There’s something about the Trip-7. You know it, I know it, and there’s no way around the matter. Given the history of aircraft development in commercial aviation over the past fifty years an aircraft of this size and complexity was perhaps inevitable, but few ever seriously considered that an aircraft of such unimaginable size would be a twin-jet. Advances in metallurgy and engine design made this aircraft – the one we know today – possible, but still, every time we see one of these beasts screaming down the runway and leaping skyward it’s a “stop and stare” kind of moment, yet to those who could care less, the Trip-7 is just another twin-jet, one perhaps lost in the visual shuffle of 767s and A330s that dominate major airports around the world. But that ambivalence usually stops when boarding a Trip-7, for only then does the true size of this aircraft become overwhelmingly apparent to even the most jaded traveler. The Trip-7 grabs you and shakes you up the first time you board one…you think surely this is a 747…and then you recall seeing just two engines when you were boarding.
“How could this monster possibly fly?”
Well, very well indeed…as you’re about to find out. Particularly with the Ramzzess Aviation Design Boeing 777-200LR in X-Plane 10.
But even saying something as unequivocal up front as “the ACF flies very well”, we’ll have to also state right here at the beginning that this aircraft file for X-Plane can be intimidating. It’s physical handling is unexpectedly complex, the flight model drifts between ponderously heavy and nimble – of course depending on aircraft speed – but even making a circuit around your favorite airport can leave you breathless with exertion, not to mention emotionally tense. Over the course of beta testing this ACF for over a month there were times I simply had to pause the SIM and take a break. I was SO immersed in cockpit dynamics, and failure mode was usually active, so snappy little attention getters like an engine out can really grab you by the short hairs and not let go.
In the end, I was left with nothing more or less than complete admiration for the men and women who pilot this aircraft, and for Ramzzess & Philipp. Perhaps if you spend a few weeks wading through this ship’s systems you will too, but only after you’ve wrestled this bird through a couple of in-flight emergencies will you come to appreciate just how much weight rests on the shoulders of a Trip-7′s flight crew.
Let’s pause and reflect for a moment, and I’ll put it to you this way. The Ramzzess Aviation Design 777-200LR is X-Plane – on steroids. Don’t even think of messing around in this ACF until you’re ready to study for at least a few hours (it will take days to really wrap your head around all the systems). Get out a pad and take notes. Visit SmartCockpit and get other reading material and performance charts, and watch a few YouTube videos of 777s in action. Get into this one and you’ll get your money’s worth. Ignore the manuals and treat it like a video game and you’ll soon grow bored and frustrated.
One final caveat to get out of the way. The download comes with versions for XP9.70 and 10.05rcx; current betas (i.e., 10.10b9) are not compatible. If you run the ACF in the latest beta a large splash screen will appear front and center and warn you to revert to the current rc file. I would heed that warning, and you’ll be quite disappointed if you ignore it. In fact, you’ll save yourself some serious grief by installing this file in the last “stable” rc version the first time you make the installation, and not a newer beta. If you try to revert from beta x.x back to the last rc you may get unpredictable results from both XP and this ACF. Clear?
Boeing 777-200LR + Ramzzess Aviation Design and Philipp Münzel
price: 59.95 USD
Rarely will an aircraft model’s varied components be the subject of such intense scrutiny as will this ACF’s. Developers of other large ACF will pour over the details, and I’m sure more than a few will devote hours to finding fault with this or that widget or line. Part of this exercise will for some be honest exploration, but other’s may well be of a more mean-spirited, partisan nature, and a further manifestation of the often virulent Org v XA Wars that have dominated discourse in XP for years. This will no doubt be complicated by a brewing XP vs FsX war, so when you read reviews and criticisms of this ACF in the various forums, keep this fact of life firmly in mind.
Our visual examination of the exterior today will be limited to how well the visibly modeled components represent the real aircraft, and we will not be dissecting wing sections and analyzing hydraulic systems, fun as that might be. We’ll start now by looking over a few images of real aircraft.
