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Today’s Flight Plan

With heavy heart, we first talk about Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was shot down over the Ukraine. Through the frustration and rage, we all have to focus on the lives lost, bringing to justice those that are responsible, and valuing life.

How do we value life? We recommit ourselves to never be ‘That Guy’- that pilot that made the dumb mistake, and killed a bunch of passengers.

Although there is zero fault on the shoulder of this crew, let us make sure there is never any fault on our shoulders for a safety flub.

This event brings that important mission, namely Safety, back into sharp focus.

Last, we’ll talk about the PMDG 777 SP1 and 300ER release. This exciting release has many enhancements and upgrades, in addition to a large number of bug fixes (heck, I thought it was perfect the first time!)

The 300ER is different, so keep your guard up. This aircraft will take some extra work to fly right. Our 777 Training can teach you just that.

Useful Links

MH17 on Wikipedia
MH17 LiveBlog on WaPo

PMDG 777-300ER Released


Big thanks to Atrasolis for providing the great music for our podcast. Please check them out on their Facebook Page or SoundCloud and get the music you’ve heard for free.


Major thanks to the amazing Angle of Attack Crew for all their hard work over the years. Our team works incredibly hard, and they’re very passionate about what they do.

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Chris: Traffic 12 o’clock. This is AviatorCast episode 27!
Calling all aviators, pilots and aviation lovers, welcome to AviatorCast, where we close the gap between real aviation and flight simulation. Climb aboard, buckle up and prepare for takeoff. Here’s your host, Chris Palmer!
Chris: Welcome, welcome, welcome aviators, you’ve landed at AviatorCast! My name is Chris Palmer. From the time I was a child I just love all things flying and I bet you are much the same. I still marvel at contrails, get butterflies when I hear a small engine airplane, and often stare straight into the sun just to see what type of airplane is flying overhead. I just love it all. I’m the founder and owner of Angle of Attack, a flight simulation training company which is bringing you this podcast today. AviatorCast is a weekly podcast where we talk about the spirit of the aviator. We believe flying is an artform, one that we have to continually practice and master. This mastery is gained through a focus on continual learning, human factors, humility and a commitment to excellence. Each episode of AviatorCast will have real flight training and flight simulation topics, or an interview with an inspirational and influential aviator. Our desire and mission is not only to create awesome aviators, but also bridge the gap between real aviation and flight simulation. Show notes, transcript, community discussion and links for this episode can be found by simply going to
So welcome to this, the 27th episode of AviatorCast. I think I have a pretty good episode lined up for you guys today although there is some sad news that we’ll get to here in a little bit, and some good news to kind of polish off the show.
So this is going to be a little bit more of a somber AviatorCast but I think it brings up a great point that we can talk about and ponder because no doubt, something that happened yesterday at the time of recording this particular podcast, something that happened yesterday on July 17, 2014 was tragic and undoubtedly just preposterous in its action, so we’ll talk about that.
But first, let’s get to a review and then we’ll jump in to those topics. Our main source of getting this podcast reviewed and other people learning about this podcast is through iTunes and so that is where people leave reviews, they leave reviews in our website but often through iTunes. I thought this one was cool because it came all the way from Turkey, the country Turkey. So it came from Gurikanpake, I hope I pronounced that right. He says “Good job, five stars. AOA is a really great resource for people who don’t know where to start. Spoken English is clear for non-natives and really inspiring.” So I just thought that was cool that we had a review come all the way from Turkey, so I really appreciate that review Gurikan. If you want to leave review on AviatorCast, on iTunes that would be much appreciated. That’s our main source of people finding out who we are and what we do and really that’s all we ask for. If you enjoyed this episode, please go to iTunes and leave an honest review for us.
So we have two topics we’re going to talk about today. The first topic we are going to talk about is the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 crash or we may not even call it a crash, a disaster, an attack, definitely an attack. And then we will also talk about PMDG releasing the 777-300 expansion and the 777 Service Pack 1. So hopefully after we get through this Malaysian Flight 17 news, we will be able to talk more or kind of leave the show on a higher note with this great news coming from PMDG that they have finished their service pack and now have the 777-300 expansion.
