Following on from their award winning TB-10 Tobago and TB-20 Trinidad, Tornado GR1, L-1011 Tristar Professional, and Canberra PR9 add-ons, this highly detailed simulation of the PA-28R Arrow III has been developed by Just Flight's in-house team following comprehensive, hands-on research with a real life Arrow III, G-BGKU, based at Conington Airfield.
The PA-28R Arrow III is a four seat, piston engine aircraft equipped with retractable tricycle landing gear and a constant-speed propeller - an ideal aircraft for touring and instrument training.
The origins of the Arrow start with the Piper Cherokee, which began production in 1961. The Cherokee was introduced as a more affordable alternative to Piper's Comanche and to compete with the popular Cessna 172. Piper introduced the original Cherokee Arrow in 1967 and it was the first of the Cherokee family to feature retractable landing gear. The Arrow II followed in 1972 with a stretched fuselage to provide increased leg room for the rear passengers, and the Arrow III arrived in 1977 with larger fuel tanks for improved range and a semi tapered wing and longer stabilator for improved low-speed handling.
Over 6,000 PA-28Rs have been built and the Arrow III continues to be flown all around the world.
The Just Flight PA-28R Arrow III is currently available direct from Just Flight and Just Flight resellers as a download only product. It is normally priced at £27.99, or the equivalent on currency cross rates. The download file size is 798MB and it requires 2GB of HDD space for installation. The installation process requires you to log in to your Just Flight account to verify the product and the installation process is intuitive and seamless.
The Just Flight PA-28R Arrow III is certainly rich with features. A stand out feature is the detail in the aircraft systems and this will provide a little more attention for the general aviation flyer who is looking for something more than just an aircraft to jump into and fly. The aircraft has all the usual features expected of add-ons today, and a full list of these features are available on the Just Flight product page linked below.
The major features listed include, but are not limited to:Accurately modelled PA-28R-201 Arrow III, built using real-world aircraft plans;
General Overview. The design of the PA-28R Arrow III, being little more than a retractable Cherokee, is simple and practical, and its appearance is similar to previous marques of the PA-28. Its chunky fuselage, large stabilator and wide but tapered wings, gives the impression that the PA-28R Arrow III is a solid and dependible aircraft, and ideal for pilots transitioning more complex aircraft.
Exterior. The Piper PA-28R Arrow III has a very solid appearance, from the stubby nose through to the large pivoting stabilator. It is longer than it's predecessors and has a third window along the side over the luggage compartment. There is a front door on the right side and a cargo door is installed aft of the rear seat. The low wing is of conventional semi-tapered design and has a 7º dihedral to give extra stability and ground clearance.
Interior. Just Flight has modelled the interior on a standard passenger configuration for the variant, with a cabin layout of two passenger seats in a row arrangement and a luggage storage space behind these seats. Textured seating, carpet, and padded side panels are typical of the 70's era. The cabin is modestly appointed, and is presented with a degree of wear and tear, particularly in the cockpit and the carpets, giving the true appearance, and feel of an aircraft which has seen a fair few service hours in its life. This less than pristine appearance adds a nice character to the environment. Again, the quality of the cockpit textures are superb and affirm the quality of this product. The yokes can be individually hidden to gain easier access to the gauges and switches behind them. In typical Piper style, the manifold pressure - fuel flow / fuel pressure gauge and the tachometer RPM gauge are tucked down next to the engine and prop controls so being able to hide the yokes is a definite bonus.
Flight Instruments and Systems. The cockpit of the Piper PA-28R Arrow III represents the typical layout for the Piper PA-28 series and the production period. The standard analogue flight instruments are typical of the model range and consistent with an aircraft of this category and age, and they are supplemented with the Garmin GPS100 GPS unit which with a right click of the mouse can be expanded to its own window for finer detail, you can also left click the gauge to switch the window to display the default Garmin GPS 500 (or both at the same time) Additionally, if you have the Flight1 GTN 650/750, it can be integrated using a bespoke Just Flight PA-28R menu off the Add-ons menu.
The clarity and smoothness of the gauges is superb and they have burnt in reflections so you get a feeling of extra realism, and as you move the camera or your head around the cockpit, the 3D modelling helps to accentuate that feeling of depth even more.
Models and Liveries. The PA-28R Arrow III is provided in a single model with eleven individual liveries (a selection only shown below). Each aircraft has a unique aircraft registration number. The supplied paint schemes are of a retro style, again, consistent with the production era.
The quality and detail of the 4096 x 4096 exterior textures are second to none, and close up inspection will highlight the bump and specular mapping, giving a 3D appearance. The underside has plenty of dirt and oil stains giving a well used and realistic look. This look shows across the range of liveries and is included in the paint kit layers.
