Just Flight / CLS VLJ Business Jet
by Joe "Mutley" Lawford



The Microjet comes of age.
 

One of the latest buzz words in the aviation industry is VLJ or Very Light Jet.  This refers to a small jet aircraft approved for single pilot operation that is generally under 10,000lb (4,540Kg) in weight and only requires 3,000ft (900m) of runway to operate.

Most VLJ's are stated to provide twice the cruise speed (around 350 kt) and twice the cruise altitude (41,000 ft) of their piston-powered brethren. VLJ incorporates the very latest avionics, it has a two-spool engine with around 950 lbf of thrust each, controlled by a dual FADEC (Full Authority Digital Engine Control) to increase response and fuel efficiency and provide protection to the engine, all while reducing pilot workload with a truly advanced glass cockpit.

The major players with aircraft to offer are Eclipse, Cessna and Hondajet, we can also expect models from Diamond, Embraer, Diamond and Spectrum shortly.

So it's only natural for flight sim enthusiasts to want to get a slice of the action.  One of the latest offerings is from Just Flight called, quite simply, VLJ Business jet.

                       CLICK ON PICTURE FOR FULL SIZE VIEW

Getting Down to Business.

The VLJ Business Jet is the latest in what is becoming an impressive line up of offerings from Just Flight and their development partner CLS's  joint venture in the F-Lite range. The F-Lite range is designed for simmers who just want to get on with it, plenty of features and good looks included but less demanding than complex procedural simulators.

The ground crew refuel, here we can see the elevator droop.

 

The package comprises of versions for FS 2004 and FSX, included is a detailed installation and key command guide, an easy to follow tutorial and paint kit templates for experienced re-painters. Not bad for 16.99 GBP for either download or dvd version.  (Don't forget those reward points if purchasing from JF!)


Office party.


Lets start with the office, here in the glass cockpit we get two main displays, the primary Flight Display (PFD) with a duplicated captain and first Officer version, here you will find NAV 1/2 and GPS navigation. A fully functional attitude indicator with rolling numbers also showing Indicated Air Speed (IAS), Altitude and turn trend indictors amongst others.

The Multi-Function Display (MFD) is one of the best I've seen on this type of aircraft, it hosts a multitude of other features namely the G500 GPS, Comms, flight plan, excellent radar TCAS system, miniature PFD, engine systems, fuel usage. You get the idea, not all the information is on the screen at the same time, you only need to display what you require at that point in your flight.  The flight planning takes it's details, SID & STARS etc from the flight planner within flight simulator so you should be very familiar with this.  Thankfully the supplied tutorial takes you through a flight that uses a lot of these features so you soon get accustomed to them.

CLICK ON PICTURES FOR FULL SIZE VIEW 

Spacious, uncluttered 3d cockpit. 3d cockpit with the other panels shown.


There are the usual shortcuts to the other flight controls and panels that produce a pop up window.  These show auto pilot controls, lower panel, engine ECU etc and a larger version of the PFD and MFD gauges, my only wish would be that these PFD & MFD screens would enlarge/shrink by mouse click on the gauge rather than by searching for the short cut as with my eyesight I found it difficult to see what I was setting.  With these expanded views, things like the standby radio & nav frequencies and VSI settings were perfectly clear.

With the FSX version you do get far more choice of preset cockpit views. The 2d panel was clearer to use when setting the auto pilot but the 3d cockpit gave more presence to the manual flying aspect. The range of internal 3d views cycles through virtual Cockpit left and right seat, left and right wing view, centre pedestal (Although they call it Center Pedistal!) there's even a laptop cabin view and there's nothing to stop you moving around the cockpit to a passenger seat.


Performance Matters.


Yes it certainly does! The power to weight ratio is phenomenal, even fully loaded with passengers and fuel at a high altitude runway you will really need to de-rate the take off thrust to about 75% otherwise you're going to need a G suit as you will be climbing like a fighter!  Even when you de-rate, when you lift off the toe brakes be prepared to be pushed back in your seat, the VC head latency effect really kicks in!  All this power is actually very useful, it means you can get up to the airways with the minimum of fuss.

With the auto pilot calling the shots the aircraft feels very smooth and comfortable in it's operation without excessive over compensation on turns and altitude changes.

With the top cruise speed of M.67 your going to be up there with the big boys (737's and the like), any destination within 1400 nm you going to want to take this baby flying!

CLICK ON PICTURES FOR FULL SIZE VIEW   

De-rated take off, pitch 10% Manoeuvrability is the game. Up where I belong!

Red Carpet Treatment.

So what about those finishing touches? The small VLJ is well endowed in this department,  there is an impressive line up of features that you would normally expect from payware aircraft twice the price, pushback tractor, fuel truck, nose wheel chocks and plenty of animations too including moving windscreen wipers, opening engines and wing tips in maintenance mode, you will even get a hostess and red carpet to welcome you aboard 

With both the FSX and FS2004 versions of the aircraft, there are 13 different liveries available in both VC and non VC version.  There's nothing to stop you creating your own custom design with the paint kit supplied and a little repainting knowledge.

CLICK ON PICTURES FOR FULL SIZE VIEW 

In full maintenance mode. Ready for push back.


Exterior model.

Well I would say the exterior details from the pre-set aircraft views are very good and I am very picky in this department, the shape is good, you get dynamic shine and see-through windows that you can view pilot animation when turning/banking.  There is an opening passenger door, spinning engine fans and wheel compression when the aircraft is on the ground, nice touch.

Well there you have it, the VLJ, often referred to as a SUV with wings, quite rightly so, the millionaires play toy available for a fraction of the price. Hopefully my review will help to dispel some of the myths of VLJ and make you want to explore this very exciting aircraft.  There's something for everyone, advanced avionics, performance, single pilot operation and fun! Go get it!

 

Mutley's slide show, click on the images for a full size view.





Your SUV awaits. Fully modelled controls. Spooling up, ready for off. The office 2d version.
Larger view of the PFD... ...and the MFD Push back truck is included. Steady does it.
Overhead the airport. Heading for high altitude airways Always have your laptop with you Re-paints R us!
       
 
   My review machine specs:   VLJ Links:
   Self build:
   MSI Intel 975X PCI Express Motherboard
   Intel E6600 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo
   4x 512Mb DDR2 667Mhz PC5400
   Nvidia 7900GTX 512Mb DDR3 PCI-E
   Windows XP Pro SP2
   FSX with Photoscenery Fix
  Just Flight
  VLJ Product page
  CLS Web site

 

  Mutley says.. . . .

I hope you enjoyed this review, if you have any comments then you can contact me here

  

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