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Is 737 sluggish compared to 777/757 and A320?

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Is 737 sluggish compared to 777/757 and A320?

Old 3rd Jun 2004, 22:54
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Is 737 sluggish compared to 777/757 and A320?

I am not a pilot but I have gotten increasingly interested in airplanes thanks to Flight Simulator 2004 (by Microsoft).
I want to ask a question to real Boeing/Airbus pilots out there regarding the handling of the 737 versus that of the 777, 757 and the A320 (and A330 as well).
This way, I can verify if the so-called "flight dynamics engines" we flightsimmers use in MSFS are really accurate.
I find that the 737-400 and 737-800 (the two models which I have flown) are considerably more sluggish in their response when maneuvering (particularly during landing) than their similarly sized and weighted competitor - the Airbus A320-200. And even though they are bigger planes, the 757 and the 777 are also very easy to maneuver (in Flight Simulator of course).
Is this really the case with a real-life 737? And is the Airbus A320-200 more responsive than the 737-400/800, particularly when making those final course adjustments during the final phase of landing? The turning of the airlerons (to bank left or right) and/or the rudder makes the 737 respond very sluggishly whereas an Airbus responds like a "robot" (for lack of a better term) and adjusts its course without any sluggishness whatsoever. And this with both planes at or below the maximum landing weight as per mfg. specs.

This is not something I can figure out by looking at even the official Boeing specs of the various aircraft mentioned above for the only thing I could think of was doing a ratio of the take-off and landing weights (per mfg. specs) to the total rated thrust of the engines to get an idea of how powerful the engines are and found inconclusive results.

Can any pilot help me out here?

Thanks in advance,

Montreal, Canada
Old 3rd Jun 2004, 23:17
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It's a failing of the flight dynamics of the simulator program. It's difficult to compare a computer controlled sidestick aeroplane with a manual control wheel aeroplane as not that many people have flown both. The 737 is not renowned for being 'sluggish'. I have flown the 737-200 and -400, and both are quite perky, the -200 in its BA guise being skittishly so.
I've tried out FS2004 and with failings in the joystick department giving very 'flat' feel, there is little realism. The novelty is seeing how convincing these sims are in operation, but do not feel there is any realism.
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Old 4th Jun 2004, 14:08
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Thanks for that very "enlightening" reply, Notsofantastic.
Actually, I don't use a joy stick, but use a flight yoke and pedals. What's odd is that, going by what you said about the 737 being perky, and if it IS a failure of the flightsim program, then why do the other planes feel perky?
I suppose it is hard to find a pilot who has flown a 737-400 or higher and also flown, say an Airbus A320-200 or a 757-200. I Have read that many flight simmers who have pilot friends who have tried FS2004 have found it quite accurate in the feel of the airplanes. Since you only tried FS with a little joystick, and I used to fly with a joystick, I know for sure that you WON'T get the same control (not even close, in fact) with that "toy" joystick meant for games, than you would with a flight yoke and pedal (example: I have the CH flight yoke and pedals). As soon as I tried the flight yoke and pedals, I sensed IMMEDIATELY the much higher degree of precision and control I had over the plane.

I think you might be responding to a certain unfamiliarity with the computer, rather than the actual flight dynamics of the program, when you said the control felt sluggish.


Hi again,
Just wanted to clarify my last post for I may have been misunderstood. I certainly don\'t question notsofantastic\'s experience with the 737. I just wanted to know if there are pilots who have flown at least some of the planes mentioned and who can tell me if RELATIVELY SPEAKING, how the 737 feels in comparison.

Old 4th Jun 2004, 14:51
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Fltsim is good in lots of area's but aircraft handling is a big let down. Having flown both boeing and airbus I can tell you that flight sim is nothing like either. However some of the add on programs (A320 pro for example) are fairly realistic for systems and auto pilot use in normal situations.
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Old 4th Jun 2004, 15:14
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I'm moderately experienced with Flight sims- I use a Logitech Wingman Extreme Digital 3d joystick, and extensively use IL2 Forgotten Battles (I'm trying to perfect my Stuka dive bombing technique). I extensively used Flight Unlimited 3 which I found far better than Microsofts then current Flightsim competitor. I don't find Microsoft Flight sim 2004 any advance on previous versions.

The 'feel' is a major failure. the view out of the windscreen is a major failure. The scenery is at best 'basic' and uncomparable with IL2. For all the extensive loading of 'world' scenery, they should have concentrated on smaller areas of far higher definition scenery, like Flight Unlimited 3. Put that lot together, you have a fun 'game' for a short time, probably a superb automatics procedure trainer, but not a 'simulator' simulating 'how' a 737 flies. An aeroplanes 'feel' changes with speed. At high speed, it feels heavy and slower responding, at lower speed, you get perkier response. My impression of the 737 simulator is that it is locked at high speed, so when you are at low speed you still have the characteristic 'feel' of travelling at high speed.

