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The Ultimate 146 Collection from QualityWings Simulation

Aug 30 2013 02:08 PM | This article has been viewed 11593 times.
submitted by: Gaiiden

 

Introduction

 

 

Review by Marlon Carter. British Aerospace began its development of the 146 during the late 70 early 80s with its’ first flight taking place in 1983. As the years rolled by, it was evident that the 146 could be improved and its lifespan extended by upgrading a number of its features.

 

In 1992 the Avro RJ was born as an improved version of the 146 with an improved cabin, more efficient LF 507 engines and upgraded avionics. It’s a well known fact that the 146/RJ series from BAe is by far the most successful British civilian aircraft. This being the case it is sure to be a favorite among flight simulator enthusiast.

QualityWings has become a rising presence in the FS world ever since its release of the 757 collection. At the time of its release (and perhaps even today) it was regarded as one of the best 757 products available. This label wasn’t due to in-depth systems simulation, but it was due to the value and the balance of system simulation which won the hearts of many.

 

A few years later we are now seeing their second release which is the 146 Collection. What can we expect from their latest offering? Well since the release of the 757, QW has made significant strides in their modeling and systems programming. Here is a list of features as published on their website.

 

The QualityWings Ultimate 146/Avro RJ Collection is a payware add-on for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 (FS9) and Flight Simulator X (FS10). The FS9 and FSX versions of the product are AVAILABLE NOW, but only include the Avro. The BAe146 versions will follow as a FREE update. For more details, please check out our Product Release Plan. Product price information is also available on that page. Please keep in mind that your current purchase ONLY includes the FS9/FSX Avro version. Stage 3 will be FREE Updates as was the Stage 2 release that introduced the FSX Version.

Choose between 6 Highly accurate and detailed models.

• British Aerospace BAe146-100
• British Aerospace BAe146-200
• British Aerospace BAe146-300

• British Aerospace Avro RJ70
• British Aerospace Avro RJ85
• British Aerospace Avro RJ100

 

Key Features:

Exceptional attention to detail and typical characteristics of the BAe146 and Avro RJ
High resolution texturing
Multi-Stage super detailed night lighting
NAV lights and Strobes cast light splashes on the ground
Over 100 realistic Animations, including:
• Shock Strut Compression controlled by XML (no tire sinking into the ground)
• Realistic XML controlled Wingflex, reacting to turbulences
• Realistic XML controlled Flap system
• XML controlled detailed Airbrake and Liftdumpers ( depending on Hydraulic Pressure )
• XML controlled rudder (locks at low speeds to simulate Tiller control)
• All primary and secondary Flight Controls including tab-controlled aileron and elevator
• Working two-speed wipers
• Super Smooth Gear animation
• Realistic Nose Wheel Steering
• Moving Pilots
• Animated Air-stair
• Entry/Cargo Doors with CORRECT animation (controllable by the Qualitywings Control Panel)
• AOA Sensor
• Wheel Chocks
• Engine Covers
• Remove Before Flight tags
• Ground Power Unit

Flight-deck

• Detailed 2D Cockpit featuring both Widescreen (16:10 aspect ratio) and Standard (4:3 aspect ratio) resolution bitmaps
• Detailed 3D Virtual Cockpit with parallel functionality as 2D environment. If it works in the 2D, it works in the 3D
• Autopilot with VNAV, LNAV, Flight Level Change and Auto-land capability
• Thrust Rating Panel
• Full simulation of Electric, Fuel, Hydraulic and Pneumatic systems
• Transponder with FSINN / Squawkbox compatibility
• Traffic Collision Avoidance System with aural warning sounds
• Customizable Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS) with FULL Altitude Callout. You choose which callouts you want!
• Standard and LITE panel modes available on the fly via the QualityWings Control Panel. Standard mode balances realism and simplified approach. Optional LITE mode available for those who REALLY want things SIMPLE.
• Options Galore (Available via Config file)
• Two different Flight Management Systems depending on variant selected (GNLU910 or GNS-XLS)
• Over 200 Enunciators
• Master Warning and Central Status Panel
• Selectable Landing Flap Datum
• Steep Approach mode (inhibits GPWS warnings)
• Speed card giving you the correct reference speeds

Flightdynamics:

• Realistic but balanced Flight Model
• Developed according to original documentation and under real life Avro pilot assistance

