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    GoFlight MCP Pro – Boeing 737NG Mode Control Pane


    Gaiiden

    Review by Doug Horton. The GF-MCP Pro is part of GoFlight’s family of cockpit control system modules. According to GoFlight, “The MCP Pro is designed to closely resemble the look and function of the Boeing 737NG aircraft’s Mode Control Panel in color, control layout, and dimensions.” The product is extremely realistic looking and functioning, and it’s a joy to turn a knob, press a button, or flip a switch on this product and see the action reflected on the simulated aircraft’s MCP, or adjust a setting on the control panel MCP and see it change on the MCP Pro.

     

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    GoFlight MCP Pro – shown with power off

     

    The real 737NG MCP is a complex piece of equipment with many displays, knobs, and switches, and its purpose is to host pilot control of all the various modes of auto flight that are managed by the aircraft’s redundant autopilot systems and its auto throttle system. According to GoFlight, that complexity is built into the product, and the lack of function of six MCP Pro controls for default FS2004 and FSX aircraft is not because of the MCP Pro’s design. Rather, it’s because of limitations of controls or features of the simulated aircraft.

     

    Compatibility

     

    The MCP Pro is designed to operate with a wide variety of aircraft, to make flight simulation experiences more realistic and enjoyable. For this review, I tried out the MCP Pro in FSX (Acceleration) with the FSX default /Boeing 737-900 and 747-400, and the iFly 737-800.

     

    GoFlight indicates that all control functions of the MCP Pro are compatible with the following advanced simulation aircraft and related software products:

    I also tried MCP Pro with FSX default Boeing 737-900 and 747-400 copied to Prepar3D. The MCP Pro worked fine with these aircraft in Prepar3D version 1.4, but I was unable to make it work with Prepar3D version 2.0 or updated version 2.1, though GFConfig did find Prepar3D installation folder.

     

    Installation

     

    There are three mounting options described in the user manual. The simplest installation is to place the MCP Pro directly on the desktop, or on a convenient pedestal or shelf. For these installation options, two triangular brackets are furnished in the accessory packet.

     

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    One method of mounting the GoFlight MCP Pro

     

    The MCP Pro can also be mounted on top of GoFlight’s model GF-AC rack, which is used for housing GoFlight control modules, or on GoFlight’s model GF-OHR overhead rack. Detailed instructions for these two mounting options are provided in the GF-MCP Pro Manual.

     

    After connecting the furnished USB cable between the MCP Pro and the computer, and seeing the “New Hardware Found” prompt in Windows, the MCP Pro will display its wakeup sequence for testing all numerical displays and indicator lights.

     

    Next, it’s necessary to download the GF Config Setup file from and install the software. After connecting the MCP Pro for the first time, run the GFConfig program, which after installation will be shown on the Programs menu as “GFConfig.” Lastly, it’s important to verify that GFConfig displays the MCP Pro thumbnail on the left-hand side of the UI window. Note that there is no Apply or Okay button; the chosen setting is fixed by closing the software window after selecting the compatible aircraft.

     

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    Install and run the GFConfig2 software to select a compatible aircraft product.

     

    With GFConfig, users can change certain characteristics of the MCP Pro’s operation, so that it will operate most realistically with different types of aircraft. After selecting the MCP Pro by left clicking on its icon in the left-hand portion of the GF Config window, select from the various options presented on the right-hand side of the window. It’s also possible to change the lighting intensity, select other options from the menu, and there are available commands to Save and Load configurations.

     

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    GFConfig interface for program options

     

    GoFlight advises that the options displayed by GFConfig may change from one software release to another, as the company continually develops and releases new software features. Accordingly, users should occasionally consult GF Config’s on-line help facility, which contains details about the configuration options available in the installed release of the software.

     

    MCP-Pro Buttons, Knobs, and Switches

     

    Below are descriptions of the MCP Pro buttons, knobs, and switches in physical order, as viewed from left to right and top to bottom on the MCP Pro panel. For clarity, buttons and knobs grouped by their functions. Note that controls marked with an asterisk (*) can be used with advanced add-on aircraft products for FSX or P3D that are available from third party developers. When operating FSX or P3D default aircraft, these controls do not function because they’re not programmed in the respective simulators.

     

    LEFT-HAND COURSE SECTION

     

    COURSE Adjustment Knob and Display. This is the left side independent COURSE knob and display set. This knob allows selection of course value from 1 to 360 degrees, represent a radial to the VOR station tuned on the NAV1 radio. The VOR LOC button, located between the HEADING and ALTITUDE knobs, is used in conjunction with the COURSE function.

