Best IFR Sim software

Discussion in 'Cleared for the Approach' started by nick1, Nov 13, 2010.

  1. nick1

    nick1 Filing Flight Plan

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    Can anyone recommend which of these programs is best for IFR training? Not for actual sim time but just practicing.

    http://sportys.com/PilotShop/category/990

    1.) Microsoft Flight Simulator X Gold Edition
    2.) Microsoft Flight Simulator X for Pilots
    3.) Microsoft Flight Simulator as Training aid
     
  2. taters

    taters Pattern Altitude

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    FSX and a good joy stick. (wingman, saitek etc.) the yoke thing makes no difference IMO.
     
  3. murphey

    murphey Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Scrounge thru the "cheap" bin at your local software house and buy the cheapest you can find. Altho I have MSFS 2002, 2004 and X, I prefer 2004. It's all I need for scan practice.

    For serious sim, I still like X-Plane best.
     
  4. Danos

    Danos Line Up and Wait

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    I use X plane. FSX is HUGE and takes up about 2x's the disc space. I find that Xplane runs smoother and there are a lot of free planes you can download from the site.
     
  5. olasek

    olasek Pattern Altitude

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    Which version of FSX you get is really not important. What is more important is what kind of aircraft you will be practicing with. I would get some of the better add-on aircraft like Flight1's Cessna 172 or some other, I would never use Microsoft's default aircraft.
     
  6. bqmassey

    bqmassey Line Up and Wait

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    I recommend X-Plane (and a decent controller). X-Plane 10 is coming out soon, but X-Plane 9 would be fine.

    FSX has it's advantages. There are more add-ons available, and the eye candy is nicer.

    I recommend X-Plane, though. It runs a lot better on low-end machines than FSX does. I have no problem running it on my laptop that I travel with. It doesn't have all of the eye candy that comes with FSX, but it has a more advanced flight model. It runs on three different operating systems (Windows/Mac/Linux). You can buy it pretty cheap online.

    The most important thing is to have good controls and, regardless of which sim you chose, a well-modeled aircraft. There are very high quality aircraft models (and very low quality models) available for both sims.
     
  7. Ghery

    Ghery Final Approach

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    I use On Top. Good simulation. I can't land any of them worth beans, but that not why I use software on my PC. I can land a real airplane.
     
  8. gismo

    gismo Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I like OnTop for it's very flexible weather generation and realistic flight instrument failures. But it's very cantankerous WRT flight control setup and the aerodynamic modeling fidelity just plain sucks.
     
  9. bender52

    bender52 Pre-Flight

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    I use FSX and a good joystick also. It's easy to install and use. Also, if you're looking for a Garmin simulator, there's a free download from the Garmin site. It's cheaper to get used to where the buttons and knobs are on your PC instead of noodling it out in the air.
     
  10. ajstoner21

    ajstoner21 Cleared for Takeoff

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    I have MS Flight Sim X. I have a cheap joystick. I think MS Flight Sim X is a great tool for IFR training. Lets you track VOR courses very realistically with any weather, as well as fly actual ILS/NDB/Whatever approaches. I would really like to get a yoke/pedal set though because its hard practicing crosswind when you have a twist joystick with twist being the rudder control.
     
  11. gismo

    gismo Touchdown! Greaser!

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    IME, as long as you don't try landing in a crosswind you don't really need rudder control in a single engine sim (or a twin if both engine keep running). And there really not much point in practicing crosswind landings on something like FSX because most of the learning won't transfer to real airplanes.
     
  12. nick1

    nick1 Filing Flight Plan

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    Thanks everyone for the responses! I'm working on getting a new laptop just for this. I'll let you know what I decide.

    -Nick
     
  13. ISUHawkeye

    ISUHawkeye Pre-Flight

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    I run X plane 9 on my mac. Can any of you recomend a good flight stick or yolk, rudder pedal combination?
     
  14. ajstoner21

    ajstoner21 Cleared for Takeoff

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    The Saitek (sp?) system seems to be very nice (may only work on MS Flight Sim X though). I have no experience with them though. They are a bit pricey to me though. A yoke and pedal seem to be about $150 each.
     
