AVSIM Commercial Aircraft Review

Just Flight (CLS)
Boeing 747-200/300
and -200F

Product Information

Publishers:  Just Flight

Description: Boeing 747-200/300 and -200F (747 Classic).

Download Size:
388 MB - Base Pack
204 MB - Classic Livery
199 MB - Cargo Pack
215 MB - Pax/Combi Pack

Format:
Download and DVD
Simulation Type:
FSX SP1 / SP2 / Acceleration Pack
(no DirectX 10 support)

FS9
Reviewed by: Angelique van Campen AVSIM Senior Staff Reviewer - February 28, 2009

Introduction

The famous Boeing 747 Classic or should I say 7-Eleven (7-4-7 = 7-11)? One of the many nicknames given to this Jumbo Jet. Oops, that’s another nickname. So where did it all start? Indeed, the 747-100.

Let’s have a closer look at the father of the fathers. The first 747-100's were built with six upper-deck windows (three per side) to accommodate upstairs lounge areas. Later, as airlines began to use the upper-deck for premium passenger seating instead of lounge space, Boeing offered a 10-window upper deck as an option. Some -100's were retrofitted with the new configuration.

A 747-100B version, which has a stronger airframe and undercarriage design as well as an increased maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 750,000lb (340,000kg) was offered. The 747-100B was delivered only to Iran Air and Saudia (now Saudi Arabian Airlines). Optional engine models were offered by Rolls-Royce (RB211) and GE (CF6), but only Saudia ordered the Rolls-Royce option.

No freighter version of this model was developed by Boeing. However, 747-100s have been converted to freighters. A total of 250 -100's (all versions, including the 747SP) were produced; the last one was delivered in 1986.

Rare ’70 TWA sticker

That’s all nice but the Just Flight package is not representing the 747-100, instead they offer the -200, -300 and the -200F. By the way, the 747 Classic models are developed by Commercial Level Simulations. CLS is well known of their “lite” products. How this model is, that’s what we have to find out. Can we expect a highly sophisticated FMS (Flight Management Computer) or INS (Inertial Navigation System)? The answer is no and yes.

No, it doesn’t offer any FMS except for a simplified FMS CDU. A simplified FMS CDU with some basic features but yes, it offers highly realistic multi-INS equipment. This CLS INS feature was already introduced on the DC-10 Series. This INS offers, in general, the same features but more about that later.

Let’s see what JF tells us and how and what you can buy; "747-200/300 Series for FSX and FS2004 is a great addition to our growing F-Lite range, and features highly detailed versions of the regular, combi and cargo 747-200/300 models.

The 747 is probably the most recognized airliner in the world, with its distinctive hump on the forward fuselage which houses the cockpit as well as the upper passenger deck. Having been in service since the 1970s there can't be many air travelers who haven't flown long distance in this icon of the airways.

The experts at CLS (Commercial Level Simulations) have worked their magic to design superb models of the 747 in both the -200 and -300 variants, and included in this package are 21 liveries from around the world along with different flight models for the different versions. As well as being superbly modeled, these aircraft are also great to fly without having to learn and operate complex procedural systems. The panels features full analogue Pilot, Co-Pilot and Flight Engineer panels, as well as the overhead panel, throttle quadrant and radio stack. The Flight Engineer's station has expanded pop-ups for easier viewing.

A limited function F-Lite FMC allows for SID's and STARs in the Flight Simulator database, Radio and Navigation frequency entry, V-speed calculation, 'direct to' waypoint features, progress display, estimated fuel on board and more."

Is this it? No, there’s much more on the JF website and even at the CLS site, but I can live with this. Let’s stick for a moment to the JF software. You can buy this 747 Classic either by download or on DVD. To be the proud owner of the Classic 747, you can build your wishes together. You need to start with the base package, also known as “747-200/300 Series”. For those who want to expand their 747 fleet even further, three upgrade packages are available. The available packages are:

- Classic Liveries Upgrade Pack,
As the name suggests, it’s a package which offers 20 liveries of the -200/300/200F versions. Detailed information can be found via the following link. And what does it all cost; no more then $7.99 or €5.95, so 2 beers or 2 glasses of French wine!

- Cargo Upgrade Pack,
This package adds to the -200/300 series the -200F freighter version. Additionally the package comes with 19 cargo liveries like Cargolux, MK, FedEx, UPS and many others. Interested? More information via the JF link and the price, that’s hardly anything. Again, just two glasses of wine or beer; so in English, $7.99 or €5.95.

- Passenger & Combi Upgrade Pack,
Last possible upgrade package. This package offers again lots of liveries for either the -200 passenger/combi variants as well as for the -300 series. In total you get 19 different buckets of paint and guess what, another two glasses of beer. Sorry, the wine bottle is empty but the price of this upgrade package is the same as the others; $7.99 or €5.95!

What else to write here? Nothing, let’s go quickly to the installation and documentation area.

Oops, one last thing before I continue. According to Just Flight, this 747 Classic series is an “F-lite” product, but what does it mean? I think this JF statement is well explaining what it means “Fed up with ultra-complex FMC's? Confused by over-serious systems? Or are you new to modern airliner operations? If the answer to any of these is YES, then the F-Lite range is for you! A high-quality model design is coupled to very high-quality textures, animations and super flight model characteristics - and all at an affordable price. You can admire your aircraft, then jump in and fly the world's long-distance routes without having to go to college to learn how to do it.”

I think there’s no need for me to add more to this.