     

    Flight Director Toggle Switch and Indicator. This is the left side, independent Flight Director toggle switch and indicator. This switch allows activation and deactivation of the Flight Director function of the autopilot and allows the left seat pilot to optionally show the Flight Director bars on the left side flight display.

     

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    Close up of Course and Speed sections

     

    SPEED SECTION

     

    • Auto Throttle Toggle Switch and Indicator. This toggle switch controls the arming state of the auto throttle. When the toggle switch handle is in the UP position the auto throttle is armed, and the indicator will light up. To disarm the auto throttle, move the toggle switch handle to the DOWN position.

     

    • N1 Button. This button controls activation of the THRUST N1 function of the auto throttle. When the button’s internal LED is lit, the THRUST N1 mode is engaged.

     

    • SPEED Button. This button controls activation of the Speed Hold function of the auto throttle. When the button’s internal LED is lit; the Speed Hold mode is engaged.

     

    • *C/O Button. The Change Over button is used to toggle the speed display between IAS (Indicated Airspeed) and MACH (Mach number) readout.

     

    • Speed Display and Adjustment Knob. This knob selects airspeed, displayed in either knots of Indicated Airspeed (IAS) or MACH number on the 3-digit LED display. On aircraft featuring an auto throttle, this is used to establish and maintain the aircraft speed when the SPEED button to the lower left is activated.

     

    • *SPD INTV Button. This button controls activation of the Speed Intervention function of the autopilot, if available.

     

    HEADING SECTION

     

    • *VNAV Button. Somewhat misplaced from the Altitude Section, this button controls activation of the VNAV (Vertical Navigation) function of the autopilot. When the button’s internal LED is lit, VNAV mode is engaged if available.

     

    • LVL CHG Button. This button controls activation of the Flight Level Change function of the autopilot. When the button’s internal LED is lit, the Flight Level Change mode is engaged.

     

    • HEADING Adjustment Knob and Display. This knob selects a heading value from 1 to 360 degrees, and is used to establish and maintain the aircraft’s heading when the HDG SEL button beneath the knob is activated. The currently-set value is shown on the 3-digit LED display beneath the HEADING label on the panel.

     

    • HDG SEL Button. This button controls activation of the Heading Hold function. When the button’s internal LED is lit, the Heading Hold mode is engaged.

     

    • *LNAV Button. This button controls activation of the LNAV (Lateral Navigation) function of the autopilot. When the button’s internal LED is lit, the LNAV mode is engaged, if available.

     

    • VOR LOC Button. This button controls activation of the VOR LOC (Localizer) Hold function of the autopilot. When the button’s internal LED is lit, VOR LOC Hold mode is engaged.

     

    • APP Button. This button controls activation of the Approach mode of the autopilot. When the button’s internal LED is lit, Approach mode is active.

     

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    Close up of Heading and Altitude sections

     

    ALTITUDE SECTION

     

    • ALTITUDE Display and Adjustment Knob. The currently-selected altitude is shown on the 5-digit LED display beneath the ALTITUDE label on the panel The knob selects an altitude value, and is used to establish and maintain the aircraft’s altitude whenever the ALT HLD button beneath the knob is activated.

     

    • ALT HLD Button. This button controls activation of the Altitude Hold mode of the autopilot. When the button’s internal LED is lit, Altitude Hold mode is active.

     

    • *ALT INTV Button. This button controls activation of the Altitude Intervention function of the autopilot, if available.

     

    • VERT SPEED Adjustment Wheel and Display. The Vertical Speed adjustment wheel selects a rate of climb or descent. The aircraft will attempt to maintain the selected rate whenever the V/S button beneath the wheel is activated. The currently elected rate is shown on the 5-digit LED display beneath the VERT SPEED label on the panel.

     

    • VERTICAL SPEED BUTTON. The VS button controls activation of the Vertical Speed Hold function of the autopilot. When the button’s internal LED is lit, Vertical Speed Hold mode is engaged.

     

    T_VertSpeed&Course-75.jpg

    Close up of Vertical Speed, Autopilot, and Right Course sections

     

    AUTOPILOT CONTROLS

     

    • CMD Buttons A and B. These buttons control activation of Autopilot A and B. When the respective button’s internal LED is lit, Autopilot A and B are engaged.

     

    • CWS Buttons A and B. These buttons allow activation of control wheel steering for Autopilots A and B. When the respective button’s internal LED is lit, control wheel steering for Autopilot A and B are active.