  15. bqmassey

    bqmassey Line Up and Wait

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    The CH Products yoke and rudder pedals work for me. The Saitek setup might be worth looking into. I'd look up reviews online. They both should work just fine with X-Plane.
     
  16. ajstoner21

    ajstoner21 Cleared for Takeoff

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    I know with Saitek, you can buy fake radio stacks and switches and stuff to really practice more procedure i guess, but they aren't cheap and they really dont add value.
     
  17. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I've done a series of currency approaches with the commercial version of X-Plane equipped with the full radio stacks, yoke and rudder pedals, throttle quadrant, etc... and a CFI, and I can vouch that it's an outstanding training tool. It's not completely realistic, but it's harder to fly than the real thing. If you can master approaches on it, real approaches will be a breeze. The home version is the same, except without the instructor console feature (and FAA approval.)

    One problem though is that like any simulator, a lot of the procedural things like radio calls, clearance requests, etc... are missed even with a CFI beating on you. I think it's good for maintaining your scan, and your situational awareness without relying on a moving screen GPS, but it's not a replacement for the real thing.
     
  18. write-stuff

    write-stuff En-Route

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    I prefer Elite over On Top although they're very similar. No matter which one you use, don't try to teach yourself and only practice things your CFI has worked on with you.
     
  19. JeffDG

    JeffDG Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Actually, you can run an instructor console on the "home" version of X-Plane just fine. The only thing missing is the FAA approval and with it, the ability to log.

    You can even easily set up a second computer as the instructor station with a LAN connection between them. A lot cheaper to do that in the home version, as you just need a copy of X-Plane for each. To set up a second computer as the Instructor Station in the certified version, you need two USB dongles for the certified version...which aren't cheap.

    X-Plane "home" and X-Plane "certified" are precisely the same product. The "certified" version does two additional hardware checks on your system: frame rate and controllers (you can fly X-Plane home with your mouse...ugh), otherwise it's the same piece of software.
     
  20. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser!

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    From clicking on the link for each of those, it looks like items 2) and 3) are just supplementary materials, and don't include the flight simulator itself. Item 2) is a book and CD. Item 3) is a book.
     
  21. Sac Arrow

    Sac Arrow Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That's good to know, I've been playing with the demo version of the home product, except it wouldn't work with my mouse. I'll probably wait for version 10 to come out before buying it. And a joystick and rudder pedals.
     
  22. frgo0629

    frgo0629 Filing Flight Plan

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    On flight sim, can you actually receive tower/approach instructions? Some sort of communication for practicing and comprehending instructions?
     
  23. JeffDG

    JeffDG Touchdown! Greaser!

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    XPlane 10 has been out for at least a year now.
     
  24. JeffDG

    JeffDG Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Yes.

    For free you can use something like VATSIM, or you can pay for something like PilotsEdge
     
  25. mjburian

    mjburian Cleared for Takeoff

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  26. coma24

    coma24 Line Up and Wait

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    You can, and if you'd like some scenarios for flying on PilotEdge, check out http://training.pilotedge.net for a series of 11 IFR flights, or try http://myflightroute.com/input.php? for a scenario generator that allows you to choose things like distance, starting/finishing airports, approach types, etc, and it'll churn out a flight for you.
     
  27. coma24

    coma24 Line Up and Wait

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    It's hard to beat the gauge fluidity of X-Plane. Take the time to configure the joystick response curves and null zone and it works very well.

    Regarding the instructor station, not only can you use it in the home version, but you can use it on the same machine (you don't have to use a second machine).

    A very popular combination is X-Plane for the flight model and visuals, then SimAVIO from FlyThiSim for the avionics suite. It supports a wide range of avionics that X-Plane doesn't have.
     
  28. frgo0629

    frgo0629 Filing Flight Plan

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    Thanks!
     
  29. OkieAviator

    OkieAviator Pattern Altitude

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    What are your settings? It doesn't seem to matter what I put in, I have a yoke and pedals but it still flies like a video game.
     
  30. coma24

    coma24 Line Up and Wait

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    OkieAviator,

    I use a stick, not a yoke, but the outcome should be about the same. One thing to know is that it's never going to feel exactly like the real airplane, not because of any shortcoming of the software but because you're using a plastic yoke that doesn't provide any dynamic feedback in terms of resistance. You'd need a force feedback system to make it truly feel like an airplane.

