Publisher: Flight Deck Productions
Reviewed By: Marlon Carter
There are few aircraft that inspire a true sense of accomplishment in aviation like the Concorde does. Concorde first flew in 1969 and but entered service in 1976 with British Airways and Air France, although ordered by many other airlines. Sadly, in 2003 the Concorde was retired after nearly 30 years of flying on the edge of the earth at speeds twice the speed of sound.
While the dream of flying the Concorde may have died in 2003 for many of pilots and enthusiasts, Flight Sim Labs took up the task of creating a simulator version of the Concorde in all its glory. In 2010 FSLabs released the Concorde X for FSX and since then we now have the opportunity to experience the privilege that only a select few can boastfully say that have had, the opportunity to fly the Concorde.
I must admit that when I first heard of the Concorde X I thought to myself that this was going to be more or less a premium product. My opinion right now after further investigation and viewing the Training DVD by Flight Deck Productions is that Concorde X is THE most complex aircraft that FSX has ever seen. The level of detail in the systems of Concorde X is unparalleled and second to none.
With each passing minute of viewing the Training DVD I was awe struck by how FSLabs was able to simulate just about everything except a flushing toilet to such great detail and accuracy. With an aircraft being so complex, I was also very intimidated by the workload involved just to complete a simple flight from London to New York. The learning curve is very steep and if real world BA and Air France pilot took 6 months on average to learn how to fly the aircraft, you can bet your last dollar that this will be a significant challenge for you within the confines of FSX.
Realizing the significant challenge most simmers will face in learning how to fly the Concorde, Flight Deck Productions has created a training package that consist of 2 DVDs that will teach you everything you need to know about the Concorde’s complex systems.
Flight Deck Production should be no stranger to us as they have already created an award winning training DVD for the “FlytheMaddog” MD-80 series which to this day is a strong contender as one of the most complex aircraft available to date. If you would like to read the review of the “Learn the Maddog” Training DVD you can find it here.
Each DVD provided in this package consists of the following training lessons.
1) Panel Introduction
2) Electrical Systems
3) Aircraft Lighting
4) Fire Detection
5) Air Conditioning & Pressurization
6) Ice & Rain Protection
7) Hydraulic Systems
8) Landing Gear & Brakes
9) Fuel Systems
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10) Flight Controls
11) Powerplant & Engine Controls
12) Flight Instruments
13) Master Warning & Alert Systems
14) Auto flight Systems
16) Navigation & INS
Let’s take a closer look and point out some of the highlights and what you can expect to gain from using this brilliant training tool. (Due to the length and depth of information, I will only cover Disk 1 by topic and Disk 2 in a general summary)
A fitting start to this presentation is an overview of the many panels of Concorde. It covers a general overview of the Main Panel and the hotspots that help you to navigate to other panels such as the overhead and flight engineer’s panel. It also provides insight on how many of the control knobs are controlled using the mouse wheel or left and right clicking.
While the presentation focuses more so on the 2D panel it is important to note that the Concorde X has an equally stunning Virtual Cockpit as well. In the interest of simplifying things and providing the best view of various panels, the focus is placed more so on the 2D panels. This will come in handy especially when considering the Flight Engineer’s panel which can easily leave you feeling overwhelmed and disoriented by looking at it.
Thankfully, by the end of this training DVD you should be able to make sense of everything and confidently find your way around each panel.
Electrical Systems, Aircraft Lighting & Fire Detection
After the Panel Introduction, we get a bit more into the “meat” of things with a consideration of the Electrical Systems, aircraft lighting and Fire Detection systems. Starting off with the Electrical system, it took me at least 3 viewings along with reading the manuals that comes with Concorde X to fully comprehend this complex system. During this lesson you will learn a great deal about the AC/DC systems along with how each bus bar is powered and distributes power to various systems.
Having a good knowledge of the electrical system onboard Concorde is essential to operating this aircraft effectively. The Concorde is not fitted with an onboard APU so it is important to understand how the aircraft is powered while on the ground by a ground power unit. In flight, the aircraft’s AC main bus bar is powered by Engine Driven Generators and you will see by means of very well illustrated diagrams just how these generators work.
