I will admit up front that I was skeptical about this offering from Just Flight. First of all, this 757 model is labeled as Freemium and it is a pretty good rule that you get what you pay for…especially when a free aircraft is being offered by a company that generates its income by selling aircraft models for flight simulation. Additionally, the 757 Freemium is part of Just Flight’s F-light series of aircraft which are designed to be a bit easier to manage and fly than the more detailed commercial products.
All that being said, I was not really expecting much from this aircraft but the price was right and the Avsim overlords wanted a review of it and gave me the assignment so that set me on my way.
This aircraft is available only from the Just Flight website and the company touts these features which will be explored in depth:
- Highly Interactive 3d Virtual Cockpit
- Custom Flight Management Computer
- Accurate Animations
- Custom Flight Dynamics
- Realistic Aircraft Lighting Effects
- Stunning Exterior Textures
- Full complement of lighting effects
- Comprehensive Manual including Flight Tutorial and FMC Guide
The product is obtained by download only and the download package takes up 148MB on the hard drive. Once the download is complete the installation can be initiated, but an internet connection will be needed, as the first step is a requirement to log into the user’s existing Just Flight account or create one.
Once this account is recognized, the download continues and installs to the FSX Sim Objects folder, creating a Just Flight folder within. This folder contains two sub-folders containing a collection of 1552 flight plans and a 70 page manual.
Comprehensive Manual including Flight Tutorial and FMC Guide
Perhaps it is heretical to admit, but the first thing I did after having the aircraft installed was navigate to the Just Flight folder and read the manual to see how it corresponded to the company’s claim of it being comprehensive. I was impressed.
The manual shows full color images of all the included instrument panels and identifies all of the gauges and switches (even mentioning that the shown flap and landing gear override switches are non-functional in this simulation). I am certainly not a neophyte to the 757/767 flight deck, but the explanations were a good refresher and would be very helpful to someone not already familiar with the airplane.
Highly Interactive 3d Virtual Cockpit
All of the basic flight controls can be operated from the VC and the dials for the autopilot functions provide a very satisfying click for each increment entered.
Flight Deck instrumentation is nicely presented
Instrument lighting is outstanding
Custom Flight Management Computer
A lengthy section of the manual is devoted to the Flight Management Computer (FMC). Kudos to the crew at Just Flight for this one. While not strictly a fully functional piece of avionics it offers many more features than I expected.
A working FMC (or more accurately the Flight Management System (of which the FMC is a part) is generally the mark of a high end simulation and is one of the first functions to be cast aside when publishers are looking to lower the piece or simplify a simulated aircraft. The available functions are:
Three status pages to show aircraft position via lat/long, weight, fuel weight, altitude, speed, time (UTC and local), aircraft lighting status and configuration of flaps and landing gear as well as an interactive checklist…not too shabby for a free download.
An interesting feature of the aircraft lighting page is that it provides a one click ability to set the lighting for four preset configurations: taxi, takeoff and landing, cruise and climb/descent. Admittedly, lighting may not be a huge factor in simulated flight, but most of us strive for realistic imagery and this offers a quick way to achieve the right presentation.
Cockpit Navigation Page
Allows the pilot to call up a selection of eleven 2D sub-panels for closer scrutiny.
Line selections to enables/disable various autopilot functions
Autopilot Presets Page
Allows input of autopilot/auto throttle settings and hold modes
Three pages of interactive checklist items. Each checklist item must be accomplished before moving on to the next item on the list
This 757 FMC is not capable of inputting a full route from SID to STAR but it can handle the 1552 included flight plans as well as any route you create in the FSX flight planner. It will also store 2 flight plans; one as active and another as standby.
List of waypoints on the active flight plan route with 4 sub-pages to show distances, speed and altitude estimates, fuel estimates, and estimated arrival times at each waypoint.
Radio Nav Page
Entering a radio navaid waypoint from the progress page will bring up that navaid‘s frequency. Also present for quick review, are the active and standby frequencies selected for NAV1 and NAV2 as well as ADF with the option of switching standby to active
Very handy is a rudimentary VNAV function allowing the setting of speed and altitude by waypoint.
