At some point if you are a cockpit builder you came across a very difficult (or it may have been very easy for you) decision — What type of aircraft should I build?
There are many to choose from, perhaps you have a certain affinity for one aircraft because of your previous work experience, or if you’re a occupational pilot even flying the aircraft. You may have been acquainted and admired the aircraft using the available study-level sims available for Flight Simulator X, Prepar3D or X-Plane. Perhaps you were lucky and manage to obtained the complete flight deck of an aircraft at your local tear down yard. For example, Boeing 747 parts are very accessible because the aircraft is coming to its EOL.
Most people based their decisions on the software available — you require software which correctly simulates all systems of the aircraft accurately. When it comes down to the Boeing 737-800, cockpit builders are spoiled for choice — Prosim737, Project Magenta and Sim Avionics are the more popular avionics suites available. There are also many vendors who sell replica Boeing panels and accessories providing customers with a staggering amount of choice. If you are building a 747 there is one definite software — Aerowinx 747; this software is so advance and flexible even Boeing uses it for research purposes and flight schools use it in their training program.
If you decide to build an Airbus, frankly speaking you are at a disadvantage, however this is changing at a remarkable rate. At a software front, you don’t have as many refined commercial products as your Boeing colleagues. ProsimA320 recently launched and is still being actively developed. FlightSimLab A320X Professional version has no definite launch date. AST and Project Magenta Airbus are no longer being actively developed. There are very few vendors who produce Airbus replica parts — this leads to fewer options and less competitive pricing.
Where does this leave us in terms of Avionics Software?
Jean Luc’s Jeehell FMGS A320
This is a remarkable piece of software. It has fly-by-wire (FBW) implementation and FMGS software integration. Hardware drivers are available for vendor products such as Flight Deck Solution, Skalarki, Cockpit-Concept, and CP Flight. Jean Luc listens to his community and pushes out bug fixes and new features on a regular basis. If you have a problem with the software, post it in the forum, or on the bug tracker, and he will attempt to fix it. All of this is available for free at no cost. Jean Luc should be commended for his efforts. The software is continually updated with bug fixes and features. There is no failure simulation in the freeware version of the software however, so if you require that level of fidelity, it may be best to look at the other software, or enquire about the commercial version of Jeehell FMGS.
There are some other reasons why one may consider building an Airbus over Boeing (from a flightdeck builders perspective):
- Fewer mechanical parts
- No force feedback required for realistic simulation — the yoke on a Boeing is hydraulically linked and should also responds to outside forces; this is difficult to simulate; the Airbus sidestick is FBW and provides no feedback.
- The Boeing Auto-throttle system — the Airbus throttle works on detents and no complex wiring or feedback system is required.
- Locking brake pedal with parking brake mechanism — not found on an Airbus aircraft.
Everyone has their own personal reasons for selecting and building their aircraft type. My advice – analyse and scrutinise the offerings available in the market — both hardware and software carefully before making your decision. Nothing is more frustrating then selecting an aircraft which you are unable to simulate systems correctly or are unable to source the hardware components.