A while ago when I was still serving articles as a candidate attorney and had to attend the compulsory courses to obtain my certificate required as part of the bible of paperwork one has to submit to the High Court in order to get admitted and enrolled as an attorney, I had to stay at a youth centre in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.
This centre was not at all far away from Oribi airport (FAPM), about a kilometer or so, and my window up on the first floor gave me an excellent view of aircraft on approach to the runway at just above eye level.
Now, South African Airlink and Express operates into this airport on a daily basis, and every morning at 07H00 I would be at the window, expecting one of those flights, a Bae 146 to make its approach past my window.
It is a quiet, fascinating and beautiful little aircraft! I also remember being quite intrigued with how quiet it operated with its four turbofan engines! Sometimes our class for the day would end early, and we would get a chance to go home for lunch, which gave me an opportunity see the afternoon approach of this aircraft, and of course there was another just before dark in the evening. Quite a treat!
Used with permission of the photographer through airliners.net
Naturally, getting my hands on one was a necessity and with 2012 being described as “the year of the Bae 146" in flight simulation, I was quite eagerly anticipating this! So without further ado, let us see what we have here...
A bit of history...
Production started with the -100 series in 1983 and ended with the various Avro designs in 2002.The Avro RJ’s production started in 1992. A further improved version of the Avro, the RJX, was announced in 1997, which was essentially a version with new engines, however, only two prototypes and one production aircraft were built before production ceased in 2001.
A total of 387 aircraft were produced, making it the most successful British civil jet aircraft program.
The Bae 146 was produced in the -100, -200 and -300 variants. The Avro RJ versions are dubbed RJ70, RJ85 and RJ100 versions. There are also freight carrying versions designated the “QT” or “Quiet Trader” versions. An easily convertible version between passengers and freight is also available dubbed the “QC”, or “Quick Change” version.
Finally, an operator also had the option to fit a gravel kit to the aircraft, making it suitable to be operated into rough and unprepared strips.
The designer, from the very beginning, a genius (in my opinion that is!) by the name of Bob Grigg, the chief designer of the project wanted to design an aircraft that was easily maintainable and cut operating costs to the minimum for the operator.
The fact that they are still popular aircraft and that they still operate to a very large extent, gives you some idea of the success that the manufacturers achieved with the design of the aircraft. It is like a mini little Boeing 747!
Installation and documentation
The base pack is 455 MB large and should you wish to opt for the expansion pack, you would have a further download of 300 MB on your hands, so as can be seen, quite a bit of airplane to begin with!
Let us start with the base pack: as with all Just Flight products, before you can install the product, it needs to be verified by logging into your account and having your serial number for the product verified. This is of course done directly from the validation page whilst running setup.
Once the aircraft is validated, the installation begins, which takes a little bit longer than I anticipated, but there are no vices to report in the installation procedure. Once the installation is completed, you will find a Just Flight folder inside your main FSX folder. Please note that I do not know what the file structure is like for P3D users!
Inside this folder, you will find a manual in typical Just Flight style, describing the panel layout and also familiarizing you with the various different buttons, switches and knobs to be tinkered with on the various different panels. It is very user friendly, having the usual numbered screenshots with corresponding labels to boot. This gets you around the cockpit in no time!
What it also has is a very comprehensive tutorial flight which is essential for this aircraft! It takes you through a flight from Brussels to Manchester and gives you a thorough walkthrough of how to properly operate all the systems on the aircraft and get it safely from point A to point B, and I have to say, it is one of the better tutorials that I have come across!
The way that the tutorial is written is in a manner that does not leave you wondering “what does this mean?” or “did I get everything I was supposed to?” Once you get going with it, it puts you completely at ease with the aircraft in a “read and do” checklist type of way.
There is also a manual explaining how to incorporate third party weather radars into the simulation. The weather radars that can be used are the Captain Sim weather radar and also the Reality XP weather radars, all of which can be purchased from the respective developers’ websites of course!
Then you also get two folders containing different FDE’s, one for an easier flight model, the other for a realistically behaving flight model. We will look into that just a little bit later on.
What I did find missing however, was a comprehensive performance sheet for the Bae 146. That is a little bit disappointing to be honest. As all jet jocks know, you cannot simply accept that my take off speed will always be 140 knots for all different weights of the aircraft, or that my engine settings are all the same. Various performance factors determine these settings and that would have just rounded the documentation off beautifully!
