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As we move our new 747 closer to beta testing, I think the time is finally right to begin showing you all of the rich, 747 simulation goodies that you can expect from the upcoming PMDG 747 bonanza!
As you know, we are hard at work moving the new 747-400 and 747-8 product lines into beta testing. We anticipate the 747-400 will reach the finish line first, and then immediately upon that product release, we will move the 747-8 into beta testing with the expectation that both releases will come in relatively rapid succession.
I am deep into a bit of debugging this afternoon, but Jason just prepared a series of comparison images for us that will allow you to see some of the subtle differences between the two airframes. Operationally the airplanes are very similar, because Boeing engineers wanted pilots to be easily qualified to fly both types, with minimal operational and system differences- but they also crammed a huge amount of newer technology into the 747-8 that will make her very fun for simmers who like to have gadgets to mess with during the course of a flight.
First, lets take a close up look at the main panels of both airplanes:
First we have the 747-400, which we have modeled based on the current flight deck of one of the oldest 747-400 airframes flying. You can see looking about the cockpit that there is wear and tear, chipped paint, patches, goo (yuk) and she exudes the feeling that she has been well loved and lived in.
With the 747-400 we want to give you the chance to see how the airplane has changed during the course of it’s long service-life, so in typical PMDG style we are offering you a huge number of equipment options that you can select, some of which will allow you to simulate the “early birds” with the old bouncing numbers in the MCP, the mechanical scavenge pump, APU fuel feed from only a single tank, the original fuel system control logic, etc. Then you can pop a couple of changes into the options pages of the FMC and switch to the newer MCP, updated fuel system, updated hydraulic systems, etc.
It makes for some interesting changes as you have to consult the QRH to determine which procedures you should use for each style of airplane- just like many of the mixed-fleet 747-400 crews do around the world each day.
Now for comparison, we have for you a 747-8. The 747-8 we have elected to model based upon a new-in-service aircraft that is clean, largely unsullied and just being broken in by her crews.
You can see the difference with the uniformity of paint, the lack of chips and marring, the cleanliness of the cockpit surroundings, lack of scuffing, etc. This cockpit has that “new airplane smell” and it comes across really well in the simulator.
Like the 747-400, the 747-8 will have a range of equipment options for you to choose from, but since the airplane hasn’t been significantly modified yet, most of those options are equipment choices that are offered to customer airlines purchasing the airframe from Boeing, rather than being service driven changes to make the airplane more reliable.
If you look closely, you will notice there are a number of subtle differences in the location and shaping of various items around the flight deck. We have worked very hard to make certain that all of these subtleties are present in this simulation, thus giving you absolutely the finest 747-8 experience available anywhere short of the actual flight deck!
NOTE: You will notice some oddities in the EICAS messaging in these images- that area is still under active development and not all of the sorting/collapsing routines are completed.
For another comparison, take the following images. You can see quite a bit of difference between the array of knobs and buttons on the center pedestal, reflecting the differences in the two airplanes. You can also see quite a bit of difference in the wear and aging of the airplanes, with grim around the buttons and knobs, chipping paint on the yokes and around the MCPs etc. (I’m not sure i’d want to touch that rudder trim knob in the 747-400…)
The similarity in these cockpits masks a massive amount of differences between the two airplanes. Subtle changes to the fuel and hydraulic systems, additional warning and detection systems built into the 747-8, etc. For those interested purely in the 747-400 fleet, you will be able to customize your 747-400 variant to just about any configuration available in the worldwide fleet today- giving you a nearly endless array of options from which to choose. For those interested in both fleet types, the 747-8 will give you a window into Boeing’s vision for the “ultimate result of 747 evolution” as represented by today’s 747-8.
This vantage point gives you a bit more of the scope and feel for the flight deck- and allows you to see more of the subtle changes taking place. The sharp-eyed will also notice a few things we haven’t finished yet- but not to worry- both products are still in development and more changes are coming.. (For example: There is a 747-400 specific AD note in the 747-8 cockpit… oops. We will get the scraper out and remove that decal…)
Internally, as we are working with both airplanes, I find the differences to be fascinating, especially when you get to see how Boeing adapted the 747-8 to make her more reliable than her older sister. I will focus on some of these changes in future updates.
For now, I leave you with a comparison image set from the outside of the airplane… The 747-8 is so much more than a fuselage stretch and a change in the wing… there are hundreds of minor changes to the airframe that are visible on our models- and we think you will enjoy finding them.