Commercial FSX Utility Review



FS2Crew (voice) for the PMDG B737 NGX


Publisher/Developer: FS2Crew
Description: FS2Crew (Voice) for the PMDG B737 NGX
Software Source / Size: Download / 257MB
Flight Simulator: FSX
Reviewed by: Christopher Elliot
Published: February 10th, 2013


Computer / Software Specifications
Computer System: - Intel Core i7 920 @3.86Ghz
- Corsair H50 CPU Cooler
- 6GB DDR3 RAM
- ATI Radeon HD 5770 GPU
- 2x monitors: 1440x900 and Acer 1920x1080
- Logitech Freedom 2.4 Wireless Joystick
Software: - MS Flight Simulator X Acceleration (SP2)
- REX OD
- Contrails Pro
- FS Real Time
- Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

























Gatwick Airport - Stand 57R - 09:00GMT

The FS2Crew user interface (UI) appears when you click on the cockpit panel just below the Yaw Damper indicator in PMDG's excellent NGX 800/900 add-on.
In the window of the FS2Crew UI, a yellow text message says the voice recognition is starting (there is also a button version included in the pack): NGX Voice V1.5.

After a short initialisation, the panel reads, 'PREFLIGHT,' and it's ready to go.




Speech Recognition

Speech recognition was first developed back in the 1960's with the user having to pause. Then, in the 1970's, continuous speech recognition was developed, which is still being developed and refined today. Continuous speech recognition can be found in many Microsoft and Apple products, and in desktop PC's, games consoles, and mobile phones.

It's this technology, which has enabled FS2Crew to be brought to the market in a voice package. Continuous Speech Recognition is:
- over 90% accurate
- used in military aircraft
- used by NASA



FS2Crew

FS2Crew is owned by Hong Kong based Jet Express Technology Inc. Founded in 2004, an international team of programmers, graphic artists, and airline professionals joined forces to create a realistic flying environment. FS2Crew is the result of years of hard work and development. The add-on aims to simulate the people aspect of airline flying.


Set up and start

Pressing 'CFG,' click-click, brings up the configuration panel where FS2Crew can be set up prior to pre-flight. On this panel, there are various options available for audio setup, pre-flight, start-crew (push-back), and the crew region - whether from UK, EU or US.
There are also five buttons for use including selections for another add-on, Aerosoft's AES, and if there is a gate departure and a gate arrival. The button to start FS2Crew from a cold and dark situation is the 'RUN PF' (Run pre-flight) button.
The First Officer (FO) in FS2Crew will:
- Set up the aircraft systems
- Read the checklists
- Follow procedures
- Run the system tests



Manuals

Having read the user manuals for the FS2Crew voice package, setting up the voice recognition and other FSX settings was easy. There are a lot of commands to learn, but for now the voice tutorial will suffice to get flying, which gives a helpful A, B, C approach to learning the software. Manuals included are:
- Voice Manual and tutorial
- Button Manual and tutorial





The countdown begins...

'RUN PF' is pressed, click, and the 30 minutes countdown to departure begins.

The Captain says, "Let's start setting up."

The FO responds, "Ok."

The gate bell begins to ring as it moves toward the aircraft, the door is opened and the FO begins his power up procedure. As Captain, all you have to do is set the INS's (inertial navigation system) to NAV (navigate) and enter the position in the FMC (flight management computer), while setting the QNH (originally from the old Morse Code but generally means barometric pressure adjusted to sea level), which today is 1000 HPA (a unit of pressure). The TAT (total air temperature) is 0 degrees C.

The FO says at T-24 min., "I'm out for the walk-a-round."

As pilot flying, it's now your job to set up the FMC for departure. The FMC opens and the payload and fuel is set, the route is entered and the departure set. The winds are checked and entered, and before long the FMC is ready for flight.

At T-19 min., the FO comes back to the cockpit, "I'm back from the walk-a-round, everything looks fine."

Then at T-18 min., the flight attendant asks, "Okay to start boarding now?"

You reply, "Yes," and the passengers begin boarding the plane. There is a sound set and you can hear the passengers arriving onto the aircraft.


Testing, testing, 1,2,3...

The first officer will then go through his pre-flight main procedure, setting switches and testing systems. At one point, the alerting system is checked and it goes through a cycle of "terrain, terrain, pull up," and other warning signals.
These procedures are based on: - Boeing SOP's
- Pilot workflows
- Airline safety



Countdown resumes

At T-11 mins., the First Officer is ready for the pre-flight checklist, and you say, "Pre-flight checklist," to begin the procedure. The FO reads the checklist whilst you respond with voice to the items. After the pre-flight checklist, it's time for the departure brief. There is a handy panel that will run a brief to your settings, or you can talk the brief yourself. After the brief, the dispatcher brings the log book to the cockpit, you say, "Thanks." The cabin crew now begins the safety announcement, and you wait for T-1 min. for the before start procedure.



Ready to go

"Before start procedure."
The FO responds, "Check." He now goes through a few settings, switches setting and screen adjustments according to the real-world procedures and says, "I'm ready for the checklist." You say, "Before start checklist." The FO begins to read out the checklist, and you must respond to the calls with "set" or "checked."


Push and start

The aircraft is ready for departure and you must now call the ground crew for pushback and start. During push and start, you can use voice commands to say, "Start engine one," and the FO will flick the starter switch for engine one. When push and start is complete, the crew will disconnect the tug, the cabin crew briefs the passengers, and the FO will go through his after start and before taxi procedures. It's now time for the before taxi checklist. After the checklist, you turn on the taxi light and say, "Clear on the left."
The FO responds, "Clear on the right," and you taxi to the runway.


Take-off

Entering the runway, you ask the FO to go through the runway entry procedure. The FO turns on the transponder, the landing lights, and declares, "Ready for take-off."
As soon as you are cleared for take-off, you say, "Take-off," and begin your roll. The FO will call, "80 knots," and you reply, "Checked."
Once airborne, you can call for gear up and other commands, such as flaps up, select LNAV (Lateral NAVigation), select Command A, and so forth. You can even ask the flight attendant to bring you a coffee!


Descent and Landing

After a non-eventful cruise with coffee and lunch, the checklists and procedures begin again after 100 n.m. (nautical miles) to top of descent (TOD). The FO completes most of the work and responds to your calls. One thing you must remember is to talk clearly otherwise FS2Crew will come up with all sorts of variations to your spoken words. After landing, the FO will clean up the aircraft and get ready for gate arrival. There are shutdown checks and procedures to perform as the happy passengers disembark. FS2Crew will reset to set up for the next leg if you are flying sectors that day.


Summary

FS2Crew is a great add-on for those who want to experience working as part of a team on board a Boeing 737 NG. If you add the complication of also flying online with live ATC, you will experience the true feeling of operating a line flight for your Virtual Airline. There's very little to fault with FS2Crew. The only niggles were sometimes the FO would not call out "Rotate" or respond to "Take-off," but this only happened once after pausing the simulation offline due to a phone call!

FS2Crew puts you in command of a live environment according to the real-world Standard Operating Procedures (SOP's) and any virtual pilot will feel like a true Captain. Visit the FS2Crew website for further information. The package cost you $39.50 USD or approximately 29.00 Euros (currency conversion as of January 24,2013). And don't forget to visit Aerosft's dedicated FS2Crew product page.

With Greetings,
Christopher Elliot


This review is written for Aerosoft Sim News 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.