So let’s get into the flight training segment where we will talk about Malaysia Flight 17.
And now, the flight training segment…
Chris: 07/17/2014, the day we lost Malaysia Flight 17. So yesterday was one of those days that as pilots remain in our memory for our lifetime. It’s a day where something tragic happens within the aviation community and it especially hits home for us for very particular reasons which we’ll get to later. Now, if you have been living under a rock, I have some bad news I suppose, but I’ll just get right into it. Basically what happened is yesterday at the time of recording this podcast, forces from one side or another shot down Malaysia Flight 17 over the Ukraine, and this happened in the part of the Ukraine that is having the conflict with the pro-Russian rebels and the Ukranian government, and it was shot down over that territory so far it said to have been the pro-Russian officials, and we’ll get a little bit more into those details.
However, before we get into all of that, major, major condolences go out to those who are affected by this loss. This was heavily weighted toward people from the Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia, and many other countries were also affected, 298 lives lost. So essentially 777-200 was shot down over this Ukrainian territory from a surface to air missile, a pretty complicated system. The aircraft was flying at 33,000 feet which was actually outside of what was kind of restricted warzone airspace, so they were technically outside of that airspace, yet it looks as though these pro-Russian rebels actually shut down this 777. Someone shut it down and basically all the facts that I’m seeing so far point toward these pro-Russian rebels. I know that that’s not necessarily politically correct, we want to have due process and let all the evidence get out, but so far based on some of the stuff that’s come out on social media and what these pro-Russian rebels were doing in social media anyway during this attack and what they have been doing the past several weeks in shooting down other military-type airplanes, it is most likely these people that have shut down this airplane.
But above and beyond all that, my heart and the people here in AOA and I’m sure in this entirety community, not only flight simulation but real aviation, our hearts go out to those who are affected by this loss, again heavily weighted from the Netherlands and Malaysia and Australia because of the route of this flight which was from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
So it’s just really a terrible situation. I spent much of yesterday keeping up with the news as all of the little bits of information were coming out about this, and so I feel pretty well versed from many different sources now that I have a good grasp on what’s going on. So other than what I’ve already shared with you, kind of what’s going on now is there is a recovery effort underway. There is debris everywhere. There are bodies strewn everywhere, parts. Really horrific scene. But to make matters worse, the pro-Russian rebels are blocking, at least mostly blocking relief efforts coming in and investigative efforts that are wanting to be done by an international body of people that want to figure out what happened. So many nations were affected by this attack, and that’s exactly what it is. One way or another, this was an attack on an airplane, and irresponsible.
Do I think that these guys shot down a civilian aircraft on purpose? Probably not but they were negligent and stupid for shooting a plane like that down. For me, I can get a pair of binoculars and I can look at an airplane and I can see what type it is right? I’m sure many of you listening to my voice can as well. And it just blows my mind that you couldn’t get a pair of binoculars, check the airplane first before you blow the trigger. It really enrages me and so this is why I was having such a problem yesterday. It’s like “Why, oh why did this happen? Why is this situation even before us?” It’s just absolutely ridiculous.
So that’s kind of what’s going on right now. We’re just kind of in the beginning stages of it here. This is a pretty big deal, and this is the type of stuff that has started wars in the past and we really hope it doesn’t get to that stage. War should always be the absolute last effort and I don’t think that’s even in the question really right now, but definitely the people that did this should be held responsible and they should be held responsible swiftly and they should get out of the way and so relief efforts can happen, and so we can get the black boxes, and as an international community, they can figure out what happened and why and then those that did it will be held responsible, and sanctions can be placed, and whatever. Whatever needs to happen, this is a turning point, a fork in the road whether it be for the Ukrainian crisis or whether it be for any number of other reasons. This can’t happen again. This should not happen, and it’s just really saddening.
