Back by popular demand
Design of the Premier I began early in 1994 under the designation PD-374 (PD for Preliminary Design), and development was authorized to continue early the following year. The aircraft was officially launched at the annual National Business Aviation Association Convention in September 1995 and construction of the first prototype commenced late in 1996. The Premier I prototype was "rolled out" on 19 August 1998 and its first flight was on 22 December 1998; four prototypes were used in the flight test program and its FAA Type Certificate was issued on 23 March 2001. On 22 September 2005, the upgraded Premier IA was certified.
The Premier I is constructed with a high-strength composite carbon fiber/epoxy honeycomb fuselage. The Premier I and IA can be certified as light aircraft for operation by a single pilot. The powerplants are Williams International FJ44-2A engines. Though traditionally add-on aircraft focused on medium size to heavy jets, this is a most welcome addition to anyone’s hangar.
Business jets have long been pushed to the back burner in the flight simulator world and it’s good to see that we have an addition that is somewhat very modern. Eaglesoft has been creating business type aircraft for quite sometime and I can only hope that they continue in this trend with a view to releasing high quality add-on aircraft.
Here are some general specifications of the Premier 1 aircraft
speed: 519 mph (451 knots, 835 km/h, Mach 0.80) at FL 330
Now that we have been introduced to the Raytheon Premier 1, let’s get better acquainted.
Installation and Documentation
Installation of this aircraft was very simple, the entire process is automated. Provided you follow all of the on screen prompts and instructions, you should have no issues whatsoever. Virtual pilots who are familiar with this aircraft from FS2002, will notice that Eaglesoft has added some new liveries to this package.
Documentation is “ok”. It is direct and to the point and this may or may not be pleasing to some of you simmers who prefer very detailed documentation and explanation of systems. The documentation consists of a checklist/reference manual, cockpit layout manual and an update document. The blending of the checklist and reference speeds may be a bit different from what we are use to, but it would have also been nice to have references pertaining to weight.
How does it look?
The exterior model was created quite accurately. The Premier 1 has a unique look and Eaglesoft did a great job capturing it virtually. Textures used on the 9 liveries are also of a high quality and add to the detail of this product. Some areas which could have gotten more attention are the landing gear and some of the edges of the model itself don’t seem to be very smooth. The landing gear were a bit disappointing due to the fact that the struts do not compress when the brakes are applied, the aircraft just bobs up and down.
Moving on to the interior of the aircraft, again the cabin is very detailed with good quality textures. Some of the things one may notice are the wine bottle, newspaper and formal suit within the cabin. The night lighting of the cabin was also done very well and makes the cabin come alive and adding to that business jet feel, setting a very relaxed environment.
Moving into the virtual cockpit, the developers certainly did make a good attempt at replicating the real Premier 1 cockpit. The detail is ever present but not many flight commands are accessible from the virtual cockpit and quality is somewhat questionable. As with the cabin, at night, the cockpit is well lit and no one should have any trouble viewing the main panel.
The quality of the main panel was slightly disappointing. It looks like a photo real backdrop and doesn’t have that 3D feel to it, sad to say it’s more on the level of a panel anyone can easily download from any flightsim add-on website. A lot of the labeling is very hard to read and without the cockpit layout manual, some users may take some time memorizing which button does what.
The FMS is not fully functional and in this day and age, it’s a bit disappointing. Nonetheless, the layout of the panel was done accurately and gives a just representation of the real thing. Systems wise, the team at Eaglesoft did a good job in modeling the avionics on the Premier 1, its not 100% but you can fly safely from point A to B.
On the overhead panel, the labeling of switches are a bit clearer but one may have expected a little more functionality. Apart from limited functionality and somewhat low quality textures, the panel is pleasing and after getting familiar with all the functions, users should have no trouble at all flying this bird. Keep in mind that this is a model originally created for FS2002 that is back by popular demand.
After contacting the developers, I was told that upgrades at this time will not be forthcoming due to source file issues.
The sound of the Williams International FJ44-2A engines are quite nice. I tried referencing them from video clips of the Premier 1 online, but none of the clips were clear enough. The developers did a fine job in compiling this sound set, creating a clearly distinct business jet sound. For those of you who are looking forward to hearing the reverse thrust, I am sorry to say the Premier 1 doesn’t have reverse thrust (more on this later).
How does she handle?
I guess this is the part everyone wants to know about and perhaps the aspect of any aircraft all users are interested in. After starting the engines and taxiing to the active, one will easily notice that this aircraft does not require large amounts of thrust to get rolling. Also, try to avoid high speed turns as the aircraft will get a bit difficult to control.
When applying takeoff thrust, the Premier 1 shoots off like a rocket and takes off with ease. Hand flying this aircraft can be challenging though, it tends to feel a bit unstable at slow speeds and making last minute corrections on final approach can be tricky. Turning is one aspect that can be improved as the controls neutralize far too quickly after a turn is started. Perhaps these are some of the real characteristic of the real aircraft but to be fair, the developers did a good job in creating an FDE was is very unique and it doesn’t feel like your flying a really fast Cessna.
On landing, users better get use to not having reverse thrust because this aircraft relies heavily on anti-skid braking and lift dumping functions. This means users better brush up on their short field landings. How well is the braking? Well, don’t be too hasty to apply the brakes on landing because they seem to be sharp and the nose of the aircraft dips sharply downward. This in itself isn’t too much of a problem but viewing this from the outside, one will notice that the struts on the nose gear does not compress.
With all of these issues, I contacted the developers and I was then given a fix for more stability. Did this help? Yes it did, the aircraft flies a lot better and turns are not as difficult but it still needs some tweaking. Overall this aircraft’s handling can be summed up as unique, especially on the approaches; it’s quite a balancing act that some may find fun and challenging with or without the fix provided.
Summary / Closing Remarks
Overall, the Premier 1 from Eaglesoft is a lovely aircraft and a great addition to your virtual hangar. There aren’t many developers out there who produce high quality business jets, but Eaglesoft did a good job on this one.
Considering this is a back by popular demand aircraft means that many other simmers have taken a liking to this aircraft and though not many changes have been made, it is still enjoyable. One area that proved to be disappointing was the panel, which could have been improved with better quality and functionality. Another area was the nose struts (main gear too) and the somewhat unstable handling on approach, however with the fix provided for the roll stability, the handling improved.
Even though it’s not a full systems simulation of the real aircraft, this spunky business jet is worth the cost, even more so if the developers continue to make upgrades and improvements. For less than $30 you get both the FS9/FSX version which is quite a bargain, so hats off to Eaglesoft. Keep those business jets coming.
What I Like About The Premier I
What I Don't Like About The Premier I
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