There are many developers for MSFS, some well known, others less known. In this review I’ll be looking at an almost unknown company: Aerosim. Aerosim is a small Japanese developer for various Microsoft Flight Simulator versions, including MSFS 2002, 2004 and X, and CFS2 and 3. Most of their products focus on FS2004, and are of a specific type: the packages usually contain scenery, aircraft and an adventure complete with relevant approach charts, whereas most packages contain just one or several aircraft models of one type, or scenery.
The package I’m going to look at is Aerosim’s Classic Liners Vol. 1 package, the first of two available volumes that cover a wide range of classic jetliners. The Vol.1 package contains the following aircraft: Boeing 727-100 and -200, 737-200ADV, Boeing 747-100, -200B, -200C, -200F and -300. The scenery included is one of the old Osaka International Airport. The adventure included is a tutorial that lets you fly the Osaka approach.
The package is a FS9 only package. If you want to use this package in FSX, you are doing so at your own risk!
A brief history of the planes
The Boeing 727 is the first and, to date, last tri-engine aircraft to be produced by Boeing. Produced in 1963, it became a very popular aircraft and it broke sale records in the following years. Even now, many companies are still using updated versions of the Boeing 727-200 aircraft. I say updated, because the aircraft’s JT8D engines were very noisy. Current regulations wouldn’t even permit these aircraft to fly because of the noise they produce, so Boeing made available a “hush kit” to silence the Boeing 727. Updated with these kits, many 727s still exist and fly every day.
The Boeing 737-200 is the older brother of the 737-100, the main difference being the 737-200’s extended fuselage. The airplane was designed as an aircraft for short hops, being smaller than both the 707 and 727. The “baby Boeing”, as the original -100 was called, quickly became a smashing success. A success of such a degree that the 737 series is still being produced and newer versions are being designed and built, with the latest in the series being the 737-900.
Back in 1964, when the designing had started, this was the last thing people had expected it becoming. Though the 737-100 initially wasn’t such a success, Boeing responded to many airline’s wishes to have a larger Boeing 737: the 737-200. It was longer, so more passengers could fit in, and it’s operational range was slightly increased. It happened to become one of the best selling aircraft of the era.
Classic Boeing 747 series
The “Jumbo Jet” is a wide body commercial airliner, the first of its kind. It also was the largest airliner of the time. The first prototype took off in 1970, and since then it has always remained an important part of many airline’s fleets. With its signature “hump” at the front of the fuselage, it is a recognizable sight that is a wonder to behold because of its sheer size. In 1970, it was 2.5 times the length of the 707. It held passenger capacity records for 37 years.
Originally, Boeing hadn’t thought it would become such a success. People figured, with the rise of supersonic aircraft, the huge 747 would soon become obsolete for passenger flights. Instead, Boeing though their plane would live on as a freighter aircraft. Many airlines kept ordering and buying the 747 though, leading Boeing to designing a second version: the Boeing 747-200. The signature hump, which, in the -100 version, was to be a lounge, became a space for more passenger seating in the -200 and beyond. Most airlines have made it into a first class compartment.
The 747-200 now still lives on as a freighter model. Though updated with the 747-400’s systems, most freighter 747's are basically 747-200's, with an option to open the nose and large parts of the fuselage at the back of the aircraft. As for the -300, that one is still being operated by various operators around the world, like SLM, Surinam’s national airline.
After buying the package from Aerosim, you can easily download it from their website. There is a service pack (SP1) that corrects some problems, enhances the planes and adds some tiny things. In order to successfully unpack these additional downloads, you need a password, the download page tells you where to find it.
is as straightforward as could be: you click install.exe, wait
for the program to find your FS2004 installation (this can
take some time!), and when it does, you are presented with
the main installer screen. A drop down list asks what you
do (install/uninstall), and the path where FS2004 is located (or
more precise, where it thinks FS2004 is located). You now simply
hit install, and that’s it. It installs the aircraft, adventure
and scenery automatically, and it adds the scenery file to your
scenery.cfg without any problems.
This package seems rather light, and Aerosim also says that many of the complex systems have been evaded to make it possible for less experienced simmers to fly these planes comfortably. The only system which seems to be modeled in great detail is the INS. I do recommend reading the manual to master the INS, as it can be quite a pain to use if you don’t know what it is or what it does. To help make it all clearer, an entire flight, including all phases, plus the setting of the INS, is presented to you in a .wmv formatted video. There is no audio, just video, but combined with the manual it’s an effective and innovative way of teaching the user the workings of this intricate piece of machinery. Good job Aerosim!
