• Review: iFly 737 NGX and FS2Crew Voice Edition

    Review: iFly 737 NGX and FS2Crew Voice Edition

    By Gustavo Mercado
    September 18, 2011

    Intro

    I have spent last year and a good portion of this one waiting for one thing...For the PMDG 737 NGX to be released and from looking at the forums it seems I was not the only one in this predicament. Then on one faithful day while looking at the FlightSim.Com web page I saw something that caught my attention, an invitation to join a new flying group which operates out of Facebook called Online Group Flights. I quickly joined and found myself getting together with this group of individuals to do flights together and discuss FS stuff. It was on one of those Facebook posts that I first learned of the newly released iFly 737. It caught my attention right away.

    A couple of minutes after I was browsing their web site and the never ending dilemma entered my mind immediately...Should I give this a try or keep waiting for the PMDG counterpart? The answer was the inspiration for this review. I took a chance at a developer I was not familiar with, and a product which already has a very high standard in our hobby (the FS2994 PMDG, and Feelthere PIC 737-500) and what I got was one of the best airplanes I have ever had the pleasure to fly in the virtual world. I just remembered I have not checked the PMDG web site in a while! As of the end of this review the PMDG had been released so now it's time to take out the credit card again (this is going to be a hard sale for the wife...didn't you just get a new plane? And the same one!) And start comparing.

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    To further complement this great add on, Bryan York over at FS2Crew jumped the gun and created an FS2Crew version to go with it, and you can even get them at a bundle together. As always the FS2Crew add on is superb. Much like the PIC 737 version it is fully operated with voice recognition, and it recreates all of the pre departure, departure, flight, landing and securing events that take place in real life. Getting these two products together although pricy I would recommend to anyone looking for a top of the line simulation of the new 737 generation. I assure you it will be money well spent.

    Technical Stuff

    The iFly 737 comes in a Flight1 methodology for purchasing which if you already have the Level D 767 you should be familiar with. You download the 639 MB install package directly from their web site and run the install program. Once you run the install program you get the info for purchasing a license, after entering the credit card info you get charged the $55.00 US (believe me it's worth it) you get an electronic key which remains stored in your computer and you are ready to install and begin flying.

    I did have a problem which according to their technical support a couple of people have had. In my particular case I had a problem during the first flights where the autopilot would not come on, and when it did it would not control the airplane. Apparently it was a miscommunication between the software and FSUIPC (which controls my three CH Products Joysticks) which made the airplane impossible to command with the autopilot after takeoff. I spent maybe half of an afternoon checking out the forums, and writing to customer support, the solution was not a pretty one I have to admit, I had to uninstall FSUIPC and reinstall. After I reinstalled and reprogrammed my joysticks away we went and everything was perfect.

    The first flight tutorial is very well written and simple to follow if you are not familiar with the B737 family. It took some reading to get used to the 737-900 (which is the one I have used 99.9% of the time) and the features it has for pushing back and other goodies that can be controlled directly from the FMC, but if you have some time on the PMDG FS2004 737-700 it should not be much of a learning curve before you are off flying.

    The FS2Crew installation is also pretty simple. It requires no license key, it is just a quick download from the Pilot Shop and once installed you need to open the iFly configuration manager. You will see in the upper screen a box to check to include the FS2Crew software, and after doing a quick update on the configuration manager you are set. When you load the iFly the software is ready to be used. After going through one flight double checking the manual for the flows and the correct answers you should be ready to go on your own in no time.

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    Exterior Model

    For the exterior model I only have one word, AWESOME. The exterior model is as beautiful as the real bird. Apart from the more than 30 liveries it has in all its variants, it includes the 600, 700, 800, 900 NGX and BBJ. All models are available with winglets, and installing liveries is as easy as pie with the included livery manager.

    The exterior model is a 3DS Max model using top of the line technology. It has a highly detailed VC and wing model, realistic control surfaces for elevators, flaps, ailerons, stabilizers, flight spoilers and ground spoilers, autoslats, working APU doors, entry and cargo doors with corresponding cockpit light, and flex wings to accurately display flight dynamics. All in all it is a beautiful plane to look at. Liveries included and available for download are also very well made and look very similar to the real thing.

    Interior

    The interior is probably the best I have seen of any add on airplane so far. All models are available on a wide screen monitor format which takes full advantage of modern wide screen monitors. Sorry to say I did not give it a try in 2D but the virtual cockpit is beautiful. Every single gauge is functional and clickable, every switch, knob lever, and display is modeled in 3D and animated. It has animated windows and two speed wipers. The instrument lighting at night is superb, probably the best I have seen, and for increased reality it even has full cockpit circuit breaker panel.

