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skelsey last won the day on August 30

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About skelsey

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    Broadcast journalist and BAVirtual Director of Training.
  1. I'm not disputing what you're seeing on social media, but forgive me for being slightly sceptical of social media as a reliable indication of what people are actually doing: the last couple of elections here in the UK have demonstrated that very well! I have no intention of starting a war (and I am conscious that I am on the XP forum!) but I think the stats are interesting. Thank you -- that does make sense. However, I would still suggest that regardless of raw numbers -- the broad thrust of what I was saying remains true, i.e. that in relative terms this is much more about the decline of FSX than any sudden upsurge in XP. Likewise, what we are seeing in our VAs stats (so raw, dispassionate, auto-logged numbers) XP usage has remained flat for the last two years -- some small variation here any there but never more than 10% (and actually that's quite a high peak in the data) -- consistently between 100-200 flights per month out of ~4000. By contrast what we are definitely seeing is large numbers of FSX (and even the few hardy remaining FS9 users) migrating to P3D and in particular P3Dv4. In particular what we have seen is that sim usage is very closely tied to the availability of high-end addons: after P3Dv4 came out there was an initial uptick but then usage (in in fact activity in general) dropped to very low levels until an Airbus became available, an effect which we've seen across other platforms in the past as well. Now, of course we are just 1,000 or so simmers (albeit obviously with a constantly gently-shifting membership) so I'm not saying we're any more representative than anyone else. But it is interesting.
  2. The interesting thing about that Google data is that what it really shows if you zoom out (say, to the last 10-12 years, pre-FSX release in 2006 to present day) is that the X-Plane graph is pretty much static: it hasn't changed much at all in 12 years, and if anything it's actually gone down very slightly (just by a couple of points). What has changed is that the FSX line is decreasing significantly and P3D, since its release, is increasing (albeit at a slower rate than the FSX line is coming down). That would suggest to me that the apparent increase in X-Plane users is actually more likely to be due to a decrease in FSX users than any great surge in X-Plane interest. Certainly in terms of absolute numbers, at my VA our flight logging stats consistently have X-Plane stable at around 10% of flights, only just above FS9 in terms of actual usage (compared to asking people to say what they use), and that hasn't changed ever since we started supporting XP.
  3. But not in RTO mode. Think about it: if those conditions also applies to RTO it would disarm immediately the thrust levers were advanced for takeoff, which would be somewhat counterproductive!
  4. FSX/P3D (and previous!) certainly do simulate the effect of asymmetric weight distribution and it is my guess that this is the problem. Check the fuel & payload dialogue!
  5. Of course. As I said - I misunderstood the earlier post. Yes, we need a new modern sim and yes, I 100% agree with you, it needs to have things like missions etc and meet the expectations of casual users/gamers. But the concept of including missions, rewards, adventures etc in any such new sim is not in any way an innovation, which is what I incorrectly thought the earlier post was trying to suggest.
  6. Oh sure. I'm not disagreeing with the idea that a new platform is a good thing, nor that it should cater for the casual user. Where I was confused was that the post I quoted came across to me as though MSFS had never had that, which is not the case. However, I now understand. Thanks!
  7. Depends how you view it, doesn't it? You could view it as 'nothing to do' or you could view it as 'do anything you want'. A little imagination is all that is required, though I accept this is a rare thing these days. The possibilities are literally limitless, as opposed to working through a few set levels and then what? The game is 'complete', there's nothing left to do and off it goes on to a pile of discards. In any event, MSFS has had missions, adventures, challenges, lessons and rewards for completion (in the form of 'licences', badges etc) since at least FSW95, so what's the new concept?
