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SSGs Anniversary 747-8i Edition

Introduction

Not just a Queens of the Skies, but a very modern Anniversary Edition. But first, with the maiden flight of the 747-100, it was just “the Jumbo Jet”. Then a couple of years later, it became or was known as the Queen of the Skies and now, with the 747-8i v2, I renamed the aircraft to the SSGs Anniversary Edition Queen of the Skies version 2.1.

With the release of the updated version 2.x for X-Plane 11.30+ SSG made a huge step forward. This in-depth review of the SSG 747-8 version 2.1 which actually includes Service Pack 1, is reviewed on an iMac with the latest versions of Catalina and Mojave. Further on, the aircraft was tested with X-Plane 11.40r2.

But what are the features of the SSG Anniversary 747-8i? I’ll highlight a few of them since the list is quite long. By the way, the Service Pack 1 comes with a lot of fixes and that’s good news. I couldn’t find in the SP1 list any improvements that are related to low FPS. But after testing version 2.1, I have to conclude that although I wasn’t able to get 40-50 FPS, I got enough frame rates to fly the aircraft without stutters. And yes, I’m aware that this is always a “hot” issue!

Anyway, according to the SSG team “the Anniversary Edition comes with the following features. Regarding the Externals:

  • All new fuselage closely modeled on the real one with added details
  • Each door can be opened individually and is more detailed
  • Added animations and details (almost all parts that can open/move on the aircraft are modeled).
  • New external details such as a satellite antenna and tail camera
  • New cut passenger windows instead of textures
  • New vertical and horizontal stabilizers with added details
  • New nacelles and engines with more details and new animations
  • Reworked and more detailed landing gear/gear doors with additional animation
  • Improved and more detailed leading and trailing edge flaps and added flap mechanisms
  • Upper deck interior with seats/galleys and stairs to lower deck
  • New wing flex and nacelle animations
  • The textures for the entire aircraft have been redone to match the new model, along with decals for certain detailed areas, right down to most of the external placards, working closely with our technical advisors to ensure all the main details are present and that we have gotten them right. 

Regarding the Cockpit:

  • The entire cockpit 3D model has been largely redone and completely retextured.
  • New overhead panel and buttons/switches
  • New forward panel and buttons/switches
  • New pedestal and buttons/switches/handles
  • New miscellaneous panel and buttons/switches
  • Side panels and window frames completely redone
  • New cockpit seats
  • Various added details

Regarding the modeled Systems and FMC:

  • Almost all switches function properly and independently
  • IRS alignment process implemented
  • More realistic fuel system with different pumps and tanks along with FUEL TANK / ENG logic
  • Realistic AUTOSTART and RUNNING indicators on secondary engine displays
  • Improved and more realistic air conditioning system and logic
  • Better track representation on ND
  • Clock and chronometer on ND working like on the real aircraft
  • More realistic baro pressure logic (STD, preselected, transition altitude)
  • Captain and First Officer FMCs are now independent
  • FMC FIX page added
  • FMC Route 2 function added
  • FMC Diversion function added
  • Librain rain effects (currently not working on Macs
  • and much more.”

That’s a long list and it’s not even the whole list. The SSG model is intended for use with Windows, Mac and Linux. It is intended to work only with X-Plane 11. Perhaps worth to highlight that owners of the 747-8 Series version 1x will see a discounted price once logged in into their account. No coupon required.

I could continue and confine, but first it’s time to give you some background information about the real 747-8i before moving on to the SSG model.

But first, a TOC (Table of Contents).

Table Of Contents

Due to the length of the review, it would help me and you too when I include a table of contents, right?

The Real 747-8
Next: How to Proceed
– The Installation
– The Documentation
– mac.xpl macOS Catalina Issue

At Paine Field
My Walk-Around Check
– Nose Section
– Fuselage Mid Section
– General Electric GEnx-2B67 and Wing Section
– Winglet, Spoilers and Flap Section
– Tail and Cargo Doors Section

My Cockpit Check
– Overview Part I
– The tablet
- Overview Part II
– Simulated EICAS

Test Flight | Flight Plan Preparations
– Your Flight Plan
– Practicing with Little NavMap
– Use or not Using the QSG (Quick Start Guide)?

