• Review: Razbam - SA227-BC Metroliner

    Fairchild SA227-BC Metroliner

    Publisher: Razbam

    Review Author:
    Meng Yu

    Suggested Price:
    $50.00

    Buy Here

    The Fairchild Metroliner is definitely not represented a lot in Flight Simulator X, so Razbam is definitely taking a different approach by making this package here. However, they have done a marvelous job at recreating this aircraft, whether it be in terms of graphics, or the flying dynamics.

    I was really excited getting into this review, since I've not really worked with a turboprop airliner for quite a while now, and as far as I can remember. As such, I am really thrilled getting into the cockpit this airliner. Well, let's begin!

    Aircraft Background

    The Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner is a 19-seat, pressurized, twin-turboprop airliner first produced by Swearingen Aircraft and later by Fairchild. It is also known as the Fairchild Aerospace Metro. Over 600 aircraft were produced, which is not all that amazing, but it still, a big number.

    Well, it is currently out of production, but still in service with companies such as Ameriflight and Key Lime Air. This aircraft undoubtedly is one of the more recognizable ones out there, with a thin and long fuselage, coupled with a shallow rotation on takeoff. Indeed, I experienced some challenges when flying this aircraft myself, with tail-strikes being quite a frequent thing during my first few flights, leading to some major penalty points in Fspassengers.

    According to the manual provided by Razbam, "The Metroliner was an evolution of the Swearingen Merlin turboprop-powered business aircraft. Gradual modifications to the Beechcraft Twin Bonanza and Queen Air business aircraft lead to the eventual development of an aircraft known as the Excalibur. Then the SA26 Merlin, was developed from that. Through successive models the engines were changed to Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 and then Garrett TPE331 turboprops. These were marketed as business aircraft seating eight to ten passengers."

    Virtual Cockpit

    The virtual cockpit is surely a view most would fly in, especially realism-seeking flight simmers. On first look, this did seem slightly cramped and "compacted". Switches and knobs fill your screen, and this can be quite daunting at first. If you find the cockpit to be so, then I recommend you start with the manual first. However, before we do that, let's take a look at the modelling of the virtual cockpit (and cabin!):

       

    Razbam Studios has accurately captured the looks of this aircraft's cockpit. Comparing pictures of the virtual cockpit in this aircraft to photos of real-world Metroliners, I think one can definitely come to the conclusion that the two are really similar. Here are some links to pictures for your own comparison:

    http://cdn-www.airliners.net/aviation-photos/middle/4/1/9/0008914.jpg
    http://cdn-www.airliners.net/aviation-photos/photos/8/5/8/1043858.jpg
    http://www.airlinereporter.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/METROLINER23FLIGHTDECK1.jpg
    http://cdn-www.airliners.net/aviation-photos/photos/1/9/1/1024191.jpg

    These do come from different variants of the Metroliner, but they all look similar to the one created by Razbam. As such, I think we can conclude that the looks of the cockpit match that of its real-world counterpart.

    Well, unfortunately, this aircraft does not include a 2D panel. However, the view in the virtual cockpit does put you in a good position to fly the aircraft. You can hide the yoke or throttle levers in order to get a clearer view of the gauges that are possibly blocked by them, which is quite a helpful feature. A passenger cabin is also modelled, and there are views for that as well. The manual does a really good job explaining the virtual cockpit, its layout, gauges, etc. Razbam modelled a great cockpit, and provided a great manual to go with it to better the user's experience with the aircraft.


    12 Comments
    1. dbauder's Avatar
      dbauder -
      Nice review!
      I logged 50 hours (as copilot) in one in the early '80s. It was a Metro II, rather underpowered and I understand the later models were better performers. Long runways were your friend! Once in the air, it was very fast and handled well. They were hard to land smoothly, at least for me. If you got a smooth touchdown during your review session, good for you.

      The panel looks right to me. Commuter airline managements weren't into fancy avionics ($$) and I'm not sure I had an autopilot until I advanced to the Dash 7 sized aircraft. The Garrett engines were more responsive than the PT6's because the engine was always operating at max rpm, pretty much. When you pushed the throttles forward, you were just changing the pitch (angle) of the propeller blades. (As for the PT6's in Flight Sim, I feel there is too much lag, compared to real life) The Garretts were also very loud and a passenger "in the know" always headed for the very back of the plane.
    1. macsimian's Avatar
      macsimian -
      Thanks, Meng Yu, for the very readable review - and thanks, DBauder for sharing your real world experience with us. I purchased Razbam's pleasing Metroliner a month or so back and just wanted to say that I agree with your remarks about the VC and modelling generally. In my case, however, the payload manager opens immediately with Shift + 2, and my PC is very ordinary, so maybe you could examine this more closely. I won't say anything else for now because I don't yet have the sort of detailed flight experience to make informed comment. But the review is clearly written and should help prospective buyers. Personally, I have no regrets - an interesting, well-modelled aircraft with a decent handbook and an all-round sense of genuine developer effort.

