Commercial FSX Aircraft Review



Just Flight / Black Box Simulations 737 Professional


Publisher/Developer: Just Flight / Black Box Simulations
Description: Representation of the Boeing 737 Professional
Software Source / Size: Download / 90MB
Flight Simulator: FSX
Reviewed by: Richard Lincoln
Published: September 9th, 2012


Computer / Software Specifications
Computer System: - Intel i7-2600K CPU
- Asus P8H61 USB 3.0 Mainboard
- Asus GTX 560 Direct CU 1 GB
- G SKILL DDR3 12800 8GB KITS RAM
Software: - Windows 7 x64 Home Premium
- Flight Simulator X
























A Little History

Big Brother to the Boeing 737-100, the 737-200 was born, in part, from our growing love of travelling by air. Recognising the need for increased passenger capacity, the 737-200 allowed for additional seating with a stretched fuselage, and after a few structural modifications, the 737-200 Advanced became the main production version for Boeing. First taking to the skies in 1971, the Advanced model was free of the troubles that had been encountered with the earlier versions.

The wing had been aerodynamically refined, changes were made to the leading edge, tailing slats as well as flaps and also to engine nacelle fairings. It also received a remarkable 81 per cent increase in fuel capacity which was largely thanks to the higher take-off weights that had been made possible by the JT8D turbo fan engines.

With weight saving composite materials added and a new interior facilitating 130 passengers, these design changes gave Boeing a plane that was now in serious contention with the DC-9, and gaining much attention.


Installation

Utilizing the format of direct download, purchase of the 737-200 has been made a simple process by Justflight.com. While some web sites can be difficult to navigate and lead to frustration when gaining access to your purchase, this online store is very user friendly and downloading the program is a breeze.

Complete with self-installer, there is little for the user to do except pick a folder and press go. With a good speed connection, the 90MB programme will be ready to use in just a few minutes. The 737-200 is also available in the more traditional boxed (DVD) version.


Wearing your L- Plates

I would highly recommend reading the user manual prior to taking your new 737-200 for anything more than a joy-ride. There are marked differences with 737-200 and other aircraft, which require a broadened pilot knowledge base. The easy to read, thoughtfully laid out 120 page manual which is included, provides a step by step guide to the systems and specifications associated with flying the old-school way – heavy reliance on manual input and operation of steam gauge instruments.

Every aspect of 737-200 operation is explained here and complemented with picture based references from navigating the cockpit panels and knee board assignments, to complete instructions in the use of the Sperry Auto-Pilot and the nitty-gritty of PDCS (performance data computer systems). Some may find using the Sperry Auto-Pilot and PDCS a little odd as there is no FMC. This is a perfect for those who would like a change from the FMC set-up.

The flight tutorial is also a must if you are to fully master the operation of this plane, which, in combination with the manual, is the only way you will be able to enjoy the full experience of flying with what is fast becoming a dinosaur of the sky. Starting at Columbus, Ohio's, Port Columbus International Airport, with a cold and dark aircraft, the tutorial is a 275 nautical mile adventure to Chicago's O’Hare International during which you will learn to fully grasp all pre-flight systems and shut-down procedures, while exploring cruise configuration and perfecting take-off/climb and descent/landing motions.

Depending on weather conditions and ATC clearances, the tutorial flight will last roughly one and a half hours. Simply pressing CTRL+E with this aircraft does not give it any justice nor does it make for a good pilot.


Interior

The only interior familiarity to default 737 is the overhead panel and throttle control. The windows don't open and applying the parking brake will result in a pair of fluffy dice hanging from above the centre of the main panel. The steam gauges are a welcome change from glass cockpits of the more modern heavies that I am used to.

I found that the use of these instruments made me more aware of the necessity to keep focused on aspects that are all too easily forgotten with more modern aircraft, such flight level, bank angle and descent rate. The positioning in the virtual cockpit is well worth toggling around. As it is, the gauges are difficult to see and detail is lost. Bringing your seat forward is a necessity in order to clearly read instruments and panels.



The throttle control and weather radar are a little on the blurry side, and the radio stack would benefit greatly from better texture clarity. The natural reflections inside the cockpit change during the day and although some may like this I found it a little irritating. Especially over the radio stack, weather map and throttle control. Being an avid fan of a Virtual Cockpit, switching to a 2D panel to view a vital component of the cockpit quickly became tiresome, especially as the Garmin FSX GPS is only accessible in the 2D panel view.

From the VC, you are left in the cold in this regard. The overall feeling about the VC would be more realistic and dramatically improved with better image quality. That being said, the 2D panels are well laid out and are of much higher image quality than the VC. The pop-up panels on 2D have been placed very well and are very easy to manage and monitor your systems. One thing is certain, the cockpit alone will serve as a gentle reminder of just how far the computerisation of aircraft has come in the last 40 years.


