The Embraer RJ family has become quite common place within regional travel. Whether you live in South America, North America or Europe the ERJ family of regional jets have proven to be a reliable and economic aircraft. Some five years ago, feelThere created the virus PIC simulation of the ERJ 145 aircraft. Most of us may have already used this product and for its time it was quite innovative being complete with an FMS and other features.
As time went on, products being developed for the FS9 and FSX platform had become noticeably more complex not only with regard to systems, but also in regard to aircraft models. The introduction of Version 2 of the ERJ family comes as a result of many dedicated users requesting a more up to date simulation of the ERJ. I had the opportunity to briefly interview one of the developers (“Vic”) of the feelThere ERJ project; here are some responses to some of the questions asked.
Why did you decide to create an ERJ version 2?
“FeelThere was pretty much formed around the ERJ. It's hard to believe but the previous version was released 5 years ago and we received so many requests for features and for the ERJ 145XR and ERJ 135 it was our plan for a while to update the product. Time went by FSX has been released so we thought we would make a brand new version instead of a little patch. As the world economy changed and we saw that many add-ons were released around $80 we wanted to give back something to our fans and decided to make this new version keeping the "old prices" in mind. We packed 3 planes and Call into the price and we also included both FS9 and FSX version so whoever wishes to fly both version could do that.”
Is the ERJ series intended for average simmers or advanced?
“We laugh about that within the team. Not the best, not the flashiest but probably the most widely used. We always tried to find the balance between quality and value. However just like our product page says our product is in use in more than one flight school and we receive many emails from ERJ pilots who are using our software (against our policy) to learn the system of their plane. Note: our software was made for purely entertainment purposes.”
What's the difference between Wilco and FeelThere?
“Wilco is a publishing house in Belgium, FeelThere is a development company in the US. The two companies have absolutely nothing to do with each other. Other than that, we found a synergy in the past years and customers thought we are one big company as "wilco/feelThere". Sometimes it's strange to see people asking about the "wilco such and such" airplane in the feelThere email support system In the past we developed the products for Wilco, but we are taking care of our publishing now. For example the Embraer Regional Jet (ERJ v.2) product is 100% pure feelThere. Wilco will take care the distribution of our CDs but the product is ours.”
Were there any challenges in creating the ERJ 2.0?
“Yes The biggest challenge was that we are so into the ERJ we wanted to add every little function. Of course we set a deadline for ourselves and just like the saying goes in game development: there is no such a thing as finished game only deadline.”
What are some of the innovative features that you would like to highlight?
“Whoever really is into the ERJ I strongly recommend digging more into the systems there are lots of undocumented features meant to hardcore users.”
Can we expect to see more projects from FeelThere in the near future?
“Thank you for asking. Currently we are beta testing MAP.net (we don't know the final name yet) the network version of our popular MAP products. Users will be able to use the software across networks running the products on laptops or on other computers. We are also working on another airplane but we'd like to keep it confidential.”
There you have it, it’s always good to hear from developers and I am sure we can expect many good things from feelThere. With that said, let’s get started on our review of these aircrafts.
Documentation and Installation
Installation of the ERJv2 is quite simple. For anyone who has used feelThere products in the past, the installation process is very much the same. You have a choice between FS9 and FSX installation and as usual, you are required to enter your installation key/password which has become a lot more secure. The product cannot be downloaded from more than one country which protects buyers and their individual passwords.
Documentation provided in this package is quite extensive. In the past many have made complaints about the manuals and documentation of feelThere products. I am happy to say that this is a problem of the past since feelThere has provided very extensive documentation of nearly every system in the ERJ. The 80 page manual documents information in a clear and understandable manner. Checklists are thorough and the list of troubleshooting segments will help users to understand various modes of flight and how they are cancelled.
All that can be said is a job well done on the manual, in this day and age many buyers are very keen to a well written manual and feelThere has delivered, no items have been left out and this should bring a smile to the hardcore ERJ fans.
family of ERJs is not an entirely new design. The ERJ145 is a
stretch turbofan version of the EMB-120; in fact, they share
a 75% commonality with the EMB-120. The ERJ-135 is obviously
a shrink of the 145 capable of carrying some 37 passengers.
The ERJ-145XR is an upgrade to the 145 with Extra-long Range
aerodynamic improvements, including winglets, strakes, etc.
for lower cruise-configuration drag, a ventral fuel tank (aft
in addition to the two main larger capacity wing tanks (same
tanks as in the LR models), increased weight capacity, higher
top speed and more powerful engines). Let’s get a closer
look at some of the details of these models.
feelThere has done a marvelous job on recreating the ERJ family. The models are very detailed and from every angle you can find something to appreciate in the time and hard work that has been put into these models. I have tried modeling aircraft myself and I can assure you that it is no easy task to achieve the level of detail that feelThere has delivered.
Overall I would give the model itself 9/10. The textures produced by Mcphatstudios are second to none when it comes to high definition aircraft textures. The high quality repaints that come along with this package takes the ERJ family to another level of quality that is rarely seen.
Panel and Virtual cockpit/Cabin
After comparing pictures of the ERJ V1 cockpit panel and the ERJ V2, it’s clear to see that even the panel and VC have received a makeover. Common complaints with some 2D cockpits, is the clarity of panel labels and even though the new panel is slightly smaller, it is still very much readable. Access to various other panels such as the overhead and throttle pedestal is very quick and easy with the aid of icons at the top left of the screen. The textures are very high quality and they almost give a new but slightly “weathered” look to the cockpit.