      Now, DBauder - I really appreciated your comments based on actual flight experience with the Metro. I have to admit that, as an FS 'pilot' only, I find managing turboprop power delivery and pitch control, particularly on finals, quite difficult. Can you offer any more detailed insights into how turbine power and prop pitch should be handled for a smooth, confident and safe approach? I seem to handle, say, my PMDG 737-800 or other 'serious' jets OK, and also typical piston-driven lighter aircraft; but my turboprop landings are generally untidy and nerve-wracking. I've also heard that FSX doesn't model turboprop functions very well. Do you have any observations to make on this? Thanks.

      Macsimian, near YBCG
    1. dbauder's Avatar
      dbauder -
      You're right, FSX doesn't seem to model the turboprops very well. That power lag is much too excessive compared to real world. My only advice is to try to remember to not overcontrol the power. Move the throttle a little and wait for the engine to respond, then move it a little more if needed. Also, have an idea of what power setting you are shooting for, either a torque value or a certain rpm (usually torque). Maybe there's a way to tweak the plane's cfg file, but I haven't really looked into it. I, too have had some "interesting" turboprop landings in FSX, usually trying to get a Twin Otter onto a short runway.
    1. macsimian's Avatar
      macsimian -
      Hi DBauder, and thanks for your help. That sounds like a good way to approach an approach (!) and I'll have a go later. And as for the Twin Otter; I'll bet your landings are better than mine! I probably shouldn't admit it, but I have never yet completed a safe landing with the Twin Otter at Lukla. I know, it's an inherently difficult and dangerous strip, but you'd think I'd have managed one tolerable result out of about 200. Thank heavens the real-world pilots up there in Nepal really know what they're doing.
      Okay, later today I'll check out the performance tables for the Razbam Metro, Aerosoft Cheyenne or something and practice the incremental throttle control you describe. I hope to improve ... touch wood! (or perhaps carbon fibre these days ..)
      Thanks again to you and Meng Yu.
      Macsimian.
    1. 7hepro's Avatar
      7hepro -
      Quote Originally Posted by dbauder View Post
      Nice review!
      I logged 50 hours (as copilot) in one in the early '80s. It was a Metro II, rather underpowered and I understand the later models were better performers. Long runways were your friend! Once in the air, it was very fast and handled well. They were hard to land smoothly, at least for me. If you got a smooth touchdown during your review session, good for you.

      The panel looks right to me. Commuter airline managements weren't into fancy avionics ($$) and I'm not sure I had an autopilot until I advanced to the Dash 7 sized aircraft. The Garrett engines were more responsive than the PT6's because the engine was always operating at max rpm, pretty much. When you pushed the throttles forward, you were just changing the pitch (angle) of the propeller blades. (As for the PT6's in Flight Sim, I feel there is too much lag, compared to real life) The Garretts were also very loud and a passenger "in the know" always headed for the very back of the plane.
      That's definitely an interesting experience, thank you for sharing it! Well, I'm not exactly sure if my landing was smooth, since landings in fs, especially from the vc, don't always seem as hard as they should (ie, there's no shuddering of the cockpit from the heavy landing, just a little vibration), The tires smoke as much on every landing, etc.) but I did seem to get a pretty decent one for my review run. Thanks for sharing once again!
    1. 7hepro's Avatar
      7hepro -
      Quote Originally Posted by macsimian View Post
      Hi DBauder, and thanks for your help. That sounds like a good way to approach an approach (!) and I'll have a go later. And as for the Twin Otter; I'll bet your landings are better than mine! I probably shouldn't admit it, but I have never yet completed a safe landing with the Twin Otter at Lukla. I know, it's an inherently difficult and dangerous strip, but you'd think I'd have managed one tolerable result out of about 200. Thank heavens the real-world pilots up there in Nepal really know what they're doing.
      Okay, later today I'll check out the performance tables for the Razbam Metro, Aerosoft Cheyenne or something and practice the incremental throttle control you describe. I hope to improve ... touch wood! (or perhaps carbon fibre these days ..)
      Thanks again to you and Meng Yu.
      Macsimian.
      Ah yes, the twin otter.... I did a review on Aerosoft's LuklaX a while back, solid piece of scenery, more than deserving of its price, but that meant that I had to bring the twin otter in for a few successful landings to get some screenshots for the review. Boy, those landings were hard... I think the floor of my plane would have broken had it been real life. :-) But that was definitely fun, as so was handling this twin. Thank you for reading my review!
    1. macsimian's Avatar
      macsimian -
      Hi Meng Yu. Yes, I read your review before buying Aerosoft's Lukla, and a very fine review it is. I just went back and re-read it. In both reviews, all is very clearly written and helpful. Indeed, I'll combine what DBauder said with your advice on getting into Lukla and see how I go. By the way, great illustrations in both reviews, and most interesting picture links for the Metro. Which reminds me ..
      Did you have any trouble seeing past the near-centre windscreen pillar? I did, and initially found it hard to see the touch-down zone on short finals. I guess this is fairly close to reality for the Metro. I cheat now by using the FSX 'Move viewpoint left' key combo (Sh+Ctrl+Bsp). Maybe if you're still there, DBauder, you could comment?

