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THRUSTMASTER TCA CAPTAIN PACK X AIRBUS EDITION REVIEW | The modular immersion kick for Xbox pilots

 More control over the clouds: With the TCA Captain Pack X Airbus Edition, Thrustmaster offers all hobby pilots a classic among the HOTAS joysticks. The complete set, which is compatible with PC and Xbox, scores with scope and flexibility. Should flying Konsoleros necessarily save up their Christmas bonus?

Ever since Microsoft Flight Simulator became available on Xbox Series consoles, hobbyist pilots have legitimately wondered how to maneuver jumbo jets, turboprops, helicopters, and other complicated aircraft across the sky. The standard controller is only used as an emergency solution in view of numerous double assignments.


Dedicated flight controllers have appeared sporadically over the past two years, albeit in sufficient numbers. There's now more than one viable control yoke and more than one decent HOTAS joystick for Xbox. The more that appear, the more urgently they have to boast of quality and features in order to assert themselves as latecomers. The peripheral pros at Thrustmaster are well aware of this, and so they recently launched the TCA Captain Pack X, which has the best chance of ending up at the top of the food chain. At least if you have the necessary 299 euros loose, which are necessary for the purchase.

An old newbie

The design of this joystick quadrant combination is by no means new. The same model, without the X in the name, has been around for a while in PC-only HOTAS form. And in this variant, too, the joystick was based on a design that had been used for years and was used in classics such as the robust T16000M.

Reason for criticism? But on the contrary. This classic among the Thrustmaster joysticks is unshakable, well-tested and so universal that the purchase of the TCA Captain Pack X not only pays off in connection with the MS Flight Simulator but also with any arcade flight game. See for example Star Wars: Squadrons or Ace Combat.

As the name of the device suggests, the Xbox variant, with all its commendable flexibility, is primarily optimized for the MS Flight Simulator, because it is an attractive complete package with the aforementioned joystick and a quadrant that makes flying modern airliners and jumbo jets authentic should bring across.

Modularly expandable

This can be seen particularly well from the quadrant. It consists of three modular parts that you could still put together individually in the PC version. This would still be possible in the Xbox version but is not absolutely necessary since the three most important modules are delivered together.

Modularly expandable

On the left is a braking module with a main controller and the option to switch to a switch for multi-level automatic braking. In the middle is the thrust controller module, which can control two individual engines or turbines, but also addresses all of them if you set it up that way. Two toggle switches serve as ignition controls, while a rotary knob sets the aircraft's status to takeoff, flight and dispatch, giving even flight planning and post-flight operations a proper kick of authenticity. On the right, the quadrant ends with a landing flap module, on which trimmers and flaps can be sensitively adjusted or fixed in fixed steps. It also has a rotary switch for the parking brake.

The modular structure has a number of advantages. For example, since jumbos use up to four turbines, it is possible to buy a second thrust control module and install it in the system so that it is right next to the first thrust module. If you don't need all the fuss because you're just zipping through space, you dismantle everything and get a slim piece of peripherals. Thanks to flexible interfaces on the underside and the front, additional devices can be connected if required. Such as a set of rudder pedals, sold separately, or a headset.

(Almost) immediately ready for use

With a total of 31 buttons, a switch function for left-handed captain control and right-handed co-pilot setting, as well as two included fire button modules that can be attached, the TCA Captain Pack in this generous version is one of the most flexible control units you can buy for the Xbox can. The combo also cuts an excellent figure on the PC, especially since the Flight Simulator immediately recognizes the peripherals on both platforms or preconfigures them. Lengthy assignment of buttons is therefore unnecessary if you don't want the settings to be different from the manufacturer's.

Haptics and workmanship seemed extremely smooth in the test. While we've never had the privilege of flying an actual Boeing, and we certainly won't fly one in our lifetime, details like the fingertip-release reverse thrust lock impart an insanely immersive bonus that feels realistic to us - even if we can't verify its authenticity.

(Almost) immediately ready for use

The joystick itself is of course not surprising given its classic design. There were no notable differences in centering inertia or steering resistance compared to our (already ancient, but still in great shape) T16000M. Apart from the Xbox-specific buttons for the home menu, screenshots, and options, no new controls have been added. All four axes (X for horizontal, Y for vertical, and Z for pivot rotation) have the same latitude as older variants.

If you don't like the resistance of the throttle on the quadrant, you can help. A screwdriver is enough to make adjustments according to your own taste. commendable.

Small criticisms

In all this comfort, only three points of criticism stand out. First: The quadrant is already screwed together, but you have to plug in the cable connections that connect the modules on the underside. Organizationally no problem, because no more than three handles. This only becomes critical for newcomers who unpack the device without looking at the instructions. You might wonder why the two outer modules don't work the same out of the box. Who knows how many devices are returned to dealers because newcomers consider them defective.

On the other hand, the combo, which is made entirely of plastic, lacks a little weight. Since both hands are on the respective control units, there is no way to fix them manually. In the heat of battle, they slip quickly.  

Criticism number three concerns less Thrustmaster and their HOTAS than the Flight Simulator, but it has to be mentioned. As with other controllers for the game, the fact that you can only navigate the menus with an original controller or a mouse is a bit of a mouse milk, as the main cursor does not respond to joystick inputs. I would pay cash if Microsoft finally fixed it. It's extremely cumbersome to have a fully functional HOTAS with three axes and multiple throttles on hand that you only use in the menus. If you then want to return to HOTAS, you must first enter any input so that the aircraft reacts to the joystick again. That's really annoying!


Awesome hardware, but a bit more expensive than expected

The TCA Captain Pack X is a great purchase for Xbox pilots, regardless of whether they jet through the air authentically with the Flight Simulator or whether they shoot laser salvos in an arcade plane. Apart from the somewhat low weight due to the pure plastic processing, there are no serious weak points in terms of feel and functionality. Especially in combination with the Flight Simulator, the increase in comfort is a selling point that can hardly be beaten. Anyone who flies commercial aircraft and helicopters more often than private turboprops and small propeller oldies gets a control unit with high precision and an extra immersion kick.

The combination of joystick and modular quadrant would also be suitable for pure PC gamers if only the price were not there. You can get the same model without Xbox support (i.e. without X in the name) for around fifty to eighty euros less. I doubt that a couple of Xbox controller buttons and an Xbox ID chip justify the price difference, which makes the extra cash you need to bring with you to play the console a bit of a pain. Since this does not change the quality of the product, exaggerated criticism would be out of place. If your hobby pilot account can handle it and you're willing to maybe tweak it a bit to make it more slip-resistant, you don't need to think twice about buying one. Get it - the increased fun is worth it!


  • proven design
  • excellent feel
  • Quadrant is modular & expandable
  • 31 buttons and controls
  • interchangeable fire button modules
  • adjustable resistance for throttle
  • precise inputs
  • is immediately recognized by MS Flight Simulator
  • Compatible with Xbox and PC (via switch)


  • a bit too light, therefore prone to slipping
  • Quadrant already screwed together but not connected yet
  • a controller or mouse is still required for menu control
  • significant surcharge for the Xbox version