PMDG 737 series, week 23: Lower forward panel, future features, next up

Welcome to week 23 of the PMDG 737 rebuild series. Last week, we covered the forward panel, the now available TFM 22.11 preview, and a test flight in MSFS with the PMDG 737-800. This week, we are going to cover the lower forward panel, keyboard help mode, simbrief support, the first run quick help dialog, checklists, and what is left to finish in the PMDG 737.

 

Lower forward panel

 

The lower forward panel is self explanatory. It does have quite a few brightness knobs on it though. As a reminder, pressing the letters I or d on your keyboard will increase or decrease brightness knobs values. There are 17 controls on this panel, so keyboard shortcuts take you to groups of controls. Included are the settings to select whether TFM should automatically announce the control state changes. They are located at TFM settings/PMDG/737 speech events/Lower forward.

 

Main panel group (ALT+M)

 

  • Main panel brightness, left side
  • Main panel brightness, right side
  • Main panel brightness, background
  • AFDS (flight directors) brightness

 

GPWS group (ALT+G)

 

  • Flaps inhibit switch
  • Gear inhibit switch
  • Terrain inhibit switch
  • GPWS inop indicator

 

DU group (ALT+D)

 

  • Outboard DU brightness, left side
  • Outboard DU brightness, right side
  • Inboard DU brightness, left side
  • Inboard DU brightness, right side
  • Inboard map brightness, left side
  • Inboard map brightness, right side
  • Upper DU brightness
  • Lower DU brightness
  • Lower map brightness

 

Keyboard help mode

 

Keyboard help mode is similar to NVDA’s or JAWS keyboard help mode. While TFM is running, press right bracket (]), then the question mark (?). Next, press any fully qualified TFM keyboard command to get a basic description of that keyboard command. To turn keyboard help mode off, repeat the keyboard command to turn it on. Another thing to mention here is the keyboard manager. You can now select any command in the lists and press ALT+E to execute that command. Don’t forget to turn keyboard help mode off to return to normal usage. I forgot once on a flight and ended up in a little trouble.

 

Simbrief flight plan support

 

We are going to start working on Simbrief support in TFM. This means that TFM will download the last flight plan generated through the Simbrief website. At first, users will have the ability to display different sections of the flight plan. The sections will be customizable in TFM settings when we get to that point. Later on, we will have the ability to bring the next waypoint feature over to the PMDG aircraft. It can also be used to finish the freeware flight planner, and a limitless number of other things. Get your ideas together because we will need them in the future.

 

Quick help dialog

 

The quick help dialog appears when starting TFM. It displays a few ways to get keyboard help and lists a few of the most common keyboard commands TFM has to offer. To hide the dialog during future TFM starts, check the don’t show me this again option and press the OK button.

 

Checklists and first officer features

 

Earlier today, we found a file in the PMDG 737 folders for MSFS that contained just about all of the checklists for the 737 we would want to use. After requesting permission to use the file, PMDG granted our request. This means we don’t have to come up with alternative checklists for the 737. Developing the automated/manual checklist system is going to be time consuming, but easy. These checklists will eventually work into a first officer type of feature. As with the Simbrief section above, get your ideas for future features together because we will need them later on.

 

What’s left of the PMDG 737?

We have to implement the control stand, fix some bugs with the electrical panel, and clean up code. If no major problems come up, or no more major features need implementing, I suspect that the PMDG 737 for P3D and MSFS should be ready by Christmas vacation.

We covered many things today. Hopefully, the next few weekly blog posts will wrap up progress on the PMDG 737 as well as introducing new features. As always, we will keep everyone up-to-date on what we know.

PMDG 737 rebuild series, week 22: Forward panel, MSFS test flight, preview 22.11

Welcome to week 22 of our PMDG 737 rebuild series. We are now 90% complete. This week and most of last week we took time to investigate issues with fs2020 and completed the forward panel. discussion is below. We will also cover The next preview (22.11).

 

The forward panel

 

We had to break the forward panel into different segments because there were over 50 controls on it. Some of them BVI pilots will never use, such as the DU selectors, some are used elsewhere in TFm, such as N1 or speed brakes.

 

Main forward panel area

 

ALT+W – Nose wheel steering. Press to cycle through options.

ALT+C – Capt. Disengage test. Press to cycle through options.

ALT+O – F/O disengage test. Press to cycle through options.

