Update 21Mar2011: Sky Spirit 2011 recently released their Boeing 747-8i for FS2004. Now there are multiple models for us to enjoy!
Almost two years ago, Boeing announced a new version of the iconic and popular 747 aircraft called the 747-8 Intercontinental. The new airplane would incorporate new innovations and technology developed for the 787 and would fill a slot between Airbus’s behemoth A380 and Boeing’s own 777. The 747-8i would be 15% more fuel efficient than the 747-400, and 10% more efficient than the A380, all while carrying more passengers and cargo than the 747-400, representing the true next generation of aircraft design.
For the past two years, the 747-8i was just a concept in fancy computer drawn imagery. But now, Andy Roesch has changed all of that. Some of you might remember the 737NG series he developed for Flight Simulator, released in early 2006. While his 737NG’s were not as groundbreaking as Erick Cantu’s 737’s, they were still accurate and were especially light on the frame rates, which made them a joy to fly. Andy has taken his skills, the 747-8i concept and developed a wonderful model for FS9. His model is quite detailed and includes a virtual cockpit, wingflex and full animation. He has also included two liveries, Boeing Dreamliner and Lufthansa.
With introductions complete, I thought I would take some time and evaluate this model. While, Andy says that he has not tested it in FSX, I couldn’t resist the temptation to try the next generation 747 in the next generation flight simulator. Once I installed it in FSX, I noticed a few issues. First, I had to change the references for the sounds from the 737_400 to the 737_800. This really wouldn’t be an issue if you take Andy up on his suggestion of installing a decent sound pack. The second thing I noticed was the lack of gauges. I managed to get the multi-function displays to work in the virtual cockpit by copying the cab file from the 747_400 panel folder to the 747-8i’s panel folder. However, the analogue gauges, gps and radios were still missing. I have not figured out a way to get the remaining missing gauges to work (see below), but I am sure someone will figure it out.
With sounds working and the important gauges operational, I decided to take a flight from Boeing’s 747 factory at Snohomish Field (KPAE) in Everett, Washington to Sea-Tac (KSEA). This would be a short flight, but would give me time to evaluate the takeoff and landing characteristics. So, here we go…
Once the paint dried and the final checklists were complete, it was time to fire up this new bird and take to the skies. The weather was quite nice, cool and a little breezy, but fairly clear with only a few sporatic clouds. The pilots approached the plane and admired the extended roof line, the shaped engine nacelles, and the raked wingtips. The bird was a beauty, but the pilot remarked how different the proportions looked with the longer upper deck. It made the bird look tall and skinny, like an egg, as compared the iconic ‘hump’ and rounded curves of the earlier 747’s.
Once on board, the pilots fired up the engines and kicked off the parking brake. With immediate take-off clearance from runway 16R, the pilots pushed the throttles forward and inched toward the runway, admiring the smells of a new airplane as they went. As they turned onto the runway, they added some flap and adjusted the trim while aligning the aircraft for take-off.
The throttles moved forward will slight resistance while the new 747 lumbered down the runway. As the aircraft continued to accelerate, the wings began to create lift, which flexed them up. The view from the passenger cabin must have been astonishing as the wings lifted and the aircraft remained on the ground, but just before they would snap, the aircraft took flight, climbing above the earth.
At the end of the runway, a group of photographers were awaiting the historic moment. As it careened down the runway, cameras clicked endlessly. The bird took flight and the sounds of awe accompanied the shutter clicks. Just as quickly as she had rotated, she was a spec on the horizon.
The pilots watched the gauges for any sign of trouble as the bird climbed over Everett. A slight turn to the right pointed the bird toward Puget Sound. The view from the front office was spetacular an quiet. The early morning sun beaming in through the cockpit windows bothered the pilots, but highlighted the bird for those looking up from below. They leveled off at three thousand feet and turned toward downtown Seattle for a low altitude pass over Sea-Tac.
As the pilots started their descent and approach to runway 16L, they appreciated the sedated handling of the 970,000 pound aircraft. While the aircraft did not respond to their inputs, particularly while banking, as readily as they hoped, it behaved predictably and smoothly, allowing the pilots to make a graceful low approach over the airport, much to the delight of the tower and travelers below.
The engines provided plenty of power on the climb-out and the flaps retracted smoothly. The pilots circled the aircraft back around for a landing. With all of those looking on, the pilot nervously aligned the aircraft with the runway, but a changing crosswind challenge his inputs. With engines at idle and the flaps fully extended, the pilot flared the aircraft and the aircraft touched down, reverse thrusters engaged and the 747-8i came to a roll before turning off the taxiway and parking at the gate.
With the engines shut down, the pilots congratulated themselves on a successful historic flight. Commercial aviation in the virtual world has entered a new chapter. Andy’s 747-8i is a wonderful addition to any simulator, fs9 or fsx. While there are some compatible issues with the gauges (see below, top screenshot is fs9, bottom is fsx), the model is wonderful, the wingflex exhilarating, and dynamics predictable, if a little slow. Congratulations and thank you to Andy Roesch for giving us this remarkable next generation 747. Now I just hope that the painters catch on and give us a decent United repaint.
– Its freeware
– Its currently the only 747-8i for FS
– Visual model is good
– Light on the frame rates
– Has a virtual cockpit
– Not completely compatible with FSX
– Still wondering if the proportion are right (optical illusion)
– The tires look like they are from fs5 (minor detail)
The first screenshot below shows the 747-8i virtual cockpit in FS9. Notice that all of the gauges are present. Compared to the screenshot at the bottom where only the multi-function displays are present. The auto-pilot, radios, and analog gauges are missing.