However, having said that you can simply do what the tutorial says and it will work for all flights! I was extremely impressed with the paperwork and I would give them 9,5/10 for it.
First off, there is no utility for loading passengers and cargo, this is done the old fashioned way, Fuel and Payload Manger within FSX itself. Fuel is also loaded this way. What you do get though is a utility called the Configuration Tool.
Essentially what this does is to allow you to select one of the liveries that you have installed, and customize the way it will look and function on the exterior of the aircraft, i.e. I can select whether I would like to have a configuration where all the passenger windows are visible and the ladders don’t work, or I could select an option where the first left and right windows are hidden and the front ladder works. There are a few extra options to this.
Depending on whether you have installed the livery pack with the extra liveries and the FMC, you will also be asked whether you would like to make the FMC or the GPS your navigation default.
A note here - selecting the FMC, will not make it follow the LNAV path as in a Boeing or an Airbus. It simply allows you to follow the route as programmed by the default flight planner in FSX itself.
Is this an issue? No, since the original BAe 146 was not fitted with an FMC either, so there is no realism lost there at all! In fact, I enjoy simply flying VOR to VOR but more on that later.
There is not an option to load the aircraft with a cold and dark cockpit - it loads that way by default!
Now, right off the bat the exterior is a masterpiece! When looking around the aircraft you can see that everything is done in exquisite detail. As can be seen from the screen shots, featuring first the Lufthansa BAe 146-300, and then later on the BA BAe 146-200, there is more than enough detail to keep you looking and fiddling around with on the exterior.
The landing gear is just beautiful - just look into those bays and the struts! Compelling stuff. On top of the wings you clearly see the streaks of hydraulic fluid that you should see on an aircraft wing. As can also be seen, passengers are actually visible through the windows in the cabin.
Near the back of the aircraft, the APU exhaust leaves its mark on the aircraft skin too. All around you can see the beautiful detail in the rivet work. In the rear cargo door area a little wear and tear from operating the cargo door is also just visible. Even the wing’s leading edges reflect beautifully to light changes and you get the feel of actually looking at a shiny piece of aluminum alloy!
The engine pylons and the engine cowlings are exquisite! By far one of the more impressive external viewing pleasures on the aircraft - amazing detail, and again just the right bit of wear and tear present there. Looking into the engines, one can see the detail inside it too.
You have two virtual pilots smiling at you and the windshield plays its part with some beautiful reflections.
All in all, a lovely exterior all through the range and I cannot fault it. I don’t know if any real world BAe pilots can pick up on any mistakes here and there, but in general, I found nothing to fault.
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The exterior sets a high standard, so how about the interior then? Well, this is one of those rarities in today’s market that actually comes with a fully flyable 2D cockpit. As for the 2D panel itself, I cannot really fault it - as you would expect it is fully clickable and flyable, except for about four switches that weren’t modeled.
I love analogue instruments and the Just Flight rendition of the aircraft fortunately comes with a set of analogue instruments - ahhhhh, heaven! In the 2D panel view, the instruments are very crisp and clear, easy to read, and the general panel appearance looks and feels the part. It doesn’t really show signs of wear and tear, but that fact does not detract from enjoying flying the 2D panel though.
Whilst panning around the different views in the cockpit whilst in 2D panel mode, you will find that the textures load quickly and doesn’t leave those annoying white areas that wait to catch up like some products do - nice!
Whilst talking about 2D panels, let us talk about some of the pop-ups that you can call up whilst flying in either 2D or VC mode. One of my favourites must be the beautifully designed 2D overhead panel. The overhead inside the BAe is very low, so you need a good 2D pop-up to assist in getting to all the switches you need when flying in VC mode, which is where I spend my time.
As I just said, the panel is crisp, clear and complete. A real joy to use! You can also call up various different views of the main panel in either 2D or VC mode, to show you different things. My other favourite is the transponder/autopilot section of the pedestal that can be popped up and then also the rather small little 2D pop-up containing the parking brake.
