• REVIEW - Boeing 767-300ER by FlightFactor for X-Plane10


    WR269

    Review

    by Will Reynolds

    Background

     

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    Boeing had started a study in the 1970s for a heavy aircraft to bridge the gap between the medium 737/727 market and the new 747, effectively replacing the 707.

     

    After many proposals were studied, Boeing settled for the goal of providing a high capacity twin jet that could cover Coast-to-Coast in high density, so a twin aisle widebody was a must.

     

    The project focused on aerodynamic savings, and thus Boeing went for a cabin width that was between the 707 and the 747, and to this day is the narrowest wide-body cabin ever made (Boeing calls it “custom made”).

     

    The prototype flew in September 1981, and the aircraft entered service with United Airlines a year later.

     

    There are quite a few variants produced, the original 767-200 (the -100 never saw service), the -200ER, the enlarged -300 and the longer range -300ER as well as the freighter range based on the -300 fuselage.

     

    The military market saw introduction of an AWACS model based on the -200ER fuselage as well as the KC-767 tanker aircraft.

     

    Boeing offered a -400 to compete with the Airbus A330 but it was not commercially successful.

     

    The Flight Factor 767-300ER

    FlightFactor’s product “Boeing 767-300ER Professional” showcases the PW4060 engined variant. The 767 had a few engine choices, the GE CF-6, the PWJT9, the PW4000 and the Rolls Royce RB211 among others.

     

    We are told a later optional package will have other engine types as well as the Freighter model, for now, you get the passenger -300ER with one engine choice.

    The reviewed model provided by the kind folk at X-Plane.org is version 1.024 with X-Plane 10.45B1 and B2

     

    Some of the features listed in the X-plane.org website:

     

    Fully Functional Professional FMS and EFIS System

    Custom Flight Management Computer, integrated with other plane systems.
     

    Custom programmed LNAV logic for terminal procedures from updatable database.
     

    VNAV-managed climbs and descends.
     

    Optimum cruise performance and step climb calculation.
     

    Two independent analogue instrument sets for captain and first officer.
     

    Two independently simulated EFIS (EADI/EHSI configuration) for captain and first officer.
     

    Dual-FMS with two independently working CDUs.
     

    Working instrument comparators.
     

    Triple IRS and triple symbol generator systems with realistic instrument source switching.
     

    Dual air-data computers with custom failure modes and source switching.
     

    Independent 2 nav and an ils receivers.
     

    Realistic inertial, radio and GPS position updating, you can see the individual inaccuracies of those systems.
     

    Triple-channel autopilot with realistic dependencies.
     

    Fail operational and fail passive auto land with mode degradations based on system failures.
     

    Load company routes generated by Professional FlightPlanner X (or other compatible programs) directly into the FMC.
     

    FMC can be used on external touchscreen or tablet, optimized for the Retina iPad.

    Custom Systems and Failure model

    Detailed and deep simulation of almost every system in the real aircraft.
     

    Custom air and pressure system.
     

    Electrical system with all AC and DC busses modeled - see which system depends on which bus.

    Hydraulic system that uses a little fluid when treated correctly and a lot of fluid if used incorrectly.
     

    Multistage custom failure system - over 200 more failures than X-Plane.
     

    Ability to fix failure by following proper procedure.
     

    Persistent failure and maintenance system. Aircraft wear and misuse will carry over to your next flight.

    Warning system and radars

    Fully functional GPWS with all the modes the real plane has.
     

    Fully functional terrain radar, with custom database (just like the real plane), a look-ahead warning system and many other features.
     

    Weather radar that works like the real thing. Including tilt and gain functions, ground clutter, turbulence detection and windshear prediction.

    3D Modelling

    Accurate dimensions based on exterior drawings provided by Boeing.
     

    Very detailed exterior modelling with high resolution textures.
     

    Very high resolution 3D cockpit with every switch functional.
     

    Spatial rain simulation with high detail.
     

    Very detailed passenger cabin graphics including galleys.
     

    Additional graphic features: real working oxygen masks both in cockpit and cabin, dynamic window blinds that react to sunlight etc.
     