The virtual cockpit is also very detailed, from navigation charts to soda cans, it seems like nothing has been missed. The only thing that would have added to the “eye candy” in the virtual cockpit would be moving seats, sun visors and perhaps cockpit windows that are able to open and close. Nonetheless, despite missing these added features the virtual cockpit is fully functional from the flying perspective of both the Captain and First Officer seat.
For users who have had an issue with the flight yoke partially blocking the flight displays, feelThere, in an aim to please their customers, have provided an added model without the flight yoke in the virtual cockpit free of charge. Personally I have not had an issue with seeing the flight displays but anyone who does will be pleased with this option.
As I prepared myself to explore the virtual cabin, I expected a drop in frame rates but to my surprise this was not the case. feelThere has provided a high quality virtual cabin with textures created by Mcphatstudios. These textures are very detailed and almost transport you from your living room into the real aircraft. Here are some screenshots:
How does it sound? For many years I have been searching only for a “good” ERJ sound package that I would be able to use with some of the freeware ERJs that were out there at the time. After trying a few of them, I was very unsatisfied with the quality and smooth transitions in sound as you advance and retard the throttle.
feelThere has now compiled what I can say is one of the best ERJ sound packages available to date. The quality is stunning, from engine start up to shut down it was almost more fun listening to the aircraft from the outside than flying from the inside. On that note, it is remarkable how different the aircraft sounds from the cockpit when compared to the exterior view. Applying full throttle was by far my favorite moment as you get to hear the progressive roar of the two RR engines in detail.
Sound quality of the CALL feature is also clear and as anyone who has used this product before would know it is set at a volume that is neither too loud nor too low to be drowned by the sound of the engines.
My only suggestion if any improvements had to be made would be a smoother start up sound transition.
The Flying Experience
One of the factors that can make or break any great looking or complex aircraft is the actual handling and performance of the aircraft. How does the ERJ V2 fair in this regard? My overall summary relates to all versions provided in this package and from the very start I was quite impressed by the dynamics of the aircraft on the ground.
Some users have said that it is a bit too sensitive and that it leans into turns easily, but I have found that by taxiing the aircraft and turning at no more than 5kts, the aircraft reacts precisely the way any real world aircraft would. Turns are smooth and braking action is spot on, but during windy conditions the aircraft seems to tilt very easily.
Taxiing to the runway, I was anxious to see the acceleration and control the ERJ has at high speeds. After applying takeoff thrust, the aircraft smoothly accelerated down the runway at a realistic pace which was consistent with the real world ERJ performance specs.
The takeoff felt very natural and for the first time I felt like I actually had a heavy piece of machinery in the palm of my hands. I am not too familiar with the level of physics that have been incorporated into FS9, but it seems like the FDE for the ERJ has been well put together in order to provide the most realistic flying experience possible for a home PC. Whether you are using the autopilot or hand flying, turning the aircraft and initiating climbs and descents are very smooth and allows the pilot or autopilot to be in full control of the aircraft at all times.
It’s no secret that the ERJ does not have VNAV capabilities as you would be using on your Boeing aircraft. The ERJ is an aircraft for hardcore pilots and requires proper planning in order to control your descent. The aircraft handles quite well in terms of speed control which is very important since you have to manage the speed during most phases of flight.
With landing gear down and full flaps applied, the aircraft takes on a new feel as you can really sense the added drag on your flight yoke or joystick. Adjusting the passenger weight and cargo load onboard with the Configuration tool also has a notable effect on the handling of the aircraft. The ERJ135 has a similar feel to the 145 but the obvious lower weight of the aircraft is noticeable.
Landing the ERJ was a dream, if you have ever seen or experienced a landing on a real ERJ; users will be quite pleased at how realistic the handling on landing and deceleration really is. I think feelThere did a good job in fine tuning the dynamics of these aircraft, After testing the aircraft in turbulence, icing and windy conditions, I see no reason for complaint in this area at all.
Summary / Closing Remarks
I have flown on many types of regional aircraft before and I have flown many of them on the simulator. I have never had the chance to fly onboard an ERJ but if I did, I imagine that the experiences would be equal to what the ERJ V2 provides. It was noted that real world pilots use this product for cockpit and systems familiarization and that is an important point. Its shows that the feelThere ERJ has met a certain standard of complexity within the FS platform that even the pros are contented with.
It goes without saying that if you do not read the manual thoroughly; you may be at a loss if you are new to this aircraft. It may be a pain for those of you who are not fond of reading but when you are a pilot it is hardly avoidable, once you get comfortable with this aircraft I can assure you that it will always be smooth sailing ( or flying ).
The package itself is quite a bargain; you not only get the ERJ135, 145 and 145XR, but also a high quality sound package, HD aircraft textures from Mcphatstudios and CALL! With all of these features it’s remarkable that the price of the ERJ can’t be beat.
In closing, I think this is a great aircraft, well built and a lot of hard work has gone into creating what may now be one of the best regional jets for FS9 and FSX. I give this one 9/10.
What I Like About The ERJ
What I Don't Like About The ERJ
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