  8. Plan ahead and brief! What you are doing is absolutely coerect - however, there is no particular need to memorise anything. Look at the charts, and in particular the textual data pages where things like preferential runways etc will often be listed, check the weather and plan the most likely departure/arrival. There's no reason why you shouldn't make any notes you feel might be useful as well. It's also worth looking at any enroute considerations as well. However, once you are 'on board' you must be prepared to change the plan if necessary. Listen to the departure ATIS if available, obtain your departure clearance and then brief -- think about things like taxi route, the SID or departure instructions you have been issued (is it programmed correctly in the FMC? What is the stop altitude? What autopilot modes will you use? What is out of the ordinary on this particular day that might cause a problem or require things to be done differently? Is there a tight turn that might require keeping the speed down/flaps out a little longer? Is there a stepped comb profile, a particularly low level off (maybe below acceleration altitude) or anything else that might catch you out?) and contingencies (what will you do in the event of an emergency?). Obviously you must be careful to ensure that any actual clearance received subsequently is followed should it differ from the brief. Arrival is much the same - get ahead and look up the weather and ATIS if available well in advance. Again, check the textual data in the charts and, if available, I often check the relevant VATSIM ACC's website to see if they have any standard procedures published. Ideally you want to have briefed the arrival will in advance of T/D (personally I always think it's about time to start briefing as soon as the T/D marker appears on the ND, ie at the very least about 160nm before T/D) and you can include in this brief your plan for a runway change (what is likely? How will you execute it from a technical point of view in this particular aircraft? Can you set something up in RTE2/SEC F-PLN?) as well as all the usual stuff (what's going to kill us on this particular day? MSA? STAR? Approach type? Minima? Where are you going to vacate and what is the most likely taxi route? Configuration? Speeds? Stopping? If you miss the turn will you need to backtrack? A/P modes? Go around - actions, routing, stop altitude? Fuel - how much time do you have before you have to divert? Where is your alternate?) All you can do is plan for the most likely outcome and generate some ideas of the possible things that could happen and how to deal with them. Late runway changes are a thing that happens in real life as well - it's part and parcel of aviation but the important thing is to not allow ATC to pressure you in to doing something you're not prepared or ready for. Make more time if you need to - ask for delaying vectors or a hold if necessary to give yourself time to rebrief, or else you can always say 'unable' if you are not happy. A real airline would also have a route information manual that you could peruse in advance and contains useful information about each destination's threats and foibles (such as preferred runways and the experiences of other crews). If you do not have access to such a thing then you might consider making some notes of your own each time you visit a particular destination so that the next time you go back you are forearmed! Ultimately however - don't try and commit everything to memory. Get a pen and paper out and jot some notes for the important points.
  9. Well, like Alan, I certainly do. I also keep my passport, wallet and keys in my shirt or trouser pocket, wear sensible shoes which stay on my feet, and make a point of physically locating the life vest under the seat. Because airline flying is generally so safe, many of the general public are incredibly desensitised to the inherent hazards associated with flying at 600mph in a pressurised tube however and would rather listen to their iPod. I'd like to see how the types that take off their shoes and socks immediately they sit down fare in an emergency evacuation on to an icy ramp. Personally I would rather take a minute or two to take in, or at least attempt to take in, some information that may save my life. It's very unlikely I will ever have to use it, but in the event that I did I'd rather not be wishing I'd paid more attention in that moment.
  10. Quite. The one thing I would say is that I don't envisage how any benefit would be obtained from running visual approaches -- the limiting factor at most airfields is runway occupancy time, especially with heavies, and innovations like brake-to-vacate on the A380 do help significantly with that. Otherwise, places like Heathrow are packing them in as close as 2.5NM apart on the ILS if wake separation isn't an issue (and perhaps even closer than that these days now we have time-based separation) so I can't imagine that a visual could, from a practical point of view, get the aircraft any closer together without resulting in go-arounds because the previous aircraft hasn't vacated or with the consistency that a skilled radar controller can achieve. Point Merge (which is essentially the "magenta line" type of RNAV operation you are referring to) is slowly gaining more ground and is being sold as providing huge capacity benefits and reduction in holding times, but I think there's still some way to go to convince people it can be better than a skilled radar controller... There's even more work going on to get the departures out faster as well -- a controller friend of mine says they will soon be getting a 96x96 matrix of aircraft types, (up from the current 5 broad weight categories) each with specific departure separation times which obviously have to be hit as closely as possible to maximise the throughput -- for example, a 737-200 will now be considered to be in a different category to an NG, so if you depart an aircraft after a -200 you might only need 1'20" separation instead of 1'30" - etc. All of this (as it does now) will have to be essentially memorised and put in to action by the controllers in real time -- it's enough of a feat now with just five wake categories, so it really makes you realise quite how much difference the guys in the tower make and how much is involved -- it is very far from just being first-come, first-served and launching them as they arrive at the holding point!
