AVSIM Freeware Aircraft Review

Project Open Sky

Boeing 777-200 Version 2

Product Information

Publisher: Project Open Sky

Description: Twin jet engine passenger airliner.

Download Size:
22 MB

Format:
Download
Simulation Type:
FS9 & FSX
Reviewed by: Laurie Aston AVSIM Staff Reviewer - October 28, 2008

Introduction

The Boeing 777-200 series is a twin engine airplane designed for medium and long range flight, encompassing the term (ETOPS), which stands for Extended Range Operation with two-engine airplanes, if you are an Airline Operator, or Engines Turning Or People Swimming if you are a passenger. (Joke!)

In any event, the development of very reliable Gas Turbines has led to the capability of this Airliner to fly with confidence in order to extend the range, and in the very unlikely possibility that one engine should stop for any reason, the aircraft can continue to fly without hindrance for up to 180 minutes, well within range of a suitable landing field.

This Aircraft has a full digital authority “Fly-by-wire” flight control system, which means that the flight control input via the control column or rudder pedals is transmitted as an electrical signal to a Power Control Unit (PCU) which will provide pitch, roll or yaw output to the flying control surface unit, like the rudder, elevator or aileron, and any combination required to maintain controlled flight.

The nose landing gear is a conventional two wheeled oleo unit with hydraulic steering jacks for left and right nose wheel steering whilst on the ground at low speed. The main landing gear is a six-wheeled tandem unit with the rear two wheels steerable, to reduce scrubbing effect of the tires whilst on the ground, and to improve the turning circle of the aircraft.

The propulsion unit can be either a General Electric GE90 series Gas turbine unit, or a Rolls Royce Trent 800 series Gas Turbine unit, or a Pratt and Whitney PW4000 series Gas turbine unit, the choice being available to the Airline Operator. All three power units are capable of very high thrust outputs, in the region of 76,000 pounds to 90,000 pounds thrust depending on the unit type, and all three engines are high bypass air units.

The flight deck is normally manned by a crew of two, with a further two seats being available if required, for observers or additional operating crew. The flight deck equipment includes the very latest in flat panel liquid display technology (LCD’s) and many of the manual operations of systems which have led to high crew workload in the past, has now been superseded by fully automatic control of many aircraft systems using digital technology developed from the Boeing 757, 767 and 747 technology.

The detail I have given may have some of you thinking, “too much information” but this aircraft has been a big part of my life for over twenty years. In my role as an aircraft engineer and Technical Instructor delivering B777-200/300 training throughout the world to Aircraft Engineers, and the development of this model for flight simulation is not only a joy, but has been very carefully emulated. All the relevant points above have been tested by me and compared to my extensive use in over 14 years of a Big Company flight simulator worth £15 million, plus the use of real aircraft over that time for training and practical experience. So the results I am showing are based on that experience.

Installation and Documentation

Test System

Asrock K7S41GX Motherboard
AMD Sempron 2600+ CPU
2Gig DDR Memory
Nvidia Gforce6200 256 Graphics
2x80 Gig HD + 1 x 400Gig external USB HD
Windows XP Pro SP3
FSX SP1 SP2/Acceleration
Microsoft Force feedback Sidewinder + Rudder Control
CH Flightsim Yoke

Flying Time:
40 hours, including some frustration and strong coffee


Installation is as simple as going to www.projectopensky.com and downloading the model of your choice, the FDE of your choice, and finally, the livery or aircraft operator paintwork of your choice. There are updates available, and for FS9 (FS2004) all is very easy to download and insert into the FS2004 Simulator.

For FSX, although it is possible to get a very satisfying and realistic airplane in superb livery, a little bit of re-writing of configuration files is required, both in the panels and aircraft config.

The result of having a Virtual Cockpit or Flight Deck as I prefer saying, in full Boeing 777-200 glory is a fantastic achievement on behalf of the POSKY team (Project Open Sky) and it is true that the FSX conversion is not really fully supported, and there are a couple of aircraft in the market place that look as good on the flight deck. But they cost MONEY, and this model is FREE, so, OK they have more switches and systems that operate as per the real thing. Given a choice of FREEWARE or PAYWARE, the answer, unless you are as dedicated to the Boeing 777 as I am, is a no-brainer.

I am going to show you the flight deck of the POSKY 777-200 for both FS9 and FSX, both look exactly the same in fact, and you judge. The company I worked for before retirement had a slightly different switch configuration to that shown, but that aside, everything is just where I used to reach out and touch it. From the overhead panels to the centre console, the Maintenance Access Panel to the manuals in the library boxes, and the side LCD displays to the sliding window mechanism, it is all there.

