AVSIM Commercial Aircraft Review

Flight1 – ATR 72-500

Product Information
Publisher: Flight 1

Description: Add-on Aircraft.

Download Size:

Format:
CD-ROM
Simulation Type:
FSX
Reviewed by: Angelique van Campen AVSIM Staff Reviewer - January 5, 2007

Introduction

The making of this small to medium aircraft was not that easy and lots and lots of work had to be done to create this highly detailed product.

According to Flight1, they express this as follows “Research, travel, work, and fun! Below are a series of photos detailing some of the aspects in our research trip to find out what the ATR is all about. Any great project starts off with meetings and this one was no different with the development team meeting in Toulouse, France to discuss the project and the upcoming research work. Following the dinner meeting and a good nights rest, the team got up bright an early to start work in the ATR simulators. This time was used for lots of sound recording, flight testing, procedures study, and night lighting overview photographs”. Believe me, this is just a part of the intensive work that is done.

Let’s first I’ll start with a small history of ATR; Aerospatiale and Aeritalia (now Alenia) established Avions de Transport Regional as a Groupement d'Intéret Economique under French law to develop a family of regional airliners. The ATR-42 was the consortium's first aircraft and was launched in October 1981. In 1986 a stretched version was launched under the ATR-72 type. With the high wings and the rather special shark fin like propellers, they are a familiar sight at most airports these days and form the mainstay of many regional routes all over the world.

Back to the reality; this review covers the FSX ATR version but when needed, I will compare it with the FS2004 version. After consulting Flight 1, they could tell me the FSX version is only made compatible for FSX, so it’s not a fully redesigned model. This also includes the 2D and VC cockpits. This means that there should be no differences between the FS2004/FSX model except for the environmental conditions and FPS. This brings up the next question; do you need to pay additionally for the FSX version? That can be answered very quickly, NO!

Flight 1's policy for this product is based on the fact that when you own the FS2004 version, you get a free upgrade to the FSX version. It even goes further when you buy the CD-ROM product; you get both versions on one CD for one price.

Installation and Documentation

Installation

The installation process via the offered Flight1 CD-ROM is without any surprises, so no problems at all. We have the choice to install either the FS2004 or/and FSX versions. Once the installation is finished, it requests you to restart of your PC. The offered FSX software includes SP1 while FS9 includes SP3, so there’s no need to go to the dedicated Flight1 ATR website to download separate Service Packs.

With the installation you’ve also got an ATR 72-500 Configuration Manager for FSX. This window consists of four sections; Load & Balance, Options, Interior and Placards. The different looks can be seen on the screenshots below. The included Acrobat manual will discuss these different sections and most of the settings are self explaining. Together with this, the following airline liveries are installed and configured: ATR House Color, Air Caraïbes and Atlantic Southeast Airlines.

On the CD-ROM you will find some more liveries apart from the ones on AVSIM. Keep in mind that when you look at AVSIM, not only look under FSX “Aircraft Repaints, Textures and Modifications” but also under FS2004, since some FSX paintings are there as well. Then there’s also the remark that FS2004 liveries/paintings, can are be used for FSX. Flight1 confirmed this.

When you want to install additional liveries, you need to install the separate Text-O-Matic program. This can be found via the startup window by selecting “Explore CD ROM” -> directory “Utilities” -> directory “Text-O-Matic” -> TextoMatic_Setup_FSX.exe. Keep in mind that there are two files in the last directory. Only the one labeled with FSX is the right one (for this review)!

Documentation

The package comes with two digital Acrobat documents; the ATR 72-500 Orientation Manual and the Configuration Manager Info (English/German). Let’s first start with the last one. This is a simple one since it explains everything related to the previously mentioned Configuration Manager.

The Orientation Manual covers almost everything needed for the serious flight simmer. You will find an Introduction and Getting Started chapter, the necessary explanation of instruments and panels and a complete comprehensive Aircraft Flight Manual (charts, performance tables and much more), followed by two flight tutorials. This brings the manual all together up to 481 pages.

