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Customizing Checklists in PSX

Started by Will, Tue, 3 May 2016 02:08



Customizing Checklists in PSX

At the link below, you can download a package that includes a printable checklist that works very well with PSX, as well as audio files so that your virtual copilot can read and say the appropriate checklist items and callouts.

Included in the download package are the following four items:

WJC Normal Procedures.pdf (printable checklist)
WJC 1 Will.pilot
WJC 1 Custom.model
-Will1 (folder of custom audio files)

tl;dr summary version of this tutorial:

•   Print out the included PDF checklist
•   Put the included pilot file into your PSX > Audio > Pilots directory
•   Put the included model file into your PSX > Models directory
•   Put the included folder –Will1 into your PSX > Audio > Pilots directory
•   Enjoy!

Longer version of this tutorial:

If you want to use the included checklist as it is, you'll need to make a few easy modifications to your PSX setup: first, you'll have to use my model file (included in the download package), or else you'll need to modify an existing model file so that it matches mine. That's because there are many different combinations of equipment that are offered on the 747-400, and this checklist, of course, references an equipment configuration that not every aircraft will share. To use this model file, just drop it into your PSX Models folder.

Making or modifying your own aircraft is very straightforward in PSX: within the program, just go to Instructor > Model, and select what you would like on the Airframe, Equipment, and Programming pages. You can try to configure your model to resemble an aircraft or an airline that you're familiar with and would like to fly, or else you can pretend you're a CEO and you're selecting options from the Boeing catalog according to your own personal preferences.

The point is that checklists will vary depending on aircraft equipment, and you'll need to be aware of that to use this one.

PSX, of course, allows more integration when it comes to checklists. You can have your virtual First Officer read your checklist to you, and you can map buttons on your system to advance the checklist audio from one item to the next.

The downloads referenced here in this post contain what you need in order for your First Officer to read this checklist to you. And you will be able to see the checklist appear under Instructor > Situation > Human > Pilot. (Of course, you can also print out the PDF as well.)

But more than just sharing a checklist, my goal here is to help you understand a bit about how to create and modify these types of files so that you can explore the customizability of PSX.

Two housekeeping items before we get started: (1) I encourage you to play with things like this that are customizable in PSX, but remember that you do so at your own risk. (2) If you modify the checklist file and want to share it with others, please credit me for compiling the original version. (3) This is not to be used in real-world navigation... as if any real world 747 pilot is going to download a checklist from a random guy on the Internet and then bring it into the airplane and use it in real-life ops. Still, don't. (4) Dear Boeing's legal department: Yes, I put a Boeing logo on this checklist because it looks good and because we are all fans of your airplanes. If I need to remove the logo, you can post the cease and desist letter here on the forum; please don't bother Hardy because this is my work and not his. But before you write that letter, please take into account that we all really love you, otherwise we wouldn't be doing any of this.

Introduction to the Flow/Checklist Concept

What you have here in this package is an integrated combination of sequential procedural items collected together into sequences called flows. Also included are important checklists to make sure that you've accomplished the required items on schedule.

The philosophy that you see here relies on the distinction between a flow and a checklist. A flow is a list of procedures that "flow" naturally from start to finish, and are usually committed to memory. In its most basic sense, a flow might require a crewmember to verify that "everything on the overhead panel is appropriately configured for engine start," then the flight instruments, then the radios, etc. In other words, it can be pretty general.

Meanwhile, a checklist is a succinct collection of the most critical items on the flow that are essential to safe operation of the aircraft in a particular phase of flight.

Checklists vs. Flows in the Real World

When you look at the enclosed normal Procedures document, you'll see that the checklists themselves are small, usually containing only about four or five items. Meanwhile, the flows are quite long, especially when getting the aircraft prepared for flight. That's as it should be; as you get more familiarity with the 747, the flows will become memorized. They always "flow" down a common pathway anyway, such as starting at the top overhead, working down to the flight instruments, then down to the center console, and top-to-bottom, left-to-right within a panel. The purpose of writing it out step-by-step here is so that it can be a learning aid for people who don't fly the actual aircraft. But once you get good at it, the flows should be committed to memory.

