The 737 series is the most successful commercial product in Boeing’s history and that has made it a logical target to be modeled for flight simulation. There has been an excellent representation of the 300/400/500 series by Wilco and the 600 thru 900 jets have been modeled by PMDG and iFly in exquisite detail. But until Just Flight introduced the 737-200 Professional, no one had tackled the original member of the 737 family, the 737-200.
Now the purists will point out that the first model in the line was the 737-100, however, it lacked sufficient payload capacity to satisfy the airlines; only 30 were delivered, and even before deliveries started, the -200 was introduced and became the first model to be purchased by many airlines.
Various improvements were added to the airplane in its 21 year production run. In all, 1114 737-200’s were manufactured, 715 of them in the 737-200ADV variation which is the model Just Flight has chosen to replicate.
The original- Lufthansa 737-100
The more popular big brother 737-200
The product comes as a 90Mb download and Just Flight also offers a free 74Mb demo version in Western Airlines livery. It offers full functionality but with an altitude limitation of 2700’ AGL.
Just Flight makes extensive claims about their model of this classic aircraft with a long list of features including:
- highly detailed model
- authentic Pratt & Whitney JT8D engine sound set
- full featured 2d and VC flight decks with 5 instrument/control panels
- complete set of lighting effects
- authentic flight dynamics
- accurate animations
- full passenger seating visible through cabin windows
- aircraft systems modeling
- numerous sounds and special effects
- available livery expansion pack
More in-depth examination of these features will follow.
Anyone who has piloted a good 727 model will quickly feel at home in the 737-200. The instrument panel reflects the influence of that aircraft, particularly regarding the rather basic autopilot system and the instrument comparator light system. The gauges are strictly of the proverbial “steam” type, as befitting a time when digital primarily meant ‘relating to fingers and toes’.
This is an airplane that must be flown, not merely managed, with the autopilot available to ease the load. In other words…lots of switches but very few push buttons- no LNAV or VNAV here.
Very capable 2D panel
You want to fly it from the right seat? Not a problem
VC panel is no slouch either
The reward for doing so, however, is that it flies beautifully. The controls are responsive and agile and the airplane has a light feel to it so that manual hand flying will be the preferred method on departure and arrival. Let the autopilot maintain course and altitude in cruise and you will look forward to trips in this machine.
Climb out under manual control
Hand flying the final approach to KSEA runway 16C…
…and from the right side
One of the touted assets of this simulation is the sound set and I have to agree with Just Flight’s claim that it is superb. Engine sounds are artfully reproduced and cockpit noises are complete with audible clicks when switches are thrown or dials turned and the background chatter of the stabilizer trim wheels when they move.
The attention to exterior detail is also quite impressive as evidenced by:
Vortex generators between the base of the rudder and the horizontal stabilizer
Wheel bay structure and equipment
Wing lights along with inboard and retractable outboard landing lights
Letting it all hang out. Full flaps-spoilers and thrust reversers
All in all, a very satisfying flight experience.
The optional expansion pack adds an additional 18 paints (10 for the 737-100 and 8 for the -200) many of which evoke a bit of nostalgia by depicting some now defunct airlines or old liveries.
Blasts from the Past
One in particular is a Continental Airlines “Golden Bird” tail scheme. The aircraft bears the registration N408PE which would seem to have been originally issued to People Express (of which a representative model is also included- N415PE), so the long history of this particular airplane can be imagined…for those inclined to muse about such things.
For those of you who simply MUST have some kind of numeric keypad there is, on the center pedestal, the Performance Data Computer System (PDCS). The PDCS utilizes basic information inputted by the pilot concerning outside air temperature, airport elevation, reserve fuel and zero fuel weight. Entering these values allows the computer to determine and set the proper Engine Pressure ratio (EPR) settings as displayed on the N1 gauges for most efficient engine operation.
Options allow for a reduced thrust takeoff setting, climb settings for maximum economy, max climb rate or via a manually entered climb speed. Similar options of economy, long range or manual set speed exist for the cruise phase. Descent calculations for time and distance by economy or speed can be obtained.
The system has the capability of displaying useful information for holding patterns (which were a much more common occurrence in the 1960s and 70s then they are today) such as speed to be maintained and endurance limits.
The PDCS has settings for one engine inoperative EPR and a Go Around page with flap Vref speeds.
Once airborne, wind direction, speed and effects of crosswind along with temperature values and range estimates are accessible.
A touch of whimsy while parked at the gate
This airplane is a true delight to operate. It requires much more direct pilot involvement than with more modern jets and the lack of sophistication is readily apparent in the limited autopilot functions, reliance on steam gauge instrumentation and “stone age” navigation systems. But I find myself drawn to this cockpit time and time again and it has become one of the favorites in my hangar.
Since no review is complete without finding something to complain about, here goes: The aircraft specification pages of the included manual list under the weights section, maximum take-off, maximum landing and typical maximum payload figures. All of these are stated only in kilograms and not included are the operational empty weight or zero fuel weights.
There…something for Just Flight to work on! (Also, a note to Just Flight- the tutorial flight in the manual is from KCMH to KORD, however, the instructions in the tutorial flight reference for initializing the PDCS state to set the elevation of the destination airport KDTW…not that it matters much as the two airport elevations are only 20’ different)
| Publisher: Just Flight |
Reviewed By: Roger Curtiss
And…there are some checklists at the end of the manual, but they do not include the cruise portion of flight so that items such as turning off seat belt sign, verifying navigation, fuel consumption and endurance, and determining top of descent point are not indicated.
Oh, one more thing, I set the time in the simulator but the aircraft clock displays it as one hour earlier.