Friday, 27 November 2020

Devon 737 Project

 Winching 350kg of external cockpit display into position


Friday, 6 November 2020

Not quite there yet ...

Antony's Devon 737 project update progress report - you may recall a posting in January this year.

Having take delivery of a sawn off 737-200 cockpit and installed it in a shed, the work began to convert the cockpit into a 737-800.

The pictures below, before and after show how well the work is progressing. The detailed work flow is incredible.

The overhead, MCP and all the instruments, twin yokes and complete pedestal are all installed. 

The motorisation of the throttles is still work in process (requiring a cannabilised cordless drill motor), the J-seat runners are ready to install.

The current picture shows the cut ends of just one of the original Boeing wiring looms, no longer needed. The wiring and connectors to the hundreds of separate cockpit gauges, switches indicator lights etc etc are all ready to connect. Programming them all to interact with flight sim might take just a minute or two after lots of thought.

The current work is focussed on raising the 350kg collimated display to mate up with the cockpit windows after which the displays can be connected to the wiring and the aircraft fired up for the very first time, with everything alive.

Lots on the work list to do, surround sound system and the coffee machine in the galley, for example.

So much easier to build a cockpit from commercially available modules ready to install in a preformed shell or a plywood look-alike.

Anthony wanted the challenge, a discovery path that made him very aware of the detail differences between a 737-200 and 737-800 body shell, most of those challenges now resolved - brilliant.

Sitting in the cockpit makes one realise the level of sophistication involved in designing and building an airframe. This one has found a perfect retirement home in very committed and industrious hands.

Perhaps not so easy to sleep at night as one comes up with solutions to tantalising problems, but the support from internet friends and resources is amazing.

What better hobby?

We will update the Blog to report progress.

Monday, 14 September 2020

The Passenger Experience...Now Boarding!

We are about to explore two newcomers to the genre of passenger immersion add-ons, and by way of example, allow me to use a well known ground handling add-on which adds tiny animated figurines to your airport aprons.

Yes folks, this may well become your happiest flightsim moment or your very worst nightmare, and that’s because Jekyll and Hyde personalities are about to be given to your Lilliputian marionettes - not only can they walk, but now they can talk, and not only that, they now have an abundance of spirit along with excess attitude too.

We don't often give a second thought to those fare paying peeps in the back, sometimes referred to as "self loading cargo", and we've never been particularly worried about whether they are clasping a drink in their hands or clasping their hands together in prayer. I would venture that this is because simulator pilots have enough to do up front with their procedures, checklists, briefings, and sterile flightdecks. 

And yet the following packages aim to increase the flight crew's workload by adding this new dimension. Now, not only must we contend with iced fuel lines, busted engines, and bird strikes, but the thorny issues of malcontent passengers, troublesome hen parties, missed connections, disillusioned club classes, and buoyant stag party groups is quite literally knocking on our (locked) flightdeck doors.

In the past, Gold braided Captains have paced up and down the aisle to meet and greet their passengers, to provide reassurances, and as airline ambassadors to politely drum up further business. If it wasn't for passenger loyalty, then furlough or severence might have been but a flight or two away. Today, however, it is your job to keep to your company schedule, and to provide smooth rides with silky landings. You may even need to keep the peace or dish out some discipline.

Each package handles the actual experience differently, but in essence, you must keep an eye on the comfort levels, enjoyment, and overall satisfaction of your customers by ensuring, for instance, that boarding doesn't take too long or that you avoid delays and bad weather.

Amongst other things, you'll get to hear cabin announcements and deal with irksome people and maddening circumstances. In short, you'll face the very same awkward situations as seen in many of those fly-on-the-wall airline documentaries that no doubt we have all witnessed.

So then, my advice as a seasoned expert is twofold; first, I would say to you to neglect your passengers at your peril, and second would be to expect the unexpected....

Self Loading Cargo by Lanilogic Technology Solutions

This seems to be a particularly comprehensive and immersive package that supports all major flightsim Windows based platforms, and is available today at a low pre-release price of £12.99. Future updates will be free of charge, and there exists a busy SLC Discord community as well.

The program looks for flight phases and flight configurations in order to establish the proper set of rules, modes, and eventualities. It seems to be highly configurable, even allowing users to create aircraft cabin layouts such that you can interact with the passengers and their seating, your cabin crew, galley, toilet, and door management, and so on.

You interact with the program via a small but inclusive menu system that can be hidden from view. Files are played in a controlled yet randomised fashion such that repition is avoided.

Here's a brief summary of how SLC is described...
  • Self-Loading Cargo simulates each passenger on your aircraft individually - so every decision or action you make affects each person individually.
  • In real life some people are more anxious than others, and equally some people are happier than others. They can be happy and anxious, or sad and chilled out. Or somewhere right down the middle.
  • If something goes wrong, or a passenger gets frustrated, their happiness and anxiety levels at that point in time will be used to determine their reaction to whatever is happening.
  • This ensures that no flight is the same! And just as in real life, you could be the best pilot in the world - but some people will still find reason to complain. Welcome to Self-Loading Cargo. The Personality Simulator.
  • Your Flight Rating Is Continously Calculated As You Fly; right from the off, your flight rating is determined using the passengers individual personalities and feelings as a guide - they'll react to events on the ground, things you do while flying and how well you land - right up until they leave.
  • Reacts to buttons and switches in your simulator (dependant on developer support).
The SLC web site carries a great deal of information about it's inner workings (here) along with a very long list of positive, warning, and negative effects that can affect your ongoing rating, as well as several demonstration videos (here).

The very active and helpful developer intends to increase functionality and improve sounds, and users can create and upload their own airline specific packs which are in turn available to registered users. 