Ramzzess is a skilled artisan with 3D object modeling, and he’s proved himself with his SSJ and even the renders of his 757-200, so expectations are high that the exterior will be perfect. Well, let’s take a look starting with an overview, then note details such as:
- curved fan blades
- main landing gear supports, hydraulics and wiring, and counter-rotating steering rear bogey
- flaps, slats, visible interior of wings when deployed
- doorways and other entries
Now, a few images of the ACF in action, and these are of various beta files stretching back over two months, so not all features are visible in all images:
From the cockpit aft, you’re in for a treat. Near the forward galley you’ll find a stairwell leading UP to the crew rest area, First Class, Business Class, and Cattle Class seating is well done, and you’ll find enough Stoli at the various bars to keep the Russian Ice Hockey Team occupied for weeks.
This is a part of the ACF I rarely ever visit and really have little interest in, but the effort is commendably well done.
THE FLIGHT DECK
The real 777′s ‘pit is a class act, and it’s finished out in the taupes and tans of current Boeing products, and not the blacks and grays of 60s and 70s era Boeings. It’s a glass cockpit, too, and automation plays a key role in almost every onboard system. Still, as with all such systems, garbage in = garbage out. Nothing works unless it’s programmed correctly, so preflights are intense, and knowledge is key.
Just making a quick comparison here, but Ramzzess has the details down, from breakers to hand holds to seat fabric, and while I could take issue with the filthy/dirty/grimy nature of the textures I understand that many folks like this look. Some panel objects could have sharper/deeper 3D structures, but all in all everything appears to be where it should be, and by and large most of the primary objects are functional. There are a few rough edges in these images, and again, there are early beta files imaged here:
The overhead panel carries on the theme of advanced functionality, and aside from the breaker panel you’ll find that most of the controls over head are functional.
There are enough lighting controls to keep even the most fetishistic lighting freak happy. If you can’t get it right in here, you need to take up underwater cow tipping.
Dynamic reflections appear on the cockpit glass and under the glare shield, and these colorful abstractions can really grab your attention!
Gauge legibility is generally excellent, as is display brightness, and the side map display (below) can be amended to include the airport/charts of your choice. Using the arrow controls on the bottom of this screen, you can zoom in or out and scroll around the displayed chart with ease.
Overall, manipulators can take getting used to but that’s to be expected. Most controls were reliable and intuitively operated.
BASIC OPERATIONS, THE FLIGHT MODEL & SOUNDS
I’d like you to consider another purchase with this ACF… a more fully featured set of flight controls than you might already have. I’ve “gotten by” with a Saitek X-52 Pro Flight Control stick and throttle for years, but after a few hours in the T7 I finally broke down and ordered rudder pedals. I went ahead and ordered the Saitek Combat Pedals from the OrgStore, and though expensive they feel very well made and the operational realism of an ACF like this demands all the finesse or muscle you can bring to bear. Incidentally, I ordered the pedals on a Monday afternoon, regular delivery and not overnight specified, and I received a notification from the staff at the Org store within a half hour that the product had been prepped for shipment and a FedEX tracking number assigned. The parcel arrived the very next Wednesday morning before my coffee cooled, all told in well less than 48 hours. Set-up was a breeze, and a hearty thanks to the crew at the Org for a job well done!
So, why do you need pedals? Well, because your legs are probably stronger than your wrist, and by using your feet you free up your hands to work on other problems. Also, you now have a very handy, and suddenly free, control on your stick that can be mapped to control nose-wheel steering, and you’ll immediately find this a real delight when trying to push the T7 around a crowded ramp. Independent axis toe-breaking adds to this capability, not to mention adding yet another layer of realism to your flying. Besides, real airplanes have rudder pedals! You’re missing out on one of the most important aspects of learning to fly…coordinating rudder and aileron motion with your hands and feet…if you stick with a stick. You CAN fly without a rudder if you have a good rig like the X-52, but you’re not learning the same motions that you’d use in a real aircraft.
Okay, let’s get back to the issue at hand. First, the flight model!
This ACF was NOT meant to be a substitute for a Cessna 152, and if your intent when buying this file is to shoot touch and goes at your favorite airport you’re probably not going to have a lot of fun. You CAN do this, don’t get me wrong, but there are a few steps you’ll need to take to get there. On the other hand, if what you want is an aircraft to make ultra long distance flights and as realistically as possible given a desktop simulators basic constraints, this may well be one of the deepest yet for X-Plane, if not THE deepest. I’d say in terms of sheer complexity only Peter’s A321/380 offer an equally challenging operational tempo. All three can make you break out in sweats – or the shakes!