There’s only one remark in my personal opinion in relation to the tutorials. The tutorials are clearly and understandably written but what I personally miss is the relation between text and pictures. Another thing what I want to bring up to your attention is page 3 of the Orientation Manual. Here it is stated that to have an ATR without any problems, you need to load the default flight (Cessna 172 at KSEA – Seattle) first, before loading the ATR. Failure to do so could result in problems with your ATR. The default flight is the one for FS2004, so you either modify the default flight or make your own default flight for the ATR.

Additionally, the CD-ROM cover offers a small booklet with a mix of important things needed for the initial installation process, the configuration manager, settings, familiarization of panel call-up and views, flying the ATR and finally a checklist. Don’t expect too much of it since it’s no more than 13 pages but what is initially needed, is there.

Ok, that covers the Flight1 manuals, but there is more. Some information can be found on the Flight1 ATR forum, search jobs on AVSIM and this link. This ZIP file offers you checklists and a takeoff and landing data calculation file for FS2004, but those can also be used for FSX.

Unfortunately, this is the end of this documentation part but I can say it's a suburb manual with many details which helps you to have hours and hours of having fun and learning more about this small but very detailed aircraft.

Last word from the Flight1 ATR developer: "It seems that the static cockpit interior views on page 2-4 of the manual are no longer applicable for FSX, so please ignore this option, since FSX doesn’t support this."

Cockpit and Virtual Cabin

Virtual Cockpit

This time I’ve decided to start with the Virtual Cockpit because more and more flight simmers are using this within FSX and believe me, it’s worth seeing this design. It’s so real for a virtual cockpit. Most of the time you’re looking at cartoonish designs but not here. Even the glare shield structure looks very similar to the 2D version where it appears they used digitalized real pictures in my opinion. The cockpit comes in two flavors, an old fashioned dark brown and a fresh looking blue color, so it’s up to you what you like and what you choose.

As usual, I made some screenshots of the VC and I’m surprised about the FPS. On the ground, default scenery LFBO (Toulouse/Blagnac) with building storms selected, the average frame rate is between 10 and 15. While these values are more or less the same in FS2004, there's hardly any difference. Later we will see that the 2D and external view do give completely different FPS between FS2004 versus FSX. Ok, back to this FSX VC.

The overall look of the VC is very realistic but more important, the instruments are all easy to read, are very sharp and even the text on the panels is good. In one way or another, they created a VC which is the same as the FS2004 version. According to Flight1, the ATR 72-500 is only made compatible with FSX, so no special features are introduced.

Is that a shame or lack of a good product? I don’t think so. In the first place you pay one price both versions – FSX and FS2004 – even if you don’t have the CD-ROM version but downloaded it a while ago for FS2004. A free upgrade to FSX is available. Hold on guys, back to the VC.

Below you will find some shots of the VC including some close-ups of the panel/instruments. There’s one thing I really find that's great, the way they made it. Even in the VC mode, you can click, for example, the EADI (Electronic Attitude Direction Indicator), EHSI (Electronic Horizontal Direction Indicator) and the TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System) instruments. They appear in the same way as in the 2D cockpit without any distortion and there’s also no window around it. This is really great and what's more, when you look at that picture, notice how sharp these instruments are.

I would like to bring to your attention to the sharpness of the lower row of pictures. I’ve seen this with many GA airplanes but you will hardly find this with the big commercial jets. A great job is done here!
At night, the VC becomes even more impressive. When looking at, for example, the overhead panel, I can tell you that this looks so unbelievably real, so extremely detailed and it’s still sharp. I don’t know about the overhead panel in a real ATR, but I know it in the Airbus A310 and the principle backlight for the panel itself, with all the built in switches/pushbuttons, is exactly the same. Wow …

Last but not least, there’s always the question of how real is the Flight1 ATR 72-500 cockpit? To find that out, we need to do some search on the Internet, shoot some pictures from real brown cockpits and paste those over here. At the same time, we jump into our simulated Flight1 ATR and make the same shots with our own digital camera as we found on the Internet … the results areawesome. When we forget the sunshine and the real beach, I can only say that the Flight1 ATR offers the customer a very realistic cockpit.