The 737 feels every bit as perky as a 747-200 and -400. Easy to over control if you are clumsy. What I see when I play with Flightsim 2004 is not a 737 like I know!
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Old 4th Jun 2004, 15:16
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737Sluggish Compared to

I am an Ex Air Force Fighter pilot and am currently fling B737-200 and have talked to pilots who have flown the 737-200/300/400/700/800.They find that the B 737 -700/800 are more responsive than the 737-200 during the landing phase . I was an Experimental Test Pilot in the Indian Air Force prior to joining civil Aviayion and did an evaluation on the Airbus 320-200 on the simulator as well as the aircraft. At the time I distinctly remember that the Airbus 320 200 handled extremely well in the lateral plane. There is a specific Exercisewhere you make an approach to a runway and then at 200 feet AGL you make a landing on the parallel runway and the Airbus handled extremely well. I havent flown the 737 500/700 or the 777 so I cannot comment but the control laws are pretty much the same as the 737-700/800/. Hope this was useful.
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Old 4th Jun 2004, 16:52
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I'm also an enthusiast of the micro$oft FS, and my choice is the A320 Professional add-on, after a long search about the best choice for a sim plane.
But if flying one of the most (?!) accurate sim planes is compared to driving a Porsche in a sim and in real life, as I actually did I confess , then flying in a sim lacks all those forces surrounding, the noise, the shaking, the wind effects, that give us the feedback to auto adjust to the situation and perfect the eye-hand response.
As I can't drive a sim car better than a 8yr old , I suppose that all the countless hours I've spent behind the joystick won't get me close to the real feeling of flying, and the real aircraft behaviour, although we can have a very good idea of the procedures (incomplete I know) involved.

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Old 4th Jun 2004, 17:40
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I've long been interested in the thought of taking a dedicated home flight simmer with no real flying experience and seeing how they would perform in a real 737 or similar. I'm sure most simmers have thought about this- there must be a TV program on this. I think they would be astonished at how quickly they adapted.....until it came to the landing. Give them a strong crosswind and strap in tight! It's little nuances like that that open up a part of aviation that doesn't exist on sims.
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Old 4th Jun 2004, 21:54
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Oh Boy! Thanks so much for all your input! This is fantastic to see real pilots describing how a sim feels in comparison to a real plane or a professional flight simulator!

Regarding the cross-wind situation mentioned by NOTSOFANTASTIC: you can of course program cross-winds or thunder-storms, stormy weather, complete fog, snow etc... in FS2004 and the resulting winds are very frustrating to deal with, especially in a 737 which is, as it is quite clear from your post, is too sluggish (as I suspected it was) in MSFS 2004.
I had started to get weary with the ridiculous sluggishness of the 737 - all models I've tried so far are like that (the -400 and -800) when landing that I thought, "this CAN'T be like this in real life" ...I move my flight yoke literally with one finger and not even move it but NUDGE it and the plane responds. I am trying to see if adjusting the sensitivity of the yoke has any effect and I'll try a really challenging landing at Mount Hagen airport in Papua New Guinea next in the default 737-400 as I experiment with reduced yoke sensitivity. It is interesting that you mentioned that Flight Unlimited 3 is a much better sim than MSFS2004. I had heard of Flight Unlimited but it doesn't seem to be available here all that much or it sells quickly (I don't know which) for one minute I see it on shelves, the next minute it's gone.

JPSINGH: Thanks for the comparison to the A320 - and yes it was extremely useful! That's interesting regarding how quickly it can manuever to the parallel runway at only 200 FT AGL! I have found it to be highly maneuverable too (using the IFDG model from www.ifdg.net with Pedro Oliveira's flight dynamics).
Is the A320 also a plane which doesn't slow down so readily as can, for example the 747-400 Jumbo - the apparent procedure for descent with a Jumbo is to literally cut throttle completely to idle and let it descent at approximately 2000 ft/min. while the plane naturally starts slowing down also as it descends. This also works (albeit at a slower rate of descent) for the 737 but not for the A320-200. I believe I am using incorrect descent procedure here - I may have to descent in increments - descend, then level off with throttle reduced, to reduce speed, then once speed is down a notch (e.g. from 325KIAS to 280KIAS), then continue descending, then level off to reduce speed again etc... - is this the way an A320 descent is made in real-life?

