Thrustmaster’s Ultimate Boeing Flight Equipment
After my previous Thrustmaster TCA review which was dedicated to the Airbus twin engine pedestal with the typical Airbus joystick or look alike Airbus sidestick, I wanted to test and review the Thrustmaster TCA Boeing equipment. Actually, it’s called the Yoke Pack Boeing Edition. And yes, I know already what you want to say “but there’s already so much hardware on the market, so many look alike Boeing hardware”! No no, there’s no such Boeing look alike as this TCA Boeing yoke edition. Knowing a bit the TCA Airbus parts, I can tell you, this will be an awesome review. When you see the Yoke Pack box … my goodness, what a box is that. Huge, very huge and heavy too.
And yes, as you can see and read on many websites, it really looks like Boeing flight equipment. I could ask myself why this box is sooooo huge, but wait, first it simulates a Boeing with grey cockpit colors, so it can be used with every modern Boeing. Ho ho, hold on. This is not fully correct. According to Thrustmaster “Officially-licensed Boeing yoke inspired by the iconic Boeing 787 airliner and if that’s not enough, it’s a 1:1 scale ergonomic replica.”
Besides that, the Yoke Pack simulates a complete stick with control wheel on top of it. Ok, the stick itself isn’t that long as the real one, but much longer then expected as well as how it is fixed to your flight sim desk.
It seems already ages ago, but actually during the FSExpo last year in San Diego, Thrustmaster showed their new TCA product, the Boeing look alike hardware. And here we are, hoping to offer you an in-depth review as you know from X-Plained.Com.
Back to the TCA Yoke Pack Boeing Edition.
When you love Boeing aircraft, whether it’s for MSFS 2020, PrePar3D, FSX, X-Box, X-Plane or whatever other flight simulator I’ve forgotten, then this hardware yoke looks awesome, but it also feels great, but hold on … for Boeing aircraft and what about other aircraft not equipped with a sidestick? Of course, you can use this hardware also with other twin engine aircraft like the Fokker F100, Douglas MD80 Series, Bombardier CRJ, Cessna Citation CJ and so on, but the look is typical that of the Boeing Dreamliner 787. And yes, I’m aware that the grey color of the TCA equipment is different then when you love to fly the 747-400, 747-8, 777, 767 or 757 which all have a brown cockpit. Only the 737 Series from very old to brand new and the Dreamliner 787 have default grey cockpits.
The package I received directly from Thrustmaster comes with all the hardware you need to fly the Boeing Dreamliner, but I can also use it with any 737 Series and not to forget, any other Boeing twin engine model.
I mentioned it already, no worries for those who like to fly the Boeing 747-400, or the modern SSG 747-8 Series or the 747 Classic from Felis. You can use the Thrustmaster also for the 747 Series by setting a switch on the lower left front of the Throttle Quadrant to 3 / 4 engines but a much better solution in my humble opinion is that you buy an extra TCA Boeing Quadrant and mount them together. Then you have 4 dedicated engine throttles and on the left-hand side of the throttle quadrant you’ll have the SPD BRK handle with on the right-hand side the FLAP lever. More about that later.
Using Laminar Research X-Plane
This review covers a comprehensive test of the Thrustmaster TCA Yoke Boeing Edition connected to an iMac Pro, running macOS Monterey with X-Plane 11.55r2, but via Apple bootcamp I will also test the Thrustmaster Boeing hardware with Windows 10 with the same X-Plane configuration. For testing the hardware with X-Plane 11 I can use many Boeing aircraft like the default 737, the LevelUp 737 Series, the x737 Project from EADT 737-700/-800, the FlyJSim 737 Classic as well as the Felis 747-200 Series, but most important to add for testing is the MagKnight Dreamliner 787. Why, I’ll explain that later in more detail. So yes, there are enough X-Plane 11 choices to test with, right?
Thrustmaster Boeing Editions
One last word about the Thrustmaster Boeing editions. Actually, you have a TCA Yoke Boeing Edition and a TCA Yoke Pack Boeing Edition. Separately Thrustmaster also sells a TCA Boeing Throttle Quadrant. Why do I mention this? The Yoke edition is only the yoke hardware while the Yoke Pack Edition is the yoke with one throttle quadrant. And suppose you decided to only buy the yoke, you can always add later on the Boeing throttle quadrant.
I would like to add the following to my review just in case you hope that I would do that; this review is dedicated to the Thrustmaster TCA Yoke Pack Boeing Edition. When useful or applicable, I will compare some functionalities or features with the Thrustmaster TCA Airbus throttle quadrant, but I won’t compare it with the Honeycomb Aeronautical Alpha or Bravo hardware.
Who or what is Thrustmaster?
Thrustmaster: a distinguished video gaming tradition
For over thirty years, Thrustmaster has been developing high-tech video game accessories designed to satisfy and entertain all types of gamers. Drawing on its know-how and technological expertise, Thrustmaster develops products – flight simulation peripherals, headsets, and controllers – designed to offer extremely accurate gameplay, providing a completely immersive experience with optimal realism across numerous platforms.
Thrustmaster takes pride in its core values, “Passion, Quality and Innovation”, and constantly strives to improve the realism and immersiveness in legendary game worlds by offering thrilling and truly exceptional experiences. From video game enthusiasts to casual gamers, Thrustmaster accessories for PC and gaming consoles bring everyone’s dreams to life.
Hold on, this is not the complete story. It actually starts with …….
Hercules Thrustmaster: Two strong brands with passion
A designer and manufacturer of interactive entertainment equipment and accessories, listed on the stock market since 1998 and a major player in the market since 1984, Hercules Thrustmaster focuses its activities on its two flagship brands: Hercules for the digital hardware and peripherals segment and Thrustmaster for PC and console gaming accessories.
The Group is currently present in eleven countries, including France, Germany, Great Britain, Spain, the United States, Canada, Italy, Belgium, China, Hong Kong and Romania, and distributes its products in more than one hundred countries worldwide, with the aim of offering high-performance and user-friendly products to maximize user satisfaction with interactive digital entertainment. (Courtesy Hercules Thrustmaster)
Want to know more about what they all achieved? Then you must check out their history. It’s quite an impressive hardware list.
