Boeing C-17A Globemaster III
Design by Virtavia and Dawson Designs
X-Plane 10.05 and X-Plane 9.70
It is BIG…GREEN and MEAN… Military Mean!
The C-17 is with the C-5A Galaxy the backbone of the Worlds Military Logistic Supply networks and it is now available in X-Plane.
Nothing can prepare you for this Aircraft, In every sense of the word it is big and heavy – but it can land on a runway just over a kilometer long (1060m)
The Boeing C-17 Globemaster III was developed for the United States Air Force (USAF) from the 1980s to the early 1990s by McDonnell Douglas; the company was later merged with Boeing.The C-17 is used for rapid strategic airlift of troops and cargo to main operating bases or forward operating bases throughout the world. It can also perform tactical airlift, medical evacuation and airdrop missions.
This Aircraft is a Virtavia Flight Simulator conversion by Dawson Designs for X-Plane, and a quality conversion it is in every sense of the word.
Make no mistake that getting your head around flying this Globemaster requires a bit of orientation, It is a military machine through and through and everything is quite different. Sit the cockpit for the first time and you feel like you are on a different planet, the idea is the same and all the standard systems to fly an aircraft are all still there, but you really have to learn the differences to understand what everything does, then suddenly it all clicks in your mind and then it all becomes quite easy and familiar.
I certainly recommend to read the manual right through before attempting to do any serious flying, It is not long at 30pages but just sit it in your lap and get the placement of everything noted down – doing this simple task will save you hours of fumbling around wondering what the hell does what and yes any time on a commercial heavy (Boeing 747-400) will give you an idea on how to fly it – but it does fly quite differently in many aspects and that will take a little time and a bit of practice to smooth the bumps out.
Your going to work hard in there, the systems are not that deep but they are very functional and you will need to be very precise and smooth to get the best performance out of the aircraft – It won’t come all at once but that is the fun of simulation as you can do it over and over again and so then try out the many different missions – So anyone for a Holiday in Kabul.
3D COCKPIT AND PANELS
The cockpit panels are complex but are very well laid out, The four display screens all work independently of each other so you can choose what you want on any one of the screens, that is either with the two PFD’s (Primary Flight Displays) or any of the two centre screens, the beauty of this is if you are on a long sector you can bring the map up in front of you or any of the other displays, mostly the engine and flap setting modes will stay on the centre screens, but you can still have them all if you want them in front of you…
so let us go through the various modes.
PFD (Primary Flight Display) and ND (Navigation Display)
ENG1 (Engine 1 Display) and ENG2 (Engine 2 display)
CFG (Configuration Display and MAP (GPS map display.
Lower under the Main Flight Displays is the SED – Standby Engine Display and it has two modes with different thrust level buttons.
In mode one (N2) it displays the EPR, EGT, N1, EPR rating
In Mode Two (EPR) several more functions become available. The normal blue EPR rating chevrons on the engine display will change to a solid blue horizontal line in this mode and the five buttons on the right of the SED unit become active, as does the rotary knob (EPR RTG) on the upper left
side. The default EPR (Engine Pressure Ratio) rating is provided by the MANbutton, this allows the value to be manually set using the rotary knob. The other four buttons provide presets for various EPR ratings (thrust levels)
The Huge HUD in front of you can be adjusted for brightness and if not needed then (Thankfully) lowered, this is excellent animation as it folds away and both the Pilot and Co-Pilot’s HUD’s can be lowered.
Lower in the HUD is the menu “views”; this is an excellent way of combining a menu with functionality – no side tabs here!
These menu buttons give you:
1) Left Rear Jump Seat
2) Pilot View
3) Main Me
4) Control Panel (Below)
1) Overhead Panel
2) Co-Pilot View
3) Right Rear Jump Seat
The main PFD (Primary Flight Display) is standard but with a twist, the speed reader is the opposite way around and it goes down to display the higher speed and that can get some getting use to, the rest of the instruments are standard backup instruments and cockpit lighting and instrument brightness switches of which are excellent by the way.
Up above on the Overhead are the various panels (compartments would be a better word) and here we have:
IGN Engine Igniter Switches
HYD Panel (Hydraulics)
Air Refueling Panel (which is very comprehensive)
Lights and WACAP Panels (Warning and Caution Annunciation Panel)
Down on the Centre Console is an array of items, MCD (Mission Computer Displays) and they (Four) show flight-plan information and communication details, they are not functional but look excellent; you have to turn them on for every flight.
FMS plan is not a standard looking default FMS but works in the same way, you only just need to note the different noted buttons.
Cabin Pressurisation Panel (CPP) is here, also here is the EFIS Map zoom range, which in most cases you have to move the armrest to see it (and turn the knob), it is tricky but do-able to have the zoom switch and the map in the same view.
Missile Warning System Control Indicator (MWS) which is just a switchable display.
Throttles and Auto-throttle switch.