I did spend a little time flying the 2D panel just to get a feel for it, and I have to say that if you still enjoy flying 2D pits, this will tickle your fancy just fine. Have a look at the main panel and the overhead:
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Now to my favourite part - the VC. I was shocked - pleasantly that is! The VC’s quality is right up there with other top dollar add-ons. Here one can see a few nicks and cuts that is sustained by use over the years. Glorious!
The instruments really have a realistic and 3D look to them. Yes, there may have been some improvements here and there, but generally, I was very, very pleased with what I saw around the cockpit.
The N1 gauges have little knobs allowing you to set the desired N1 setting for take off and the engine instruments are clearly legible and easy to read and use. As I have indicated on numerous occasions before, clear analogue instruments are a deal breaker for me, and this passed the test with flying colours. Nothing is worse than having to rely on a set of analogue gauges you cannot read!
The annunciator displays are slightly less legible, but this is due to the size of the warning lights. Nothing a little zooming in cannot cure and no, this does not detract from the enjoyment of the simulation.
The BAe 146 autopilot is there and looks and certainly acts like the real deal, but more on operating it a little later on. I have found with other products from time to time that when adjusting knobs with the old roller wheel style numbers on them that they act more like digital readouts than analogue ones. I am pleased to say that they certainly act like real rolling wheels in this simulation. Very nice!
Add to this that the main NAV radio which is a digital display and is right in front of each pilot looks the deal with the “figure eight” theme going for it just nicely if the light catches it right too and when switched off in particular. Another piece of practically photo real equipment on board.
The rudder pedals certainly shows signs of use on both sides of the VC. The radio stack is beautifully modeled and uses the old “red line” principle, meaning that instead of today’s radios where the positions of the entries change around on digital displays, the inactive radio here simply gets a red line through to show clearly that it is not the active radio, and the other way around, meaning no red line means the radio is active.
The weather radar is not active as you would imagine, but the good news is that one can always buy one of the 3rd party developer’s weather radio and smack it onto your panel and you are good to go!
Right next to the weather radar screen, there is an empty panel. Should you click on it, the default GPS unit from FSX pops up. Now remember that the FMC does NOT handle the flight for you like in a Boeing or an Airbus, so you can use the default GPS to watch your navigation. More on that later.
The throttles, flaps and spoilers all show a few signs of wear and they look the real deal. The fuel cut off procedure also works like the real aircraft does. The trim tabs behind the throttles are clearly legible and adds to that “classic” look of the aircraft, and as the rest of the VC, beautifully modeled too!
Although there is a 2D pop-up for the transponder/autopilot section, suffice it to say that the VC mode panel does the job fine, no pop-up required. The windows inside the cockpit also shows reflections and I love to do early morning flights and late afternoon flights when the sunlight changes the whole cockpit dynamic in terms of the lighting - just wonderful!
The overhead in the VC is another masterpiece of creativity! Everything is beautiful, legible and just down right delicious. There are some items you will need the 2D pop-up for, but that is because of the age old FS limitation of not being able to move around in your seat and to look up and around. It certainly is not for lack of visual quality that is for sure!
In the overhead you will find the rather odd switch being left out in the dark that wasn’t modeled, but they are really few and far between. You have a 99% functioning overhead.
So the final verdict is that the interior, whether you are flying in 2D or VC mode, is a masterpiece! Clearly a lot of effort has gone into recreating the real deal and it has paid off. Well done to Just Flight and CLS.
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Usually in some of the lighter products, or in fact the majority of them, the sound package lags a little but not in this product. Many of you that may have read my reviews before, would have noticed my comments about what I expect from a sound set and why.
A bad sound package can unfortunately ruin the product. In this case, again, the developers surprised me pleasantly! I usually get the chance to gripe about wind noise not being loud enough, but not this time.
Here we have a lovely 3D sound set, the engines at the rear of my surround sound speakers and the volumes are seemingly just right. The wind noise adds a touch of class as it takes over from the front and drowns out the engines noise almost completely, just what you would expect. Glorious!
The APU noise is there in all its glory as well. I found the engine sound rather realistic too, based on what I heard on the DRUK Air video clip on YouTube. A real world BAe pilot may be able to comment on that a little more. All the warning bells and whistles are there to as you would expect.
What I do miss is the absence of some touchdown sounds though! It is very difficult to tell when the gear hits the runway, and this is a bit of gripe that I have with the sound package. Other than that, the flap handle makes no sound, and neither does operating the flap lever. It would be nice to have some sound there as well!
