Been ages since I posted anything useful, so time for an After Action Report. Today I’ll use MSFS 2020 for a quick flight from Vancouver, BC to Seattle, WA. It’s a flight I do quite often and is a nice way to test out some things with the beautiful A320/Neo free mod from FlybyWire Sims. More info on that here:

First off, some flight planning, to share how I do it - plus hopefully pick up some tips from you lot on how you do it as well. To find a typical route I look to the real-world FlightAware here:

Put in my info


Find routes!

Ok, not a very complicated route as we can practically see the destination from here. :). The most popular one seems to be a frequency of 23 times, at about 15,000 ft. Let’s check out the route in SkyVector to see what it looks like:

So, no SID out of CYR, YVR down to the STAR of JAWBN version 6. It looks like it takes us over the Juan de Fuca Straight, between Vancouver Island and Whidbey, and then tucks in just before the big Cascade Mountains near to Port Angeles. A diagonal south-east route into Seattle, past the down-town with then vectors to either a North or South approach into KSEA. Should be pretty, especially at only 15,000 ft.

I’ll need some fuel and weight info, so let’s hop into SimBrief and check it out. Off to (you’ll need a free account for this)

So in the above I entered the Airline info (I’m going to be a fake WestJet flight WJA311), the Departure and Arrival and the aircraft type (A320 - 200). I’m going for a luxurious Cost Index of fuel of 15, and it fills in best guesses on Dep/Arr Runways and taxi in/out times. I don’t really care about super accurate fuel, just want to make sure it lines up when I enter info into the MCDU later.

For the route, it’s already filled in, as like FlightAware, Simbrief shows the most common ones:

Ok, let’s generate the flight plan and get some numbers out of this puppy. Here it is:

Here’s my briefing, in abridged form:

[ OFP ]
WJA0311   12DEC2020    CYVR-KSEA   A320 N320SB  RELEASE 2135 12DEC20
                                   WX PROG 1221 1300   OBS 1212 1212
  ATC C/S   WJA311       CYVR/YVR   KSEA/SEA      CRZ SYS      CI 15
12DEC2020   N320SB       2200/2220  2254/2302     GND DIST       147
A320-200 / CFM56-5B4/P              STA  2300     AIR DIST       142
                         CTOT:....                G/C DIST       110
                                                  AVG WIND   306/011
MAXIMUM    TOW  78000  LAW  66000  ZFW  62500     AVG W/C       P009
ESTIMATED  TOW  66721  LAW  65224  ZFW  62141     AVG ISA       P002
                                                  AVG FF KGS/HR 2593
                                                  FUEL BIAS    P00.0
ALTN KPDX                                         TKOF ALTN  .......

FUEL           ARPT   FUEL   TIME
TRIP            SEA   1497   0034
CONT 15 MIN            648   0015
ALTN            PDX   1349   0031
FINRES                1086   0030
MINIMUM T/OFF FUEL    4580   0150
EXTRA                    0   0000
T/OFF FUEL            4580   0150
TAXI            YVR    200   0020
BLOCK FUEL      YVR   4780
PIC EXTRA            .....
TOTAL FUEL           .....


TEL: +1 800 555 0199               PIC SIGNATURE: ...............

Here’s the full PDF for those that have not seen one. Remember to take a note of every NOTAM along the way…

CYVRKSEA_PDF_1607808940.pdf (531.8 KB)

Ok, are we actually ever going to fly today or is this more of a paperwork simulator? Let’s start up MSFS and put some stuff in.

Off into the World Map to pick an aircraft and the simple route. I can do the route straight into the FMC, (or download and import the plan from Simbrief) but let’s do it graphically today:

Better not pick the Pitts Special for this one.

I use the ‘Liveries Megapack’ for custom liveries, but only cherry pick the ones I like (otherwise it’s like 80 GB of precious M.2 storage).

There’s a lot of choice, but I find ol WestJet

For fuel I’ll switch to hogs-heads and KGs. This looks like a block amount of 10.6 and I only need 4.8. but it’ll be fine.

Not sure if I’m going to use VATSIM today or just AI. I’ll fill in the call sign anyway:

Ok, let’s put the plan in - should be simple enough. First thing, I’ll set live weather, even if a big grey today. I"ll turn off Multiplayer, so I don’t get buzzed by a Cessna doing flips over the ramp.

