AVSIM Freeware Aircraft Review
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Product Guide
Click for larger image With dynamic shine, the 777 really looks spectacular at dusk. Here, the Singapore 777-200ER almost looks real! However, only the fuselage section is optimized with dynamic shine.

Click for larger image A sideview of a Cathay Pacific 777. Cathay was the launch customer for the Rolls-Royce Trent powered 777s

Aircraft Model Author:
Melvin Rafi
Description:
Boeing 777-200 & -300 add-on aircraft model
D/L Size:
around 1 - 5 mb , depending on size of repaint.
Format:
Zipped
Simulators:
FS002
Reviewed by: Dickson Chan, AVSIM Staff Reviewer
Freeware Review Rating Policy: Freeware reviews are unrated, but may earn an Avsim special award. Please see details here.

 

Introduction

What more needs to be said about the Boeing 'Triple 7'? It's big, it's powerful, it's a smart-looking widebody and it's popular. It is a trend-setting and technologically advanced aircraft, with features such as Boeing's first fly-by-wire system, advanced glass flight deck with five liquid crystal displays, optional folding wings, a spacious cabin with comfortable seats and the innovative overhead storage bins.

Reader Survey

This survey is intended for those that have used this product or add-on. If you have used it, please let your fellow simulation enthusiasts know how you rate it by taking this survey. Please, if you have not used this product, do not take this poll (you can view the poll from the "Results" link below).

Review Poll
Have you used the Meljet 777?
Excellent
Good
Average
I can live with it
Taking it off my system

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Taking into the air on 12 June 1994 at Paine Field in Everett, Boeing's all new 777 made a near-flawless first flight of three hours and 48 minutes. The takeoff of the wide body twin jet marked the beginning of the most comprehensive flight test programme in the history of commercial aviation. There was great excitement from those involved in the project, including pilots, aviation enthusiasts, and journalists alike. Obviously, they knew that the 777 was to become yet another success from Boeing and they would go on to become an important workhorse for the major airlines of the world. It now serves throughout Europe, America, the Middle-East and Asia.

The 777 is definitely an amazing aircraft and it brings with it many amazing facts. Designed to fill the gap in the production line between the 747 and the smaller 767, the Boeing 777 is the largest and longest-ranged twin engine aircraft ever built, with the most powerful aero engines ever built—housed in nacelles as wide as a 737 fuselage!

One of the distinguishing features of the 777 is its perfectly round fuselage cross-section, as opposed to the more ovoid shape of previous Boeing aircraft such as the 767. This new design gives "structural strength and simplicity to the fuselage, making it less prone to fatigue." Also each main gear of the 777 has six wheels giving this plane the same pavement loading as a DC10-30 but with half the parts and less complexity. The left axle of each main can actually be steered up to 8 degrees to aid in nose-gear steering—this is reflected in the Meljet 777 model.

Hence, it's really not surprising that the 777 is fairly sought-after by flightsim enthusiasts. Flight simulation has had its fair share of excellent 777 models, ranging from the payware PSS 777 package, the PMDG 777 for Fly!II, to the freeware 777 models by Project Opensky. Joining this exclusive list is Melvin Rafi's Boeing 777 series. The groups who have modeled the 777 in the past are big names in the Flightsim arena, and with Melvin's reputation as a highly experienced aircraft modeler, I was hoping for something spectacular on the Gmax-built Meljet 777 model. Indeed, I was not to be disappointed! After flying (and painting) the model quite extensively, I am very happy to say, that the meljet777 series have raised freeware aircraft modeling to an unprecedented level!

Test System

Athlon XP 2000+ (1.67MHz)
ASUS A7V8X Motherboard
Windows XP
512 Megs RAM
ATI Radeon 9000pro 128Mb
24X DVD CD ROM
48/16/48 CD/RW
Logitech Wingman extreme Joystick
Sony 17" Trinitron Monitor

Flying Time:
10 hours over 3 weeks


Exterior

With sheer excitement after downloading a repaint of the Meljet 777, I immediately loaded it in FS2002 and had a quick glance around. My first immediate impression is that this is definitely not an average aircraft model! The shape of the fuselage and tail are very realistic compared to the real 777. The model has a very realistic shape—its fuselage and engines are sufficiently round (32 sided fuselage). The nose section of the Meljet 777 is also accurate and well rendered, and from most angles is modelled right on the money. Switching to the 777-300, the airframe is significantly longer than that of the 777-200s. The dynamic shine on the aircraft model looks realistic enough to convince me that Melvin has made the right choice in including it. However, it is a bit of a shame that other sections of the model do not have dynamic shine optimized.

One area that I think could be improved is the darkness of the cockpit windows, they are not as transparent as I would have liked, and it would be better if the colors could be adjusted on the textures. But nevertheless, they are not so dark to the extent that I don't like them.

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The Meljet 777 looks great from every angle! The 32-sided fuselage and engines look nice and round in shape
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With Gmax reflections and dynamic shine featured on the Meljet 777, American Airlines's bare metal has never looked so real!