There are also some tutorial flights that are well constructed and give the simmer the opportunity to either be the pilot flying, or get aboard as an observer. This is good thinking on the part of Aerosim and can really help unexperienced simmers getting to know these aircraft. When you do choose to fly the aircraft yourself, you can also choose a difficulty: normal or expert. Again, good job Aerosim!
The aircraft: exterior and interior model
this point on, I’m going to essentially break up every
paragraph into smaller paragraphs to accommodate each of the airplanes.
I’ll always be doing this in the order of Boeing 727, 737
and 747, not only to have the numbers from a low to high fashion,
but also because it appears the 747 would be the main focus of
this package: its systems seem most detailed, with the 747 VC certainly,
but more about that later.
The Boeing 727 is a very handsome looking plane, or so I think. Aerosim has done a remarkable job modeling it. On first inspection, it looks very good and a lot of details have been put onto it. I can’t say I’m not impressed. However, the engine made me a little concerned, because I could clearly see “pieces” sticking in a radial way out of the center of the engine towards the sides, as can be seen on this screenshot.
Not being familiar with this type of engine, I first thought these were 3D, non moving fan blades, but then it occurred to me this might be just the way these engines looked. Eventually I found a photograph that showed me the engines.
I admit: I was wrong here. Aerosim got it completely right.
For the rest, I can’t find anything that I don’t like about this exterior model. The detail of the wheels is remarkable, and the cabin is nicely modeled, though you can only see it when you open the door. Here are some more screenshots to give you some idea.
Now the interior. This is a bit disappointing and doesn’t come close to any existing 727 cockpit on the market at the moment. It’s all very flat looking. Some details are quite off, like the bitmap of the enormous trim knob on the pedestal. Also the thrust levers are too large, when compared to real-life 727 cockpits.
What disturbs me most is that, although the texturing of the panels is actually pretty good, the rest of the cockpit seems rather mediocre in comparison. It would have been very nice if this would have been done better, a little closer to reality. However, what I greatly value, is how sharp all the gauges remain, even when zoomed in on them. I have seen many add-ons with gauges that end up being blurry and close to unreadable when zoomed in.
Overall, it all looks to me like the default 737-400 VC, but with much better texturing of the main panel. One thing that deserves to be noted, is that not a lot is actually clickable. Think of the default 737-400 VC, and you have got pretty much all buttons clickable in the 727 VC.
As a side note, the Boeing 727-100 and -200 have different cockpits in reality. The 2D panels of the Aerosim 727s reflect this, but the VC's don’t. The VC of the -200 is the same one as of the -100, meaning that the Aerosim 727-200 model essentially has a 727-100 VC.
The exterior model is again surprisingly good. The amount of detail is good, and the wheels especially are very detailed. Overall, it’s a very good looking model, like the 727’s exterior model. Do note that Aerosim included only one model of the 737-200: in reality, the Boeing 737-200 could have been fitted with more than one type of engine. In the Aerosim package, we only find the JT8D engine type, which is fine, because it seems to be the most used engine type.
The interior is a different story. Like with the 727, it’s not that good. Frankly, to me it seems like the 727 VC, but altered to fit it in the 737 model (or perhaps vice versa?). So, like with the 727 VC, the actual panel bitmaps are sharp and are nice, but the rest of the cockpit looks a bit bare. There are no 3D buttons, like in the 727 VC. Most of it is a flat bitmap (most of the bitmaps are also pretty blurry), and I noticed not all buttons/handles that are 3D, move upon touch. For example, the elevator trim wheel doesn’t move.
Boeing 747 series
The 747 series in this package consist of the -100, -200 series (including -200F) and -300 models. Since these models generally are the same, I won’t devote too much time to each of these models, but there certainly are some striking differences that are important to point out. Do note that during this review I’ll mainly look at the 747-100 model, since this seems to be the main 747 model Aerosim focused their attention upon.
How do I know? The level of detail (LOD). Take a look at the screenshots, and you’ll notice something interesting: apart from the usual detail, there are fully animated 3D fan blades! Now look at the 747-200 series and the 747-300: Just a textured, spinning disk in the engine. I really don’t understand this choice, but it sure feels like the 747-100 must have been the central part of this package.
