TCA or Thrustmaster Civil Aviation was announced by Thrustmaster today as part of a new line-up of hardware that the company is releasing that is aimed at the civil aviation flight simulation market. These are the details and how I see this as a connection to several other things happening in our hobby right now and where it might lead.
Accessible flight sim hardware
Thrustmasters announcement today was not a huge surprise as they had teased the announcement just a few days ago leaving plenty of clues as to what they were up to. Still, we weren’t sure exactly what the full product release would be so today’s announcement was of great interest.
The TCA line-up is actually four different products that Thrustmaster is producing alongside Airbus – these are officially licensed products with Airbus and they bear the Airbus name and logo too.
TCA Sidestick Airbus Edition
The TCA Sidestick Airbus Edition is the first product announced. Using a re-coloured T.16000M base that will look familiar to many of you, the new stick does have a new ambidextrous and customizable grip on the top that lets you simulate a left or right handed stick from an Airbus cockpit. The new stick has swappable button modules that let you configure the stick for left or right handed use or use any combination of available buttons that you want.
The throttle on the base of the stick has a unique feature not found in the T.16000M version – a detent that lets you map thrust reversers found on most airliners that the stick is oriented towards. I’m sure it can be potentially used for beta throttle positions on other aircraft too.
The TCA Sidestick is being sold for $69.99.
TCA Quadrant Airbus Edition
The next TCA product is the airbus throttle or Quadrant Airbus Edition and this is an all new product from Thrustmaster that replicates the throttle quadrant from a… yep, you guessed, an Airbus.
The basic version of the product has “Idle” / “Climb” / “Flex” / “TO/GA” detents, a thrust reverser position, eight physical action buttons and eight virtual buttons on each axis for the thrust levers (sixteen in total).
This is a modular product too which is interesting as two additional and separately sold pieces can be attached to either side which add more quardrants. It sounds like that could be configured for four thrust axis but the mock-up shown in the trailer suggests that the other axis are used for flaps, speedbrake, landing gear, and parking brakes.
The TCA Quadrant Airbus Edition is being sold for $99.99 USD. Not word on the price for the additional quardrants.
Thrustmaster TM Flying clamp
The new clamps from Thrustmaster are the final piece of the announcement today. They were already revealed during the teaser but now we have a little more information. The new clamps are designed to work with the new throttle quadrant as well as the TCA sidestick. They are also compatible with the T.16000M FCS system (which I reviewed last year). I thought they may make them compatible with their Warthog series as well, however, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
The price has been announced as coming in at $69.99 USD.
Portent of more things to come
Today’s announcement is interesting in a lot of ways. Thrustmaster has long done combat flight gear and racing gear but rarely have they oriented a product towards the civilian flight sim market. But it’s clear that this is focused that way and that they are looking to make a splash in this market.
The pricing, between $69 and $99 USD for the peripherals (each) is also firmly oriented at the lower end of the market. Although in my review of the T.16000M I found that it often punched above its weight and was never a cheap product (just inexpensive), I suspect that’s what Thrustmaster is doing here and its an area that most hardware manufacturers are not covering as well. Honeycomb and some of the other more high end civilian aviation hardware manufacturers are making some very exciting products too but those are firmly aimed at the higher price points in the market while these new peripherals have easier to stomach prices for new people in the flight sim arena.
It’s that last part, new people in the flight sim world, that I think is really what Thrustmaster (and everyone else) is banking on. There’s tremendous interest in Microsoft Flight Simulator and it seems to have made everyone from third party developers to hardware manufacturers looking at the new sim to spur new interest. My own experience with the way articles have done on Stormbirds.blog recently have suggested that this is absolutely happening.
It’s an exciting time for flight simmers!
Announcement info and videos
Get the details straight from Thrustmaster by reading the full press release here and check out their product pages for more information on ordering in your area. They also released a video showing off the new hardware which was fun to watch too.
Several community members have had a chance to try out the new TCA Sidestick Airbus edition already. BluGaming and Froogle both provide some interesting first impressions on the stick. Have a look!