Installation and Documentation

Installation

Although I received both packages – download files and the single DVD – there is no difference between them. For both there’s something new and probably applicable for other Just Flight products. That you have an online activation for download products is not really new but even when you chose the DVD version, you still need to activate it online. Since the FS9/FSX installers are the same and since it doesn’t make any difference if you have the download files or DVD's, I’ve decided to start with the FS9 installation with the help of the downloadable files.

Can you expect any problems? No, as long as you have a valid Internet connection, it goes well, like sitting on a train from London Heathrow to Gatwick. In total 4 to go! All work perfectly without any problems, the FS9 and even the FSX directory is automatically detected so no problems here. That said, there's one installer for the base pack, which allows you to install the FS9 or FSX version. Find here some screenshots although there’s not really a need for them since it's a smooth process.

Just Flight Manual/Automatic Transaction process Typical JF 747 Classic Online UNLOCK process Installation Wizard for the 747 Classic Base pack
Your choice; FS9 and/or FSX Automatic MSFS detection Same kind of installer and installation process
Straightforward installers; for the base package as well as for the three update once. It doesn’t make any difference if you bought the DVD or you’ve downloaded one or all update packages. The DVD online transaction is new for me but fully understandable preventing piracy!

When you’ve decided to buy all the packages – no, there’s no discount – which equals almost 1GB, the total installation time is still not that long. I think within 10-15 minutes and you’re done. Ok, this depends a little on your PC and/or your DVD drive. Once more; the installation process of the download version for every installer is quite simple; first the automatic or manual transaction, when confirmed it’s followed by the actual 747 installer. That’s it!

What else happened on your PC during this installation? Via the Start menu button we find the following shortcuts – Just Flight -> 747-200-300 Series FS2004 (FSX) – offering the following links:

- Acrobat file INS Manual,
- Acrobat file Manual,
- Paint kit folder,
- Panel and FDE Configuration.

The Panel and FDE Configuration allow you to switch between the full flight dynamics and the EZ (easy) dynamics. Further more you can optionally load your favorite airline with the FMS or INS CDU. It’s all up to you!

The manuals will be discussed right away, so there’s no need for me to write something here. The paint kit is for those Rembrandt's or Picasso’s who are able to paint a nice livery, so not much more needed. I would like to tell you something about the Panel and FDE Configuration. It can be split into the 747-200/300 configuration tool and setting the correct flight dynamics. First the configuration tool.

This tool allows you to change the specific 747 model from a FMS into an INS configuration and visa versa. Like you can see on the right hand screenshot, the TWA 747-200 livery with PW engine is configured with an INS panel. When you click within the right hand blue square, the Set Selected to use FMC Panel, the next time you load the TWA aircraft, it will have the FMS instead of the INS CDU.

Within the red squares you’re able to select the as real as possible 747 flight dynamics or you chose for the EZ dynamics. This easy to use flight dynamics make it easier to learn, understand and master this Jumbo Jet.

Furthermore, you won’t find a load editor, which allows you to control the amount of passengers and/or cargo for the main upper deck. There’s also no fuel planner available. Either you use the default MSFS planners or you need to look for external programs who offer you these things. I know; it’s an F-lite product so there’s not really a need for it but I’m not agreeing with this. Although it’s an F-lite product, it’s still worth these additional programs!

Ok guys, some last words about the DVD. As written before, when you decide to take the DVD, with additional packages like liveries or even the -200F freighter version, you still get one DVD via the mail. This means whatever you buy, the DVD always contains all the packages but it depends on which packages you bought and thus the unlock codes you got for these ones.

OK, in simplified English - especially for me – it means you always need the base pack with the 747-200 and -300. We know that! For this one, you receive a key code. Fine, but when you additionally bought the cargo and classic liveries update pack, you’ll also receive key codes for these but since you didn’t buy the combi pack, you won’t receive a code for this one. Quite logical isn’t it?

The well known Just Flight installer, but this time with additional upgrade packages already packed together on the DVD but requiring unlock keys. More important, for any 747-200/300 base or upgrade package, you’ll need an Internet connection to validate your purchase so it seems that even this DVD is well protected against piracy!

With the DVD in place, you’ll see the standard Just Flight installer, as can be seen on the left picture. Using the Install into Flight Simulator link it guides you to the FS9/FSX installers for the base pack. Via the lower left hand corner “747 200-300 Upgrade Packs”, you’ll get access to the additional packages.

As you can see for example on the Cargo Upgrade tab, you need to purchase this package in order to receive the unlock key and thus this is all activated via an internet connection. This procedure is the same for the two other upgrade packages.

Editor's Note: "We would like to clarify the situation with regards the unlocking procedure for Just Flight’s 747 200/300 Series.

In the review we indicated that when purchasing the DVD boxed version of this product the user would be required unlock the product via an activation code online. We have now been informed that this is incorrect. Only the download version of the product requires online activation. The three additional model and livery packs that can be purchased online are indeed included on the DVD and they can be purchased and unlocked via the disc." 2 March 2009

Documentation

Apart from the nice looking printed JF manual, which is a part of the DVD box, JF/CLS offers the following Acrobat files:

- Manual
I can’t help it, that’s the name of the Acrobat file and it is by the way – when you bought the DVD – the same as the printed manual. It’s actually a manual of 32 pages while only 20 pages are interesting and with interesting I mean, panel identification including its instruments, switches, knobs etc. Additionally it includes a small flight tutorial of 11 pages, which guides you on a flight from London Gatwick to Palma. Personally I think the tutorial is not really helping beginners. I know, the writers have probably put a lot of energy into it, but it’s too much text and not always linked to the screenshots.