      Thanks again, Meng Yu. (I take it in Z-Land you'd be Yu Meng?)

      Ian / Macsimian, near YBCG in Aus.
    1. 7hepro's Avatar
      7hepro -
      Quote Originally Posted by macsimian View Post
      Hi Meng Yu. Yes, I read your review before buying Aerosoft's Lukla, and a very fine review it is. I just went back and re-read it. In both reviews, all is very clearly written and helpful. Indeed, I'll combine what DBauder said with your advice on getting into Lukla and see how I go. By the way, great illustrations in both reviews, and most interesting picture links for the Metro. Which reminds me ..
      Did you have any trouble seeing past the near-centre windscreen pillar? I did, and initially found it hard to see the touch-down zone on short finals. I guess this is fairly close to reality for the Metro. I cheat now by using the FSX 'Move viewpoint left' key combo (Sh+Ctrl+Bsp). Maybe if you're still there, DBauder, you could comment?

      Thanks again, Meng Yu. (I take it in Z-Land you'd be Yu Meng?)

      Ian / Macsimian, near YBCG in Aus.
      Well, perhaps it is the reality for those pilots, but if my memory doesn't fail me, I figured out a personal remedy for this problem, its far from perfect, but well, I never meant for it to be told. Anyway, I basically found it easier to come in slightly lower, and put the centerline in the middle of my windscreen. Do note that if you come in lower, do flare a bit more, to prevent the nose gear digging into the runway. This is perhaps out of the question for real pilots due to safety, but for a sim pilot who wants to practice his skills, I think it works. If you're looking to get some successful landings, may I recommend using exterior views for the first few times to get the hang of the airport first? Lastly, try to start your approach from the official approach start point, not just slew back from the runway. The landing mission that comes with the scenery pack is great help as well.

      If you want to see a professional pilot do it, try searaching FSX404 on youtube ( Think hes called Genc Vadiku now) He made a tutorial for Lukla.

      Hope that helped!

      7hepro

      (Nope, its Meg Yu, from WSSS)
    1. mangoes's Avatar
      mangoes -
      AN excellent review, to my regret, I bought his addon aircraft as a pre release version. Despite all the updates and SP I still cannot get the GPS to power up or the doors to open using the utility provided. I found the VC too dark during the day and some elements of the 'cartooning' effect are evident in some portions. It's a beast to fly and really needs proper preparation. I was disappointed by after sales help by way of the forums and emails. I am following the development by this company of the Brasilia and Saab A340, but I will wait before they have been released and reviewed before I commit.
    1. macsimian's Avatar
      macsimian -
      Oh, OK Meng - sorry about that. I'll use all the tips and resources you've referred to, and see how I go at Lukla. And OK on your WSSS location; I stopped off in Singapore way back in 1982 (on my way back from London) when Changi Airport was (I think) pretty new. Very impressive it was, too.
      Best wishes, Meng. Looking forward to your next review!
      Ian / Macsimian, from YMUR near YBCG.
    1. 7hepro's Avatar
      7hepro -
      Quote Originally Posted by mangoes View Post
      AN excellent review, to my regret, I bought his addon aircraft as a pre release version. Despite all the updates and SP I still cannot get the GPS to power up or the doors to open using the utility provided. I found the VC too dark during the day and some elements of the 'cartooning' effect are evident in some portions. It's a beast to fly and really needs proper preparation. I was disappointed by after sales help by way of the forums and emails. I am following the development by this company of the Brasilia and Saab A340, but I will wait before they have been released and reviewed before I commit.
      I agree with some of your findings. Although I got the gps to power up correctly, I failed to get the door-opening utility, the load manager I believe, to work correctly. And I would say waiting is definitely a wise decision.
    1. mxtor's Avatar
      mxtor -
      You say you fly it in FS Passengers, what payload model do you use? many thanks in advance.
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