Commercial Aviation HD DVD Review
Viking Aviation Photo “Air Austral 737-800″
|Publisher:||Viking Aviation Photo|
|Description:||Impressive presentation of several Air Austral 737-800 flights|
|Software Source/Size:||HD DVD|
|Reviewed by:||Angelique van Campen|
|Published:||June 9th, 2012|
Computer / Software Specifications
|Computer System:||- iMac 27″ 3.4Ghz Mid 2011
- Intel i7 3.4/3.8Ghz / 3.8Ghz during Boost Mode
- ATI/AMD Radeon HD6970 2GB
- 16GB DDR3 RAM
- 256Gb Intel SSD and 2Tb 7200RPM HDD
- Saitek Pro Flight System
|Software:||- Windows 7 x64 Ultimate (BootCamp) / Mac OS X 10.7.4
- Flight Simulator X Acceleration
- X-Plane 10
|Overall Time:||- Overall Watching Video 5 hours|
These days when you want to visit the flight deck or cockpit, you’ve probably figured out that this isn’t easy anymore unless you’re a commercial pilot your self or have friends who are pilots. But why would you visit the flight deck or cockpit?
For most flight simmers, the real “pilot’s kitchen”, the flight deck, is the crème the la crème. For some reason, you want to see it with your own eyes and if possible, to see how instruments and DU’s (Display Units) respond during the different ground and flight phases.
How galleys and lavatories work is not really a problem when you’ve booked a flight nor is the cabin, including onboard service, if applicable of course.
That said, wouldn’t it be great idea to have a complete preview about what happens on a flight from origin A to destination B? With this in mind, different publishers offer you movies that give’s you an inside view of what happens in the flight deck during all flight phases.
Viking Aviation Photo
This review covers Viking Aviation’s latest Flightdeck Action DVD/Blu-ray. It gives you a “behind the scenes” impression of the Boeing 737-800 NG flights from Air Austral. Let’s see what Viking Aviation Photo has to tell about this DVD and/or Blu-ray.
Blu-ray/HD DVD Disc “Air Austral B737-800”
The Air Austral HD filmed DVD, offers you 225 minutes or 3.45 hours, recorded in HD (High Definition) quality, composed of six complete Air Austral flights:
It all starts with flight UU611, which is the outbound flight from RUN (Reunion Island) to TNR (Antananarivo, capitol of Madagascar). This flight is followed by UU612 which is the inbound flight from TNR back to RUN. Next flights or stretches are the flights UU255 from RUN to DZA (Dzaoudzi Pamandzi International Airport, Dzaoudzi, Mayotte). After a short stop, the flight continues to HAH (Prince Said Ibrahim International Airport, Moroni, Comoros).
Finally, Air Austral needs to fly back to their home base RUN. Therefore, flight UU256 is the inbound flight back to RUN, via DZA. And there’s a surprise that is not on the DVD box back cover. Once you’ve put the DVD in your PC or TV set, the DVD additionally offers you a “Company Presentation” and “Air Austral B737-800”.
According to the DVD box cover “Join Air Austral on 6 flights on their Boeing 737-800 and experience the professionalism and service they provide. Captain Lainé will explain many features of the B737NG and keep you updated during approach briefings, presentation, preparations, takeoff’s and landings. All filmed with multiple HD cameras to bring you the best views. Welcome to Flightdeck Action!”
Not bad, and now it’s up to me, to see, feel and experience these Air Austral flights.
Impression HD DVD “Air Austral Flights UU611/612”
On behalf of Viking Aviation Photo, I welcome you on-board flight UU611 from RUN (FMEE) to TNR (FMMI). Actually, flight UU611 doesn’t start in or around the 737-800. It starts in an office where Captain Lainé and his co-pilot check the flight preparations.
This means they individually check the printed papers from Flight Operations thus they check the weather conditions along the route, aircraft calculations, NOTAMs, METARS etc. After this, it’s time to walk to the aircraft. I’m not aware of the size of the airport, but I have an idea that it’s small and the pilots can consequently walk from Flight Operations to the aircraft.
They walk straight to the aircraft and via the FWD PAX door they enter the cockpit and begin the cockpit preparations. Captain Lainé tells you quickly what has to be done while the co-pilot quietly performs the overhead panel check including switching ON systems and/or testing systems. I’m surprised that during his overhead panel check there’s no talking between the Capt. and co pilot and no checklist items are detected.
Anyway, the Captain shows, tells and operates the FMS CDU. He tries to explain every part of it like the flight plan waypoints, takeoff data, DEP/ARR page, init data etc. It seems to work well and for the moment, a handbook is not needed.
Once the FMC CDU component is done, fuel on-board and cabin security completed, it’s time to do the last bits and pieces in the cockpit and before you know it, it’s time for the pushback and engine start. This is a part of the flight which relies on the crew to see if they have the time to explain what you see on EICAS and how to initiate.