Apart from that, the sound package is amazing and really adds to the immersion of the flight model. It is a very high quality sound set that faithfully reproduces the BAe 146 in all its glory! Even with the few missing items. Great job!
Now for the really interesting bit - how does she fly? Let us walk through the tutorial flight in the -200 model starting at Brussels and heading over to Manchester in the UK, a nice 300 odd nautical mile trip.
The tutorial flight provides you with a prepared flight which you can load from the FSX menu by following the instructions from the tutorial. It also provides you with a route that is programmed into the default NAV system in FSX. This can, again, be followed by the default GPS unit and also modified as you would the normal routes within FSX.
The aircraft starts cold and dark with the engines switched off. You will have noticed that you have a little arrow in the bottom left hand corner of either the 2D or the VC panel. By clicking on that you bring up a menu which has several options to select from. The one that we are interested in is the GP button which provides us with ground power to be connected to the aircraft.
So we click the GP button, we click on all the yellow squares to open the door and the stairs and to connect the ground power and then we click inside the AC and DC boxes shown inside the little schematic which will power the aircraft. Good, we now have some external power to the aircraft, and the doors have been opened for us to board the passengers. What next?
Well, now we switch on both battery switches in the overhead and we cancel the master warning light and also silence the audible warning that accompanies it. Staying in the overhead we switch on the standby inverter switch, and click the left inner fuel pump on so that the APU is fed some fuel to operate. We are now ready to power up our APU. We switch on the APU generator and also the switch on the APU master start switch. The APU runs up and stabilizes very quickly, and since the aircraft is rather small, we can hear it running nicely in the background.
At this stage the master warnings will be screaming at you and we silence those on your main panel again. We then go back to the overhead, and we arm the emergency lights for the cabin and the flight deck. They are quite far apart, one being in the lower left part of the overhead, the other in the upper right part of the overhead- not to worry though, the tutorial is packed with screenshots indicating where you can find what!
Next we have to switch on the avionics master switches which are all located in the upper left corner of the overhead - these power the yaw damper, autopilot and avionics systems. Next we switch on the anti-skid, the yellow and green hydraulics and the lift spoiler switches just below the main avionics.
We proceed down the list - we switch on the AC ad DC bus tie switches by setting them to the AUTO position, and we arm the standby generator. Next we switch on the APU air and Pack 2 switch so the boarding passengers can get some fresh cool air. Next we switch the DC pump to the BATT position. We then provide some power to the galley.
Next we turn on the passengers signs. Again, the one you will find in the lower part of the overhead whilst the other is located in the upper right part of the overhead. The last thing we do is check that we have the right amount of fuel for the flight, and presto, you are done! It took me three times longer writing this than doing it! The pre-flight is literally done in about 5 minutes so this a very nice “get in and fly” aircraft!
The before start checklist is as short as switching on the other remaining fuel pumps, switching the APU air and Pack 2 switches off, turning on the 4 engine anti-ice switches, turning on some lights, and properly configuring the aircraft. That’s it!
Just a quick word on the pressurization - it actually works! Just flight claimed it was modeled, and yes, it is indeed modeled.
Starting the engines is a little bit different from the bigger jets. There is a start master switch which we need to turn on and select an engine via a rotational knob in the overhead. The start sequence in 4-3-2-1. Once this is configured, we click on a engine starter switch to start the rotation of the selected engine. To start fuel feeding to the engine, you need to right click on the base of the selected engine’s throttle lever to click it into the on position. The same is true for shutting down as well. Just a right click at the base.
I found the engine start procedure surprisingly different from what I initially expected. I half expected the normal sort of engine “run away” startup that you get from the default FSX aircraft, but this is definitely much, much improved! It has a slight element of the FSX start in it, but about 80% of it at a rough guess is simulated very nicely.
Once all the engines have been started, you simply switch the start master switch off and rotate the start select switch to the off position. We then click on GEN1 and GEN4 switches to turn the generators on, set the Eng 2 and Eng 3 pump switches to on, set he brake fans to AUTO (upper left corner of the overhead), we set the APU air and Pack 2 switches to on again, and switch the DC pump off.