The TCA Yoke Pack Boeing Edition
In almost all cases you’ll buy the TCA Yoke Boeing Edition directly from your local store or via one of the many Internet stores, while I got my TCA Boeing package directly from Hercules Thrustmaster France, many thanks for that Hugues Carpe. It was in the same way packed as the TCA Captains Pack Airbus. That said, the actual beautiful Thrustmaster box that contains all the hardware was very well protected by two brown carton boxes. Perhaps it sounds a bit useless to mention this, but for me it means that Thrustmaster takes sendings to their distributors and from their own store to customers seriously.
As you can see on the above photos, it’s not only the brown carton boxes that protect the actual TCA hardware, even the yoke is well packed. What I didn’t know yet is that it’s not just a yoke. It’s almost a complete base, and control wheel with column. No no, it’s not a column that comes with the original length as in the real airplane, but my goodness, it’s quite a big and heavy construction. That doesn’t surprise me when you know that the control wheel and center part are made of metal, most likely Aluminium.
Anyway, the huge Boeing box contains a bit more then I’d expected. And yes, I could expect it already … it’s called the Yoke Pack Boeing Edition ….. and although Thrustmaster didn’t use the names as with their Airbus series like Captain or Officer, I could have think of that since this box should contain a bit more then only a Boeing Dreamliner look alike yoke. And yes, it comes with a lot more hardware then expected. The two main components are the huge yoke unit and the elegant throttle quadrant with some Auto Pilot functions on it. The throttle quadrant has some similarities with its Airbus counter part, but the yoke is of course totally different.
Ok, it’s logic that the Boeing yoke is different then the Airbus side-stick, but it’s for Thrustmaster their first yoke design in the flight simulation area and with that in mind, they designed something totally different with an eye to the Boeing Dreamliner look alike yoke and throttle quadrant.
Let me continue unwrapping the box.
As you can see on the following photos, after removing two leaflets I see two other small carton boxes. And yes, it turns out that one box contains the throttle quadrant with parts and the other smaller box contains a bracket or as Thrustmaster calls it a flying desk mount. Once I’ve removed these two boxes and opened them, I ask myself how to get the yoke with its package out of the box. I decide to turn-over the huge carton box, and slide it upwards from the wrapping. Then I’ll turn the the whole package and remove it from the yoke assembly. I can tell you, I’ve seen many yoke devices for flight simulators from Saitek and Honeycomb, but this design it totally new, refreshing, and heavy, and it feels solid too.
Hardware : The Boeing Throttle Quadrant
I start with the smallest component, the Boeing throttle quadrant. The unit isn’t heavy and although the casing and levers are all made of plastic, it doesn’t feel like that we’re dealing with cheap quality. No, absolutely not. The casing is nicely coloured, not really dark grey but more a bit of a taupe. I highlighted the following already in the beginning of this review, the Boeing throttle quadrant is basically created, modeled and manufactured with the overall idea of the TCA Airbus throttle quadrant. That said, many things in the design are the same but one thing is definitely different and that is that on the Boeing throttle quadrant you can swap levers while on the Airbus throttle quadrant the throttles are fixed as well as the additional components for the speedbrake and flap.
With one Boeing throttle quadrant you got two thrust levers, a speedbrake and flap lever. Since it only offers three slots, you need to make up your mind if you want to install the speedbrake or flap lever besides the two thrust levers. When you decide to buy two throttle quadrant, then it’s very easy. The left-hand throttle quadrant has from the left to the right the speedbrake lever, throttle engine 1 and 2 while the right-hand throttle quadrant has from the left to the right the engine throttles 3 and 4 with on the far right the flap lever.
Lets check the throttle quadrant a bit more closer. As I mentioned before, on the lower front part you have the ENG switch. By default it stays in the position 1&2 thus it is useable for any twin engine Boeing aircraft. When you shift the switch to the position 3&4, it is then identified for X-Plane as the throttle unit for the engines 3 and 4. When you own two Boeing throttle quadrants you set the switch on the left-hand throttle quadrant to the position 1&2 while on the other throttle quadrant to position 3&4.
At the back of the unit you find an USB-C, an USB-A – behind a rubber cap – receptacles and a TFRP (Thrustmaster Flight Rudder Pedals) connection which is intended for connecting rudder pedals to it. The idea of all these connections and the ones on the yoke is that you can interconnect all peripherals together with at the end only one connection to an USB hub or directly to your PC. That said, you can connect the throttle quadrant directly to the yoke, and only the yoke goes to your PC. In case you have two Boeing throttle units, then you can mechanically connect these devices together.
Since all the levers that come with the throttle quadrant are interchangeable, it’s a bit a shame that the casing near each levers doesn’t have any markings on it like you see with the TCA Airbus throttle quadrant. On the other hand, I need to correct myself, since on the Boeing quadrant the levers are interchangeable. That said, Thrustmaster can’t add any scale markings or other indications on the casing.
The throttle levers with thrust reverser handles are solid and durable. They feel but I could be wrong, more solid then the once on the Airbus TCA. You can’t adjust the throttle movement tension. That said, the force needed to move these three levers is fixed while this is possible with the Airbus TCA.
Each arm has on top of it a printed circuit, and depending on where you place the throttle lever, it will offer additional functions for the reverser levers or the AT (Auto Throttle) disconnect. The friction of each arm is in my humble opinion perfect. It’s not too loose, and not too high. Although the bottom of the throttle quadrant has lots of anti-slip rubbers, it can easily slip on the table. To prevent this, you can connect the included bracket – flying desk mount – to it or you buy the flying clamp.
The flying desk mount comes with a short description, on how to install it although I find the drawings that indicate how to attach the bracket to the bottom of the throttle quadrant, not really showing how to do it and also a bit misleading. On the picture it looks like that the bracket is fitted to the front of the throttle quadrant while the reality is that it’s almost mounted at the back. Let me first show you a couple of photos before I continue.
As you can see on the first photo, no guiding pins are on the bracket. In fact, a couple of screws are needed to screw the bracket to the bottom of the throttle quadrant. Not really a problem except that it looks like on the middle picture that the bracket is mounted somewhere at the front while it is actually mounted at the far end. It also shows you on the same drawing when you have two throttle quadrants how to connect the bracket then besides that you need to interconnect the units together.
