Publisher: Just Flight
It's time for another review, thistime we'll be climbing aboard Just Flight's Robin DR400-180 Regent foran in-flight look at this great little bird. Just Flight's in houseteam and Thranda Design developed this aircraft using a real DR400 asa model--G-BEUP, which is based at Goodwood Aerodrome with SportAir.
An excellent choice for flight training and touring, the DR400 is aversatile and easy-to-fly airplane with no bad characteristics. Thesliding canopy boasts enormous windows and excellent visibility, andthe panel is equipped for both IFR and VFR flying, including an S-TEC55 autopilot, GNS 430 GPS unit, GMA 340 audio panel, KN 64 DME, GTX330 transponder, and a KR 85 ADF.
The Robin DR400 is powered by a 180 horsepower Lycoming O-360engine, and its wooden frame has been said to provide for pleasantlyquiet flight. The DR400 features a distinctive cranked-wing design,with the outboard section of the wing at a much greater angle ofdihedral than that of the inboard section.
The DR400 first flew in 1972, and is still being manufactured inFrance today as the DR401. It is a popular and lovable aircraft withgood performance--130 knot cruise speed and great range/payloadcapabilities--and it makes a great platform in which to explore theX-Plane world as well as the real one. But how did Just Flight do ontheir rendition of this plane? Let's hop in and find out!
On first loading of the Robin, I'm immediately impressed with themodeling and PBR textures. It's easily one of the nicest lookingmodels I've seen. The materials, details, textures, and lighting alllook perfectly "right" on this model. It's parked on the ramp, tieddown and ready for a pre-flight inspection. I open up the side menuand explore the weight and balance chart to make sure we'll be withinlimits for this flight. I check the fuel menu and find I've got 189lbs on board. I decide that's plenty for a ride around the area.
I "walk" around the plane and open the canopy and baggage doors(also via the side menu), load up, untie the tie downs (once again, inthe pop up menu) and climb in, remembering to first close the baggagedoor. Important! It's easy to see that Just Flight used real worldaircraft plans to develop this plane--it looks right!
Inside the cockpit, the gauges, switches, lights, and avionics areinteractive and beautifully modeled, and the high resolution texturesgive the cockpit a photo-real feeling. The interior is in good shape,there's not a ton of weathering on the upholstery, but the panel lookslike it's been around for a while. It's a great looking interior, JustFlight did very well. The 3D instruments are all easy to read andnicely modeled--perfect for IFR practice.
Following the engine start checklist leads to a smooth start up. Inotice the sounds are dynamic and realistic; the controlsfree-and-clear check, the canopy open/close, everything that shouldmake a noise, does make a noise, and it's well done. The engine soundsare realistic and give the acoustic feeling of a wooden airplane--justas they should. When the pilot looks around, the sound changes as itwould in real life, and they also change based on whether the canopyis opened or closed--totally dynamic. Winner in the sounddepartment. There's also a custom audio menu in the pop menu so youcan adjust the volumes of various sound effects as you please.
The interactive checklists are great to use and help guide thepilot through the proper procedures throughout the flight from startup to shut down. Note: if you're not interested in a lengthy, realisticstart procedure and you'd rather just get in and go for a flight, youcan toggle a "ready-for-takeoff" option in the pop-up menu that willstart the aircraft and get all the systems ready for takeoff for you.
Taxiing out, I'm pleased with the ground handling and over-the-nosevisibility. The view out of the Robin almost reminds me of that out ofa helicopter; huge, panoramic windows and not much panel getting inyour way.
After a thorough run-up and one more controls free-and-clear check,I prepare for takeoff. It should be noted that this aircraft featuresa custom-coded fuel system which is capable of automatic fuel tankswitching, which is helpful for those long cross countries. Thisoption can be toggled in the pop-up menu and is "remembered" forfuture flights. Pushing the throttle forward, the acceleration isbrisk as the 180 hp Lycoming O-360 roars to life. The aircraft isairborne quickly and the handling is superb. I have to apply a healthyamount of right rudder to keep the ball centered as I climb out overthe runway, but nothing excessive. The controls feel light and smooththroughout the flight, and the view from the cockpit is simplyawesome! Just Flight used real world handling and performance dataalong with input from real pilots to develop this flight model.
I climbed up over the clouds and did some turns, steep turns, etc.and found myself really enjoying the flight characteristics. It'splain old fun. Stable, light on the controls, forgiving, andreasonably honest. Descent back to the field was easy; the plane slowsdown fairly quickly, it's not too slippery despite being relativelyspeedy (I really did see a 130 kt cruise at 2400 RPM) for what itis. Setting up on final approach, I rolled in the last of the flapsand kept a bit of power in. I was surprised at how effective the flapsare, and found myself coming in a bit too shallow. One could easilypull off some nice fairly steep descents over trees into shorterairfields with this aircraft. The landing was smooth and easy, theround-out didn't take too much back pressure on the stick, and theforward visibility remained excellent, even during the flare.
I went for another adventure, this time at night. I checked out thelights and was impressed with the dimmable cockpit lighting and thecustom exterior lighting (including custom strobe light pattern aswell as custom light halos). It looks really good. There's also aflashlight option in the pop-up menu which is a great help.
Overall, Just Flight's Robin DR400-180 Regent is an amazing value,a ridiculously fun airplane, and a very capable cross country and IFRplatform that will serve any X-Plane general aviation enthusiast wellfor almost any mission. It comes with ten fantastic liveriesregistered in several countries including the UK, USA, New Zealand,Germany, Canada, France, Netherlands, Australia, and Austria, soyou'll have an area-appropriate Robin for quite a few popular placesto fly in the X-Plane world. If you don't see a livery that fits yourmission, they've also included a PDF paint kit so you can create yourown!
Purchase Just Flight - Robin DR400 for X-Plane 11
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