Like I said above, the flows always follow a certain "flow" through the aircraft systems. No matter who is performing it, and no matter what the phase of flight, each flow starts with the uppermost item needing attention, and then proceeds from the ceiling to the floor. Within a panel, things proceed from left-to-right or from outboard to inboard. Trust me, this takes more time to describe than to do. It's actually very intuitive once you've gotten into it.

The checklists, on the other hand, should not be done by memory. The checklists are identified on this document by the word "CHECKLIST" and also by a surrounding black box, and they contain things that need to be actively checked, by both crewmembers, using a verbal callout and a standard response.

Anything not enclosed by a black box is considered a flow, and can (and should) be memorized by the crew.

So, in sum, the normal Procedures document contains a list of all the procedural steps ("flows") that would need to be taken, from start to finish, to fly the aircraft, with checklists to make sure you haven't overlooked anything important.

Customizing Checklists in PSX

Customizing a checklist in PSX combines three separate projects: customizing the airplane itself, creating your perfect checklist, and then getting your obedient virtual first officer to read it.

The first item is most easily addressed: just use the PSX Instructor > Model > Airframe, Equipment, and Programming tabs to decide what you want your aircraft to look like. (Or just drop the included model file into your PSX > Models directory.)

What's next is creating a "pilot" file that schedules the appropriate audio snippets, along with an audio folder that contains the needed .wav files.

This takes some time but is conceptually fairly straightforward.

The PSX Checklist "Script"

When I say the "script," what I'm talking about is the text file that defines the virtual crewmember's audio playback in PSX. Each script is stored as a file with the extension [dot]pilot. You have probably downloaded a pilot file here that will already allow your copilot to read this checklist to you, called WJC 1 Will.pilot, so if you don't want to fiddle around to much, just drop the new pilot file in your Aerowinx > Audio > Pilots folder. If you're interested in creating a script of your own, read ahead.

Within the Aerowinx > Audio > Pilots folder are a number of text files directing virtual crewmembers to say various things by calling up audio files, and directories that store the collections of associated audio files.

When you look at a pilot text file, items after the [callouts] tag are callouts, whereas items after the [checklists] tag are checklist items. Note that the [callout] items have standardized file names that aren't visible in the pilot text file.

For example, in the included pilot text file, you see the following (caution, it's a long list):

Tkof=Takeoff power set
080=80 knots
... (etc)

These all correspond to audio files in the appropriate PSX > Audio > Pilots folder that are numbered sequentially from 1010.wav ("Takeoff power set") to 1480.wav ("Autobrakes off").  To see what audio file name corresponds to what item in the list, you can look here (caution, it's another long list):

Tkof=Takeoff power set   1010.wav
080=80 knots   1020.wav
090=   1030.wav
100=   1040.wav
110=   1050.wav
120=   1060.wav
130=   1070.wav
140=   1080.wav
150=   1090.wav
V1=V1   1100.wav
VR=Rotate   1110.wav
V2=   1120.wav
... (etc)

I hope you can see where we are going with this. In the above sample pilot text file, the items in black on the left are triggers defined in PSX. When one of those trigger conditions are met, the .wav audio file (in red) is played, and the audio file "says" the words in green. For an example, when you see this:

VR=Rotate   1110.wav means that when VR is reached on the takeoff roll, audio file 1110.wav is played, which says "Rotate." Or more accurately, under Instructor > Situation > Human, you can see text that is a transcription of what's included in the audio file that will be called. At V2, file 1110.wav will be played, and what's in the pilot text file will determine the text that is displayed on the Instructor > Situation > Human panel. This is a long way of saying that the pilot text file should represent the audio. If the pilot text file says "VR=Rotate", the Instructor > Situation > Human page will display "Rotate" as the response to "VR", but audio file 1110.wav will still be called, even 1110.wav contains the words "Goodnight, sweet prince" or a snippet of Gregorian chant.

So you can't affect what is actually heard by changing the words in green above. The words in green above are instead there in order to give you a visual representation, on the Instructor page, of the spoken words in the audio file.