Attaching the bracket is easy but a couple of things need your attention. When you’ve tightened the screws they unfortunately stick out a bit. This means that the bracket will never lay flush on the table. On the 4th photo you’ll also notice that there’s a small gap between the bracket and the throttle quadrant housing. That’s normal. You expect to be flush again, but this is correct due to several extensions at the bottom of the quadrant. Once the bracket is tightened, and mounted to your desk, it looks like what you see on the photo. Now it makes sense that the bracket is mounted at the far end of the throttle quadrant since it sticks out far from the table. This, we will see later, is the same for the yoke assembly.
A bit more words about the interconnection of two throttle quadrants. You need to keep a couple of things in mind. When you buy the TCA Yoke Pack Boeing Edition, then it will include the desk mounted bracket. When you add to this a separate throttle quadrant then it will not include another desktop bracket. I can go one step further, when you bought the TCA Boeing yoke without the throttle quadrant, then the box won’t include that throttle quadrant desk bracket. In other words, only when you buy the TCA Yoke Pack Boeing Edition, then it includes this desk bracket for the throttle quadrant(s). And yes, it can also be used when you own two quadrants. Check out the following photos.
Back to the throttle quadrant switches and selector with rotary/push knob. The unit comes with five momentarily switches. You can assign them to whatever you want as long as you keep in mind that they have are momentarily function. The center selector allows you to assign speed, course and altitude. Although the selector has clear positions, it is not easy to turn it. The middle / on top mounted rotary knob goes much easier and feels OK. The same middle knob can also be pressed and yes, this also means another assignment. Later we will see how easy it is or not to assign all the functions with X-Plane 11.
The switches are of the same construction as I’ve seen at the Airbus TCA which is also applicable for the rotary selector. One last word about the thrust reverser levers and their switching position. The thrust reverser levers seems a bit fragile, but when you look indeed to real Dreamliner 787 cockpit photos, you’ll notice that in real it’s also a tiny and fragile reverser lever. Also note that the reverser levers are only operating a switch. You can hear that when you move the lever UP. When you assign this movement / the switch function, the lever is then activating the thrust reverser and applies full reverse thrust which means, you can’t adjust the amount of reverse thrust. This “single switch moment” is different then in the real aircraft since then a variable signal via a synchro is used. The way this is made is common for many hardware developers.
I’ve almost forgotten one thing and that’s the small tool on the bottom of the throttle quadrant. On one side you’ll find a Philips head that allows you to unscrew the plates while the long part of the tool can be used to interconnect two throttle together and then in case you have a second throttle quadrant mounted. Personally I don’t see the use of it unless I miss it and that it is for calibration.
Hardware : The Boeing Yoke
Whereas the Boeing throttle quadrant had lots of similarities with the Airbus TCA throttle quadrant, the yoke assembly is brand new, and it’s refreshing too. The overall design is totally different except then for the yoke itself. The yoke assembly is mounted to the table as you may expect as seen with other developers too, but the whole construction of the yoke base is definitely different.
The outside components are, as you also see with many other hardware flight simulator developers, made of plastic, but the internals are made of metal, most likely Aluminium. I mentioned during my throttle quadrant story already that when that is mounted to the flight simulator desktop, it’s positioned forward, away from the table. It was initially weird till you position the yoke assembly next of it. Then nothing looks weird anymore. This is because the yoke assembly is also positioned forward which makes it much easier to control it.
Once I’ve mounted the yoke assembly to my flight sim table, it’s time to check more closely how it looks and how it feels. Ok, the control wheel itself is, I wrote this before, made of metal and covered with plastic to give it the typical Dreamliner 787 look. Did Thrustmaster succeed in this? The answer is short; yes, they did. The movements of the control wheel for roll and pitch are smooth, without any hard points along the way. The centering of the control wheel is fine. It’s not too strong, and not to less. What said, moving the short column towards you or away from you, it moves elegant and the overall travel is more then enough for normal flying.
Before I start with all the switches, levers, or whatever can be found at the control wheel, and yoke base, I got the impression that the base of the Boeing Yoke Edition is a kind of hub for every other peripheral. Let me highlight this before moving on to the the horn switches.
On the left-hand side of the base just near the printed word Thrustmaster, you find a mini jack receptacle for your headset. At the rear of the base you find a PC or Xbox switch which has to be, for this review in combination with X-Plane, in the position PC. Mine was by default in the position Xbox, so keep this in mind. Then there’s also a TFRP receptacle which is intended for the Thrustmaster rudder pedal connector. And finally, it has a USB-A and USB-C connection. Those USB connections are the same as found on the throttle quadrant. I had hoped you could interconnect these two TCA Boeing devices together in a way that you connect the USB cable from the throttle quadrant to the yoke USB and then connect the yoke to your PC, but that seems not to be working.
Hold on, this does work fine with Windows, but it is correct that it doesn’t work with macOS. I have no idea why this doesn’t work on macOS, perhaps it has to do with security issues. Thrustmaster can’t really help with this since they do not support macOS.
Time to check out all other switches, starting with the control wheel horns. Each horn has lots of switches, levers and a HAT switch on the left-hand horn and a ministick on the right-hand horn. But there’s more. In the middle of the control wheel are also three momentarily switches mounted. At the front-base you find two sliders that could be used as throttles, but since these are “axis” you can also assign it to something else, in particular when you have the Boeing throttle quadrant. As an example; I used on of these sliders for my speedbrake or for your NWS (Nose Wheel Steering)
And finally, on the right-hand side of the base there’s the landing gear handle. Small, elegant and functional. The yoke base is nicely/elegant modeled, it has a modern shape, it consist of two different colours – dark grey while the middle part is taupe, but above all, it doesn’t look cheap at all. Of course, time must learn how long the construction holds, but for now I’m happy with the overall look, feel and construction. Just a small note regarding the “X Y” “A and B” switches on the control wheel. The X and Y switches are of the same size, but the A and B switches are different. The A switch has a different shape then the B switch. In that way you can’t mistaken which switch you are using. A reason for this could be that you assign the A switch to ROLL trim and the B switch to YAW trim.