Departure page shows V1/Vr/V2 speeds, Flap/Gear/Slat settings and retraction speeds
Arrival page shows Vref, flap/gear/slat settings and extension speeds
Quite a few impressive demonstrations to confirm this claim. For example, the spoilers have an excellent range of motion. Initial movement of the control yoke left or right will resulting in corresponding deflection of the ailerons. Continued movement of the yoke will cause the flight spoilers on the pivoting wing to be added to the aileron movement. Further, the ground spoilers produce a greater spoiler deployment than the flight spoilers.
Slight left yoke deflection raises the aileron...
...further deflection invokes activation of spoilers to assist in banking
...with this extreme example at full left yoke
Custom Flight Dynamics
This 757 has a certain heavy feel to it that seems entirely realistic and the delay in response to control movements or thrust changes feels natural.
Realistic Aircraft Lighting Effects/Full complement of lighting effects
While the literature for the 757 Freemium lists these as separate features, I find it difficult to differentiate between what would constitute one and not the other and propose they simply be called ‘Full Complement of Realistic Lighting Effects’. Is this promise fulfilled? Somewhat.
- The red beacon light on the fuselage bottom flashes but the top one does not
- There is a switch for the logo light but it remains lit regardless of switch position (I have yet to see any flight sim aircraft where this switch actually does operate the light so we may be dealing with an FSX coding limitation here)
- Interestingly (to me at least), the nose gear and runway turnoff lights when lit are visible from a distance in the exterior view but extinguish when you zoom in close.
A full load of lighting
Nose light and landing lights
Runway turnoff lights
Stunning Exterior Textures
The detail of the exterior is quite extensive. I was particularly impressed by the presence of what appears to be a diagram and graph inside each of the outboard main landing gear doors. While the placards are not quite readable, it is clear that they would be of some significance to ground personnel, and their inclusion shows a fervent attention to detail.
Detailing under the spoiler to include actuator rod and grease marks
Note the placard on the wheel well door
All antennas, probes and externals are depicted
One should never complain about the quality or fidelity of a freeware product. To think that people devote considerable time and creative talents to create an aircraft, effect or scenery and then offer it to the flight simming world as a free download is a testament to their generosity and the, dare I say it, family nature of this hobby. To offer criticism or complaint of these outpourings borders on plain rudeness.
For a commercial developer and one with a stellar reputation to boot, to offer a freeware product is unexpected and one could easily excuse if the model offered was a watered down version of their usual releases. But such does not appear to be the case with this 757 Freemium. It is a well executed model with a host of features-especially given the price.
Since a free offering from a commercial developer is a bit unusual, I asked Scott Phillips of Just Flight why the company chose to do so. Scott provided a candid reply stating that the feeling at the company was that they wanted to offer something of value to the flight sim community in gratitude for their support and patronage and inject a new approach into the acquisition of add-on products.
It was hoped that they could do so without taking a loss on the project and thus was born the Freemium idea of offering a base model for free with optional expansion packs of additional models (the 757-300) multiple liveries (30 in all) and engine choices (P&W, Rolls Royce) for a small fee.
The popularity of the 757 made it a logical choice to launch this endeavor and it has proven to be successful with over 20,000 downloads of the jet from the Just Flight website. Also noteworthy is that a quick scan of the Just Flight forum found many postings simply thanking Just Flight for producing the model and relatively few posts from users experiencing problems.
BA 757-200 with Rolls Royce engines
Starting engine #2
Publisher: Just Flight
Format: Download (22MB)
Reviewed By: Roger Curtiss
Bottom line here is that this 757 exceeds expectations for the performance and features of a free download and Just Flight is to be commended for making it available. As I expressed earlier, one should not complain about a free aircraft but even without that premise one would be hard pressed to find much to carp about with this 757 Freemium.
There is simply no excuse not to add it to your hangar…so what are you waiting for?