    However, once you realize that shortcoming, it should still be totally flyable. Just make sure you do NOT apply real world torque to the controls...you'll end up using way too much control input (think about how little you actually deflect the controls in the real airplane at cruise speed).

    With the control resistance bit out of the way, what remains is to make sure that your controls center properly, that you have the flight model set for full realism, and that you adjust the exponential response curves so that it's not stupidly sensitive to minute inputs. So, set the realism curves to full realism (no artificial stabiilty), and then play with the yaw, pitch and roll response curve, probably starting at around 20%, so that it's less sensitive about the center. Rudder pedals might do better with around 50% on the response curve.

    Lastly, make sure you move the controls through a FULL range of movement prior to flight to ensure it knows where max deflection is. Otherwise, it truly will be unflyable.
     
  31. Cpt_Kirk

    Cpt_Kirk En-Route

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    Don't get FSX. That NAV database is from 2006. I spent more time trying to correct everything than I did flying.

    X-Plane 10 is better. Don't use a joystick. Use the autopilot for IFR NAV in the soup.
     
  32. coma24

    coma24 Line Up and Wait

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    Ted, gotta disagree on the a/p part. I hand fly a massive amount of flights in the sim, it's still beneficial.
     
  33. OkieAviator

    OkieAviator Pattern Altitude

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    I quit with Xplane last year and use P3D now... given I have a mess of ad-dons I'm committed to that platform. That said the control setup is pretty similar so I'll tweak it around and reduce the sensitivity.

    Starting up my Instrument training I really want to take advantage of the procedural use of a sim. I'll probably use Pilot's Edge as well.
     
  34. PPC1052

    PPC1052 En-Route

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    I would highly recommend getting the latest incarnation of Track IR. It's not that impressive looking out of the box. But when you get it working with your software (which isn't that hard), it is really cool. It allows you to control your view (pan, tilt, zoom the camera) just by moving your head. The web site says it works for both FSX and X-Plane

    http://www.naturalpoint.com/trackir/
     
  35. labbadabba

    labbadabba Pattern Altitude

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    I have FSX deluxe and I've been using the A2A Accu-Sim products. Their 172, PA28 and the new 182 models are the best flying GA models in the market. (Including X-Plane) Excellent for IR currently especially if you combine with an ATC service.

    One REALLY nice thing about the Accu-Sim products is that the planes age. You must maintain them, you have to watch for fouled plugs or a bad ammeter or water in the fuel (you can sump your own gas). I've not flown anything that approximates what goes into real-world flying like these products.
     
  36. labbadabba

    labbadabba Pattern Altitude

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    Track-IR is nice, but I find it distracting for panel flying. It nice if you're flying a Cub around looking at the sunset but I'd rather just have the panel for IR work.

    But that's just me...
     
  37. coma24

    coma24 Line Up and Wait

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    labbadabba, it isn't just you :) I do look around, but I have Quick Look views set up in X-Plane (you just push a key on the number pad), so I can snap to any of the common points in the 3d cockpit, or even looking off the left or right wings, which is great for pattern entries.
     
  38. BigBadLou

    BigBadLou Final Approach

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    There are multiple free online servers/communities that provide ATC services which you can leverage for practicing just about any kind of approach you'd like. On good servers, most of the online controllers are real-world controllers or at least pilots.
    I reside as a coach on the BVA server which is pretty well staffed most nights of the week and they have highly-staffed evens almost every weekend. If you'd like to join, PM me.

    As others have pointed out, you don't need an expensive setup for practicing IFR but I would maybe personally recommend a yoke (with a PTT), throttle quadrant and a radio panel (Saitek makes good ones). If you buy them used, it won't cost you more than one IFR lesson (in a rental).
     
  39. skynewbie

    skynewbie Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I don't recommend the Saitek yoke. Build quality sucks and not very accurate. Buy a decent yoke from Elite or Precise Flight controls and rudder pedals.
     
  40. ChrisK

    ChrisK En-Route

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    As an owner of all Saitek products, I hate to say it, but they are affordable, not awesome. Having said that, I DO make them work for me somehow.

    I really do like the Cessna TPM block.