    New and improved wingflex.

     

    Special effects

    Multilayer dynamic reflections on all glass objects.
     

    Reflective metal and plastic objects in the cockpit.
     

    Glossy exterior that reflects the outside.
     

    XP weather enhancements like custom windshear.

     

     

    Purchase and Installation

    The product is available exclusively at X-Plane.org.

    Once you receive your download link, you get a 1.4Gb (unzipped) pack which you simply move to your Aircraft/Heavy metal folder in X-Plane.

     

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    The base pack comes with 8 repaints, plus you have the option of purchasing multiple livery packs if you do not wish to wait on someone making free repaints. Again, this is an option, you are not obliged to purchase any liveries, and you will find the collection of free liveries in many websites is growing substantially.

     

    The base pack also gives you a “DOCS” folder, which has a modified FCOM, CDU manual, a text changelog and Owner’s manual.

     

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    As always, the “Manual” should be your first port of call, it will explain the features and options of what you have just purchased.  Recommend you read it.

    The FCOM looks like the official Boeing document which is a nice touch, but it does not explain the level of depth to which every system has been simulated. Still, a good document to have handy, and it also contains the Normal Operations checklist.

     

    Once you start X-Plane and select the 767 you will be asked to enter your serial number and away you go!

     

    The Package

    So we know you get a Boeing 767 with 8 repaints, some PDF documents, what else?

    Once you are in the aircraft itself, look to the left of the Captain’s seat and you will see a small tablet device. This is the Master Options controller for the product.

     

    The “General” tab allows you to set the reality level of your product. If you wish to have a pseudo “wear and tear” mode, don’t forget to enable “Interflight Data” as this will save the data from your last flight such as Hydraulic fluid quantities, etc. The rest are fairly self explanatory.

     

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    The “Ground” tab allows you to call up ground equipment. One of the standard items on FlightFactor products is their push for immersion. You cannot load passengers if you haven’t opened the aircraft doors or put stairs to do so with...fair enough I say. Same goes for baggage and of course fuel.

    In this tab you can set the number of passengers (maximum 235), freight (maximum 80,000 lbs) and fuel.  Press the Optimize CG and it will distribute the load correctly and provide CoG values.

    Also pay attention to the “Maintenance” button....this will allow you to provide what is called “Line Maintenance” on your aircraft which means topping up oil if needed, overview of systems, etc. Don’t ignore this, or you will suffer failures.

     

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    The next tab is called “Airplane” and this is where you can open cabin and cargo doors for your ground equipment to work with, as well as have the options to add or remove dynamic blinds and winglets to your model.  To the right you also have 3 sliders...the first one allows you to adjust the amount of wingflex you wish to have in your model!!  This happens in real time and you don’t need to restart the model to take effect.  The other sliders are for amount of reflections and effects.

     

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    Once you have the doors etc all set, you need to go back to the “Ground” tab and press “Load/Unload” and your passengers will start entering the aircraft, refuelling will commence as well as baggage loading.

    The “Failures” tab will show you any items that need attention and gives you the option to reset them.

    The next tab I want to show is “Avionics”. Here it is self explanatory, and again your choices are loaded straight away, no need to restart the model or the simulator. Some of the options are not yet implemented/available.

     

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    The last tab to look at is “PA”...this is where FF’s push for immersion is also seen. You interact with a virtual Cabin Crew manager, and ask him to welcome your passengers, provide the safety demonstration, etc....if you forget, particularly the safety demonstration, he will complain. A few people don’t like it, I personally don’t mind it, I believe having options is a great thing.

     

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    So this is how we look at the moment, with ground equipment doing their work. You will notice the passenger access stairs on the front right door, this also happens on FF’s 757 model. Normally passengers are loaded via the front left but this is extremely minor.

     

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    Before we start looking at textures, one final feature to talk about is the “Remote CDU”. Those familiar with Aerosoft’s feature for their Airbus family will feel right at home here. You simply need a tablet or laptop with access to a browser, type the IP address and port....and bingo, a full sized CDU at your fingertips. I tested it on my Ipad and Samsung devices and worked flawlessly, no lag, very crisp.

