Dear Aerosoft team,
First of all, I'd like to say a huge THANK YOU for releasing such a nice aircraft as the A330. I can fully appreciate the immense effort that was put into this project. This aircraft has a lot of potential, and despite the initial bugs below described, I believe that after a few service packs, this could be a very good simulation of a great airplane.
Let me introduce myself. I'm a RL A320 Captain, with about 2000 hours previously flown as an A330 F/O. I have even wrote a tutorial for the PSS A-330 for FS2004, back in those days. I've been flying your A330 strictly according to the Airbus Industries' A-330 SOPs, so some differences may exist between the SOP you're using and the one that I'm using. Nevertheless I think that these differences are quite minor. I'll write about the aircraft operation itself, I won't get in detail about EFB, connected flightdeck, external model etc. My focus is in the day-to-day operation of the aircraft from the captain's seat.
After half a dozen flights here are my first impressions/comments/suggestions about the A-330.
Before engine start:
1 - FMGS programming:
A- The INIT B FUEL PLANNING function is not working. There seems to be some confusion in the fuel planning algorythm. Basically the block fuel should be the Dest Fuel + Route Reserves + Alternate Fuel + Final + Taxi.
B- When setting the payload using MCDU3 AND GSX2, I can't set a pax quantity above 255. If I set, for example, 280 pax, it loads only the quantity above 255 (in this example 24). If I type a full pax quantity (300) it will load only 44. However, if I disregard GSX it loads the right amount of pax.
C - It's not possible to set a derate takeoff/climb
D- After engaging the FDs, the FCU should go to an "all dashes" configuration, except, of course, the altitude window. As the FDs are engaged on ground, the default modes are managed for both NAV and ALT. There's no need to push the altitude selector to engage the Managed CLB when on ground
2- Engine start
A- I'm aware that the objective is to replicate the day to day normal operation of the A330, but it would be nice to allow the engine start using an external pneumatic source. I've noted that the External Services Menu has both an Ext Pwr GPU and an Ext Power. Should this Ext Power be the Air Start Unit ?
3- Taxi out
A- The plane should start moving without any need of power application other than Idle, and it should slowly accelerate during taxi out. I feel that it's accelerating to 20 Kt quite quickly, meaning that either the idle thrust is high or the ground friction is low. I'm using a joystick axis as a steering tiller (Assigned STEERING SET in FSUIPC) and found the turning radius slightly wider. But it may be my setup.
B- If you check the takeoff config without turning the Pred WS system on, there should be an amber memo PRED WS OFF in ECAM memo display.
4- Takeoff/Initial Climb
A- Takeoff is quite good, the plane accelerates as it should.
B- The flap retraction problem was also described in a previous post. Basically I'm able to retract the flaps from either full or 3 to 2 using the assigned flaps joystick axis. The problem occurs when retracting the flaps from 2 to 1, the flap lever jumps from 2 to zero and so the flaps move accordingly. The only way to set flaps 1+F after takeoff is to assign a "flap retract one notch" button. It should be noted that I can select flaps 1+F on the ground, for a Flaps 1+F takeoff. The problem only happens after moving the flap lever past the Flaps 1 detent.
C- The plane was able to fly perfectly a SID, flying all speed/altitude constraints precisely. However, when manually flying a SID, after capturing either an FCU selected altitude or a FMGS Altitude Constraint, if you don't keep the altitude precisely, the FMA reverts to V/S ZERO, and commands the Flight Director to maintain V/S=0 instead of maintaining the ALT or ALT CSTR mode. In case of an alt deviation after the vertical mode (ALT or ALT CSTR) is active, the Flight Director should smoothly command guidance to re-capture the selected altitude.
D- During an altitude capture phase (ALT *) or (ALT CSTR*) iF I select another altitude, the AP/FD should enter in the reversion mode, meaning that it would change the vertical mode from (ALT/ALT CSTR *) to V/S and keep the vertical speed the aircraft was maintaining at the time the FCU altitude was changed.
5- Cruise Flight/ Systems behaviour in flight
A- ECAM Control Panel / ECAM Handling
A1- During ECAM pages change, there should be a brief "please wait" of around 0.51 second while the Display Management Computer generates the page graphics. This was common in the older 330s, not in the 320s. I'm not sure if the newer 330s have this feature.