Switching now between the 777 with different engines, I was curious to see how big the GE90 engines were. They were indeed larger than the PW4000s and the Rolls-Royce Trents. All the engines are in the correct shape and they reflect the dimensions of the real thing, all having different shafts and fan blades. These engines are so detailed and carefully made by Melvin, that they are actually see-through, which means that you can see through the fan blades and catch a glimpse of the skies behind the engine when it is idle!

Extending the flaps and activating the moving surfaces reveal that these moving surfaces move rather smoothly. The landing gear and flaps are very well animated and extremely detailed. Melvin has done an excellent job on the 777-200 and -300 models—their appearance and dimensions are strikingly similar to their real world counterparts.

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A closeup of the Rolls-Royce Trent engines with their 3D fan blades, and Ram Air turbine (near the landing gear). Don't you think the engine fans look real?
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With full-flaps, spoiler, brakes and reverse thrust, the 777 came to a quick halt with more than half the KLAX runway remaining. Can you see the animated hydraulic pistons pushing the outerboard spoilers up?
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A JAL 777-346 parks outside the JAL hangar at Narita Int'l. After pressing <Shift>+<E>, the 'maintenance mode' is put into action! All we need now is some engineers... Pardave?
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Varig also operates a fleet of 777-200s. Seen here retracting its main gears. The retracting animation is smooth and accurate

Features

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The massive GE90 engine in maintenance mode. You can see through the engine fans!

As with Boeing's 777, the Meljet 777 is not without its fair share of new, innovative features! Most worth mentioning is the 'maintenance mode', which combines various animations together, such as the opening of the sliding cockpit windows, the activation of the Ram Air turbine, the opening of the engine cowlings and the gear doors (possibly to by-pass the need for using separate shortcut keys for all the different features). Although a downside to this is that these features cannot be opened and used separately; however, it is still a very clever and innovative feature and it is definitely my favorite thing from this model! Another noticeable feature is the folding wings which I find (sometimes) 'fun' to play with when the aircraft is at the tarmac.

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Folding wings are offered by Boeing, but no airlines have yet opted for them. It's available in Melvin's model, but if you don't like them, don't ever press Shift+W :)

Besides all the above features, there are the nicely animated opening passenger and cargo doors (<shift>+<Y>). The passenger and cargo doors open realistically, the animation is accurate and smooth, and it's very well modeled. Just look at the opening cargo door animation and you will see why! The hinges of the cargo doors are actually modeled and their hinges swing and rotate when the cargo door is opened or closed. Another great feature is the 'tilting' stabilizer, which tilts when the aircraft is trimmed (e.g., when taking off). This provides the realism that has been missing from previous 777 models and is yet another step towards realism.

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Here are the two positions of the horizontal stabilizer when trimmed to the maximum and minimum positions. The movement is smoothly animated.
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It's amazing how much detail and animation Melvin has put into his 777 model. You can catch a glimpse of the blue sky on the port GE90 engine!
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The static outlets on the flexing wing are well modeled.
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Here's a detailed examination of the Triple 7's triple bogey landing gear system with its six rolling wheels. The flexible gear hoses are animated and they actually move —incredible!


This gif animation recreates the movements of the thrust reversers on the Meljet 777. This really is incredible detail.

As if that's not enough, the impressive lists of features just don't end here. There are the smoothly animated flexing wings, animated tilting bogies with suspension and flexible gear hoses, rolling main wheels, animated thrust reversers, deployable Ram Air Turbine, the impressive see through engines, the smoothly animated interchanging 2D and 3D engine fans, and full moving surfaces.

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Example of a 'photoreal' Meljet 777 virtual business cabin by Gerrit Kranenbarg. For those who can't afford to fly business class, this is as close as it gets. The cabin really looks spacious!

The list is not restricted to only the exterior of the plane. The inner beauty of the Meljet 777 is the virtual business class cabin with all the luxuries, such as PTV, comfortable wide-pitched seats, and the stylish overhead storage bins. Using Active Camera allows you to walk through the cabin (in virtual cockpit mode) and have a look in these areas. The quality of the virtual cabin offered is again a massive leap from previous models. The textured areas included for the virtual cabin are fairly extensive and this meant that detailed cabins could be painted. There are several files in the AVSIM library that provides photoreal cabin textures for the Meljet 777 and I was particularly impressed by a set of cabin textures by Gerrit Kranenbarg (click here to download the file).

Whilst some will argue the virtual cabin is a waste of polygons and a frame-rate killer, users with higher-end computers (e.g. Pentium4 or Athlon Xp) will find the virtual business class cabin, an enjoyable addition to what is already, a detailed and well-featured model. Looking at Gerrit's cabin textures proves the worth of adding a virtual cabin.

Textures

The textures are easy to paint and nicely placed on the bitmap textures. For those painters who may want to paint the Meljet 777, the fuselage textures are sufficient in size to include a good amount of detail. As most airlines which operate the 777 are painted already by the various painters of the FS community, there are plenty of 777 textures available in the AVSIM library. Even though repaints will always vary in quality, the Meljet 777's repaints I've downloaded are generally of high quality. Even Melvin himself painted a few liveries and they are impressive also. However, do bear in mind, the repaints I have used in this review are just the tip of the iceberg of the number of repaints available from the AVSIM library to download!

