Training on the Majestic Dash 8 Q400
A review by Ray Marshall
First, this is not yet another review of the Majestic Dash 8 Q400 aircraft add-on for FSX. This is specifically a review of the London based upstart Airline2Sim video training for the Dash 8 Q400. Ben Weston, Founder and Chief Honcho is a long time flight simmer with a background in radio and professional broadcasting. He is also the holder of a Private Pilot license flying Tomahawks and Warriors. A recent merger of his radio station with another left Ben looking for a new job. Tired of decades long mergers and acquisitions in the media industry, timing was such that a new FSX training company was born.
Majestic Software had just introduced their Dash 8 Q400 for FSX and Ben, along with most other early adopters, was having a time trying to tame this newest add-on. Long story, short, Ben recruited a specialty team with extensive experience in animation, graphics and video production and of course, some real world Q400 pilots to star in the show.
There is nothing better than a real world airline pilot that carries a laptop loaded with FSX to entertain himself at the hotel during layovers. Well, except one that also enjoys chatting with all the ‘would be’ flight sim pilots in the forums.
My first introduction to Airline2Sim was a catchy post at AVSIM.com with the heading – Ask the Q400 pilot a question.
I did indeed ask a few questions, mostly about the various models of the Q400 NextGen. Although an everyday occurrence in the European skies and many other places around the world, the Q400 is not nearly as popular in the US due to the Embarer competition, the Canadian CRJs and the short haul Boeing 737s. United Express is the first U.S. Regional Carrier that comes to my mind that uses the Q400, then maybe Lynx/Frontier. A quick look at the 20 or so liveries that accompany the Majestic Dash 8 should be a good indicator of which airlines fly the Q400.
The regional jet altered the picture for the U.S. Although more expensive than turboprops, regional jets allow airlines to operate passenger services on routes not suitable for turboprops. Turboprop aircraft have lower fuel consumption and can operate from shorter runways than regional jets, but have higher engine maintenance costs, shorter ranges and lower cruising speeds.
Although Airline2Sim now has airline pilots onboard for Airbus, Boeing and Twin Otter trainer, this review is limited to the Cadet training for the Majestic Dash 8 Q400.
Majestic Software is the group who took the freeware Q300 commercial and then spent the next 4 years writing code and such to create the MJC8 Q400 for FSX. They are also famous for their work on the Aerosim B737. Spread across Europe, we find Oleksiy Frolov, (Programming) in Portugal, Dimitri Samborski (Model Design) in France, Nikolai Samsonov (INS/Artwork) in Russia and Simeon (Kroswynd) testing.
In addition to staying on top of the tweaks, patches and updates for the Q400 Pilot edition, the follow-on PRO edition for truly serious flyers with failures, HUD, and many advanced features and capabilities and Trainer Edition aimed at cockpit builders and airline training are keeping these guys busy.
Here is how Majestic Software describes their product.
MJC8 Q400 is a Flight Simulator add-on, built after the Bombardier ™ Dash-8 Q400 turboprop aircraft. It has started as a software framework for the FNPT level flight simulator and later separated into an independent project, which provides essentially the full cockpit simulator features under the FSX framework.
In addition, to the advanced simulation of the aircraft systems, this product also contains an independent Flight Dynamics Engine (FDE), capable of running at a much higher rate than the default FSX FDE, and free of the inherent problems pertaining to the default aircraft flight dynamics. Our Flight Dynamics is capable of providing the realistic wind simulation, icing effects, enhanced propeller physics including the propeller de-icing and auto rotation, effects of the propeller airstream on the wing lift and the icing effects on the propeller, wings and the flight surfaces.
The product is packaged into 3 editions, differentiating in the price and the included features.
I read someplace that this is the single most complex add-on ever produced for FSX. Hmmm. I also read that the MJC8 Q400 was the best-selling GA add on for FSX for 2013. The Pilot version comes only with the virtual cockpit, 2D instrument popups only.
Why is everyone so excited a about the Majestic Dash 8 Q400?
As stated earlier, this is not a review of the Q400. It is about the Airline2Sim Cadet training program. But, so you can appreciate just how good, maybe great, this add-on for FSX is I would like to quote a few statements from the published reviews.
Aerosoft Sim News – by Paul Racines, June 2, 2013
If you would like to know what it’s like to fly a state of the art turboprop regional airliner in FSX, then the Majestic Software rendition of the Dash 8-Q400 is an excellent choice. It's not an easy aircraft to fly, because it’s not meant to be a simple rendition.