ALT+I – Cockpit lights. Press to cycle through options.

ALT+F – Fuel flow. Press to cycle through options.

ALT+1 – Left Below GS indicator.

ALT+2 – Right below GS indicator.

ALT+3 – Left FMC indicator.

ALT+4 – Right FMC indicator.

ALT+5 – Stab out of trim indicator.

ALT+6 – Anti-skid inop indicator.

 

MCP

 

ALT+1 – Left auto throttle disengage indicator (red).

ALT+2 – Right auto throttle disengage indicator (red).

ALT+3 – Left auto throttle disengage indicator (amber).

ALT+4 – Right disengage indicator (amber).

ALT+5 – Command A disengage indicator (red).

ALT+6 – Command B disengage indicator (red).

ALT+7 – Command A disengage indicator (amber).

ALT+8 – Command B disengage indicator (amber).

 

DU panel

 

ALT+D – Capt. DU. Press to cycle options.

ALT+U – F/O DU. Press to cycle options.

ALT+C – Capt. Lower DU. press to cycle options.

ALT+F – F/O lower DU. press to cycle options.

 

Standby panel

 

ALT+1 – RMI #1. Press to cycle options.

ALT+2 – RMI #2. Press to cycle options.

 

Speed panel

 

ALT+N – N1 selector. Press to cycle options.

ALT+S – Speed ref. Press to cycle options.

 

Brakes panel

 

ALT+T – Auto brake. See the MCP/Speed box for more information.

ALT+B – Brake pressure indicator.

ALT+1 – Speed brake armed indicator.

ALT+2. – Speed brake do not arm indicator.

ALT+3 – Speed brake extended indicator.

ALT+4 – Auto brake disarm indicator.

 

 

Flaps panel

 

ALT+L – Left flaps needle indicator.

ALT+R – Right flaps needle indicator.

ALT+1 – Flaps in transit indicator.

ALT+2 – Flaps extended indicator.

 

 

Gear panel

 

ALT+G – Gear lever. Press to cycle options.

ALT+1 – Nose gear in transit indicator.

ALT+2 – Left gear in transit indicator.

ALT+3 – Right gear in transit indicator.

ALT+4 – Nose gear locked indicator.

ALT+5 – Left gear locked indicator.

ALT+6 – Right gear locked indicator.

 

 

As always, we will include the TFM settings to turn on/off automatic announcements for all supported aircraft controls/states.

 

Preview 22.11

 

We will release preview 22.11 sometime later this week. Most likely, around the middle of the week. Keep an eye out for it, and don’t forget to read the release notes. This preview has a lot of working parts and new features, including MSFS support for the PMDG 737.

 

MSFS test flight follow-up

 

Last week, I tried an MSFS (fs2020) test flight in the PMDG 737-700 cargo aircraft. After some investigation, here are follow-up points from last week.

 

  • MCP controls such as L-Nav, V-Nav, level change, etc always report off. This is only true if you tell First officer next to leave the MCP alone.
  • The speed brake reports a float such as 4.93 instead of a whole number like 103. This is true and we will have to build a fix for it.
  • It takes TFM a longer time to load the MSFS airports database. This is true. In addition, you must point TFM to the FS2020 airports database after you use makerunways.exe. To point TFM to the FS2020 database, open TFM settings, navigate to the airports database setting category, then use the P3D airports database location to browse for the FS2020 database.
  • First officer fails to do auto flows. True if you have AutoFlows = 0 set in the first officer user.config file. Otherwise, it will use auto flows. The only condition is when it tells you to check doors on pushback. In this case, you will have to press the after start flow yourself.
  • Getting to the briefing, ops, and other features is difficult at best. The click points are icons with no alt text or focusable items. We hear he is going to make an accessible user interface by the middle of this week, so we will wait and see.
  • FSO next fails to program the route and other FMC items. We have mixed results with community members, and are trying to sort out the problem. If it doesn’t program the route pages, you can do it yourself.

My landing rate on this trip was -86. A never before seen in the PMDG 737, at least for me. This would prove that LNav and VNav works better in the MSFS versions. Also, auto throttle works much better in the MSFS version. A better part of my descent, the throttle maintained a .08% thrust.

We will close it up for week 22. We hope the TFM upgrades are working for you. Don’t forget to report bugs and new features, especially on the MSFS side of things. As always, if you need help, let us know.