Why does this relate to flight training? Why would I bring up this in the podcast? First of all for all of us, I think that it goes without saying that this affects us deeply. We look at this beautiful airplanes in the sky and we marvel at how wonderful they are and the technology behind them and how reliable they are and all that’s gone in over the years to make a modern marvel like the 777-200 fly and do so in regular service, I think this one entered service in 1996. So as people in the aviation community, we look at these aircraft and these crews and the travel industry in general with awe and with passion and it’s just something that is in our blood and so when something like this happens, it is truly tragic and it really affects us all and shakes us up a little bit and gets up asking questions. Even if the question if why is this affecting me so much?
The last thing here, the least most important part of this tragedy is the fact that we lost an airplane. Obviously, each one of those lives on that airplane were so much more valuable than the airplane itself, and that goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway. But why does this affect us so much as an aviation community especially here in the flight training segment? You know, we are in the 27th episode of AviatorCast. I’ve been talking to you guys for, previously this episode, 26 weeks straight. I haven’t missed a week. I come here every week, passionate about teaching something about aviation safety, about creating better pilots, about inspiring pilots out there whether that be in the real aviation community or people that are just passionate about aviation and love it. We talk about these things every single week and as pilots and as people that are passionate about it, we’d love to see this system operating safely. At the end of the day, that is what we are trying to achieve. We want safety in what we are doing, and we want to get those passengers from point A to point B safely.
Now, when something like this happens, it circumvents all of those efforts that we’ve made, and this is, zero responsibility can be placed on, in my mind and there are some that argue different, in my mind, on the airline, on the crew, especially the crew. This is downright just, these guys were acted upon and they did not have a choice in the matter. This wasn’t a situation where an emergency on the airplane and they had decision A, B or C and they chose decision C and it was the wrong decision. This was something that they were acted upon.
So, we lost the airplane and it’s frustrating because we worked so hard. We worked so hard to be better pilots, be more efficient, be more proficient, be better at human factors, and then something like this happens and it’s just so frustrating because there’s no reason for it. It’s just really frustrating. And so as we think about this tragedy from a pilot’s perspective, let’s keep in mind that we have such a valuable duty as pilots to keep our passengers safe, and this is something that is nearly sacred. I’m a religious man myself, doesn’t matter if you are not, life is an important thing and for those listening to this podcast, I believe you probably feel the safe way. Life is the ultimate most important thing. We strive to be happy and prosperous each and every day and I would hate for that to be taken away from someone else because of the poor decisions that a pilot makes.
So we have control over that to a certain extent. We have control over ourselves and what we do and how we think and how we act. So, this is a recommitment of our efforts, that we will not loss another airplane because of us. That we will not allow something like this to happen because it was mistake of ours. It just goes to show how special life is to have something like this just completely wiped out. And this is kind of like a broken record because we just went through the Malaysian Flight 370 fiasco which hasn’t even been discovered. We don’t even know what happened with that yet. And then previous, I think it was actually a year ago in July, we had the Asiana 214 Flight that crashed in San Francisco and a handful of people were lost there as well. We cannot let these things happen because of us as pilots. And I’m not saying that we’re inherently dangerous, I’m just saying this is a time for us to refocus our efforts, recommit ourselves, and commit to ourselves and to the crews we operate and the people around us that we will not be one of those crews that does something to endanger our passengers, whatever that is.
So that’s kind of how I wanted to sum this up. Very sad news about Malaysia Flight 17. Again, our thoughts and prayers and out most heartful sympathies go out to the families that lost someone in this tragic attack and just us as an aviation community, we are shocked by this as well. So hang in there guys, the sun will always come up tomorrow, and everything will be alright, but again we’re very saddened by this. We hope that there will be a resolution and that it will come swift and quick and we can get to the bottom of all this and make sure that it doesn’t happen again, but us as pilots, let’s be sure that we are never that person that endangers those very special and sacred lives, that life force that drives all of us.