     

    Exterior Walk Around

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    The quality is good, I like the balance between what you have and the load it places on your system. The landing gear has very nice detail, and so do the engines.

    The Spoiler assembly is very very good.

     

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    The effect and visuals of the slats is not the best I have seen, but again, cosmetic, and I am sure they will look into this.

     

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    Interior

    The cabin reflects an aircraft in the “hey-day” of 767 operations, the 80s and 90s, and is reasonably well done. Some spelling errors on the textures (signs) but nothing earth shattering, provides a nice atmosphere.

     

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    Cockpit

    Now let’s look at the cockpit. We need to keep in mind this is a 1980s vintage cockpit, and typical Boeing cockpit of the era, is full of misaligned instruments of differing shapes and sizes.  The quality of the 3D detail is very good and FF has done a very good job of capturing the look and feel here.

     

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    This is a view of the Overhead with APU power turned on. Note that Ambient control is active and appears to be dynamic...ie cabin temperature changes, and is affected by items such as outside air temperature (if doors are open) and settings of your air con packs.

     

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    The Testing

    FlightFactor gives you an integrated Checklist and Procedures plug in. It will guide you in normal procedures and change item colours to represent correct or incorrect position of the switches. Only “Normal” checklists and procedures are provided.

     

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    Now let’s program the FMS...align the IRS, and enter the basic information. I loaded 85,000lbs of fuel (this aircraft only works on Lbs, not Kgs although the developer has advised they may add the option at a later stage). Using PFPX, exported the flight plan and loads the route with no issues whatsoever.

    Choose the SID and follow the process. You can “cheat” and get the weights of the aircraft for you by clicking the LSK corresponding the weights, and same with the V-speeds, select “Ref Speeds Select On” and they will appear, you confirm them by pressing them individually and you will see your ASI will show the speed “pegs” in place...your speeds are now set.

     

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    Last Ground equipment provided to you is the Pushback truck. Again, available via the included Tablet. It will provide push back by advancing your throttle levers, you can control direction by using rudder control. Only drawback is, since you are using the throttle of the aircraft to push back, you cannot start engines. You don’t have to use their pushback feature though, you have an option.

     

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    Starting engines:  the sounds, and effects (the blinking of the lights as the bus is engaged...very good) all very immersive. However we find a small bug: You need to apply fuel when the starter reaches at least 15% and no more than 22% of N2 or the starter motor appears to fail. The 767 has a starter motor per engine, and you can run it at max and then apply fuel without affecting the starting process of the other engine. Developer is aware, but just keep that in mind...apply fuel between 15 and 22% and all is great.

    This aircraft has progressive failures, so just like in the real world, make sure you use start 1 or 2 alternating, if you leave it and only use one of them, you will end up with a failure at some point.

    The aircraft has independent altimeters and a totally independent set of CDUs.  You need to remember to set all your altimeters, not just your main.  Once you are set, the beast taxies nicely, it is easy to control on the ground.

     

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    Rain effects are also very good.

     

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    Knowing how FF sets dynamic failures and events in their aircraft, I decided to test the 767 in an aborted take off. Aircraft performed quite well, and the effects were good, these guys didn’t just put a little red texture to show hot brakes, you get first white smoke, then black smoke, and finally a full blown fire. Here we see a high speed reject at 80 knots.

     

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    Here we rotate, good feel of a heavy with plenty of power. Animations are very good.

     

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    Aircraft has no problems meeting altitude restrictions on climb. However, a small bug has been found where restrictions on climb affect a fluid calculation of Top of Climb.

    Here we see the TOC moving progressively further out as we climb. The developer is aware of this and a fix will be included in the Service Pack.

     

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    Now we can have a look at the night textures in the cockpit. Keep in mind, I had my “reflections” set at 50% and this is the result:

     

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    Now with reflections turned off

     

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    Reflections turned to 20%

     

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    Again, you set whatever you wish, the developer has given you the options to make this the 767 you want it to be. Thumbs up to the developer here, there is plenty of feedback on their previous products about “too much” or “too little”, so they have given the user the option to customise their own settings.

