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.