Yesterday, the decision was made to close this question. While I can agree that the question is written in very unclear english, it's about engaging the autopilot on the B777, which would be the same in xPlane, Prepar3d (FSX) or Real Life.

So, where do we pull the line of flight simulation is on-topic? In an ideal world, it would have it's own busy stackexchange beta dedicated to it, but that's hardly the situation.

IMHO, the stuff on frame rates and settings are not on-topic, but the stuff related to flying the plane is. And it's not a fantastic idea to redirect them to the gaming SE, since I think you'll have a hard time finding people knowledgeable about that stuff over there. The questions I found had pretty short answers and are few and far apart.

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    $\begingroup$ I agree, sounds more like he's asking how the autopilot works, not how x-plane works, right? $\endgroup$
    – falstro
    Apr 2, 2014 at 9:45
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    $\begingroup$ @roe yes, exactly $\endgroup$ Apr 2, 2014 at 10:05
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    $\begingroup$ The question could always be edited to ask how it is done in an aircraft. PC based simulators aren't always that accurate though, and the answer could be many things that aren't even closely related to aviation. $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Apr 2, 2014 at 13:50
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    $\begingroup$ I'd agree that it's more on the autopilot rather than the sim (unless it needs sim-specific commands to do so). However, a broader issue looms: would it be beneficial if we had a bunch of question asking stuff like "where is the engine master on B777", "how to engage reverse thrust", "what does IDG 1 button do on A320", and so on? $\endgroup$ Apr 2, 2014 at 13:52
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    $\begingroup$ i don't have edit privs, but it should be 'draw the line' (not 'pull the line') $\endgroup$
    – rbp
    Dec 3, 2014 at 15:06

5 Answers 5


For the discussion about this Q, see this. This particular question had more wrong with it than just that it was an FS specific question.

If the question were framed as "How do I engage heading hold on the autopilot in a B777" it would be on-topic and someone with B777 experience (or similar autopilots in other airplanes) could answer the question. The problem is that the question is worded to be specific to the autopilot in a very specific aircraft in X-plane. There are no guarantees that the autopilot functions in the same manner between the real airplane and the simulated one, and that is where the problem lies.

Tackling some of the sample questions in Qantas 94 Heavy's comments above:

  • Where is the engine master on a B777?

    I may VTC this one because it says "sim" to me because there really is no engine master on a big jet -- unless you mean the start-stop selectors use to start and shutdown the engines. There is a lot more to starting the engines though than just selecting that knob to "start" and while asking about the specific engine start procedure for an airplane is fine here, I'm skeptical that that procedure will translate to a PC sim engine-start procedure. The only true-to-life simulated aircraft in that regard I can think of is the DCS A-10 sim.

  • How to engage reverse thrust?

    I don't think an answer like "retard thrust levers to the idle detent and lift through the gate for idle reverse. Continue pulling the levers aft to spool the engines. Stow the buckets by 40 KIAS by advancing the thrust levels forward to the idle detent" Is going to apply to a sim at all, as it is purely a physical motion and even the sophisticated throttle blocks for PC sims do not have this ability. This becomes a "what key do I press for reverse thrust" or "how to I map the bottom of my joystick range into reverse thrust" question, and no longer on-topic.

In summary, I'm all for questions that ask about airplane procedures and if the simmers want to frame the questions in this regard, that is fine. I just don't want to see "so what button do I press in X-plane to do something" questions.

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    $\begingroup$ Qantas's last question might be a good one though (although that may be just because I don't know the answer! :) ). $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Apr 3, 2014 at 3:05
  • $\begingroup$ My comments was more meant at generally asking about every single switch in a certain cockpit, and whether we'd want that or not, though that's an interesting perspective. $\endgroup$ Apr 3, 2014 at 4:40
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    $\begingroup$ BTW @Lnafziger that's a guarded PB, probably not something you'd want to touch normally. It disconnects the IDG from its driveshaft: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… $\endgroup$ Apr 3, 2014 at 4:41

My 2¢. I use StackOverflow a lot, and there are questions there about every aspect of information technology, many that I do not use, and have no interest or time.