With a direct route, it looks nice and windy today.

I’ll set up the IFR flight. It picks typical SIDS / STARs.

Don’t forget to set the altitude in the NavLog here:

Hmm, not a lot of cruise then. Nice!

The flight plan picked up the STNLE4 SID, which is a little unusual, so I’ll put in the usual YVR one. You can see the real life traffic around the airport with green icons.

Ok, 08R, SID YVR set. I"ll leave the ‘Approach’ to automatic, as the ATC usually does a good job with that.

Down Seatac way, it looks like 16C and 16L in use.

Last thing, I’ll want to set-up cold and dark, so I’ll need to pick a gate at YVR. Westjet is usually around about here, Gate 21 ish (ignoring that is a domestic gate, I picked a bad airlines but like the livery :wink:)

Hit ‘Fly’, you fools! (finally, they all shout as if as one)

Ok, here we are in CYVR

Today I’m using a paid airport, although it’s my only one and I couldn’t resist as it was cheap.

It’s not great, but it’s like $10. For most airports, I really recommend you check out this site, as there are many free ones that improve upon the robotic way Asobo generates most of the non-hand crafted ones:

It’s good to check out the map mode on that site, as lots of nice free things e.g.

Ok, Cold and Dark

Let’s ignore all checklists and get this things going. First off, external power and batteries on.

Beautiful sounds from this mod, lots of clunks

It’s a dull day, lets get some lights on:

Not the nicest day, but you can at least see the mountains:

Let’s get the loading cycle started and some systems set up:

(post is getting huge, I’ll continue in a bit in a new bit). So far so good.


Oh man… I have to get this mod installed before my next Xmas keg.

Thanks for posting this, very helpful.

1 Like

So mysteriously, MSFS uses the radio to do everything related to ground ops (jetway connection, baggage etc), so let’s kick those things off for full ‘pretend’ mode and to make it look pretty.

The catering truck is drunk, and goes to the wrong door.

Doors are open and we’re rocking

I won’t screenshot every MCDU set-up, but I do go through the Init and do the Cost Index and Cruise FL,

…and set my weight and block fuel.

For Flex takeoff, I set up V1/2/3 speeds (you can click them twice or work them out, depending on how masochistic you want to be). Don’t forget in North America to set the Transition Altitude to FL180 as those Europeans like it lower. :slight_smile:

Check through the flight plan for any discontinuities. It all looks ok. The baggage people have finished up as well, or were killed by the catering people gone mad max.

Let’s get rid of the jetway and crank the APU up.

Ok, wrong order, but let’s get the weather and then clear the flight plan. Oops.

Center clears me and gives me a crazy takeoff runway for the wind. Le sigh. I should just use VATSIM but want/need to pause for screenshots and the controllers will be mean to me…

Ok, QNH 3011, info Yankee. 26R (will change Departure in FMC) up to 9000 ft as per the SID and squawking 2764 (bottom right FO panel).

Runway change and inserted into plan.

Let’s call ground for IFR taxi out and see if we can do some flying today!


Flight Attendant drops by to say we are loaded, dispatch gives me some paper I ignore. Let’s roll. Let’s lock the doors, and check the video to make sure the toilet is free :wink:

While veering towards the bit sad here, I do love the fact that the Call buttons all work and the Seat Belt and Smoking switches all make the right noises and movements. I’M A PILOT! :wink:

Ok, Taxi out to 26R via G H J M M9. Not too bad, although I’m the wrong side for R. I use for all the usual diagrams. It’s free but you need a VATSIM account I think.

Again, in the wrong order, but let’s pushback, get the APU bleed on and fire up ENG 2 and 1.


Tell the chump to turn right. We could do with BetterPushback as a plugin for MSFS. bit it’s better than nothing…

So, parking brake on, APU Bleed on, Engine Mode selector to start, ENG 2 first.

Warming up…

Systems check. Will turn up the PACK cabin temperature a bit, the peasant are revolting out back due to the cold. Sell them a blanket!

Ok, two good engines, taxi lights on, rolling.

I love that Air New Zealand livery - even though that’s a bit far for an A320 to journey from home?

Should really change ground frequency here, as North side, but we’re good.

I may be lost, I think this is M. I cheat and use the Taxi ribbon thingy.