 

PMDG 737 rebuild series, week 21: MSFS support, forward panel

Last week we covered plans for the forward panel, notes about the preview builds, and the HGS isn’t included in TFM because it has no relevant features for a print disabled person. This week, we are going to cover part of the forward panel and a little on FS2020.

 

The forward panel

 

The forward panel is about 50% finished. It is so large that we had to break it down into a bunch of smaller segments to make it easier to use. Hopefully, it will be ready in week 22. After that, it is off to the lower forward panel, which seems to be a bit smaller.

 

FS2020 and PMDG 737-700

 

I was able to take a test flight in the PMDG 737-700 this afternoon. It was only me, the plane, and first officer next. Aside from a few bloopers at the beginning of climb, the entire flight went without a problem. So, now we can use FS2020 with the PMDG 737 series. The bumps to work out are below.

 

  • L-Nav, V-Nav, FL change, altitude hold, and the speedbrake work differently, even though the offsets have the same names between P3D and FS2020. Everything above except speedbrake reports off no matter the state. The speedbrake reports a low floating point number like 5.33325 instead of 150 in P3D.
  • If you use make runways, give TFM time to load. There are around 43000 airports and a little over 82600 runways in FS2020.
  • Getting first officer next to recognize that the door is opened. First officer only automates flows when the correct conditions are met. Otherwise, we are stuck doing them manually during flight.
  • Someone needs to contact the dev for first officer and ask how we get into the briefing section.
  • An interesting point to watch for… Make sure the FD/L and FD/R and auto throttle are turned on. FSO next misses them for some reason.
  • FSO next will not program the FMC route pages. It sets fuel, payload, and performance pages.

 

Aside from this, the flight was fun and quite amusing. The fun and amusing parts are below.

 

  • The airplane was not loud, even during the takeoff, the engines were quiet.
  • Fuel burn is much better. I burned an average of 4800lbs/hour at fl370 and around 2300lbs/hour on descent.
  • The airplane is much more responsive than the one in P3D.
  • If you have GSX and PACX installed, first officer next will use them during flight. I have GSX for FS2020, and it loaded passengers while we set up the FMC.
  • You have to purchase first officer next for each series of aircraft. Example: FSO next for PMDG 737 series is $30 as of yesterday.
  • ATC behaves itself when you control the aircraft.
  • All gages such as speed and altitude read correctly when you are in control of the aircraft.
  • The aircraft behaves itself when you have control of it.

To make it easier to warp to different places, read the section below.

 

Warping to runways and gates

 

TFM now has native support for warping to gates and runways. While loaded in an aircraft, and with TFM running, do one of the following.

 

  • Press right bracket (]), then Ctrl+G to bring up a dialog for warping to gates.
    • In the airport code text field, type the icao for your airport, then press ENTER.
    • In the gates list, press ENTER on the gate to jump to.
  • Press right bracket (]), then Ctrl+R to bring up a dialog for warping to runways.
    • In the airport code text field, type the icao for your airport and press ENTER.
    • In the runways list, press ENTER on the runway to warp to.

 

This will work for all supported simulators.

 

FS2020 and bugs

 

While on the subject of FS2020, support for it will have the most amount of bugs. When reporting bugs, we ask that you include the simulator version. Some examples are MSFS 1.29.25.0 (found in the FS 2020 title bar), P3D 5.3, or FSX, FSX:Steam. It always helps to know what simulator you work with. Most of them have the same access points, but some of them differ.

Hopefully, most of the FS2020 bugs can get worked out in time for its inaugural MSFS flight next weekend. We will keep everyone updated on all issues and progress as we finish up the PMDG 737, which brings us to the next point of goodness.

 

Synchronous support for PMDG 737

 

When we started thinking about support for FS2020, our eyes glazed over, and we almost passed out from the thought of the work load. Some time ago, I started to wonder how nice it would be if TFM could stay on top of both P3D and FS2020 without much lag. Fast forward to this week, and our dreams came true. Since PMDG released the SDK for the 737-700, we found out that they were identical except for a few offsets and the entire memory block the offsets live. This makes writing code for the PMDG 737 series easy. Now, we can build support for P3D’s version of the PMDG 737 series, and the support will follow you over to FS2020 (except a few bumps in the road now and then). At most, we don’t suspect more than a week or two lag on the FS2020 side.

