The newest members into the 737 family
(600/700/800/900) continue to make the 737 series the most
popular and reliable commercial jet transport aircraft in the
world. Such is the popularity of the 737 series the order book
has passed the 6,000 mark.
The 737 is a short-to-medium range aircraft and is a big favourite with airlines due to it's reliability, simplicity and reduced operating and maintenance costs. The newest NG variants move the 737 into the 21st century and continue to make it a fantastic airliner. Advanced technology such as winglets allow airlines to save fuel, extend the aircraft's range, carry more payload and reduce engine maintenance costs.
We are already given a 737-800 as a default aircraft in FSX, but words cannot describe how much better the iFly version is. FSX has long needed a high quality 737 simulation, and within a short space of time we got 2.
Included in the Download
The add-on is available from the Flight 1 website as a download or boxed version (I am reviewing the download version) and costs, depending on exchange rates, about £40. But before you go running for the hills after seeing the price tag you should know that you get 7 (seven) variations of the 737. Those being the 600, 700, 800, 900, BBJ, BBJ2 & BBJ3 variants. You can customise each variation via the configuration manager (more later) including engine types and wing-tips.
What you do not get with the download is a wide
choice of liveries – you only get the iFly house livery. That's
not a massive problem as there are now lots of free liveries
available to download from the internet (See below). These are easy to
install via the configuration manager. In some ways I like this
approach as your hard drive doesn't get clogged up with liveries
you don't want, but on the other side of the coin I would like 4
or 5 liveries included.
You are also given 6 manuals that tell you everything you need to know about the 737NG, including a tutorial which is more than adequate for a crash course in the aircraft (pun not intended!). Don't expect to read the manuals in a few minutes though, more like a few days. They are very comprehensive.
As you can see from the below, it is an incredibly in depth simulation of the 737NG
- Winds aloft forecast entries.
- Conditional way-points for SIDS/STARS/Approaches.
- Fly-by and Fly-over way-points for SIDS/STARS/Approaches.
- Accurate Cost Index calculations for LRC/ECON speeds
- Horizontal and vertical navigation.
- User defined and conditional way-points.
- Sid/star and navdata custom database.
- Realistic Autopilot Flight Director System with Auto-throttle System.
- Auto-throttle (A/T) Engaged Mode:
- N1 - MCP SPD
- GA - THR HLD
- Retard - ARM
- FMC SPD
- Roll Mode:
- HDG SEL - LNAV
- Pitch Mode
- TO/GA - G/S
- V/S - FLARE
- MCP SPD - VNAV SPD
- ALT/ACQ - VNAV PTH
- ALT HOLD - VNAV ALT
- Leg Types:
- Track to Fix
- Direct to Fix
- Arc to Fix
- Course to Fix
- Radius to Fix
- 3DS Max Model
- FSX Specific Materials (bump and specular).
- Realistic control surfaces.
- Working elevator power.
- Realistic flight spoilers and ground spoilers.
- Working auto-slat.
- Nozzle valve animation.
- Working APU doors.
- Entry & cargo doors with corresponding cockpit light.
- High quality livery textures.
- Flex wing.
- Gauges fully functional and click-able. Every switch, knob, lever is modelled in 3d and animated.
- Animated windows, Wipers(two speeds) and more.
- Superb instrument lightning at night.
- Modelled circuit breaker panel.
- Fully simulated Inertial Reference System.
- Display type (PFD/ND or EFIS).
- VSD system.
- NAV1/2 receiver with working AUTO/MAN mode.
- Realistic Ground proximity Warning System.
- Cabin pressurization gauge & logic fully implemented.
- Flap load relief protection and auto-slats logic.
- New failures.
- Aural alert.
- Simulation of Left and Right EFIS.
- Full TCAS logic (with traffic display on EHSI).
- 2D Panel supports both standard and wide-screen monitors.
- Hundreds of programmable key assignments
- You have the ability to operate both captain and first officers ND's in different modes together while in 2D wide-screen and in the
virtual cockpit .