Given Philipp’s involvement with FMS programming with the CRJ200, you’d expect this aspect of the ACF to be a well developed, hyper-detailed part of the SIM, and it is. Auto-flight isn’t an afterthought in a large aircraft’s operational paradigm, it’s integral to everything the crew does, and the 777 paved the way in this regard – for Boeing. It’s different than the Airbus system, and if you can manage the x737 you’ll probably not be too overwhelmed. Still, flying this ACF “by hand” is a joy. The controls are solid and responsive, and it IS relatively easy to fly a pattern and land manually once set up to do so. Low speed handling is not crisp, and making radical maneuvers below 170KIAS is not for the faint of heart.
Sounds are a mixed bag. Engine spool up sounds are muted yet forceful, yet flap sounds are the same “foghorn” loop found in Heinz’s 787, and as the flaps and slats take a while to extend or retract the annoying sound cycles and cycles. It’s the one annoyance in an otherwise nice soundscape that I’d like to see done away with.
You should by now be familiar with Philipp’s video tutorials, and these ought to be your first stop when learning to program the FMS for auto-flight. Additional material from SmartCockpit offers condensed versions of the information contained in the Boeing manuals and are a worthwhile supplement, and in PDF format they can go right into an iPad for in-flight consultation. Very handy.
Without going into detail, I think with practice you can go from cold and dark to turning onto the active in 15-20 minutes – if you have a correctly pre-formatted flight plan to enter into the FMS. You can of course open the aircraft hot and on the runway, and with a few systems switched to auto then go about your merry business shooting circuits.
THE SIX HUNDRED POUND GORILLAS IN THE OTHER ROOM
Yes, the 777 is a very popular product right now, and with Captain Sim’s new 777-200 just out and doing well – and the PMDG 777 going into beta (…and with tantalizing images surfacing every now and then) – it’s fair to say that interest in this aircraft has never been higher in the flight sim community than it is right now. So this new ACF for XP faces some stiff competition – outside of XP, anyway.
Because then there’s the XPJet’s 777. Rumors swirl around this one like a fast ebbing tide, but the bottom line is no completion date has been announced, and the same outrageously good screenshots that were posted a few years ago are all that’s out there to keep public interest going forward on this project. We hear rumors all the time, but of course don’t report them, yet we have tried to contact XPJets a few times in the past but we’ve never heard back from them. Until we hear otherwise, we’re as “in the dark” about this file as you probably are. Hopefully we’ll hear about progress someday soon, as interest remains high.
Still, those XPJets screenshots ARE out there, and it’s inevitable that a few will compare R&P’s T7 cockpit to the XPJet screenshots, or to PMDG’s. As always, some will complain, others will praise, yet about all we can say is Ramzzess and Philipp have seen a tough project through to completion, and an extraordinarily complex ACF brought to market. We’d hope all concerned have the good grace to offer congratulations.
And we bring up these other files for a reason. Our focus remains X-Plane, but not to the exclusion of other platforms. In other words, if the best 737 out there is for FsX there’s just no real reason to claim otherwise, and we’re going to try – in the near future anyway – to show you why this is so. Conversely, if an ACF for XP is the clear choice, we’ll endeavor to explain our reasoning. Again, Simon and I are doing this because we love flight sims, and flying, and broadening horizons is just good for the soul.
This ALERT is not a first look or a review, it’s just that…a post letting you know the file is out there now, and if you want it, go get it. Without going into our reasoning at this point, we’d say it’s best suited for experienced heavy metal operators, and we’d define this person simply:
- If you know what an FMS is, and can program one, that’s good. If you can program a SID/STAR, and fly it, that’s even better. If you can make an entire flight under the hood, and comfortably, that’s by far the best indicator that you’ll enjoy this file. If you don’t know what “under the hood” means, you might want to look elsewhere for amusement.
We think this is a ground breaking file, on many fronts, and after being involved with it for a month plus, we can recommend it highly. Pay attention to installation and hardware requirements, and you should be happy with the purchase. With a complex file like this one, there will be bugs as unforeseen operating system errors pop up. Don’t lose your cool, just go to the forums and log your issue. Ramzzess and Philipp are good people; they’ll take care of things.
That said, we’ll have more on this ACF soon. Hasta later – C