Going back to the text file, after the [callouts] tag come six audio files that aren't listed in the pilot text file itself. Just FYI, these are:

Check your speed   1801.wav
Check your heading   1802.wav
Check your altitude   1803.wav
Check your rudder trim   1804.wav
Check your rudder   1805.wav
Engine failure   1850.wav

In keeping with the previous conventions of this tutorial, the green text above corresponds to the script that will be "said" when the corresponding triggering condition is met. For example, when an engine failure is detected, audio file 1850.wav will be played. The script calls for this to be the words "engine failure," but if 1850.wav says "Good night, sweet prince," then "Goodnight, sweet prince" will be played at engine failure. Note that the script for these six items is not visible on the Instructor > Situation > Human page.

Next come the items in the text file after the [checklist] heading. In the pilot text file included here, the format looks like this:

2001;Gear Pins;REMOVED
2002;Battery switch;ON
2003;Stby power sel;AUTO
2004;Hyd dem pumps;OFF
2005;Landing gear lev;DOWN
2006;Flap pos ind & lev;AGREE
2007;Fuel control sws;CUTOFF
2008;Passenger signs;ON

Each entire checklist is enclosed within double carets (">>" and "<<"). In the checklist above, sound item 2000.wav announces the checklist ("Cockpit safety checklist") and the sound item 2009.wav announces the completion of the checklist ("Cockpit safety checklist complete").

Always, the number in red corresponds to the associated wave file (for example, 2000 corresponds to 2000.wav). The words in green are the words that will display within PSX when you go to Instructor > Situation > Human to look at the selected copilot. The response in black will not be said by the virtual copilot; instead, the words in black are the response that you, the human, or your fellow human, should say.

It's now worth mentioning that there are two ways to create your own custom checklist with regards to PSX audio and the virtual crewmember. One is to pick and choose from the audio files included with PSX and here in the included -Will1 folder, and the other is to record your own files. Recording your own audio files gives you maximum flexibility, and is fairly straightforward. It's obviously what I've done here.

To record a PSX-compatible pilot audio file, use the following settings with the audio recording program of your choice:

Sample rate: 11025
Bits per sample: 8
Channels: Mono

Time to put it all together

Okay, time to put it all together, and create your custom PSX checklist.

1.   Decide what equipment you want your aircraft to have, and create your perfect PSX .model file (or use this one).

2.   Write your perfect depiction of flows and checklists (or use this one).

3.   Go to Aerowinx > Audio > Pilots and create a new folder that will contain the necessary .wav files for your audio. You can assemble the necessary .wav files by picking existing .wav files from the libraries within PSX and included here, or else recording your own. The [callouts].wav files have to be numbered sequentially starting from 1010.wav through 1480.wav (see above). Then come 6 other audio files, numbered from 1801.wav through 1850.wav (see above), corresponding to callouts in non-standard situations. Then create your checklist files, starting with 2000.wav and going sequentially to the end of your checklist. All of these files will be stored in your Aerowinx > Audio > Pilots folder.

4.   After your Aerowinx > Audio > Pilots folder is complete, create a text file with the format [name].pilot. This text file will call the .wav files in order and will associate them with the proper expected response. Remember that there are three sections.

[Callouts]: These items, calling sound files from 1010.wav through 1480.wav, will be called upon certain internal triggers in PSX. The triggering mechanism is fixed within PSX, but you can design your own audio file to be called, and you can specify what text is shown on Instructor > Situation > Human by changing your pilot text file.

Standard callouts: These are the six audio files that occur in specific situations.

[Checklists]: These are the audio files, starting with 2000.wav, that will be read sequentially by the virtual copilot whenever checklists are commanded.

Best of luck, and enjoy customizing PSX, or using this checklist and this virtual copilot!
Will /Chicago /USA



Great stuff. Thanks for the explanations and all that work.


Brilliant! Appreciate the detail, most helpful.


Carl Avari-Cooper, KTPA

Hardy Heinlin

Thank you, Will!

I'm moving this thread to the Tutorials forum ...



Phil Bunch

Thanks for the checklists and for the supporting files.

A technical question about the contents of your zip file:  when I look at the zip file on my Windows 7 PC, I see two folders plus the .pilot file and the .pdf file you mention.

1.  One folder is named "-Will1", containing 104 .wav files plus one file named .DS-Store.  The .wav files are about 5-10 KB each.

