state of PMDG 737 for Microsoft Flight Simulator

Just wanted to drop a quick post here and let people know of the current status of TFM and support for the new PMDG 737 for Microsoft Flight Simulator.

As of now, PMDG has not yet released an SDK (software development kit) for the new PMDG 737. As a result, FSUIPC 7 has not been updated with any new offsets that might be required. Additionally, the existing offset block for the 737 is actually disabled in FSUIPC 7, since they weren’t needed until PMDG came out with their new aircraft.

We’re keeping an eye on the FSUIPC and PMDG forums and will have some more information once the new SDK comes out for the 737.

 

Developer update 5/22/2022

This last week, we fixed a few bugs and added a few new features to TFM. One being that the glide slope indicator for the new ILS system reads up/down instead of above/below. We wanted a more consistent flow of information telling the pilot what needs done, instead of telling them were the plane is located. The FDU, offsets for the PMDG 737, and 737/777 cross-grades take up the rest of this post.

 

The FDU

The FDU or flight display unit gives key information about flight systems. This post only covers parts of the MCP or mode control panel. In the PMDG 737, requesting an autopilot instrument value such as heading, or altitude announces the aircraft component in charge, the value of the instrument, and the navigation aid controlling the instrument’s flight mode. An example for altitude might look like the below output.

 

MCP altitude 8000 VNav.

 

We upgraded the 777 series to show these values when requesting readouts from the autopilot.

 

PMDG 737 offsets

Last fall, we started rebuilding support for the PMDG aircraft. One of the processes includes reorganization of the PMDG offsets. The new way of accessing them gives us the ability to add one within a short period of time. Each PMDG series like the 737 can have up to 250-300 offsets. Adding these to the 737 will take time, especially when adding them in consideration of future updates.

 

PMDG 737 and 777 equality

Since TFM started PMDG support, the 737 and 777 were not on equal ground. Either the 777 had better support, or the 737 had more of it. This time in the near future will focus on bringing the 737/777 up to the same level of support. As the PMDG rebuilding process continues, we will get closer to rebuilding the support for the 747 series. Since these upgrades and rebuild processes take time, TFM may not have a release until the second half of June 2022.

We look forward to your feedback. If you want to make a bug report, press Ctrl+Shift+I while TFM is running to launch the issue tracker in your default browser. If you have any questions or need help getting started, feel free to fill out the contact form on the website.

Developer update 5/12/2022

In a short while, TFM 22.5 will release. This version has three major updates. The new features include a fix to the settings dialog, a setting to find the location of the airports database, and a new ILS system.

 

Settings update

In the past, the PMDG CDU soft keys setting in the PMDG settings refused to save. Going forward, all settings will keep the user’s preferences. We also added some new settings described in the following sections.

 

Airports database location

There is a new category in settings named airports database. When exploring these settings, there is a text field that accepts a folder path where P3D’s airports database is found. You will also find a browse button to aid in finding the required folder. This setting is needed in order for TFM to make use of airport functions. The new ILS system is one of those features requiring the use of the airports database.

 

New ILS system

The current ILS system is based on the aircraft’s navigation system. For example, NAV1 has a localizer needle that moves from left to right showing your position on the localizer. The same method occurs for the glide slope. When NAV1 is tracking the glide slope, the radio needle moves up and down to show your position on the glide slope. TFM represents these positions as a percentage value. For example, “99% left, 80% up”. It is difficult to understand the meaning of these values, so we rewrote the current ILS system to supply heading values for the localizer, and altitude values for the glide slope. For example, TFM might announce “40 left, 1500 below”. In this case, turn 40 degrees to the left for the localizer, and descend 1500 feet for the glide slope. Along with the new ILS system are two settings under aircraft in the settings dialog. The first one is ‘announce localizer headings’. When it is checked, the localizer will supply directions in the form of headings. The second one is ‘announce glide slope altitudes’. When checked, the glide slope will supply directions in the form of altitude values. When these settings are unchecked, the ILS system will revert to the original percentage values.

The new ILS system comes with a dialog opened by pressing the right bracket key (]), then pressing CONTROL+D. You must make selections in this dialog for the new ILS to work. When the dialog opens, focus is placed on the airport field. You can then type the airport code of interest, such as KMIA or KATL. When done, press ENTER on your keyboard. TFM should announce the number of runways loaded. Otherwise, it will announce that the airport is invalid. When you have the runways of interest loaded, press ALT+R to jump to the list of runways. Use the arrow keys to choose a runway. When done, press ALT+I to jump to the ILS information field. Review the details. If needed, revisit the runways list to make another choice, then revisit the ILS information field to review the details again. To revisit the airport field, press ALT+A, then type in a new airport code and press ENTER on your keyboard. When satisfied with your choices, press ALT+O for the Ok button. Otherwise press ALT+C to cancel and close the dialog. Feel free to make use of the destination runway dialog any time during a flight. As long as the settings are set before final approach.

 

Known issues

  • The destination runway dialog has no method of clearing current settings. To fix, load another airport.
  • The ILS details field in the destination runway dialog only gives essential information. Report a new feature to have more information added.
  • The distance lines in the ILS details of the destination runway dialog may give false numbers when on ground or before aircraft power up. This is a limitation of the database.

We want your feedback on any TFM features. To report a bug or new feature request, press the right bracket key (]), then press CONTROL+SHIFT+I to open the GitHub issue queue. Please look to see if your feature or bug has already been reported. If not, feel free to post a new report. Otherwise, make a new comment on an existing report discussing your bug or feature. To contact us about getting started with TFM, feel free to fill out our contact form. One of us will get back with you soon.

Introducing Talking flight monitor

People have often wanted to know a little about us, and how Talking flight monitor (TFM) got its start. We will introduce ourselves and give a little background on TFM.

First, let us meet Jason, the founder of TFM. I have dabbled with coding all my life, ever since I learned Basic on the Apple 2E when I was a kid. Talking Flight Monitor started for me as a project to keep me sane during strict Covid lockdowns in Canada.

I have been interested in aviation for a long time. My first experience with flight simulation was with Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 and an incredibly old product called FS Navigator. I had often thought that we could do much more with the flight simulation add-on infrastructure.

Next, let us meet Andy, TFM’s co-founder. Having graduated with honors and as a lifetime member of the Delta Mu Delta international honor society, my work embodies excellence and dedication. In my 16 years of experience, I have embraced leadership and innovation in accessibility and software and web development. Proficient in multiple programming languages and familiar with the government and nonprofit sectors, my project management and leadership roles have provided opportunities to advance inclusive design in transportation, information technology, and the gaming industry. I have always been interested in flying, especially when I had some sight. Unfortunately, I knew nothing about flying an airplane. Now that I am completely blind, the ability to fly in a simulator is impossible if it were not for TFM.

We created TFM out of frustration with other simulator addons which were limiting, inaccessible, and others which were discontinued. With these addons, workarounds were standard par for the course, requiring most BVI pilots to limit their flying capacity instead of enjoying a flight. Since its first official release almost two years ago, TFM has grown from a small Python app which monitored a few aircraft instruments to a .net based simulator addon that supports most freeware aircraft and the popular PMDG 737, 747, and 777 aircraft series. TFM now has over ninety keyboard shortcuts, monitors over one hundred aircraft instruments and systems, and provides a way to customize your flying experience. If you have any questions about getting started, feel free to fill out the contact form and one of us will get back with you.