How to transition from GA to airliners?

What would you recommend for someone to transition from GA (C310 in my case) to the airliners division?
Any recommended stepping stone to learn the ropes or jump directly to the PMDG/FENIX?


Default neo for starters. Lots of YouTube. Use the FMC. Program your own flight plan. Start lots of flights expecting to maybe have screwed something up and not be able to finish. Build habits and repeat. Fly at night!


My flight path looked something like this;

C152 - 52 Hours - Basic Single, Learn the basics of flight

C172 Steam - 36 Hours - Basic Single, Continuing on learning the basics, a bit faster, introduces Autopilot

C172 G100 -36 Hours - Basic Single, Continuing to learn the basics, more complex avionics (G1000)

C182T - 82 Hours - Complex Single, Continuing to learn the basics, and more complex avionics (G1000) with a faster plane, introduction to cowl flaps

Bonanza G36 - 36 Hours - Complex Single, Continuing to learn the basics, more complex avionics (G1000), faster plane and introduction to landing gear.

Baron G58 - 58 Hours - Complex Twin, G1000, Cowl Flaps, landing Gear

Kodiak 100 - 53 Hours - Single Engine, introduction to Turbo Prop

DHC6 Twin Otter - 53 Hours - Twin Engine, continue to learn how to operate a Turbo Prop

CJ4 - 200 Hours - Jet Introduction, learn FMS

C310R - Still Flying - Complex Twin, weekend warrior when not flying commercially for the VA

CRJ900 - Currently Flying - First Airliner, Flying for VA

I found that spending allot of time in the CJ4 and learning how the FMS works in a less busy cockpit really helped me jump to the CRJ. And you can’t beat the Working Title CJ4!

I have used Pilot2ATC, or VATSIM for every flight, plan (Route, Weather, Fuel, Etc…) by hand for every flight, program the NAV, FMS, Etc… for every flight manually. All of this truly helped me understand not only what I was doing, but why I was doing it.

Having all that foundation underneath me made it easier to transition to the CRJ which has allot busier cockpit and I didn’t have to focus so hard on the FMS as I already had that understanding.


plus one this. Start on the default a320 then move to the Flybywire version when you’re comfortable on the vanilla one. From there you can decide if the FBW a320 fulfills your airliner needs or if a high fidelity aircraft is the next step

Some people are completely content with the detail the FBW a320 has

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Try flying one of the Biz Jets. The CJ4 is perfect since the PL21 FMS is similar to the FMS on many of the popular commercial jetliners. Plus you learn how to fly manage and anticipate at jet speeds but still be forgiving in terms of handling.


That depends whether you mean from a systems aspect or a practical flying aspect.

Systems wise, PMDG/FENIX would be trying to run a marathon without training. They are very complex with steep learning curves. You’ll have to spend hours and hours reading manuals and/or watching tutorials. But certainly is doable.

The default jets in MSFS are simplified so they would be a good place to start.

Practical flying-wise, work your way up. Start with the CJ4 and then the default A320. Then look at the FlyByWire/FENIX/PMDG if you still want more. Jets are very different, you have a lot more mass, speed, momentum, and energy. And are a lot more sluggish to control.

For example, in the A320 if you are at idle throttle and go to full throttle, it takes ~7 seconds for the engines to spool (rev) up to full power! But in a GA propeller plane it is virtually instant.

You’ll also take a lot longer to slow down when on approach.

Click is spot on here, I’d also recommend the CJ4 to start.

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In RL … it’s a bit more costly !!

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Agree with others that say start with the default or FBW a320, watch a lot of YouTube tutorials and practice. Once you’re comfortable, then think about the PMDG 737 or the Fenix a320. Even then you’ll need a lot of YouTube and tutorials but you’ll have a basic understanding or the FMS and autopilot systems already which will make the study level planes easier to transition to.

The FMS controls just about everything during flight and is connected to what you do with the autopilot. If you can understand those 2 things and how they work together, you’ll be just fine… there is a learning curve though.

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Working Title CJ4. It’s not super-fast, but it has approach speeds close(ish) to the 310 and it is free and easy to fly.

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I can come in a strong third on using something like the Citation as a transition. The airliners are like boats, you have to get a feel for the lag between input and reaction. That makes for some very hairy takeoffs and landings when you start. A bizjet is lighter and responds in a more familiar way even though it’s going quite fast. You can familiarize yourself with the high-level airways, and then try out that Airbus. And turn-off crash detection for awhile.


Yeah try the CJ4 be sure to get the Working Title Mod.

I would actually disagree with some of the other advice and wouldn’t use the default airliners. I would use the CJ4 until you feel ready to step up and then get the PMDG 737 (Fenix VNAV is still too buggy for me).


Youtube, Youtube, Youtube. WT CJ4 is really good to learn basics… then the PMDG 737 is awesome.


I wish I had as much patience



Look for videos with real life pilots doing a full tutorial on MSFS.

Doesn’t matter which one you start with. A new aircraft to learn is a new aircraft to learn.

With that said, one of the best tutorials i’ve watched is the one that has Matt from Working Title being hosted on a Youtube channel to explain the ins and outs of the WT CJ4 (from Cold & Dark to cruise to landing to shutdown).

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Congratulations to your decision hopping into the Fenix!
Do it like I did, I recommend buying a scratchbook and a pencil, and watch a ton of YouTube tutorials “how to program Fenix MCDU” and “beginner tutorial Airbus autopilot panel” and other stuff, while making step by step notes what every page and sub-page of the MCDU means, what input every empty “< OOO.ooooo” and “< …” field in the MCDU want, etc.