- INS Manual
On page 12 of the previously explained JF manual, it's stated that the flight tutorial is primarily based on the use of the FMS CDU. For those who want to fly the optional INS, JF offers a separate INS manual. Although it's stated that this INS is the same as the JF/CLS DC-10 Series version, I do not completely agree with this. Ok, the INS CDU is the same but there’s no need to enter all the waypoints or coordinates by yourself. The JF/CLS 747 Series offers an INS flight plan loader mounted in the pedestal, but what does it has to do with the manual? Using this “computer” makes life much easier because it can automatically load a “prepared” flight plan.

Anyway, the attached INS manual can be used for this 747 Classic, however, there’s nothing said about the flight plan loader and this is unfortunately very important. When you want to use the INS CDU in manual mode, it would be nice when there was something telling you that the flight plan loader should be in the MAN mode.

No more manuals? This is it. After the installation of all three update packages – classic liveries plus cargo configuration plus the passenger & combi – there’s no additional information added to it. You could ask yourself if there’s a need for it and the answer is very quickly, no, there isn’t any need for that. Remember, all the upgrade packages offer liveries except for the cargo pack, since this adds not only liveries but also the freighter -200F model. In other words, nothing is changed in the cockpit and what is needed to operate the nose cargo door, that’s already explained in the manual.

One last note regarding the INS manual, which is as earlier stated, modified for this 747 Classic in respect to the DC-10 Series. Via the following Commercial Level Simulation link you can download a special 747 INS draft manual, however, since it doesn’t cover a hands-on practical part nor that it offers a tutorial, it’s not always easy to find your way through it. With that in mind, CLS told me that they’re busy writing a “DC-10 Series lookalike flight tutorial”. So in other words, work is in progress so don’t forget to monitor the CLS and/or JF website for this upcoming comprehensive 747 Classic INS flight tutorial (KBOS-KSFO) including panel description.

External model with animations

Do we want more or is this more or less the limit? For you a question and for me, I’m impressed. Do I want more? I don’t know, but this external model is really great. Wherever you look, it’s full of details. The liveries are suburb, showing the gear and wheels have lots of details, the doors and inner door lining, the tail and vertical fin. Not only all those things, but since we’re talking about a very old 747, those models don’t look that clean and you can see that as well. I ask myself; where shall I start since this is not all.

In general, the external “clean” Aluminum is so realistic that CLS definitely used digitalized images to create this which isn’t a problem at all. Looking to some close-ups of the engines and it doesn’t matter if this is a General Electric, Pratt & Whitney or Rolls Royce, this is so real. And don’t forget the engine pylon, Wow. That’s not all. A close inspection of the belly of the fuselage, or the extended Kruger- and Variable Camber- and Trailing Edge flaps, so many details that you hardly believe this is a MSFS aircraft replica.

During my virtual walk-around check on the platform I needed to inspect the HF antennas mounted on the wingtips. In case you’re not familiar with those, on this aircraft these are those long looking pipes at the trailing edge of the wing tips. While standing on the stair, inspecting the HF antenna, I was amazed when looking over the top of the wing and figuring out how dirty and old this fuselage really looks. Sorry that I can’t find the correct words, but this is so real. I was even able to read from this distance the PW placard on the side of the engine cowling. Remember, this is far away from me and still able to read it!

Sometimes there’s a need to add additional liveries to a vendor model like, for example, from McPhat Studios, but I have my doubts if there’s a need for these JF/CLS models. I think the 3D graphics artist who’s responsible for this external model with all its details and don’t forget all the great painters. They – the CLS developers – did a terrific job.

Ok, not every painting is my favorite but some, yes, they are great. Let me give you some examples of great paintings; CP Air (Canadian Pacific). It doesn’t exist anymore but let’s go back to the color lay-out; orange fuselage, the red stripe and the rest of all what’s left, bare Aluminum with a protective coating. One of my other favorites, Martinair Holland or the old KLM Royal Dutch Airlines colors. Whatever you like, you won’t be disappointed about all the liveries or additional user created painting found on AVSIM's website.

Ok, let’s go for a walkaround check. It's nice weather, the sun is shining so it shouldn’t be a big deal to do this. The only things we need are some stairs otherwise we can’t reach every corner of this huge aircraft. Today we start – as usual – at the nose gear. Looking to the fuselage skin this is really cool. As most developers are doing these days – implementing digital material – this can be seen on this lower part of the fuselage. It’s blank Aluminum. Ok, not really blank but with a natural coating on it. Since we’re dealing with an old simulated model, the Aluminum isn’t shiny anymore and even the painting is a little weathered and dirty. That makes it all even more realistic!

From the nose gear we move on via the lower cargo doors where we do some checks on the engines and with the lowered leading and trailing edge flaps. I try to imagine how it was during those first years with Martinair Holland where I walked many times in one of the KLM hangars. Lots of 747-200 and -300 where found here and that impression is more or less the same as what’s created by CLS/JF.

Following my way to the wing tip, I need to check the static dischargers, so there’s our stair. At the same time I’m also able to check the HF antenna. That’s, by the way, that long tube mounted at the trailing edge of the wing tip. Via the lowered trailing edge flaps I’m heading for the tail and APU area. Although the APU doors aren’t simulated, the tail looks great. With all the dirt on the tail including the area around the APU exhaust, I’ve got a very good impression.