If you take the time to learn and practice, then a new pinnacle in our hobby will have been reached. New pinnacle I say because there are so many new technologies and features implemented into the new Majestic Dash 8-Q400 that must be learned. The moment I climbed into the cockpit I knew this was going to be a long learning process
AirDailyX First Look – by Mark Hrycenko, April 20, 2013
Here we are folks, our first look at the Majestic Software Dash 8-Q400...and it is good, really good, really really really good... My initial impression of this aircraft is probably the most positive that I have ever experienced
The first thing you will notice when loading up the aircraft is that the virtual cockpit looks fantastic, there is a feeling of actually being there! Cockpit textures a clear and crisp, and EFIS screens look great even up close.
Everything is just well done and delivered in a complete package! In fact, this may be the aircraft that gets me back into commercial FSX flying...it's just that good. If I were to summarize my initial experience with this product - this may very well be the most impressive add-on aircraft in a very long time.
AVSIM.com – by Marlon Carter, December 28, 2013
Speaking from the view point of a simmer and a private pilot, the Q400 is perhaps “one of” the most realistic simulations of an aircraft in flight. The fact that real airline pilots have also voiced their commendation for this aircraft, speaks volumes for how realistically the aircraft’s FDE has been simulated.
The Q400 has introduced a number of new features into world of flightsim. The most significant of them all are the outstanding FDE and Sound simulation. The systems can also merit recognition for manner in which they were programmed using real life laws of physics. Many have called this product “The Game Changer” and I tend to agree.
FlightSim.com – Stuart Outram, September 15, 2013
The adjectives being applied range from very nice, to beyond awesome! if you are relatively new to flight simulation, and/or do not have good knowledge of the more realistically modelled aircraft available to us, then you will struggle with this.
It is not a just a 'pick up and fly' offering. It does need to be studied, and for those of you wanting an immersive experience, I am sure that you can go 'all the way' into the world of flight accuracy with the Q400.
I have put it AccuFeel to good work with the Dash 8. It fits with this type of aircraft very well, and with such a finely structured product, it has once again added value to the already good flight model presented by Majestic.
Couple this with OPUS for FSX and the camera view element, and I have been in another place. Adding FTX Global and my last couple of weeks have been refreshing and quite renewing all round.
Mutley’s Hangar – Rob Scott, July 2013
When you fly the Q400 you’ll probably be surprised at how powerful it is. Even the smallest changes in power setting can result in big changes in airspeed. On most approaches I was flying with the throttles practically at idle and still able to maintain airspeed – this is one bird that likes to go fast.
Wow! There is only a VC included but what a VC it is. Each panel is expertly done and the frame rates from within the VC were great – even in built up areas with high auto-gen.
The animations are superb – the props will even turn slightly in the wind whilst at the gate in a cold & dark state. this is a fantastic add-on for FSX. It is a complex and in depth add-on without being confusing for someone new to this type of simulation.
simFlight.de – Stefan Benzinger & Frank Schmidt, May 27, 2013
I am now but a right royalists! After many hours on the dash and intensive training in the matter of the turboprop operation all doubts are gone, and enthusiasm is spreading: the dash 8 Q400 majestic software is already a great add-on, and it remains exciting to accompany the further developments. (Stefan)
Pro - Very good looks inside and out, high level of system integration, lush facilities, weather radar, successful sound, further versions planned. Con – Problems with 3rd Party add-ons (AES), missing hardware compatibility (VRinsight).
A Bombardier creation, built in Canada - It:
My Conclusion is that this must be a pretty special add-on.
Even though I only used a few quotes from the reviews, all of them, from around the world, seemed to agree this is not your ordinary complex add-on, but rather something special. There probably are many reasons, not the least of which is that it has taken a hand-picked team 4 years of work to produce.
Another reason is the FDE was coded totally outside of the FSX box and hooked in with SimConnect. This alone should boost your Frame Rate on older PCs or allow you to fly with higher settings using more robust hardware.
The MJC8 Flight Dynamics is capable of providing realistic wind simulation, icing effects, enhanced propeller physics including propeller de-icing and auto rotation, effects of the propeller airstream on the wing lift and effects of icing or the propeller, wings and flight surfaces. Wait until you witness the slow buildup of ice on the cockpit windows.
The common thread throughout the reviews was that you will need to spend some serious time hitting the books, learning the idiosyncrasies of a Turboprop aircraft, mastering a cockpit designed for two pilots but flying with one in FSX and the necessary skills for flying a commuter airliner on a series of short flights.
I also realize that most flight simmers will need some assistance
Airline2Sim Q400 Cadet Training to the rescue. Using a real world Dash 8 Q400 First Officer to ‘fly the lessons’ or maybe ‘teach the lessons’ is unique for FSX training. But, to capture everything in HD video using graphic overlays with animations and actually fly it in FSX is totally awesome.