Continuing with the 747, I really like the looks of this exterior model, especially the signature 747 “hump”. It is a very difficult thing to correctly model, as I understand, but Aerosim certainly did a very good job here. The model also has wing flex which is clearly noticed because of the 747’s large wings (The 737 and 727 didn’t seem to have any wing flex, but then again, their wings are too small to be able to really see it). If anything, these 747 models are all a joy to see flying in the air.
Now for some Boeing 747-200 exterior screenshots. Especially note how the engines are far less detailed here.
And now, some screenshots of the 747-300 in Air France livery (by the way, again a textured disk for fan blades on this model):
Now, contrary to the other two planes, the VC of the 747's looks nice. It is obvious that more attention and care have gone into the 747’s VC: 3D buttons on the overhead, for example. The texturing overall is good, though it is a pity only the most important areas and spots with buttons are textured. The entire left side of the cockpit actually seems to be untextured, as can be seen on the screenshots. It’s a continuing trend from the other aircraft in this package, and it is a pity. It makes an otherwise good-looking VC look bare.
As a final note regarding all aircraft models, I’d like to add that while in the beginning I didn’t like the VC's much, I got used to it in the end. I ended up not minding that it wasn’t as nice as other payware aircraft’s VC's, and I accepted it for what it was. Because, for what it is, I think it does the job fine. You can describe them in one word: decent.
An important side note regarding liveries!
Due to the fact that Aerosim is mostly an unknown company, there are hardly any liveries. I found this frustrating, since there were none of the liveries I really wanted. Finding liveries for the Boeing 727 and 737 is quite a task. In the end I decided to make my own repaints, otherwise I’d never be able to enjoy the 737 in the liveries I want. As a word of warning: if you end up deciding to make your own repaints, do know that the provided paint kit is quite hard to work with!
In general the sound package is okay. I have to admit that I don’t think the engine sounds are very realistic. The Boeing 747 sounds seem okay to me, but after listening to fragments of sounds of the JT8D engines, I admit these sounds could have been better. For example, they always had this very characteristic high-pitched “whine” to it, which you don’t hear in Aerosim’s sounds.
And then there are the cockpit audio warnings. The way they play in the cockpit is just annoying and very unrealistic. For example, when landing, the “terrain” and “pull up” warnings are being played in almost a continuous loop, without a pause in between. Normally, after a certain spoken audio cue, there is a pause (“Pull up” - pause - “Pull up”). The Aerosim sounds don’t have this much needed pause, which eventually made me turn off the sound altogether.
In short: the sounds are not very good. the engines, while in principal they sound good, they don’t sound like the typical engines of these aircraft, and the GPWS is plain annoying.
The fact that this is a “light” package, really shows in the systems modeling of all aircraft. First of all, the 2D panels look okay. They do the job. The most important systems work, and they work correctly in all aircraft. Below you can give all the panels a look. They are arranged according to aircraft type. Notice that the radio stack panel is the default 737-400 radio stack. The INS however, is something which has been modeled in the Boeing 747. It looks good, and seems accurate.
Important note: Don’t be fooled by the, what seems like, interactive panels! For example, the Flight Engineer panels don’t actually work. The gauges move, but you can’t do anything with the switches. They are static, and don’t function.
Taking them for a flight
In this chapter I’ll be taking the 727-200, 737-200 and 747-100 on a short hop from Paris Charles-de-Gaulle (LFPG) to Amsterdam Schiphol airport (EHAM). Additionally, I have done touch and goes with the previously mentioned aircraft and the aircraft mentioned in the second paragraph of the “exterior/interior model” piece, in various weather conditions.
I started at one of the gates, and taxied to the runway. Ground handling is good, it’s a very easy to taxi aircraft. Arriving at the runway (08L), I asked for takeoff clearance. I was told to taxi into position and hold, and so I did. Then I got the takeoff clearance. I kicked the tires, and there I went. The plane rolled down the runway, and at approximately 160 kts, I let the nose come up and took off. It went unbelievably easy, too easy it seemed.
The next part of the flight I mainly spent getting acquainted with the autopilot. It’s been some time since I meddled with these classic AP's, and although I didn’t quite remember how they worked, I managed. It’s, of course, very straight forward and easy. Mind you, the AP works flawlessly. It does everything without jerky movement.
