I would love to have been a fly on the wall in the Just Flight office when some chap announced the concept of "freemium". You see, this concept involves providing the customer with a fully functioning payware aircraft, with no restrictions or limitations, absolutely free of charge. The only catch is, it comes in only one livery. If the customer wants additional liveries, they have to be purchased in fifteen packs of two for a low price. Alternatively, the aircraft and all thirty liveries can be purchased in one complete pack that equates to the regular price of a payware aircraft. The first aircraft out of Just Flight's hangar to be bestowed the freemium honor is the 757 Jetliner, a modelling of the narrow-bodied Boeing 757-200 developed by Just Flight's in-house development team.
The base pack comes as a 148 MB executable download file from the Just Flight web site. During installation you'll be prompted to disclose your Just Flight account details (email and password). Once complete, the aircraft will be installed into your FSX folder.
The aircraft comes with a well written seventy page PDF manual, the contents of which include; installation guide, panel guides, an FMC guide, and a tutorial flight to help you learn the procedures. It won't take long at all to read and comprehend, so you'll be up in the air in no time.
The detail of the external model is good, but not as good as some other payware 757s on the market. The base pack only includes one livery (G-CPES; a British Airways 757-236 currently in service) in the non-winglet variant. The rivets on the fuselage are only barely visible when you zoom right up close to the fuselage. On the lower portion of the fuselage are multiple static ports with clearly printed instructions/warnings for ground crew and maintenance personnel.
The external model features all the essential movable control surfaces (ailerons, rudder, elevators, spoilers, and flaps/slats), and the outer shell of the engine pod parts upon the application of reverse thrust. For those flights where the weather is less than desirable, windshield wipers are modelled. The landing gear and struts are well modelled and the wheels rotate properly when the aircraft is in motion on the ground.
I did encounter a problem with the nose wheel and rudder while the aircraft was on the ground. With the aircraft stationary, and with no rudder input, the rudder and nose wheel would rapidly move from left to right. This was especially noticeable at night, when the nose wheel taxi light can be seen flicking from left to right on the taxiway ahead while the aircraft is completely straight. While the aircraft is turning on the ground, the nose wheel can face a completely different direction to the direction of turn, but not affect the turn in any way. During a takeoff roll, the nose wheel and rudder will flick side to side for a millisecond then return to a neutral position until rudder input is detected. On upwind, with the gear well and truly off the ground, the problem does not exist.
The aircraft features five custom external viewpoints. These are; left/right wing views (from passenger viewpoint), landing gear view, tail view, left/right wing view (looking towards aircraft), and tail logo view.
As this is an F-Lite product, the systems complexity has been greatly reduced for ease of use. It is a step up from the default aircraft, but not to an intimidating level such as high-end add-ons. If you want to open FSX and do a quick flight, but not in one of the default airliners, then this is the perfect aircraft.
Much of the overhead panel is interactive, and will allow you to interact with the hydraulic, electrical, air conditioning, pressurization, engine start, fuel, APU, and IRS systems with extreme ease. After two or three flights, you'll be able to configure the overhead panel systems in a matter of seconds (if speed and timeliness is your thing). Alternatively, you can configure the systems at a slower pace and with ease, as would be done in the real world.
The Autopilot (A/P) Mode Control Panel (MCP) performs the same functions as those of the default airliners. Lateral Navigation (LNAV) and Vertical Navigation (VNAV) buttons are present, but the VNAV serves no function, as the FMC does not calculate a vertical profile. Instead, the Vertical Speed (V/S) wheel is used as with the default airliners. The LNAV button is essentially a replacement for the NAV button in the default airliners, and will follow the flight plan on the GPS.
The aircraft includes a reduced complexity Flight Management Computer (FMC), accessible via two Control Display Units (CDUs) on the upper pedestal. Just Flight have taken some creative liberties with the CDU, allowing for ease of use. Entering waypoints for a route is not possible, but rather the FMC imports the flight plan you created with the FSX Flight Planner.
Some creative liberties are listed here:
A/P: Pressing this button will open the Autopilot page. Each line shows the status of the different A/P functions. Pressing a Line Select Key (LSK) will change the status of that function (for example, pressing the line select key next to HDG HLD will turn the Heading Hold on or off).
CKPT NAV: Pressing this button will open the Cockpit Navigation page, listing all 2D panels. Pressing an LSK next to the name of a 2D panel will open that panel.
DEP/ARR: Instead of displaying Standard Instrument Departures (SIDs) and Standard Terminal Arrival Routes (STARs), this page displays calculated takeoff and landing V-speeds.