Courtesy of JetPhotos.Net - real ATR cockpit pictures
Flight1 ATR VC screenshots.

As you can see from the screenshots above, the comparison between the old fashioned brown cockpit and the ones from Flight1’s ATR are very close. There’s no sunlight shining into the cockpit but everything is there, it’s sharp, clear, readable and looking very realistic. In some Flight1 pictures, it seems that the text is not that sharp or strange looking, but that’s due to the fact that I made those shots from different angles which results in distortion of the panel text.

2D Cockpit

You will not believe it, but the 2D cockpit covers not just a standard captain’s cockpit view, but you can shift positions while looking at the captains, center and co-pilots panel. Ok, let’s first start with the sub-panels.

You’ve got the standard sub-panels which can be called-up via a small icon window just underneath the captain’s RMI, so left of the CAPT EHSI (see yellow square on the left hand upper screenshot). This icon window is also known as Panel Window Controller (PWC). When you don’t see anything except the instrument panel itself, it’s time to click in this area with your left mouse button and there’s the PWC. It allows you to call-up the overhead panel, CTR instrument panel, center stand, CCAS annunciator (caution/warning light panel), the CAPT and FO EFIS control panels, throttle quadrant and the FMS MCDU. Have a look at these cockpit sub-panels in the fresh blue configuration.

Activation of icon window (located below captain’s RMI) Center Stand, CCAS Annunciator and CAPT EFIS Control Panel Gear panel, throttle quadrant and FO’s EFIS Control Panel
FMC MCDU and Auto Pilot panel Sub-panel CTR Instrument Panel Sub-panel OVERHEAD
As seen on picture I (yellow square); ones the icon window is in view you’ve got a variety of sub-panels including the well known overhead panel, but also the center instrument panel with mainly the engine instruments.  

But we are not finished since there’s a lot more to come. There’s also something else and it works the best when you have the manual with you. But Since you don’t have that in front of you, I will try with the help of screenshots to explain this.

It seems that you’ve got a cockpit wide angle view and a normal cockpit pilot’s view. Confusing, I do believe so. The normal pilot's view gives a good and clear view of the pilot’s panel without the complete engine instruments, while the wide angle view reduces the main pilot’s flight instruments and adds the engine instruments to it.

Additionally, there’s also the possibility to shift from the LH seat via the center panel to the RH seat. See it as when you’re parked in your car and you want to move from the passenger seat to the driver’s seat but don’t want to step out of the car. Instead, you move your body across from the passenger seat to the driver’s seat.

Starting with picture I-1, we’ve got the wide angle Capt’s panel view. When clicking on the glare shield, we get an APPROACH/TO view (picture I-2). When you click on the RH side the wide angle Capt’s view, you’re shifted to the right, as can be seen on picture II. When you click again on the right hand side of this picture, you’re shifted to picture III and so on to the right hand side window view (picture IV) etc. For clarity, I didn’t make a screenshot of the LH side window view, but this is also an option.

I-2 (Capt APPROACH / TO View) III-2 (FO APPROACH / TO View)
I-1 (Wide Angle pilot View) II III-1 (normal Pilot View) IV (RH Side Window View)
Except for the LH side window view, this is the whole collection of the possible panel images.

I think you and I have a very good idea about the quality of the panel and instruments and don’t forget all the switches, selectors, knobs and so on. This is all nice but what about the simulated aircraft systems, like the avionics, Auto Flight, Fuel, Hydraulic, Flight Controls, Bleed Air, Air Conditioning system(s)?