Finally and most importantly, knowing all of this information would be useless unless you knew how to operate the controls for the electrical system on the flight engineer’s panel. This was nicely presented using a 2D panel presentation that went into great detail to show just how each switch and indicator works. Quite honestly, at some point I was waiting to hear of which systems were not fully simulated but to my surprise nearly 100% of this system is fully simulated to the greatest accuracy that FSX will allow.
Overall, I found this lesson to be very instructive and I couldn’t possibly ask for more.
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The next video focuses on the aircraft lighting and covers all of the exterior and interior lights of the Concorde and how they are controlled. Much of it was self explanatory but interesting nonetheless. The video that follows covers the Fire Detection systems onboard Concorde X.
Some of the features covered are the fire protection features for the engines which include two (A&B) loops and extinguishing bottles. You will also learn a lot about the Engine overheat protection system along with all of the controls and indications associated with Fire and Smoke Detection.
One of the things I appreciated the most in this lesson was the illustrations and diagrams used to give the viewers a better sense of how these systems work. Without teaching tools like this it would be much harder to learn how these complex systems work.
Air System & Ice/Rain Protection
Concorde’s air system is made up for four engine compressors that provide air for various functions. These include Cooling, Cabin Pressurization and Ventilation. The pressure that passes through the Bleed Valves is regulated to 65 PSI which makes it more usable. The conditioning Valve which follows controls the entry of the bleed air into the air conditioning system where the air is cooled via three heat exchangers where it then goes to the distribution manifold.
How do I know all of this? Well apart from reading the manuals, this DVD presents this information in a way that is easy to remember. The use of animated diagrams gives you a true sense of how this system works and I was very impressed by how simplified this information was presented. After seeing the layout of the air system over a diagram of the Concorde, you come to realize that the Controls and indications on the flight engineers panel are laid out in exactly the same way.
With the aid of this DVD, I can assure you that slowly but surely, all of these intimidating panels will becoming much easier to understand and to manage as I have found. Other aspects of the Air System you will find interesting are the explanations of the Equipment cooling and Cabin Pressurization system and their associated controls and indications. The air system of the Concorde might be dated and more complex than modern airliners, but this DVD really helps you to get a firm grasp of how these systems work.
The next segment focuses on the Anti Ice system of the Concorde and is pretty much self explanatory. Nonetheless, you will learn a lot of useful information on the ice and rain protection systems onboard the Concorde that will help you fly this aircraft safely and realistically.
Hydraulic Systems, Landing Gear & Brakes
The hydraulic systems lesson was perhaps the most difficult for me to grasp for some reason. I guess that at first glance the Hydraulic control panels on the Concorde seem so daunting. However, after looking at this section of the DVD and reading the manual, I’ve come to a much better understanding of how this system works and is controlled.
The Hydraulic system is made up of three independent systems that provide the aircraft with Hydraulic power. First we have Green and Blue which are the main hydraulic systems and Yellow which is a standby system. These systems are each powered by two engine driven generators and a RAT (Ram Air Turbine) as a backup.
Here is an interesting piece of information, normally the hydraulic pressure onboard an aircraft falls at about 3000 PSI. The Concorde has a hydraulic pressure of 4000 - 4500 PSI, why? Well due to the narrow fuselage of the Concorde, system components had to be smaller and the normal 3000 PSI systems were not sufficient, hence the need for a more powerful system to generate hydraulic pressure.
The Green system specifically controls nose wheel steering, main wheel brakes, landing gear, droop nose & visor and engine 1 & 2 ramps and spill doors. The Blue system specifically supplies pressure to the engine 3 and 4 ramps and spill doors. The Green and Blue systems control 1 ram of each power flight control, relay jacks, tank 11 fuel pump and the artificial feel system. The Yellow or standby Hydraulic system controls engine ramps and spill doors, flight controls, nose and visor, landing gear, main wheel brakes and nose wheel steering.
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You might have noticed by now that the coding of the Hydraulic system on the Concorde is color coded rather than labeled as system 1 and 2. I have found that it was so much easier to learn and remember the functions of the hydraulic systems by using the color coded method. If you find it difficult to grasp, there is a very useful color coded diagram of this system in the manual that gives you a better perspective of how this system works.