Oops, almost forgotten, the XBox button on the front left-hand side of the yoke base. Since this review deals with X-Plane we don’t use this button for XBox, but hold on, under X-Plane it can be assign to any switch function you like. Although it may sound logical, the PITCH gap at the base of the control column is closed, so it’s protected from any dirt that could go in. When the yoke is mounted to my flight sim desk, I can position myself partly under the base for having the optimum position to control ROLL and PITCH and just as important, to reach all the switches, buttons, HAT switch and ministick.
It feels good, it feels as if I have a real replica of the Dreamliner 787 control wheel with column in-between my “pilot seat”, oops, my desk seat. No no, I was just kidding. It looks awesome. At the front of the control wheel you’ve got a kind of clip with the Boeing logo on it. You got the impression that you can use it as a clip to stick something behind it like your takeoff data paper, but actually, it may look real, it’s not a clip, so watch out that you don’t break anything by trying to lift it up. But no worries that the look alike clip at the front of the control wheel isn’t functional. Instead of this, Thrustmaster added a metal stand that can be inserted at the top of the base. This stand allows you to place a takeoff and landing card or your checklist on/against it.
I must conclude that the base looks not only awesome, due to the small width it doesn’t need much space on your desk. And yes, I find it a masterpiece when it comes to Boeing look alike aircraft. Above all, I got the impression that it looks a durable piece of hardware. What I wrote before, for sure the internal components are made of metal, but the plastic looks not cheap at all. It’s all nicely designed and shaped with lots of buttons, switches, or selectors. It makes sense, yes, I know, that it’s a control wheel dedicated to Boeing commercial jets and although you can also use it with GA (General Aviation) aircraft or business jets, it is typical for Boeing models or for any grey cockpits that still use the old fashioned control wheels.
Software : Thrustmaster macOS
Oops, macOS software? No no, that must be a mistake, right?
There’s no Thrustmaster TCA Boeing Yoke Edition software for macOS X-Plane simmers, but actually, that isn’t needed in combination with Laminar Research X-Plane. It is, as it is with many hardware, easy to connect and configure this Thrustmaster hardware to macOS X-Plane 11.55r2 since Laminar Research offers so called “joy” files with belonging pictures that shows the yoke with base and throttle quadrant. So dedicated Thrustmaster software or whatever is available, isn’t really needed. Besides that, Thrustmaster doesn’t really support macOS as gaming platform.
Software : Thrustmaster Windows 10
Although Thrustmaster offers general driver software including firmware update possibilities for Windows, basic and advanced adjustments to the hardware are, the same as applicable for macOS, done with and into X-Plane. That said, the 2021_TFHT_2.exe software (Drivers – Package 2021_TFHT_2 + Firmware [System Requirement: Windows 10 / 11]) should be downloaded to check the condition of the connected TCA Boeing hardware as well as that you can check if there are any updates available. In particular the update function is very important. The configuration and assignment of the hardware, creating dedicated aircraft profile files is integrated in X-Plane and that makes this Thrustmaster software not really necessary in combination with X-Plane for Windows, except then what I mentioned, the firmware update function.
Besides this driver package, there’s also the TARGET_v184.108.40.2060_rev1.exe file. For those who aren’t aware what TARGET means or does; T.A.R.G.E.T (Thrustmaster Advanced pRogramming Graphical EdiTor) is a software suite which lets you test, configure and program Thrustmaster controllers. All of the features can be accessed from the software’s main page. This page is called the “Dashboard”. All Thrustmaster controllers are Plug and Play; installing and using this application is therefore optional. However, if you want to use profiles, change the control sensitivity or just get the maximum out of your purchase, T.A.R.G.E.T. will be your loyal ally.
I checked the contents of the TARGET manual and although the manual isn’t dedicated written for the TCA hardware, it doesn’t really offer much more then what you can do already within X-Plane. With this software you can test the axis with graphs and buttons, you can create sequences of functions, configure axis mapping and much more. But in combination with X-Plane, X-Plane offers already a lot of features itself and separate software is therefore not really needed.
Connecting and Configuration : macOS/Windows
As of this writing – March/April 2022 – X-Plane 11.55r2 doesn’t offer yet any dedicated TCA Boeing Yoke and Throttle Quadrant joy- with belonging png files. In consult with Laminar Research I got a package that I will share with you via this link and once unzipped, you copy and paste the contents of all the files into your X-Plane Resources/joystick configs folder.
For those who are new to X-Plane, these files (joy and png) are needed for the hardware to work properly. When you connect the TCA Boeing hardware, X-Plane recognizes the Boeing yoke or the throttle quadrant. It’s advisable to connect one component at the time and configure each hardware component although it should also work when you connect them all to an USB hub and then after you’ve start up X-Plane, start the individual calibrations. In that case you only need to select the component from the dropdown list on the left-hand top corner. When you don’t want to download the provided Laminar Research TCA Boeing package, it should also work with X-Plane however, it detects what kind of hardware it is, but no joy file and no png files are shown.
Ok, one step back for those who are new to X-Plane. When you connect the hardware for the first time to your PC, Mac or an USB hub, it will ask you to configure the new hardware. When you don’t want to do this at start up, you can always calibrate the TCA hardware via the X-Plane Settings menu.
The following screenshots show you that with the new Laminar Research TCA Boeing files you’ve installed, the TCA Boeing yoke and throttle quadrant are recognized the moment you connect them to your system.
As with all new hardware, you first need to calibrate each component by clicking the Calibrate Now button. Follow the steps as indicated which means in the popup window move on the device(s) – throttle quadrant or the yoke – all the levers, control wheel and ministick you can find. Buttons, selectors and the HAT aren’t involved right now. When you’ve moved all the levers etc. and the slide bar has turned blue, you’ll notice at the end that the Next button becomes active. Click the Next button, release all the controls, click Next again and wait till the slide bar is finished and the button in the right-hand lower corner turns active. Click the Finish button and all is calibrated so far.