And that's not even the comprehensive list!
The flight deck of a 737 will be familiar to most
tube-liner fans and the iFly team have done a fantastic job and
have produced a brilliant 2D and virtual cockpit. Some
developers have tended to shy away from creating 2D cockpits but
iFly have made this one a great place to fly from. Then you get
to the VC which is quite simply stunning. The viewpoint is spot
on and combined with Track IR I almost felt as though I was in
the aircraft for real (even without Track IR it's still superb).
Not all buttons and switches are fully functional, but the ones
that you need to get up and running all work perfectly and have
the click-sounds as you would expect.
Hud Full Auto LAnd
In the BBJ variants you are given a HUD (Heads-Up-Display) which I have not encountered on any other airliner add-ons. I can see the advantage of this and sooner or later all commercial airliners will have this technology, but for some reason it didn't appeal to me. Whilst it worked and gave all the required information I struggled to take my eyes off the PFD when landing in minimums. I think that the HUD is a great inclusion and other people may get more from it that I did.
Most people will want to show off their add-ons by way of screen-shots meaning that developers have to get their external models perfect, and I'm glad to say that the iFly 737NG is one of the very best. It doesn't look bad from any angle and I couldn't find any rough edges. I'd go so far as to say that it's perfect. Add in one of your favourite liveries and you'll spend more time outside the aircraft that inside it (British Airways 737-900 is particularly nice). Whilst you are taking screen-shots you will need to let the auto-pilot take over...
Auto-Pilot & FMS
The heart of any commercial airliner is the auto-pilot and flight management system (FMS), and to people like myself who love delving into the depths of the aircraft it is essential that you learn how to operate this correctly. If you own other Boeing add-ons the FMS wont be anything new to you, but you can always learn more, so much more in fact that the manual devotes over 100 pages to the FMS (the operations manual is 529 pages long). If you are new to complex procedural airliners it will take a long time to fully understand how everything works, but once it clicks you'll never want to fly a default aircraft again.
Programming the FMS is fairly simple and importing a flight plan
from FSBuild is very easy. Even when asked to perform holds, fly
direct to another way-point the FMS is very easy to navigate
around and make the changes. Just make sure that you enter the
correct way-points or you may have problems!
The configuration manager is also where you add new liveries to the variants. This was a little tricky at first but I soon got the hang of it – just double check the model you are adding the livery to is the correct one.
Whilst this is an add-on that will predominantly be flown with the auto-pilot I encourage you to hand fly it during departure and arrival; the hand-flight characteristics are sublime. Quite often I wouldn't engage the auto-pilot until I was above 20,000 feet because it's so much fun to hand fly. Even on approach and landing I hardly ever made a poor landing because the 737 is so easy to get down to the runway; almost every touchdown will be silky smooth.
If you've ever flown in a 737 cast your mind back to the sounds of the engines because that is exactly how they are in this add-on. The take-off roar is amazing and the constant drone of the engines during cruise is spot on. Something odd that I noticed was that upon touchdown the engines sounded like they were on fully throttle for a split second until the reverse thrust kicked in, even though the throttles were at idle.
As mentioned earlier, the download base pack only gives you the models and variations with the iFly livery, but there are 15 recommended repaints available for download via the product page, if that is not enough, then the Flight1 file libraries will give you more along with other updates and files. See below for a sample of those liveries.
Boxed DVD Version
Many users of this type of simulation prefer to have the DVD version, this just takes the enjoyment that little further with printed manuals, a very good tutorial, poster sized panel overview and of course, a nice box to proudly display in your bookcase! Flight1 inform me the boxed version also comes with 35 airline liveries as well.
At only 5 USD more it is well worth considering too. More here
Review machine Spec: Intel i7 2600k @3.40GHz | 8GB DDR3 RAM 1600MHz |NVidia GTX570 1280MB GFX Card |Windows 7 64bit Home Premium