Impressed or not? Although six screenshots will never represent what I’ve seen on my PC, I can tell you, I’m impressed and dare to say that the 3D artist did a great job!

I mentioned somewhere before “simulated panels and others” which is not really the case here. Ok, via a separate control simicon, you’re able to open/close the cargo- and passenger doors as well as positioning catering trucks and cargo loaders, even passenger stairs and a pushback truck are part of the additional options. That means there’s no possibility to open/close engine cowlings, add/remove engine inlet covers and more of those funny things. Does this mean I’m disappointed? Not at all! The external model looks great, lots of eye for details and still enough ground equipment options. Find below 3 shots of the -200F version from Atlas Air. Altogether a beauty on the ground and in the air!

There she (or is it he) is, the 747-200F with its mighty foldable nose! Except for a few glitches like the shelves of the main cargo loader (RH picture) and the lower resolution of the loaders (see answer from CLS), it shows a very well designed and painted Atlas Air with many things. By the way; the pushback truck looks good!

Regarding the lower resolution of the ground equipment ex-pushback truck; I went with this question to one of the CLS founders and CEO, Albert Bouwman. “This problem or to be honest it isn’t a problem is the result of polygon limitations while exporting the model to the FS model file. Polygons had to be reduced to keep the aircraft external model of the same quality”. Although I prefer nice looking ground equipment, I’m also in for preserving the aircraft quality ratter then hi-loaders and containers.

Available Cockpits

Let’s start with the VC (Virtual Cockpit). A VC can be split into two parts; first we have all the instrument and switching panels, sidewalls, cockpit seats, ceiling and finally the cockpit door and secondly the simulated indicators, switches, handles, knobs, levers etc.

The VC itself without the gauges is really awesome. It looks so real that it’s almost the same as when you’re sitting in a real 747-200/300. This is true since the cockpit creation is based on a real KLM 747-300, which is parked somewhere in Holland where visitors can see how it was sitting for hours in this small cockpit. Anyway, the 3D artist who’s responsible for this did really a great job. All the sidewalls, the seats and the ceiling look great. The only thing that’s below par, or at least not of the same quality, is the flight engineer panel. On this FE panel there’s nothing simulated and the lights and switches are fake. Unfortunately, you need to live with this.

Let’s first see if you agree with me with the help of some screenshots.

I’m impressed. A great looking VC with eye for details. It doesn’t make any difference if you’re zooming in on a particular instrument part it’s there and not flat at all. Ok, the only VC part which is of a much lower quality is the flight engineer panel with instruments.

As said, it looks very realistic but it has also a downside. The downside is that you’re stuck to a real cockpit you’re creating. This means the panel lay-out with instruments, positioning of panels, switches and even the not installed components are all in that particular configuration. When you want to create a cockpit with round engine indications while the digital material offers you only with vertical tapes, you have no other choice than using this, even if you don’t like it. What else to say about this realistic looking VC?

The used gauges – not really a part of the 3D artist – are not all like the real instruments. It seems that some instruments are pure basic or taken from other CLS aircraft. Sometimes the light colors are not as it should be and the used AP (Auto Pilot) and AT (Auto Throttle) is based on the default FS9/DFSX version.

By the way; I need to make a note here regarding the FSX version. This is just a ported FS9 product, so it’s made compatible with FSX. This means it’s not a specially designed FSX model. On the other hand, it’s working fine with FSX SP2 and the Acceleration pack, however, it’s not DirectX 10 compatible.

Checking the overhead panel tells me that most of the switches don’t work or are not simulated. This is not strange since the 2D doesn’t offer this either. I know, it’s a F-lite product but a little more simulation level would not be bad. In other words, my overall impression of this VC is great, very realistic, but don’t look to the flight engineer panel, since there’s nothing simulated and the pictures used are of a lower quality than the rest of the digitalized images. Don’t expect a highly sophisticated Auto Flight system except for the optional INS. Most of the gauges used are working; they offer a good representation of the instruments, but again, no additional features.

The 2D cockpit is not as impressive as the VC version and not all the sub panels are based on digitalized images. There’s not really a need for this by the way; it’s purely a developers decision. While looking to the captain's and additional co-pilot's panels, I must say that this artist did a nice job. That said, I don’t think digitalized material is used but they are well painted with the necessary 3D effects and shadows.

The gauges used and thus the output of the instruments is the same as we saw already while looking around in the VC. This is also applicable for the simulated lite FMS CDU and the fully operational and 100% realistic INS CDU's. The overall first impression of the main instrument panels gives me a good and realistic panel. By the way, all the different panels or sub-panels come into view via the sim-icons, located below the middle of the Automatic Flight Mode Select Panel. Oops, that’s a long word so let’s say the MCP (Mode Control Panel). Some sim-icons are used for default MSFS panels/windows like the kneeboard, map, and ATC window while others are purely created for this add-on model. Which add-on panels do we have?; the overhead, radio, FMS or INS related pedestal, flight engineer, activation of the VC, FMC, co-pilot main instrument and an external doors/animation.

Good, let’s first have a closer look at these panels.