Now that the cat is out of the bag, surprise!! The first TFM supported aircraft for FS2020. Based on the initial test flight, we feel it safe to start purchasing the PMDG 737 series for FS2020. Have fun, and if you get stuck, we are always happy to help.

PMDG 737 rebuild series, week 20.2: HGS, remaining panels, FS 2020 status

Currently, we are at the end of week 20 of the PMDG 737 rebuild series. Hopefully, we will wrap things up over the next few weeks. There are a few things to consider before we end this series. They are covered in the below sections.

 

The HGS

 

The HGS/hud is a small display on the main forward panels of the 737. It helps pilots get an accurate picture of the runway and surrounding areas. It is often used if flight conditions are less than best. A few examples include dense cloud cover below minimums or at night where the airport is dark. Since it is highly visible, and PMDG doesn’t offer the display in their SDK, we are not inclined to put it in TFM.

The remaining panels

 

The remaining panels are the forward/lower forward panels and the console. These remaining panels will have different sub panels to help reduce clutter.

 

PMDG 737 for FS2020

 

We discovered that PMDG had released their SDK for the 737-700 for FS2020. This may require some reworking because the memory block for the offsets is different than the 737 for P3D. There are a few options when dealing with the problem. First, we could import all of the PMDG offsets into TFM, or we could wait for them to be included in the FSUIPC .net library TFM uses for its connection to the simulator. In either case, it is fairly easy to set TFM up to choose the correct memory block. This way, any work done on the P3D version will automatically carry over to the FS2020 version. At least the SDKs are identical outside of the memory block problem. If you want to take a look at the PMDG 737-700 for FS 2020, you will need the following items.

 

  • FSUIPC 7
  • FS 2020
  • * The PMDG 737-700 for FS2020
  • A copy of TFM preview 22.10 or later.

The panels and automatic announcements of aircraft state will not work, and the FMC will only display the main menu. You may also get random announcements of control states with no values. Again, this is a different offset memory block and needs the attention of the FSUIPC .net library developer, or TFM developers. Since this isn’t officially supported yet, use at your own risk.

We hope to see you during week 21 where we take care of the forward panel and some of the lower forward panel. Until then, happy flying!

PMDG 737 rebuild series, week 20: Vatsim mode, preview builds, finishing the PMDG 737 support

In week 19 of the PMDG 737 rebuild series, we covered the new Vatsim mode, introduced the forward panel, and launched the 2022 fall survey. If you haven’t gotten a chance to fill it out, it is located in the primary menu. For screen reader and braille display users, it is at the top of every page on the website. It shouldn’t take more than 5 – 10 minutes to complete. This week, we will cover more of the new Vatsim mode, testing preview builds, and ending the PMDG 737 rebuild series over the next few weeks.

 

Vatsim mode

 

Vatsim mode is used when flying on the popular Vatsim ATC network. Vatsim mode replaces the AI traffic window in TFM. Although we will eventually release Vatsim mode to the public, we must mention that it is unstable at times. So, sometimes users might get an error while loading traffic and ATC controllers. Hopefully, we can fix the problem later. The next preview build of TFM will have the controllers, traffic, and distance filter for Vatsim traffic. We will add more features to Vatsim mode as the year progresses.

 

Testing preview builds

 

As of this blog post, TFM preview has only had 6 downloads. There are no issues filed against TFM preview builds. We would like to remind those interested in preview features that reporting issues when detected is important in making a stable release. It is good if there aren’t any bugs. However, if you find a bug or want a feature included, you must fill out the new issue form found on the issues page of the repository. Have fun exploring and testing!

 

PMDG 737 series 80% complete

 

What is left?

 

Through the past 20 weeks, we have rebuilt TFM support for the PMDG 737 series of aircraft. If estimations are correct, we should finish TFM support for the 737 in about 4 or 5 weeks. Here is what is left.

 

  • Forward panel
  • Lower forward panel
  • Console
  • Some random offsets not on any real panel.
  • Minor feature additions/changes
  • Code cleanup.

 

What’s next?

 

Once the 737 has a week or two left to complete, we will start working on the 747 series. It will follow the same format as the 737. At the end of the week, we will publish a blog post covering the new features for the week. Then we will publish videos demonstrating it. Estimated time to finish the 747 series is roughly 52 weeks. We hope to see you there!

PMDG 737 rebuild series, week 19: Vatsim mode, forward panel, fall 2022 survey

In week 18 of our PMDG 737 rebuild series, we covered Vatsim mode, Flight sim expo, and the fall 2022 survey. This week, we will continue our updates on Vatsim mode, and provide the link for the fall 2022 survey.