It’s not a complicated job, but time and interest is important. It seems Captain Lainé does have enough time to explain the start procedure and that is good news. During taxi out, several checks are done, such as the flight control check and TAKEOFF data is discussed as well as Engine Out Procedure before V1 or after V1. When you’ve never heard this, it’s weird to hear that every communication with the tower is in French!
For me it’s unusual to hear, for the pilots who are French speaking, not strange.
The Air Austral 737-800 is now ready for takeoff. Takeoff thrust set, and rolling. At V rotate or actually V liftoff, the 737 start with it’s climb. With an almost 180 degree turn, the 737 flies along the island while climbing. It seems that more and more these days, pilots have a lot to do with the FMS CDU including the ACARS module. One of the major parts of their job is comparing the calculated fuel and used fuel with the load sheet and fuel sheet papers.
Crosschecking is, in relation to the fuel, an important item.
Once the aircraft is at it’s cruising altitude of FL380, Captain Lainé starts to explain all about the PFD and ND in combination with the EFIS control panel. Well, not everything, because that’s way too much information, but let’s say, the most important items on the DU’s.
Passing the ADF, he explains the EICAS and what’s visible as well as the different screen modes. But his time is limited since the approach must be checked via the charts and where needed, data is entered into the CDU and/or pre-settings are made. You descend from the assigned cruising level down to FL110 and our Captain decides to fly the rest of the approach by hand.
This part of the movie is a balanced mix between cockpit shots and external view. It seems it’s a little rocky outside, so the pilots need to watch out that they don’t hit a mountain.
And then there’s suddenly, out of nowhere, is runway 11. Together with the ILS and the captains PFDS, it seems an easy job to make a successful landing. After a short taxi-in, the 737-800 reaches its parking position.
Welcome to TNR or Antananarivo Airport.
But there’s not much time to lose. As I mentioned at the beginning, the same crew takes you back to their home base, RUN or Reunion Island as flight UU612.
Since passenger’s are leaving and new passengers enter the aircraft as well as unloading and loading their baggage, the co-pilot gives you a walk-around check around the Air Austral 737-800. The walk- around check is full of tiny details such as what to look for or what to watch out for. It’s not a thorough maintenance check.
No, a pilot (or co pilot) check is more for checking hydraulic and fuel leaks, how do the tires look and is there any visible damage. Furthermore, the engine inlet and outlet are checked and that’s it, more or less.
Your 737-800 is already on its way to the runway, which means there’s no time to talk about the cockpit preparations. Believe me, that’s not really a problem. This DVD will offer you enough cockpit situations and having a look in the cabin would also be nice. Back to the cockpit.
Because there’s no taxiway to the beginning of runway 11, they have to taxi over runway 29-11 to the beginning of 11. For us it sounds strange, but many small airports have this type of construction by taxiing over one runway to begin at another runway. After a full 180 turn at the end of runway 11, the cockpit crew is ready for the takeoff. This time the co-pilot holds the control wheel and the captain is responsible for ATC.
The initial climb has begun before you’re moved to the cabin. It’s not a luxury cabin apart from the leather seats. The service in the cabin looks friendly to me where a big smile means something!
A quick look in the galley and then it’s time to switch back to the flight deck.
The first thing I see is the cruising altitude of 41000 feet or FL410, but that’s not for long. ATC commands them to descend to FL170. The remainder of this descent, approach, final approach and landing gives you a nice, balanced view of the instrumentation and then in particular, the co-pilot’s PFD and ND as well as external ground shots.
“Air Austral B737-800” and “Company Presentation”
In six minutes the DVD should give you an idea what a Boeing 737-800 NG is. This short presentation gives you only an idea how the external model looks, in case you didn’t already know. Since the cockpit is covered during the flights it’s not covered here.
Directly after this, Mr. Jean-Marc Grazzinu, Vice-President Sales and Marketing of Air Austral, gives you some information about Air Austral, where it flies to and what its core business is. With an average of 1.2 million passengers, Air Austral isn’t big, but big enough to offer the service you require!
Impression HD DVD “Air Austral Flights UU255/256”
Flight UU255/256, consisting of 4 stretches, begins at RUN (FMEE, Reunion Island), home base of Air Austral to DZA (FMCZ, Mayotte). A different co-pilot explains a little bit about himself and about the short flight to FMCZ. The cockpit preparations are already done and it’s time for the pushback and engine start. During the pushback you get a nice view of an Air Austral Boeing 777.
Then, after the pushback is completed, an Air Austral ATR pops-up and for trhis, we have to wait. This is really for short distances and airports with short runways. The taxi, takeoff and climb are all impressive. Well filmed from different corners, a perfect combination of external views, overall cockpit impression and close-up shots of the PFD and ND. Although the co-pilot may be a different person, Captain Lainé is back on the left hand seat and explains a little more about the routes to fly with the help of a map.
The co-pilot takes over the conversation because he wants to explain the approach procedures and runway conditions. Furthermore, he also explains the weather and seasonal flight conditions and limitations as well as possible landing options.