     

    • DISENGAGE Control Bar. The Disengage control bar’s purpose is to quickly turn off any and all functions of the autopilot. This allows the pilot to regain manual control of the aircraft at any desired time. When the disengage control bar is in the DOWN position, the autopilot is disengaged and no autopilot modes will function. When the bar is in the UP position, the autopilot can be activated, and its modes engaged or disengaged using the individual CMD buttons. The disengage control bar does not affect the operation of the auto throttle or any of the auto throttle-related modes.

     

    RIGHT-HAND COURSE SECTION

     

    • COURSE Display and Adjustment Knob. This is the right side independent COURSE knob and display set. This knob allows selection of course value from 1 to 360 degrees, to represents a radial to the VOR station tuned on the NAV2 radio. The VOR LOC button, located between the HEADING and ALTITUDE knobs, is used in conjunction with the COURSE function.

     

    • Flight Director Toggle Switch and Indicator. This is the right side, independent Flight Director toggle switch and indicator. This switch allows activation and deactivation of the Flight Director function of the autopilot and allows the right seat pilot to optionally show the Flight Director bars on the right side flight display.

     

    Using the MCP Pro with Microsoft Flight Simulator Default Aircraft

     

    To use the MCP Pro with the stock aircraft included in FS 2004 or FSX, It’s important to make the applicable selection in GFConfig software, before starting FSX or P3D. As mentioned above, there are six functions on the MCP Pro that cannot be used with default aircraft. GoFlight mentions five of these in the manual, LVL CHG, VNAV, LNAV, SPD INTV, and ALT INTV, and. I found that the C/O function also does not work properly with default aircraft. There are a few other limitations of the default aircraft that affect the functioning of the MCP Pro:

     

    • FS has only one autopilot Engage mode, with no distinction between A and B, so the MCP Pro’s A CMD and B CMD buttons both serve to engage or disengage the autopilot. Both buttons light when the autopilot is engaged.

     

    • FS does not support a Control Wheel Steering function, so the A CWS and B CWS buttons are programmed as Autopilot Engage/Disengage buttons, performing the same function as the A CMD and B CMD buttons.

     

    • The FS autopilot and primary flight display supports only one Flight Director, so both the left and right Flight Director switches can be used to control the state of the single FS Flight Director. When the Flight Director is activated, both left and right Flight Director LEDs light up.

     

    Experience

     

    I thoroughly enjoyed the realism of the MCP Pro product. It’s nice to be able to flip switches, push buttons, and turn knobs, instead of reaching for the mouse, or other pointing device, and clicking to change a setting. The product is slightly smaller than full scale, and in comparison to competitive products that are scaled to the size of the real instrument, the MCP Pro is about 7/8 scale in length, and only slightly smaller than scale in height. Because most flight simmers are used to looking at control panel components that are significantly smaller than their real counterparts, the size is likely not an issue for most users. Home cockpit builders might be an exception, depending on the scale of their products.

     

    Installation was quite simple. I downloaded and installed the required software, unzipped, and installed the software, which also installs drivers. Next, I opened the software, selected the FSX tab, and from the drop-down list of compatible software products, I selected FS Default. After starting FSX or P3D for the first time after installing the GoFlight software, click Run on the security warning popup, and then on the next popup, Trust the software.

     

    T_SW-Run-75.jpg

     

    When testing the MCP Pro with the default FSX Boeing 737-900 and 747-400, operating controls on the MCP Pro or the control panel caused the counterpart MCP to change its display to match. While the speed display changed back and forth between knots and Mach on either the MCP Pro or the control panel MCP with C/O button presses, the counterparts did not change with default aircraft, though they did change with the iFly Boeing 737-800.

     

    There were a few observed display issues. The decimal point was sometimes unlighted when Mach speed was selected, and sometimes lighted when speed in knots was selected. This appeared to be related to default aircraft and MCP Pro speed in knots and Mach not staying coordinated when the C/O button is pressed on either MCP, as mentioned earlier.

     

    I noticed some differences in brightness among the numerical displays for different functions, and I saw some phantom number and letter changes, such as a leading “3” occasionally changing to an “h” in the altitude and right course displays. A suggestion for potential purchasers is that this product works best with the compatible add-on aircraft listed above, and purchase of these aircraft products would add a relatively small amount, compared to cost of the MCP Pro. The price of the MCP Pro at time of writing was $524.95 US, though potential purchasers should check www.GoFlightInc.com for occasional discounts. Prices of the compatible add-on aircraft and control panel products vary by developer.



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