Ok, we’ve been cleared for take off. What I do around now is hand the radios over to the AI. The AI is pretty dumb, but can operate the radios and echo back what’s said. It’s basically too busy to do on your own, as the calls come quicker and faster than VATSIM (thank goodness).

Positive rate of climb, gear up. I should be notched at Flex takeoff, but it’s all going wrong.

Into some weather now…

Some pretty shots waving goodbye to Canada.

Forget to turn off ground spoilers, thanks ECAM! Also forgot to set MAX TOGO brakes. ATC is jabbering away, and the AI pretends to listen but does reply.



MSFS is very aggressive about icing. If they left the fridge door open at Asobo then they’d be a major Ice Age starting. It always sort of overcooks the impact of ice. Nice to get a warning though:

Let’s get the De-icing going, although the pitot should be automatic.

Brrrr… :ice_cube:

So much for that lovely scenic flight at FL150. Sorry everyone, real weather. :frowning:

Looks cloudy all the way…


While I reach cruise I now have to enter in DEST data.

I can do this with the AOC weather, like this:

ATSU -> to AOC Menu

Weather Request -> Send

Received Msgs

Ok so 350 5KT, A3011, 06/01 temp into the PERF APPR mode.

(tap tap tap) (forgot to do the Decision Height of 200, whoops)

ATC is bring us down really early, which is a shame. I wish they respected the constraints of the STAR.

Oh well, Approach Mode activated. VNAV is pretty broken, but we’ll see how it does…

Ok, ATC now realizes they will kill us all and goes for the proper altitude, without mountains.

We’re cleared to the approach point ALKIA at least

At least we can see sunlight now…

An ice cube with spoilers out… The ice doesn’t really melt (it’s a bug)

I’ll switch the radios off of AI, as I like to pick the approach and make sure it’s all ok.


Ok, down to 6000 ft, which matches the STAR at least.

Let’s hope we get an approach soon… Hooray, we did…

Ok, 34R, SONDR transition. Let’s put that in.

Don’t forget the NO STAR and set the VIA.

Here things start to go a little crazy, so need to fix up the approach manually. ATC gets confused on entry points for approaches, I guess due to a bug. It doesn’t vector to the SONDR transition, but it’s not too hard to see where I need to go for the descent point. I set a manual heading.

Check the ILS frequency is ok for 34R

(Dog needs taking out, will finish later :dog:)


Loving this so far. I think I’m going to have to re-create this flight to learn all the MCDU inputs you are doing.

Have you noticed the ATP flies 5 or so degrees out from what you have entered in the HDG bug??


I think the mod fixes things like that. They’ve put all sorts of hacks in to work around stuff they find. It makes it a bit traumatic when Asobo update stuff, as then things need to be rolled back. I’m amazed how patient they are to keep going, they seem to add a major feature every couple of days…

The ATC issue is that it assigns an approach far too late, as in we are well on the way and only 8 nm from KSEA and it’s given a transition that’s far away from that. Hopefully with a bit of tweaking it’ll work better in the future. It’s a lot better if you turn off real weather and then you don’t get runway changes that confuse it. MSFS is pretty poor at working out the active runways, but then I guess it isn’t trivial to do that without better airport data.


Ok, dog walked, but it’s a bit darker now. Time to make it darker in cockpit so I can see out.

A cold and dark night

Constraints mode, useful for approaches

The I5 traffic through Tacoma is always horrible.

Slowing down for the turn to capture the localizer. Flaps 1 even though we are really far out still. FD isn’t great with fast turns.

Starting to get calls to come down in the turn. 5000 ft.

We’re heading for the right-most twinkle of the three parallel runways of KSEA.

Nicely on the localizer. Glidescope capture coming up.

Over to Seattle tower.

Gear down, spoilers armed, autobrake medium, speed down to 160 kts ish with flaps.

2500 ft

Cabin crew, seats for landing please

Cleared to land 34R, winds calm.

Tend to manually land at about 2000 as Autoland even on a CAT III can be a bit of an adventure. It does do it though.

Lots of ground fog.

Lights picking up fog, drifting a bit high. Looking for butter too soon.

Welcome to Seattle. The local time is about now.

“Get off the active runway frog!”

Ok, use the easy mode taxi ribbon, as would need to open up ground chart on KSEA.

Looking for Gate B5


Someone waves me in. Very brave.

bit more…


Hey, it’s the Air New Zealand again.