For the standard avionics systems and the Auto Flight, that's all ok although I can’t look behind the scenes at what the programmer really programmed, but it looks very realistic. The other systems, or at least a part of the aircraft systems I mentioned, seems to be also simulated.

Again, what’s programmed behind every switch, selector or knob, I don’t know but I do know that everything works. I tried every switch and selector on the overhead panel and all are working. When pressing/releasing a pushbutton, a light comes ON, the ENGINE FIRE amber and red warnings are simulated. Even the red fire handle illuminates during a test. All the typical pushbutton switches with the integrated lights are so real.

By the way, I can confirm this since most of the switches, selectors etc. can also be found in the Airbus A310 and the newer Airbus models, but I’ve never seen it so real! So it seems to me that you really need to read that 481 page manual, since operating this aircraft needs a little more then normal knowledge but it's worth the investment.

Additionally there are a few other things which can be controlled in the cockpit and cabin like adjusting the windshield sun visors, pilots arm rests, removing the yokes for clarity and many other options. This can be found in the Orientation Manual pages 18-3 to 18-5.

Virtual Cabin

Most of the time this is not really my favorite. First of all, I’m mainly interested in the quality of the cockpit. I express quality like the reality of the panels, the sharpness of the instruments and which avionics and aircraft systems are simulated. When those things are all right or programmed within the limits of Flight Simulator, then it’s time to look into the cabin and here I’m positively surprised about the cabin quality.

I stepped out of the cockpit via the cargo hold, where I found my luggage, into the cabin compartment and walked to the back of the cabin to visit the toilet. I really have the feeling that I’m walking in a cabin. Everything is there as it's supposed to be. That the cabin could be lifted to a higher standard, that’s always a wish we want to have but for now it looks good and more important, the flight attendant is already waiting for me with a cup of coffee.

Although you will probably find out yourself, the activating of the virtual cabin is done with the FSX menu option “Add-Ons”. Then select “Flight1 ATR 72-500“. Now you have the options to Hide the Virtual Cockpit and Show the Virtual Cabin. The rest, I think, makes sense.

With this sub chapter – Cockpit and Virtual Cabin – almost finished, I can conclude that Flight1 has done a terrific job with this ATR 72-500. So many details and I hope I haven’t forgotten anything but with an excellent realistic 2D cockpit, which is great with lots of options and details, the VC is clear, sharp and all the switches, selectors and knobs work, as well as the virtual cabin. Great work!

External Model

Looking at this external model, there are always two things which are interesting to look for; the eyes for detail and the painting/livery quality. The ATR comes standard with three liveries, one from the ATR factory, Air Caraïbes and Atlantic Southeast Airlines. Additionally there are a few on the CD-ROM and many others can be found in the AVSIM library. I wrote about this already but it’s too important to forget it; look in the AVSIM library not only at the FSX paintings but also in the FS2004 corner. On both libraries you will find additional liveries.

Now its time to look to the paintings and then ask how real do they look? Ok, you can look at, for example, an ATR factory livery and compare that with real ATR pictures to see if the painter has done his work. That’s not completely what I mean. Do you see rivets on the wings, fuselage and tail? Is the model glossy or is the paint already some years old? All those things which make the difference between a real looking external model/paint and one that’s very unrealistic. That feeling of how it should look through your eye is, of course, very personal. I think it’s time to see how these Flight1 ATR models look.

Is there really a need to add comments to these screenshots? I don’t think so. The overall look tells me this is a well designed model with lots of details.

Awesome … I’m impressed with the external model. In the beginning, I had thoughts about the glossy look but during the late afternoon's warm sunlight, parts of the aircraft offer much more detail than during daytime. Still, I think that the offered liveries are a little too glossy but that’s also a personal feeling. However, when looking at all those details like the small/short main landing gear, the propeller blades and its hub, the cargo door (which must be assigned manually via the wing fold command) and the passenger door, all are awesome.