Exterior

The exterior view of the aircraft could be likened to a MONET painting. Classic in style and universally appealing, however, upon closer inspection what once appeared a work of art is shown to be less refined and lacking finesse. Although I may be a little critical, the attention to detail is lacking again in texture refinement.

But this view only becomes apparent when you are very close to the aircraft. You get ten liveries with your purchase. Those ten are, British Airways, Air France, Lufthansa, Britannia Airways, United Airlines, Canadian Airlines, Air Cal, Icaro Air, Hapag-Lloyd and Western Airlines.



The wing and flap sections are aesthetically pleasing when in motion and the landing gear is of good quality as well. The effect detail of smoke trailing the aircraft has also been done realistically.


Sound

With a multitude of switches and buttons the rendition of sound in the cockpit was overall very pleasing. The engine sounds are plentiful and give you a sense of realism especially when engaging reverse thrusters. The lack of co-pilot call-outs is highly noticeable. Calling 80 Knots, 2500, flap increments and so forth would have brought this plane to life and I am hoping these may be included with an update.

Oh my, the exterior sounds of the of the plane's Pratt & Whitney JT-8D engines is nothing short of superb. Black- Box have absolutely perfected these sounds and that was far from what I expected. I especially enjoyed the sound of the thrust reversers.


Lighting

The lighting in VC and 2D panels inside the cockpit has been, pleasantly enough, flawless. Everything seems to be well replicated and I found the atmosphere flying at night a quite enjoyable experience. Finding your way around the cockpit at night is done with ease and there is no problem locating any of the features you might want to find whether they are instruments or perhaps your throttle control.



This is not replicated on the outside of the aircraft with taxi, wing and landing lights looking a little dim and dark. I also was unsure as to why there was no lighting on the tail at all.


How does it fly

Being used to other Boeing 737s, I found the fuel weight quite tricky and it took me a while to master the balance. The throttle control is particularly touchy, constantly regulating my speed and never being able to just cruise without keeping a close eye on it unless you wish to utilise the Auto-pilot function or PCDS with automated auto throttle.

Another point to note is in free flight. Although the throttle is hard to master, getting the bird to bank correctly even with rudder control is a bit more frustrating than other 737s, but whether this has been created just as in the real life 737-200, I'm not sure, as I'm not a real life pilot. The power it seems is certainly there though. I found that at any time I was required to give the old girl a bit of throttle, the aircraft wasted no time spooling up and making the required altitude in a lot less time than competitors. The same could be said in the decreased altitude performance.

Bringing the nose up 10 degrease to slow it down and working the throttle to just the right setting is fun to see and everything including gauges, are getting a work out. But be careful! That speed alarm will rear its ugly head without hesitation, and if you are like me, you'll try your best not to curse at the result of the alarm. Try and embrace this as a learning curve, remembering the age of this aircraft and the respect it holds for so many retired pilots. The tutorial of this simulation is an accurate depiction of how this plane is supposed to respond and handle, and with this in mind and out of free flight, I have to be honest and say it behaved a lot better than what I could manage without it.

That's the clincher really. Follow the tutorials guide to the aircraft and if you stay true to that scenario it will behave in a more polite manner. All too often I underestimate the power of reading the instructions when arrogance takes over the controls. Landing is very quirky and I found myself battling to get the bird on the centre line of the runway. Bu, in saying that, it was very rewarding when making that perfect “GREASER” landing.

The great thing about this 737 is the flight dynamics in the air are on the money. It can be a frustrating having to declare a missed approach because you have not nailed it. But hey, this aircraft is all about skill and practice.


Performance

With this add-on, frame rates were consistent with 35-45 fps (frames per second) inside and 40-55fps outside the aircraft. So if you are not fazed by detail quality and want great frame rates then you will be pleased with this 737-200 Advanced.


Summary

If you have the patience to master in-depth flight systems and are more concerned with function than aesthetics, the 737 Professional is well worth looking into. Don’t expect visual clarity and you will not be disappointed. Without a doubt, Just Flight has created a virtual replication of this aircraft which is authentic and respectful to its place in aviation history.

I spent many hours trying to be completely in tune with this aircraft and can honestly say that all the frustration has paid off. I believe it's worth the price and with persistence it will make you a better pilot in this FSX world.

For more information about the Just Flight 737 Professional, visit Just Flight dedicated web page.

With Greetings,
Richard Lincoln


This review is written for Aerosoft News Service and published via the Aerosoft website. While the reviewer has complete journalistic freedom, we ask the reader to keep in mind where the review is posted.