Documentation is available from the website in the form of a Boeing 777 flight manual, and it is very good too. Support information is virtually impossible to get, although there is a website forum, which I used a lot in an effort to get everything working. Overall there have been a lot of complaints about the staff members being sharp and almost rude, unhelpful and treating queries with contempt. Although you may be warned, just be aware that these are clever people working for the “love-of-it” just like me, with no financial gain as all developments are currently free. The choice is always with the user, and the attitude, although it may not make friends, seems to be love it or leave it.

The Exterior Model

Putting this very simply, the exterior models are nothing short of stunning. This applies to the limitations of FS2004 and also the vast graphic capability of FSX, and all of the aircraft liveries I downloaded produced beautiful aircraft with everything where I expected it to be.

BA 777-200 BA 777 Fly-by
American Airlines 777 AA with gear down

With engines off and parked, I was delighted to see real sets of air stairs, and cargo loading units at the cargo doors, to say nothing of the catering vehicles unloading and loading the in-flight food and drink onto the aircraft. Doing a walk round would take too long for me to describe, but suffice to say that a walk round reveals little bonus objects which some commercial giants forget. The APU (auxiliary Power Unit) has an air inlet door on the starboard side of the rear fuselage just aft of the rudder, and sure enough, with the APU running, that’s where it is.

Cargo & catering Passenger steps
All the equipment Rear cargo doors

The main wheels have steering jacks as does the nose wheel set, and they actually operate in the correct sense for all to see when the aircraft is taxiing. All the pax (passenger) doors are correctly annotated in accordance with health and safety regulations, and the handles are visible. The cargo doors are all in place; the choice of the newer large aft cargo door or the early small aft cargo door is also a choice of initial selection and they are displayed correctly. To cap it all off, with the aircraft in flight there are so many markings, transfers and safety lines on the wings and fuselage, both on the top and underside, that this aircraft looks very real.

Need I go on? No! Can I fault it? The answer is no. From the color and finish to the shape and styling, these aircraft look good from any angle.

Cathay Pacific 777-200 Cathay Pacific
Singapore Airlines Thrust reverser open

Cockpit/Panels

In this area, the POSKY team has really excelled themselves. The basic aircraft without VC is not to my liking because it isn’t real looking. Why? Well, the team chose to use the default Boeing 737-800 flight deck, and although in my experience there are some likenesses, it isn’t really a Boeing 777-200. Much better to use the Virtual Cockpit, a separate download, but with a bit of jiggling can produce a stunning flight deck, just as real as it can get without 3D.

VC functioning in the air VC LCD detail

Using the VC is not quite as exciting as the feeling I got when I first saw it on my screen, because a lot of switches and dials do not work at all. The Autopilot (AFDS) panel is authentic and works fully, so that’s a good start. It means I can set a course, get off the ground and above 400 MSL, the autopilot can be selected and will work giving me time to look around and get a feel for the rest of the flight deck.

The thrust levers look perfect, they move perfectly as commanded or manually moved in both forward thrust, on the ground, and in reverse. All the radio (VHF/HF) equipment is in place, and the RTP’s (Radio tuning panels) are in place in the right positions. Even the Audio Control panels (ACP’s) are correctly designed, and in night lighting actually look just like their real counterparts.

Centre console lit-up Daytime view

The big overhead panels are perfectly designed. In regards to the selection of some of the aircraft systems, they do not operate as they should by manual input. Is this important? Not really, because you do not fly with your eyes constantly on the overhead panels and the 777-200 is designed in such a way that any in-flight anomaly is displayed on screen and drawn to your attention instantly or else fault lights will illuminate on the panels and give a warning tone too.

Night shots of the overhead panels

So why am I fussed? The only reason is my requirement for the best that can be achieved from a simulator because I enjoyed my career on the Boeing 777 and miss it, and want to still be part of it. This is just me. Above all, remember that the POSKY experience is a FREE one and if I wanted to get a real experience otherwise, it would cost me a lot of money.

Captains tiller area Maintenance Access

For free, this is as good as it gets, and believe me it is very, very good. I have questioned several instructors and engineers by showing them my screen shots of the POSKY model, and the results I got back were positive on every count. It is a brilliant achievement by the designers, and I congratulate them whole heartedly for giving us such a valuable product.

Safety Equipment

Sounds

What can I say about the sounds? Well, the engines sound OK, maybe not totally accurate but nevertheless perfectly adequate for the job. I know from experience that the GE90 is not the same sounding engine as the RR Trent, and the PW4000 has a distinctive whine. But unless you start looking for specific downloaded packages dedicated to engines, it is best to make the most of what there is.

Austrian airlines GE90 engines

As most of the sounds generated are going to be those of the engines, let’s just look at what we get on the POSKY aircraft engine. Firstly, the fan section at the front of the engine is neatly modeled, with a smooth fan case and the cowlings look good too, with correct decals on the sides. The thrust reverser sleeves roll back to reveal the blocker doors correctly, and that is an achievement all on its own. Looking from the exhaust section forward, all is in order and very nicely detailed.

Flight deck effects are OK, and there are no real complaints in this area.

