In this review we will be looking at the Flight Deck Solutions (FDS) “PRO-MX MCDU”. FDS, a Canadian company, is no stranger to the simulation and aviation industry.
FDS provides solutions for flight simmers, aviation enthusiasts, educational bodies, and cooperations. One client has been Dresden University where they cooperated to intergrate an FDS professional A320 dual trainer with an ecaFAROS system. The end result is a higher fidelity certified training device.
Placing an order for the MCDU was straight forward — by going onto the FDS website you can place a direct order, with shipping to be calculated and quoted by e-mail. It is reassuring payment can be made securely by PayPal and by credit card.
I cannot stress the importance of communication in any business, especially when you are dealing with the exchange of currency overseas (this author lives in Australia). The whole experience, from the purchase of the item to delivery was quick and swift with constant communication from Peter Cos (President, FDS), Corina (General Manager, FDS), and Mark (FDS).
The shipping quote was received within 2 business days of placing the order.
Payment was made, and item was sent out for delivery within 5 business days of placing the order.
Item was received in Australia within 8 business days of placing the order.
We tend to play the ‘waiting game’ with flight simulator parts so I was very surprised and impressed when FDS was able to deliver in such a short period of time.
The MCDU when it arrived, shipped in trademark FDS black wrapping, and custom fittings within the box to reduce any movement. A short printed note with links for the device drivers for the MCDU and manual for the device was included. It is peculiar to note there is no documentation to setup the MCDU with Jeehell FMGS. Prior to the ordering of the device, I corresponded with Steve Cos (FDS) to confirm the MCDU to be compatible with the Jeehell avionics suite.
Power supply with different adapter fittings (North America, Europe, Asia, Oceania) were all also included. FDS does not supply a VGA or USB cable (as noted on their sales website) to attach to your computer. Fortunately, I had these spare cables stored around the house.
The device itself is made out of metallic parts. Buttons have an authentic ‘click’ sound when pressed. The device can be placed on the desk with the included mount or you can can mount it onto a pedestal with the DZUS screws if you wish. The MCDU is built to last and feels like it could take many years of use without any considerable wear.
Setup was extremely straight forward. The device was recognised immediately with Windows 7. I installed the FDS-CDU software to facilitate the use of the ‘Test Module’. This software allows you to confirm the outputs and inputs of the device is working correctly and can also interface with your avionics software. Buttons presses were recognised immediately. I was initially frustrated that the LCD and buttons did not light up. After fiddling with the power supply (I thought this was the culprit), I realised there were output ‘LCD’ and ‘Backlighting’ tickboxes in the test module — these need to be selected before the unit would come alive.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the LCD only ‘wakes up’ or turns on when the battery on the overhead of the Airbus is enabled. The color LCD screen is brilliant, bright, and presents the fonts of the MCDU well with a good wide viewing angle. Backlighting is excellent…take a look at the photos and judge yourself!
Setup was straight forward (after the initial confusion) and the device is beautifully crafted, sturdy and authentic with good attention to detail. It adds a strong sense of realism to the cockpit. Documentation could be improved, but the level of service by FDS is remarkable, and they have a proven track record to help you with your setup if you have any issues or concerns.