We also switch the 4 engine anti-ice switches off, and then we switch on our windshield heaters, and pitot heaters. This is located nearer the bottom right hand corner of the overhead. That covers it. Again, it took about 10 times longer to write it than to actually do it!
We are now ready to taxi out to the runway. We switch on the taxi and NAV light switches. We select 18 degrees of flap for the take off. We then switch our YD switch to "on" on the lower pedestal. If you need to program any radio frequencies for navigation, this is the time to do it. Use the NAV radio in front of you on the main panel. We then turn on our flight director by flipping the switch in front of us on the main panel.
Then we set the altitude which we will climb to in the window on the autopilot - man I love the rolling drum numbers! We also set our required first heading into the heading selector. We monitor the heading on the RMI display, since it is not indicated on a separate autopilot display, but this is the same on the actual aircraft.
Following the little map provided in the tutorial we taxi out to the assigned runway. Take off checks? AC pump to on, landing- and strobe lights to on and you’re done!
Taxiing the aircraft has a very nice feel to it. Yes, it is much lighter than a Boeing or an Airbus as you would expect, but it doesn’t have that utterly weightless feel to it at all. It really feels like you are taxiing an aircraft on the ground.
The speed bugs have been set for this take off and to be honest, I never change them! I always use the same settings for my V-speeds, and once you hit the speed bugs accelerating down the runway, the first officer makes the proper call outs for you. Very nice indeed!
So how does the rotation feel - again not overly sensitive or light. Right off the bat, this aircraft is a joy to hand fly! It is very stable and very nimble. Rotation is done to 13 degrees nose up and once you have positive rate, retract the gear. Your climb speed to aim for is 230 knots indicated.
The tutorial says we need to retract the flaps as we pass 2000 feet, so upon passing 2000 feet we retract the flaps. Once you retract the flaps there is a noticeable change in the flight characteristics. The aircraft will accelerate quite a bit better and your climb rate will improve - nice!
Upon passing 2500 feet AGL, we now have to turn on the autopilot. Now lets us look at this autopilot for a bit since it is completely different from the A and B teams’ equipment! Don’t think about arming any of the modes in the autopilot on the ground - it is done when you are airborne.
Once you have established a stable climb at 230 knots and on the required heading according to the tutorial flight, you switch on the autopilot master switch which is on the pedestal. Now head to the autopilot panel on the main panel. Now you press the ALT ARM button and the IAS button. The aircraft will now maintain the necessary pitch to keep 230 knots indicated and once reaching FL270, it will level off for you. Arming it on the ground will result in it not working right and you will have to disarm and re-arm the switches. You have been warned!
Once the autopilot is switched on and the aircraft is in stable climb, we can proceed to do the after take off checks, which is simply to turn on the four engine air switches, turn off the APU air switch and also turn on both pack switches. The AC pump is set to off and we shut down the APU. Done.
Also take note that there is no auto throttle system. You have to manage the throttles yourself. The aircraft’s performance with the autopilot during the climb up to the cruise is just lovely, very stable, no vices that I can find. From my own research, it also seems that the autopilot works like the real deal. Good!
The performance during the level off and the cruise was very smooth, no vices here either, it performs flawlessly on the autopilot in this phase of flight as well. To follow the route, just press the LNAV button and it will follow the GPS programmed route. The route following is very smooth, no vices.
As we near our top of descent point, in this particular flight 80 miles from Manchester, we need to prep for descent. We follow the instructions to set the altitude down to 3000 feet and then we are instructed to press the ALT ARM button. Good so far.
Now, for stable cruise about 92 percent N1 is recommended to maintain cruise speed of around 270 knots indicated. The next thing we do is to press the IAS button again. Why? The aircraft will now descend towards 3000 feet by maintaining the 270 knots indicated initially. This is where my first little gripe pops up. Although this works just like in the real aircraft, the aircraft rather violently pitches down initially, even though I have not closed the throttles at all to begin a gradual descent.
The goal is to establish a stable 1800 fpm/270 KIAS descent and then click the VS button to switch from maintaining the airspeed to maintaining a fixed vertical speed instead. Just like before, play with the throttles to attain and keep the desired airspeed.
We also have to adjust the pressurization system - Using the Cabin Alt setting knob, you lower the cabin altitude until it reads 0.