This wasn’t difficult is it and straightforward I would say and yes, I’m aware that these screenshots where only for the yoke. When you also own the throttle quadrant you follow basically the same steps. The moment you connect the throttle quadrant with the engine switch in the position 1&2 or 3&4, it will show that difference too on the screen. All other steps to perform as you saw with the yoke, are the same for the throttle quadrant.
So far I’m happy, in particular with the dedicated Laminar Research Thrustmaster TCA Boeing yoke and throttle quadrant files, but we’re not yet finished. That the calibration went as planned doesn’t mean we are done. Next I have to find out if it is possible to configure all the switches, the Auto Pilot selector knob with the value SEL(ector) in the middle etc. Honestly, sliders are never a problem with X-Plane, irrespective of which hardware you have. Sliders are always recognized and can be assigned to a function. Then the switches, these are under normal conditions also no problem, but the problem could start, no, I’d better write could become a problem with selector knob(s) and or lights. OK, lights is easy since non of the TCA Boeing has lights.
Laminar Research TCA Boeing files
Just to keep you sharp; for the testing I use the Laminar Research TCA Boeing driver package. When I’ve calibrated the throttle quadrant as previously discussed, I notice that most of all the switches are assigned to a function, but there are a couple that show “Do Nothing”. That are the rotary knob and the SEL knob with button in the middle. Some switches are assigned to something I don’t want, but that’s simple to change, so no issue at all. I’m more worrying about these three functions that shows “Do Nothing”. Besides these assignments, I still need to check in the aircraft if it works as expected.
And then I also need to check the yoke device if everything is correctly assigned or that there are some issues too. Most if not all switches, sliders on the yoke are assigned to a function without “Do Nothing” however, there are two switches assigned to “Do Nothing” but these will not give us a problem with X-Plane. That is the XBox button on the left-hand side of the base and the middle button on the control wheel. Since these are just regular switches, it’s easy to assign them to another function of our choice.
Overall I must say that the only issue I’ve found with the Laminar Research driver set is the increments knob and SEL knob on the throttle quadrant, but I’m not convinced that I’m not yet getting the most out of the TCA Boeing hardware. That said, I searched the Internet for dedicated drivers or lua scripts that can improve this “gap” but lucky I found some interesting stuff.
Org User theegg52 Lua Script
With the above section in mind, I needed something else that can work with the Laminar Research package, and adds additional functionality to the Auto Pilot section on the throttle quadrant. And the good news is, I found it. X-Plane.Org user theegg52 created the following Lua script. To use the script, you also need the FlyWithLua plugin. You can grab a copy via X-Plane.Org or via X-Plained.Com. For both websites you need an account. Besides the above given link the forum page also offers the necessary steps how to implement this script and combine it with the Laminar Research TCA Boeing joy and png files.
With this script and the instructions on the dedicated X-Plane.Org webpage and using the dedicated Laminar Research joy and png files, the Auto Pilot is functioning quite well. The only part that isn’t used is the rotary selector that points to the positions IAS/MACH, HDG/TRK and ALTITUDE. One other thing to highlight is the way the engine reversers work. Although they are correctly assigned, the real behavior of the thrust revers and engine response is different.
This is because in the a Boeing aircraft the lifting of the thrust reverser lever controls the movement of the engine reverser and further lifting upwards applies engine power. Since the thrust reverser levers on the TCA Boeing throttle quadrant operate micro switches, lifting the lever controls the movement of the fan thrust reverser doors or turbine buckets (only applicable for the 737-200 from FlyJSim) and applies then full engine thrust.
Theegg52 has also created another package that can be used with the TCA Boeing equipment, but I think this was developed by him when there was no sign of the official Laminar Research package. Since combining these packages together as I did in the previous section, I don’t see any advantage of adding and testing this too. It’s time to test the Boeing equipment with X-Plane. Are you ready?
Using the TCA Yoke Pack Boeing Edition
After discussion all the ins and outs of these dedicated TCA Boeing hardware components, it’s time to check it out with some X-Plane Boeing aircraft. I can’t test them all, but together with the Laminar Research TCA Boeing package and the Lua script from X-Plane Org simmer theegg52, I should be able to test some models. And most logically, I definite plan to test it with the MagKnight Dreamliner 787, but first, the default 737.
Laminar Research 737 Series
I start with the Laminar Research 737 Series. I confirm if all the hardware can be assigned as planned and keep in mind, the most important part is the Auto Pilot section on the throttle quadrant since all other assignments are to be expected basic. Taking my position at the apron, perform all the checklist items, and off I go to the runway. I must admit that I don’t have any pedals so logically, I haven’t assigned them, and therefore my control wheel roll input functions also for the rudder and NWS (Nose Wheel Steering). I know, it’s less realistic, but it is like it is right now.
After releasing the parking brake, I apply some thrust and the Boeing starts moving. Using the throttles goes smooth, and I notice no slack at all, meaning that the TCA throttle sensing systems is very accurate. Of course, the throttles itself are much smaller then in the real 737, but still, it feels good. As I mentioned in the beginning of this review, the throttle knobs as well as the knobs on the thrust reverser levers are made of plastic, but it doesn’t look like that. Besides that, they are realistically modeled. And to complete this, the left-hand throttle knob button is assigned by default with the Laminar Research joy file to “Autopilot auto-throttle all modes off” while the right-hand throttle knob button to “Engage TOGA power”.
When you only have one throttle quadrant, you need to make up your choice if you prefer to have the SPEEDBRAKE or FLAP lever assigned since the throttle quadrant only has three levers. I decided to set it up with the SPEEDBRAKE handle on the throttle quadrant and one of the sliders on the yoke for FLAPS. In particular applicable to the FLAP position and selection; you need to check in the 3D cockpit where the actual FLAP handle position is and what you want since on the throttle quadrant housing there are no schales marked or you listen to the sounds when moving the FLAP lever. So I had initially the SPEEDBRAKE lever on the left, but after a while I decide to change the levers on the quadrant. Now I have from left to right throttle 1, 2 and the FLAP lever. The SPEEDBRAKE is gone and I also decided not to assign it for the moment.
