In aviation, when you stumble across a successful, winning design, the natural instinct is to make it better. One only has to look at the original 747 and see how it evolved into four subsequent variants (not including cargo and combi types), each an improvement in any combination of range, payload, or technology.
For Cessna, they have the Citation, a successful series of business jets that has continuously been improved upon to meet the changing criteria, much like it’s larger airliner cousin. The latest in that long lineage is the Citation CJ1, a small yet very capable variant added to the family in the early 90s.
It wasn’t surprising that Eaglesoft set their sights on this aircraft. A company already well known in the MSFS circles for modeling this specific type of plane (including two other Citations), they decided to take on the CJ1 and add it to their own repertoire of quality business jets.
Installation and Documentation
The installer is downloaded directly from Eaglesoft’s website, free of charge; it is when you have unzipped and double-clicked the file that you should have the credit card ready. Eaglesoft continues to use the Flight One wrapper, which holds no surprises in store for the user. Follow the prompts, and the CJ1 will be up and running in no time. Owners of the Raytheon Premier I should keep an eye out for a special cfg file, which can be placed in that plane’s folder to allow use of the improved Collins 21 avionics suite found in the CJ1.
The manual for the CJ1 is downloaded separately at the websites Documentation page. It is an excellent source of info on what is what in the aircraft and how to operate it, but does not contain any checklists or performance data (although the former is certainly available via the in-game kneeboard checklists).
The CJ1 may be one the smaller Citations out there, but she’s no less sleek. Even while at idle on the ramp, one gets the sense of speed just looking at her silhouette.
Eaglesoft has already proven their mettle in the past with well modeled virtual planes they choose to work on, and it comes as no surprise that the CJ1 is no exception. Despite my previous experience with their products, I still couldn’t help but admire their recent handiwork. Judging against photos of the real thing, I had some serious trouble trying to find any flaws between those CJ1 exteriors and the one sitting on my computer screen - if there are any, I missed them. Whether we’re talking about the shape of the wings, the appearance of the speed brakes, or the trailing linkage of the mains gears, it all matched pictorial source data I was able to obtain. Even the avionics bay is detailed.
Speaking of continuing with past habits, the best way to admire the CJ1 is with everything shut down and the parking brakes engaged. All the Eaglesoft eye candy activates under these conditions, with virtual items protecting or spiffing up your virtual toy in one way or another to give you the sense that your plane is fully at rest. Red carpet, cones, and various covers are automatically placed where appropriate for your enjoyment. The engine cover streamers were a nice touch – you’ll have to check them out to see what I mean.
A total of six liveries are present, including one special with a British registration. I had little doubt that repaints of this aircraft exist, and a quick check in Avsim confirmed at least a dozen such additional liveries are available.
It came as no surprise that Eaglesoft continued with their fine tradition of recreating the fine interiors of these bizjets. Luxurious in appearance and ambience, it got me wishing that for once, I could grab myself a virtual cold one, recline in the back, and enjoy my surroundings. Oh… that’s right - you can! Eaglesoft stepped up the virtual cabin’s interactivity, allowing for access to the cooler up front, reclining the two rear seats, and a couple of other surprises I won’t ruin for you right now, all with the click of the mouse.
All this visual splendor goes easy on the system. I did not note any dips on the FPS meter; it remained fixed where it was, no matter where I was looking or what I was doing. By itself, the CJ1 didn’t task my PC’s resources, but not everyone has the specs of my rig (I have no doubt that many of you have specs that exceed mine). Be advised that the sixth livery is a ‘LITE’ version, doing away with the virtual cockpit and cabin for the sake of performance.
The next item of interest is the cockpit, another one of Eaglesoft’s representational strengths. Dominating the main instrument panel are the two Collins 21 flat panel screens, displaying all primary flight info and engine data. From what I’ve come to know of that avionics suite, their appearance and configuration looks correct, and more importantly, they’re a bit easier to read than the gauges from it’s older Citation IISP sibling, although a little squinting is still required.
The rest of the panels for the 2D world include the autopilot, an enlarged avionics/light/fuel panel controls, engine throttles, oxygen panel, environmental controls, GPS, and the Flight Management System (FMS). The vast majority of the controls on these panels are clickable, giving button-happy simmers a good deal of enjoyment interacting with the systems of their latest acquisition.
What awaits you up front.