Depending on how much you know about aviation, you will be ready for your first flight in a week.
I knew NOTHING about flying (not even in what direction an ILS on the runway is, or what a VOR does) but just flew Cessnas like driving a car by simply watching outside the window with the only knowledge that north = upwards on the compass *gg - in this case it can take up to a month of intense YouTube tutorial studies until you know everything about aviation, navigation, reading Jeppeson-charts and more.

Have a good pilot eductation, captain!

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Start from the “correct one” - I do not recommend the default Asobo A320NEO, the control is sluggish, and there are a lot of functions remains not simulated.

So I recommend to hop into at least, FBW A32NX - it is possible to do normal full flight with it. There is no difference in terms of difficulties, just more immerssion with more systems to be taken care of. “Study level sims” or whatever that is, is only intimidating, because it is often overblown in order to make a big deal of its users. PMDG 737NG is simply nothing but the right kind of 737NG for your desktop game.

Transitioning is simple:

Procedural wise: are you the type who like to review checklist or just go with your memory?
Any otherwise, I recommend you to start with YouTube tutorial.
Next is of course, the default checklist that comes with the airliner. Fenix has a nifty electronic flight back (a simulated iPad in cockpit that lets you interact with its additional functions, including the checklist items)
Airlines is obviously more complex than GA, and thus are more elaborate.
In general the principle remains the same:
Power up with battery to get the electronics and avionics going on, but since the plane is bigger they gonna need serious power source, and thus you immediately go for either:
APU - mini jet engine at the back, requiring you to use the battery to turn on fuel pumps → start the mini jet engine
External Power Source - get some guy to plug in the socket, and get the plane to accept it by flipping the switch

Review the systems (a lot of it are automated):
Engines - remains off, fuel switches, ignition switches are in safe or neutral position
Radio systems - check on
Surveillance / radar / bla bla bla - check on
Pneumatic / Hydraulics - check if they are on and running in low output mode without the engines on accordingly, also with or without chocks and the parking brakes
Other systems - Boeing has a lot of separate switches like the EEC (Engine Electronic Control) - maybe somekind of FADEC stuff, and a lot of other switches, make sure you check the docs and YouTube tutorial
Bleed air - make sure they are running if using APU or external source, this may power the AC as well
Pressurisation - as necessary, but prepare for the flight ahead (e.g. set the cruising altitude)

Navigation equipment is entirely its own section
In GA planes, you will rarely meet the IRS/IRU device. Basically you just need to “align” this gee-wiz gyroscopic thing.
Give them the coordinates (or through the MCDU / FMC / FMS)
Set your FMS

Checklist items
Stuffs like the systems set up (some planes have switch before you can activate other functions like the autobrake - e.g. antiskid switch)
Stuffs like the instruments: the QNH, V-speeds, engine limiter (if not set by the FMC), and so on.
Preparing the Autopilot MCP - e.g. V2 speeds + 5, the initial climb, set the course to align with your runway, and so on.

Flying wise:
Everything happens much quicker and the world / airport / runway are much smaller now.
So, you will need more anticipation, planning, and prior knowledge before committing to an action or decision. Worry not, a lot of computers will assist you on this - which can be overwhelming for GA people not knowing what to expect or how the plane will behave.
For example, the margin for go around condition is much lower now. You don’t have the luxury to float in a good portion of the runway threshold just to try buttering your landing - in matters of seconds, you will be half way through.
Switches can be overwhelming - arming the autospoiler, more flaps control, more MCP/FMC manipulations, light switches, it all happens in quick succession, so some people love to pause while they review the items and plan their next phase of flight, especially the descent and the approach.
Everything else is just GA plane in steroids - so you have to control the performance, like the cruising speed, cruising altitude, the fuel load, the CG distribution, the exact trim for take-off, the optimal landing config, so you don’t have to use much brake (and thus overheating them - causing longer turn around time)


Too many steps here.
Just get the FBW or any airliner that actually interests you and learn that one. No need to clutter you brain with other “inbetween” planes.

Watch startup videos on YT, learn how to use Simbrief and if you can afford it, Navigraph sub is fantastic to have.

No need to jump through RL kinda hoops or learning tracks.

Just be sure that the airliner style of flying is a way of flying you enjoy. For that perhaps the FBW may be a cheap insight to have. But if you know you like it, just get the one you like to own from the get go.

Much easier to learn a plane you actually are interested in.


I wouldn’t say… steep learning curve…

Regarding the fenix or fbw or anything to do with the airbus family A320 and above …

Anyone with a motivation and a open mind and watch a few… just a few tutorial vids and you will be cooking… doing shopping… drinking with mates… tidying your room…watching “movies…” the moment you retract your gear in no time!!!:rofl::rofl::rofl:

In all seriousness…

Chose the fbw as its free and those skills can be transferred on all aircraft type across the entire board… Watch 320simpilot tutorials on starting it up from cold and dark, learn how to import a flightplan manually/automatically into the FMS, and type in the numbers you need and mate… Once you are wheels up, autopilot and youtube landing vids tutorials as you fly to your destination… a few gos with youtube as your trainer wheels and you will be a a320 captain in no time…
Then chose to learn or not learn those “complex” stuff others think there is… if you have a passion for flying, thing’s will come naturally in the form of initiative…

Do treat yourself to a subscription for navigraph and seriously… it will be like that light bulb moment in your head!!!


Crikey mate… literally in the time it took me to phone type that message…" you took the words right out of my mouth…" it mush have been while you were…"
Gosh I hope not … What would me partner think :thinking: :rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl:

You are the perfect example of a person Ive seen grow like a weed :rofl::rofl::rofl: I still remember as if it were yesterday when you were humming and harring about getting the BAe146 and wow look at you now mate!!!


It would be very good if between the GA aircraft and the big Airliners there would be a study level regional turboprop like for example the ATR or Dash 8. That is actually very missing in the transition between GA and big Airliner.

Hopefully this gap is closed in the next few months.

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