GEAR DOWN AND LOCKED: The feel of the forces, the wind and the noises are of course something we can never experience. Something tells me, though, that I will be excellent at responding the both the airplane and the environment if I were to become a real pilot. I have a keen sense of my surroundings, very good 3D -spatial orientation/judgement and love the mechanical/technical aspect of planes (although some of those VOR/ILS approach techniques can get a little overwhelming).

Thanks all again for your feedback! ... Now, for the real question: do you think a 40-year-old can go to flight school and still be an attractive employee (at his age) to be hired as a pilot in a commercial airline? )

Old 5th Jun 2004, 06:24
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Thumbs up


Being quite an experienced simmer, I thought I'd put my spoke in aswell.

First of all, you have to remember, there is one serious flaw in MS FS2004. They haven't medelled air movement properly, with the result that you can't get downdrafts and updrafts while you are flying. This means that while you flying in any sort of programmed weather, things like windshear and turbulence are nothing like the real thing.

Also, when it comes to the flight dynamics of aircraft on FS, it is better to buy an add on than use a freeware product. Don't get me wrong, most of the freeware available is excellent and very usable. However, with the amount of time you'd need to spend getting everything exactly right with the dynamics, textures, cockpit etc.. you end up having to pay for the product. Aircraft development for FS can take months, even up to a year to get it just right.

I would recommend for a 737 package the PMDG 737 series www.precisionmanuals.com
And for the Airbus A320, The PSS A320 Pro package is only just wonderful.

These packages give you a real feel of how these aircraft really handle. You'll find the PMDG737 definitely handles much more responsively than the default 737.

Also, if you're interested, there are other add ons you can get, that will enhance your simming experience. Programs like FSMeteo and Active Sky will download real world, up to date weather, including ALOFT information for flying at high altitudes.

FSNavigator is a moving map display/FMS, that displays all current navaids including low and high airways for navigation. It also has a large database of DP's/STARS for planning into and out of an airport. Although, the aircraft packages I mentioned earlier have their own built in, fully functional FMS.

If you want a multiplayer experience, there are a lot sites out there than can provide that. However, there are a few sites that also provide ATC coverage. The one I'm a member of is www.vatsim.net . This has a large membership and you can nearly always get ATC coverage somewhere in the world. The US and Europe are the busiest areas and in someplaces, they follow procedures as they do in the real world. The London TMA is a challenging place when its busy on VATSIM and you are expected to follow procedures to the letter!

But, when it comes to the most accurate flight dynamics and phsyical modelling of the air, the only sim that does this properly is X-Plane. Not as flashy as FS, but if want as real as it gets on a computer, X-Plane is the one to get.

Anyway, hope this helps.

Old 5th Jun 2004, 13:28
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Hi Billings,

Thanks a million for a very detailed and informative post
regarding flight dynamics and weather on FS2004!
Regarding X-PLANE: Do you mean that, even with the payware add-ons like PMDG 737-NG and Airbus A320 Pro, the X-plane FDE and weather is still better than in FS2004? - this would be good to know so I can decide which way to go the next time I purchase a flightsim.

Actually, I am seriously considering getting 737-NG.

Old 5th Jun 2004, 13:46
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I found FS really helpful for basic PPL training like general handling, trimming the aircraft, circuts, VOR tracking and basic navigation. I think it would have taken me longer to pass had it not been for practice with Flight Sim. I'll say the same as everyone else here, the weather is un-realistic. Air movement behaves differently in real life, wind gusts aren't modelled properly in FS. The major dis-advantage of FS is where 'feel' is concerned. You can't get a 'feel' for the aircraft, you can't feel the turbulence, the roll, yaw and G forces, plus you don't have the preheral (sp) vision in flight sim that you have in real life. In reality you just have to look outside at the horizon to fly straight and level and know what the aircraft is doing, you can tell by the rush of wind wheather you're going fast or slow. In FS you have to look at the instruments.

All in all it's a good bit of kit for 60 quid and the flight dynamics of the GA aircraft are fairly real, if a little too sensitive in pitch. I know this is a bit of a thread drift, I apologise, I just though I'd stick in my 2 penneth worth on aircraft feel in FS compared to reality.
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Old 6th Jun 2004, 14:36
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One question regarding the weathermake programs you mentioned like FSMeteo: There is an option in FS2004 for downloading winds aloft data when downloading real-time weather. Do you mean that even with this, the winds effects on the planes are unrealistic in FS2004 with the default program, compared to the add-ons you mentioned?