Sounds:

• Authentic Sound-set for the Allied Signal LF-507 engine
• Optimized to eliminate phasing sounds
• Flight-deck Environment Sounds (Equipment Cooling, FSB/NS Signs, etc.)
• Aural Warnings (Chimes, Horns, etc.)
• Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS)
• Realistic Click-sounds in the Cockpit
• Characteristic Flap extension / retraction wind sounds (howl)

Liveries:

• Over 60 High Quality liveries to choose from. Every livery is created with exceptional attention to detail.
• Detailed but easy to use repaint kit

System Requirements

MINIMUM SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS:
Flight Simulator 2004/FSX
2.0 Ghz Processor
1.8 GB of disk space
2GB RAM
256 MB Video Card
Windows XP / Vista / Win7

RECOMMENDED:
Flight Simulator 2004/FSX
3.0 Ghz Processor
1.8 GB of disk space
4GB RAM
512 MB Video Card
Windows XP / Vista / Win7
These are only recommendations. More powerful PCs may be necessary to cater to your Simulation expectations.

                    
NOTES:

As you can see the list of features are quite extensive and we are going to examine them in detail to see whether QW has truly stepped up their game this time around. This product only includes the Avro RJ series of aircrafts at this point. In the future, the 146 series will be released as a free upgrade to persons who have purchased the 146 collection. Personally, I don’t think this was a bad move on the part of QW since the RJ is quite widely used today as verse the older 146.

 

QW Ultimate 146 Collection video

 

Before diving into the review, I thought it would be beneficial to have the developer tell us a little about this product. I was fortunate enough to have Lars Roennig give us a bit of information on the development of the 146 Collection.

 

What made you consider the 146?

 

The 146 has long gone unnoticed by FS Developers, although it was a pretty popular plane especially in Europe. We were looking for a plane that we found interesting and thought would sell well.

 

Since it was regularly mentioned on forums and there was no competition on the horizon, we quickly went for it.

 

Who is the 146 targeted at?

 

As with the 757 our aim was to develop a product for the average simmer that is looking for a certain level of complexity without having to spend more time on learning rather than flying.

 

The auto-flight and aircraft systems offer all the functionality you need to commence a full flight from cold n dark startup to shutdown. If you're looking for a full fetched procedure simulator including abnormal operations, then this product is not for you. With the optional “lite” mode we also offer an alternative for those who really want to have things simple and to operate the Avro almost like a default plane.

 

Systems approach in comparison to the 757:

 

The Avro offers a lot more complexity than our 757.

 

We learned from our customers that they were wishing for more functionality, which is what we did for this product. Especially for the core systems such as electrics, fuel, hydraulics, air and pressurization we stepped things up. Nevertheless we stuck to our 'complexity simplified' slogan.

 

4) Which features are you proud of the most?

 

I don't think it's possible to pinpoint one specific feature. I'm very proud of the atmosphere that we were able to convey in the Virtual Cockpit and especially at nighttime with the annunciator test active which looks just breathtaking. Also the overall sound immersion is great. I think I'm talking for the whole team when I say that the complete outcome of this product is how we envisioned it and that we're very proud of it.

 

After such a fine introduction to this product, let’s have a more in-depth look at the Avro.

 

Installation & Manuals

 

The installation of the 146 Collection was very seamless and I doubt anyone will have any problems doing so. The documentation that is included consists mainly of a 300+ page manual, a 50+ page Quick Start Manual. I found that both manuals were very well written and very easy to follow. Sometimes it’s very easy to be “lost” when reading manuals that are very extensive but 146 manuals are an exception.

 

The flight tutorial is a must read item and it is very helpful in getting you started. The 146 may not be as straight forward as you might think and there are a number of steps you will have to get use to in order to fly this aircraft properly. With that said, It is very important that you make yourself familiar with the documents that are provided.

 

Exterior Model & Textures

 

The package we will be reviewing features the Avro RJ70, 85 and 100. This is not to be confused with the 146-100/200/300 which is slightly different. With regard to the overall design of the Avro RJ series, I found that it is one where you can either love it or hate it. Personally, I think it is a lovely design but I have never been able to find a simulated model that comes even close to the real aircraft.

 

QW is well known for its team of expert modelers and texture artists and I am happy to see that we finally have a model that has done justice to its real world counterpart.

