What is Call! from feelThere? Let’s have a look at the feelThere website.
CALL! for the 737 Pilot In Command is a First Officer, Flight Attendant simulation. This easy to use software brings great realism into your virtual cockpit by making you "feel there". The First Officer reads the following 737PIC checklists:
By the way, the First Officer of the Legacy reads out a little more;
After reading each item it will wait for your action, making sure you are properly following the checklist flow. The Flight Attendant SAFETY feature will initiate a safety briefing before takeoff. Upon landing, she will automatically remind the passengers to remain seated until full stop.
Call! from feelThere offers you a dedicated – made only for a specific Wilco Publishing product – aural co-pilot helping you with the checklist. Which checklist? That will be explained in more detail in this review. Is there anything to compare it with? Probably, but since this review only covers the Call products for the Wilco Publishing 737PIC and Legacy PIC, I will not compare them with others.
However, I’ll try to give you an objective as possible review, which allows you – our reader – to judge if it’s something you'd buy or worth spending you money on. The reviewed Call products are, as said before, only for the Wilco Publishing 737 and Legacy PIC and, in this case, for the FSX platform.
OK, let’s make it a little more understandable. When you buy Call! for the Wilco 737 PIC, you get the FS9 and FSX version, so two MSFS platforms for one price. Since I only own the 737X PIC (and LegacyX), I couldn’t test it under FS9 but according to Victor from feelThere, there’s no difference between the two MSFS platforms and thus the Call product.
Installation and documentation
This one is an easy one. Both installers – Call! FSX 737PIC and LegacyX - do their work fine without any problems and the FSX directory is automatically detected. Due to the small size of the program and the fact it’s an uncomplicated program – just a checklist – there’s no need to check for DX9, DX10, Vista or any other problems which can appear down the road.
After the installation is finished, there’s no shortcut on your desktop but there are links created which can be found under the Start button; FeelThere -> PIC 737X Call or LegacyX Call. As I said before, each installer – “pic737callx” and “legcallx” – is a combination of FS9 and FSX. What ever you have, the end result is more or less the same.
Important at this point is which planes you need; the Wilco Publishing 737PIC and/or Legacy PIC. Without these airplanes the feelThere Call! programs are useless! Don’t forget this since that’s one of the disadvantages.
Ok, back to the start menu. Both Start menu items are the same; with an Acrobat Callout manual and an uninstaller. The uninstaller is clear and works fine. Regarding the Acrobat document, that brings me to the next sub chapter.
Let’s first start with the 737Call Acrobat manual. It’s no more than 4 pages and in my personal opinion, not a very detailed one. It tells a little about the background of Call as a program and the way you can use it, but there’s not really anything about what each part of the checklist means.
Let’s give you an example; the first available “useful” item on the Call checklist is BEFORE START. Ok, that’s clear but it means that this Call product doesn’t offer an INITIALIZATION part or COCKPIT PREPARATIONS. The Call 737PIC doesn’t come with a checklist at all. Ok, there’s not really a need for it since we already said that you need the Wilco 737PIC product and that one comes with a checklist. When you want to fly the 737PIC then you need to print out the Wilco checklist and that one is also needed when using Call! as co-pilot. More about this later, so let’s go on to the Legacy Call manual.
Since this Call product, and thus the manual, is written after the appearance of the 737 Call version, it seems that the program is modified. It offers more aural co-pilot checklists. One important item is the availability of the DARK/COLD checklist. Ok, that’s detailed information and not relevant for the moment. Although this manual offers 6 pages of information, there’s still no table of contents, which is due to its size but there’s one thing that’s much better, and that’s a listing of what each checklist is offering.
In other words, starting on page 3 and including page 4 each checklist is written down, so you know beforehand what your virtual “aural” co-pilot will tell you to do. And that’s it. I can’t go into any more detail, so let’s have a look at the following screenshots.
That’s it folks regarding the manuals.
Co-pilot calling 737PIC Captain
After the installation of my 737XPIC – the same for the FS2004 737PIC feelThere Call! product – and the Call! Program, it’s time to check our aural co-pilot. I printed out the PIC737 checklist and let’s see if it works like I want or expect it to. Remember, I’m not going to discuss the 737PIC but purely and only the Call aural checklist program. For aural assistance I use the Boeing 737-300 in default Boeing house colors and configured it for a “cold & dark” setup.