Now add up the total package of 493 minutes in 10 lessons that can be watched over and over, even downloaded and watched offline and you have an exceptional training environment. This is over 8 hours of HD full screen training video specific to the Q400 flying in FSX.
One of the superior features is the cockpit conversation between Ben Weston, the student and Training Captain Josh Harrison, the instructor pilot. Of course, it helps that Ben has that broadcaster’s voice and is easily understood. Playing the part of the student, Ben asks for clarification often. This is especially helpful to me because the King’s English sounds almost like a foreign language to me and Capt. Josh comes across like ‘Sir Josh of Birmingham’ to my untrained ear. Interestingly, Capt. Josh handles all the ATC transmissions and in that job I understand almost every word he says. Duh.
Why do the training videos look so realistic?
There are many reasons but using several FSX add-ons are necessary to replicate the scenes in the training videos. According to what I could find, the following add-ons are used in the videos:
- EGNX, East Midlands Intl airport by UK2000
- EGBB, Birmingham airport by UK2000
- EGKK, Gatwick airport by UK2000
- EGNS, Isle of Man airport by Earth Simulations (IOM)
- EGJB, Guernsey airport by Earth Simulations (Channel Isles Guernsey)
- ORBX FTX ENG for general scenery
- REX, AS NEXT, and SHADE for sky, clouds and weather.
A statement from Airline2sim about Q400 training.
We've put a REAL, rated and current Dash 8 Q400 pilot from a major airline into the training pilot's seat inside Flight Simulator. Learn every switch and button inside the flight deck, watch how to fly the aircraft with full airline procedures, check-lists and flows, and learn from our mistakes as we put our rookie simulator pilot through his paces, under instruction from a pilot who flies the Q400 for a living.
Pilot Fact File, Introduction
Intro to pilot, airplane and what lies ahead.
Flight Deck Tour
Complete tour of the cockpit and panel layouts
Initial Base Training - ground
Engine start, pushback, taxi, radio/nav aid tuning, flows, checklist, takeoffs and landing in an empty Q400 at a quiet airfield.
Initial Base Training, flying
4 takeoff and landing with various flap settings,
Speed and power control, autoflight modes.
Planning and Loading
Flight planning, fuel planning, load planning, SID, STAR, altitude selection
Crew Room Brief
Lot of details here. First sector from IOM – BHX.
Plan, fuel, noise, weather, alternates, coffee.
Line Flight no. 1 IOM – BHX
Flight deck safety check, setup FMS, takeoff briefing, set flight modes, ready for pushback.
Line Flight no 1 IOM – BHX continued
Push back, start up, launch across Irish Sea. Noise abatement, crew comm, flight management, landing
Line Flight no 2 BHX – GCI
Offload PAX, refuel, embark, ready for next sector, fly down coast of France to Channel Isle Guernsey. Advanced FMS, high cruise, short runway, ILS inopt. Fun stuff.
Line Flight 3 GCI - LGW
Darkness falling, sunset flight to Gatwick, speed controls,
More FMS, surprise technical malfunction, long day.
Mutley’s Hangar Preview
LOC/DME approach to Guernsey / ILS inop.
Part 1: Pilot fact file – Meet your training Captain.
Part 2: Flight deck tour – A complete tour of the Q400 flight deck, including the auto-flight system, overhead panel, engine controls and fire protection.
Part 3: Initial base training – Fly an empty aircraft with no passengers from a quiet airfield for a number of take-offs and landings so you can get used to dealing with the various flows and checklists involved. Learn how to start the engines, taxi safely, understand charts and how to tune navigation aids.
Part 4: Initial base training – Perform four take-offs and landings with a variety of different flap configurations and you’ll appreciate the full extent of the pilot's workload in this fast-moving environment.
Part 5: Planning and loading – Take care of flight planning in FSX and ensure you’ve got enough fuel to load your Q400 correctly. Detailed procedures demonstrate how to prepare a full flight briefing.
Part 6: Crew room briefing – Your training pilot talks you through a detailed briefing for your first flight sector, including weather, NOTAMS, fuel requirements and possible diversion airports in case of any problems.
Part 7: Line flight 1: IOM-BHX flight deck set-up – Setting up the flight deck for the first of four planned sectors around the British Isles: flight deck safety check, flight deck preparation, FMS set-up, nav aid tuning, full take-off briefing and autopilot set-up.
Part 8: Line flight 1: IOM-BHX – Push back, start up and take off. You’ll see how to fly the noise abatement procedure, how crews communicate with the cabin, and get some hints on how to give your passengers a smooth ride! Find out all you need to know about descent planning and set the Q400 up for an ILS arrival into Birmingham airport.
