Hardware add-ons are just as important as software when it comes to increasing immersion and enjoyment for home flight simulation. As the aircraft we simulate get more and more automated, it makes sense to augment your home sim setup with hardware that can support realism and immersion. Enter the team behind miniCockpit, and their all-new miniFCU: A compact, affordable Airbus FCU designed to give home Airbus simmers the most realistic experience possible.
The miniCockpit Team
The miniFCU was designed by two experienced Airbus captains Chit Lau and Geoffrey Wu of Hong Kong. They founded AerospaceTS in 2020, an officially-licensed Airbus simulator entertainment company. As they both return to flying while the airline industry recovers from the pandemic, the mission of the full-size simulator is coming to a close. So, they decided to use the experience gained when designing their fixed-sim hardware to bring the same realistic experience to home simmers worldwide.
On May 31st, their Kickstarter campaign will launch, bringing their bespoke miniFCU to market – at a price of $99 for the first 1,000 Kickstarter backers (Or $249 MSRP thereafter). This will be the first in miniCockpit’s planned series of Airbus modules, with a miniEFIS and miniECAM module coming in the future for a complete Airbus automation experience.
miniFCU: stop flying your airplane with a mouse
The miniFCU is an 80% recreation of the Airbus FCU (Flight Control Unit), powered by USB and designed to augment any home simulator setup. The miniFCU is built with molded plastic housing and custom buttons and switches to provide the most authentic experience possible. The push/pull switches include custom optical technology to provide the miniFCU with a true-to-life feel, as well as identical count-to-revolution to that specified in the Airbus FCOM.
The panel is fully back-lit, and all buttons are designed to emulate the real FCU as closely as possible. The LCD for the miniFCU is also custom-made to identically replicate the design, typeface, and color of the Airbus FCU. The lesser-used EXPED (Expedite) button can be swapped between LS (ILS information) or FD (Flight Director) toggles for more flexibility depending on how you choose to use the miniFCU. Experienced sim pilots know what a difference the right hardware can make, and miniCockpit is pulling out all the stops to make the miniFCU as intuitive to use as the real aircraft.
Custom software with wide compatibility
The miniFCU includes custom-developed software, designed to work flawlessly with the most popular Airbus aircraft right out of the box with just a simple installation. miniCockpit lists the following Airbus aircraft as compatible with the miniFCU in the initial shipment:
- For X-Plane (11 and 12): ToLiss A319/321/320/340, FlightFactor A320, X-Plane 12 (Default) A330, JARDesign A320
- For Microsoft Flight Simulator: MSFS (Default) A320, FBW A32NX, Headwind A338X/A339X
The team behind the miniFCU stated that they are attempting to get in touch with Fenix to ensure compatibility with the Fenix A320 as well. They will also attempt to ensure compatibility with the upcoming Aerosoft A330 for MSFS, although the miniCockpit team stated that effort will need to wait until the Aerosoft A330 is in their hands.
miniFCU launch date and price details
The miniFCU is an affordable sim experience, coming in at an MSRP of $249 (USD). For early adopters, an initial 1000-unit Kickstarter run will be discounted to $99, but only for the first 24 hours of the campaign. The Kickstarter will go live on May 31st, 2023 at 16:00 (UTC)/12:00 (EDT), and miniCockpit expects to ship the first round of miniFCUs to backers beginning in November 2023. You can sign up here to be notified so you don’t miss the launch! You can also follow miniCockpit on their Facebook page or Instagram to stay up-to-date with the project as it moves from launch to delivery.