The white tail light is mounted behind a glass or plastic bowl and it looks so real, especially during the late afternoon hours. This typical illumination of the bulb is something we can see with the landing lights on (RH lower picture) as well. Personally I like the lower four pictures, with the tampered afternoon sunlight shining on this highly detailed airplane model.

Unfortunately, I also have some minor remarks which are necessary. I think that the sharpness of the passenger windows on the outside of the fuselage could be better. The grey – aluminum – lining around the windows is not sharp at all and I don’t know why. There are so many other good details, so why not this? Probably it’s a limitation of Flight Simulator, I don’t know and if this is the case, then you can forget my comment.

Later while doing a test flight from EDDM (Frans-Josef-Strauss Airport/Munich), I will offer you additional external model screenshots, but I think that the screenshots so far give you an idea of the well designed model with eyes for detail.

Last word from the Flight1 ATR developer: "Although more and more dedicated FSX liveries are available at AVSIM, FS2004 liveries can still be used for the FSX model."

How does it fly …..?

For this I think it’s a good idea to use one of the flight tutorials in the Orientation Manual. My intention is not to describe everything of the tutorial, but more to use it as a guideline for testing the flight dynamics of the ATR or in plain English, how this ATR flies.

Flight1 gives us the following information regarding the ATR flight characteristics “We made multiple trips to the ATR factory in Toulouse, and worked closely with ATR staff throughout this project. ATR was quite enthusiastic in helping us with many of the technical details we needed. We believe the product is very close to the real aircraft in terms of system accuracy, visual, and flight modeling and quite a few people from ATR were part of the beta testing. In fact, we had to get ATR approval before we could actually release the title. There were also multiple ATR pilots on the beta test staff.”

That’s pretty impressive but, I’m sorry, many add-on vendors say this, but how far can we believe them? One thing is for sure, on the dedicated Flight1 "Researching the ATR" website, there are several pictures available where the ATR development team is busy making pictures, investigating the cockpit and many more things. Although it’s not mentioned in the previous Flight1 ATR text, I do believe that ATR flight instructors have helped make the simulated ATR model into a real flight sensation. Now it’s up to me to see how it behaves during ground operations like taxiing, take off and during the different flight phases. So, please join me on my test flight from EDDM (Frans-Josef-Strauss Airport/Munich) to LIPE (Bologna’s Borgo Panigale Airport/Bologna).

Last word from the Flight1 ATR developer: A small but very important remark regarding the detailed flight tutorials. "Keep the following in mind; when you want to use the flight plan data (SID, STAR, airways etc.) as written in the tutorial you leave the navigation data as it is, that means that which came with the product during the installation."

I’ve noticed that once you’ve installed a newer AIRAC – in my case cycle 0713 – some data from the tutorial is no longer applicable anymore while interrogating the FMS MCDU. Suppose you’ve unfortunately updated the AIRAC cycle, you could also request a new route via RouteFinder. The basic FMS description (chapter 17) is written in that way, that you’re able to use the MCDU as if you had the original AIRAC data.

I’ll take my time to perform the necessary cockpit preparations with the help of the tutorial. When you want to use the onboard FMS MCDU, it’s a good idea to first read chapter 17. One of the reasons is that the MCDU is of a different kind than the ones used in Boeing or Airbus airplanes. Of course, there are some similarities, but I do advise you to take a cup of coffee, sit back and relax while reading this chapter. By the way, the Flight Management System installed in the real and simulated model is a Honeywell HT1000 and it is actually a Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). Basically it is a GPS system that uses a GPS antenna, a navigation processor unit, which processes the received data from the antenna and transmits it, for example, to the MCDU.

Since – as far as I can judge and see – all the aircraft systems do operate, I need to check every pushbutton, knob, and selector including several tests etc. This will take some time, but it's fun when, in a simulated cockpit, everything seems to work.