  11. I'm still slightly confused by this. When would you consider it appropriate to reduce to Vref (+additive) bearing in mind you need to be fully configured and on speed with engines spooled and the landing checklist complete by 1000R and ATC are not permitted to impose any speed control within 4DME? Most guys I know start winding the speed back at around D4.5 in order to actually start decelerating by D4 so as to be able to make the stable approach criteria.
  12. Noise (on the ground) is also a factor, plus 160 kt to 4DME (~1200ft aal) is a very common speed restriction. No ATC speed control is permitted inside 4 DME (UK). I can't think of any airline that wouldn't encourage its pilots to fly the aircraft as efficiently as is safely possible in whatever conditions prevail and in my experience most airline pilots I know pride themselves on using their skill and experience to ensure a safe and efficient flight without any unnecessary delays, wastage of fuel or creating excessive noise on the ground -- that is, after all, part of the commercial responsibility an airline pilot has. Thus, sure, they will aim to fly CDAs and avoid flying excessively conservatively (i.e. dragging it in level for miles and miles with gear, flap and loads of thrust on). That said, all airlines have strict stable approach policies and these usually take the form of a mandatory requirement to be fully configured, on speed, on path and with engines spooled and all checklists completed by 1000ft aal. This is tight but generally doable with a 160 to 4 restriction. Some may permit some latitude (generally around speed -- something along the lines of "speed within X knots of Vref and reducing, provided all other criteria are met") at 1000ft in VMC in which case the 'hard' gate will be at 500ft where if you haven't got the speed back and engines spooled a mandatory go around must be flown, but from what I hear the trend is very much towards insisting on being fully stable in all cases by 1000ft whether IMC or VMC. I am almost certain that is the case at Easy, and being something which can be very easily monitored there is almost nil chance of a crew knowingly continuing without meeting the stable criteria as the aeroplane will be telling the OFDM department about it literally as soon as the wheels hit the runway. Runway excursion is a perennial safety topic and almost every such incident follows an approach that didn't meet the stable criteria, so to my knowledge the airlines are exceptionally hot on monitoring compliance.
  13. From what I have heard from real NG drivers (I am not one) the NGX is a little floaty; for instance, in the sim you can get away with closing the thrust levers at about 50R, something which I am assured in the real world would likely loosen some fillings on arrival at the very least, if not bend the airframe! However, within the confines of a desktop sim it's probably pretty close overall.
  14. Of course, as with many other major airfields. Heathrow manages to land 45-55 an hour on (mostly) one runway with a fair proportion of heavies (hence longer rollouts and greater wake spacing on final). Gatwick manages 50-60 movements per hour (both arrivals and departures) off a single runway. Neither routinely clear aircraft to land without the runway actually being available. Likewise Amsterdam. To suggest that the fact that the flight was cleared to land before the runway was in fact clear has nothing to do with this is ridiculous -- it has everything to do with it. If Air Canada had not been cleared to land, there would have been no question about whether they should have gone around or not -- there is no excuse not to. Incident avoided. However, as it turns out, the last instruction they received was "Cleared to land". Then, for whatever reason (which isn't important -- whether it was finger trouble, a technical issue or anything else), they were unable to receive further instructions. In the absence of receiving further instructions, they did precisely what their last received clearance was -- land! On this occasion, although the result was a technical loss of separation, no actual harm was done. However, this should serve as a wake-up call to highlight what could happen if, as I mentioned above, the holes in the Swiss cheese line up and there is a radio failure or a blocked frequency (stuck mike?) with a more critical situation on the ground after everyone and his wife has already been cleared to land. I suspect however the investigation will focus more on why the comms were lost rather than on the overall system which unquestionably failed dangerous.
  15. But if that is what happened, disciplining the pilots won't help avoid an incident in future where perhaps the frequency is blocked or the aircraft (or tower) radio fails in similar circumstances. Not clearing aircraft to land on an occupied runway, however, might do. Heathrow, Gatwick, Amsterdam et al all seem to be able to push large amounts of tin without just clearing everybody to land and hoping the Swiss cheese holes don't line up.