Many Boeing simulations have been released this year, and it's hard to match other designs. With Boeing's "common cockpit design" there is a risk of repeating what simmers have seen before or coming up with something new. PSS has brought to market the next in the Boeing line, the Boeing 777 "Triple Seven."
Just in time for the holiday season, this bird has something to offer everyone. Design firsts, tried and true design techniques, and maybe even some surprises. Already known for it's previous works across company lines, PSS has released a product that is sure to fit under any Flight Simmer's Tree; but it falls short of a perfect picture.
Installation and Documentation
As with other PSS products, this one is downloaded as a small installer file, under 600KB. After running the .exe file, the user is asked for a login username and password from the servers. After logging in the package begins to install files including the base files and several options the user can select. Included in this download is the 0510 AIRAC cycle. Updates to AIRAC cycles for other PSS aircraft work for this Boeing as well. During testing I was able to download 0511 terminal procedures and Nav data for the 777, both working perfectly in the CDU / FMS.
Three base models are included with this package and include the 772LRF, 772LR and the 773ER. Liveries are purchased separately but the base 2005 Boeing colors are beautifully designed and rendered. Downloads during testing were slow on a 6MB Cable connection but this was during peak release time and was due to heavy server loads.
I'm not really fond of the installer system either. If you are like me, you like to make a backup of what you have bought. At present time, there is no way to do this other then to try and find all the files and copy them over. I'd much rather see a package that allows you to download first, check credentials later. Again, I'm assured that a coming FAQ will tell us how and where to make a backup.
The first high point of this model is the eye-candy. "Walking" around the outside and inside the Boeing is an incredible treat. In-Flight contrails we've come to expect are present, plus user-requested fuel-dump trails have all been included. Even a good engine start will give you some smoke. In the air and on final, 30 degrees of flaps and full brake will really get your attention in this bird! Taxi to the gate, to the runway, or even sitting still it's hard not to walk around the outside just taking a look at this aircraft. Even without add-on liveries, the Boeing colors stand out proud! Reflective surfaces looked well placed. A "clean" livery looks pristine, at the same time some of the liveries show signs of airline use, a nice touch.
Inside the cockpit is just as impressive. Look down and you'll see Boeing blue carpets. Look backwards and you'll see cockpit design on par with the latest designs. Sit in the cockpit and change fuel loads and you'll find your first surprise; the plane moves up and down under load! However, I'm not impressed with the virtual cockpit. It has a "square" look to it and feels less then "real." Some more detail would have been nice or some smoothing effects to make the VC a little more lifelike and less two-dimensional.
Going to 2D is no "loss" either. With the cockpit model beautifully done, it was hard to tell the PSS version from the real thing! Night lighting is the glowing "alien" green we have all come to know from aviation pictures. Cold and dark cockpits "scream" to be brought to power. Bring up the lighting and prepare a flight and it's hard to concentrate on the CDU! Overall the lighting team did an excellent job with this airframe!
There are a few minor glitches in the interior however. A gaping hole in the floor in front of the captain's seat, some click spots seems to be off by as much as an inch, and the overall feel just feels as if the product was rushed to market. We would like to see more testing, more refinement, and we could have waited a few more weeks for a "finished" product.
Many a simmer has been wishing for the day when we could have TCAS, Weather, and NAV info on one common scope! Well our wishes have come true! The PSS Boeing 777 includes a working weather RADAR, TCAS, and NAV data on one screen! During testing, the TCAS would only work with AI traffic and offline, but we are assured that a coming fix is in the works and will enable online traffic as well.
Even without the TCAS working online, the weather coming in from our Active Sky package was incredible. Every yellow cell shown below was easy to see even at night! Turning into the clouds and in no time we were in the soup! It truly is remarkable with real-world weather enabled! We've read the grumblings about weather not showing, but rest assured the RADAR works as it should when used correctly. Sitting on the ground with rain falling on the windshield can be seen easily if you tilt the RADAR up a few degrees. In flight and climbing you'd see just as we did below.
Aircraft Loading and Handling
One of the "problems" widely talked about in PSS circles is an oscillation problem with the 777. I tried flying the 777 "to the limits" and did encounter this slight problem several times. The flight model just seems a bit off in some places; jerky on decent, steep decent profiles on auto-pilot, not able to hold a glide path smoothly, etc. I'd like to see more attention here as I'm sure the 777 handles smoothly in real life.
On the ground the big Boeing handles adequately; no tight turns here! Breaking action on landing can give you some serious hot breaks so be careful there too! Another small glitch is the gear doors always displaying "closed" on the multi-display. I'm assured this is being worked on. The wheel temperature does work however and will turn red when the brakes are used at max on a long landing.
In the air the Boeing 777 handles beautifully. Not having any time in the real bird, and relying on our Guest Speaker from Boeing earlier this year in San Diego, the Boeing 777 was built to help the pilot. Many auto-systems will help you fly on auto, but at the same time make the bird stable during manual flight. This is well modeled in the PSS and the 777 handled well both under manual control and Auto pilot. A bank limit selection from the A/P switch allows for banking to auto, or up to 25 degrees of bank for those tight turns to final we all love!
However, I was still disappointed with some of the flight modeling. The aircraft is flyable, but just doesn't feel as smooth as it should. Turns, banking, climbs and descents all feel a little less than what we've come to expect from other models. I would have liked a more finished feel; something that is smooth all the way around. Instead I got a 777 that feels like it might fall from the sky in certain circumstances. Again, the aircraft just feels rushed.
For the most part, I'm very pleased with the sound set for the PSS-777 series. However I'm not sure the APU would be silent while running. No sound at all from the PSS until engine start. Once the huge engines begin to turn they sound almost perfect. Having spent a few hours at General Electric with family, this engine sounds almost identical to the real engines. There is something that holds it short of a perfect "10" but it's hard for me to clearly state what it is. Cockpit call-outs for altitude on approach are there as well. gear noise and reverse trust all sound like they should.
Phoenix's Boeing 777 is a great start. Noticeably missing from the package at sales time, was a load configuration manager; something sorely needed and something we have come to expect with add-on aircraft. We'd like to see some more attention to detail on the "square" looking virtual cockpit, but again its a nice start with all controls being clickable. I'd also like to see some corrections to the flight model to make it more stable under all phases of flight and not just straight and level auto-pilot.
This is a great bargain for the price! It's not often you see a fully-modeled CDU, Overhead and subsystems in a market segment this low cost! I'm certain PSS will hold true to their fan base and quickly examine their small problems and add the much needed configuration load tool and fix the other issues.
|What I Like About the PSS Boeing-777|
|What I Don't Like About PSS Boeing-777|
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