Flight Dynamics

Melvin also created the flight dynamics for the 777s himself, which shows his talents and skills in his contribution to the FS community. Described by a pilot and an expert I talked to, the real world 777's handling characteristics "are firm, yet responsive, in pitch and roll; they don't jump around either if you are nice on the throttles. Brakes are very responsive; rudder and rudder trim are powerful, but not abrupt." The Meljet 777 handles closely to this description.

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Just looking at the 777 at takeoff reminds me how powerful the twinjet really is. With a gentle ease of the joystick, the 777 responds quickly and climbs.
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It is only after a more detailed look into the rudder that I realize the Meljet 777 has a 'two-piece', animated primary and secondary rudder—like its real world counterpart!

Overall I am impressed at how the aircraft flies and given the fact that Melvin is more of an aircraft modeler, he has certainly done a fine job indeed! And the flight dynamics reflect the handling characteristics of the 777. Different flight dynamics and air files are available for GE, PW and RR powered 777s, and a different flight dynamic file is available for the 777-200ER.

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A high-angled approach for the 777-300 is definitely not recommended - thankfully the -300 is equipped with tail skid to minimize damage in the event of a tail strike!

When I was flying the 777-300, I felt that I was flying a 'longer' plane. Landing the -300 was also a little more challenging as the nose angle should be kept less than 5 degrees to avoid tailstrike when flaring. However, the flight dynamics were good enough and I flew the 777-300 without incident, but I must add that it is a very, very long plane!

I have also spent time flying a few domestic (Japan) and international routes (Atlanta to Manchester). All of the 777 airfiles met their expected range and performed without fault. Fuel consumptions were pretty much right to the numbers, but they depend on weather conditions.

An issue I was concerned with was the way the 777-200 turns when taxiiing. The aircraft seemed a little unstable when doing small turns at speeds of around 20 knots. The problem seems to derive from the steerable main gear. However, turning at slower speeds the aircraft was fairly stable.

Framerates

Flying the Meljet 777s in my 'budget' gaming system is not a problem and a smooth framerate of around 16-20fps (with details maxed out) is achieved at most situations. When flying the 777 to airports with extremely dense sceneries, the framerate can drop significantly. Furthermore, using a system with lower specifications the Meljet 777 will give the computer a really hard workout! I have experienced this with my older PIII 866 system and a framerate of around 5 fps is achieved, although it is just flyable; considering the amount of details on the model, quality does come at a price.

Documentation

Melvin has included a PDF based User guide for the Meljet 777. It highlights the version history, features, functions, repaint information and the shortcut keys for maintenance mode and opening passenger doors etc. For those wanting to learn more about flying the 777, particularly the 777-300, a general guide is available from aircraft handbook in FS2002's library/help section.

Conclusion

Without all these incredible features, the Meljet 777s would still have proved an excellent freeware aircraft model given the difficulty in rendering models accurately and at the same time, making them look real. However, when an excellent model comes jam-packed with all the goodies, it's definitely a gem!

Despite the hit on framerate on lower end systems, the Meljet 777 really makes up for it in terms of the quality build and the numerous features available. Melvin has done a great job in balancing performance with the vast amounts of features. Actually, I was surprised that such a complex model actually ran on both my computers!

Well, how do I rate this model? Saying "excellent" would be an understatement given Melvin's dedication and the skills involved in bringing together the whole project—only presenting him with Avsim's Freeware Gold award will do him justice! It meets all my expectations of an excellent model and in fact exceeds it—if were was a payware model, I won't hesitate in rating it 5 out of 5 if it had a panel, sound package to accompany the model!

Overall, the eljet 777s are certainly the best freeware additions to the long list of Boeing aircrafts in my harddrive. The models do justice to their real world counterparts and Melvin has certainly delivered the most feature-packed freeware model we have yet to see. Given that this is only version 1, better things are yet to come! This model has truly raised the level of quality in both the freeware and payware aircraft modelling scene.

With models like the Meljet 777, one must ask what the future holds for aircraft models in the Flight simulation arena! Only time will tell. As for the moment, the Meljet 777 is really 'as real as it gets'.

For those who haven't tried the Meljet 777, you can search for 777 painted in various airline liveries from the AVSIM Library by clicking here or you can find the 777 and Melvin's 747-400 model at his website.

I would also like to thank the painters of the respective aircrafts featured on the review for their kind permissions to use them for screenshot purposes.

 

What I Like About the Meljet 777
  • Excellent features incorporated into 'Maintenance mode'
  • Smoothly animated features such as flexing and foldable wings
  • Interior virtual cabin for Business class
  • Extremely detailed and full of excellent features
  • Well rendered model with round fuselage and engines

 
What I Don't Like About the Meljet 777
  • Does not run well on lower end systems
  • Virtual cabin is subjected to exterior lighting

 

 
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