As I wrote before, my seat is low enough and slides perfectly underneath the front of the yoke. This is really awesome since in this position I have the “stick” between my legs as it is in real. The center-spring of the control wheel keeps the control wheel in the neutral position and, typical when using a spring, the more you move the control wheel from the neutral position, the heavier is goes. The shape of the control wheel with all the buttons, HAT switch and ministick are within reach, and although I’ve read different on several YouTube movies, I find the switches and thus the plastic housing of each switch of a solid quality.
Actually, there are more then enough switches on the control wheel to be assigned to. Perhaps there’s one remark I found which has nothing to to with the TCA hardware; by default on the left-hand horn you’ve got two pitch trim switches. One switch is assigned for PITCH TRIM UP A/DOWN A, and the other for PITCH TRIM UP B/DOWN B. I changed the assignments on the LH trim switch right away to PITCH TRIM UP and DOWN, so no A and B system.
Anyway, once at the runway, I slide the throttles FWD, hold the control wheel which is due to the absence of my rudder pedals not only controlling the ROLL, but also the YAW and the NWS channel. When I’ve reach enough speed, I gently pull the stick and the 737 nicely climbs out. Because you almost “feel one” with the TCA Boeing yoke, his gives you a good and realistic feeling. I had entered already via the rotary knob on the throttle quadrant and belonging pushbutton the runway HDG, my intended ALT and the SPD. Although the AP section on the throttle quadrant is a bit limited, together with the Lua script it is very helpful to control the basic AP functions.
After the initial climb, the gear is selected UP with the small gear handle right of the yoke and a bit later I select in steps the FLAPS UP. After the 737 has levelled off at my first assigned altitude, I disconnect the AP, and try to fly and trim the 737 myself and with that I hope to find out how the TCA Boeing yoke feels, but to make it myself bit easier, I keep the Auto Throttle connected. I’m aware that each control wheel of available hardware is a control wheel, but it is the combination together that makes using the yoke with the throttle quadrant interesting. Because the 737 responds nice, it is therefore also not difficult to plan the approach and landing.
No need to oversteer because the flight controls reply immediately, and because of that, small inputs are enough. It’s a bit difficult to describe but believe me, it’s quite relaxed flying with this hardware. Upon landing I want to use thrust reversers and as I said before, these levers only operate a microswitch and because of that, the thrust reverser levers work slightly different then in the real aircraft. Neither less, when I pull the reverser levers, I pull them up till I hear the click and this also locks the handle in the FULL REVERSE THRUST position, and full thrust is given.
With this first 737 flight test I’m very happy and although I didn’t mention anything in this section about the default McDonnell MD-80, you can use it too for that aircraft. Now it’s time to check it either with the Zibo or LevelUp modified 737 package. I go for the LevelUp 737.
Basically I don’t expect too many complications by using a modified 737 since it is based on the default 737, but we’ll see what happens. Also with this LevelUp I use the same joy files as with the default 737 and the Lua script from theegg52. More about the joy files later in this section.
That said, I needed to make a couple of changes. First related to the throttle quadrant, but the serious reader knows that I did this already before. I repositioned the three levers. From left to right I’ve now throttle 1, 2 and on the right the FLAP lever. Although there are no FLAP position markings on the TCA Boeing slot indicating the different FLAP lever positions, you can listen to the LevelUp FLAP lever sounds when you’ve placed the handle to another detent. The rest should work fine, so lets go on.
The LevelUp 737 Series are all based on the default Laminar Research 737, but I can tell you, many changes and improvements are made as well as that it flies different. It behaves more like the real commercial medium size aircraft. Not that I’m a real 737 pilot, the default model response in my humble opinion too quick with all inputs while the modified LevelUp does it more gentle. Anyway, making the TO run and at Vr I pull the stick gentle which is easy, but easy is to me not the right word. It feels great. The LevelUp 737 slowly responds as you may expect from the real model too. Since I modified already the PITCH TRIM switch assignments on the left-hand horn, this works also fine with the LevelUp, and gives me easy control over the aircraft. And of course, I can connect the Auto Pilot immediately, but that’s right now not what I want. I can to control the aircraft myself and see, but above all, feel how the LevelUp flies in combination with the Thrustmaster TCA Boeing hardware.
But this LevelUp test flight isn’t complete by checking the assigned Auto Pilot functions made possible by the Lua script from theegg52. Let me give an example how it works. When I want to set a new altitude, you select the right-hand upper button. This connect the TCA Boeing throttle quadrant increase/decrease knob with the SEL in the middle, to the altitude selector on the LevelUp MCP. Turn the knob till you’ve reached your selected altitude. Don’t press the SEL middle knob since this activates the ALT HLD.
Another example; you want to fly in HDG SEL/HDG HLD modes. On the TCA Boeing click the middle upper switch followed by the SEL button. Oops, check before you do this that the current heading you are flying is the same as the heading shown in the LevelUp HDG window. If so, you can press the SEL button. Now you’re in HDG HLD mode, but when you turn the knob you can change the heading.
With the AP in CMD (command mode) the AP will follow the new entered heading. And finally the same for the SPD knob. To enter a new speed and activate it in the SPD mode, you use the left-hand upper switch on the TCA Boeing throttle quadrant. Although this paragraph was only possible due to the Lua script, it’s still good to see that you can modify the functions on the hardware. The only thing I couldn’t get operative is the AP rotate knob of the TCA Boeing.
I’m still impressed with the TCA Boeing yoke. It’s a huge component, it’s heavy, it’s solid, it comes with lots of additional switches that can be assigned to lots of things you need to have in hand reach. The whole look and feel when mounted to your flight sim desk makes it almost a unique piece of hardware. Ok, I’ll continue with my IFR circuit and although most of the legs are done with the AP connected, the moment I level off to initiate my landing, I disconnect the AP as well as the Auto Throttle.
While I make the last turn for final, I can easily trim with the trim switch, and therefore I don’t need to pull too much on the stick. I goes relatively easy to be honest and even the last part of the final approach can be flown by hand without sweat or other stress. The TCA Boeing yoke allows you to control the 737 smoothly. Is it the hardware that makes it so easy or perhaps the modeled LevelUp 737? For sure the LevelUp is realistically modeled, but for sure the hardware does also a great job.