The last phases, of descent, approach and landing, are the most interesting to me. After getting the first orders to descend to 15,000, it was time to get the baby on the ground. I got vectored around, and was told to land on runway 36L, but as that one didn’t seem to have an ILS, I asked for 36R, which I got. I dialed in the frequency and followed the ATC vectors. When the moment was there, ATC told me to continue with the visual approach. I took the AP to Auto APP (Auto APProach). After some waiting, the autopilot kicked in, and started turning the plane, lining it up with the runway. It was very smooth, and the autopilot took me down without any fuss. The landing was beautiful. I taxied away from the runway, to my assigned parking spot and turned off the engines. That went far too easy.
And so it did. Even at takeoff with the Dreamfleet 727, it was clear the flight model of Aerosim’s 727 had to be pretty simple (bad). Not only was the Dreamfleet one a lot more sluggish in operation, it was far slower. The main things that are not correct are engine performance and some things about the flight model. The former means I managed to reach 300 kts in 30 seconds after takeoff, whereas in the Dreamfleet model I only reached 200 kts at that same point in time.
The latter means the Aerosim 727 flew very easily and was way easier to handle than the Dreamfleet one. The Dreamfleet 727 really does feel like a big, clunky aircraft. In hindsight, the Aerosim 727 FDE reminds me a lot of the default 737. Mind you though, I honestly enjoyed my time with this aircraft, and somehow it was nice to have such a fluid flight again, without having to think of every detail.
As said, I’ve done roughly the same flight with this aircraft as with the Boeing 727. So, for a description of how this flight went, just read the 727 flight description I gave. There is one thing though that wasn’t smooth and failed twice miserably: the approach and landing phases. Let it be known, though, that the problem wasn’t the 737’s autopilot. If it were not for the blasted FS ATC, there wouldn’t have been a problem at all.
ATC basically messed it all up. It kept giving me inane orders to turn around, and while they did line me up for runway 36C, which was my previously assigned runway, I had to land at 36R. I had requested that runway for landing, but landing there was made completely impossible because of the way they handled my request. Therefore, it’s no surprise the autopilot had a hard time lining me up. In the end it actually did it fairly well. I had to help it a little, but touchdown was soft enough.
I did want to test this autoland more thoroughly, though. I did another ILS approach with ATC, which failed again because of ATC’s inane instructions. I did it a third and fourth time, this time without ATC vectoring me. Instead I cancelled my IFR flight, and contacted EHAM tower immediately. Next, I flew straight for runway 36R, and both times the autopilot intercepted the ILS signal. I should mention that the third time was less of a success because of my doing, but the fourth time was absolutely perfect and a joy to behold. Let it be known that this autopilot is more than capable of doing its job!
But, however fun to fly this aircraft is, is it realistic? To test this, I compared it to the Tinmouse 2, of which I do expect it to be at least somewhat close to reality, judging from the hype about it.
I’ll admit I was mildly concerned: the 727 failed in the realism test and I was expecting the 737-200 to have as inaccurate flight dynamics as the 727. In the end, I needn’t have to worry: it proved to hold its own. To my great satisfaction, the Aerosim 737 flew just about the same as the Tinmouse 2 aircraft. The Aerosim version was as agile, as quick, and as fun to fly as the Tinmouse 2. Even the engines didn’t seem to be too overpowered.
(As a side note, I downloaded the Air France livery. It’s not included in the package!)
Boeing 747 series
Again, the same flight from Paris to Amsterdam. Clearance, pushback, taxi, takeoff and finally setting course to the first waypoint.
The flight continued over France, Belgium and finally the Netherlands. I had previously programmed the INS as per the handbook’s guidelines, and everything worked well. The autopilot steered the aircraft in the right direction. One thing I noticed which was genuinely weird, was that the aircraft looked like it was climbing when it was flying level. I’ve seen this behaviour in other aircraft too, so it might be a weird FS2004 bug.
It might be nice to mention how different the autopilot of the 747-100 and beyond is to the autopilot of all previous Boeings. Instead of having the autopilot’s controls scattered all over, the buttons are now conveniently located at one panel: the MCP. From here you can control every aspect of the autopilot, a welcome change if you ask me!
Back to the flight, ATC didn’t mess up this time! Approach and landing were very smooth. The autoland feature of the autopilot did very well.