Captain's instrument panel Co-pilot's instrument panel Overhead panel
INS radio CP Pedestal Flight Engineer panel
FMS radio CP with FMS CDU Doors and ground equipment control for the RH fuselage side Doors and ground equipment control for the LH fuselage side

A detailed look at the overhead panel teaches me that it’s a full digital image of the real panel – logically - and thus it looks great, but I think only 20-30% of it is working. You can open/close the guarded flight control hydraulic power switches but even when you haven’t selected those, you can still fly. If you select the YAW DAMPER ON or OFF, you can still fly. That’s a little bit on the downside of simulating things while they aren’t connected to anything. Another nice thing is the presence of the INS MSU (Mode Selector Units) in the FMC configuration. In the simulated FMC configuration those control panels are installed but you can’t do anything with them since it’s not simulated. Ok, in combination with a lite FMC, there’s also no need but the moment you select a 747-200/300 or -200F with the INS system installed, then those MSU's are operative. You can select what you want and even the lights are working so that’s the problem of using digitalized images while the simulated aircraft doesn’t offer specific equipment.

When requesting the radio panel and pedestal I’m a little disappointed. These panels look totally different than the captain's and co-pilot's panels. Totally different means apart from selectable items, they used bitmaps. Although it’s the 2D cockpit, it doesn’t mean that the bitmap should represent a 2D look. The nice 2D main panels with some depth would be nice when this was also implemented into the radio panel and pedestal.

The radio panel is a pure basic panel lay-out with an overall look not really representing the 747’s panel. The installed FMC CDU – if you’ve chosen for the FMS equipped aircraft – is clickable which means a separate FMC CDU pops up. What’s valid for the radio panel is also applicable for the pedestal. The pedestal houses the stabilizer trim, throttles, speed brake, flaps, parking brake lever and a view other items. When you have chosen an INS equipped aircraft, the radio panel offers this time no FMS CDU, but three INS CDU's. Pretty impressive but even more impressive since those are real replicas of the Delco Carousel IV-A Inertial Navigation System. Since those are the ones we know already from their DC-10 Series, I can tell you that they really work like the real once. So no full 100% operative FMC CDU's, but a 100% realistic INS CDU.

There's one last item regarding the 2D cockpit and that’s the flight engineer panel. As mentioned in their manual, it's more or less a dummy panel where things can be selected but systems operation or control is not really the case. You can ask yourself; what then is the additional value of having a flight engineer panel? To be honest, I can’t give a good answer. Since it’s only a dummy and I’m personally not impressed about it, it doesn’t make much sense to me. Just to remind you, the DC-10 Series also offers a flight engineer panel but here there is much more switching possible although it’s also a dummy panel.

Good, the overall look of the 2D and VC panels, bitmaps, instruments, selectors, levers, and switches is ok for me. It’s a little disappointing that the overhead panel offers not so many selectable items, and that the 2D radio panel and pedestal bitmaps are of a much lower quality than the main panels. Lower quality means not realistic compared to the nice looking 2D main instrument panels.

Last incoming note while discussing this 2D “pedestal- and radio panel“ bitmap item with Albert Bouwman; “Currently there are no plans for a new SP but when we’ve collected enough items, then I don’t see there’s a problem modifying these - pedestal and radio panel - to a more realistic looking bitmap.” Now let’s hope CLS collects within a short timeframe enough items producing this SP!

Flight Impression (FS9 with FMS) or Air File

Or should I say “flight dynamics” or “flight characteristics”? It’s all the same, so let’s go. When you choose to fly a FMS based model, there’s not too much to configure. The only thing you need to do is make a flight plan with, for example, the help of the default MSFS planner. Of course, you’re free to use one of the many other external planners. When you plan to use an INS based airplane, then a little more must be done.

First you need to figure out how this MSU, CDU and flight plan loader works and since these related INS component aren’t “lite” products, a little more time is needed to figure it out. When you don’t want all of that, then you can just fly to VOR or NDB stations. Ok, it’s now time to jump into the captain's or co-pilot's seat. I invite you to sit behind me in the fourth seat and let’s see how this plane behaves on the ground and in flight.

The first problem I’m facing and to be honest it’s not an aircraft problem but it’s me. Wow, this is high above the ground. I hardly see anything down there. This means after the pushback is completed, I need to taxi to a runway but need to look far ahead and keep in mind the large turns to make. The second thing to remember, the nose gear with the steering system is far behind the cockpit. Taxiing this Queen is therefore not easy.

Since there’s no flight tutorial, I don’t have anything to read as to what to do. I do miss this, to be honest, although I’m aware that this is a lite product, which means no complicated settings, switching’s, procedures to follow or FMS CDU's to program, except then the optional INS CDU and even this one can be used in the AUTO operating mode. Since we’re not flying online and not using the default ATC, we turn nicely onto the runway and when in position, we set the parking brake, which allows us to perform the last checks. There’s not so much to set or to check, but we need to do this according to the offered checklist or I could use the JF flight tutorial.

All nice pictures but I like the one when sitting virtually on the pushback truck. Wow, this is like in the real aviation and what do you think of the shot during gear retraction? Even the inside of the wing- and body gear wells are provided with textures.

Going through the flight tutorial adds some additional techniques, but for beginners it’s really not enough. It’s an F-lite product, so no need to dig into books or procedures. What JF offers is really a very limited description, and even for beginners it will be difficult to follow the steps. Why, because lots of panels are hardly discussed. No, even in the beginning of the manual, there’s not that much attention for detailed instrument description.

Anyway, we’re ready for takeoff and after confirming our speeds, we commence the start and at VR we slightly pull on the stick .. oops … yoke and there we go. I could follow the tutorial for this situation since it offers some information related to speeds, climb speed and others. I’ll decide to connect the AT (Auto Throttle) but continue to fly by hand. While the FD (Flight Director) is set, it’s just easy for me to follow the pitch and roll bars.