2.  The other folder is named "__MACOSX", and it contains a folder named "-Will1" with 104 .wav files plus one file named DS-Store.  The wav files in this folder are only 1KB in size.

Am I correct in assuming that I should just work with the files in item 1 above and ignore the files in item 2?  I was puzzled by the difference in size of the .wav files in these two folders.  Perhaps the short .wav files are just a Mac shortcut equivalent or Table of Contents or something like that?  I am not familiar with Mac's file structures.
Best wishes,

Phil Bunch



I'll let someone else give you the definitive answer, because I'm not sure myself. When I look at the zip file on the Mac, it only has the four items I listed in the first part of the Tutorial.

But when I download the same zip file on a PC, I see the extra files that you see.

My guess is that the extra files contain library information.
Will /Chicago /USA


Thanks a lot, Will!





Thanks, Will

This is very useful - I've struggled with various of lists of flows, procedures, checklists etc. with PS1 and PSX and this is an excellent guide through the topic.

A couple of minor comments

     - The -Will1 folder of wav files should also be in Audio/Pilots shouldn't it?  That's where the others are and yours works when put there.  Or maybe it doesn't matter?

     - Are the initial cockpit prep flow items performed before the cockpit safety items?  I ask because I've run into this question previously and never got it resolved.  If the safety items are done in sequence it implies that  the prep items are done before power is established in the flow.  Except for being a bit dim at night this is OK except for the CVR Test - meter doesn't light up and respond to the test button in PSX until either Ext power or APU is on.  The squib tests etc are OK and light up when test button pushed and I think I remember in discussions of the circuit diagrams that they are battery powered, but I don't recall about the CVR power source.

   - Note on the Britjet tutorials - the preflight segments are very good at illustrating the flow concept and how the check proceeds from panel to panel.  With respect to the above question re the CVR, I think Peter turns on external power as first step on entering the cockpit and *then* proceeds to preparation items on the overhead panel (I think he mentioned 'checking' on the recorder but I don't think he actually shows pushing the test button). 


John H Watson

QuoteI remember in discussions of the circuit diagrams that they are battery powered, but I don't recall about the CVR power source.

Depends on the airline/aircraft, but either AC Bus 1 or AC Bus 3. The CVR will run whenever there is power on the applicable bus.
However, some aircraft have an AUTO/ON switch on the P5 panel. In the Auto position, the CVR normally begins recording when one of the fuel levers is put to RUN (and stops 5 minutes after all the levers have been put to OFF). The time delay requires power coming from (typically) DC Bus 1. The CVR may be switched on prior to first engine start by selecting ON. If power is available on DC Bus 1, the switch latches in the ON position (this allows the AC power to go to the CVR).


QuoteHowever, some aircraft have an AUTO/ON switch on the P5 panel. In the Auto position, the CVR normally begins recording when one of the fuel levers is put to RUN...
Why does it work that way?
An accident at takeoff can happen because the crew didn't do the preflight as they should have been and if the CVR did not work at this time, the accident investigators would have no idea about that (it is true they will have the FDR but still).

Avi Adin

John H Watson

QuoteAn accident at takeoff can happen because the crew didn't do the preflight as they should have been


Back in the 747 Classic days, all the CVRs were not solid state and were subject to wear and tear. In this case, it made some sense to shorten the running time.

Oddly, on one airline's 744s, this AUTO/ON switch seems to be fitted to later aircraft (which would definitely have sold-state CVRs).

Perhaps it's related to privacy issues? Conversations before flight are not always focussed on the job at hand. There is a degree of (IMHO) acceptible non-flight related social interaction before a flight which may set a positive/constructive tone for the rest of the flight. Whether airline management/safety regulators/accident investigators/lawyers agree with this, I don't know. Not all airlines are as protective of their staff as others. Pilots may be completely exonerated from guilt in an accident investigation, but then get sacked because of CVR recordings of "political" comments made on the flight deck.

Some people think video recordings on the flight deck is a good idea, but there is some resistance to this amongst the pilot community.


In my airline, some of the more paranoid pilots would religiously press the "erase" button after every flight, even though there wasn't much chance that the company or the FAA would want to look at the tapes unless there was an incident. I'm curious as to whether other carriers had any rules, or pilot culture, when it came to the erase button?