The tutorial instructs us to maintain 250 KIAS below FL200. So we reduce power slightly to maintain this airspeed, whilst still descending at 1800 fpm. A note about speed management - it is not difficult in this little aircraft at all, it won’t run away with you.
At FL100, we are instructed to decelerate further to 240 KIAS, again no problem there at all. Following this profile, we arrive at just about 20nm away from Manchester VOR as the tutorial indicates.
Now that we have leveled off at 3000 feet we start to prepare for the approach and landing phase. We again turn on the APU in the same way we did before departure. We now enter the landing runway course into both course selectors on the main panel. The ILS frequency is 108.90, so we enter that into both NAV 1 and 2.
Just to make sure that we have enough engine performance should a go around be required, we turn on the APU Air switch but turn pack 1 off. We also turn the four engine air switches off.
We keep 240 knots until around 15nm from the airport, at which time the aircraft will start to intercept the localizer. This is where we begin to decelerate and configure for landing. I initially frowned on this, but it quickly became clear that just as easily as the aircraft performed during the descent, attaining the correct speed for approach and landing, in this case 120 KIAS, was a breeze, not difficult at all.
We follow the correct deceleration and flap extension schedule and hit 120 KIAS for the approach at 33 degrees of flaps. All good so far!
Just make sure that you hit the V/L button on the autopilot when the localizer becomes active so that the autopilot captures the localizer. This goes pretty smoothly as well, nothing funny to report here.
When the glide slope indicator becomes alive, just hit the GSL button so that the aircraft intercepts the glide slope. When it does, be prepared to vary the throttles to maintain 120 knots. The approach is very easily done. Although, I do have to say that when there is a bit of wind the aircraft tends to drift to the side of the runway on occasion, so just be careful and watchful of that little issue!
The aircraft WILL NOT auto land. When you reach 500 feet AGL, disconnect and fly the aircraft in. It flies so beautifully that I very rarely use autopilot for extended periods during an approach, except when visibility is rather poor.
Apart from no touchdown sounds, the aircraft performs very well whilst being flown in landing configuration! A joy to fly!
Once down, I open the speed brake at the tail and start hitting the brakes. This aircraft has no reverse thrust by the way.
Upon exiting the runway, we do the taxi in checks by raising the flaps, closing the speed brakes and switching off some lights. We also set the pitot- and windshield heaters off.
We taxi to a gate, and we begin our shutdown checks: we close the fuel feed (see my earlier explanation), we cancel the master warnings. We then:
- switch off the GEN 1 and GEN 2 switches;
- Eng pump 2 and Eng pump 3 off;
- turn off all fuel pumps;
- turn off the passenger signs;
- turn off all emergency lights;
- turn off the hydraulics;
- set APU air and pack 2 to off;
- turn off the APU and its generator;
- cut power to the galley; and
- switch off the batteries.
All of this can be done in about two minutes!
We then click on the arrow again, bring up the GP display and connect the ground power and open the doors and lower the ladders. Flight complete!
I always say this - I have never flown an actual BAe 146, but the FDE just feels right, apart from the one or two things I noted above. It is clear that this FDE was cleverly designed. It is also worth noting that you have the option to choose between an easy feel FDE and a realistic one. I never tried the easy feel as the realistic feel proved to fly easily enough!
I enjoyed flying this aircraft. As I said, it is nimble, stable, and has a lovely feel to it. Full marks to CLS and Just Flight - a real beauty!
200 versus the 300
Just very briefly - is there any difference between the 200 and the 300? Yes, they are indeed different aircraft. The 300 is larger, can carry more and has slightly different performance figures, but within FSX it is very similar! The 200 has an empty weight of 54675lbs and a maximum gross weight of 97500 lbs with a max allowable fuel quantity of 17286 lbs. These figures are also used in FSX for the 300. Mmm...
Operationally inside FSX though, the performance difference is fairly negligible. So why would you fly one and not the other - that is entirely personal!
Livery Expansion Packs
If the liveries that come with the base pack do not satisfy you, you can also go ahead and purchase the 300MB expansion pack that gives you some extra liveries and a F-lite FMC. Now, I don’t really care for the FMC too much, because the original aircraft did not have them. I will discuss it a little further down though.
Originally you will get the following standard liveries with the base pack:-
For the 200:
- American Airlines;
- British Airways;
- Blank textures;
- Blue 1;
- Air Brazil;
- Northwest (new colours);
- United Express.