After these technical details, it’s time to start the descent and prepare for the approach and landing. These last minutes are, as usual, a nice balance between the filmed co-pilot and external shots. In particular the external shots are great, but that’s partly because of the islands, the watercolor and difficult landing. One wrong action and you end up in the ocean. Because there’s not much space around the runway, the runway is again used as taxiway to the apron.
The 2nd stretch of flight UU255 goes from your current location DZA (FMCZ, Dzaoudzi) to one island further, HAH (FMCH, Moroni). Since it’s a stopover, the same crew stays on-board and flies the aircraft to its next destination.
Being here at Dzaoudzi, walking in the sun over the apron, gives me a relaxed impression. This is the same for the passengers who are boarding the Air Austral 737-800. The cockpit crew is busy making their own preparations for the upcoming flight.
Flight operation papers are checked and before you know it, it’s departure time. The taxi to the end of the assigned runway, with a full 180 turn at the end, positions them at runway 16.
The takeoff itself, initial climb, followed by the climb and cruising level are a busy time for the pilots. That means there’s not much to discuss with them or the other way around.
On the other hand, from the third seat you’ve got a wonderful view of what happens on the instrument panel, combined with external views and they are great! This stretch has a cruising level of 20,000 feet (FL200), but not for long. The flight or distance between the islands is fairly short and consequently, the co-pilot tells you the necessary ins and outs of the expected approach. Although the islands look great from a certain altitude, a mistake during the landing means … wet pants and/or skirts!
What you see during this approach and landing on HAH, is a good combination between DU close-ups and the surrounding scenery as it comes closer and closer. While taxiing to the apron, it seems there’s some Dutch history down here, an old, standing in the mud, not flyable Fokker F27.
Anyway, this concludes your trip to Moroni, and after a short break, it’s time to fly via Dzaoudzi back to Reunion Island.
So here we are …. The cockpit crew is doing the necessary preparations for flight UU256 from HAH to DZA. Captain Lainé sits on the left-hand side and will fly the aircraft back to Reunion Island. He guides you, during his cockpit preparations, and gives you a complete and in-depth explanation of the FMS CDU.
Nothing about the CDU is left untouched and all items needed for this flight are discussed! After this, you jump straight into the taxi phase, followed by the takeoff and climb. The weather conditions are pretty good and that means that there’s enough to see of the outside scenery while climbing. Furthermore, when applicable, close-up shots of the PFD are shown as well as the main instrument panel.
Once at cruising level, the pilots discuss the approach procedures and the programming of the FMS CDU. Because of the short flight time, there’s no time for Captain Lainé to tell you anything about certain aircraft systems.
The descent and approach are, the same as with the previous flights, a perfect balance between what you see, feel and with awesome external cloud and scenery images. The final approach and landing itself are really great to see from the third seat.
Partly because of the scenery mixed with the instrument panel and DSU’s, but also because the way it’s filmed. And this means the perfect mix of the different mounted camera’s in the cockpit, and the final movie. After a short taxi, the aircraft arrives at the tiny ramp where everybody prepares themselves for the next and last stretch to Reunion Island.
The last stretch, part of flight UU256, starts with the co-pilot walking around the aircraft. He’s not really doing a walk-around check, but informs you about certain ground conditions. Once finished, it’s time for him to join Captain Lainé in the cockpit. We enter the cockpit at the moment every preparation is done and they are ready for taxi, takeoff and climb.
Now it’s time for you and me to relax and relaxation can only be possible in the cabin. Thus, the camera moves to the business class section of the cabin, where you can request and enjoy your Coca, water, coffee, tea, wine or beer. That’s served with a nice platter of local food. Having a window seat, you’ve got a great view of the outside world. With some clouds in the sky, the ground scenery is still visible and offers you breathtaking images.
We’re reaching the end of our flight and that means it’s time to move back to the third cockpit seat, right behind the pedestal. According to the ND, we’re about 10NM before the calculated T/D (Top of Descent).
With the approach map in the Captain’s hand, the pilots discuss the approach procedure. When ready, descent can start, followed by the approach, final approach and landing. Again, as you’ve seen with previous approaches, there’s a perfect mix of PFD, ND, overall panel view and external scenery. Still sitting on the third seat, it gives you almost the feeling your sitting in the real Air Austral seat.
I enjoyed every minute watching this Air Austral B737-800 DVD. All the stretches are fun and although you may think every stretch is the same, believe me, they are not the same except the airport destination ID. The reason these short flights are my favorites are because there’s so much to see in a short flight, thus the impressive island approaches in the middle of the ocean.
Everything I said in my previous Viking Aviation Photo review, is applicable for this one too. It’s worth every penny!
At Viking Aviation Photo you can find out more of what they have with this link guides you to the dedicated Air Austral HD DVD web page and also for this Air Austral movie, you can also decide to go for the Blu-ray version. That one can be found via this link.
The price of either version equals 24.99 Euro’s (approximately $32.00 USD as of this writing).
Overall, a great flight impression and nice cabin shots!
Well done Tommy!
Angelique van Campen
This review is written for Aerosoft News Service and published via the Aerosoft website.
While the reviewer has complete journalistic freedom, we ask the reader to keep in mind where the review is posted.