CHECKLIST: Checklists for various phases of flight are presented here. Once the conditions have been met, an item can be checked off, until the whole checklist has been completed.
2D Panel And VC
The aircraft comes with a detailed interactive virtual cockpit (VC), along with a full set of 2D panels for those who prefer them. Gauge clarity in the VC is good at all zoom levels, allowing the aircraft to be comfortably flown from this view. The VC is well textured and provides a good atmosphere. One problem I had with the VC (and this may just be my personal preference) is that the VC zoom level didn't extend back far enough. Even at maximum outward zoom it felt as if I was too close to the forward panel. For example, in the default Boeing 737-800, I'm far enough back to see the entire MCP and most of the forward panel. This problem might just be exclusive to me and not affect anyone else, but I felt it was worth mentioning.
The Captain and First Officer seats can be moved back and to the side by clicking on them, causing them both to move in unison. Another click will return them to their original position. The armrests cannot be moved however. The windshield wipers mentioned previously are modelled in the VC, and will operate at three settings; Off, Low, and High. They are not visible from the 2D panel. The side windows cannot be opened, nor can the cockpit door, and there is no virtual cabin modelled. The lack of a virtual cabin doesn't bother me, but it would be nice to be able to crack open a side window while on the ground.
Some actions performed on the 2D panels do not carry over to the VC. For example, the white reference markers on the analogue IAS indicator can be moved on the 2D panel, but will not show from the VC. Another example is the annunciation test button above the back-up attitude indicator. Pressing this on the 2D panel will illuminate all lights and annunciations on the forward panel and EADI, HSI, and EICAS and trigger the windshear aural warning. However, pressing the button in the VC has no effect.
The 2D panels are good quality and provide quick and easy access to different parts of the cockpit. The aircraft can be flown entirely from this view or simply used to compliment the VC, as I found the most useful. Sim Icons are available on the far left of the Captain's forward panel, and can be hidden and unhidden by clicking an arrow icon. Clicking the IAS indicator, EADI, HSI, EICAS, RDMI, FMC CDU, and back-up gauges and engine instruments will bring up enlarged versions for greater clarity in either the 2D panel or VC. Clicking on the center pillar of the forward 2D panel will bring up the magnetic compass.
There is a small problem with a crack in the VC. By this I mean there is a thin slot in which you can see the outside (e.g. taxiway when taxiing). This isn't too noticeable and won't ruin your flight in any way, but it is just something I noticed.
The aircraft is equipped with Rolls-Royce RB211 engines rated at 37,400 - 60,000 Ibf, one of four engine types available for the 757, and the only one included in the base pack. This produces a mighty roar, so much so that during engine start-up, the vibrations from my subwoofer echoed across the room. Inside the cockpit, an array of callouts and aural warnings will be activated at the appropriate times. These include; stall horn, GPWS terrain callout, altitude callouts, windshear callout, and A/P disconnect horn.
The aircraft is responsive to control input, and will rotate on its three axis with relative ease. However, it is a medium sized aircraft, so for the sake of caution if flying manually, it's best to plan control inputs and allow for reaction time, particularly at lower speeds.
The aircraft performs well and shouldn't give you any grief with frame rates. I found the frame rates to be on par with the default aircraft. Ultimately, performance will depend on your computer hardware, FSX settings, and any other add-ons present during the flight.
After the aircraft's been loaded into FSX a few times, a pop-up message will appear asking if you'd like to visit the Just Flight web site to purchase the additional livery packs. When the aircraft is loaded into a flight, the same message will appear as the familiar scrolling red text in the green box at the top of the screen. During this time, it's business as usual, but with a reminder that you can upgrade by installing the livery packs.
This is an excellent aircraft and one that I will no doubt log many hours in. If you are quite new to flight simulation or new to airliners but have mastered the default ones, downloading the 757 Jetliner base pack is a great way to increase your knowledge on airliner operation and gain confidence at absolutely no cost. The "freemium" concept is an interesting one, and one that Just Flight have acknowledged as a risk, but only time will tell.
Just Flight 757 Jetliner system requirements:
- Flight Simulator X (SP2 and Direct X 10 preview compatible)
- 2.5 GHz PC or any Dual Core
- 512 MB RAM
- 128 MB graphics card
- Windows 7, Vista or XP (SP2)
- 50 MB hard drive space
- Processor (CPU): Intel Core i7 CPU 870 @ 2.93 GHz
- Memory (RAM): 6.00 GB
- Graphics: ATI Radeon 5570
- System type: 64-bit operating system
- Operating system: Windows 7 Home Premium
- Primary monitor resolution: 1920x1080 (x2)
- Microsoft Flight Simulator X: Acceleration