So that is it for the flight training segment. Now we’re going to get on to some lighter news in the flight simulation segment.
And now, the flight simulation segment…
Chris: Alright everybody, so now for some lighter news if we can do such a thing on a day like this, but we do have some good news coming out of the flight simulation community. Just today, the PMDG 777-300ER, so that’s the extended version of the 777, was released by PMDG. This is an expansion of their already stellar 777-200LR series and they’ve made a lot of additions and upgrades. So not only was this 300ER released but also at the same time they released service pack 1 for the 777. So all of the service pack updates apply to the 200LR and the 300ER. So some great new things that have come out with the airplane to make it more immersive and more realistic. Also, just some other great fixes and things there. And then the 777-300ER.
So some great things, I’m going to go through several of those fairly quickly here and just recap what’s there. I’m sure most of you guys are already out there flying this aircraft. That’s absolutely fantastic. I encourage you to do that. This is my favorite simulation of all time. I do really appreciate and love the PMDG 737, but this, I’ve just always been a lover of the 777. It’s a beautiful, beautiful airplane and continues to prove that it is in how much people are flying it today in different airlines and that the orders keep rolling through. It’s a proven platform, really great, so let’s talk a little bit about it.
So first of all, I want to break down the service pack 1 update. Now, this isn’t going to be a fully comprehensive update or rather breakdown of what is included in the update. So, lots of things come in the update that we kind of don’t see at the forefront of where we are, and that is hundreds of smaller changes that they’ve made to the aircraft, things that they’ve seen through user feedback and things like that. They’ve made tweaks and bug fixes as well. So lots of things just to kind of polish off this simulation even more.
Now, some other cool stuff coming with this aircraft, stuff that is new and revolutionary if you will, things that are coming out for the first time. The first is Collins Weather Radar or rather the WXR-2100 weather radar. This is a fully realistic weather radar depiction. This thing acts and looks just like the real thing, and PMDG went to painstakingly difficult efforts to make sure that this was simulated really, really well. Now, the reason it’s taken this long for PMDG to do a weather radar is the weather depiction within a simulator actually isn’t accurate. It basically just draws clouds and has an area of clouds, but it’s not an actually depiction of precipitation density or anything else that would show up on radar right?
So with the advent of Active Sky Next which is the most recent weather engine from HiFi simulations, this has kind of changed within a simulator where they actually depict things in a way where there is density to storm systems and precipitation and things like that so that this radar can actually be realistically depicted. Otherwise, if PMDG had done this sooner, they would kind of be faking it. It would just be clouds that weren’t actually real precipitation. There wouldn’t be any true danger in you flying through anything that was on that radar. It would be inaccurate. It may look like you’re flying through some highly dense precipitation whereas you look out the window and nothing’s there.
So this is very realistically depicted and not only that, but the weather radar works like the real thing. Now, I’m not going to go into a tutorial on how to use that. You can look at the documentation that comes from PMDG when you buy this aircraft or when you download this update, and you will see exactly that.
So that’s one really cool thing that comes with the service pack 1. The next and I really, really like this one, I think this is great, is the FMC Data Link through simulated ACARS and SATCOM. There are way too many features here to talk about but basically what happens in an actual 777 is a flight crew sits down and they communicate to their headquarters through an ACARS system, through a SATCOM system that allows them to send information back and forth, allows them to get destination weather, allows them to get winds aloft along the route. They can get a plethora of information that really just helps them drill down and make the flight that more efficient as a crew. And so a lot of these are now available through this new functionality that is brought in by service pack 1. Now, you can request routes, you can bring in the winds in a better way, you can look at destination weather, all sorts of stuff. There’s a long list of realistically depicted functions that you can do and it’s just really, really neat exactly what you can do with this ACARS system. This is something that hasn’t been done before so it’s just really, really cool and I’m sure you guys will love looking through that.