For what it's worth, we had exactly the same CVR indicators and buttons as on the 747, and I think that's the only item in the whole cockpit that I can say that about.
Will /Chicago /USA



Thanks for your feedback. Maybe I'm misunderstanding you but the instructions in the original post say:

Quote•   Print out the included PDF checklist
•   Put the included pilot file into your PSX > Audio > Pilots directory
•   Put the included model file into your PSX > Models directory
•   Put the included folder –Will1 into your PSX > Audio directory

Isn't that what you mean when you say "The -Will1 folder of wav files should also be in Audio/Pilots shouldn't it?" Help me if I'm misunderstanding something. But yes, the the -Will1 folder should be in the same place as all the other -[pilot]1 folders.

As for the CVR, some of the procedures I have in my checklist come from real world operating procedures, and some are my own thoughts about what I would do if I were chief pilot. Putting the CVR test where it is is more the former than the latter. So thanks for your observation. In future versions of WJC Normal Procedures.pdf, the "CVR Test...COMPLETE" item will be located in the First Officers's Preflight Flow, immediately before the "IRS on BAT Light...EXTINGUISHED" item.
Will /Chicago /USA


Hi Will

The folder question was just that I thought bullet four should read "... into your PSX>Audio>Pilots directory" as for bullet one.  Quibble -as long as the new -Will1 folder is where the other pilot files are.

I've also seen the CVR test noted early in the flow in other sources and thought for a while the PSX version wasn't working correctly until I found that it just needed power on.  In the Britjet Preflight video they first check the 'things that can move if you turn on power' then establish power.  After that, the CVR test button works whenever you get to that item. 



Okay, I see what you mean now with the folder. Sometimes it takes a while for me... :-) I fixed the original post.
Will /Chicago /USA


I am new to this forum. I should have the PSX installed on my computer by the end of the week. While I watched a couple of PSX videos, I could hear copilot reading out a specific checklist at a particular stage.

How do you set this up? I have read the manual, on page 46 there are instructions listed. Do I just keep clicking the key "V" to go through the checklist items and stop when the checklist jumps to the stage which I may not be ready yet? For e.g "BEFORE TAKEOFF", I run through checklist items relevant for before takeoff and resume clicking V when I am ready for "AFTER TAKEOFF". Have I got it right?
I am super excited about the learning and has made me over enthusiastic with questions popping continuously.

Thank you for your help
747 is not an airplane, it is a symbol of inspiration....



According to the Aerowinx manual, each time you press the V key, the first officer says the next checklist item.
It Cycles infinitely through all checklists (when the last item of a flight is reached, continues at the first item, or vice versa)

For example, if you choose Sarah as your (British Airaways) first/officer (you may use different first/officer from a different airline)

You have performed the electrical power up procedure.
The first time you press V, the f/o announce :

Press again V :
She announces :
« Battery switch »
You should check then answer « ON »

Press again V:
« Stby power sw  »

Press again V
« Hyd dem pumps»

Press again V:
« Windshld wiper sws »

Press again V
« Alternate flap sel »

Press again V
« Landing gear lev »

« Press again V
« Flap pos ind & lev »

The first check/list is complete.
You press again V:
« Cockpit safety checklist complete »

You continue your flows with the PRELIMINARY PREFLIGHT PROCEDURE and you are ready to start engines.
You press V:

You go through the whole checklist as above , with the V key.

The V key will follow each checklist in the correct order.

You proceed the same manner until the last check list at the end of your flight (SECURE Checklist)

If you press again V, you will hear again the first Checklist (« COCKPIT SAFETY CHECKLIST.»)

If you choose an other first officer, some checklist will be different.
For example, if you choose Sylvain as your first officer, you will use Boeing Checklist.
The COCKPIT SAFETY CHECKLIST does not exist with Boeing SOP.
So the first time you press V, you will hear :
« Oxygen »
« Flight instruments »
« Parking brake »

Hardy Heinlin

And if you want to restart the current checklist, press "R".

With the R key you can skip all items on each list and jump directly from list start to list start -- backwards.