Just Flight's rendition of the Piper PA-28R Arrow III is highly detailed and accurate, the visual quality is excellent, and it provides a faithful representation of the real world aircraft. All elements of the cockpit are clear and easy to read, with the typical range of various alternative cockpit camera views to provide more detailed clarity. Any noted visual variations were minor and are considered to be related to real world production variations or a degree of artistic licence on the part of the developer. Any noted issues and variations with cockpit functions and operation were considered minor and / or in the interests of simplifying the function for practical flight simulator use.
The animations of the primary and secondary control surfaces and other moving elements on the PA-28R Arrow III are all modelled faithfully and include:
primary control surfaces - ailerons, elevator, and rudder;
secondary control surfaces - flaps;
others - retractable landing gear, elevator and rudder trim tabs, double latched cockpit door, baggage compartment doors oil inspection flap, cockpit windows, and visors.
The external lighting of the aircraft is very good, with navigation lights and strobes, and the landing light is very effective. However, I wish I could say the same for the internal lighting. The internal lighting of the cockpit is very poor. Although there are separate rheostats for instruments and dome lighting, they both operate both set of lights so you have to fly with a high pink glow of the dome light at night in order to read the instruments. I find this limitation an oversight, the developers are aware, but they quote "Dimmable/custom night lighting is not a feature that was advertised, however it is something that we are looking into." They have missed one opportunity today with the 2.1 service pack to improve it.
The engine sounds give a good very representation of the Lycoming IO-360 four cylinder engine, as you expect with sound files created by Turbine Sound Studios, with a 3D effect in the outside view as you move past the aircraft. Panel switch sounds were precise as were the sounds of latching and sealing the door and operating the flaps lever.
The general characteristics and performance specifications for the PA-28R Arrow III is provided in the table. This is based on data from the official PA-28R Arrow III Pilot Operating Handbook, data provided by Just Flight, and general research sources. Some of this data varies between sources and also may be an approximation due to variances in data and the specific aircraft modelled by Just Flight.
A specific Test Flight was conducted to test the flight performance of Just Flight's Piper PA-28R Arrow III. The flight was conducted in fair weather with a full fuel load and the aircraft at maximum take-off weight (MTOW) with just me as Pilot in Command. A cruise altitude of 5,000 ft was adopted and the route distance was particularly chosen to provide a basis upon which to test the range characteristics of the PA-28R Arrow III.
The aircraft was easy to taxi with the nosewheel being attached to the rudder, so only light input required on the pedals to steer. With flaps set at zero, aircraft rotation occurred at approximately 70 KIAS, The PA-28R Arrow III is not a STOL airplane, but it doesn't eat up runway either. We effortlessly lifted off the runway, with an initial climb out, which was expected for the aircraft, of around 70 kts. Climb performance is competent, but unremarkable, once cleaned up the climb speed of 90 kts makes sure we establish cruise altitude in a fairly reasonable time.
During cruise, a power setting was established for cruise as per the performance tables. This cruise setting produced an average speed, fuel flow rate and an endurance very consistent with the performance tables and the characteristics of the aircraft. Any noted variances in performance were minor and had negligible impact on the operation of the aircraft. The Test Flight confirms the modelling of the aircraft for speed and range performance to be reasonably accurate.
Stalls are a non-event and occur around 60 KIAS with a clean trim, the stall warning sounds accompanied with shaking in the cockpit. Only minimum action required to bring her back up to speed. Spinning is prohibited in this type, but possible, again not difficult to recover from, the aircraft seems to stop rotating of its own accord, then it's just a matter of easing out of the dive. None of this surprises me given the sedate manner of this aircraft.
Configured for landing, with full flaps, and trimmed for a descent speed of approximately 77 KIAS we managed to float down at a rate of approximately 600 ft/min, the aircraft's final approach speed was approximately 75 KIAS and it touched down at approximately 70 KIAS, with a landing roll of around 700 ft being comparable with the specifications for the aircraft.
In testing the accuracy of the instruments, based on the measured Test Flight, the speed indications on the airspeed indicator, were consistent with the averages measured. Additionally, when establishing a set rate of climb on the vertical speed indicator, the respective gain in altitude on the altimeter was achieved within the measured minute, and a standard rate turn was achieved within the measured two minute period using the turn coordinator.
The performance of Just Flight's Piper PA-28R Arrow III was excellent in flight, displaying the expected general flight characteristics of this aircraft. The aircraft's handling characteristics are very good, making the PA-28R 'Arrow III' a pleasure to fly. It is an unremarkable performer but responsive to control inputs and also very steady once trimmed for level flight or established on approach. Overall, the aircraft model displays a reasonably accurate rendition of the flight characteristics and performance expected of this type of aircraft.
