PMDG 737-800 NGX

PMDG 737-800/900 NGX

OVERVIEW

The PMDG 737-800/900 NGX is a complex add-on aircraft for Microsoft Flight Simulator X (FSX) and, more recently, Lockheed Martin Prepar3D (P3D).

ORDERING / PRICE (in US Dollars)

$70 – Purchased online at PMDG website – Oct 2013.

SHIPPING / PACKAGING

This item was delivered digitally so no shipping was involved. The Base 737-800/900 NGX file is in ZIP format and is approximately 600-700 MB in size.

DRIVERS / MANUALS

No drivers are required.

Numerous digital PDF manuals are included such as an NGX Introduction, Flight Crew Training Manual (FCTM), Flight Crew Operations Manual (FCOM) Volumes 1 and 2, a Quick Reference Handbook (QRH). These manuals look as if they came straight from Boeing and are of immaculate detail and depth. The FCOMs alone are almost 2300 pages combined.

If the Flight Manuals weren’t brightly marked DO NOT USE FOR FLIGHT, I feel you could see them word for word in a real 737 cockpit. I’ve read every one cover to cover and cannot speak enough about the wealth of knowledge and time it must have taken to include such a massive amount of information for a flight simulation add-on aircraft.

NOTE: PDMG used to sell all of the manuals in printed and bound form. They even offered printed posters, aircraft schematics, Jeppesen charts, and more. However, their agreement with Boeing changed in late 2015 and, they can no longer offer the printed hard copies.

ASSEMBLY / INSTALLATION

No assembly required, but as there are minimum and recommended PC specs on the PMDG website, please make sure your hardware can support this product.

Installation is simple. The downloaded ZIP archive includes one EXE file and a ReadMe text file. The installer will ask you for the license key you received with your order and attempt to auto-locate your simulator’s installation folder. You may have to trust the newly installed aircraft when you start your simulator the next time.

The Base package includes four aircraft options: the 737-800 and 737-900 models, with and without winglets.

TIP: The PMDG uses the FlexNet Licensing service to validate activation online, so do not disable it while trying to clean up processes or memory.

Once you get it installed and running, I highly recommend you head back to PDMG, download and install the Service Pack 1d for the 737NGX. You can find it in the PMDG Service Updates section and is approximately 140MB.

INTEGRATION / OPERATION

EXTERNAL MODEL
External view of my PMDG 737-800 NGX with full flap extension details.
External view of my PMDG 737-800 NGX with full flap extension details.

When you start FSX/P3D and select one of the PMDG 737s, you are quickly treated to the exterior model spinning animation. It is a beautiful work of art. Enter the simulation and look at the exterior model in detail. Somehow, PMDG has pushed the limits of modelling and moving parts. Everything moves, and moves correctly. From the flaps and trim tabs, to the passenger doors and retractable landing lights. Even non-moving items are modeled including; pitot tubes and carrier-optional communications antennae above and below the fuselage.

A closer look reveals details most people won’t ever see, such as the snubbers in the nose wheel well and the hydraulic reservoirs in the main wheel well. Slide the camera inside and notice the detailed interior such as galleys and seating that are lit by interior cabin lighting that you control. The PMDG NGX is just gorgeous to look at, both on the ground and in flight. Get into some rough weather and watch the wings flex and the autopilot moving the ailerons and flight spoilers to keep it on track.

VIRTUAL COCKPIT
View of the MIP inside my PMDG 737-800 NGX full 3D Virtual Cockpit.
View of the MIP inside my PMDG 737-800 NGX full 3D Virtual Cockpit.

As the place where you will spend most of your time, PMDG seems to have spared no expense on their Virtual Cockpit (VC). Nearly every panel, switch, button, lever, and annunciator greets you in full 3D glory. You can practically manipulate the entire cockpit from floor to ceiling. And it’s not just eye candy. Each action does exactly what it should, such as the delay between activating a fuel pump and the Low Pressure lamp extinguishing. PMDG has included actual Boeing fluid dynamics into the simulation so fuel, hydraulics, and even bleed air acts realistically. However, I did notice that where the Korry annunciators should have a “push to test” ability in the real thing, it is absent in this VC. This may be due to the fact that areas where the clickable hot-spots are quite dense, such as the overhead panel, people would often miss their targeted action and click something else. Not a big issue, and purely cosmetic at best.

The instrument panel display units (DU) in the Main Instrument Panel (MIP) give you all the necessary Primary Flight Display (PFD), Navigation Display (ND), and primary/secondary engine indications information as you would see in the real aircraft. Every bug, indication, Flight Mode Annunciator (FMA), and graphic is realistic and accurate based on the numerous flight decks I have seen in person.

