communications relay login

Thrustmaster Airbus TCA Review

A short review of the Joystick and Throttle from Thrustmaster

By Chris Wilkinson Mon 09 Jan, 2023 10:27 PM - Last Updated: Mon 09 Jan, 2023 11:17 PM
Simulator-type games have been a popular game-type for a number of years with one of the biggest being flight simulators.

Over the years there have been many different flight simulators available to players ranging from Microsoft’s Flight Simulator to X-Plane. Each one providing a slightly different while similar experience to their players. Flight simulators are also used to train actual pilots in varying scenarios, from emergencies to air-to-air combat.

Name:  Thrustmaster-Article-Image.jpg
Views: 154
Size:  47.0 KBHowever, where this can differ wildly between players is how they actually play the game as you’ll have some people who somehow manage to play with a keyboard and mouse, all the way up to people who create entire flight decks in their garage to provide the most immersive experience possible.

However, to your mid-range player who doesn’t have thousands to spend on those flight deck creations, there are some interesting options available for only a few hundred pounds.

In this article, I’ll be looking at one of these specifically, the Thrustmaster Airbus TCA kit which can consist of a joystick modelled after the flight stick, throttle quadrant and a flaps/spoilers addon as well.
All combined these come to around £250 but they do provide you with a slightly more realistic experience when you’re playing the game. It works seamlessly with Microsoft’s current flight simulator although it’s not been tested on others by this writer.

In terms of setup, it’s mostly plug and play but there are some steps which should be taken which aren’t made entirely clear when you’re going through the process, however there are YouTube videos which can help walk you through this process.

Once you have it all working, the controls do feel quite high quality and each of the buttons and knobs on the quadrants have a satisfying click and force to them. It gives you options to use the parking break, turn off the engines/start them up along with setting the autobrakes for your landing. Each of these saves you from having to look around the cockpit.

The joystick which comes as part of the kit has a lot of buttons available on it for you to map the various controls of the airplane too, and to make life easier it also has a twistable handle which acts as a Z axis for rudder control. You can also purchase pedals to go along with the set which would take on the rudder controls.

The throttles themselves are quite sensitive but this can be adjusted manually by turning the screw in the back of the throttle quadrant, but they do have the full range of thrust settings along with the reversers which isn’t something found on most cheaper models. This again makes landings and taxiing a lot easier for the player.

Finally the flaps and spoiler controls, while these move opposite to the throttles which can cause some confusion at first, again these feel like high quality parts with satisfying notches as you move through the level of flaps and spoilers. The only drawback to this is from the spoilers, as there’s no “arm” option like on the real controls.

Overall, Thrustmaster have done a fine job in replicating the look of the controls available to Airbus pilots for the home enthusiast. The only possible improvement that they could make would be to have the option for an autopilot control, as this is one of the last features which you don’t have, although there are other products available for this.

In more recent times, they have also released a version of this which can be used with the Xbox Series S/X along with PC for all of the console players who do also enjoy playing Flight Sim. I can imagine this would be a marked improvement over the default controller options.

Have you ever used a HOTAS (Hands-on Throttle and Stick) setup before? Let us know below!

WRITTEN BY Chris Wilkinson
EDITED BY Solace
IMAGES SOURCED FROM SOURCE 1 - SOURCE 2 - SOURCE 3
6 Comments
Tue 10 Jan, 2023 1:12 AM
Nice writeup. I am currently reviewing airplane crash investigations, and seeing a setup like this is both impressive and haunting. Without ever trying, after all of the reading and viewing that I have done, I know that 1) Turn the autopilot on/off depending on its current setting. 2) Go full thrust. 3) Flaps up/down depending on current setting. 4) NEVER let the FO fly in an emergency. 5) Never fly a B737 or an A310. 😁

I just wish I had the funds to set up a simulation rig.

As a question, couldn't one of the sidestick buttons be mapped to the Autopilot? That's what Airbus does. Big, red button on top of the stick is the AP toggle.
Tue 10 Jan, 2023 8:59 AM
A very good setup.
And it works with p3d and x plane too.
When you set it up plug and play, it works excact with the a320 neo standard installed in msfs 2020 but if you use the fbw version of the a320, then you need to tweak it a little in the settings
Also for the spoilers, it has a retract function that can be set up as “armed”. Then you have that one too Wink
Tue 10 Jan, 2023 11:37 AM
Nice writeup. I am currently reviewing airplane crash investigations, and seeing a setup like this is both impressive and haunting. Without ever trying, after all of the reading and viewing that I have done, I know that 1) Turn the autopilot on/off depending on its current setting. 2) Go full thrust. 3) Flaps up/down depending on current setting. 4) NEVER let the FO fly in an emergency. 5) Never fly a B737 or an A310. 😁

I just wish I had the funds to set up a simulation rig.

As a question, couldn't one of the sidestick buttons be mapped to the Autopilot? That's what Airbus does. Big, red button on top of the stick is the AP toggle.
You could setup a button for the autopilot connect/disconnect as I've done that to the red button on mine.

It's more to use the actual controls e.g. turn on a specific function, adjust it etc.

Some of the rigs you see online are both amazing and terrifying when they mention the cost of it.
Tue 10 Jan, 2023 5:41 PM
You could setup a button for the autopilot connect/disconnect as I've done that to the red button on mine.

It's more to use the actual controls e.g. turn on a specific function, adjust it etc.

Some of the rigs you see online are both amazing and terrifying when they mention the cost of it.
The red button is also set standard to autopilot for this one. But autopilot in the Airbus 320 is not just pressing a button, you also have to program your FMS computer, your hdg and alt settings and your autothrottle has to be set correctly too.

To be as realistic as can be, then you almost need an actual pilot training Wink
Tue 10 Jan, 2023 8:15 PM
Well, the autopilot and the autothrottles on the Airbus are separate animals (if the accident reports are to be believed). But yeah, programming the autopilot takes a lot more than just a toggle switch. I thought that the AP was software-based, in the sim, not the hardware. Because at the point where you get dials and switches? You might as well call Tucson and buy a cockpit from Dodson's. 😋
Wed 11 Jan, 2023 6:00 AM
The autothrottle can be seen both seperate as combined with the autopilot. It is how you set your throttle, that the autopilot knows what to do with your speed. You have the climb position, flex position, take of and go around position, so it is not just there to throttle up or down the engines like a car Wink