MagKnight Dreamliner 787 Series
I would like to test the TCA Boeing with one other twin engine aircraft, the MagKnight Dreamliner 787. Before I continue with this section dedicated to the MagKnight 787 I would like to thank the MagKnight team who offered me their Dreamliner 787. I’ve mentioned it before, the TCA Boeing is a replica of the real Dreamliner 787, so I had luck and the opportunity that the MagKnight team offered me a press copy to test the hardware with this aircraft. Many thanks for this guys.
As I’ve noticed so far, it should all work fine. If the AP section of the TCA Boeing throttle quadrant works depends if it is coded and if it is compatible with in the Lua script. I would say, let’s check it out and if the script doesn’t work, then the basic assignments should work, hopefully.
It turned out that almost everything “software related” works, as well as the hardware. I had already some experience with how, in particular the yoke works and feels. That’s not different then with the other aircraft I tested before. The basic spring tension build in the yoke of both the PITCH and ROLL are perfect in my humble opinion. That you can modify the spring tension is a different story and personally I ask myself if this is needed, but that’s a separate story and a personal wish.
I’ve parked the MagKnight 787-900 Series at the apron for a specific reason. During the taxi to the runway I’m then able to do the flight control checks and see how the aircraft replies to these inputs and how the hardware feels. Besides that, I’ve assigned to one of the sliders at the yoke the nose wheel tiller for steering on the ground.
As previously mentioned, I used with the LevelUp and default 737 – with and without – the Laminar Research joy and png files, but I didn’t do that with the MagKnight 787 except then the boeingtca.lua script. Using the Laminar Research joy and png files is nice, but has also its disadvantages namely wrong assignments and wrong naming like you saw in the video where Axis 1 was assign to the SPEEDBRAKE while I didn’t assign the SPEEDBRAKE but the FLAPS and thus the first axis was throttle 1 instead. Anyway, I assign all hardware switches and selectors as I did with the LevelUp including the landing gear issue, but noticed that the boeingtca.lua script isn’t working for all the AP function. For example, I wasn’t able to set a different altitude with the throttle quadrant rotary knob and SEL button. Just to clarify this; it has nothing to do with the Boeing TCA hardware, it’s pure the lua script assignments versus the way MagKnight has programmed it.
Although this steering slider as I assigned is handy, it has no clear center point that makes is difficult to find or feel a center position. And that means that at slow speeds it’s possible to use the slider for steering, but during the takeoff run it is not easy to find the center point. Whatever, I’m done with all the preparations, double checked the MCP settings, and off I go. At liftoff speed, I slowly pull for pitch and due to the internal spring force, you don’t quickly oversteer. And this is not just because of the modeled aircraft that behaves like this, I noticed this with other aircraft too. I’m not sure if this is only due to the spring force needed to apply a pitch angle, it could be also due to the position. Ok, what do I mean with “the position”? I’ll try to explain and for that I compare the height of the control wheel and control column versus the Honeycomb Alpha.
When you check the following photos you see immediate that the TCA Boeing control wheel is positioned lower then on the Honeycomb Alpha and the shaft for PITCH UP-DOWN is not at the back, but pointing downwards and I think this makes the difference when flying commercial aircraft. The seat height isn’t the problem I think, it’s a bit what you see and therefore feel. With the TCA Boeing yoke you feel as if the control wheel and column is between your legs and therefore it feels optimum for flying it with these kind of jets.
And this stable and comfortable feeling continues to me during the flight. I wrote it already before, when I disconnect the AP and fly the MagKnight 787 myself as well as trimming it, it feels so good. The TCA Boeing does look really good and yes, it typically looks like the MagKnight 787 controls, but overall, any movement you make or trim, it feels good.
Ok, perhaps then a couple of words; is it then also easy to control the MagKnight 787 during the approach, final approach, flare and landing? Yes, that’s a short answer. Not only the MagKnight, but seen with different 737 models too, the TCA Boeing yoke roll and pitch controls feels OK during these flight phases. No excessive movements are needed to keep the aircraft under normal operations.
A second TCA Boeing throttle Quadrant
But what when you want to fly tri-jets or four engine aircraft like the Rotate MD-11, the default 747-400, the Felis 747-200, SSG 747-8 Series? The moment you connect a second TCA Boeing throttle quadrant to your PC or Mac, you need to set the small switch at the front to 3&4. And of course, you need to calibrate the additional throttle quadrant in X-Plane. Since you’re free to place the throttle levers everywhere, as well as the SPEEDBRAKE and FLAP levers, you can arrange it as you prefer. When you want to use the TCA Boeing equipment with the Rotate MD-11 or the Wilson Lockheed L-1011, you only use 5 slots while for the Boeing 747 Series, then it’s easier since then you place the throttle levers in the middle with at both ends the SPEEDBRAKE and FLAP levers. One small comment when you use if with 3-engine aircraft; the last slot that isn’t used on the throttle quadrant has no rubber or plastic cover to close it off like with the Honeycomb Bravo.
With two TCA Boeing throttle quadrants you can connect them directly to your PC, Mac or USB hub or you interconnect them with each other and the last cable is then directly connected to your PC. I write on purpose PC and not Mac. After several tests I came to the conclusion that on an iMac with Monterey installed, you can’t interconnect these components together. You can of course, but Monterey and X-Plane won’t see all the devices.
When you test this interconnection on Windows 10, you will notice that when you interconnect the throttle quadrants with each other and from the second throttle quadrant with a cable to the yoke and from there to you PC or USB hub, that the throttle quadrants become “virtual” devices. Virtual because they are no longer hardware wired directly to the PC or uSB hub.
That said, also keep in mind that when you interconnect all devices together, that the virtual devices don’t offer any firmware number which means, in this configuration you can’t update the firmware. Updating firmware is only possible when each component is individually connected to the PC or USB hub.
Thrustmaster told me before while busy with the TCA Airbus review that they officially don’t support macOS however, the TCA Boeing equipment does work without any doubts with Mac X-Plane except then that you can’t interconnect the components and use these devices with X-Plane. Instead you need when you use a Mac, to connect every USB cable to your Mac or a USB hub.