During the climb I play a little with the different flight controls to see the aircraft response. With the full custom flight dynamics active, it flies nice. If it flies like a real 747, I can’t tell you since I don’t have any practical experience with it. On the other hand, the CLS 747 flies totally different than the default MSFS 747 which is good news! Maneuvering this magnificent aircraft doesn’t go that easy.

Tons of steel .. wrong … mainly Aluminum won’t move that quickly in the air.

Small incorrect side panel. Unfortunately a mirror image Southern France I suppose so! Leaving the Spanish mainland. Heading for Palma
There’s the island Nice shot with Palma de Mallorca in view GEAR moving DOWN, that means approaching LEPA

While we’re approaching cruise, it’s time to have a closer look at all the instruments, and panels etc. as well as the external model. Cruise is a little boring and especially when there’s no ATC, so there's nobody I can talk to. Therefore, it's time to play a little with the FMS CDU and since this is also a lite version; it’s not that difficult to understand what it offers.

The JF manual offers some background information of this CDU but it’s not really enough. On the other hand, we’re dealing with an uncomplicated 747 replica that doesn’t need many inputs. After FMS CDU playtime is over, I have a closer look at the MCP. Remember, that was that terrible long complicated word “Automatic Flight Mode Select Panel”. Ok, you got it again! There’s so much on this panel and there’s so little in the Acrobat files. It seems it’s highly exaggerated, but don’t forget you’re a beginner and looking for a great model with easy, understandable panels and controls. With this in mind, you’re looking for a well didactical written manual!

By the way, does it mean this JF/CLS 747 Classic is only for beginners? No way! It depends on what you’re looking for, how far do you want to go with reading books, books and many other books and not being able to fly 1 centimeter. Or you can go with what you know. Lucky for us, we’re all different, and that's what makes this hobby so great!

I can’t see the airport or are we doing something wrong? Just before touchdown Engine reverse selected on these Rolls Royce RB-211


Ooh good heavens, it’s time to start our descent. While my fellow pilot is preparing our descent checklist items – as far as you can switch certain systems – I can write something about the FPS; the average FPS for the FSX model is pretty low. Ok, while flying at FL310 it looks all ok with 20-25 fps, but the moment I’m in a cloudy area during the climb or descent, it drops to around 12-15, which is not high.

On the ground at a gate or even at the beginning of a runway, it’s not that much better. Using the model with FS9, the figures are, of course, much higher. I’ve got no idea where it’s coming from or by what it is caused. The external highly detailed model with all its polygons could be a reason but on the other hand, the cockpit isn’t equipped with modern instrument like EFIS and EICAS/ECAM or whatever you want to call it. The basic MSFS AP/AT is used and no complicated developed systems here, which means less computer resources.

The following conditions have been used to detect a more or less stable FPS value and are partly taken from a recent AVSIM forum posting regarding detecting FSX FPS of add-on models compared to the default FSX CRJ700. The pre-conditions to measure a stable FPS between, for example, the default FSX CRJ700 and add-on models, can be found via this AVSIM Wiki link.

Based on these slightly modified preconditions and one additional evening light condition; find here the JF/CLS FPS results.

FSX CRJ700 – 16.3 FPS FSX CLS 747 – 12.1 FPS
Noon light condition
FSX CRJ700 – 13.2 FPS FSX CLS 747 – 9.6 FPS
Evening 21:00 hours (9:00 PM) light condition

During my absence, my fellow pilot started the descent. The aircraft is currently flown by the AP so it’s again time to take over this automatic control and check, feel and test how it flies manually. I’m feeling the same experience that I did when trying to bring it into a bank angle and it takes some time to move. Not surprising since it’s a huge aircraft and this takes time before it responds. In other words, that feels good.

Remember, I’m using the full custom flight dynamics. The user who wants to have an easier controllable aircraft can, via the shortcut menu “Panel and FDE Configuration”, adjust to EZ Flight Dynamics. JF/CLS explains this as follows “If set to Full Custom Flight Dynamics then each model/engine combination in the Aircraft Types list will have a flight model based on the actual characteristics of that variation in the real world. If set to EZ Flight Dynamics then all the variations will use a simplified flight model that users new to the complications of large commercial aircraft may find useful to get initial practice with before moving up to the full challenge.”

When you decide to change this, remember not to do it while FS9/FSX is running! After changing to the EZ dynamics or visa versa, you need to restart MSFS. Let’s go back to our flight impression otherwise I'll be too late and we’ll be on the ground. My co-pilot is still flying by hand but since the pressure becomes too high, we’ll decide to connect the AP again and do our last checks including entering the ILS frequency with runway heading. It seems that picking up the LOC is no problem and we select the flaps down. When we’ve got a live GS signal, the gear is lowered as well.

Smoothly, this queen moves towards the runway and makes a nice landing. I must say that the overall impression of the full custom flight dynamics gives the aircraft its elegance. The EZ dynamics gives the aircraft a more default MSFS character, but is indeed intended for those who really need to start flying these big jets. Do I like the “EZ Flight Dynamics” option? No, it’s nothing for me but it's not important what I think. The fact that this option is available for those users, who haven’t much experience, is already enough to assist those with easier flight characteristics.

What, another unscheduled KLM flight to CYYJ (FSX with INS)

Once you start flying this Jumbo Jet, you can’t stop.