A note is that there is no “Speed Brake” arm to automatically deploy on landing, On the C-17 there is a button on the throttles but not simulated here, so the notes state that to use the keys 3/4 to deploy the Speed Brakes, but they do come out in two stages so it is a two button press, I have a Speed brake “Full” (key) on my joystick anyway so it works fine there, so I suggest setting a key correctly to the “Full” mode.
At the rear of the Centre Console is the door opening and internal Cargo hold lighting switches,
There are five doors.
Main Entrance with Stairs:
Port Side Door:
Two Troop Loading doors rear:
The Ramp works in two modes.
Airdrop in flight is exciting if looking rearwards.
“Floor” lighting adjustment is the blue lighting of the rear floor in the cockpit.
Another panel is the Aircraft defensive system… which is noted by a “Big Red Button”!
On the glare shield is the AFCS (Automatic Flight Control System), or Autopilot.
Most of the buttons are push “in” on push “out” off and so they act in a military way, one button to do one job…
F/D is to turn on the AFCS and to activate you use the A/P on switch, The ATS is the Auto-throttle flip switch and both are situated in the centre of the panel, God help you if the alarm goes off, It is like the final moments of “Alien” with loud burr’s and flashing lights and a stern Women’s voice telling what you got wrong, The first time it goes off you just “Jump” in your seat… Effective.
Most buttons are straightforward, SPD hold, NAV1 Hold, HDG Hold, ALT Hold, V/S (Vertical Speed).
All the adjustment buttons are above with a digital display, I found the display was very good, but some flickered when adjusting the knobs which makes it hard to see if you have the right number and sometime the numbers went to either side of the number you selected, not by much but still makes it hard to select the exact number and certainly with the V/S mode, It is noted that this is an X-Plane10 issue and no problems were found in X-Plane9.
Setting up a flightplan is quite unusual, you load it into the FMS and execute, the GPS button toggles the NAV1, NAV2 and GPS (which is the Flightplan), you press APPR to lock on, On approach you must be on “NAV1 Hold”, (VOR/LOC) then cycle GPS back to NAV1 and hit the APPR again to arm… It works; you just need to get your head around it.
To the left and right of the of the AFCS panel is the CNC ‘Communication Navigation Control’, which is pretty straightforward and you use the “XFER” button to swap the adjusted frequencies.
There are four seats and you feel very comfortable in here for long sectors, turning (banking) looks great as you adjust your view.
The rudder pedals are also adjustable.
AROUND THE AIRCRAFT:
No matter how you look at it, This “Globemaster” it is a big aircraft, I think it looks like “Thunderbird 2” (laughs) but hey great it is.
Detailing by Virtavia is first rate in every area, look at those huge 4 × Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100 turbofans.
the thrust reversers are all excellent as well.
The flap arrangement and deployment is also first rate, just watch the front spoilers deploy, great stuff.
Rear Wheel bogies are sturdy and huge, and rotate up into their bays with clever animation.
Front wheel design is also top notch.
The high tail and inside of the Cargo hold is well created, I have been in a RAAF (Royal Australian Airforce) C-17 and the scale of the size of this machine can bring cramps to your neck.
Cargo increases with the more weight you put on the aircraft and is adjusted in the “Weight and Fuel” menu by the “Slung Load Weight” slider… clever.
But what marks out the good from the average is the finer detail; the windscreen wipers work on both sides and the landing lighting is also well done…
In fact all night lighting is excellent, as the landing lighting reflects off the inboard engines it looks magnificent at hold ready for takeoff.
I found the lighting slightly different with HDR ‘on”.
Here with the HDR active there are four access and loading lights, one on either side of the fuselage and two shining down from the tail.
The Main lighting is slightly different as well with the far outboard landing lighting also now reflecting.
And you have the ‘Slime Lights’, ie. The formation markers at various locations on the aircraft exterior. (and for airborne refueling)
In the cargo hold you can also adjust the lighting.
There are 12 liveries:
33113 : Mississippi ANG, 183rd AS, 172nd AW, ‘Spirit of the Purple Heart’, Jackson IAP, MS (default)
10186 : McChord AMC , 62nd AW, 446th AW, JB Lewis-McChord, WA
44130 : McGuire AMC , 305th AMW, 514th AMW, JB MDL, NJ
55140 : March AFRC , 452nd AMW, March JARB, CA
55147 : 15th AW, 154th WG, Hickam AFB, Hawaii
Royal Canadian Air Force (CC-177)
177701 : 429 Squadron, 8 Wing, CFB Trenton
Royal Australian Air Force
207 : No. 36 Squadron, RAAF Base Amberley, QLD
Royal Air Force
ZZ171 : 99 Squadron, RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, UK
00001 : Heavy Airlift Wing, Papa AFB, Hungary
80201 : Qatar Emiri AF, Al Udeid AB, Qatar
80202 : Qatar Emiri AF, Qatar Airways colours.
00172 : Long Beach plant, CA.
I decided to test out the sounds by running a cable from my computer to my living room 5.1-surround system!
Plugging up and turning on the noise sent my family into hysterics and shouting at me with their ears covered…
“GREAT isn’t it” I said standing amongst the pain barrier, and “Great” it is.