About the flight model: During the first touch and go I did with the Aerosim 747-100, I was surprised with the agility of the aircraft. I couldn’t remember the 747 being so easy to maneuver. As a comparison, I loaded up the FRP 747, and was surprised to note how easy that plane was to fly. So either both of these planes have a bad flight model, or the plane isindeed easy to fly. What I do know for sure, is that again engine performance of the Aerosim aircraft is overpowered. By now, this is hardly a surprise, but it had to be said.
So as I said, I also used the INS, simulated on the Aerosim classic 747 series. The INS works differently from modern day flight computers, in that you can’t type in waypoint/VOR/airport/etc. codes (like Schiphol airport is EHAM), but you have to fill in coordinates. Now, Aerosim knows this, and they have been very thoughtful. On their website’s homepage (the news page), scroll all the way down and you’ll see the “WAYPOINT coordinate search” banner. Click it and you’ll arrive here.
This basically presents you with the option to search for coordinates of airports, waypoints, NDB's and VOR's. I tried some airports I know of, and lo and behold, it finds the code I typed in (for example, EHAM, or LLBG), then presents me with a small table containing the code I typed, the airport name, the latitude and the longitude. Is that good service or what? I think yes.
A small note: when turning on the INS, I noticed you have to flip the heading hold switch to off and then on again before the autopilot starts following the set INS course. I’m not sure if this is a bug or just the way it was in the real plane.
So, overall I’m pleased. Only the 727 failed in this test: the 737 and 747 aircraft did well.
The scenery: old Osaka International airport
As an added bonus (or so I see it), we get a scenery of the old Osaka International Airport at, you guessed it, Osaka, Japan. At first inspection, the scenery is pretty nice. It’s not super detailed, but it does the job very well. The only thing that could have been better is the tarmac at the gates. It’s just a ground texture, as in, it’s not actual tarmac. The photos will probably be clear enough for you to understand what I mean.
However, this scenery is much more than just the airport. In fact it covers the entire city of Osaka with a custom made ground texture, all major elevated highways and some of the taller buildings. This is nice, but the ground texture can appear very blocky, and there is no autogen. Still, I think you can only see this scenery as an added bonus, and for that it’s good. Very nice indeed.
I absolutely dreaded writing this paragraph. I have been enjoying myself immensely with this package, and I’ve had many very nice flights. Now though, I must give you my opinion, and however positive it is, I also have to make you understand what this package really is and how its quality relates to the price. So, let me begin by stating the obvious.
Out of the box, this is a beginner’s package. With simplified systems, a simplified though relatively accurate flight model, it is ideal for beginners, and more experienced simmers may find it dull. And that’s where the fun can begin for some of us. Because, when you have seen what the package gives you out of the box, you can start altering it.
The planes of this package have a great potential, because there is something very nice about simple FS aircraft: they are extremely easy to manipulate. For example, I eventually managed to get the Tinmouse 2 panel to work properly in the Aerosim 737-200 model. This way, I made a “decent” model into an “awesome” model.
A word of warning though. While adding third party liveries and sounds usually is very easy, adding third party panels is not. I do not recommend it for beginning simmers. Especially if you are dealing with a complex panel, or an aircraft with a VC, adding a panel can be hell. I say adding the Tinmouse 2 panel wasn’t easy at all, but it provided for a nice challenge and what it gave me was more than worth the trouble it took.
So what should you do? Is this package worth the $35 (without VAT!)? I’m afraid there is no straight answer. If you consider what you get out of the box, I think it is overpriced. Perhaps $30 would have been a fairer price. It would be enough for a beginning simmer, though. On the other hand, if you consider the potential of these aircraft and what they can become after a bit of tinkering, the package can give you much more pleasure than you initially paid for.
I’ve been having a lot of fun with these aircraft. They are very nice to fly. Also, remember that this is currently the only package available on the market that provides the entire classic Boeing line-up with VC, thereby filling the gap of the Boeing 737-200 and Boeing 747-100 that until now didn’t have a model with VC. So if you are into classic Boeings and would like a VC, this package is your only option.
everything about this package can be termed “decent”.
Although it is geared for beginners, just about anybody can enjoy
this package. If you have time and patience, you can upgrade
the aircraft with third party stuff (most notable sounds and
and get more bang for the buck. I say you are
getting a package with great potential of becoming more, if you
choose it to be. However, if you are not expecting to start fiddling
with these aircraft, then you might want to reconsider.
What I Like About Classic Liners Vol 1
What I Don't Like About Classic Liners Vol 1
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