Without delving into more technical talk, I will summarize this lesson by saying it guides you step by step through each aspect of the hydraulic system making it easy to understand with the use of animated diagrams. Apart from learning about each component, you will learn how this system is controlled via the flight engineer’s panel and you will also learn about many other controls and indications related to the hydraulic system.
I have found that this DVD was a tremendous aid to finding your way around the cockpit by helping you to see where every control and indication for a specific system is located and how it works. I recommend you look at this segment more than once to get a true sense of how this system works.
Finally, we have the Landing Gear and Brakes. This lesson covers an overview of the landing gear and braking component and all of their related controls and indicators in the cockpit. This lesson might seem unessential but I can assure you that I learnt quite a lot of things I never knew before and I am sure you will find it equally informative.
If you have ever flown a classic 747 or a 727, you would agree that handling the fuel management of these aircraft can be a challenge when compared to the more modern aircraft that feature automated fuel systems. The Concorde however is in another ballpark all together.
The Concorde has 13 fuel tanks! Yes you read correctly, 13 fuel tanks! The fuel management aspect of the Concorde X can be handled by the virtual flight engineer, but if you wish to take on the challenge yourself, you can disable this option and experience the mind boggling task of balancing all of Concorde’s fuel tanks AND fly the aircraft.
As I mentioned before, Concorde has 13 fuel tanks but you need not worry because they are well organized into three groups. First we have Engine Feed Tanks (1-4), Main Transfer Tanks (5, 5A, 6 and 7, 7A, 8) and finally the Trim Transfer Tanks (9-11). In this DVD you will learn the various features and function of these Tanks and how fuel is managed during various phases of flight.
Perhaps most importantly, you will learn how to make sense of the Flight Engineer’s fuel panel so that you can be confident in operating this complex system. Flight Deck Productions did a fantastic job in breaking down each section of this panel by using 2D panels along with animations to explain each switch and indicator in detail.
Other topics related to the fuel system you will learn about include Dearation, Tank Inlet Valves and the Trim Transfer Auto Master which is essential to maintaining the correct CG during flight. Overall this was a wonderful lesson and one that you may have to revisit from time to time along with your Concorde X manual or Study Guide to fully grasp the operation of the fuel system.
By now, I am sure you get the picture. At the end of Disk 1, you will have no doubt that the lessons you have seen and are yet to see in Disk 2 are no joke and that Flight Deck Productions has pulled out all the stops to ensure that this product meets the highest of standards.
Disk 2 of this training package consists of seven intriguing topics related to the vast systems of Concorde. To avoid going into too much detail and turning this review into a novel, we will focus on a more general overview of this Disk and what you can expect to learn.
We start off with a look at the Flight Control section. In this section, you will learn everything there is to know about the flight controls of the Concorde. If your think this is a useless discussion on elevators, ailerons and flaps then you are grossly mistaken. This section explains some of Concorde’s unique flight control configurations such as the outer, middle and inner Elevons. You might also be surprised to learn that the Concorde features a fly-by-wire system which sends electrical inputs to the power flying control units, which in turn controls the control surfaces. Apart from this, you will also learn about all of the controls and indications in the cockpit related to this system.
The next section touches on the Powerplant and Engine Controls. In order to ever get to Mach 2.0 you need to learn how your engines work and how they are managed. When it comes to the Concorde, there are no shortcuts to flying this aircraft. Learning how to properly manage the engines (provided you are not using the VFE) is crucial to safely operating this aircraft and seeing your money’s worth in flying this aircraft. Some of the topics covered in this section include ramps and spill door operation, engine management and other controls and indications in the cockpit that you should be aware of. This section was masterfully explained and I think you will definitely enjoy it.
Moving to the Flight Instruments, you will gain a lot of in-depth knowledge on how the flight instruments onboard the Concorde really work. This isn’t your run of the mill explanation of how some instruments work with gyros etc, but this goes even further, touching on topics such as Air Data Computers and the principles by which each instrument is used, read and controlled.