    Wing views (which are VERY important for me) are very nice. You can see the spoilers, flaps, ailerons operating smoothly. The virtual cockpit can be tweaked many different settings so the pilot can have many options for flying more comfortably. It comes with a panel selector which makes it easy to open any of the panels without losing sight of the cockpit and the outside environment. The general design of the cockpit and the ease of interacting with all systems in the aircraft is superb. It is evident that the designer went through a long process to design a truly beautiful interior on this airplane. Switching between 737 versions, the changes respect real life differences in the cockpit. Truly remarkable job on this department.

    Aircraft Systems

    The automated flight systems and autopilot are flawless. There are several elements from the real plane that have to be followed in this simulation for the aircraft to work properly. That is why is it is necessary to read the manual even if you are already familiar with other versions of this aircraft, for example if you do not return the yoke to the middle detent before activating the autopilot it will not come on no matter what you do. In certain areas it is programmed to behave just like his real life counterpart that is why I would recommend reading the manuals. Even though I think it is necessary to familiarize yourself with the documentation I can tell you the learning curve for the basic operation of the airplane under regular conditions is not very complicated, and the autopilot works like a charm.

    The airplane comes with a configuration utility that lets you select passengers, cargo, and fuel according to each variant. The utility calculates the ZFW and center of gravity detent to enter into the FMC. This parameters are important to have setup correctly because if they are wrong the FMC will give the wrong info and can cause the airplane to behave abnormally after takeoff. Another great feature for this aircraft is the option to leave the panel state as you left it in the last flight. All other airplanes have cold, dark, ready for engine start, etc. but if you have your own preference on how to have the panel load when you first load the aircraft this software has it.

    The FMC also works like a charm. It is modeled after the latest generation computer used on the real NGX and it has all the goodies that the original has. It can fly the plane after reaching 1000 feet right up to landing it. The database has all the latest airways and waypoint information, and it can be used with Vroute so I can make the flight plan in Vroute and it automatically gets downloaded to the NGX FMC. You can also control the pushback directly from the FMC, and save custom made flight plans.

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    The Most Important Part

    The iFly 737 NGX is not the most frame rate friendly bird out there, so in some cases my system had a bit of a headache especially while performing taxi and approaches. Now, taking the frame rate suffering out of the equation, the airplane handles great on the ground and great in the air. It is very responsive to the autopilot commands, and it is also pretty good while flying manually. The sounds are incredible, this airplane together with the second version of the ERJ 145 (Feelthere) without a doubt have the best sound package in the business.

    The software works great together with the FS2crew voice commander. Although it did hurt my frame rates to have both running at the same time, but I think I need a memory upgrade anyhow. The plane flies wonderful on ILS and manual approaches, the autoland also works like a charm. In general it is an easy plane to fly, maneuver and land. I liked it so much I have a couple of months of not flying anything else. Once you get used to the high quality standard offered by this airplane it is hard to fly anything else.

    All Said And Done

    Highs - Beautiful exterior and interiors. Very well designed, the package brings ALL of the variants, it has a superb sound package. All systems work accurately and flawlessly, the documentation is well written, and it is fairly easy to learn to master. The addition of FS2crew to this package only makes it better and they interact flawlessly.

    Lows - So far it is the aircraft that has hurt my frame rates the most, specially once operating in a big airport. The weather radar would have been nice also!

    The Verdict - Thank you iFly! The wait is finally over. You have done a truly marvelous job in a market with VERY competitive offerings. Your 737 is certainly in a class of its own. Great job at pairing with FS2Crew the voice commander version goes together flawless with the NGX. If you asked me I would say get them both together, it won't be cheap but believe me it will be worth it!

    Requirements

    Flight Simulator X w/Service Pack 2 (SP2)
    2.6 Mhz Quad-Core Processor
    2 GB of disk space
    4GB RAM
    512 MB Video Card
    Windows XP / Vista / Win7

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    As Tested

    Microsoft Flight Simulator X (SP2)
    Windows Vista
    2.16 Dual Core II processor
    4 GB RAM
    526 MB Nvidia graphics accelerator

    Gustavo Mercado
    [email protected]

    Learn More Here:
    iFly Jets 737 NG X
    FS2Crew - iFly 737NG Voice Commander Edition

    Tags: 737, boeing, fs2crew, ifly, ngx