Since this review is almost finished, it’s a good idea to take it on a local US flight to CYYJ (Victoria International Airport). Why CYYJ? Very simple; that’s the home base of the AVSIM Reviews Editor. Normally it goes via the worldwide high-speed Internet, but it’s not a bad idea to change that for one time. The KLM Royal Dutch Airlines 747-300, equipped with the famous home made CLS INS and flying for Northwest Airlines … oops … Delta, makes an unscheduled flight to Victoria.

Refueling at our Boston Logan International gate is finished; passengers are boarded while I’m looking at the flight crew to see what they are all doing. Ok, due to the lite cockpit configuration and the fact that the INS flight plan loader is in the AUTO mode, there’s not much to do. When you want to do much more, switch the INS flight plan loader to the MAN(ual) mode, and type the first nine waypoint by yourself, which is the way the pilots did it during the good old days. The fact that it comes with an AUTO(matic) flight plan detection and picks up all the waypoints, makes life much easier.

Last incoming note; the upcoming 747 Classic CLS flight tutorial will cover a flight where the INS and FMS CDU's are explained.

We’re ready to go; fueling is done, passengers and luggage all on-board, catering loaded and the pushback truck in position. After receiving our pushback clearance, the last checks are done and here we go. While it’s a little early in the morning and still dark, the KLM 747-300 is standing as a Queen on Boston ground, proud as she is! We don’t need to taxi that far to the runway but while the virtual pilots are doing their work – keeping the aircraft on the centerline of the taxi way – I’ll make some shots.

Wow, pretty impressive with that overall view of this Virtual Cockpit, with the Boston downtown as a background. One of the checks to perform is the flight controls deflection and while they are sitting in the front, I’ll jump for you –virtually – to the tail of the aircraft and very well can be seen the great way the upper and lower rudder are split and have different deflection angles. This is – not shown on a picture – the same for the in- and outboard elevators.

Oops, it’s time for me to go back to the flight deck since we’re approaching the runway threshold. All clear, so ready for takeoff. I suppose! We line up and at V1 nothing is wrong, so we’ll continue and at Vlof the aircraft lifts off gracefully from mother Earth. By the way; one consequence of using the INS, is the missing SPEED calculations. The INS can’t calculate the V1, VR and V2 speeds and since the JF manual doesn’t offer this, we need to dig into the original CLS manuals.

Ok, found it; find here the direct link to the CLS 747 Operational Manual. It could be that it doesn’t answer all your questions, but you can use the CLS forum or contact JF support. Once airborne, the AT (Auto Throttle) is connected but again the AP stays OFF although the pilots have connected the FD. This gives them at least a guide in which direction to steer since we don’t want to end in the northeast of Canada or the North Pole.

Playing during flight to check all the possibilities of the INS CDU selector with the help of the offered JF/CLS INS manual doesn’t work. The INS manual only covers preflight checks, alignment of the INS units and how to deal with the MSU (Mode Selector Unit). Furthermore, it explains entering waypoint by waypoint. This could be of help during ground manual INS operations, but not during flight. What you could do is wait for the upcoming 747 Classic flight tutorial (KBOS-KSFO) from CLS or, for the moment, you could download this link.

It’s the CLS DC-10 INS Expansion package, but more important, the installer offers you the CLS DC-10 complete manual. Ok, it covers many things not related to the 747, but on pages 131 up to and including 150, you will find lots of INS CDU information but as I said, patience, since there’s a dedicated FMS/INS 747 flight tutorial coming.

With some step climbs in between, we’re reaching cruise conditions. This gives me the possibility to check manual rudder input and aircraft behavior. Applying some rudder doesn’t result in an immediate aircraft deflection. No, it takes some while before this massive aircraft responds with a yaw and roll. Furthermore, I noticed as well that when flying at 0.85Mach, I’m still able to apply full rudder. Oops, that’s not really correct. Rudder travel should be limited in one way or the other when flying at cruising speed.

Anyway, returning the aircraft back to its normal flight conditions, it’s time to connect the AP (Auto Pilot) again. By the way, this is a default FS9/FSX auto pilot modified for the use with the JF/CLS 747 so it’s not a dedicated design for this aircraft. While busy with many things in the cockpit, it seems that our flight is coming to an end. Our descent is initiated and from now the JF 747-200/300 series review is handed over to our reviews editor. During this test flight I didn’t notice any differences between the FS9 and FSX flight characteristics, except for the FMS or INS configuration and the lower FSX FPS.

This brings another flight impression to its end. With so many hours on the flight deck and doing “ground” and “flight” walk-around checks, I think I’ve got a good idea what the JF/CLS product is offering. A great looking VC, nice looking 2D cockpit except for a few sub-panels, awesome external model with eye for details and keeping in mind the F-lite features, I enjoyed the hours spent on this model.

Sound

Apart of the missing typical cockpit sounds, like moving the flap lever or the speedbrake handle, environmental sounds or recorded flight crew commands, the engine sound is very realistic. While standing at the nose gear strut and closing my eyes, I can tell you that this sound is a real recording and represents, for example, the General Electric CF6-50 Series.

It seems that every engine type – Pratt & Whitney and the Rolls Royce – has its own sound folder but I can’t confirm if this is the real recorded sound of those engines. All together a nice experience listening to this.

