The Piper pedigree goes right back to the original PA-28 which was designed by John Thorpe as an all-metal home-build project, which after some tuning and alteration, became the first Cherokee. In 1962, the Piper Cherokee was born and became popular as the Piper Cherokee 140, which was extended and modified to produce the Piper Cherokee 180. A move which established a neat line in fixed-gear single engined low wing aircraft, good for training, touring and business users too.
By 1965, Piper decided to further modify the Cherokee series and make the move into the four seat retractable gear market by installing the 180 with a fully retractable gear system which was electromechanical and utilized an electric motor with mechanical links attached to the oleos to enable retraction, and an auto-extension mechanism that would sense airspeed, and if the airspeed got low, the gear would extend automatically. No more embarrassing “gear-up” landings! The next design concept put a 200 horsepower engine built by Textron Lycoming into a modified airframe, and the Piper Arrow was born.
By 1994, and an abundance of Aircraft manufacturers like Cessna, Grumman, Mooney and Beech producing faster, more efficient and cheaper four seat general aviation aircraft, saw a recession across the globe which pushed Piper into bankruptcy, and it was several years before the New Piper re-established the Piper Arrow and eventually the current day Piper Arrow III, but that’s another story.
Installation and Documentation
The CLS Piper PA28R-200 Arrow II is designed to run in FS9, FSX Sp1 & Acceleration, and is easily downloadable via the CLS website at a cost of $17 or 11.95 Euros, or for the British public, £8.50. It does not give me any pleasure in announcing to you that there is no documentation whatsoever, despite the CLS advertisement for the product confirming a manual and their forum query regarding the manual remains unanswered.
Install was clean and efficient, and the end result is as shown in the photos. It is a Piper Arrow, and on face value looks like one. No fancy finish or bump mapping, but the lack of a manual does inhibit one annoying aspect from being rectified, and that is the number of passengers carried. In any event, there are always four people onboard, deadpan of face and rigid as a gear that is firmly down and locked. No movement at all from them, even upside down with nothing on the clock but the makers name. Call me fussy, but there are times when I like to be on my own, or have a co-pilot to help me when I need confirmation of ATC radio traffic and navigation, but to have to haul 3 total strangers on every flight is a bit much.
The Piper PA28R-200 ARROW
The download results in a Piper Arrow II in one of eight liveries, and includes a plain white finish Arrow complete with a paint kit, with which you can paint and logo finish your own Aircraft.
There is no bump-mapping, no weathered look, no real panel markings; several aerials and a standard finished propeller is all that enhances a pretty casual external model. The passenger door opens properly, which is a plus point.
I suspect that this model of the Piper Arrow has been ported from FS2004 (FS9) as it looks very ordinary, and that’s all I can say really. Actually flying the aircraft, and I have flown both the Piper Cherokee 140 and 180 in real life, reveals that some aspects of flight performance are very good, but some aspects are abysmal.
Taxi out is straightforward, braking is OK, steering is OK, lining up ready for take-off feels OK, and the take-off roll feels good. A slight torque effect to correct with rudder and a positive pull on the control column is needed to unstuck, and when the gear is selected up after positive climb rate established, it comes up with a satisfying whine in about three seconds, and locks neatly.
The model cruises at about 138 knots, and I got to 16,200 feet AMSL approximately before it failed to climb anymore, but did maintain altitude. A dirty stall is achieved at 55 knots, accompanied by a stall warning tone and a slight tendency to dip a wing, easily recoverable every time. Clean stalling is also as per the book, which I had to get from other sources because as we already know, there isn’t one with the package. So far so good, but then things started to go pear shaped.
Roll Control is very poor in effect, sluggish and generally unconvincing, yet pitch control is good, and another thing that is true to life is the need for lots of trim.
It might appear to be a Piper Arrow II, but it doesn’t fly like one. Commercial Level Simulations state that the CLS aircraft are not intended for training purposes or real world operations. Also, they say the procedures contained within the simulation are CLS interpretations of generic flight operations and that these procedures are not always accurate in all situations.
Very brave statements, and say exactly what they mean. A pretty looking airplane, but flies like an A4 sheet of paper folded into an airplane shape. Good for 20 meters and then crumples into a heap. Actually, that sounds mean. It does fly, but not as one would expect, and at a time when disposable cash is at a premium, one has a decision to make with this package as to whether to spend on this product, or not.
Looking at the interior reveals a couple of finished flight instrument panels, depending on the livery, and one of them is a ghastly blue. Obviously designed to fit the mood of the three permanent passengers, who sit rigidly through every maneuver without giving anything of their charisma away.
The instruments, to be fair, are well presented as models of the originals, together with the control yoke and rudder pedals. Some of them work really well, accurate and instant in response, but others, engine and fuel wise especially, are not to be trusted at all. Perhaps my three passengers already know that, and are ever prepared. I wish they could speak!
The instrument lighting works, and starting the engine is a good representation of the real thing, external lighting being good too. Views all around are good, although typically the low wing plan form does restrict looking down below the aircraft of course.
For some reason the RPM gauge goes through the redline segment and beyond quickly, the manifold pressure gauge does move, but is combined as a duel indication with fuel flow, which is either at high flow or low flow with nothing indicated in between. Some work is required to rectify this situation, and CLS are aware, but as a model for practicing with it isn’t reliable enough in my opinion.
Looking at Piper Flight Panels in real life reveals that the interpretation is pretty accurate, maybe a slight difference in the avionics suite but not enough to cause concern. This means that the basic flying panel is good, and works very well when flying. The Radio Panels and basic Autopilot work, and all of the instruments read clearly and move precisely on the flight panel. So no problems there.
The engine, simulating the Textron-Lycoming 10-360 C1C6, actually sounds very good throughout its range of RPM, and is very much on the button as far as I can tell.
Checking the Magnetos on the ground provides the necessary rocking motion on the airframe, caused by static thrust and torque effect, which is a plus point.
It starts in accordance with the manual, runs well and is correctly influenced by prop and mixture controls to give best performance. It is a pity that some of the gauges do not work correctly, which makes it difficult to get the manifold pressure and RPM and fuel flow to correctly readout.
Summary / Closing Remarks
The Piper PA28R-200 Arrow II has the potential to be a really nice aircraft, and a nice addition to anybody’s fleet. But in its present state, with no manual, no way of positioning passengers, inability to fly as it should, and not even to the standard of new FSX aircraft being produced as we read this review, I would not spend any money on this particular product personally. I'd preferring to wait for another software producer to make the Piper Arrow II an attractive purchase, with a professional finish, gauges that work properly and a flight envelope that is realistic in all modes of operation.
Others can do it, and it is a pity that CLS on this occasion have not had the ability to produce what could have been a very popular product line. As a long loved and well respected aircraft in the form of the Piper PA28-200 Arrow II, maybe they can work on the product as it stands and improve it enough to make it a winner.
Commercial Level Simulations means just that. Simulations at a commercial level of quality that actually do what they say on their website.
What I Like About Piper PA28R-200 Arrow II
What I Don't Like About Piper PA28R-200 Arrow II
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