I’m actually going to give you guys a link within the show notes of this episode that will have a breakdown. PMDG kind of send out kind of a sheet of what is new with the service pack 1 and the 777-300, so some great things there to check out. I’m not going to go through the list now but a lot of cool stuff with this ACARS and SATCOM system.
Now, other than that, the other big thing about service pack 1 is a major reworking of the flyby wire system in the 777. The 777 flies not by the traditional cable-driven methods but rather by digital methods if you will. So the pilots makes an input with the control wheel and it sends that signal to actuators that are near the flight controls and control those separately. Part of that flyby wires is a complex computer system within the background that makes a lot of corrections to what’s the pilot’s input and interprets what the pilot’s input into actual control input, so lots and lots of things going on behind the scenes. This is undoubtedly something that is very difficult to program.
PMDG did really well with their first iteration of the 777 and now service pack 1. It is no doubt going to be more smooth and more realistic, so that effort to do the flyby wire system better is one of those things that many flight simmers and many pilots won’t really notice. It’s one of those things that people take for granted, but this may be the biggest thing that is actually in this update and one of the things that we should appreciate the most. It just makes the aircraft that much more realistic and ensures us that we have a high quality and high fidelity simulation that we can be assured is like the real aircraft.  And at the end of the day, whether you’re a pilot that is simulating flying the 777, it will be realistically depicted, or if you’re flight simulation hobbyist and you are flying the 777, you can be assured that it is also very realistic.
So that’s it for service pack 1. And then you get the 777-300ER. Now this is an extended version of the 200LR. It can hold more passengers and cargo. It’s quite a popular airplane and a beautiful airplane in my opinion but it handles a lot differently. So that’s the big difference that you’re going to notice from it, is it’s going to be a little bit more difficult to handle on the ground because it’s a longer aircraft. You have tailstrike danger because when you take off, you can’t pull back as much as you would on a 200LR, so you’ve got to remember that that tail is going to come down sooner. And so the pitch limit on the rotation is a little bit different. That’s one thing you got to watch out for.
The climb and cruise are very different because it is a heavier aircraft so often you can’t get up the cruise like you would want to in the 300ER or rather how you would get up there with a 200. So the 200 is agile. It’s highly powered, has a lot of power curve whereas the 300 because it’s carrying a lot more passengers and cargo while often having the same engines for example won’t be able to do those missions in the same way.
So, some cool things that came out with this is first of all, I saw some rumors that this is just a visual model. That is not true. This is not just a visual model. PMDG created a lot of actual functionality and change to flight physics to be realistic to the 300ER, and so you can be assured that this flies like a 300ER comparative to the 200LR okay? It’s not just a visual model.
One of the things they added that is specific to the 300ER is ground-maneuvering cameras. So this is something that you may have seen in some pictures on where there is a camera on the tail and it kind of looks down at the front of the airplane where you can see most of the wings, the engines, and this is actually used by the flight crew to steer on the ground, to give them better visibility, because this is such a long, large aircraft, it allows them to taxi in what is often a tight airport environment with better accuracy, with better safety so they’re making sure that they’re not running a nosewall off the grass or that they’re making their turns on time, things like that.
Now, this is something that gives a great impact on flight sim performance, so you better have a really good computer in order to handle this. That is because when it opens these windows, it basically has to create an entirely different world or drawing or depiction or programming for these separate views. It’s not just one of these things where you can bring up any camera view. Actually, it’s like opening the game twice. I’m not saying that you’re going to get 100% decrease or 50% decrease in performance because of that but it’s definitely something that you’re only going to want to do on more higher powered systems, so really cool. But that’s a great feature that they’ve released with it.