The Flight Management Computers (FMC) are managed via the Computer Display Units (CDU) and PMDG has presented every page and function I expected. From flight planning to climb and decent profiles, there is no operation I have not been able to perform faithfully.

An option that I have never seen on other add-on aircraft is PMDG’s implementation of the Boeing Heads-up Guidance System (HUGS). This system lets you view a collimated (overlay) display of PFD information through the windshield onto actual terrain. If your view camera is off, you know it. It stays lined up to the world as the real thing regardless of your viewpoint. The camera viewpoint has to positioned exactly right to use the HUGS correctly. As I used multiple personalized camera angles with EZdok Camera and most carriers do not buy the HUGS option, I had it disabled.

PMDG includes a Performance Manager program that can be used to adjust the VC textures, model, and displays between high and low resolutions to suit your PC hardware/visuals. You also have the option of using 2D panels for most of the cockpit as well.

With the recent 1d service pack release, PMDG has finally included Weather Radar (WX) which relies on the Active Sky Next weather engine.

FLIGHT MODEL

PMDG claims their flight model is with 5% of Boeing performance charts and I have no reason to doubt that. The aircraft feels and reacts like a true airliner. As I have never flown the real bird, I can’t compare, but I surely cannot complain either. The auto-pilot system is solid, but in my experience, it can be confused in heavy weather or higher simulation rates (over 4x) and leave you off-course. PMDG states to not go over 8x, but I can’t get there reliably with my current PC hardware anyway.

SOUNDS

PMDG claims to have professionally recorded every sound themselves, and there are hundreds. You can hear the batteries discharging, flap motors running, even the noise the nose gear makes when it touches those snubbers on the way up. The obvious sounds such as engine start and run-up are glorious, but it is the little touches like the individual click or snap of each switch and button that make it so unique. The sound volume and output source can be controlled via the PMDG Options page in the CDU.

FAILURES

Dozens and dozens of custom failures can be triggered and reacted to. Via the CDU, you can do this manually, set them to be random, trigger at a certain elapsed time, or my favorite – the in-service failures. In-service failures are based the actual failure rate for the real aircraft components, so while it may be a long time before you see one, it is more realistic. The failures are interactive and can cascade into other failures. You can even cause failures on your own by not managing your cockpit well.

SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT KIT (SDK)

PMDG introduced their SDK for the 737 NGX with Service Pack 1c. This was giant news in the flight simulation aftermarket as it allowed the integration and development of other add-ons to interact with the PMDG such as external cockpit hardware, FSUIPC, and FS2Crew NGX. While almost every value/state of the NGX is accessible, some appear to be not included which limits the external interaction possible. Our community seems to hope this is resolved in the next Service Pack release. Personally, I have not reached this limitation, but it is quite early in my cockpit build.

LIVERIES

PMDG includes a Livery Manager where you can install/uninstall specific carrier liveries found on the PMDG Add-on Liveries page. Each livery counts as its own aircraft and is already customized with carrier-specific options such as type of communications, MIP display layout, HUGS installed, and more. I tweaked the default PMDG livery with the aircraft options I enjoyed and have used it since.

You also have the option to create your own livery with the PMDG Paint Kit and then set the carrier options yourself. One thing to note, each livery you have tracks its own flight records. If you change liveries, you are flying a different aircraft. Keep this in mind with regards to failure settings and maintenance.

SUPPORT

PMDG’s main interaction with their customer base is via a the PMDG Support Forum over at AVSIM.net. They also have a Support section of their website where you can check a knowledge base and open tickets directly. I have not needed to contact the manufacturer about this product as it has performed as advertised.

SUMMARY

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I actually heard about the PMDG 737 NGX from a friend. I purchased the NGX, then went out and bought FSX Gold while it was downloading! I was so intrigued and excited, and was not left disappointed. As a very analytical person, I love the complexity and depth the NGX provides. The experience is very immersive thanks to the internal and external visuals, the audio, and interaction between all of the aircraft systems.

My PMDG 737-800 NGX in cruise flight with visible exterior tail and winglet lighting.
My PMDG 737-800 NGX in cruise flight with visible exterior tail and winglet lighting.

I’ve flown the NGX for hundreds of flights and it pleases me every time. I’ve never had any issues with the add-on, but if you are approaching FSX’s 4GB VAS memory limit, the NGX may push you over the top, so keep an eye on it. For these reasons, I give the PMDG 737-800/900 NGX a score of 10 out of 10.

UPDATE: I recently installed the Prepar3D version of the NGX and it works just like the FSX version, but with all the eye candy of P3D.

PMDG logo by Precision Manuals Development Group. my737NG.com is not affiliated with, maintained, authorized, endorsed, or sponsored by Precision Manuals Development Group.

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