• Review: Just Flight - Duchess Model 76

    Flight Dynamics

    The Duchess is capable of flying in day and night under both IFR and VFR conditions, but keep in mind that this aircraft is not fitted with ice protection. This is where the fitted weather radar becomes effective. When testing the endurance of the aircraft I found that it could fly comfortably for over five hours at around 150 knots. With this in mind, I feel confident that the Just Flight model matches that of its real-life counterpart in terms of performance characteristics.

    Just Flight - Duchess Model 76     Just Flight - Duchess Model 76

    Performing both IFR and VFR flights in the Duchess was straight-forward. If you are familiar with operating these types of aircraft under the conditions mentioned above, then you will not have too much difficulty in flying the Duchess. When testing the aircraft for its stall behavior, I found that it was similar to that of a PA-28, in that you would not lose a wing, but instead find that the aircraft would simply pitch down. As such the aircraft is easily recoverable. During testing, accurate animations were observed of the landing gear, flaps, flight controls and other control surfaces.

    Landing

    Overall, I found that landing the Duchess was very easy and not too dissimilar to other aircraft I was familiar with. However, when it came to applying the brakes, I felt them to be rather ineffective, as if they were perhaps worn. Of course, this could be just how the aircraft was modelled. If so, then I could see how this would be accurate in regards to some older airframes. As such, please keep in mind the time required to stop.

    In crosswind landings, I would describe the Duchess as being one of the smoothest and easiest planes I have flown.

    I found the flaps were animated beautifully, but had no effect on the handling until they were lowered past 20 degrees. Alongside this, it can be a bit difficult to slow the aircraft down when flying the approach (there is no speedbrake on offer).

    Just Flight - Duchess Model 76     Just Flight - Duchess Model 76

    Single-Engine Performance

    Being a twin-engine aircraft, one of the situations you may encounter is the loss of an engine. Being able to fly with an engine down is an important skill to master as you can expect to experience adverse yaw in the appropriate direction, followed by an excessive bank angle. On some aircraft the effect is quite profound, but unfortunately I found the single engine performance on the Duchess 76 to be very disappointing.

    With an engine down there is very little adverse roll and yaw, to the extent that I would describe the behavior as unrealistic. To counter this in other aircraft, you would need to apply quite a lot of rudder trim. In the Just Flight Duchess however, you will only experience the slightest bank, but any attempt to straighten the wings with the rudder trim will often result in failure, as it has very little effect.

    To experience anything from the rudder trim at all, you would need to apply it fully in a certain direction, but even then the effect is only slight. Instead you would need to use the aileron trim which is a knob located above the rudder trim, and has much more of an effect on the handling. In all, I felt that the single engine performance and experience, was a bit of a let-down.

    Just Flight - Duchess Model 76     Just Flight - Duchess Model 76

    Trimming

    Trimming is an art that takes precision and time to master, so naturally any new pilot may struggle at first, but it's a skill that can easily be picked up after a few flights.

    For me personally, I felt that this was the biggest let down of the Duchess, as on quite a few occasions I really struggled to get the aircraft in trim. It was not impossible, but I felt it to be an overly difficult task. This could be down to how the elevator and rudder trim wheel lacked precision. There also seemed to be quite big movements with any adjustment in the trim. In 9/10 occasions, I was resorted to using the autopilot to keep level (something I don't like doing).

    In saying that, there were a few times when I did get the aircraft into trim, but I felt that this was too lengthy a process and formidable task.


    2 Comments
    1. W33's Avatar
      W33 -
      Very nice review. Got quite a few hours in this model, so it's nice to see it featured.

      Thanks!

      W33
    1. lear45xr's Avatar
      lear45xr -
      I'll wait til it's on sale.
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