While on the topic of flight instruments, you will find the next topic on the Master Warning and Alerting System to be equally informative and in-depth. With Concorde X being so in-depth you can bet your life that if you don’t operate the aircraft correctly, you will see a few warning lights so you better know what they are for!
The final three sections to be covered on Disk 2 are the Auto Flight and Communication and Navigation systems. Some of the highlights I think you will enjoy are the discussion on the how Concorde’s auto pilot system, auto throttle and other sub-systems are controlled. Another topic worth mentioning was the amazing lesson on how the INS system is used.
The INS (to me) has been a difficult unit to use effectively. Thankfully this video broke down its operation into very easy to follow steps that will make navigating the friendly skies so much easier. While this system may be more involved, it is certainly rewarding when you complete an Atlantic crossing using this system correctly.
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At this point it’s only fitting to have a video that shows us how to put all of this information together to complete a full flight. Sad to say though, this DVD package does not contain such a video. I thought that this was a downside to this package but after contacting Larry over at FDP, I was relieved to learn that a full flight video and a study guide will be released at a later date. Once this additional video and guide is released, it is safe to say that this is definitely a package worth every penny.
Learn the Concorde comes not only with 2 DVDs but you can purchase both the Concorde and the award winning Maddog Training DVD as a bundle package for the very low price of $60.00. If you wish to only purchase the Concorde Training, you can do so for the low price of $36.00.
After looking at both DVDs I am convinced that this is perhaps one of the best deals out that and if you own the Concorde X or Maddog 2010, you should definitely consider purchasing these training DVDs. In the end, you will be a more confident and proficient Concorde or MD80 captain.
When I first started this review, I had never flown the Concorde X or knew anything at all about the Concorde. I went into this review with an open mind and an eager willingness to learn. When Flight Sim Labs contributed a copy of the Concorde X for this review, I was unaware of what I was really getting into. As I had mentioned before, this is by far one of the most complex aircraft I have come across and I am convinced that this is the one aircraft that every serious simmer should have in their hangar.
It’s not an aircraft that you may be in the mood to fly every single day, but there will be those special occasions where you feel like being a “real” pilot and having a hands-on experience with one of the greatest aircraft every created by man. Initially you may be intimidated, but after viewing this training package I can assure you that after a few viewings and closely reading the manuals, you will be a proficient Concorde pilot in no time.
I cannot stress enough that you NEED to read the manual that comes with Concorde X. If you don’t, then you will hardly benefit from this DVD.
Now we come to the controversial topic of whether this product deserves an award. In my opinion there are many great products out there, but there are also a select few that deserve more than the usual recognition. The Concorde X itself in my opinion deserves such as award for excellence in every aspect. The “Learn the Concorde” Training DVD equally deserves such recognition for its simplistic approach to teaching users how to fly one of the most complex aircraft to have flown the skies with confidence. Its use of diagrams, animation and flawless professional narration makes this product worthy of an Avsim Gold Star.
If you want to check out this training package or the FSLabs Concorde X, here are the links.
Video Preview: http://www.flightdeckproductions.com/previews.htm
Here is also a link to the Concorde X Review which was done Angelique van Campen back in early 2011:
What I Like About Learn The Concorde
- Where price is concerned this is a definite bargain.
- These DVDs were well thought out and professionally presented
- While the Concorde is complex, FDS found the perfect balance in know what information was relevant and irrelevant to the professional simmer
- Picture illustrations, along with many animations aided in making these complex systems easier to learn
- While not available for this review, this package comes with a study guide that not only covers most of the information presented in this DVD, but it also has additional information for those of you who are craving for more info.
- This DVD provides great visuals of the Flight Sim Labs Concorde X
- The fact that this training package comes in a DVD format, makes it easier to learn at your own time and pace.
What I Don't Like About Learn The Concorde
- This isn’t so much a dislike but I thought it would have been great to have the flight video available in this package. I am not sure on how it will be released later but if it meets the standard seen in these DVDs, then I am confident that we will all be in for a treat.
- As a recommendation for the flight video, it may be a good idea to use real weather and perhaps EZDOK when moving around the cockpit to various controls.