Part 9: Line flight 2 : BHX-GCI – A quick turnaround at Birmingham International as you set the aircraft up for the next sector, a 55-minute hop to Guernsey. Watch the crew set up the SID for the departure and run the loading and fuel figures for a new traffic load. Learn more advanced features of the FMS and navigation radios, how to fly the Q400 flat out and perform a challenging LOC DME approach into the short 1400m runway!
Part 10: Line flight 3: GCI-LGW – With two sectors complete, head back across the English Channel to London Gatwick and a complicated STAR arrival. Learn how to set up different level-offs in the FMS, work out a descent rate in your head, and deal with a nasty surprise on the ILS thanks to a technical malfunction!
See the Just Flight website for all the details!
If you do not already own the Majestic Dash 8 Q400 add-on for FSX, you will need to have one for the personalized flight training. Once you purchase the Airline2Sim Q400 Cadet Training Program and setup your Vimeo account you are ready to start learning.
You have the option of simply watching these professional level training videos in full screen HD or downloading any or all episodes to your hard drive or USB key for later viewing. I can watch my training videos on my 27 inch widescreen Dell monitor, my iPad Air, or my wall mounted Samsung 51 inch Plasma monitor. Folks, it just doesn’t get any better than this.
Did I mention the sound? The sounds are outstanding. You would think you were actually doing circuits on Runway 27 at East Midlands with the cockpit views and the add-on scenery. Power changes and propeller noise is very apparent in the Q400 cockpit.
You are also in for a treat with the startup at Ronaldsway Airport on the Isle of Man. This scenery package may be the most realistic of all FSX add-ons bar none. Place the Majestic Q400 on the ramp at EGNS and you do indeed have something quite special in FSX. Follow that up with the scenic flight along the coast of France to the Channel Isles then on to London Gatwick for a balked landing attempt and you have a full day of flying.
You will not just be learning to fly the MJC8 Q400, you will be learning the fly the Q400 using actual airline procedures. You will be learning those airline procedures directly from an active real world Q400 First Officer. There are times you will totally forget you are watching a video or when you are actually at the controls flying in FSX. This is so realistic you can easily convince yourself you are really flying over the English Channel or flying that sunset flight from the Islands to Gatwick.
One day soon you will know every switch, every button, every lever, every knob, every sound, even recognize those vibrations of the Q400. You will get thoroughly familiar with the proper flows, checklists and procedures, charts, briefings and such. Preparing load sheets, fuel policy, flying noise abatement routes, and weather reviews will become second nature. Altitude selection, departure and arrival procedures, alternates, METAR reviews will all be routine tasks.
Welcome aboard, Captain.
Excellent airplane, excellent environment, excellent training videos, excellent price. Highly recommended.
This is a no-brainer. I just can’t imagine a better deal for the flight simming community. Even if you don’t own or even plan to buy the Majestic Q400, I recommend you purchase the Airline2sim Q400 Training Program. If you watch the videos I would bet you would not complete the first half before stopping and purchasing your own MJC8 Q400.
Even though I am not reviewing the MSJ8 Q400, I get so excited about the quality, complexity and level of modelling I keep wanting to make just one more statement. Once you actually learn to properly fly the Q400 you will look forward to hand flying and following detailed procedures. All those casual statements that Captain Josh makes during the training sessions will continue to work on you as you gain flight experience. It also seems that Majestic evidently considers the Q400 a Work-In-Progress because they just keep adding more and more refinements and features.
Due to the extensive and comprehensive training syllabus coupled with the outstanding Majestic Q400 features and jaw dropping visuals delivered as professional level downloadable content at a ridiculously low price I recommended the Airline2Sim Q400 Training Program for the coveted AVSIM Gold Star Award.
Special Half Price sale on Airline2sim Dash 8 Q400 Cadet Video Training Program.
- Download only (12.9 GB)
- 50% OFF - ONLY £9.99 / €12.45 / $14.99 Offer ends 9am (UK time) on Monday 21 July 2014
- Go to Just Flight the details!
Watch Airline2Sim Q400 Trailer (2:07)
(If link is broken then Google search)
Purchase Majestic Dash 8 Q400 at
Thanks to Scott at Justflight for providing the Majestic MJC8 Q400 & the special half price sale for the Airline2sim Q400 Video Training.
Thanks to Ben at Airline2Sim for providing the Q400 Training Program.
Thanks to Oleksiy and the team at Majestic Software for creating and completing the MJC8 Q400 project for FSX.
Special thanks to all the Reviewers that published reviews of the Majestic Dash 8 Q400 add on for FSX. Please read their entire review for full and proper perspective as I only used bits and pieces.