Some last items to check and there we go. Unfortunately, we taxi a little longer than planned, but that gives me the time to feel this ATR during ground movements. It goes well without any problems but a simulated taxi feeling as once seen with the Ariane 900ER, is not here or is it? It’s not the same as in the FS9 Ariane 900ER, but the cockpit seems to move up and down when I need to brake, for example. When power is applied, the cockpit starts moving a little up. It seems that there’s something simulated from out of the pilot's view. Any sound while taxiing over light bumps built into the concrete is not there.

We’re ready to go and before I know, we’ve passed 2000 feet. Slowly and gracefully, the ATR climbs while I’m still flying by hand. Is it easy to fly? Not really since it feels and acts as a real airplane. When you add a roll or pitch input, the aircraft responds in a natural way. The other way around is the same when a sudden wind is introduced and with a slight delay detected by us, a correction is made.

I really feel myself flying this aircraft in a realistic way. During the rest of the climb I connect the AP (Auto Pilot). While the AP is steering the aircraft along the NAV TRACK, I introduce some rudder and clearly can see that the AP is immediately correcting for roll and pitch. What’s also clearly visible and very natural, is the way the AP is flying the model along the NAV TRACK. A few miles before the next waypoint, the AP moves the aircraft to follow the track as closely as possible and all of this is done in a gentle way.

Some screenshots from my test flight. It not only gives a good impression of the external model itself, but it tells me the reality of the flight characteristics, which you unfortunately can’t see here but believe me; it flies very, very real.

When we reach our planned cruising altitude, it’s time to play with this magic MCDU box, to see what’s possible and what the FMS has done for us. In one hand I’ve got my FMS description and operation manual including the 2nd tutorial while looking and fiddling around on the MCDU with my other hand. Although there are not that many screenshots in the tutorial part, I can still do a lot of things with the MCDU and I really have the idea that many things are simulated. One thing I need to tell you, which has by the way has nothing to do with the simulated FMS MCDU, is that this MCDU is really different then the ones used on Boeing and Airbus airplanes. This means – I know, I've already said it - you really need to read chapter 17 of the Orientation Manual, which explains everything about the MCDU including examples related to the 2 tutorials.

While cruising, I enjoy the magnificent view of the Austrian and Northern Italy mountains. Since there aren’t many clouds, I can clearly see the ground with all its detail and beauty. Before I know, it’s time to start with the descent. This trip is just 230Nm so we‘re quickly approaching Bologna. I still want to do some last minute checks before descending. I disconnect the whole AP and start flying by hand.

Test System

Dell Precision 650
Dual Intel Xeon 3.06Ghz
4Gb RAM DDR 533Mhz
nVidia 7800GS+ 512Mb AGP
RAID-0 HDD’s - SCSI 340Gb
Windows XP Professional SP2
FSX with SP1
CH USB Pedals
CH USB Flightsim Yoke

Flying Time:
23.5 hours

I try to roll/bank the aircraft a little and see what happens. I’m indeed loosing some altitude. I slowly add some pitch but at the same time there’s some turbulence. Although I’m not flying through a cloud, there are lots of clouds around me, which could give this turbulence. Whatever, the aircraft starts moving a little more than planned and therefore I need to handle the aircraft and bring it back to its planned flight path.

That small experience felt good and realistic. Of note is the Horizontal Stabilizer manual input, which produces a characteristic sound. When I close my eyes and think how this sounds in the Airbus A310, it’s exactly the same realistic sound, so very well done.

Oops, we’re a little too late for our planned TOD (Top of Descent). Due to this, I initially decide to descent with the AP with the help of the FMS flight plan. When approaching 10.000 feet, I take the controls and try to follow the planned route, which works fine without any problems. Since there is no ATC (Air Traffic Control) available, I’m free at any moment to decide to change my path and fly directly to LIPE. I’m still doing this by hand but while lowering the flaps, I need to pay more attention to flying the aircraft. Even at those lower speeds, it still feels very familiar so let’s say I now have a good idea about the flight characteristics. After the landing and taxi to the designated spot, I shut down the systems in the correct sequence, this with the help of the tutorial.