Test Flight | Cockpit Preparations
– General
– Cockpit Preparations
– Pushback and Engine Start Preparations

Test Flight | KIAD -> KJFK
Test Flight | Debriefing KIAD -> KJFK
Sounds, FPS and more
– Sounds
– FPS (Frames Per Second)

Summary

The Real 747-8

The passenger version, named 747-8 Intercontinental or 747-8I, was formally launched on November 14, 2005, by Boeing. It can carry up to 467 passengers in a typical three-class configuration over 8,000 nautical miles/14,816 kilometers, at Mach 0.855. The 747-8I can carry 51 more passengers and two more freight pallets with 26 percent more cargo volume than the 747-400. Despite initial plans for a shorter stretch than the freighter model, the two variants were set at the same length, increasing passenger capacity and allowing easier modification of the 747-8I to freighter use.

The upper deck is lengthened on the −8I. New engine technology and aerodynamic modifications allow longer range. Boeing has stated that compared to the 747-400, the −8I is to be 30% quieter, 16% more fuel-efficient and have 13% lower seat-mile cost with nearly the same cost per trip.

For the 747-8, Boeing has proposed some changes to the interior layout of the aircraft. Most noticeable is the curved stairway to the upper deck and a more spacious main passenger entrance. The 747-8’s main cabin uses an interior similar to that of the 787. Overhead bins are curved and the center row is designed to look as though it is attached to the curved ceiling, rather than integrated into the ceiling’s curve like on the 777.

The windows are also of similar size to the type used on the 777, which are 8 percent larger than those on the current 747-400s. The 747-8 features a new solid-state light-emitting diode (LED) lighting system, which can create mood lighting. LED technology also offers improved reliability and lower maintenance costs.

The first order for the 747-8 Intercontinental was placed by an undisclosed VIP customer in May 2006. Lufthansa became the first airline to order the 747-8 Intercontinental on December 6, 2006. In December 2009, Korean Air announced that they had ordered five 747-8Is. Boeing stated firm configuration for the −8I was reached in November 2007.


Screenshots courtesy of Airliners.Net

Major assembly of the first 747-8I began on May 8, 2010. The final body join took place on October 15, 2010, slightly ahead of the projected schedule. Assembly of first 747-8I was completed in February 2011, before being unveiled at a rollout ceremony in Everett, Washington on February 13, 2011. At the time, deliveries were set to begin in late 2011. (Courtesy of WikipediA)

More information about the Boeing 747-8I can be found at the dedicated Wikipedia web page or at the dedicated Boeing Commercial 747-8 website. But there’s so much more. Take for example a look at this YouTube movie 747-8 Intercontinental landing for the first time. I write on purpose “take for example a look to this” since there’s so much more available at Youtube and other sources.

Next: How to Proceed

The Installation
Installing the 747-8i Anniversary Edition is a simple job. Unzip the downloaded package, and install the package in the Aircraft folder. You can decide to make a sub folder under aircraft like “Commercial Aviation”, “SSG” or “Supercritical Simulations Group”, so it’s entirely up to you how you arrange that. All options of a subfolder work, also without any additional folder. Since the aircraft is protected with a serial number, that has to be entered first before the aircraft can be used.

The package comes with the following liveries:
- SSG House Colours (beautiful)
- Air China
– Boeing Family
– Korean Air
– Lufthansa

For now this is the list of included liveries. I’ve seen already at the X-Plane.Org forum a couple of dedicated liveries from the SSG in-house painter Konstantinos (Kostas) Koronakis. I double checked this with SSG staff member Stefan Keller who replied as follows “Since the external model is basically all new and even older areas have been remapped, so liveries have to be redone. Kostas is already working on that.”

The Documentation
The Anniversary Edition comes with the following manuals:
- SSG License Agreement
– SSGCUSTOMLIST
– librain license
– SSG 747-8 V2.1_Change Log
– SSG 747-8 V2.1 FCOM
– SSG 747-8 V2.1 Quick Start Guide

The first 4 documents or text files are just general information. A small note from me personally regarding the librian plugin. It either doesn’t work with macOS or when it works, it eats a tremendous amount of frame rates. In other words, it’s unusable with macOS.

From the above list, the most important manuals are the Quick Start Guide (QSG) and the FCOM. The SSG 747-8i Anniversary Edition comes with a lot of features and even when you’re quite familiar with the aircraft systems, navigation and auto flight, having a comprehensive manual is always a good shot. A lot of time and effort has been put into the creation of this manual, so please check it out.

A quick look in the 218 pages SSG Acrobat manual (SSG 747-8i V2.1 FCOM.pdf) shows me that it’s divided into Volume I and volume II.