Sounds were created by the Turbine Sound Studios and Dreamfoil Creations, and hell it sounds great, from the sucking in of the air of the front of those huge whining turbines to the 3d dimensional jet flow to the rear it is just so brilliantly good, in the cockpit you have the same directional sounds but quieter that adds to the right effect.
With 3D positional sound technology, the pitch, tone and type of sound changes as you move around the aircraft, and on landing those huge thrust reversers just give you major Goosebumps, better still when you let go of the REV trigger to close those doors the escaping noisy compressed air it is just simply…amazing.
I didn’t dare try a takeoff with my surround system and had to shut it down before the Local Council slapped a “Noise Order” on to me, but hell it was so really good while it lasted.
The number one flight characteristic with flying the C-17 is its high lift wing, with a powered Lift & STOL capability; its trick is the key element of the C-17 is the special flap system, first developed by a team of researchers at NASA-Langley in the mid-1950s and later demonstrated on the YC-15 prototype. The externally “blown-flap” or “powered-lift” system enables the aircraft to make slow, steep approaches with heavy cargo loads. With this powered-lift system, the engine exhaust flow is directed below and through slotted flaps to produce additional lifting force and allow steeper landing descents.
So you have a lot of lift on takeoff and a huge amount of wing-lift on landing, so getting either wrong can create an odd ride. On takeoff the front wheel just wants to fly long before the aircraft does so you have to get your V markers right.
On taking off with the right weights (very light) and it just climbs straight up like a fighter jet.
On landing any adjustment of the flap creates a lot of lift and you can gain 300-500ft in a blink of an eye, so you really need to very smooth and precise to get the flow of speed and decent right, I takes a lot of practice to get the formula right, but it can be done and once you are correct and satisfied there - then you can either add total weight or try for those really short deep steep descents and short stopping maneuvers.
Low speed can be very low, but again requires practise to get down to around 135knts (or as noted even lower) and full flap,
The really great thing about this aircraft once you are confident enough is that you can try all these very different takeoff and landing profiles which is very unlike flying the same single profile on any commercial heavy – with that you can get some sort of variation that adds to its enjoyment and wanting to always then try something new.
All round you can feel the weight, on the roll, takeoff, rate of turns and landing, it is a big aircraft and you have to compensate for that, but the modeling and flight dynamics are spot on. As with most very big heavies you have to be careful on the ground, If you are used to the A380 then the same rules apply, very slow taxiing and turns have to be under 9knts, if not you will blow out the tires. It scrubs around tight turns so you have to give it a lot of room to turn and maneuver – The C-17 can cause more worry on the ground than in the air so you have to work on your taxiing skills.
First note is that most trials here were flown in 10.10b4 and then tested in 10.10b5 on my:
- 2.66 Ghz Intel Core i5 iMac 27”
- 6 Gb 1067 Mhz DDR3
- ATI Radeon HD 4850 512mb
HDR was off and clouds kept to a minimum.
My scenery was average as not to crash the 3d cockpit but over all this is what I got, Flying in clear air and no custom scenery it was 50 frames (Fr) + the 3d VC was around 45Fr so for once it was great to move around the VC without any hindrance, XP9 created the same figures, a little cloud and with the custom scenery It was around 28Fr and 21Fr in the VC, which for a file with such size is great performance and I never really had any stuttering in the VC cockpit unless I put some really heavy scenery in there (Like EGCC – Manchester) then it was stuttery at around 12 frames, my gut feeling is that if Laminar can refine the memory issues I would say it would settle around 20-25Fr anywhere, so usable it is.
I hate the word but “Awesome” is the only one I could really use here, I’m a heavy nut so yes to a point I’m going to like this “Globebuster”, Overall though it excels in every area with Virtavia’s modeling and Dawson Designs experienced conversion, no doubt we in X-Plane now are certainly getting the best of both worlds and our conversions are better than the original FSX files than it was created on and in fact X-Plane has 19 extras created by Dawson Designs to the 4 extras in the FSX version that we don’t have in X-Plane – The highlights are certainly in the area of lighting and sounds…
There will be still some adjustments as Laminar keep rolling out the betas, and newer products will come on to the market, but this C-17 Globemaster III is a great investment not only for its features but also with its usability in all the roles it can perform.
A few years ago we would dream of products like this, but this is also benefit of X-Plane moving into another level of professionalism in the simulator world and the cross-pollination between platforms, only X-Plane users get the best of both worlds…
To end this review I left the best feature till last – That big “Red” button on the Aircraft defensive system panel and when you press “Arm” and hit the button and you get the – clack clack clack and the bright defence flares drop out.
I could of course go on doing this for hours, but someone in Glasgow sent a message to the Department of Defense to stop playing around at dawn over Prestwick…. so I’m grounded.
Boeing C-17A Globemaster III
Now at the Orgshop : .OrgSHOP C-17 Globemaster III
Price US$ $34.95
Documentation : Manual and C-17 Performance Charts
Dawson Designs: Dawson Designs