Conclusion, based on my feelings, not being a real ATR pilot and without having any motion like you have in a FFS (Full Flight Simulator), the ground and flight feelings/dynamics are very realistic. You can’t fly this aircraft like the default airplanes; you need to check your instruments constantly and when flying manually, external forces bring the aircraft out of its own stability, which I know from real experience during my real PPL lessons.

Flying the ATR 72-500 manually while introducing a pitch, roll or yaw, results in an interaction between two or more axis. Apart of this, flying the ATR is fun. It’s not that big, so you can takeoff and land at many airports where the big jets are not welcome. If you like flying in and around mountains, wherever on this globe, believe me, then you’ve got even more fun by flying this ATR.

Before finishing this part, I would like to offer you some bonus widescreen shots.

The original size of these screenshots was 3200x1200 and brings the ATR 72 to its full glory on the monitors with much more details then before while flying in the VC cockpit mode, you really have the feeling that you’re sitting in it.

FPS (Frames Per Second) FSX

This is so important and hence so difficult to measure. It is so difficult to measure since none of the computers are the same and apart from that, what about a fragmented hard disk or are you using EIDE (PATA Standard) or SATA disks? Is your graphics adapter still using the old AGP or the modern PCIe standard and which PCIe standard is it then? So I can continue with many things which influence the FPS in FSX. And I’m not talking about the configuration of FSX itself and did you tweak it and did you do the same as your neighbor etc.

Still I want to show you some screenshots with the FPS counter in view. You can see my PC specs, and I did what I can as far as my knowledge reaches and here is the result of several conditions. One thing I want to add, and that’s the fact that when a screenshot shows 18 FPS, this was in reality ranging from 14 up to and including 21 FPS. Let’s have a look to these FSX screenshots.

Clear weather
FRAMES/SEC = 18.3
Building storms
FRAMES/SEC = 17.8
Building storms
FRAMES/SEC = 19.9
Clear weather
FRAMES/SEC = 24.5
External view of the airplane with different weather conditions in combination with daylight and night operation. The frame rates are taken on a moment, so the average of every condition was +/- 5 FPS of the shown value.
VC cockpit - Clear weather
FRAMES/SEC = 11.7
VC cockpit - Building storms
FRAMES/SEC = 12.8
VC cockpit - Building storms
FRAMES/SEC = 12.7
VC cockpit - Clear weather
FRAMES/SEC = 17.3
A typical virtual cockpit view with the same conditions as above, so daylight and night operation as well as clear weather or building storms selected. Here the frame rate value is an average of the reality.
2D cockpit - Clear weather
FRAMES/SEC = 16.4
2D cockpit - Building storms
FRAMES/SEC = 12.0
2D cockpit - Building storms
FRAMES/SEC = 11.8
2D cockpit - Clear weather
FRAMES/SEC = 19.6
Last but not least, the 2D cockpit with the same conditions for weather and light. Also the frame rates are an average of the flight moment.

As you can see, the FPS is depending on the situation, and it’s not bad. After I installed a new graphics tweaked driver from DNA for my nVidia 7800GS graphics adapter, the frames where better then the normal nVidia driver.

When I compare for example the upper row of screenshots with FS9, then there’s a huge difference. In FS9 all my sliders are set to the right and all options activated, under the same conditions gives around 30-35 FPS. For the VC however, there’s not much difference. Under FS9 during daylight conditions, the VC produces between 15-20 FPS.

In other words, the frame impact on FSX is there but I think it depends on so many things and apart from that, where is your limit? One may be satisfied with 15 FPS while an other needs a minimum of 20 or 25 FPS. All those things are different for everybody and then – I almost forgot – what are the settings in FSX itself. I think it’s a good idea to show you my settings, and then at least you can judge for yourself that the FPS is not that bad.