I also tested the following systems and they worked exactly as described in the User Manual:
Funtional Circuit Breakers - All the electrical circuits are protected by these breakers, so should there be a problem, i.e. no landing lights, check the breaker hasn't tripped.
Automatic Gear Extension System - The system automatically extends the landing gear when engine power is reduced with the airspeed at, or below, approximately 87 KIAS. The system is triggered by differential air pressure sensed by a static source mast on the left side of the fuselage.
There is a (hideable) 2D Menu selector where the following can be found.
Power Selector - With a single click you can go from cold and dark to ready to taxi.
Interactive Checklist - When the panel is first opened, or when a new checklist is selected, the items will appear in red text. Click on the checklist item when you have completed the relevant action/check, click the item and the text will turn green to indicate that the item is complete.
Flight Computer - A panel with useful information such as fuel burn, endurance, speed, and wind speed/direction as can be seen below:
Logbook - The Arrow III comes equipped with a logbook for recording and tracking the hours flown in the aircraft. This is not automated and involves a lot of fiddly combinations and keystrokes to fill out the page. Unfortuantely I had some of these keystrokes assigned to other add-ons, such as SODE so I will rely on other ways of logging my time.
Towbar Control - The towbar panel allows you to manoeuvre the aircraft on the ground with the towbar which is fitted to the nose gear. To begin towing the aircraft, click on the forwards or backwards arrow button, depending on the direction you would like to move the aircraft. The arrow will turn red to indicate that towing is enabled.
In addition a new Just Flight Piper PA-28R sub menu appears below the Add-ons menu. As you can see below, the bespoke Just Flight menu allows the setting of Two panel states, "Cold and Dark" with engine and electrical power off, flaps up, parking brake on, or "Ready For Takeoff" engine and electrical power on, flaps set for take-off, parking brake off.
Automatic Suel Selector - This system will automatically switch selected fuel tanks every twenty minutes or if the fuel imbalance is greater than 10 gallons.
Fuel Pump / Gyro Sounds - To toggle these real aircraft sounds on/off.
Engine Management - You can enable or disable the following engine failure/management features:
Oil usage and engine failure caused by low oil quantity, and
Cockpit State Saving - To save the panel state automatically between non-saved flights.
Panel Selector - This option allows you to enable or disable the 2D panel selector arrow at the top left of the screen.
Refill Menu - To simulate the operation of the real aircraft, the engine oil and aircraft battery voltage are recorded whenever you stop flying the Arrow, and these quantities will then be restored when the aircraft is next loaded. The engine oil and fuel can be refilled, and the aircraft battery recharged, from the this menu
Flight1 GTN / GNS - Here you can toggle the Flight1 GTN or GNS series GPS if you have them installed.
Two documents are included provided in Adobe Acrobat format (.pdf) for the PA-28R Arrow III. A 32 page Operating Data Manual, and an 88 page PA-28 Operations Manual, which covers all necessary aspects for their operation including::
Installation, Updates, and Support;
Emergency Procedures; and
The PA-28 Operations Manual is one of the best I have seen from Just Flight. Every detail in there is relevant in one way or another. Just Flight don't automatically assume you know how to use all the instruments, so they supply a tutorial so you can take the aircraft, perform pre-flight checks, fly, and navigate using VOR and NDB tracking taking yourself from Compton Abbas to Shorham airport. Even if you were not type rated before reading the manual, with plenty of practice you could be after!
This is an add-on bursting with quality and extra features and I would judge this product to be very good value for money.
The aircraft model performed excellently within the existing settings I have in P3D. I have most of my settings set very high and there was no need to make any adjustments. There was no discernible frame rate impact directly attributable to the Just Flight PA-28R Arrow III and P3D continued to perform smoothly.
This version of the PA-28R Arrow III is for FSX / FSX SE / P3D only. Other specified technical requirements are as follows:
2.0GHz or any Dual Core;
1GB graphics card;
Windows 10 / 8 / 7 . Vista / XP (32-bit or 64-bit); and
2GB hard drive space.
The specifications of the computer on which the review was conducted are as follows:
Intel Core i7 4770K @ 4.2GHz;
EGVA Nvidia GTX980 Ti, 6GB;
16GB, Corsair DDR3, 1,866MHz;
Windows 7, (64bit); and
Lockheed Martin P3D Version 18.104.22.16868.
Additional Major Add-ons. Active Sky Next, Orbx FTX Global BASE, Orbx FTX Global VECTOR, Orbx FTX Global openLC series, Orbx FTX region series, Orbx FTX airport series, and Orbx FTX Trees HD. Also used is PTA V2 shader addon.
There are so many positives with this aircraft. In my opinion, it's their best 'own grown' GA aircraft to date. My only niggle is the interior lighting system which seems so out of place in this super quality product.