     

    Now we are in the cruise, let’s have a quick look at the FMS...all pages appear to be operational, I also notice that it reads the weather directly from X-Plane, so whatever weather engine you use, the 767 will read the weather file and use it for its forecast, both for cruise and descent.

     

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    The Weather Radar is operational, as well as the Terrain Radar.

     

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    The Direct-To function worked fine, and I was able to put the aircraft in a Holding pattern using the Hold function. It did not quite follow a standard procedure was did a good enough job of it, no abrupt moves, once it was set in the hold it did a good job of it.

    VNAV was a bit of a mixed bag. Now let’s put a disclaimer here. VNAV is probably the hardest item to code in an FMC aircraft, the amount of variables is huge. Even established developers of FSX or P3D have glitches in this field.

    First thing I noticed in cruise was VNAV telling me to Step Climb at a certain point, but in the same page it tells me the maximum altitude is below the proposed Step Climb!

    While VNAV for climb gave us some mild issues with Top of Climb calculation, for descent it will need some work. Some altitude restrictions are not being met, and the logic gets the wrong focus in calculations, which leaves the descent path too steep. Fear not, the developer has already stated that VNAV will be completely reworked, and they are working on it. Will it stop you doing a flight?  Not, it will not, it will just not be fluid on descent.

     

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    Approaching final there were no major problems. I decided to test an autoland, and here the aircraft captured the beam correctly, but I was still on single autopilot below 1500ft, whereas autopilot 2 and 3 were supposed to have engaged automatically. No matter, just like in real life, if they don’t engage, you can do it yourself, and I got my “LAND3”.

    I tested the autoland in strong crosswind conditions, and as you can see, the aircraft did a great job of turning into the wind, the “crabbing” motion was quite good and controlled the descent right down to touchdown.

    What I was expecting to happen was a “de-crab” on touchdown but it never happened.

     

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    Thoughts and Conclusions

    The 767 is an iconic aircraft, both in real life and in the simulator world. The benchmark 767s for Flight Simulation would be the old “PIC 767” for FS9 and the Level-D 767 for FSX. Recently, CLS and Captain Sim have released their versions which have fantastic detail and texturing but not the system depth of the benchmarks.

    So people keep asking me where this aircraft stands...is it a Level-D equal product or not? The answer is no, it is a Flight Factor 767.

     

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    Graphics wise it is definitely among the top, it has dynamic failures and wear and tear which other 767s don’t have or never had, but it does not yet have that robustness of systems that was evident in the older 767 model.

    Should you worry about that?  I don’t believe so! Don’t forget, when the older 767 came out, it could not do SIDS or STARS, it had lots of bugs, VNAV was pretty much a lottery, and even after the last SP3 some were not corrected but still ended up being a truly fantastic systems-heavy representation of the 767. This is only version 1 of the FF 767, and for an initial release version, it has a lot of promise.

     

    The Flight Factor 767 has a very good, ambitious and tremendously capable developer behind it, and he has raised the bar over his previous products yet again.

    The aircraft has some terrific points and features which will give you hours of pleasure in flights straight away:

    Ground Equipment included

    Weather Radar

    Terrain Radar

    Dynamic Wing Flex

    Lots of customisable choices

    Interactive Cabin Crew

    Dynamic Failures

    Wear and Tear/Maintenance

    Most systems simulated to varying degrees

    Very good texturing inside and out

    Virtual CDU

    FMS simulation that is good enough to be complex but could/will be better. As a starting point, is good.

     

    Documentation is good, but I would have liked to have seen Abnormal Checklists and procedures since one of the aircraft’s selling points is realism, dynamic failures and many other custom-built features.

     

    FlightFactor should be given kudos for the work they have put on this aircraft, and also for the work they are still doing to fix the bugs which have been reported. Like I said before, this is only initial release version so some bugs will be discovered, but a sign of a good developer is how they address those bugs.

    As it is, it is a very enjoyable aircraft to fly, and despite the small bugs, it is my preferred 767 in any platform.

    Keep an eye out for this, when the updates start rolling in, this aircraft could well and truly be in a class of its own.

     

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