The way (as a user) that I sort through the wheat fields, is by using tags. I have favorite tags, and can search for specific tags. This puts more work on you moderators - as you must keep the tags coherent. Maybe you could have fixed tags?

This all being said, I would love all aspects of Flight Simulation to be added. For one thing, it would help to grow the next generation of pilots. Second, it would be a blast (wrong metaphor), to get advice from professionals, on flight-related questions, and third, you could look for moderators to handle the app related questions.

I have another emerging aviation area that interests me, but I'll ask it in a new question.

You all are all very cool.


Casey's answer responds well to this specific case, but more generally:

I don't see a problem with general Sim questions, as long as the questions relate to aviation not simulation.

Good: "What is the procedure for xyz" Bad: "What button do I press in FlightGear to do xyz"

Their question may not be completely true-to-life if they refer to a simulator (FSX is notably bad for stall behaviour), and the answer may therefore sometimes need to start with "The first thing to note is that you're in a simulator, so this isn't quite like the real thing..." then proceed to explain the real world behaviour (and, if necessary, how it differs from the sim)

As long as the question is about aviation, I don't mind if they're doing it in a sim and refer to "pushing the joystick forward" rather than "pushing the yoke forward" etc... I'm yet to see a purely "how do I work x-Plane" question, and I think it's usually obvious enough that the person is using a sim that it wouldn't cause much confusion.

Overall, then, my answer is the same as 90% of meta answers: base it on the question. If the question is relevant, good and about aviation: leave it. If it's about simming or is just a bad question, remove it.


Computer setup and troubleshooting are off topic for sure but questions about the actual simulation seem on topic. CFR 14 part 60 goes into quite a bit of detail on the system requirements(computer lag, accuracy of physics, cockpit layout etc) for each level of authorized simulation device.

A well assembled home flight simulator with yoke and rudder pedals is essentially a non-approved version of what the FAA labels as a "basic aviation training device" (defined in FAA AC 61-136A appendix 2), under the broad category of ground training devices. ATDs can be used for procedural training and can substitute for a small percent of flight training in a real aircraft.

Ground training devices also includes flight simulation training devices (FSTDs) described in CFR title 14 part 60; which are divided into flight training devices level 1-7, and full flight simulators levels A, B, C,and D. FSTDs can beused for progressively more training tasks as the levels increase, C and D FFS substitute for real aircraft flights in both training and crew certification checks.


My opinion is that the site is about real-life aviation, not about simulators. Questions that ask about simulators are not automatically off topic, but they need to relate to real-life aviation in some way in order to be on topic.

The following are on topic, in my opinion:

  • Questions that are applicable to real aircraft, including questions which are heavily based on flight simulators. Examples:
  • How realistic is Google Earth Flight Simulator? - This question can be construed as "How similar are real aircraft to Google Earth Flight Simulator," so that makes it on topic.
  • Why is the B737 altitude display unneccessarily ambiguous? - This question is intending to ask about the actual B737. It turns out that the answer is "the actual B737 does not behave that way," but I think it still counts as a question about a real aircraft. (If the question had been "why is the B737 altitude display in the simulator unnecessarily ambiguous," then it would have been off topic.)
  • Questions about the use of flight simulators in order to train pilots for flying real aircraft.

These are off topic, in my opinion:

  • Questions about operating flight simulators for entertainment purposes.

The level of realism of the simulator, by itself, doesn't really matter. For example, a question involving X-Plane (very realistic, intended primarily for "serious" use) is not necessarily more on-topic than a question involving War Thunder (much less realistic, intended purely for entertainment). However, a question about X-Plane is much more likely to be applicable to real aircraft than a question about War Thunder.

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    $\begingroup$ "But a question about X-Plane is much more likely to be applicable to real aircraft than a question about War Thunder." And of course conversely, if you ask how the real aircraft behaves (while, perhaps, just mentioning in passing that you're flying in a simulator), the answer would be much more likely to help you out in the simulator if you're flying X-Plane than if you're flying War Thunder. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Aug 23, 2019 at 16:58

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