A2- Engine Page - No issues in normal flight. During an engine restart in flight it didn't show the Starter Valve open, but nevertheless the engine started normally. System operating normally on ground.
A3- Bleed Page - No major issues, system works accordingly, however, when I switched one Bleed 1 OFF, there was no corresponding ECAM BLEED OFF displayed. The corresponding pack was correctly considered inoperative, generating the ECAM AIR PACK 1 OFF. I wasn't able to clear this ECAM using the CLR button. The STATUS page should display in the INOP systems PACK 1 and BLEED 1. I'm fully aware that you don't intend to replicate system failures, BUT since you can make a "packs off" takeoff and forget to switch them on after takeoff, it would be nice to at least show the appropriate ECAM warnings.
A4- Pressurization Page - I've noted that the plane will remain pressurized even if you witch both packs or bleeds OFF. In real life, the cabin should slowly climb at about 300-700 ft/min (depending on pressure diferential and door seal condition). Same thing here. If you perform a "packs off" takeoff and forget to turn them on, you would not pressurize. Regarding the other indications, there's not much to say, since the Mode Selection is AUTO only. Once again, it should be nice in a future update to allow at least the use of the Man LDG ALT selector, since we can fly to an out of database airport (I can think of Beijing's new airport and also the old Kai Tak). But this is not a priority.
A5- ELEC AC page: The IDGs indications are in amber and its temperature is low. Generator load is quite low also.
A6- ELEC DC page: No further comments
A7- HYD page: No further comments
A8- APU page: No further comments
A9- COND page: Very nice. Temperature variation should be slower, but it's acceptable. I have only another minor comment. If the HOT AIR pushbuttons are set to OFF, the trim air valves should go to the full closed position. The temperature is still controllable (at a slower variation rate) via the packs.
A10- DOOR page: No comments. A more realistic SLIDE arming sequence would be the following. The slides should start to arm (one at a time, in a random way) around 10 seconds after last pax door closure. The slides disarming (one at a time also and in a random way) after both engines are OFF AND the seatbelt sign has been switched to off (this is the command for the Flight Attendants to disarm the slides, sometimes we forget to switch it off and they don't disarm them until they call the cockpit and ask us to do so).
A11- Wheel Page: No further comments
A12 - Fuel Page. Since I only have an A330-200 FCOM and its fuel system is slightly different (it has a center tank and being shorter, the target CG for the aft transfer is different) I can't get right now into much detail about it (a friend of mine has promised to send me an A-330-300 FCOM and as soon as I get it I can provide more info about the trim tank transfer system). However AFAIK it seems to be working properly. X-Feed is working nicely. It should be noted that when there is fuel in the trim tank, the FMGS is "losing" this fuel for its predictions. As soon as there is a forward trim tank transfer, the EFOB in the FMGS fuel pred page starts to rise. The fuel quantity indication should be amber in case of low level (Fuel L(R) WING LO LVL ECAM is triggered when fuel quantity in inner tank is between 1100 and 2520 kg, depending on aircraft pitch attitude). During outer to inner fuel transfer the ecam memo should be OUTR TK XFR, turning into OUTR TK XFRD after outer tank fuel has been transfered.
B- Performance in cruise seems to be good. I have found the plane to be burning slightly less fuel for a given weight (keep in mind that I am using the A332 tables, but since I'm using it for a given weight, the fuel figures shouldn't be too far away. Once again, as soon as I get access to the A333 data I can check it with more precision.
6- Navigation Display:
A- When in ROSE VOR/ROSE ILS mode, no VOR or NDB icon should be displayed in the ND. Auto or Manually tuned VOR/NDB should be displayed (in blue) only in ROSE NAV or ARC modes.
B- ROSE VOR has a small arrow in the Course Deviation Indicator that is a TO/FROM indicator. When the aircraft is in a course TO a VOR station, it should point upwards in the upper part of the deviation indicator. If the plane is flying in a course away from the VOR, it should points backwards in the lower part of the deviation indicator.