 

Vatsim mode

 

Vatsim mode is a mode built into TFM that allows users to obtain online pilots and controllers who are signed into the Vatsim network. At this point, both aircraft traffic and logged on controllers are working. Vatsim mode will not be available until December 2022 at the earliest.

 

Live vatsim radar

 

Once the Vatsim traffic/controllers user interface is complete, we will start working on a live Vatsim radar. The new radar will request you provide a distance, upper altitude, and lower altitude in TFM settings. This will allow the radar feature to automatically announce aircraft that enter your airspace. For example, setting the radar distance to 20, the upper altitude to 2000, and the lower altitude to 2000 will announce any aircraft within a 20 mile radius of your aircraft which as an altitude that is either 2000 feet above or below your current altitude. The radar feature will come some time in 2023.

 

Forward panel

 

We are still working on the forward panel. Roughly a third of the panel offsets are in TFM. We still need to add the remaining offsets and create the panel’s user interface. We will keep everyone updated on its status in future blog posts.

 

Fall 2022 survey

 

The purpose of the fall 2022 feedback survey is to collect feedback on various topics that arise during the year. The answers will help TFM developers direct their efforts in the development and implementation of TFM features during the next year. Depending on gathered responses, we may publish a follow up survey to gather more specific information. There is no right or wrong answer, so provide honest answers. If a question does not give an option that identifies with your preferred choice, give an answer that best matches your preferences. This survey is open to anyone. You are not required to sign into your Google account to take the survey. The feedback survey will be open from October 1, 2022, and close on November 30, 2022. The survey link is located in the primary menu of this website.

We look forward to seeing you in week 20 of the PMDG 737 rebuild series. Remember to fill out the feedback survey when you get some time. As always, if you need help or have questions, feel free to fill out the contact form. We will get back with you as soon as possible.

PMDG 737 rebuild series, week 18: Vatsim mode, Flight sim expo 2022, Fall 2022 survey

It is hard to believe time passes so quickly. However, we are already at week 18 in our PMDG 737 rebuild series. This week, we have been working on the new Vatsim mode mentioned last week. We also are applying to be a presenter/speaker at the 2023 Flight sim expo in Houston Texas. Finally, we want to announce the upcoming fall 2022 survey, explained later. With the exciting news let out of the bag, let’s get started!

 

Vatsim mode

 

Vatsim is a virtual network of people getting together as pilots and air traffic controllers to provide a realistic flying experience in the simulator. We were given a web service that provides traffic and controller data provided by Vatsim. TFM is going to make use of this data, turning it into a Vatsim mode.

So far, the live traffic tab of the TFM radar is working. You can see the callsign, distance to the pilot, altitude, heading, bearing to the listed pilot’s location, their ground speed, and the rank or pilot rating for each person in the list. You can filter out pilots beyond a provided distance, much like a live radar works. For instance, typing ‘600’ in the radar distance box will only list pilots that are 600NM or less from your current location. We plan on adding other features to the radar. Some of the improvements include column sorting, filtering based on a column, and the ability to reorder columns in the lists.

 

Flight sim expo 2023

 

We are applying to be a speaker at Flight sim expo 2023. If approved, at least one of us will make the trip to Houston TX to give the presentation. To anyone who is going, we would like to meet you in person. We will let readers know more when we know the next steps to follow.

 

Fall survey 2022

 

Each year, we put out a survey that asks community members to affirm our direction over the next year. The survey typically asks questions about the direction of existing projects such as the PMDG 737 rebuild series, future plans, and queries users about new projects. This year’s survey will be available after Oct 1 2022, and will end on the last day of November 2022. When it becomes available, we ask everyone take 5-10 minutes and complete it. The answers do help us during the next year.

We will see everyone during week 19 of the PMDG 737 rebuild series. Stay tuned!

PMDG 737 rebuild series week 17: Glare shield, MCP, 22.10 preview

In week 16 of the PMDG 737 rebuild series, we covered the main premise behind the MCP/auto pilot system and its TFM components, “the MCP boxes”. Most of it was finished at the time. However, a portion of it still had not been developed. In this blog post, we will review the MCP components from last week’s blog post, then cover the remainder of the MCP. At the end of the post, we will briefly let you in on what’s up for next week.

