Tropical island hopping? Flying the only route that can take you between Canada and France on a turboprop? I’ve been having some fun with the Asobo/Microsoft ATR 42/600 and ATR 72/600 and I wanted to share both of the adventures I’ve been on so far in this latest flight journal. There will be beautiful locales and some bumbling around in this airplane so … be prepared! Let’s fly!
Tropical island hopping
I’ve been slowly getting into airliners in general over the course of 2023. I had a prior stint in the A320neo a couple of years back and I wanted to expand my knowledge and my range of experiences. I’ve already done a couple of flights with the PMDG 737 but found the experience intimidating. With the ATR, the smaller size and off the beaten path routes lessened my anxiety with tackling these beasts and convinced me to just get in there and have fun.
The first of the ATRs that I would fly was the slightly longer ATR 72/600 with the Air Tahiti livery. My departure point was Tahiti and the Tahiti Faa’A Airport (NTAA). Also on the tarmac were other player flown ATR’s in the same few Tahiti Air liveries that have been included with the ATR. Everyone else had the same idea clearly!
The destination was Bora Bora. The Bora Bora Airport (NTTB) had been given the custom treatment in the new World Update XIII: Oceania so I wanted to fly in there and see what it was like.
Using the MSFS flight planner, I plugged in (awkwardly!) the flight plan and attempted to make a go of things with the little knowledge that I had already gathered. Using the one button push to start the airplane saves so much time and the goal was to get flying- and quickly!
And then I was off taxiing to the runway. Putting the engines to full power I was quickly up and flying! Autopilot on and now it was time to see if I could manage the autopilot in the ATR. Fortunately, the system here seems to share more with the fancier GA types than it does with some of the other airliners. Ignoring advanced features like VNAV, I simply used the VS mode to climb to the planned altitude of 20,000 feet.
Things went relatively smoothly during the middle part of the flight. I explored the cockpit, some of the systems, and did what I do best – learning on the fly. I also got a chance to view the ATR from the exterior and the interior. More on that when I get to some first impressions and then later on a full review.
Not knowing as much as I do now, my flight planning input didn’t quite cover the whole route and so I had some confused routing later in the flight as you can see below. The learning process has evolved already quite a bit since that happened and I now understand the MCDU quite a bit better in the ATR specifically and I’ve made small but tangible gains in my overall understanding. My previous efforts had all been aided by Simbrief or other flight planners and so this is really my first time trying to do it myself. You’ll see in my next story below that I’ve gotten better.
Bottom line to others in my position? Just plug some stuff in. See what happens. Try and make it make sense… and if not… colour outside of the lines! That’s what I did here as I cut across my broken, not quite fully formed flight plan, and set myself up for landing.
Borra Borra looks superb in Microsoft Flight Simulator with the world update. Those tortoise waters, custom resort scenery, and custom mountain scenery look pretty impressive. I do need to get a closer look with a future helicopter flight but for now the goal was to appreciate from my landing approach.
Dropping down to 2000 feet and then 1500 I set the ATR up for landing. Not quite as draggy as I expected, it took a while to slow down but dropping the gear and flaps (at just above the recommended values) did the job. I was cowboying things at this point!
Then, with just the runway and the beautiful water ahead I set the aircraft down with about 250-300 fpm on the meter. Not too bad for a first landing! Then I taxied over to see the Borra Borra custom airport scenery. And it was looking great!
I had survived my first flight and I was hooked. So I did it again 24-hours later and a half dozen tutorials watched in between.
Canada to France in a turboprop?
Just off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada you can find an island archipelago called St Pierre and Miquelon. Despite being just a few kilometres from the shores of Newfoundland, these are not Canadian islands but French. Home to roughly 6,000, Saint Pierre and Miquelon are serviced by Air Saint-Pierre. They operate a small fleet of aircraft including a single ATR 42-600
For this route I was inspired by two things. First, the ATR 42-600 has an Air Saint-Pierre livery included so how could I not? Second, one of the aviation YouTube channels that I follow regularly, Alex Praglowski Aviation, has done a video about this very flight. I felt compelled to recreate it.
Starting on the ground at St. John’s International (CYYT) I began the process of starting up the ATR. With my focus on keeping my airliner flights fast and fun, I once again made use of the EFB quick start which prepares the aircraft for flight automatically. Fast and fun!
Then I began the process of plugging in the navigation information. Making use of what the MSFS flight planner gave me, I roughly copied the route that it had put together and made the most of what the MCDU in the ATR was giving me to put something together. This effort went a step further than my last one as I have learned from tutorials that I can use one waypoint to input the next waypoint and that any continuity error can be cleared until the route starts to make sense. Again, fast, fun, not too worried if its not a completely authentic route so long as it feels authentic enough for me.