 

One of the problem areas for similar models is the cockpit and nose area. While the QW model isn’t PERFECT, it is much better than what we have seen before. The tail section was spot on as was the modeling of the rear air brake which is a signature feature of this aircraft. The engines were also correctly modeled and given its unique shape I am assuming that a lot of time went into capturing the correct dimensions.

 

Other aspects of the aircraft including the landing gear, wings and flaps are all designed to a very high standard. On a final note you will be happy to know is that the Avro RJ series features the option to open doors, cargo doors and lower air stairs. These options can be utilized by the QualityWings Control Panel which allows for individual door control as well as a selection of several options for the QualityWings Panel. The screenshots below showcases this model nicely.

 

When it comes to textures, the Avro gets a passing mark. Normally the textures that come with a new product may be “good” but not “the best.” QW has taken a similar approach to their 757 product by creating an exterior texture set that is of a very high quality. Since these aircraft are not new you would obviously expect the exterior to show a bit of wear and tear.

 

QW has managed to produce a number of liveries that nicely showcases an aircraft that has seen a lot of action over the years. While some of the liveries may show dirty, it is not excessive or unappealing. They have managed to find the perfect balance in showing what an aircraft in heavy use should really look like.

 

Finally, when it comes to textures I have noticed that some developers may cut a few corners when it comes to small or seeming insignificant areas of an aircraft. Let’s take for example the wheel wells. In an area like this it is easy to take a shortcut and use textures that are of a low quality. QW has not compromised at all in this area and in nearly each portion of this aircraft they have used very high quality textures to enhance the realism of the model itself.

 

 

Virtual Cockpit

 

When it comes to the virtual cockpit, most simmers are very critical and rightly so since this is where you will be spending most of your time. The virtual cockpit of an aircraft also has a significant impact on your overall virtual flying experience. I am not sure if this expression will make much sense, but a virtual cockpit can either make you feel like you’re in a video game or a high fidelity simulator.

 

While the RJ doesn’t boast to have the fanciest of cockpits, QW has done a fairly good job at recreating the experience of what it would be like to sit in the cockpit of the RJ. Nearly every square inch of the cockpit has been modeled and the textures that were used are of a very high quality. It also goes without saying that all switched and knobs are 3D and the cockpit itself shows signs of wear and tear which is another realistic feature.

 

The digital displays are as close to the real thing as FSX will allow but at times they can be a bit difficult to read. For this reason, QW has also made it possible to have most of these displays to be viewed in a pop up window. If you are not the type that enjoys being in the virtual cockpit you will be happy to know that the Avro RJ series comes with functional 2D panels.

 

The virtual cockpit also allows you to open the side windows in order for you to hear the APU start up more clearly. Also, when it’s raining you will be happy to know that the wipers in the virtual cockpit are also functional (not that it makes much of a difference in improving your vision from the cockpit). The night lighting in the virtual cockpit is also very impressive.

 

Most lighting options can be operated individually and some that vary in intensity can also be adjusted to suit your preferences. This is something that many developers cut corners on, but I am happy that QW has opted to allow the user to choose just how much light they want in their cockpit! 

 

The screenshots below nicely showcase the virtual cockpit in all its glory. (Screenshots that show the Captain Sim Weather radar is not a default option. This can be retrofitted to the RJ panel quite easily.)

 

 

Systems

 

When it comes to system simulation, QW is well known for taking a balanced approach as is evident with their previous 757 release. This time around things are a bit different as there is an option for “lite” systems and a standard version. After close examination, I found that the lite version can almost be compared to the full standard version of the QW757. This means that the new standard that QW has set is significantly higher.

 

The systems that are provided in the 146 Collection are both a mixture of complex and easy to use functions. The manual that comes along with the aircraft has a very extensive breakdown on some of the systems of the Avro RJ which will give you an idea of how each essential system works.

 

Some of the systems that have been fully simulated include the Fuel, Hydraulic and Pneumatic system.

The Hydraulic system of the RJ is a rather complex system but in a nutshell, it consists of the yellow and green system which share common components. The schematics of this system are shown in the screenshots below.

 

 

The fuel system of the RJ consists of some seven to nine tanks. These tanks are the Center, Wing, Feed (2 Inner and 2 outer), Surge and Auxiliary Tanks. Even though the fuel system is quite complicate, it is more or less a set it and forget it system. While I would love to provide a detailed description of this system and how it is used, the manual that comes with this package nicely covers this topic and I would encourage you to read it as it is very detailed.