Volume I consist, besides the preface, of the following chapters; Limitations, Normal Procedures and Dispatch- and Inflight Performances. Volume II goes deep into the description and operation of the modeled aircraft, navigation and auto flight systems. Volume II doesn’t only show how systems should work, but also how they work/modeled in the SSG 747-8i V2. This is because not all systems are simulated and it’s good to know when something is or isn’t simulated.

Next, the Quick Start Guide (QSG). This is actually a kind of tutorial. at least, that’s how you can see it. It’s an Acrobat PDF file of 44 pages and covers a flight from KIAD (Washington Dulles International Airport,) to KJFK (John F. Kennedy International Airport). Before you would say ” there’s no checklist included”. I must admit that there’s indeed no checklist file included, but on the other hand, the tutorial also shows you preflight and preparation steps to do while the FCOM shows you for example, starting on page VOL I page 29, the “Preliminary Preflight Procedure”.

Assuming that everything or almost everything is simulated in the aircraft model, you can use this “Preliminary Preflight Procedure” too. Those who own the SSG 747-8 Series version 1.x will find/see a lot of similarities with the previous QSG that covered a flight from KSEA to KSFO.

Is there a need for additional material to master the modeled SSG 747-8i Anniversary Edition? I think this is for the moment enough in particular for those who own already the SSG 747-8i version 1.x. For those who are new to these kind of complex aircraft and in particular to this SSG 747-8i, it’s OK although a thorough tutorial was welcome. You’ve got the FCOM, so no need to download or to seek for another FCOM from the Internet and you’ve got the new/updated QSG and therefore you can start with the “tutorial” to explore the aircraft.

mac.xpl macOS Catalina Issue
I’m aware that this is a temperately issue and till the moment Apple has approved that the mac.xpl file is no malicious software, you won’t see this message anymore. Right now – November/December 2019 – Apple have not yet approved the mac.xpl file. A file that is commonly use with developers, so the message now appears with the SSG 747-8i V2.1, but it’s the same issue with other aircraft developers.

For those Mac simmer who are still using macOS Mojave, they will have no problems. I also noticed that it makes no difference if you’re using X-Plane 11.36r2 or 11.40r2. With both X-Plane versions it is causing the same mac.xpl issues, just in case you had your thoughts that the newer X-Plane 11 could cause the problem.

When loading an aircraft that has this mac.xpl file and using macOS Catalina, there’s an macOS error message. You can for the moment bypass it by opening the System Preferences – Security and Privacy tab and click the Cancel button and then in the Security & Privacy the Allow Anyway button. You need to do this a couple of times.

At Paine Field

The Boeing 747 8 Series are assembled in Boeings own factory at Paine Field (KPAE), Everett north of Seattle in Washington State. That said, we need to visit Paine Field to see the modeled SSG 747-8i V2.1 Anniversary Edition.

Paine Field is a long way from my home town, but worth being here after receiving a special invitation from SSG (Supercritical Simulations Group). But, what’s the reason for this party? There’s something to celebrate. After working hard, the SSG team is pleased to announce a major update of their X-Plane 11.30+ 747-8i V2.1 Anniversary Edition. So, while being at the Paine Field, I invite you to join me on my virtual “8i Anniversary Edition” tour.

Flying an aircraft of this size seems difficult, but with all kind of modern equipment on board, it looks more difficult then it really is. However, doing a walk-around inspection is a real challenge. Imagine the size of this aircraft?

It’s a long walk from the NLG (Nose Landing Gear) to the tail and back to the nose fuselage section. Besides the long walk, it’s also very high. Very very high to be honest! You need a good virtual flashlight to check the wing’s bottom skin and horizontal and vertical stabilizer.

And, for such a massive and impressive aircraft, the flight deck is quite small, right? But there’s a lot to see in the 3D modeled cockpit. And finally, we’ll be flying this updated Queen of the Skies. So, I say …… join me on my virtual 747-8i Anniversary Edition inspection.

My Walk-Around Check

Nose Section
Starting at the NLG, the first thing that can be seen is the detailed modeling of the gear itself. It’s not only the accuracy of how it’s made, it’s also the textures. The NLG is slightly dirty and has a light weathered look. The realistic look of the NLG and wheel assembly runs from top to bottom.

At several places on the NLG strut you’ll find some straps, just as on the real strut. You’ll even find the “tire pressure versus pressure/temperature graph” placard.

From this NLG position, I’ll take a look upwards to passenger 1L, the first passenger door on the left hand side of the fuselage. This modeled 747-8i offers an unmistakable 747 look. It really looks great and that’s not only because of the unmistakable look of the nose fuselage section, but also the cockpit windows look real to me.