Once I've loaded the 737, the aural checklist can be used in either the 2D or VC cockpit so that’s no problem, but we’re facing the first problem. I configured our cockpit for a cold & dark situation, however, the first useable checklist button is the “BEFORE START” button. Everything before this is not supported by the aural co-pilot. That brings me to the next question; how can I start the aural co-pilot? That’s a problem when you don’t read the manual beforehand. Page 2 tells the user that a few pre-checks must be done before our co-pilot comes alive or I should say before the initial aircraft configuration is done and ready to go. With that in mind, I’ll start doing the following “re (or is it pre)-configuration” checks:
I’m not going to discuss every Call item but what’s coming is interesting. Once you’ve completed the previous pre-settings and clicked the “BEFORE START” button, our co-pilot is awake and tells us that the cockpit preparation is COMPLETED, as well as that the light test is CHECKED. Although it’s written on page 2 that you need to perform these prerequisites, a better explanation would have been nice.
An explanation that these items must be done before the first officer will help you with the other checklist items. Unfortunately, a good example of when the programmer/developer starts writing the manual and is not putting himself in the position of the reader/user.
After these two BEFORE START items, it continues with the YAW DAMPER etc. The moment the “co” is announcing it, I only need to check and select it. Then the “co” confirms this aurally. When I’ve reached the FMS/CDU checklist item, I need to enter the last and final data like ZFW (Zero Fuel Weight), RESERVES, COST INDEX and CRZ ALT. Then the “co” replies with SET. Before you know it, you’re at the end of this BEFORE START checklist. The end of this part is, by the way, indicated by the green text.
Let’s continue with the next one; CLEARED FOR START. It’s a pretty short one and before we know it, we’re finished but then we’re facing another problem. The next Call button is AFTER START, so what’s in between – the engine start itself – is not there. Even the original Wilco 737 PIC checklist doesn’t show this. What now?
It’s not really a problem to find somewhere in the Wilco manual a page procedure on how to start an engine, but I hoped this was included in this Call product, but it isn’t. So there’s no co-pilot helping me or watching what I’m doing while starting the engines. This doesn’t really help. Ok, after digging into the manuals I managed to start my engine without the help of my speaking Call pilot.
Good, I’m back .. who’s back? Oops, it’s the co-pilot! Let’s start with the next Call item; AFTER START. Not impressive, since it all works in the same way but it’s not always very clear. For example; on the AFTER START checklist there’s the “AIR COND & PRESS” item. When you’ve no clue what it means, you really need to use the Wilco 737 manual where it tells you on page 17 in much more detail what every step means. Anyway, up to this point, I’m honestly not impressed. Ok, it’s nice to have am aural “co” next of me but is it all worth your money? Before making any other assumptions, let’s go quickly to the BEFORE TAKEOFF checklist.
Hold on, before we can start with this particular part, we first handover the microphone to our purser via the Call! SAFETY pushbutton. In the mean time, we can taxi to our runway holding point. Once we've arrived here, we start with the Call! BEFORE TAKEOFF checklist. I’ve got the feeling I missed something like taxi lights? Whatever. It’s time to start the aural BEFORE TAKEOFF checklist.
Not different than expected and the same as with the previous ones, before you know it’s done. It surprises me that after the TRANSPONDER setting, there’s no co-pilot telling me that the BEFORE TAKEOFF checklist is completed, while in with other parts it does. Not really a big deal but you expect it and you don’t get it!
We turn onto the centerline and there we go. V1, VR followed by V2. It’s time to wake-up our aural feelThere fellow and yes, there he starts with the AFTER TAKEOFF checklist. After we’ve completed the AFTER TAKEOFF checklist I’m wondering who will tell me to switch OFF – for example – the landing and taxi lights or select the AUTOBRAKE switch back to OFF?
It could be that I missed it but I’m pretty sure I didn’t see or hear it. This and the three remaining checklists – APPROACH | LANDING | SHUTDOWN – are all done in the same way. Not too many things are said except for the SHUTDOWN part. Ok, there’s one nice thing and that's the moment directly after landing. Nothing needs to be done for this, but then suddenly our attendant is welcoming our passengers to the airport and thanking them for flying with us.
Although its fun having a speaking “co” with you, it’s a very limited speaking co-pilot and it’s a very rigid system. You can’t modify anything and the first officer is only listing the things from the Wilco Publishing checklist with some additional words from the lovely purser. Altogether it costs you $17.95 (˜ €13.00). It seems not that much money but I wouldn’t chose this add-on. It’s too limited, follows only the Wilco checklist dedicated for the Wilco 737PIC and it can’t be modified by the user. Let’s see if the Call LegacyX version offers a little more.
Call(ing) co-pilot for LegacyX captain
Lucky for me, it’s not the same design. Of course the idea is the same, but it seems to me that it offers a lot more. Let’s go quickly into the LegacyX cockpit and see how it can help us.
