The A321 is a stretched and first derivative of the standard A320. The variant was launched in 1988, when the A320 began operations. Compared with the A320, the A321's major change is the stretched fuselage, which is lengthened by 6.94 meters (22 ft 9 in) which makes the A321 the largest among the A320 family.
This is achieved by adding a front plug immediately forward of the wing 4.27 m (14 ft 0 in), and a 2.67 m (8 ft 9 in) rear plug. To maintain performance, double-slotted flaps were included, in addition to increasing the wing area by 4 m2 (43 sq ft), to 128 m2 (1,380 sq ft). Other minor modifications were made to accommodate the A321's 9,600 kg (21,200 lb) increase in maximum takeoff weight, taking the MTOW to 83,000 kg (183,000 lb). The maiden flight of the first of two prototypes came on 11 March 1993. The A321 entered service in 1994.
*Information from Wikipedia
This A321 Jetliner is part of the user friendly F-Lite range. The F-Lite series targets users who want greater detail than the default aircraft without the PMDG complexity. If you want to just load up Flight Simulator and press a few buttons and begin flying, then F-Lite aircraft are for you. If you are a PMDG, Level D or Captain Sim type person please don’t buy this aircraft.
F-Lite aircraft are targeted for the ‘intermediate’ market. Think of F-Lite add-ons as the half-way point between default and PMDG class add-ons. Most of the systems in F-Lite aircraft are based upon default systems such as the autopilot. All F-Lite add-ons feature an authentic FMS/CDU which is based on the FS Flight Planner, meaning you can load default flight plans.
An interview with Scott from Just Flight
What inspired you to create the F-Lite range of aircraft?
Because we were aware there was a gap in the market and many simmers wanted to be able to fly without too much complexity. The professional range and our other products all do a fantastic job but we needed something that retained the quality but made things a little simpler for simmers who were just getting into this fabulous hobby and indeed for those who enjoy the hobby but perhaps don’t have the extra time on their hands required to fly some of the other more complicated beasts.
The range still provides top quality aircraft that are extremely high in detail but less demanding to fly than today's most complex procedural simulators. These aircraft are a significant step up from the default Flight Simulator aircraft in terms of modelling and cockpit systems, but won't require weeks of study before you can get airborne!
We did and that’s why we launched it really. It’s really helped to stimulate growth in the flight sim sector. We’ve received nothing but praise for this brand and the products that make up the range and that’s testament to the quality of the products and to the developers that we use for these products.
Is any developer allowed to develop aircraft for the F-Lite series or is it just CLS and your in-house development team?
It’s not a closed door by any means and remember some of the F-Lite titles have been developed by our in-house team.
Can you tell us about any upcoming product that will be part of the F-Lite series?
Now that would be telling! We do actually have several F-Lite products in development that I am sure will be very well received but I am unable to reveal what they are yet. Please stay tuned for more news.
Any other specialist brands or labels due to come out?
Not in the immediate future although we have just launched an “Advanced” label for our train sim titles if that’s of any interest?
Installation and Documentation
Installation is easy and straightforward. Once installation begins you will have to type in your Just Flight account details as well as accept the terms and conditions. You will then have to confirm your location of FSX. The installer will find your FSX installation even if it is not in the default directory. Once you have completed the steps installation will continue without a fuss.
The aircraft comes with a 60 page manual. The manual is in a .PDF format. The first part of the manual covers all of the systems and how to use them including;
The second part of the manual is devoted the tutorial flight. At the back of the manual there is a section which tells you how to repaint the aircraft and where the repaint kit is located. Overall it is a good manual.
The virtual cockpit is made up of high resolution bitmaps. It is full of little details such as an Oxygen Mask, Jump Seat and UG Pins. All textures in the Virtual Cockpit are crisp. The cockpit includes an array of 3D switches and knobs. There are no visible polygons to be seen on the switches and knobs.
A popular feature of several payware aircraft being released today is window reflections. While I don’t mind window reflections, if they are overdone they can become distracting, however I feel Just Flight have got it spot on. They aren’t too obvious which means they aren’t as distracting as you would think.
The night lighting is fantastic. It isn’t too bright or too dark. Overall the virtual cockpit is good, but since this is an F-Lite model don’t expect it to reach the dazzling heights of some other FSX aircraft that are now released.
The Just Flight A321 Jetliner comes with a 2D Panel, which is good as they are of a dying breed. It looks almost identical to the default A321 panels however it has more advance systems simulated, such as an FMC. The resolution of the 2D Panels are good. I had no visible blurring when using it at a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels.
