In this thread I am going to use the new Samdim Antonov triplets to give a rough tour through Soviet/Russian aircraft systems. As I have mentioned before, some of the systems are not that intuitive to the Western sim pilot, and can be confusing (especially when the labels and the only manuals are in Cyrillic). However, I have found that for the most part the Soviet sims are of quite high quality, in some cases rivalling or surpassing payware, and are a delight to fly once you get the hang of it.
So with that in mind, let's take a tour through the cockpit and see what's what.
The left seat. Not too bad, but no secondary panel icons? Not unusual in a Russian sim. They use a lot of...
...Clickspots. This is pretty much the norm, although some sims have many, MANY more, sometimes up to 20 (the PT Tu-154M is a good example of that). Before we start touring the other panels though, a few explanations: The KLN-90B GPS is fully functional, and I mean FULLY. Go to the Bendix/King website and download the manual from there. The Russian sim version works exactly the same as the original, and is quite impressive. Also, the slide rule is also exactly as advertised. It's used when using RSBN stations for navigation, but that's another story.
The primary instruments are pretty self-explanatory but remember they are in metric, and generally electrically driven. The artificial horizon, for example, has a startup procedure of it's own that must be followed or it doesn't work -- and since it's linked to the AP the autopilot won't work if the AHI isn't synchronized. More about that in the startup post. The Grozy weather radar is, like the KLN-90, a surprisingly good freeware gauge that works completely well as long as you have FSUIPC. It has multiple modes, can perform ground mapping, and looks amaziing in operation. I'll do a separate post showing it's use. It's genuinely cool.
The right seat. All duplicated, but bear in mind that the AHI over here must be synched as well on startup (more anon).
The engineering panel. Pretty logical, bearing in mind that everything is electrical. For quick flight, all the switches in the "battery" section at top left must be in the ON position (except the two at the bottom right, they're the de-icing equipment) during any flight for stuff to work right.
The radios, etcetera. Russian aircraft of a certain age have four separate navigation systems: VOR, ARK (like NDB), RSBN (uses offset beacons and triangulation) and GPS. The transponder/TCAS is the third of the great Russian gauges, and again works well. Right click on the left knob to turn it on, right click then left click on the right knob to change modes.
The navigator's station. Russian aircraft up until recently were forced to have a nav station by the old Aeroflot navigator's union, even if not needed. Tu-154s flown by Aeroflot had a four-person flight deck crew, while those flown by other Easterm Bloc nations (Czech and East German, for example) ditched the navigator entirely. The navigation station is the most complex part and deserves an entry of it's own. We'll just leave this here for now.
In any event, over the next few posts we'll start him up (Russians use the masculine for ships and planes) and show how to use the (gulp) autopilot.