C- If flying in NAV and if you rotate the heading knob, the selected heading should be displayed (for a max of 45 sec IIRC), even if you don't pull the knob. The HDG mode will be active only after pulling the knob.
7-Primary Flight Display
A - Flight Path Director behaving incorrectly, specially in managed modes. Also, the Flight Path Angle calculation is using the True Airspeed (instead of groundspeed) to determine the required vertical speed.
B-Enlarged 2D PFD has the pitch attitude marks variating/oscilating during flight.
8 - FMGS/Autoflight
A- Most of the FMGS functions are working accordingly. However there are some minor bugs. The fuel Prediction was already discussed in previous posts and need a complete overhaul. They are absolutely wrong during climb/cruise. During the descent phase they seem to get back to normal.
B- Holdings: This is an important feature, specially for those who fly online. Whenever I insert a holding, it draws some strange circles over the holding fix This usually happens when a holding is inserted less than 20 miles from the holding fix, or inserted in the TO waypoint. Sometimes if the holding is the TO waypoint the plane gets lost in the holding entry . Sometimes the plane doesn't decelerate to holding speed.
B1 - I have found that if the holding entry is a direct one, the FMGS is correctly calculating and flying it most of the time. Minor correction. The FMGS computes as default a 1.5 minute holding whenever the aircraft is above FL140.
B2. - In a paralell entry to a holding, the plane is usually turning to the wrong direction, acting like it's flying a direct entry, but eventually getting estabilished in the hold.
B3 - In teardrop holding entries the aircraft seems to be flying the correct pattern, but is slowing down to holding speed only after overflying the holding waypoint.
C- In general, the plane is quite able to fly a fully managed approach, but if you make any vertical revision, in particular at the TO waypoint, the vertical profile will be messed up sometimes.
D - ATSU is allowing the receiving of only one airport in each METAR.
E- If you start a managed descent before the TOD, the V/DEV should start slowly increasing to show the actual altitude below the profile, then this "below profile alt" will gradually reduce as the aircraft nears the optimum descent profile. Currently when you start the descent, the V/DEV is showing instantly what I believe is the "below profile alt" for a given distance.
F- In some STARS, if there is a speed constraint below green dot and the aircraft is not already at approach phase, the speed bug is commanding that speed, meaning that the plane will fly well below green dot. In real life, if there's a waypoimt with a speed constraint lower than green dot, the DECEL point will be located before that waypoint, in order to allow proper deceleration.
G- Autopilot is disconnecting upon touchdown in an autolanding
H- Rudder trim should be automatically handled when autopilot is engaged. I have noted that in AS A330 if you leave the rudder trim in other than neutral position, the Autopilot doesn't ajust it to fly straight and level. You must turn the AP off, reset the rudder trim and then re-engage the AP. The AP should t=automatically trim the aircraft when engaged.
A- I found that if I'm using the OLD Airbus_ECAMD2D.dll file AND IF I'm using either the default control assignments OR FSUIPC option "send to FS as normal axis" the plane is almost unflyable in manual flight. If I'm using the FSUIPC option "send direct to FSUIPC calibration" the plane is flyable with minor control slope adjustments. If I'm using the new Airbus_ECAMD2D.dll the plane gets very responsive to flight control inputs in either FSUIPC option. Checking the F-CTL ECAM page showed inconsistencies between the sidestick orders (neutral position) and the actual aileron and elevator positions. I strongly recommend using FSUIPC "send direct to FSUIPC calibration" and ajust the slopes to your particular hardware.
B- Pitch envelope protection seems to be working, but Bank protection is not working properly. The plane is limited to 67 degrees in bank angle, but it's not returning to 33 degrees max bank when sidestick is released.
C- Alpha Floor is engaging accordingly, however, TOGA LOCK can be disengaged by the pilot, using ATHR OFF instinctive disconnect pushbuttons.
D- There's a safety valve that closes above 280 KIAS and prevents the crew from lowering the gear above this speed. It's not modelled and I was able to lower the gear at VMO...
I'm sure that there are some more issues that I haven't noticed/don't remember right now. There are some issues that other users may find, but overall the plane is quite flyable and enjoyable. As I have said, it has a lot of potential and I hope these issues get fixed.
Thanks for the attention!
Paulo M Soares