I do feel rather disappointed that they look very similar to the default panels. When paying for a product I expect more realistic 2D panels such as Wilco’s A3XX series. Overall the panels are okay.
The gauges appear very similar to the default A321 but on closer inspection they are much more advanced and detailed. There are several features included which aren’t available on the default gauges such as the Magenta Bug. They are of a high resolution and didn’t get blurry until a zoom of 6.00. The gauge animations are smooth with no stuttering. The analogue gauges are identical to the default gauges unfortunately.
The external model is of an extremely high quality. The shape of the model is spot on compared with the real world images I have seen. There are 4 high quality liveries included which are listed below;
I couldn’t find any errors in the liveries. All the liveries are of high resolution. If you would like additional liveries they are available to purchase from the Just Flight website. They look clean but I don’t imagine any A321s would be dirty.
The engine fan blades are 3D objects. All of the radio receivers are 3D. The model of the engine changes depending on which livery you select. All the animations are accurate according to real world videos including the flap and speed brake animations. The engine animation is simply brilliant.
You can open passenger and cargo doors. The aircraft is compatible with the FSX Jetway animation. There is no wing flex as Just Flight claims you would not notice it on the real aircraft due to its size, but however when I fly I notice it even on a smooth flight. It does look rather strange when on approach in bad weather and the wings just sit there still. Developers say that by including wing flex it will reduce frame rates but it doesn’t really, as I am a developer of freeware aircraft and the frame rate drop is only around 5-7FPS with wing flex.
The windows are textured on instead of being ‘cut out’. I find this rather poor considering it is 2011 and an ever increasing number of add-ons have ‘cut out’ windows. Even some add-ons in the F-Lite range have ‘cut out’ windows so why can’t this one?
The tutorial flight takes you from London Heathrow to Zurich. The flight lasts around 1 hour 45 minutes. You start at the gate. While at the gate the tutorial tells you how to start your engines, APU and all the other systems that are required. Then you will program the FMS.
The FMS uses FSXs default Flight Planner. Once everything is started you can request push back. The flight is fairly easy. Things start to get stressful when commencing your decent into Zurich. I would advise you not to fly the aircraft until you have completed the tutorial flight as it gives you a good understanding of the aircraft’s systems even though they are simplified.
Fly by Wire (FBW)
Fly by Wire (FBW) is what makes an Airbus an Airbus. When flying an Airbus you are flying a computer and the computer flies the aircraft. If the computer decides the maneuver you are trying to carry out is not safe then it will not happen. Just Flight’s A321 does not include fly by wire which means you can stall the darn airplane or fly the aircraft upside down, something which would not be allowed to happen if fly by wire was simulated. I find it rather disappointing that there is an Airbus released that doesn’t include fly by wire. It could have at least included stall protection.
The sounds have been created by Turbine Sound Studios (TSS). As you may not already know, TSS have an excellent track record of producing superb engine sounds. The sounds of the aircraft match what I have heard on YouTube videos and when I was flying in an A321. There are different sounds for each engine.
When we move into the virtual cockpit the sounds are good. All the switches and knobs have a sound effect. The sounds are a pleasure to listen to on this aircraft.
The flight dynamics in this package are good. I did find the A321 a little over powered. I often reached 250 Knots with a 150 nose up angle at an altitude of 5000FT. Everything else about the flight dynamics is good. There are no unexpected surprises, but when you turn on the Autopilot and Auto throttle things become interesting.
When flying with the Autopilot it often stalled the aircraft during climb. Everything would be normal then all of a sudden your pitch is 600 for no reason and then you stall. This happened roughly 1 in 4 flights. I noticed that the reason for the aircraft stalling with the Autopilot on is a result of a poor auto-throttle system not the autopilot. The auto throttle isn’t very good at holding your desired speed and is also very slow to respond at times.
Overall, the flight dynamics are ok but they really need to sort out the autopilot.
Summary / Closing Remarks
The aircraft is good. Everything about it is fine apart from the auto throttle and autopilot. I believe this issue could be fixed in a service pack. The frame rates are outstanding. The sounds are remarkably accurate and the model is great. I did find it rather annoying that fly by wire is not simulated even in its simplest form.
I think the windows should be ‘cut out’ instead of being textured on. I often find textured on windows are a form of saving time and cutting costs. I feel there is a better A320/A321 simulation out there from Aerosoft (Airbus X).If you want a decent simulation of the A321 get this one but if you want one that is a more polished product go for the Aerosoft Airbus X. There is nothing wrong with this A321 Jetliner, just remember that it’s an F-Lite version.
What I Like About The A321 Jetliner
What I Don't Like About The A321 Jetliner
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