For the 300:
- Astra Airlines;
- China Eastern;
- British Airways;
- A demonstrator;
- US Air;
- Qantaslink; and
All, as I said earlier, very high quality repaints. There are several other expansion packs for the 200 and 300, not just the one containing the FMC. These can all be bought at a negligible price, however I have never really like the idea of having to pay for liveries. They will find their way onto flightsim forums soon enough any way.
That being said, the add-ons are all high quality liveries, and they are easy to install and enjoyable to have a look at.
Let us start by saying what this FMC is NOT. It is NOT the same thing you would find on a Airbus or a Boeing’s flight deck! You cannot expect it do everything for you like it would on the bigger aircraft.
What it IS, is an electronic checklist of sorts - you can follow the checklists down the FMC, and it has all of the checklists you need. Very handy!
It also has a Cockpit Nav feature allowing you to press buttons on the FMC to call up certain panels and to make them disappear. If you have an active route you can use the FMC to view your legs and modify the route instead of the default GPS view. It does NOT do LNAV like an Airbus or a Boeing.
It will also give you V-speeds for current weight and phase of flight, i.e. if I am departing it will give me V1 and Vr. For arrival it will display the various speeds for all the different flap settings and also your Vref and gear extension speeds.
So as can be seen, very basic, but it does contain very handy features that will make your life a little easier. I use the electronic checklist and V-speed functions quite extensively.
Just one other note - you have to switch it on or off on the FMC itself. Does it add to the product? Yes it does!
A few other notes and pointers
I have noticed that when I start my aircraft up, the engines will continue to run whilst the rest of the panel is in the cold and dark state. This can be fixed by bringing up the menu on the little arrow in the bottom left of the screen, and clicking the AUTO button twice. The aircraft will then be in a cold and dark state with engines off.
Another quirk - after following all of the steps in the checklist, I still have flags on my ADI and my ground speed indication does not work until after I have landed. If I press the AUTO button twice, it will sort out my flag problem, but not the ground speed issue. This is a bit annoying, but I could definitely live with it!
What I do have to say is that I posted about it in the forum and very few people seem to have the same issue, so by the looks of things, it is a system related issue, not likely to affect too many users. The Just Flight support crew has been amazing and they are working on the little niggle as I am writing this. I don’t really doubt they will isolate the issue and find a solution to the problem.
If you do experience issues like this, they request that you please contact the support staff and let them know. Obviously, the more information they have available, the quicker they can solve the problem.
The final verdict is that if you have ever wanted a good 146, this is it! I haven’t personally flown the Quality Wings version, but it is good to bear in mind the fact that the QW aircraft has a glass cockpit layout, whilst the Just Flight version has the old steam gauge system, so you might end up owning both. I am certainly looking to purchase the QW in the future, just for the sake of completeness!
There is not much to fault in this package - the FDE, the sound, the textures, the feel, it is all in there! Is it worth your hard earned cash? Absolutely! The $37.99 you will spend on it is worth every penny. I would have thought that since the FMC is a F-lite FMC that one should rather include that in the base pack than to sell it separately, but for a little extra money, it does add a good bit of functionality.
This aircraft, as I said, is a great “get in and fly” airliner, the learning curve is not steep at all and even with limited knowledge of hydraulics, pressurization systems etc, you will get used to it in a flash!
It has the perfect trade off between excellent visual quality and a good FDE. The sound package complements the package remarkably well and rounds if off beautifully. I am a Boeing man, loving the heavy stuff, but I fell I love with this little aircraft after spending just a few minutes in it and since our VA does have quite a few routes for it, I expect to be flipping between our main and Express lines quite a bit in the future from now on!
If you are on the fence about buying it, don’t be - get it, you won’t regret it!
What I liked about it:
- High quality textures in the VC and the exterior;
- Very good FDE;
- Excellent sound package;
- Very high fidelity systems modeling for a F-lite product!
- Captures the real feel of the aircraft quite nicely;
- An excellent tutorial flight
- Pay for the 200, get the 300 free!
What I didn’t like about it:
Not really much to add here folks:
- Paying for add-on liveries, although not the most serious gripe in the world!
- The exclusion of the F-lite FMC from the base pack