PMDG Boeing 777 – what happens after purchase and before the first flight? PMDG 777 configuration tutorial and introduction to the manuals.
Is it a review or a tutorial?
777 PMDG does not require a review. PMDG brand and 777 add-on excellence are well known and are commonly treated as examples of highest quality in the flight sim market. I could write a standard review, rating each and every feature of this plane with 5 or 6 start but that makes no sens. Instead – I am going to publish a series of texts introducing this plane and describing my experience with it. This review is not about changing your opinion. It is about showing you what exactly the “highest quality” means. Instead of writing “what” is good in this plane – I will explain “why” I think it is such a good product and how it is different from many other available.
This review will be very detailed. Sometimes I will put things in the simplest possible terms – for the people who have never flown an advanced plane before. If you think that this part or the next explains something obvious – skip it and go to the next part – I hope I will surprise you every now and then even if you have flown this plane many times.
This review features two PMDG products:
The base pack (-200 and F models) and the expansion (-300ER) are sold at a price of $89.99 and $29.99 respectively. That’s about 120 dollars for both (for FSX). Prepar3d price is $45 higher.
PMDG is sold as a download package. Download links and product key is send in an email after the purchase is completed.
The installer is fully automatic. It may install some Microsoft libraries – they are necessary for this product to work correctly.
Activation is required on the first run of this plane. In my case it went through without a slightest problem – I entered the key – it was verified online in a moment.
PMDG-777-Introduction document informs that all zeros in the activation key are zeros (not O letters).
Like all other manuals PMDG-777-Introduction is located in FSX\PMDG\PMDG 777X\Flight Manuals (“FSX” being the name of the main FSX folder on my PC).
This manual explains the specifics of Boeing 777 simulation in FSX. The first part of this document covers:
- 777 installation and activation
- Windows and FSX configuration (tweaks)
- FSX settings for 777
- configuration problems and troubleshooting
- other manuals’ use
120 of 175 pages are dedicated to answering questions concerning PMDG 777 that arose (or could have arisen) and to explaining the function of every page of PMDG 777’s FMC MENU.
In some cases I think it’s was an overkill – just take a look at this Doors window – it takes the whole page and clarifies that… this page is used to open and close aircraft doors.
This page shows the philosophy behind PMDG’s manual – “nothing is too irrelevant or too simple”.
I have recently flown two planes that only had vague manuals – after this experience I prefer PMDG’s method. And I really admire the amount of work that someone put into this manual!
One more thing – I had not encountered a single problem with PMDG 777 that I could not solve with it’s manuals. This shows how well they are prepared.
Last pages of Introduction document explain behavior of the 777 in FSX – it’s a very interesting reading.
Only 128 pages are sufficient to explain how to take this plane for a short flight from Dubai to Maldives – from the startup to shutdown. Do not worry – illustrations take a lot of space in this tutorial.
If you decide to follow it – you will fly to Male and get the basic knowledge about FMC programming and autopilot operations.
The proper manuals
Boeing 777 has four main manuals that are used by the flight crew:
- Flight Crew Training Manual (356 pages)
- Flight Crew Operations Manual vol 1 (1210 pages)
- Flight Crew Operations Manual vol 2 (1266 pages)
- Quick Reference Handbook (844 pages)
I did not see any differences between this manuals and the real world manuals of the 777 that I had earlier. Differences I noticed can be explained by the different equipment used in the airline from which the manual came from.
Oooo! There is a significant difference – real world manuals do not have “Do not use for flight” warning and PMDG logo. That is the biggest discrepancy.
Flight Crew Training Manual
FCTM describes maneuvers and techniques used by Boeing 777 crews. It is a broad document that explains the reasons and the context of some tasks. FCOM in contrast will focus on what to do and when to do it.
Flight Crew Operations Manual
FCOM covers procedures (checklists) and aircraft performance in volume one. The second part describes aircraft’s systems in details.
Quick Reference Handbook
QRH is a checklist collection that should help in solving any problems that may occur during flight.
Manuals – read this before you run away
I know that three and half thousand pages sounds scary. Especially when compared to an ordinary FSX add-on that has only 30 or 50 page manual. My first though was – “how people find time to read this?”. I will share my experience – I never considered it an obligatory reading. I am not trying to be the real world 777 pilot and I do not have to acquire knowledge of each and every system, button and knob on this plane. Learning how to fly the 777 is a process. In real world this process starts when a pilot learns to fly planes that are less complicated. In the safe environment of flight simulation we can jump into deep end – learning new things as we fly this plane. It’s a good way to learn this plane.
To be hones I need to warn you – I had a lot of experience with other advanced add-ons. 777 systems are not that hard to figure out by someone who has at least basic knowledge.
For those who do not have any previous experience PMDG gives the tutorial – try it and you will get some of the necessary knowledge. Try to alter it a little (maybe change the destination – and both airports) – and you will learn more. In every flight you will learn and get better. This huge manuals are there to help you!
PMDG Operations Center
This nice piece of software solves all the problems I have with other FSX add-ons. What it does is:
- 777 configuration
- liveries download and installation
- alternative sounds installation
Additionally – you will find a shortcut to all the manuals in Op Center (under “Documentation”).
Boeinga 777 PMDG configuration
Aircraft Specific Settings / Aircraft Properties table shows the current configuration of British Airways Boeing 777-300ER (G-STBB). In here I can configure:
- FMC Datalink
- appearance options (testing equipment, “no smoking” swich text, auxiliary instruments, ADF, etc.)
- weight and temperature units
If I wanted this 777’s GPWS to call 400 feet altitude before landing – I simply need to select this option. There are tens of other options. In the beginning – I suggest you use the default. Later it is nice to get into this and tweak your 777 a little.
This tab installs a replacement sounds – low-quality cockpit sounds (to lower memory usage) and surround sounds (for external views).
Manages liveries and adds new liveries (from file).
Downloads and installs new liveries (from PMDG server).
This feature is very useful – in just a minute I selected the liveries that I liked and installed them. There are tens of liveries to choose from. Each of this liveries is just one click away – no changes in aircraft.cfg file are required.
Check if the 777 is up to date.
How long does it take to configure this plane?
I am impatient! I installed the 777, turned on the FSX and selected one of three planes I had installed by default (installer ads 777-200, 777F and 777-300 in PMDG livery). It took me 10 minutes to get to the cockpit from the moment I downloaded the plane.
All the configuration settings are optional – you can use them (and I am sure you will) but they do not require your attention if you just want to enjoy your new plane.
Come back tomorrow for the cockpit description!