Flight/Air file

We already know that the exterior model looks fantastic, so let’s roll this model out and get it in the air and see what happens. Without wasting time on detail, which may not float your boat, this aircraft takes off correctly with the airspeed pretty well in tune with the all up weight and trim/C of G calculations.

Once airborne, the gear folds very nicely into the bay, with the gear doors opening first of course, exactly as the Boeing 777-200 operates and gets a tick in the box for that result. Flaps operate correctly along with the leading edge slotted slats that are fitted to the 777, and they display correct sections, both in number and correct operation, so no fault there. It banks smoothly, dives and climbs smoothly, stalls or attempts to stall as per the program, and even the air brakes pop out when selected in the correct sense and at the right angles.

It cruises just as one would expect, and frankly it is difficult to criticize anything from the air file given that the designers wanted to get it right, even though it is a free offer, and their dedication to the task has to be recognized.

Throttling back for descent is fine, and as the flaps get lowered to increase the lift but reduce the airspeed, everything is still in order. Approach for landing is pretty well on the numbers, and the gear drops out and locks with over-centre bars exactly as expected.

Looking outside on approach, the main gear has adopted the right angle of dangle and the centering mechanism ensures that the gear is in the right format for landing. Touchdown is as expected, if performed correctly, and with the spoilers extended and thrust reversers selected, a touch on the brakes, or better yet using the auto brake system (Yes, the 777-200 has it all!), lets the hydro/electric anti skid braking system do the work and reduces the airframe to a walking pace before selecting a turn off point to taxi off the runway.

Here are some of the details of what to see and expect with this model:
• Dynamic flexing wings
• Body gear steering under 15kt above 1kt
• Nose gear steering under 60kt above 1kt.
• Rudder lock under 60kt above 1kt.
• Ground spoiler only works on ground.
• Low speed aileron locks at high speed (this model has inboard and outboard ailerons, in effect)
• Fully animated control surfaces
• Fully independent suspension
• Trim Animation
• Opening Passenger Doors
• Animated tilting bogies
• Rolling wheels
• Animated thrust reversers (oh, these are so neat!)
• Detailed textures (by the ton)
• Full night lighting (very full!)
• Crash effects (we don’t expect to see these!)
• Ground Service Vehicles when Cargo door open (what an added bonus!)
• Paint kit
• And more... cannot go into more detail, not enough space........ You might get bored with my review)
• It doesn’t cost a penny for all of this!!!!!!!

Korean Air 777-200

Summary / Closing Remarks

I hope you now have the flavor of the Boeing 777-200 created by POSKY. It is one heck of an airplane, in every respect, so go and download it now. Then find the model you want and you will not be disappointed and will fly the wheels off it, or the wings.

If you have to wait a bit because the website is busy, then it only proves what a bargain this B777-200 is. Although I have not reviewed the other aircraft available, I have used them for some time and whatever your choice is, you will be amazed at the quality, detail, finish, accuracy etc. Here’s an idea. Build your own fleet of mixed short range, medium range and long range aircraft via POSKY.

Please, don’t tell these people that they could actually make money selling these simulations, because it would put many simulator pilots into debt, families could starve and downsizing of homes could become a new trend. Revel in the fact that these very generous people offer their products for nothing.

Take advantage of them whilst you can. It may not last forever.

Bonus Screenshots - a couple of my associates have contributed some extra screenshots to this review. Enjoy.

Credit: Anand Mourouguessin

 

You'd have to be a crazy person not to absolutely love this virtual cockpit shot
Credit: Peter Thaller

 

What I Like About The Boeing 777-200

  • Magnificently designed and produced, accurate and nicely finished model
  • Does exactly what it says it will do, and more if you spend a little time adjusting things in stages
  • Get this, Its FREE!!!! No catch, it really is. All of it. Model, Engine type, color scheme etc.
  • Simulations that cost a lot of money are not as good as this one.
  • A choice of engines, size of cargo doors, and so many liveries it’s enough to make your eyes water.
  • A really true to life Virtual Cockpit that is a joy to sit in.

 

What I Don't Like About The Boeing 777-200

  • The POSKY support is not very helpful in content or encouragement, but the forum offers a lot of advice from very helpful simulator users around the world.
  • The VC and use in FSX is not supported, but it surely wouldn’t take much effort from the very skillful programmers that the POSKY people obviously are, to package the whole thing and present it to a very grateful simulation community that recognizes POSKY worldwide, in any FSX livery that is desired, with any model of 777, including a fully working VC.

 

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Boeing 777-200

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The review above is a subjective assessment of the product by the author. There is no connection between the product producer and the reviewer, and we feel this review is unbiased and truly reflects the performance of the product in the simming environment as experienced by the reviewer. This disclaimer is posted here in order to provide you with background information on the reviewer and any presumed connections that may exist between him/her and the contributing party.

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