A tale of two sources of income

Its no secret that FSE has tales of pilots burning out in pursuit of the sweet, sweet virtual $. And while that may be true for some people, thankfully (or not) I have a pretty darn boring personality and am perfectly willing to fly a whole bunch of routine jobs to get the spacebucks for the things I want (incidentally, those are also my real life career aspirations).

If you want to “get rich quick” in FSE without joining an established group and without a penny to your name, there is really only one option: All-in jobs. I found that the A321 jobs are always the best jobs because you can always fill up the tanks to full so no need to calculate how much fuel to add, there are more A321 jobs valued at over $10000 than the 737-800 – the other stock FSX aircraft. For each flight I set up my plan from the free flight screen, selecting the runway that closest matches the brg provided by FSE for my starting position, and then on the next page I will set up one or more user-defined waypoints or fixes (depending on availability) to line me up with the destination airport. In general, I only fly all-in jobs using calm/clear weather for obvious reasons. I select full realism settings but I choose to ignore crashes – and while any observer would see that my landings are 95% survivable (come on its a sim) and 80% pretty darn smooth so its not really for the purpose of “touching down” at 10000fpm, but sometimes FSX spawns bushes and trees on the runway, sometimes the sim spawns trees in the glide path, and this one time even with a perfect approach and touchdown my wheels sank into the ground and the plane flipped over for no reason except to spite me.

After setting up the plan, I launch the sim. altitude and speed is set at 27000/340 for trips below 1300nm, and 30000/320 for trips below 1500nm. This ensures maximum ground speed at m0.82 and I know that I can definitely make it with full tanks. No flap takeoffs – max tire speed for 321 is 195kts, and since I’m doing unrealistic direct flights already, might as well climb out at 340/320 kts even below 10000. Once autopilot is engaged, sim speed is increased to 4x, and once the plane gets on course I engage warp 16x (autopilot turn rate is reduced above 16x). Pretty much hands off at this point, the plane will carry enough speed and momentum to climb at 5000fpm the entire way – generally I end up at FL300 with the plane at 220knots – not the end of the world by any means. Then I find the destination airport altitude, and do the math: if I’m at FL270 and the airport is at sea level, and the default fsx a321 descent rate is 1800fpm, then I start my descent 13 minutes out. If the airport is at 7000ft, then I start my descent 10 minutes out. It takes about 10-15 minutes cruising, at which I take go do other stuff. At my descent point, without reducing time acceleration I simply reduce the altitude hold setting to about 2000-3000 ft above airport altitude – more in mountainous regions. If I was going 340kts, I also reduce target speed slightly to avoid overspeeding. Sometimes the obstacles are way higher than expected and I have to turn of time acceleration and take control manually, but generally at this point its hands off again until 10-20nm from the airport, where I reduce speed to 160 knots, put down gear, flaps below 177kts and arm the spoiler, and somewhere on final I take over and land manually. Sometimes when the runway is long enough I land normally, relying on the reversers until 60 knots where reversers disengage and switch to brakes. Other times when the runway is short or when I’m feeling lazy, its full reverse+parking brake until I come to a complete stop. Once the flight is logged, I end flight and repeat the process. The total process takes about 20 minutes per flight, unless I mess up eg. Forgetting to refuel.

Recently I have also been experimenting with FBOs. After buying a bunch of Quebec two-lotters for bargain prices, I set up my trans-quebec route. I also bought a Cessna Caravan which I offer for rent at cost, and advertise the route on the fbo ads page as providing $90000/round trip income (i meant revenue/gross profit) based on my estimations. Seeing that all of my gates were at full capacity, I decided to test my own claims. I started by adding all of the jobs to my group assignments queue, as it was a Shpadoinkle Air route and I wanted to log it as such. Also for the sake of the experiment, I wanted to prevent the unlikely event where someone else took the jobs. Soon, my group assignment queue had mostly green jobs, but a few black jobs as well. Then I tried to add all the flights for 1 way to “my flight” and encountered my first problem: FSE limits jobs to 60, presumably to prevent hoarding, which is all fine and dandy, except my green job settings are all limited to parties of 1, as I calculated that parties of 2 only make financial sense somewhere above 20 passenger flights. It was a pain sorting that out, but eventually the My Flight page was set up, and I filled the plane to 300 gallons. I checked the real weather on the AWC website and found it to be pretty reasonable – nothing preventing me from landing visually at all 10 airports along the route. Plus, since the caravan is so hugely efficient and the routes are so short, the extra fuel burn wasn’t a big deal. Plus, because the caravan is STOL and could probably land on one of those 4500ft runways with a 20 knots tailwind, I wouldn’t have to figure out the best runway to land at either, so I figured in the interest of realism, real world (static) weather it is! For these flights I wasn’t going to do fancy flight planning, so I launched the sim at CYIF – my starting airport – and hit direct to CYHR in the GPS.