The first difference is the “C” simicon to request the Call! Checklist. OK, not a big deal but it seems there’s much more on the Checklist panel. I could write them down here, but let’s start right away with it. Opening it and looking into the detail, we see right away that our work flow runs from the left checklist button to the right, then one row down and from left to right again, all the way down except for the TAXI button.
This is different than with the 737PIC Call product. Which one is better is not important, it’s more what the user wants and when you‘ve got both Call products; it could lead to some confusion.
Let’s jump into the cockpit where we’ve a cold & dark cockpit situation and let’s hit the first button on the Call checklist, DARK/COLD. I’m sorry but there’s an important item to bring up. You really need to know this aircraft, including how to handle the FMS otherwise you become frustrated by using Call LegacyX. Although this review doesn’t have anything to do with the Wilco LegacyX product, the LegacyX manual is not that clear and the “first flight introduction” is not very impressive and sometimes even confusing.
the Call aural checklist is done in exactly the same way as the
previously discussed 737PIC. Since I don’t know the
LegacyX, it seems a struggle to understand the Call commands.
The Call command checklist button like the “DARK/COLD” first
item, APU, is not that easy to do because you need to know
that first BATT1 and 2 should be switched ON. Logically, isn’t
When we’ve finished the whole checklist, the amber indication on the Call! window turns to green, meaning we’ve finished this part. We check and re-check all the things we have done and still have to do. When we’ve checked all of that, it’s time to jump to the next checklist item “ENG RDY TO START” or in English “engines ready to start”. This is followed by ENGINE START UP, FLIGHT ATTENDENT SAFETY and BEFORE TAKEOFF or TAXI.
It looks or sounds strange, but believe me, its logical! The TAXI checklist is far out of the flow listing and for a good reason. It is used before the BEFORE TAKEOFF part, but TAXI can also be used after the AFTER LANDING checklist. I could continue with this and write down much more but it’s unmistakable that this Call! product offers more checklists and offers the captain better assistance, although it is and stays a rigid system which can’t be modified by the user.
Comparing the LegacyX Call with the 737PIC, you also get the following checklists; although I have to admit it’s not that easy to compare these Call products and thus the checklist with each other because they don’t use all the same words. At least the following checklists are added to the LegacyX Call checklist; DARK/COLD, BEFORE DESCEND, AFTER LANDING and TAXI. It seems that the Call 737 offers an AFTER START checklist which is not the case with the Legacy.
There’s only a small mismatch with the TAXI checklist in my personal opinion. The second item – EICAS – blank – is before FLAP selection. I think this is wrong. The EICAS screens can never be blank because of the incorrect FLAP position for takeoff and thus a TO CONFIG problem. For me it’s not a problem but here our first officer confuses us. Further on I missed my TAXI light selection. It could be it’s not an official checklist item but I would say; add it here! Anyway, your first officer is not telling you to switch on the taxi light and also before takeoff, the landing lights.
The Call checklist only points out to switch ON the strobe and navigation light? I’m lost here. Normally the navigation lights are switch ON at the ramp or gate. Following the other Call! checklist items, learns us that there’s not that much difference with the previous 737PIC except that there are a few more checklist items like BEFORE DESCEND, AFTER LANDING and again our TAXI. Altogether, a little more realistic but personally not giving that additional first officers feeling.
Summary / Closing Remarks
Is it worth adding this tool or feature to your 737PIC and/or Legacy PIC? Let’s first start with the fact that you need to be the owner of either of the feelThere/Wilco Publishing products otherwise it’s an unecessary tool since it’s purely designed to work in combination with one of these feelThere/Wilco Publishing aircraft.
Then you can ask yourself if the products offer an impressive checklist readout or not and if it’s a flexible tool which allows you to modify it and many more of those things.
The answer is; NO! You buy the tool as it is; no modifications or additional aural “checklist” parts are possible to add. The program is not designed for this. It seems to me that the Legacy Call product offers some more checklist items, but I’m still not convinced of the huge advantage of this product.
I’m also aware that this is my own interpretation and that it could be different than that of a new simmer. On the other hand, keeping the price for the 737PIC - $17.95 – or the Legacy - $19.95 – in mind and what it offers, I have my doubts.
Remember, the co-pilot or first officer only calls the checklist item and when you’ve done your work correctly, he will responds with the correct word like APU … ON or EMERGENCY LIGHTS ... ARMED. He doesn’t help you in case you’ve got no idea what to do by saying “do this or do that" to succeed. And the problem is, as long as you can’t find what you need to do, the co-pilot will not continue with the checklist and that is sometimes very frustrating or is it because the simmer doesn’t know how the aircraft systems work?
What I Like About Call!
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