Fuselage Mid Section
So does the presence of the pitot tubes and the high quality passenger doors. I’m happy when it comes to the different door control placards/decals near the passenger door. Although you can have an idea what it says, it’s not all well readable. It’s also a matter if you find it important. As ex-ground engineer I would lobe to see that even decals are sharp, but perhaps not always necessary. Anyway, there’s more. Zooming in on the passenger door 1L shows me a crispy looking door control handle.

Moving on towards the wing leading edge, I’m looking at the static ports and overpressure relief valves. The moment I walked from the fuselage nose section towards the wings, I noticed the presence of NML (Normal Mapping) files and also a slightly shiny look. Walking along the wing’s leading edge to the wingtip, with the Krueger flaps extended, I’ve got a good view of the Kruger panel linkages. With changing external lighting conditions it seems the Kruger panels sections offer NML 3D effects. This NML effect is clearly visible on the nicely modeled and textured engine cowlings and pylons.

General Electric GEnx-2B67 and Wing Section
The modeled 747-8i with the GEnx-2B67 (General Electric) engines looks great. This is also applicable for the virtual Kevlar engine cowling and nose cowling as well as the rear side of the engine at the position of the turbine section and tail cone although it looks like that the tail cones of all engines are brand new. I don’t spot any dirt or carbon on it. Right or wrong? None of these!

I really like the tail cone since I’ve got the idea that photo-real material is used. Some parts look a little rusty, which reflects the reality even more. Not that this is a big problem, but a little more sharpness would be welcome.

The engine inlet and in particular the fan, looks very realistic. You might wonder about the gray look of the nose cowling inlet and sound reduction panels on the inside of the cowling in front of the fan, but a real photo showed me that this is the same gray color as in the real aircraft.

If you look closely, under the right angle through the fan blades, you can see the supporting struts behind them as well as a bit of the N2 low-pressure compressor blades. Overall, a very well modeled engine!

Winglet, Spoilers and Flap Section
From the ground looking upwards to the specially modeled blended winglet, you hardly see the slightly curved winglet. When moving closer to the winglet, you can see the blended winglet much better. At the same time, with all the navigation and strobe lights switched ON, I get a good idea of the correct position of these lights. At the rear side of the blended winglet, you’ll find several static dischargers and the end of each discharger will illuminate red during evening flights.

With the spoiler panels all UP, you can clearly see the panel actuators and for the two inboard spoilers, the spoiler actuator linkages. A nice detail to highlight is that you can see the wing trailing edge structure, which is covered with photo-real material. Because of that, you get an idea what’s mounted on the AFT fuel tank beam. An observation about changing the external lighting conditions is the lack of any structure on the topside of the flaps. It’s now one skin plate without any rivets or any other skin line plates.

Before moving to the tail section, let’s have a look at the MLG (Main Landing Gear) and Body Gears. The details are very similar to the NLG. The landing struts have some dirty spots which reflects the reality. In real life, it’s an airline’s policy if they want to keep the gear struts clean or not. The advantage of clean struts is that any oil malfunction, other gear internal strut problem or brake line leakage is quickly visible.

With a dirty strut it’s difficult for ground engineers to find the location of a leakage. Anyway, I personally would like to have seen that the brake units were more dirty and black. That would be realistic. Clean brake units exist only before the first two flights. After that, they are no longer gray, unless you clean the brake units after each flight, which is not usually the case.

The MLG struts and body struts have a slightly shiny look, which is perfect in relation to reality. Although the MLG doors aren’t open, I can see that the inside of the MLG and body gear areas are covered with photo-real material. The only time you can see this is if you hover outside the aircraft while in flight and check the landing gear retraction and/or extension cycle.

Tail and Cargo Doors Section
Leaving the wing section behind me, I move my head towards the tail and find the rear passenger door, which is also very well modeled and full of detail. Directly below that passenger door, on both sides of the fuselage bottom line, you’ll find the pressurization outflow valves. Finally, I reach the fuselage tail section with the horizontal and vertical stabilizers. Under the correct lighting conditions, both stabilizers clearly have implemented NML effects.

I’m wondering if the last fuselage section, including the APU (Auxiliary Power Unit), has more ribs in real life? Besides that, the APU exhaust with the white navigation lights and strobe light looks nice. The only thing that’s a bit missing are the rivets in the cone section. Although I have to finish my virtual walk-around check, the other side of the aircraft is basically the same except for the FWD and AFT cargo doors and the BULK door.

