This is especially useful for long-haul flights.

     

    It's necessary to be used with VA Interface software that is available on our download area and shall be installed on the computer running PMDG software.

     

     

    VIRTUAL CDU 737

    004_T.jpg

    005_T.jpg

     

     

    Our Virtual CDU 737 application is compatible with the following add-ons:

    PMDG 737 NGX Version SP1C or newer (FSX SP2 or Prepar3D V1 and V2);

    iFly 737 Version 3.1 or later (FSX SP2 and FS9)

    ProSIM (FSX SP2 or Prepar3D V1 e V2)

    The application is available for iPads, Android tablets and Smartphones, and necessarily requires that an original version of the add-on supported is installed.

     

    It connects to the flight simulation system via a WiFi network, and allows the user to change application on the tablet / Smartphone without compromising flight.

     

    This is especially useful for long-haul flights.

     

    This application requires the previous installation of VAInterface Lite or VAInterface on the same computer where the flight simulator software is running. This software can be found at our Download area in our web site

     

     

    VIRTUAL CDU A320

     

    006_T.jpg

    007_T.jpg

     

     

    Our Virtual CDU A320 application is compatible with the following add-ons:

    Aerosoft A320 Extended version 1.16 or newer, for FSX SP2 or Prepar3D V1 and V2

     

    The application is available for iPads, Android tablets and Smartphones, and necessarily requires that an original version of the add-on supported is installed.

     

    It connects to the flight simulation system via a WiFi network, and allows the user to change application on the tablet / smartphone without compromising flight. This is especially useful for long-haul flights.

     

    This application requires the previous installation of VAInterface Lite or VAInterface on the same computer where the flight simulator software is running. This software can be found at our Download area in our web site.

     

     

     

     

    To find out a bit more about Virtual Avionics, I had the opportunity to ask the developer a few questions that I think you will find enlightening.

    1. What inspired you to create these apps?

    Using a mouse to program a flight on the FMC was a very bad experience. We would like to have an easy way to do so and that could be as close as possible to a real one. Tablets were very popular and dimensions are close to an actual CDU, so it seemed natural to have an application that could enhance the interface with the pilot.

     

    2. Where there any challenges in developing these Virtual CDUs?

    One challenge was to create a way to interface with add-ons without requiring CDU screen to be exported on windowed mode. First requirement we established was to not impact performance at all, and Flight Simulator should be able to run on Full Screen mode. Another challenge was to be compatible with hundreds of different tablets and screen sizes. Also, we had to guarantee a very good performance with no lags, otherwise the experience would be affected.

     

    3.  What makes these apps different to similar products available?

    We focused on ease of installation, support and performance. Also it is flexible to allow users to connect as the Captain or First Officer or multiple instances of Captain or First Officer.

     

    4. Can we expect support for other products such as the Majestic Software Q400 or other high end products with FMS units?

    Different add-ons work in different ways, so we need to evaluate all of them and provide customized solutions for each one. At this moment we are working on the Majestic Q400, which seems a very complex solution and we are also developing our own standalone FMC to be used for training purposes without the need of an Add-on. New PMDG 747 is on our list and we are just pending the launch of their new release to be able to provide a solution for it. We also receive a lot of feedback from our customers and they are particularly important on feedback and suggestions for new products that could enhance their experience.

     

    Certainly, the future for Virtual Avionics seems promising and I for one eagerly look forward to a Virtual CDU that supports the Majestic Q400. Until then, let’s have a closer look at the apps that have been released so far.

     

     

    DOCUMENTATION/INSTALLATION

    By way of documentation, the virtual CDU doesn’t come with a detailed manual. In place of a detailed manual, users will find all of the information they need on the virtual avionics website. Some of the information that can be found includes information on requirements, installation and troubleshooting. While I always appreciate having a PDF file with all of the necessary information, this product is fairly simple and if you think about it, most apps you download do not have detailed PDFs. This being the case, the information found on the website was sufficient to get started in my case and I think you will find this to be the case also.

     

    As far as the installation is concerned, after purchasing the app, you are required to register on the Virtual Avionics website in order to download the interface program which is required to be running alongside FSX for the virtual CDU to function correctly. Once these steps are taken, you should be up and running in no time. As a word of advice however, if you experience any issues connecting to your flight simulator, ensure that the IP address on your tablet is correct.

     

     

    THE EXPERIENCE

    As mentioned in the introduction, I’ve always enjoyed using the FMS by the tradition virtual cockpit or 2D panel option, but at times, it can be a distraction when you are required to change your view setting or have a 2D panel obstruct your forward view. For many years, the only alternative to having a realistic experience with the FMS, similar to having your own yoke and throttles, was to purchase a cockpit builders FMS unit. After doing a bit of research, I quickly realized that buying actually FMS unit wasn’t the best option financially.

     

    With the advanced features of tablets and Smartphones however, Virtual Avionics has made wise use of this platform to release a Virtual CDU that it covered not just one, but 4 of the most popular add-ons. Also, in an effort to have everyone enjoy these apps, the developer has released these apps for both Android and iOS platforms. In my case, I opted for the iOS versions and I couldn’t be happier with the overall ease of setup and performance. The conveniences of having these apps are numerous and one of the most significant advantages is that you can step away from your computer (must remain in WiFi range) and still monitor the progress of your flight. Apart from this, another important advantage is that you can have a much easier workload while flying and making changes to your flight plan.

    The overall quality of the display looks just fine on both Smartphones and tablets, but I would highly recommend using a tablet that is at least 6 inches. Having a slightly larger display truly gives you the realistic sensation of using a real FMS and it becomes much easier to enter data into the unit. In a nut shell, while these apps have no extra features other that what has been provided by the aircraft developer; it truly adds a new level of realism to your flight sim experience.

     

    For anyone who may be concerned about PC performance issues, I am pleased to say that I encountered absolutely no issues with PC performance. While using my iPad, I noticed that were wasno delay between executing a task on the Virtual CDU and seeing the change take place on my PC. This creates a seamless experience and I think everyone will enjoy.

     

    CONCLUSION

    In conclusion, for the price of 19.99, these apps are absolutely worth it and if you own a tablet or Smartphone that uses Android or iOS, this app will significantly enhance your experience when using any of the supported add-on aircraft. While virtual FMS apps aren’t entirely new, having these apps for the most popular add-ons is a most welcome option for all to consider and I would highly recommend it.

    9.5/10!



      Report Article
    Sign in to follow this  


    User Feedback


    There are no comments to display.



    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