One more thing although I doubt how often you will use it. Thrustmaster offers only software for Windows (2021_TFHT_2.exe) that also allows you to update the firmware. I’m not sure if Thrustmaster will release in the future Mac software, but in case they won’t, you can always install on your Mac VMWare Fusion Player. With VMWare Fusion Player and Windows 10, you have the possibility to update your TCA Boeing equipment. Once updated, you can continue using it with macOS X-Plane.
It has become a very long review and yes, I’d expected that already. Although I can’t cover all the ins and outs, I always try to do my best and I think I managed that. It is thru that the TCA Boeing throttle quadrant is a relative small device versus the Boeing yoke and yes, it’s also thru that it is smaller then the TCA Airbus counterpart. On the other hand, the throttle quadrant is more modular then the Airbus variant, but you could ask yourself why Thrustmaster didn’t add a fourth lever, read slave or arm, for the FLAPS.
I can think of many reason why they didn’t and why the model stayed like it is now, but the best to answer this is Thrustmaster himself, so time to contact them. According to Thrustmaster “The TCA Quadrant Boeing aims to transcribe as much as possible the Boeing spirit of each of the Boeing quadrants, which is not an easy task and we wanted both to allow players to have a Dreamliner experience with 3 or 6 axis without excluding players of small planes who can accommodate a 3 axis quadrant. It is partly to allow this flexibility that we opted for a 3 axis.”
I also asked Thrustmaster the following question; Is there a specific reason why the development team has not chosen for TCA Boeing design aka the TCA Airbus?
On this they replied as follows “The TCA Airbus is a great success, and we are very happy with the feedback from the players about it. The Boeing range has been designed differently and according to the Boeing specifications which has a different quadrant architecture. These two products were conceptualized at different times and our team of developers took different paths in order to be able to offer two profoundly different flight experiences, with current biases.”
Although the name suggests that it seems you can only use it with Boeing aircraft, I can tell you that you can use if for any aircraft that has a yoke and not a sidestick like in the Airbus aircraft. When you only fly Airbus aircraft, then I urge you to check out our other comprehensive TCA Pack Captain Airbus review. That said, this hardware can be used with many aircraft, not only Boeing and even with Boeing who have a brown interior, but never forget where I started with, the TCA Boeing is and stays a replica of the Boeing Dreamliner 787 Series.
Even at the end of this review, I’m still impressed about the yoke construction and the way it looks like. Only looking good is not enough. It must also have the right feeling and the right spring tension although you can change the spring tension which I found not really necessary. The control wheel centerings is ok for me as well as the many switches that are mounted on it and on the back of the control horns. That the yoke base comes with a landing gear handle, two sliders at the front and even a mini-jack for your headset makes it a complete device. Although at the middle front of the control wheel several switches are placed and a look alike clip, it’s unfortunately no clip to hook up a paper. For the latter you can use the paper holder on the middle of the base.
The yoke base is heavy, very heavy to be honest. According to the Thrustmaster store page there’s a lot of metal used to give it that strength. The fixation of the yoke base to your flight sim desk is possible with two bolts. Easy to connect, and enough force can be applied to put it in position. The throttle quadrant looks less impressive then its Airbus counterpart, but what I wrote before, it’s more flexible in how you configure it. It has three levers arms while the quadrant comes with four Boeing look alike levers namely the SPEEDBRAKE, two throttle levers with reverser handles and a FLAP lever. You can place them where you want. You always need two throttles levers – position them with the black buttons on the outside – and then you go either for the SPEEDBRAKE or FLAP lever.
I found it convenient to have the FLAP handle installed and not the SPEEDBRAKE, but I’m aware that this is also a personal taste. When you own 2 throttle quadrants then you can install the SPEEDBRAKE lever on the left side of the left quadrant and the FLAP lever on the right side of the right quadrant.
As mentioned before, the throttle quadrant may look a bit basic and small compared to the TCA Airbus throttle quadrant with additional quadrant components (SPEEDBRAKE part and FLAP part). Besides that, other features are offered on the TCA Airbus, which can’t be found on the TCA Boeing, but the TCA Boeing has limited Auto Pilot features. I found it a bit difficult to turn the selector switch.
With difficult I mean that while using your fingers to turn the knob, you easily turn the increase/decrease middle knob too. The Boeing reverser levers are indeed a replica of the Dreamliner 787 levers with the limitation that the TCA Boeing levers only operate a switch and not a synchro. This means when you’ve assigned the thrust levers within X-Plane, you can pull the lever and FULL REV THRUST is provided, but this is something you see with almost every hardware developer.
Ok, where can you buy it?
I’m aware that I live in Europe, but you can buy this Thrustmaster TCA Boeing at the Aerosoft website via this dedicated link, or you look at the dedicated Thrustmaster store page, but it’s also available via other online stores. Last but not least, did I cover everything? I hope I did, but I know myself, afterwards I always think .. oops, I’ve forgotten this or that. But the overall review should give you a good idea how I experienced the TCA Yoke Pack Boeing Edition.
Angelique van Campen
|Add-on:||Payware Thrustmaster TCA Yoke Pack Boeing Edition|
|Publisher | Developer:||Thrustmaster Store | Aerosoft|
|Description:||Realistic Thrustmaster Boeing Equipment|
|Software Source / Size:||Download / Approximately N.A. (unzipped)|
|Reviewed by:||Angelique van Campen|
|Published:||April 24th 2022|
|Hardware specifications:||- iMac Pro
- Intel 3GHz Intel Xeon W / 4.5Ghz
- Radeon Pro Vega 64 16368 MB
- 64 GB 2666 MHz DDR4
- 1 internal shared 1TB SSD (Big Sur 11.x)
- 1 internal shared 1TB SSD (Bootcamp Windows 10)
- 1 external 2TB LaCie Rugged Pro SSD (Big Sur 11.x)
- Saitek Pro Flight System X-52 Pro and X-56 Rhino
- Honeycomb Alpha Flight Controls
- Honeycomb Bravo Throttle Quadrant
- Thrustmaster TCA Airbus Pack and Boeing Pack
|Software specifications:||- macOS Monterey
- X-Plane 11.5x