From the FS2Crew website: “FS2Crew was established in 2004 by an international team of programmers, graphic artists and airline professionals who came together to create realistic airline crew simulations for the Microsoft Flight Simulator series. The idea behind the FS2Crew concept is a simple one: It's not realistic to fly large airlines like they're Cessna 172's. It's a two person job, and getting an airliner from A to B involves interacting with a lot of different people. It's the "people element" of airline flying that FS2Crew attempts to model.”
Ever since I starting using Microsoft Flight Simulator back in 1996/7, I have always said it would be a lot easier and realistic if there was a simulated first officer. While aircraft and flight simulators have come a long way, the aspect of the entire work load being on one pilot has detracted somewhat from a true to life flying experience, if you don’t believe me try flying the Maddog all by yourself as accurately as possible! I think that with this new product, the experience of using the flight simulator and flying complex aircraft just might change forever.
• Customized to work exclusively with the Leonardo Maddog aircraft
and match MD80 SOPs.
Notes for users running home Networks:
• Because the speech recognition engine is built into a gauge file that gets loaded via the host aircraft's panel.cfg file on your main Flight Simulator computer, the software is not networkable. A microphone or headset needs to be connected to your Flight Simulator computer.
Documentation and Installation
Installation of the FS2Crew Maddog was quite easy. The installation shield is self explanatory and easy to follow. The Service pack provided by the developer was also a quick and easy installation. Setting up the FS2crew was not as difficult as I thought it would be, with the only added installation being the Voice recognition software from the Microsoft website.
The documentation provided is very thorough but the grammar in some areas made it difficult to understand some of the instructions but this was not a major issue. Everything you need to know is covered in the manuals as well as key functions that you absolutely MUST carry out in order for the program to work correctly. I strongly suggest printing out these manuals as they will be useful as you try to feel your way around using this new software.
One of my fondest memories in flying was my very first flight onboard an MD-83 (BWIA). It was the aircraft that sparked my interest in aviation at a young age and from that point on I was determined to be a pilot and someday fly an MD-83.
While I was able to obtain my Pilots’ License, the dream of flying an MD-83 slipped away when airlines started phasing out these aircrafts in favor of newer more fuel efficient aircraft. However, the thought always lingered in my mind. What would it be like to be the pilot of an MD-83? Well, FS2Crew along with the amazing Maddog2008 didn’t make this dream come true, but it certainly gave me the closest to life experience of what it would be like to fly this aircraft.
While testing the FS2Crew voice commander with the Maddog2008, I decided it would have been the perfect opportunity to replicate the very first flight I had onboard this aircraft. After downloading the BWIA repaint, I loaded up a flight out of Piarco International (TTPP) in Trinidad which was destined for Grenada which is a short 20min flight away.
After starting the FS2Crew control panel, the 30 minute preflight routine was started. The First Officer came into the cockpit and asked how I was doing today, after replying “good” he then started to carry out all of the pre-start checklist items. Be mindful though, that you are required to complete certain checklist items on your own before starting the FS2Crew program in order for the FO to carry out his flows correctly.
After the FO completed his Pre-Start check, I then asked if he was ready for the departure brief to which he said yes. Since he had no questions, we then started the Before Start Check. At a few points I did have some difficulty in my own responses to his challenge on the checklist due to not having a strong American accent which the Speech software favors.
One of the things I can’t over emphasize is the fact that all of these functions are carried out without the click the mouse on a control panel to prompt the various commands. All of this is done simply by speaking as in real life. When contacting the ground crew, I was even able to ask them to close up the cargo doors, so keyboard commands to close the doors are no longer needed.
It is also important to say that using the voice commander will take some getting use to since there are various trigger words which have to be said in order for the program to work correctly. For this reason I strongly recommend printing out the Appendix A and Appendix C portions of the manual that discuss everything you need to say and do in order that the program runs smoothly.
After engine start, it was now time to taxi to the active. During the short taxi to the runway, I called for the taxi check which were all read and do items. There are many other features which I failed to mention, but after all, I think it’s fair that I leave some of these features for users to discover on their own.
After the line up check was completed, we took off from runway 10 and then headed to Grenada. All other phases of flight and checklist items associated with it were handled smoothly by the First Officer, who is also able to handle autopilot functions such as heading and altitude changes.
When we landed at the Maurice Bishop International airport (The new name for Point Salines International) words can’t describe the feeling I had. It was as if I really did fly with SOMEONE. The experience was wonderful and refreshing; not only did I have a reduced workload, but I also learnt the proper procedures for flying this aircraft.
There is a lot more I can say about this product, but I highly recommend it to anyone who owns the Maddog2008 or any other aircraft which is supported by FS2Crew Voice Commander.
Summary / Closing Remarks
Now that I have tested this product, I no longer have to wonder what it would be like to have a true to life flying experience within the confines of Microsoft Flight Simulator. While it is true that developers have been able to create aircraft that offer in-depth systems and ultra realistic models, but there has always been something missing and I think FS2Crew is the icing on the cake.
Not only do I have a great aircraft such as the Maddog2008, but now without the need to click all over the place to prompt various commands, I can simply say what I want done and it gets done! Just like having a real First Officer or Captain, the workload is drastically reduced and you are now able to focus more on flying the aircraft.
FS2Crew’s intent was to add the “people” aspect to virtual flying and I think without a shadow of a doubt they have succeeded in revolutionizing the virtual flying experience.
What I Like About FS2Crew For The Maddog
What I Don't Like About FS2Crew For The Maddog
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