Ground crew go to work. Another day another dollar.

A nice night in the end. Sorry about the clouds.


That’s what it’s all about! Pushing buttons!
Get a kid a remote or a keyboard and they’ll start pushing buttons.
Pilots are the kids that never grew tired of that…

That four legged immersion breaker!
No treats!


Wow…fantastic series of reports that are surprisingly thorough in encompassing the totality of a real flight (surprising from the standpoint of the sim, not you of course). It is really pretty darn amazing that it is pretty much an out of the box affair…other than the A320 tweaks/improvements of course. But for anyone who just wants to say “ah…the sim is just pretty…but not much depth to it…” Well, clearly it is in how you tackle the sim.

Don’t feel bad about using the taxi ribbon cheat because ATC would never give instructions that are more than about four steps long…perhaps even shorter when things are really busy to keep the “down the line” errors to a minimum. Yesterday upon landing at Midway/Chicago, my most complicated instruction was:

“Medevac Five Charlie Mike, left Alpha, cross 31L to ground.” (we landed on 31C).

After contacting ground it was:

“Medevac Five Charlie Mike, left on Fox, cross 22 right, 22 left, right Yankee to Atlantic…”

So the instructions are a bit more digestible than the stream that MSFS puts out. It would be nice if they could limit it to three or four instruction sequences or something and then you would have to request further taxi instructions.

Nice job on the flight…!


I also use the taxi ribbon, I just imagine that my co-pilot has read the airport chart and knows where to go. I can go fine without it at the hand crafted airports, but on the others the taxi instructions are often just not clear enough.

I just wish there was one button to toggle it. Sometimes I only need it for a short moment.

Nice report!


Thanks all. It was fairly traumatic to do that, as I was just capturing the screenshots and plonking them in the draft post as I went along - it was quite distracting.

Me too - I think you can hold down ‘S’ for ‘focus’ and it looks in the direction of the ‘target’ but that doesn’t work great with TrackIR or VR. They should add a control bind toggle.

Yes, I’ve been using VATSIM a bit and it’s much easier where they just give a ‘hold point’ on anything too long. I don’t normally leave up the ATC chat window, but thought it better for screenshots, so at least there is a historical record of what was said without memory or writing stuff down (which I have to do constantly with VATSIM).

It is good, and really the $10 airport was about having proper gate and taxiway naming for when using VATSIM. One of the weird things that MSFS decided what that the 7,600 ‘automatically built from photogrammetry’ airports would all have fake gates and taxiway numbering. That makes it pretty confusing, as they don’t line up with the real world ground charts - you’re looking out the window at taxiway ‘B’ while in reality it’s ‘M’.

The reason they gave at the time was that they couldn’t import all that x,y taxi/gates routes data from earlier MSFS builds because they needed the runways to line up with the aerial imagery, and a lot of the time in say MSFS X, it was all just non textured layout, so they could put the runway wherever they thought good - it’s just when you try to overlay the real world images it goes wrong. So basically the decision was either ‘We make the airports not line up with aerial textures’ or ‘We need to re-enter all this taxiway and gate info again’ and for the latter they ran out of time before launch.

One thing I haven’t seen discussed here yet is that they sort of ‘soft announced’ in the last twitch stream ‘Ask the Devs’ thing that they intended to launch a ‘World Gateway’ system for MSFS. The assumption is that it’ll work in a similar way to and be the ‘official’ way people can ‘fix’ up those 7,600 airports with proper gates and taxiways etc. Crowdsourcing it seems to be the way to go, and delivery system is all online anyway, so that might be great.

I love my buttons! One of the great things about sims as a hobby is that it’s quite varied between doing some bush flying in a Cub X, straining to see a tiny field in a deep forest and getting rocked by the wind and then the essentially ‘systems programming’ of a Bus on an IFR flight, and then compare that to a WVR 4 vs 4 Hornet bunfight with a CAT 1 landing on a carrier to finish up - all flight sims! I do love the systems side of it all, the procedures, the ATC and the rules - it’s sort of catnip for me. :cat:


one day I will learn to fly the heavy metal like PRO - like you Fearles :slight_smile:

…back to my heavy metal punk (VFR style)

I’m to piloting as Elmer Fudd is to professional rabbit hunting. Happy to put on the funny hat but gloriously ignorant, and wanting to keep it that way. :slight_smile: :rabbit:

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