The MCP

 

As mentioned, last week’s blog post covers everything in the MCP except two major parts: The altitude box and the navigation box. We will cover those here.

 

Altitude box

 

The altitude box is self-explanatory. So, we will cover the keyboard shortcuts here. To open the altitude box while TFM is open: Press left bracket ([), then SHIFT+A.

 

ALT+E – Altitude entry. Enter altitude and press enter.

ALT+I – Altitude intervene. Turns altitude intervene on. Turns off when desired altitude is achieved.

ALT+V – V-nav. Turns V-nav on/off.

ALT+L – Level change. Turns level change on/off.

ALT+H – Altitude hold. Turns altitude hold on/off.

ALT+1 – V-nav indicator. Indicates if V-nav is on/off.

ALT+2 – Level change indicator. Indicates if level change is on/off.

ALT+3 – Altitude hold indicator. Indicates if altitude hold is on/off.

 

Navigation box

 

The navigation box is the portion of the MCP that helps the 737 navigate. This includes flight directors, autopilots, autopilot interrupts, and other useful commands. You can open the navigation box while TFM is running by pressing left bracket ([), then SHIFT+F. The keyboard shortcuts are below.

 

ALT+F – Left flight director. Turns FD/L on/off.

ALT+D – Right flight director. Turns FD/R on/off.

ALT+P – Approach mode. Turns approach mode on/off.

ALT+V – Localizer hold. Turns localizer hold on/off.

ALT+A – CMDA. Turns CMDA on/off.

ALT+C – CWSA. Turns CWSA on/off.

ALT+B – CMDB. Turns CMDB on/off..

ALT+W – CWSB. Turns CWSB on/off.

ALT+K – Bank limit selector. Selects maximum bank in degrees.

ALT+I – Disengage bar. Turns the disengage bar on/off.

ALT+1 – ALT+8 – Indicators. Indicates various states of controls in this window.

 

The entire MCP and its components can also be found in the cockpit panels. While TFM is running, do the following.

 

  • Press left bracket ([), then CTRL+P.
  • Navigate the tree until you find Glare Shield, then expand it.
  • Navigate to MCP, then expand it.
  • Choose one of the following tree nodes.
    • Altitude
    • Heading
    • Navigation
    • Speed
    • Vertical speed

 

Either press TAB to navigate the windows, or press each window’s relevant keyboard shortcuts.

Return to tree in Panels and settings

 

A new keyboard shortcut in the cockpit panels and TFM settings windows is the F6 key. Pressing this from anywhere in these dialogs will return you to the main tree. This way, users don’t have to TAB all the way around a large set of controls to return to the tree.

 

Preview 22.10

 

It is time for another preview build. This one is 22.10 preview because it will be at least October before we can get another official release. The 22.10 preview cycle proves to be exciting because we will cover the forward panel, comms/transponder panels, and we will introduce a new feature called “Vatsim mode”. So, stay tuned for more exciting features. Until week 18!

 

PMDG 737 rebuild series week 16: Glare shield updates, MCP boxes, installer, and test panels

In week 15 of the PMDG 737 rebuild series, we covered the warnings segment of the glare shield, the new 22.9.1 preview build, upcoming Navigraph support, and potential areas of need such as comms and navigation panels. This week, we will focus on the MCP (autopilot). The TFM installer will make a brief appearance as well.

 

The MCP/autopilot

 

In the current builds of TFM, the MCP is split into major segments such as speed, vertical speed, heading, and altitude. You can access these segments by pressing various keys on the keyboard. For example, left bracket ([), then SHIFT+S brings up the MCP speed controls. In the MCP speed box, you will find various controls related to speed. Most of them relate to the autopilot speed controls, but not always is this the case. In the new MCP boxes, you will find more controls, especially the speed box. Before we get into the controls found on the MCP boxes, I will let everyone know that some features of the MCP/autopilot is not yet finished. We still have to connect the MCP to the glare shield, then validate that the altitude, vertical speed, and heading boxes work as expected. Now, on with the features of the MCP and its controls.

 

Speed box

 

The speed box controls horizontal speed. You can set indicated airspeed, mach speed, and more in the speed box. A few new additions to the PMDG 737 MCP speed controls include the autobrake, speed brake, and spoilers A and B. Below are the keyboard shortcuts for the speed box controls. To use the speed box, while TFM is running, press left bracket ([), then SHIFT+S.