 

 

The Pneumatic and Electrical system of the RJ has also been fully simulated and they are very complex. Using these systems however, are not at all taxing to the brain as it is to understand their inner working. The manual provides an endless amount of information on these systems and you will quickly realize that with a little practice, operating them will be a breeze.

 

 

While the major systems of the RJ were the Electrical, Fuel and Pneumatic systems, this is far from all that the 146 Collection has to offer. Other systems that are included in this package are the Ice Protection, FADEC, Avionics, Brake Fan, Lighting system and much more! From the list of these additional systems, we will talk about the Avionics/Autopilot and Lighting system mostly.

 

The FMC that is provided with the Avro RJ series is not 100% functional but it is also not a joke. The FMC has many of the basic functions that you would expect and would actually USE on a basic flight. Other functions that can be considered “cosmetic” are not simulated since (I am assuming) they are not functions you will be heavily depending on to carry out a successful and realistic flight.

 

The CRT displays function in a realistic manager and due to its small size, QW has made it possible for each display to be enlarged by clicking on them. The engine instruments are very similar to the 737 classic displays and can be easily read. While on the topic of engines, another feature that was nicely added was the Thrust Rating Panel. This panel allows you to accurately set your takeoff power and V-speeds for any given weight of the aircraft shown on the speed card. The speed card is always updated so the figures will always be accurate from takeoff to landing.

 

The lighting system of the RJ is quite a surprise. Typically, for a company that develops products that are “balanced” as far as systems programming goes, one would have expected the lighting systems to be of a balanced or even default nature. As you will see however, the virtual cockpit lighting systems are far from default. They allow you to have full control over the level of light intensity in some cases while in others you simply have the option of on or off.

 

The exterior lighting was also a talking point as it featured lights that reflected on the ground and 3D landing and taxi lights. Overall, the lighting systems were very impressive and I think you will be satisfying with what QW has offered.

 

The autopilot of the RJ is more or less fully functional. VNAV and LNAV can be used during every phase of flight and is very stable and accurate. Tuning and adjusting altitude, heading or even radio frequencies are made easy by being able to use the mouse wheel to do so. This may sound like a trivial point but you have no idea how convenient it is to be able to do this while flying by hand and talking to ATC.

 

 

A feature of this product which I enjoyed and I am sure you will make full use of is the 146 Dispatch utility. Through this utility it is not only possible to install/uninstall liveries for each RJ variant, but it is also possible to accurate set your fuel and payload for any flight. At different weights, the handling of the RJ becomes noticeably different. At times the aircraft has the tendency to be very “bouncy” on landing or very sluggish on the takeoff. These flying characteristics demonstrate that a lot of attention to detail was placed in the programming and fine tuning of the FDE and this nicely brings us into my thoughts on flying this aircraft.

 

The Flying Experience

 

I had the opportunity to fly the RJ series for nearly 3 months on various routes in order to test its handling and performance. My overall impression is in harmony with the statement made by QW which says that the flight model is balanced and realistic.

 

When choosing to fly the RJ for the first time it’s likely you will attempt the famous RJ/146 operations in and out of London City airport. This airport is notorious for its steep approaches and the RJ has become quite popular operating in and out of this airport.

 

After jumping into the cockpit, you will notice immediately than unlike your typical Boeing or Airbus aircraft, the procedures you would normally take to power-up and start the aircraft are slightly different and a bit more involved. If you are unfamiliar with the systems of the Avro, I would encourage you to read the manual which has a very well written tutorial that I found helpful in getting around the cockpit.

 

Taxiing this aircraft was quite an easy task and it didn’t have the feel of other aircrafts that required a lot of thrust to get moving. Once the aircraft started to roll, it kept its momentum without having to constantly add more power. The turning performance on small ramps and runways was also quite impressive and I don’t think you will have any trouble maneuvering this aircraft at all.

 

During the climb portion of my flight from Amsterdam to London City, I noticed that the RJ was very stable while flying by hand. I was also impressed with the stability of the autopilot even in windy conditions. After takeoff, there is never a dull moment with this aircraft.

