The Boeing 737. What an airplane, ahhh. That is pretty much how I like to sum up the entire line of Boeing 737’s.
Before I became a pilot, I worked for a US carrier known for their remarkable operation of all Boeing 737 aircraft. To this day, they have continued to prove why this is the number one selling commercial aircraft of all time. The second generation 737 took a tremendous leap forward in the direction of the platform most commercial aircraft are built on today. Gone were the steam gauges, gone were the turbojets, and what that gave us was the “semi” glass cockpit and more powerful, quieter, and fuel efficient turbofan engines.
Feelthere, in cooperation with Wilco Publishing, have masterfully recreated the Boeing 737 for the flight sim community. Those of you familiar with their work will be pleasantly surprised with the workmanship that has been applied to this product. With almost every aspect of this aircraft being functional, it is truly a pleasure to go back in time a few years before the New Generation was developed. Every reviewer has different preferences in add-ons by which he or she base their review, with that in mind, this is the closest to perfection out of any add-on I have owned. If everything we have is perfect then there would be nothing to strive for, the Wilco Publishing 737 Pilot-In-Command by Feelthere is reaching for the stars.
Installation and Documentation
Installation is via a purchased download or CD. The installation was simple and uneventful. The 737 Pilot In Command comes with a 58 page manual complete with captioned pictures.
The manual was written in cooperation with Retired Captain Mike Ray, whose real world flight experience is very beneficial to the production of the included manual. The layout is very legible and easy to navigate and comes in PDF format. I have mixed emotions about the manual for a couple of selfish reasons. The manual, in its entirety, is written for the novice flyer, with that said, I know there are a large number of simmers that not only want their add-ons to fly as the real ones do but also include documentation to operate systems by the book.
For those of us involved in the airline industry we know how secure aircraft manuals are kept, considering each airline has an “airline specific” manual for each aircraft they may operate. Therefore, I would not be opposed to one either a little shorter or in cooperation with someone like Captain Mike Ray, to be able to order a PDF version at a discounted price with the purchase of the aircraft.
Now, back to the format the manual is intended for, the novice. Absolutely wonderful walk through and explanation of vital systems, controls, and their operation. With the exception of a couple of misspellings, this 737 manual is written in a format that is perfect for the new simmer and is actually hard to put down once you start reading.
Even if you are an experienced pilot, take the time and read the manual. It will serve you well.
The 737 PIC really shines in the flight deck. I prefer to spend most of my time in the 2-D environment. As in the real cockpit, I prefer to see all of the essential components right in front of me and accessible. Although 2-D is my preference, the layout and legibility of the virtual cockpit has been very well recreated and those of you that prefer the virtual cockpit will be very pleased. Now, back to the 2-D panel.
The MIP (Main Instrument Panel) greets you with a very realistic look incorporating the old style steam gauges and the newer electronic displays. Comparing the 737 PIC with the real 2nd generation 737 shows you exactly how much attention to detail went in to the MIP, as well as the MCP (Multifunction Control Panel). The overhead also carries on this philosophy in the cockpit. Accurate click sounds, working gauges, and moveable toggle switch covers throughout the flight deck really enhance the overall feel of the aircraft.
The only preference I have that has not been incorporated with operating the aircraft without the virtual cockpit, is when you look anywhere other than straight ahead in the 2-D cockpit there are no panels or windows to make you feel like you are still in the cockpit. As strange as this may sound to some of you, when you taxi the aircraft around turns you have no sensation of what that pilot's really see from up front. You might say just use the virtual cockpit, however there are a number of individuals that still prefer the 2-D cockpit as I do.
The FMS (Flight Management System) is another component the makes the 737 a “Pilot In Command” product. The accuracy incorporated in the unit is second to none in aftermarket add-ons. In other words, if the FMS does something in the real world counterpart, it is recreated in this unit. One small item I noticed in this version that I have not seen in other aircraft, not that it doesn’t already exist, is the warning on the main page you receive if the AIRAC is out of date.