The only engine available and I believe this is realistic in life as well is the GE9-111B engines. Now this is what we taught with in our 777 training. So, several different options on the 200LR but on this one, we have the GE9-115B engines. Very powerful engines, the most powerful turbofan engines in the world. So that’s there too.
So, a really, really great aircraft. Definitely a great addition to your flight simulation hangar. I would encourage you to pick it up. Now, I usually don’t talk about this because I just want to but this is very much related to something we’d do here in Angle of Attack which is we do training. We do video training on different simulation packages like this. The 777 training that we have produced which can be found at is based on the PMDG 777 and this is our most recent product. We spent a lot of time making this our more stellar product of all time. It’s really great. Our team did a fantastic job. We take you through all of the systems of the aircraft and teach you about it. That alone is about 11 hours. Then we take you through what’s called flight work. Flight work is where we go on three realistic international flights and we take you from cold and dark which is before the airplane is even started up, all the displays are dark, the cockpit is cold if you will, all the way to shut down at the end of the flights. We teach you everything in between. This is actual, accurate information, not stuff that you were going to get on YouTube. It’s all completely realistic, done by actual airplane pilots, so it’s top-notch quality stuff and so yeah, that’s the flight work component of it.
So you have the ground work and the flight work component of it. Those can be purchased separately. Both are 34.99 each at the time of this podcast, that price may go up later. So 34.99 for either one of those. And then you can also get the whole package. So you can get what’s called the captain’s package for 54.99. So that’s a really good deal, you get a good discount there, and I just make that one plug. I don’t know if I’ve ever made a plug before for anyone of our products on this podcast, but it’s so directly related to the PMDG 777 that I encourage you to check it out. Go to, watch the video, I know you’ll be impressed. There are trials that you can try out and you do have to enter in your credit card information to try out those trials but you won’t be charged if you just go in and you cancel before that trial is up. So nothing happens, you get to check the training for free, and I know you’ll like it if you go there and look at it.
So that’s it. Kind of wrapping that up. Very good news coming out of PMDG that they have finished up service pack 1 and have released the 777-300ER so congratulations to them as well, and as always a job well down.
And so now, we’ll start to finish up this episode. We’d love to hear your thoughts. You can truly shape this show and the topics we provide. Take a quick 2-minute survey at Do you want to be a part of the AviatorCast community or leave a comment? Go to to join in or write me directly at Say you don’t want to miss an episode of AviatorCast. No worries, you can subscribe through email at on iTunes, Stitcher, YouTube or SoundCloud, lots of different sources. iTunes is our main source and that’s also where we get the most reviews and where people find out about the show, so if you did enjoy this show and you found the information useful and enjoyable and you plan on listening to us again, please go to iTunes, review the show, we’d really appreciate that. It helps boost our reviews and helps get our visibility up there in iTunes and so we can get more listeners. We do all these AviatorCast stuff for free, and so that’s really the only thing we ask from you, is to get and leave a review.
And, if you’d like to check out any of our training products. I know we talked about the 777 a little bit, you can head over to You can start with the basics for free with Aviator90, that’s essentially a completely free private pilot course. Then you can learn instrument flying and more with Aviator Pro or even fly many of the world’s most popular jets virtually with our training products for the 737, 747, 777 which I mentioned and the MD-11. Again, at
Many thanks also go out to the Angle of Attack crew for all their hardwork to make this episode possible and all they do outside of AviatorCast. These guys truly make things run behind the scenes and allow us to have a great time each and every week here on AviatorCast. Again, our condolences go out to the families that have been affected and for all that have been affected and continued to be affected by the Malaysia Flight 17 crash. This is a bit of a somber episode because of that, but we are hoping that there will be a quick resolution and some sort of restitution to this tragic, traffic event.
So that is it for us here. Thank you so much for joining us on this episode of AviatorCast. We are truly grateful to have you here, part of our community and so engaged in this wonderful passion for flying things. Until next time, throttle on!



Chris Palmer

Chief Flight Instructor and President of Angle of Attack. Founded in 2006.


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