 

Controls:

ALT+E – Speed entry field. Enter speed and press ENTER to change.

ALT+I – Intervene button. Turns speed intervene on/off.

ALT+C – Change over button. Changes between mach and indicated air speed.

ALT+U – Autothrottle button. Turns autothrottle on/off.

ALT+L – N1 set selector button. Changes N1 modes between 2, 1, both, or auto.

ALT+N – N1 button. Turns N1 on/off.

ALT+S – Speed button. Turns speed hold on/off.

ALT+A – Spoiler A button. Turns spoiler A on/off.

ALT+B – Spoiler B button. Turns spoiler B on/off.

ALT+K – Speed brake. Use the following keys while the speed brake has focus.

  • O – Off
  • A – Armed
  • H – 50% deployed.
  • F – Flight detent. Never exceed this in flight, especially descent.
  • U – 100% deployed.
  • Minus (-) – Decrease by small amount.
  • Plus (+) – Increase by small amount.

 

ALT+T – Autobrake. Use the following keys while autobrake has focus.

  • R – RTO.
  • -O – Off
  • – D – Disarm
  • 1 – Autobrake 1.
  • 2 – Autobrake 2.
  • 3 – Autobrake 3.

 

Indicators:

ALT+1 – Overspeed

ALT+2 – Underspeed.

ALT+3 – Autothrottle

ALT+4 – N1.

ALT+5 – Speed hold.

ALT+6 – Speed brake armed.

ALT+7 – Speed brake extended.

ALT+8 – Do not arm speed brake.

ALT+9 – Autobrake disarm.

 

Heading box

 

The MCP heading is self-explanatory, so we will go over the keyboard shortcuts below. To open the MCP heading box: While TFM is running, press left bracket ([), then SHIFT+H.

 

ALT+E – Heading entry. Type a new heading and press ENTER.

ALT+H – Heading select button. Turns on/off heading select.

ALT+L – Lnav button. Turns LNav on/off.

ALT+1 – Heading select indicator. Indicates if heading select is on/off.

 

Vertical speed box

 

You can open the vertical speed box while TFM is open by pressing left bracket ([), then SHIFT+V. The keyboard shortcuts are below.

 

ALT+E – Vertical speed entry. Enter speed then press ENTER.

ALT+V – Vertical speed button. Turns vertical speed mode on/off.

ALT+1 – Vertical speed light. Indicates if vertical speed mode is on/off.

 

Altitude box

 

We don’t have the keyboard shortcuts for the new altitude box yet. The next blog post in the PMDG 737 rebuild series will cover them.

 

New installer

 

TFM is going to start using a new installer in preparation for Navigraph support. Not only will the new installer satisfy some Navigraph technical requirements, it is easier to use. As it stands, the next preview build will use the new installer.

 

Testing the PMDG 737 systems

 

We have the ability to implement 737 system tests into TFM. The consequence of doing so would scatter system tests all over the panels, making it difficult to track down. Once the panels are complete, we are going to create a tests panel that holds all of the system tests. This way they are easy to find.

 

In this post we covered most of the MCP/autopilot segments. We introduced you to their keyboard shortcuts, new features, and explained that some controls on the MCP boxes aren’t always related to the MCP. Next week, we will cover the remaining parts of the MCP, answer any questions that might arise, and look forward to the forward panel. If you wish to contact us, feel free to fill out the form on the contact us page. We will get back with you as soon as possible. If you want to report a bug or submit a new feature request, press right bracket (]), then CONTROL+SHIFT+I while TFM is running. Make sure you fill out the bug report form as accurately as possible. We will see you next week.

PMDG 737 rebuild series, week 15: TFM preview released, glare shield progress, and Navigraph support

In week 14 of our PMDG 737 rebuild series, we discussed the air systems panel and other life issues that left us behind schedule by 4 weeks. In week 15, we will cover the release of TFM 22.9.1 preview, the upcoming glare shield, and some exciting news everyone has been waiting for a long time to hear.

 

TFM 22.9.1 preview

 

During week 14, we originally thought the air systems panel would be the only topic covered. Unexpected plans had us releasing TFM 22.9.1 earlier than expected. It turns out that the bottom overhead was easier to finish than originally planned. The bottom overhead contains the engines and lights panels. We will cover each one below.