SID, STAR packages are also included. The individual content pages are accurate and replicated properly. The hold function is also replicated nicely. The VNAV and LNAV pages provide the capability to make inflight changes and routing changes by procedure, easily. Inflight changes, in my opinion, have been an item of difficulty in add-on FMS’s that were not fully functional.
Although not the first aircraft available with working weather radar, it is nicely recreated. For those of us that use on-line weather updates or third party weather programs, you will enjoy the functionality of the weather radar. There are a couple of different setting options to give different system users the option of how much this add-on will affect frame rates while flying. Components in the cockpit may be selected by the displayed toggles on the top left of your screen, or by the “Shift + 1-9” method. All other components are equally well designed and useful, so to talk about each one in detail would not make or break the normal pilot from purchasing this product.
As for this category, the basis of the review will simply have to be the time I have spent in the 737 level D simulator at a U.S. carrier's headquarters. With that said, the 737 PIC is as close to any when comparing flight dynamics of the real aircraft to that of a virtual counterpart. I conducted procedures including, but not limited to; normal, short, and soft takeoff and landing; slow flight clean and dirty; steep turns; emergency descent; stalls: as well as, single engine operations.
The 737 PIC flew in these configurations accurately to the best of my knowledge. The most difficult maneuver, in my opinion, is hand flying the slow flight configurations and maintaining accurate control of the throttles on the yoke. This problem however, is simply attributed to non precision placement capabilities when using such a small plastic throttle lever and not a problem with the aircraft.
I have also spent some time in full size home built cockpits and must say that if you purchase this aircraft just for its flight dynamics it is well worth it.
Exterior and Sounds
The exterior is as expected for this day and age in add-on aircraft. Moving flaps, ailerons, spoilers, rudder, elevator, nose wheel, well you get the picture. The aircraft is all-in-all an accurate representation of the real B737. I think the only thing that could have been added to enhance the exterior, is maybe to recreate the thrust exiting the engine and for lack of better terms how it distorts the air. There was at one time a freeware add-on in our library for the 737 that recreates this. All-in-all, good job.
The sound file is a nice compliment to the aircraft. Accurate engine sounds, wind noise, and everything else you would expect to hear a sound from is recreated, as well as any, in this aircraft.
The additional second-generation series aircraft may be purchased as a stand alone or as additional models from Wilco Publishing. The aircraft in almost every facet are similar. The exterior models and weights are the standout items that are noticeably different and the addition is a great value if you have already purchased the 300 series and wish to complete your second generation set of the Boeing 737.
Two factors in holding on to this aircraft for a while before finishing the review, were the release of the 400-500 series and the update. A list of all updated fixes or additions can be found on the publisher’s site. I will not sit here and tell you exactly what was fixed as it is simply a waste of time. The most important reason for mentioning the update is to note that Feelthere continues to work diligently after a product is released to correct any discrepancies or additions they feel necessary to provide the consumer with the best possible product without lengthy delays.
I point this out because I have an aircraft released late in 2005, I have yet to see update for and that particular product, which will remain nameless, had far more severe bugs than the 737PIC could ever imagine.
The only “bad” thing with the update is that there are actually a few of them depending on how and when you bought your 737. Although minor, this may be a bit frustrating for the flight simmer that might not be so computer savvy.
The Wilco 737PIC by Feelthere is a must have for any pilot that likes the combination of old school and new school flying. The 737PIC has a confident arrogance about it that says, “I am one of the best add-ons ever”, and backs itself up in every aspect. Strap into one and see for yourself, you won’t be disappointed. I think we have found an award winner.
I would also like to mention that the two companies that worked to bring this product to you both deserve equal mentioning and I would like to say thanks to Feelthere and Wilco Publishing for bringing us another great product.
hear that, I think it’s, oh yeah, it is
a B777 coming in!
|What I Like About The 737 Pilot In Command|
|What I Don't Like About The 737 Pilot In Command|
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