Summary / Closing Remarks

Test System

Dell Precision Workstation 650
Dual Intel P4-Xeon 3.06Ghz
4Gb RAM DDR 533Mhz
nVidia 7800GS+ 512Mb AGP
RAID-0 HDD’s - SCSI 340Gb
Windows XP Professional SP2
Flight Simulator FSX SP2
Saitek Pro Flight Rudder Pedals
Saitek Pro Flight Yoke System
Saitek Pro Flight Switch Panel
Tracker IR Pro 4
Tracker Clip Pro

Flying Time:
42 hours

With what shall I start? The positive or negative items and is there really anything negative to write down? That depends on what you’re looking for and what your expectations are.

Let’s then first start with the pro; the external model is really great. I’ve hardly seen external models with that many details as this JF/CLS aircraft. Not surprising since their DC-10 Series is also of the same level and when you know the 3D artist who’s responsible for this external model, indeed, it's the same person. In other words, great job!

The offered liveries and the daily growing free liveries found on AVSIM are each representing a realistic replica of the good old days when those airlines flew these giants. That you need to pay for livery packages is not really my choice, but at the same time, I know others do this as well like Ariane Studios.

The only big difference with Ariane Studios is that a JF livery pack costs you hardly anything and purchasing all together will cost you a little more then €42.00, while the base package -747-200/300 - is just €24.95.

The offered basic manual, either a paper copy within the DVD box or separate as an Acrobat file is, to my feeling, not enough. Although it’s an F-lite model, it doesn’t mean the manual should be less comprehensive. Also, the separate INS manual is nice but since this 747 Classic offers an additional “INS Flight Plan Loader”, which is not explained in the manual, it’s to my opinion not complete and you can’t use the AUTO loading function of this INS system. Apart of that, the offered INS manual only tells you something about the MSU's (Mode Selector Units), the alignment procedures and manually entering waypoint data. It doesn’t say anything about how to handle the INS CDU during flight.

Did I like the model and its features? It’s something totally different than a fully functional equipped FMS or PMS aircraft like my recently reviewed PMDG MD-11 or the Flight1/Coolsky Super 80 or even the Flight1 ATR. To master these aircraft you need to read the manuals, you need updated AIRAC information, plus a lot of time, patience and perseverance.

With this JF/CLS 747 Classic package you don’t need that at all. When you don’t want to read bunches of papers, no complicated procedures to follow, then this aircraft is really fun and gives you many hours of pleasure. You also need to accept that panel operation and switching is much more limited than, for example, the previous mentioned PMDG and Coolsky models.

The always interesting question; is it worth buying this product? When you don’t want to dig into comprehensive manuals and want an easy to handle aircraft – JF F-lite – I think it’s a very good choice, otherwise you need to look for the more complicated add-on models.

And then there’s that second question; is it worth buying the update JF packages? For the cargo upgrade pack it is for sure worth your money since it adds the 747-200F to the base pack and, by the way, the base pack is of course worth it’s presence. For the livery packs, that’s up to you. Ok, each pack doesn’t cost too much but many freeware paintings can be found at the AVSIM library (especially for the FSX CLS 747), so why pay for additional packages? Again, that’s up to you.

No more remarks? When I want, I can always find something, but that’s not the idea. What I can add to this are the small snags I’ve found during this JF/CLS adventure.

The white tail bulb hanging in space, the strangely filled shelves of the cargo loaders (see one of the external view screenshots) and the mirrored co-pilot's control panel image (see screenshot FS9 FMS flight impression). Not really snags but the VC flight engineer panel picture/bitmap (no idea if this is a bitmap) with instruments is of a lower quality then the rest of the great looking VC.

And a last item; compared to the good looking 2D main instrument panels (bitmaps), the pedestal, standalone FMS CDU and radio panel bitmaps have lack of depth and/or weathered look. One more thing and that is the simulated animations like the stairs, catering trucks and cargo loaders. For some reason it seems that the image quality of, for example, the air stairs is low. I know these stairs from other CLS products and it seems to me that a much lower resolution is used. Not a hot item since you only see these animated items when you have selected them.

Regarding these last two items; I explained earlier in this review that when CLS decides to come out with a SP, probably these bitmaps will be modified by having a more realistic look and for the low quality ground equipment ex-truck, this is the result of exporting problems in relation to the amount of polygons.

 

What I Like About The Just Flight/CLS Boeing 747-200/300 and -200F

  • The product installers are as usual without any problems, even the online validation process works perfect.
  • The 747 Classic model is split into separate packages, for every body there’s always something, but remember, you always need the base package.
  • Awesome exterior model!
  • Very realistic looking VC and then in particular the pilots office.
  • Good looking 2D captains- and co-pilots instruments panels as well as the overhead.
  • Great and highly realistic looking liveries. Due to the weathered look and dirty parts, it really gave me the feeling I had a real Jumbo-Jet in front of me!
  • Recorded engine sounds are great.
  • There’s a very good difference noticeable between for example the RR RB-211 and the GE CF6-50 Series engines.
  • One price for both MSFS versions (FS9 and FSX). Remember, the FSX is only compatible with it!

 

What I Don't Like About The Just Flight/CLS Boeing 747-200/300 and -200F

  • That the user must pay for an additional model like the freighter version is ok with me, but paying for separate liveries! On the other hand I have to admit, a livery pack costs you only $7.99 or €5.95.
  • I really missed a comprehensive flight tutorial. Although it isn’t a complicated cockpit there’s always a need to have a guideline how to go thru all of this, especially because of the INS.
  • The JF tutorial is in my personal opinion, not enough and the INS manuals do not cover this.
  • The VC flight engineer panel is unfortunately without any controls and the digital image is of a lower quality that the pilots VC workspace.

 

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Just Flight/CLS Boeing 747-200/300 and -200F

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