Old 7th Jun 2004, 06:21
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Thumbs up Weather

Hi Byrna,

Sorry about the delay, I was away.

Anyway, the Jeppesen weather you can download from FS is real and up to date aswell, in fact, weather generation is a vast improvment on FS2002(I think this was one of the big selling points). However, programs like FSMeteo etc.. make weather generation more configurable eg.. You can set up destination weather and get the program to lock to this when you reach a certain distance to your destination. This stops the weather from up dating to a nearby field when you're about 5-10mins from touch down.

Active sky has a processing system, were it downloads surrounding airfields aswell and plots weather transitions, so the weather won't abruptly change. You can see a cloud layer approaching rather than suddenly popping up and see different weather systems in the area of an airfield. AS also has a working weather radar!

With FSMeteo(Not sure about AS) you can also enter in your flightplan and it will download the weather points on the route and show you the best route/altitude for winds ALOFT, very handy when you're on a long haul.

Both are excellent programs. AS is quite advanced with a lot of extra features(Weather radar etc..) and can use a lot of processing power, whereas, FSMeteo is a much more basic program(It just makes the weather) and won't eat into frame rates as much.

Anyway, hope this helps.


PS...Mods, apologies about thread drift.
Old 7th Jun 2004, 08:30
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Byrna, I think as others have said, FS is OK when it comes to steady-state air movement such as constant steady wind, but is very unrealistic when it comes to updrafts, downdrafts, gusty and turbulent conditions.

I still found it useful though when I recently started my PPL. Definitely helped for navigation, procedures etc. I also found I had a pretty good "sight picture" straight away when it came to the approach phase of landings. It didn't really help in that phase of landing from 100ft down, which is more about feel and control.

In defence of the FS series, it has to model a vast range of aircraft and covers the whole world with respect to scenery, so I can forgive its flaws.

I've tried all the sims, x-plane is fantastic, but too sparse for my tastes. Flight Unlimited was great at the time, but had very limited plane-sets and scenery areas. My all-round favourite is IL2-Forgotten Battles, which not only has a great feel for the experience of flying, especially at low level, but also allows you to shoot stuff

- Michael
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Old 22nd Aug 2004, 12:51
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Hi again - this is for Billings and for MichaelJP59 (or anyone else who has tried third-party weather programs in FS2004):

Does FSMETEO, Active Sky or other third-party weather add-ons actually have REALISTIC winds-effects? Do they toss the airplane all over the place like the nonsense weather in FS2004 or do they have an effect more in line with real-life winds?

Just curious. I would like to be able to try flying in properly simulated windy conditions, now that I have the PMDG 737-700 and some pretty well-handling 747's from Project Open Sky under my belt.

Thanks for any help.

Old 22nd Aug 2004, 17:29
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Excuse my earlier post (deleted now) - thought the above post was the first in the topic and suggested the poster try the computer forum for more responses!

Has anyone tried X-Plane before? I use that as opposed to MSFS. The sim models the atmosphere first then looks at a plane's geometry etc. to work out how it flies rather then the look-up table method used in MSFS. The current version (7.xx) has graphics approaching the quality of MSFS but more importantly (I think), the atmospheric/weather modelling is very good. You can fly anything from a Cessna 152 to a Boeing 747-400 - the new panels are awesome and the flight dynamics seem very good.

It's FAA-approved and is used by companies like Scaled Composites (SpaceShipOne) and CarterCopter.

Check it out (x-plane.com) if you've never heard of it before

Also see:


There's plenty of reviews available from the site as well.


P.S. I hope this doesn't contravene advertising rules. Mods: feel free to delete the links if it's a problem.
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Old 23rd Aug 2004, 01:35
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I have used X-Plane as part of my Masters degree and subsequent consulting work, which involved an investigation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle flying qualities and performance. In general, X-Plane gave very good lateral/directional stability results for rudder doublets (directional damping response), spiral stability and roll rate time constants. Basically I validated the simulation with flight test results for a small fixed pitch/fixed gear light aircraft which was instrumented for this purpose. X-Plane can provide corresponding "flight test" data as an output, which can be plotted, analysed and compared, which is feature that I understand that MSFS can not. I found that aside from being a fun flight simulator, it is a useful engineering tool, when applied in the right context.

Getting back to original post, I suppose that to get any real feedback on how closely MSFS models the 737 or other aircraft, you have to set up a series of controlled tests specifically to gain that data. This is lot harder than it seems.

The question is, how realistic do you have to be?



PS. My Thesis compared over twenty flying quality and performance measures (in addition to lateral/directional stability) as part of the X-Plane validtion process. The results were surprisingly accurate...
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