Jul 16 2018

Virtual SkyWork Airlines Flight to Elba

Our Family could enjoy three marvellous vacations on Elba during the last years. Thanks to SkyWork Airlines the island is only an hour away from Bern. Since flights to the Marina di Campo airport on Elba are currently troubled by unmet regulatory requirements in Italy we decided to help out SkyWork Airlines with a virtual flight to Elba with our home flight simulator cockpit and a Dornier 328 aircraft.

Some impressions from the relaxed “real” flights to Elba in the years 2014, 2016 and 2017. Several younger and older fans of SkyWork Airlines and Bern Airport can be found on these pictures …

So why not take up the initiative and offer a virtual flight to Elba. There is no regulatory stuff required and safety can be fully guaranteed. The experience may be similar to the real one (or even better, we’ll be sitting up front).

The home cockpit is a Boeing 737-800 replica currently being built in our attic in Bern with the famous X-Plane flight simulator on Linux, custom made electronics and used aircraft parts (see these posts here and here for more information). We tried to assign most functionality of the freeware Dornier 328-110 aircraft to the Boeing 737. Works  great except for idle and reverse thrust which is handled quite differently for the Do-328 turboprop engines compared to jet engines: we would require a prop mode (condition) lever in addition to separate thrust and reverse levers. Puzzle to be solved. The The flight crew consisted of me and three Co-pilots (flight attendant was off service):

An early 6:00 am start at Bern Airport with good weather (scattered cumulus and 2-3 knots surface wind at 150 degree southerly direction made the RWY 32 (RAMOK 2A) departure with a lefthand turn over Bern direction MONIN and then heading south over the Alps an enjoyable experience. We had no ATC coverage during the whole flight (LSZB TWR is mostly unoccupied in the online VATSIM virtual flight network).

Landing in Marina di Campo is kind of tricky, but we followed the visual approach from the north to RWY 16 that we’ve experienced in real during several flights with SkyWork Airlines. Compared to the Boeing 737 the Do-328 is quite an agile bird in the air. But I had to be careful for not dropping to the ground during the final approach (flies like a flat iron in underspeed, never use this aircraft as a sailplane).  After having mastered the lefthand turn just before touchdown we used full brakes to slow instead of the (still inoperational) reverse thrust.

Happy vacation to our virtual passengers on beautiful Elba and all the best wishes to SkyWork Airlines for their continued success (possibly also with Elba)! We now need a fine Italian espresso at the bar of the Marina di Campo airport.

The Crew