It was dawn, and nothing was really lighted except for the runway. I clicked start flight on FSE, full throttle, rotate somewhere in the green arc and lift-off. There was no visual reference outside, so I used the instruments until I was sure I was clear of obstacles. Then I engaged the autopilot to climb to 3000ft, my cruise altitude for this short flight. 4x acceleration on climb out, 16x acceleration once the course line is centered. Since the caravan has no autothrottle, I do 95% of the flight in full throttle, including the descent. At these low altitudes the engine is at its most powerful, so descending at full throttle at vne means a descent rate of 300fpm – which means starting the descent about 10 minutes out. Once I’m close enough, throttle down, autopilot disengage, pitch up, slow to vfe, flaps, maybe a few steep uncoordinated s-turns that would completely freak out any passengers on board to bleed off speed and altitude, then land. Some landings use 1/3rd of the runway, other landings used more than half and I ended up in the overrun area (? Not sure the runway had one) once. Depending on runway remaining, I either take off midfield or do a 180. More than once I forgot to retract flaps before takeoff, but the 800+ horses in the nose more than made up for it. Visibility was not the greatest, it was snowing at times, and even though I had de-icing on I felt that it probably wouldn’t have been the best idea in real life. No terrain collisions thankfully but I did come close once. Once I got to the final airport, it was getting dark in the sim. I reloaded the newest weather and reset the time to morning – current time, and set off back.

So what are the results? I crunched the numbers and *drum roll*…

Quebec Route (as tested)

72710 profit*

Real time: 170 minutes

Flight time: 13.77 hours/18 flights

Profit/flight time: 5280/hour

Profit/real time: 25662/hour

Profit/30/48 period: 158400

*note: this is the profit as reported by the flight logs, which factors in ground crew fees which I do not pay as FBO owner as well as rental fees which I do not pay as aircraft owner, however it is included for the sake of showing what you can earn flying my route. Also note that due to brain flatulence I forgot to load about $4000 of green jobs.

All in jobs (as tested – well executed)

45282 profit

Real time: 104 minutes

Flight time: 11.75 hours/4 flights

Profit/flight time: 3853/hour

Profit/real time: 26124/hour

Profit/30/48 period: 115590

The A321 all-in jobs are great because they are straightforward – you get paid the set price as long as you complete the job. Don’t have to rely on FBO operators like myself to set up good jobs. No need to worry about flying costs since that is covered by the bank, and no need to worry about job availability as new all-in jobs typically respawn within 30 minutes of landing, unlike my green jobs which take a few days to regenerate. There is also considerably less workload, and all-in jobs are much easier to find. All-in jobs are a reliable way to make money, plus it’s the only way to fly a big planes profitably short of being part of a large group!

My Quebec route is great because it is a continuous experience – you’re not teleporting halfway around the world every other flight. My route also yields more income/flight hour, which means that if you want to fly without time compression, you can. As my Quebec route yields more /flight hour, this also means that if you want to maximize income within the 30/48 rule, you’ll want to fly a route like mine. There is also no getting around the fact that the caravan is just a billion times easier to land than the 321, and you don’t have to worry about runway distances or the winds if you decide to fly in real weather. Another thing is you really don’t have to worry about fuel in the caravan, for the entire route I filled up maybe 3 times. Plus, you’ll feel great knowing that you’re making more or less the same income flying a light single as the person flying a big jet.

Ultimately however, I would say that all-in jobs are the better option, simply due to the reliability of their availability. That said, is flying my Quebec route worth it?

yes.

For me.

Because I have access to my FBO overview, I know exactly when all the gates are full and its time to make another run. I don’t pay ground crew fees, which means I save 10% of the income. During the same 14 flight hour period, I’ll make about $30000 more than if I were doing all-ins, and after that’s depleted, I can still do the all ins. However, regardless of which flying you do, both require a significant amount of time dedication – the all ins require about 3 hours of perfect, repetitive flying every 2 days if you want to maximize income. In fact, I would say that the best set up involving private aircraft and green jobs would be 2×3 lotters, spaced 200 miles apart, all gates pointed at each other, with an atr 72-500 on duty. Understandably that’s not very possible given the severe shortage of 3 lotters, much less affordable 3 lotters, however I do have one more trick up my sleeve:

2 2-lot airports, spaced 50 miles apart, with a system owned atr stationed there.

Here are the stats:

7686 profit

Real time: 12 minutes

Flight time: 0.47 hours/2 flights

Profit/flight time: 16353/hour

Profit/real time: 38430/hour

Profit/30 hours period: 461160

Sounds great, right? However the downsides are obvious: you would be hard press to find multiple fbos set up like this, and even more hard pressed to find reasonably suitable aircraft stationed there.

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