When I got back into flight simulation in October 2014, I was told by a friend about the fantastic PDMG 737 NGX add-on aircraft for Microsoft Flight Simulator X (FSX) and quickly snapped it up. While it is a truly accurate representation of the Boeing 737, I quickly realized I had so much to learn to pilot this plane correctly.
I started by reading all ~3,100 pages of PMDG’s Flight Crew Operations Manuals (FCOM), Flight Crew Training Manual (FCTM), and Quick Reference Handbook (QRH). This helped immensely, but I wanted more.
I then discovered a digital app for the iPad called the B737 Cockpit Companion by the developer fss.aero and Robert Dorsett. I made the purchase and give it a good look over.
This app is amazing on a tablet! You can drill down into every panel in the cockpit, see detailed descriptions, operations, schematics, diagrams, ATA codes, errors, indications, and condition states. It also includes a version of the QRH called the Quick Reference Guide (QRG) to research failures and emergencies.
There is even a setting to select carrier specific information (such as from Southwest, RyanAir, American, United, and others). I spent countless hours digging into this tool and still refer back to it often.
NOTE: As of this writing, the digital Cockpit Companion is not available for Android yet.
Well, it turns out that all of the actual 737 content for this app came from the renown Bill Bulfer, a major airline Captain turned author. He took it over from Bruce Sprague in 1998 and continues the tradition. His books are often used by real world pilots around the globe and can be purchased at his site, Leading Edge Publishing.
I decided to pick up the physical copies of the 737NG Cockpit Companion and 737NG FMC User’s Guide. I chose to have the Cockpit Companion bound in a 7-ring cover to match the FMC User’s Guide as well. It only took a few days for them to arrive and Bill even threw in a FMC Quick Setup Pocket Guide and a couple small schematic wall posters.
737NG COCKPIT COMPANION
While the digital iPad version of the Cockpit Companion contains most of what you will find in the physical copy, the physical book does contain more intricate information. The 737NG version covers the Boeing 737 Next Generation aircraft, including the 737-600, -700, -800, -900, and both BBJs.
It includes extensive details on all of the cockpit sections:
- Aft Overhead Panel (P5)
- Forward Overhead Panel (P5)
- Main Center Panel – MCP (P7)
- Captain’s Panel (P1)
- Center Panel (P2)
- First Officer Panel (P3)
- Control Stand – Throttle Quadrant (P10)
- Aft Electronics Panel – Pedestal (P8)
- Circuit Breakers
- Block Diagrams – Schematics
Here are a few example pages from the actual 737 Cockpit Companion:
Each section delves into that panel’s operation, layout, annunciators, systems, and much more. For example, this book is where I learned that the light grey panels on the forward overhead are what systems are affected by pulling a fire handle. It has that level of comprehensive depth.
The B737NG Cockpit Companion is not a procedural guide, but an expansive look into all of the systems and panels aboard a Boeing 737NG. For those building a home cockpit, this book is almost mandatory. Every switch, function, light, and condition is described in length. I frequently turn to it when configuring my simulator as it is invaluable as a technical reference.
B737NG FMC USER’S GUIDE
The 737 Flight Management Computers (FMC) are managed using the Control Display Units (CDU) on either side of the lower Display Unit (DU) screen in the cockpit. In the flight simulation world, it seems the FMC is probably the most misunderstood component in the entire simulator. It is complex, cryptic, and has a ridiculous amount of configurations. This is where the B737NG FMC User’s Guide comes to the rescue!
Bulfer’s guide covers the Smith FMC found in the Boeing 737NGs from start to finish. This is where I learned a TON of new stuff. From accurate fuel predictions in all phases of flight, to holds, to step climbs, to offset paths, this book covers it all. I am pretty sure my current avionics suite, ProSim737, doesn’t even support everything the real FMC can actually do. As of the latest 2008 printing, it covers FMC software version U10.8a.
Here are a couple example pages from the actual FMC User’s Guide:
Every page and field you find in the FMC is explained in great detail. Usage steps are laid out with graphical and textual examples. Everything from using conditional waypoints to performance calculations, from forecasting to engine out procedures, this book describes it all. When appropriate, aeronautical charts and cockpit displays are depicted to demonstrate the various FMC operations.
Both of these books are now in my cockpit library and are within reach of the pilot for quick access. I just wanted to put up a quick post about these two books and their wealth of information. For anyone aspiring to do it as thoroughly as I am trying to do, Bill Bulfer’s products are likely a valuable resource to achieve that goal.
737 Cockpit Companion/FMC User’s Guide imagery by Leading Edge Publishing and used with permission of the author. my737NG.com is not affiliated with, maintained, authorized, endorsed, or sponsored by Leading Edge Publishing.