Settings Display - Graphics Settings Display - Aircraft Settings Display - Scenery Settings Display - Weather

Based on the FSX settings, I made the screenshots as shown. This and with my PC specifications, FSX performs within my limits but more importantly, it gives you the correct presentation in relation to the hardware and software settings.

I hope with this sub chapter – FPS – it helps you understanding that the final output and performance of this Flight1 ATR product and of course, as related to your PC, these values could be higher or lower.

Sound

Who am I to say that this recorded sound is not the real engine sounds and cockpit environmental sound or real warning/caution sounds or the ENGINE FIRE bell sound and so on?

Some sounds are very familiar to me since they can also be found in the Airbus A310 series. Not that strange since the Airbus A310 was built in Toulouse at the Aerospatiale factory, and that’s the same factory where the ATR is built. OK, on the dedicated ATR Flight1 website and in the manuals it's written that the sound is recorder in real life. After listening to the sound, I believe it. I have to be honest that for me one turbo prop sounds the same as another, which is of course not really correct. Every manufacturer of turbo props has a characteristic sound.

Conclusion, the interior and external sounds are of a good quality and as realistic as possible.

Summary / Closing Remarks

What shall I say … overall, it's awesome. I have no other words but I will find some, otherwise this summary will be very short. One thing and that’s probably the only thing, I’m personally not 100% happy with is the glossy external paintings. Ok, let’s start at the beginning.

Looking at all those Flight1 ATR 720-50 details, keeping in mind that the ATR package is only made compatible for FSX, that the user gets both the FS2004 and FSX models, I think they have a very good market. It offers a highly detailed 2D and VC cockpit, the external model has lots of interesting details, a good to very good frame rate performance, even in FSX.

The FPS are not that spectacular as in FS2004, but that can be the result of many other missing tweaks, not having an optimum computer configuration or the sliders in the FSX configuration menus are set too high. Normally I’m not that impressed about a virtual cabin but this time, while having a very detailed cabin with fully controllable panels, I’m happy that the designers added this short cabin, lavatory and cargo hold.

It's always difficult to make a cabin that looks as real as possible. A cabin doesn’t have any indicators or complicated gauges but it has lots of lines, panel shapes and seats and many other cabin details. Like the ATR cabin, it gives a good impression of how it looks like and virtually you can enter the cabin via the passenger entrance, make a stop-over at the lavatory and then via the cabin and cargo hold, proceed to the cockpit. It gives an additional dimension to the virtual FS world.

Not only the models itself are impressive but also the Orientation Manual. Although the manual is not fully updated for FSX, which is known by Flight1 and they are currently busy modifying it and when it's finished it will be free for downloading. It’s a very comprehensive book with lots of system descriptions and operations, two flight tutorials and a bunch of tables and charts. The only thing I do regret is that the two flight tutorials are mainly text and hardly any relative pictures, which for a beginner or probably even the more advanced flight simmer, is essential to understand the aircraft and its operation.

And, is there a payware FSX competitor? There is only one and it's only for the FS2004 platform, the Eurowings Commuter Collection, which offers other models, the ATR 42 and 72. For FSX, I haven’t found anything, which makes this Flight1 product even more interesting. Therefore, with all the above in mind I think …. No ….. I know it for sure; this is a good and realistic presentation of the ATR 72 Series.

 

What I Like About The ATR 72-500

  • Simple and straightforward installation process.
  • Very detailed Orientation Manual, which helps you really understanding how this aircraft operates.
  • All the systems, so that means all – avionics and aircraft systems – are functional via pushbuttons, knobs etc. and operative. Awesome!
  • Highly realistic external model, full with details.
  • Complete virtual cabin with cargo hold and lavatory.
  • Awesome 2D and VC cockpits with realistic sound.
  • The Frame rate performance - based on these PC specifications – is good / acceptable, but it depends also on the environmental conditions.

 

What I Don't Like About The ATR 72-500

  • Since the current orientation manual is not fully FSX proven, an updated manual which reflects the FSX model is on its way, .

 

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