Two panels deserve special mention here. The Collins 21 suite was a tad different in it’s layout and operation that most PFD/MFD combinations that I’ve dealt with in the past, and knowing the operations of this pair is important if you hope to get the most out of it (for example, there is a button that displays V-speeds on the PFD). ‘Reading The Manual’ takes special meaning here, and the investment yields dividends in the end (it isn’t the steepest learning curve in aviation). The other is the Flight Management System. Don’t expect too much from this simplified version of the original. While it can determine V-speeds from the weight values entered or monitor fuel status once a flight plan was loaded (via Flight Planner) and active, there wasn’t much else on it that can’t be garnered from the GPS. But then again, it was never designed to be more complicated than this.
As for the VC, what can I say… this is an Eaglesoft bizjet. The CJ1’s office is well detailed, with all the clickable items in 2D being interactive here. Zooming in and panning around won’t disturb the definition of this world, and flying from this vantage proved to be easier than from 2D (the CJ1 has great visibility). I especially loved it at night, where I could look up and click any of the four overhead lights to brighten the place up. The only complaint I have on VC is that the PFD/MFD screens appear fairly dim during daytime hours unless it is being hit by a good amount of virtual light (ie – from the sun).
One of the test flights was a journey down to KSBA at approx 50 LBS under max gross weight for takeoff. Lined up with the runway at KAPC, I advanced the throttles to 100%, tapped off the brakes, and let her rip. As with any small bizjet, the CJ1 accelerates briskly, even at full loads, and a hair short of 3,000 feet later, I was airborne at 120 KIAS. The jet continued to speed up as I cleaned up the gear and flaps, and it wasn’t until the VSI was at 3,000 FPM that the airspeed indicator finally slowed to a crawl. The makings of a little speedster, eh?
Almost. The CJ1 is meant for performance, but only so much; the result of the drag of straight wings and limited output from small engines. The climb started to slow at FL190, and by FL250, 500 FPM was all I was going to get without sacrificing speed. Getting to FL330 took a full half hour and over 150 NM. Keeping the engines going full bore in level flight, the indicators finally settled at a groundspeed of 387 KTS (Mach .66). With 2,500 LBS of gas remaining, I could’ve kept going for about two and a half hours – roughly 1,000 NM without reserve.
There are advantages to those straight wings though. A mere reduction of 15% N1 was more than enough to set a respectable 1,500 FPM as I dropped from the heavens. Pull the power off to idle and, without speedbrakes, you could hurl the CJ1 at the Earth at a whopping 7,000+ FPM descent rate without an increase in airspeed (I seriously doubt real CJ1 drivers practice this technique), making for very easy descent management. Additionally, all those right angles make for great handling characteristics at low speed. She’ll happily continue in the air all the way down to 110 kts (a good approach speed as well – plan on 2,500 FT of real estate for landings), and she really hates to stall. Not impossible, but she’ll tend to fly herself out of it unless you truly force the issue.
Perhaps I don’t have any time in the real CJ1, but the combination of her design and flight characteristics are more than believable. Cross-checking and confirming speed and range values against the actual mount, plus the fact that real pilots of the type provided feedback on it’s handling during development, lead me to believe that Eaglesoft did a great job in this department.
High or low… fast or slow, it’s all the same to the CJ1.
All the sounds you’d expect to hear from a bizjet like the CJ1 are present, and their quality is pretty good. The twin Rolls Royce engines sound powerful enough for their output, the overspeed alarm definitely got my attention, and the host of other audio treats seem fitting enough. Control clicks, as with the Citation IISP, are rather loud, but at least I can say it leaves no doubts that you activated something.
Eaglesoft’s CJ1 certainly is a great quality product, warranting at least a 4-star rating; what earns it that extra half-star is the interactive features in the back. While we won’t be flying this thing from the virtual cabin, the additional ‘clickables’ in the rear was a nice unexpected addition, raising the fun-factor of the package.
Aside from that, what else is there to say? Users of their past products certainly won’t be disappointed, and bizjet fans as a whole – if not those of the plane itself – certainly should consider it. Don’t shy away, though, if you don’t fall somewhere in those categories. Besides her wide performance envelope that should satisfy both the low-n-slow and high-n-fast crowds, the CJ1 is a great quality product in every way covered.
|What I Like About Eaglesoft's CJ1|
|What I Don't Like About Eaglesoft's CJ1|
|Click below to add your comments!|
Tell A Friend About this Review!
© 2005 - AVSIM
All Rights Reserved