 

Given the fact that the RJ is very unique, there are a few procedures you should always keep in mind. During the climb, the APU AIR has to be turned off after takeoff and the remaining bleed switches for engine 1, 2 and 3 have to be turned on. I initially found it a bit difficult to remember these procedures, but with practice it will become second nature. During the cruise portion of the flight there wasn’t much to do but monitor the instruments and other systems of the aircraft.

 

The landing at London City airport was quite a challenge. At slow speeds, the RJ demands a lot more concentration to maintain your speed and glide path. My first landing at EGLC was a bit on the rough side and when looking at the landing from the exterior view, I was surprise to see how realistic the hard touchdown and the effect it had on the wheel struts were. The landing gear showed a slight compression due to the hard landing which is consistent with many videos of the 146/RJ landing you may see online.

 

By now most of you are aware of the fact that the RJ does not have reverse thrust on its engines. So how do we slow it down? Well one of the well known features of the RJ is the airbrake system at the rear of the aircraft. Upon landing I found that it was very effective in slowing down the aircraft in harmony with the wing spoilers. Apart from the airbrake, it is obvious to say that you will have to depend heavily on your brakes to aid in slowing down the aircraft.

 

Overall, these were the most significant observations and in a nutshell the aircrafts handling can be generally be described as being normal but different in comparison to others.

 

The final observation I would like to note pertains to the amazing soundest. While you may not consider the sound of an aircraft to be related to the flying experience, I have often found that without the right sound package you can never really have the full sense of what your aircraft is doing. With that said, the sound package that comes with the 146 Collection is of a very high standard. From start up to shut down you will be amazed at the quality of these sound files and I hardly see there being any need for a replacement.

 

Sound Demonstration

                    

In the end, while I have never flown a real RJ, I was very impressed with the handling of the aircraft. Judging from the videos/DVDs I have seen on the 146/RJ, the flying experience seems spot on. The flying experience to me doesn’t only entail how an aircraft feels but also the workload involved with flying the aircraft. While this is not a 100% simulation of the real 146 (after all no aircraft can hit the 100% mark) it is balanced enough to give you an appreciation of what it would be like to fly the real aircraft.

 

Bonus Preview!

 

As a special bonus for the readers, Quality Wings was gracious enough to send me a preview copy of the BAe 146 which is soon to be released! Here are a few screenshots that show what you can expect from the next phase of this great product! *

 

*Please note that some screenshots were taken with ENBSeries activated.

 

 

Conclusion

 

To conclude this review, I am sure many of you are wondering whether this product will take a toll on your PC resources. While I don’t have the best PC out there, I have never experienced any drop in frame rates while using the 146 so I am doubtful that you will have any problems. 

 

What about the price? Well the 146 Collection will cost you $47.99 for download and $54.95 for the DVD version. Some may say that this is a bit pricey but I consider it a bargain since you get not just one aircraft, but the ENTIRE 146 collection.

 

While at the moment the RJ variants are only available, the entire 146-100/200/300 fleet will be release free of charge to owners of the 146 Collection and as you can see from the preview, the 146-200/300 will be worth the wait.

 

As far as liveries go, the default installation of the Avro does not come with additional liveries but QW has provided an abundant supply of high quality repaints through their website. In addition to this, there is a very helpful community of 146 users who may be willing to paint your favorite airline livery.

 

When I reviewed the QW757 some years ago I nominated it for an Avsim Gold Star award. That award was based on the quality of work and the overall package value that was made available. QW has since then outdone themselves in the aspect of quality and value, so it is obvious that I would also recommend this package for an Avsim Gold Star.

 

This is perhaps the highest quality simulation of the BAe 146 family that we may ever see for a long time to come. The hard work and dedication of the QW teams is clearly evident and I am eagerly looking forward to their next project. Job well done!


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6 Comments

Nice bonus preview, I am sure they are awsome pictures, too bad we can't see them :)

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Hmm..I will try to have that fixed..

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Awesome aircraft, been flying for past several months. Great FPS for the detail.

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Photo
HansRoaming
Aug 31 2013 06:47 AM

It's a great aircraft, very immersive, would recommend as a must have in ones hanger.

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It's payware! Noooo!

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Great Plane, both in flight dynamics and systems simulations. Precise in all details, and complete in almost all systems, except failures simulation. My second favorite plane, just a little under 737NGX.
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