In the above video you will notice that the demonstration is on a WIP developemental build, and it doesn't always run smoothly, but the developer is confident and knowledgeable, and actually I found it all very reassuring.


PACX is another very comprehensive package created by the authors of the delightful TFDi Boeing B717, and comes with countless WAV files, scenarios, and events possible.

This is another very detailed multi flightsim platform Windows-only package, and one that is equally immersive. The cost is $29.99 but a discount has been promised for 2019's Cyber Monday. Check out the linked video below to see first hand what this can bring to your simulated world.
This package includes a huge array of sound files, 600 of them to be exact, and it has a number of notable features that are quite unique, including the ability to interact with it, namely your passengers, "vocally".

Here's how TFDi describe the PACX Experience...

  • PACX offers a variety of systems to provide a realistic in-flight and post-flight experience.
  • Various incidents ranging from minor reseating delays to severe medical issues can happen. It is up to you to handle them properly. This may mean you simply expedite the flight, or you may have to make an immediate diversion. The choice is yours.
  • Extra announcements for customs declarations on international fights and Wi-Fi usage information for Wi-Fi equipped aircraft increase the immersion.
  • Automatic and realistic handling of in-flight service by the flight attendant make the flight feel alive.
  • Interaction can be initiated by pressing the appropriate in-cockpit controls on select third party aircraft like the TFDi Design 717, Quality Wings 787, PMDG 737NGX, PMDG 747 QOTS II, and PMDG 777.
  • Career mode allows you to rank up and vary your passengers according to airline parameters.
  • Awards can be earned for activity, on-time performance, and more.

A few final thoughts...

There have been many other passenger experience packages in the past, including FSPassengers (ESP), FSCaptain (ESP), PassengersFX NG (XP), plus a few more, but none have the depth of the two add-ons mentioned here, PACX and SLC.

Also, SLC and PACX are both multi platform insofar as they support FSX, P3D, and X-Plane, but I have found no mention of MS FS2020. I would think, however, that since the developers have already catered for FSX & P3D, they would include 2020 without a second thought, but whether they charge for it is another matter.

Just to be clear, ground handling add-ons are not required, I was merely suggesting that those animated figures were given, courtesy of SLC or PACX, personality.

Friday, 11 September 2020

X-Plane 11.50 now available

 Not all add-ons are compatible with Vulkan and Metal. In particular, when Vulkan and Metal are enabled, 3-d drawing callbacks and map drawing callbacks are not sent to plugins.

If an add-on appears to not work correctly, you can disable Vulkan and Metal and restart X-Plane.

Known Addon Issues

Needs update from developer to work with Vulkan/Metal:

  • Aircraft using DreamEngine Sound
  • Bandicam (prevents sim launch)
  • BetterPushback
  • Goodway
  • Ground Traffic
  • Flight Factor A320
  • Flight Factor 767
  • Flight Factor 777
  • JAR A320
  • JAR A330
  • JCS Talon T38
  • librain
  • SimVim
  • ToLiss A319 & A321
  • X-Aviation Torque Sim Pocket Rocket
  • xEnviro
  • XJet
  • X-Life
  • XPRealistic Pro
  • xSquawkBox
  • xSwift

Saturday, 5 September 2020

Long Haul “Bullseye!”: Maho Ahoy!

Standard Tuesday and Thursday SWFS/MA online ATC flights are generally A-to-B routes with given departure and arrival airports, plus any SID/STAR/APP procedures.

All pilots have to do is create their own flight plans, then join the group on TS3 & JoinFS, and of course obediently comply with all instructions given by our experienced ATC officers!

Every now and then, however, we might list a “Bullseye!” flight which differs from standard flights as only the arrival airport is presented, leaving pilots free to choose their own departure airports from literally anywhere, be it around the corner or around the globe!
Think of these as normal Tues/Thurs flight nights but without the departure phase, which also means that ATC services will be available only for the arrival phase.

Route planning, fuel requirements, and cruise levels are down to the individual pilot, and for this we recommend using a formal flght planner such as SimBrief (freeware) or Aerosoft's PFPX (payware).


We have planned a “Bullseye!” flight into Princess Juliana TNCM, Sint Marteen, on Tuesday 8th September.

Simply depart your chosen airport in time to arrive in TNCM ATC controlled airspace at about 21:00 (20:00Z) before your TOD, but do join us on TS3 from 20:00 (19:00Z) for our customary TS3 banter.

If you feel up to flying a long haul flight into Princess Juliana, then a small number of SWFS/MA pilots are looking to depart Manchester Airport EGCC early on Tuesday afternoon, so why not join us on TS3 and JoinFS (hub: HAIDF)?

Unlike VATSIM or IVAO, with SWFS/MA you don’t have to sit in the cockpit for the entire flight. If you have things to do, then after takeoff engage George to take care of the aeroplane as you go about your routines, but do free to check in occasionally on TS3 for a chat and progress update. 

Great circle distance: 3500nm
Approx. flight time at 450kts: 8 hours
ATC availability: 20:00-22:00 (19:00Z-21:00Z; on TS3)
ETA Princess Juliana TNCM airspace: 21:00 (20:00Z)
ETD Manchester EGCC: 14:30 (13:30Z)
Suggested optional aircraft type: Boeing B747
Spawn on EGCC apron: Tuesday 8th September from 13:00 (12:00Z)
Optional sample route shown on SkyVector: EGCC-TNCM
Multiplayer: TeamSpeak 3 and JoinFS (hub: HAIDF)

If you need help planning for such a long flight, then do ask on the day or beforehand, or via our FaceBook page.

We hope to see you on the Manchester long-haul apron next Tuesday, so until then...

Blue skies...and azure waters!