 

Engines panel

 

The engines panel is fairly simple with a limited number of controls. The keyboard shortcuts are below. NOTE: for ease of use, we moved the fuel control switches from the control stand to the engines panel.

 

Alt+A – APU start selector.

ALT+1 p Engine #1 group. Contains engine start switch and fuel control switch.

ALT+2 – Engine #2 group – Contains engine start switch and fuel control switch.

ALT+I – Ignition switch.

 

Lights panel

 

The lights panel is also self explanatory. We will list the keyboard shortcuts below.

 

ALT+L – Landing lights group. Contains left/right retractable and left/right fixed landing lights.

ALT+R – Runway turnoff group – Contains left/right runway turnoff lights.

ALT+T – Taxi lights.

ALT+G – Logo lights.

ALT+A – Anti-collision lights (beacon lights).

ALT+W – Wing lights.

ALT+H – Wheel well lights.

ALT+P – Position lights.

 

 

Glare shield

 

The glare shield is not yet complete. However, there are some points we want to cover in this section. They mainly cover the EFIS, MCP, and HGS panels.

 

  • We will not include the EFIS panel in TFM. The EFIS panel has switches we can use. Unfortunately, we can’t get any data from the panel. Since we can’t get feedback from the controls/displays, we are leaving the EFIS out of TFM.
  • The MCP panel will move from the overhead panel to the glare shield. We will discuss more of the MCP panel later.
  • We will not include some of the HGS (headsup) guidance system panel. Some of the controls such as entering a runway, runway length, and landing altitude are not accessible when it comes to output. Most of this panel includes camera still images of the runway and other areas of the airport, which BVI pilots can’t use. However, there are other items we can use. These include the rollout, takeoff, and landing/Autoland indicators that we will put into TFM.

 

The MCP panel

 

The mode control panel (MCP), or auto flight controls normally live on the glare shield. Ever since TFM supported the PMDG 737 MCP, it has been on the overhead panel. As identified by the PMDG 737 SDK, it is supposed to be on the glare shield. So, we will move it to the glare shield. There are some fundamental design flaws in the current MCP panel, making it difficult to use. The new MCP will have the following changes, making it easier to use.

 

  • The speed box will have a speed entry field, speed intervene, speed hold, auto throttle, spoiler A, spoiler B buttons, and a speed brake input field.
  • There will be indicators (lights) on each MCP box that are easy to access.
  • Some controls not normally on the MCP panel will merge with the MCP panel/boxes to facilitate ease of use. Examples include speed brake and spoilers on the speed box.
  • New flight control boxes
    • Navigation (left bracket, SHIFT+N) – Courses and NAV 1+2, tuned VOR readout.
    • Autopilot (left bracket, SHIFT+P) – Flight directors, autopilot controls, bank angle selectors, barometers, etc.
    • The MCP panel in the glare shield will be broken down into different segments. For instance, each focus area of the MCP/flight control boxes will have their own treeview entry under MCP.

 

Since the MCP is segmented and could get complex, we will continue to cover each segment in different blog posts.

 

Focused areas of need

 

We usually maintain that each panel of the PMDG series of aircraft is added to TFM in the order they appear in the SDK, unless otherwise required. In some cases, it is best to do them out of order, and organized in a way that TFM users best understand them.  We will give a brief overview of the comms panel that is coming to TFM soon.

 

Comms panel

 

The comms panels usually consist of mics, receivers, audio transmitters, and a set of frequency types. TFM will layout the comms panels as follows.

The comms panels which you can access with right bracket, SHIFT+C is a generic comms window that helps you change comms frequencies for any type of aircraft. We are building one specific to the PMDG 737. It will include a comms tab that includes com1/2 frequencies, a tab for audio setup, a tab for transponder, and a tab to setup mics/receivers. This may change as requirements change, but this gives a basic layout.

 

Navigraph support

 

We brought this up in previous WhatsApp messages, email list messages, and blog posts. TFM is applying for Navigraph database support. When we first applied a year or so ago, the Navigraph development team told us it would be a fairly long time before they could get to TFM. We are pleased to let everyone know that we are now up in line, and a person from Navigraph is actively working with us to get TFM into the FMS data manager.

There has been a lot of movement this week with TFM development. From TFM 22.9.1 preview, to starting the glare shield and rebuilding the MCP, and finally to working with Navigraph to get TFM enrolled in their system. We have been fairly busy this week. There aren’t any deliverables for week 15, but as we said, progress is key.