I was temporarily distracted, however, as the absolutely giant An-225 Myria being flown by another virtual pilot was being pushed back and then began taxiing. I lost track of the Myria after that but the giant aircraft next to my ATR, and a couple of DHC-4s that were randomly populated, was entertaining!
After all of that, I taxied out in low clouds and sleet crossing runway 02 and then onto runway 34 for departure.
This takeoff was made a bit more dramatic because I forgot to take the gust lock off. Surprisingly, the aircraft will fly even with it enabled and the throttle only part of the way up. Bug? Problem? Normal behaviour. I don’t know but I solved the problem not too long after wheels up and then I was on my way.
Much to my surprise, at 5,000 feet the clouds were clearing and the skies were blue. Ahead? Clearing skies as well and views of the rugged, rocky, lake filled terrain of Newfoundland.
Then I was out over the water of the Atlantic ocean. Ahead, Saint Pierre came into view and I knew things were going relatively well. My routing took me on a slightly unusual approach over the airport VOR before turning around for a landing on runway 08. I suspect more approaches are flown from runway 26, however, with the winds coming from the east I thought this would be the better approach.
The ATR continues to impress me on its slow speed approaches as it took very little effort to line up and land this airplane on the runway. Then a quick deceleration and turn off the runway before finally parking the airplane. That was fun! More ATR flights are definitely on their way.
10 Comments Add yours
It’s interesting to see the ATR series with a glass cockpit, which I guess is a retrofit. The ones I’ve seen for real and the addons owned for FSX and P3D were the epitome of analogue. As a side note in reference to your Canada to France in a turboprop header, though not not really relevant but interesting, British Airways use to operate (ceased in 2021) an A318 full business class conversion from London to New York, nonstop. Baby Bus doin’ trans-Atlantic flights is pretty cool. Was super expensive as well.
Question – Any chance you’re going to do a review/overview of the IL-2 G6/AS
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Yeah the latest ATR is the /600 series which has the glass cockpit configuration. It’s very Airbus-esq which makes sense.
Yes I’m going to do a G-6AS review. Probably will end up being a full review like with what I did with the Spit XIVe.
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Well done you, I bought the ATR too, not had time to try it. I wasn’t bothered much about the Tahiti area scenery….you’ve changed my mind I will try it out, off the back of your article, thank you
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Hey Davie. I’m so glad to hear that this has provided some inspiration. It’s why I write these so that I can share where I’ve been and hopefully encourage others to go on their own adventures!
I’ll definitely be doing more island hoping!
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Great article, and thanks for the tip on the “trans Atlantic” route 🙂
While I’ll normally trudge through Cold n Dark in DCS World, I, too, just can’t be bothered in civ simming (well, other than TBM & Longitude, which are nearly as simple to start as my car 😉 ).
I really like the fact that MS/Asobo kept the price so low on this rather nicely done airliner addon. Definitely will keep downward pressure on overall pricing and increase the reach of the game.
And to me, it’s another sign that they’ve proven the business value of volume over margin. Hopefully other devs will recognize & follow along.
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Absolutely. And they haven’t cheaped out on the features here. It’s got some bugs and issues but they will sort it out I hope. Meanwhile it’s a great gateway airliner!
Also I agree about cold and dark. There are a few types where it’s worth my while to do it but hitting a button and having it start up is terrific for me!
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For what it’s worth, if you spend 3-4 hours familiarizing yourself with the 737, and you fly a fully FMS programmed route, it becomes super simple. It does have autoland, and will land itself easily. Your job becomes to taxi it in from there, and previously, out to the runway. You click a few buttons in flight, rotate a few knobs.
Not that I prefer to mess with it that way. But overall I prefer the more old school feel of aircraft like the PMDG DC-6 or the Red Wing Connie. Radial engine sound and complexity, simpler systems, more pilot tasks in the air, and both planes give you various “virtual co-pilots” to nanny you and help you through checklists. So if you are looking for an airliner experience at a different pace, more from the golden age, both are solid options. I wish there were more options like that personally. Bringing 4 radials to life in the sim is a pretty cool.
I’m afraid I’m at double that time myself plus many hours watching tutorials and the 737 has not clicked yet. Eventually I will get it but it’s a tough mountain to climb – some folks relish in some of the details around the flight planning and I do not so that is part of it. An editorial on this is probably coming ☺️
DC-6 is on my growing list of airliners to explore!