Cargo Crew- A Developer’s Perspective

One of the most exciting, yet under-represented area of flight simming is the life of the cargo pilot. We all tend to fly our shiny new passenger jets, giving little thought to the life of the “freight dogs” as cargo crews are affectionately termed. Yet, some of the most exciting, diverse flying in the world is in the cargo sector. Quite simply, cargo crews fly to a wide variety of locations around the world, often using a wide range of aircraft.

Around The World

I wanted to reflect that uniqueness and diversity with the Cargo Crew mission pack for FSX:SE, which is essentially an around the world cargo trip. Cargo pilots, unlike their passenger brethren are often away from home for over a month at a time on long circumnavigations of the globe. It is not unusual to fly completely around the world, with 20 or more flights before the crew see their home base. Rest days are taken down-route, whilst a relief crew take over the aircraft. The primary crew, who have often flown ahead as passengers, wait patiently at a rest location for their aircraft to catch up with them.

Emergencies and Pressure!

The nature of aviation being what it is, things don’t always go according to plan, leading to urgent delivery schedules with the late arrival of aircraft, severe weather, mechanical defects, airport diversions and a whole gamut of operational issues to overcome. I wanted Cargo Crew to replicate this in full, with not just an authentic recreation of a cargo route around the world, but putting you, as Pilot in Command, in the hotseat, dealing with a host of unexpected emergencies and scheduling issues. I won’t spoil the fun by highlighting which missions don’t go according to plan, but many flights are not quite what they first seem. I admit to having tremendous fun rushing to make deliveries as on-screen timers put me under real pressure or seeing how I dealt with an engine fire or flying through a typhoon. My personal favourite mission being one where your aircraft is requisitioned by the emergency services to drop urgent aid to a stricken ferry, listing and sinking in the ocean!

To support these flights, Angel Heaven Lee has recorded a massive amount of audio, with approximately 200 unique pieces of dialogue as she accompanies you on your flight as your trusty co-pilot! The co-pilot dialogue has been carefully designed to complement the instructions given to you by Air Traffic Control. Nearly all of the flights in Cargo Crew have been designed to support the ATC services within Flight Simulator, adding both to the realism and cockpit ambience.

Genuine Cargo Route

All of the airports too are genuine cargo destinations, from the major cargo hubs of the world to visiting some lesser known airfields, with everywhere from Frankfurt to Fiji included in the schedule. What you are flying in Cargo Crew are actual routes, flown by real cargo pilots!

To add further interest to the package, I chose the Douglas DC-3 as the aircraft of choice. A number of operators today still use this aircraft on freight services around the world. The reason is quite simple, it is a reliable go-anywhere performer, at home in all weathers and conditions. When Douglas built the DC-3 they built her to last! Daniel Dunn, one of the leading aircraft designers within the hobby very kindly provided a very special version of the DC-3, complete with a Cargo Crew custom livery. Feel free to fly the aircraft in your own flights once you have completed the mission. I will guarantee you will have a blast!

With Cargo Crew for FSX:SE I am sure you will enjoy the opportunity to fly around the world with the iconic DC-3 along with many surprises along the way!

Jane Whittaker

Jane Whittaker is a leading aviation and transport journalist. Along with being the Assistant Editor of PC Pilot Magazine she is a regular contributor to a wide range of magazines, including Airliner World, in addition to writing pilot tutorials and training guides for aircraft, including the Boeing and Airbus fleets. She also regularly contributes to Sky News and the BBC as a technical advisor on aviation matters.