For clarity I’ve opened all cargo doors and must admit that the same as with all passenger doors, they are also modeled with eye for the tiny details. Even the cargo hold is modeled and photo real material is used. I even spot in the FWD and AFT cargo holds LD3 containers. All together worth it.

Overall, a gorgeous re-modeled from scratch 747-8i with a big applause for the 3D modeling.

My Cockpit Check

Overview Part I
Worth to start with this …… the 3D cockpit is not just a repainted 3D cockpit from version 1.x. No, it’s a completely remodeled 3D cockpit, in the same way as seen with the 3D aircraft model. That said, the 747-8i V2.1 Anniversary Edition comes with a high quality and realistic 3D cockpit. While looking around in the 3D cockpit I’m happy to see that decals on the panels are sharp, as are the instruments and even for the EFIS (Electronic Flight Instrument System), EICAS DU’s (Engine Indicating and Crew Alerting Display Units).

All rotary knobs, pushbuttons and switches look OK and the text near these objects is sharp. Not only sharp from a normal viewing distance, but also if you zoom in.

You should look more closely at the ISFD (Integrated Standby Flight Display), which is an electronic aircraft instrument combining the functions of an altimeter, airspeed indicator, and attitude indicator, located between the left hand ND (Navigation Display) and the upper EICAS DU.

Another tiny detail, but quite important, is the lock/unlock device of the DU’s. On the top corners of each DU, you’ll find these clips. Worth to highlight the possibility to popup the ND. According to the SSG Quick Start Guide this works as follows “The ND can also be brought up as a separate pop- up by using the “SHIFT and “F8” keys simultaneously in Windows and Linux (“SHIFT” + “fn” and “F8” keys simultaneously on a Mac) and moved by clicking its top border as well. They can also be moved to other connected monitors. This is accomplished by clicking on the top right of the pop-up window.”

Of course, you can’t virtually uninstall a DU, but it tells me that nothing is forgotten! If you zoom in on the center instrument panel, it’s not difficult to find the detailed and well modeled panel screws or quick fasteners.

As we see more and more and now also applicable for the 747-8i v2.1 Anniversary Edition, this model comes with a dual FMS MCDU (Multipurpose Control Display Unit), made possible in cooperation with SSG member Javier Cortes.

A note from the SSG Quick Start Guide in related to the FMS MCDUs “One MCDU is on the Captain side and the other is on the First Officer’s, and either one can be used. Entries can be made in 3D view, or by bringing up a separate Captain’s Control Display Unit (CDU) pop-up panel by using the “F8” key in Windows and Linux (“fn” and “F8” keys simultaneously on a Mac). The First Officer’s CDU can be selected using the “F8” and “ALT” keys on Windows and Linux, and “fn” and “option” and “F8” on a Mac. To distinguish between the two the Captain’s is labeled “LEFT” and the First Officer’s is labeled “RIGHT.”

Worth to highlight that the SSG FMS (M)CDU is compatible with the AirFMC app for Apple’s iPad developed by Haversine and available for purchase separately at this link or on the App Store in iTunes. Want to know more about it before you buy it, then you should absolutely read our comprehensive review of the Haversine AirFMC, written exclusively for X-Planed.Com by your personal reporter Angelique.

Adding to his, there’s another program that can do this external pad (M)CDU job too and that’s from the developer Green Arc with their WebFMC Pro. And also for this, we wrote a in-depth review. Check it out I would say or for more information, check the dedicated X-Plane.Org web page.

The AIRAC updates are collected from either Aerosoft NavDataPro and of course from Navigraph. A quick look at the available MCDU pages tells me that the only buttons that don’t work are ATC and FMC COMM.

A closer look at the pedestal confirms what I’ve seen so far in this 3D cockpit. The pedestal is well modeled, looks realistic due to the textures and the slight shiny look that’s added to it. Looking more closely, not all switches and selectors are simulated. on the pedestal.

An example of non-modeled switches are for example those of the STAB TRIM (Stabilizer trim) on the pedestal. Just to clarify; I’m talking here about the pedestal switches, and not about the actual stabilizer trim. You can assign “actual” stabilizer trim or pitch trim to a joystick button. I’m not sure if this is correct and if not, I’m quite sure it will be solved with the next update.

I noticed that when you set a certain rudder trim with the knob, you can reset it with the CENTER button, but I think that this button is in real covered by a transparent guard. In other words, lift the guard and press the button. In the modeled 747-8 you can press the button without lifting the guard. I also tried with hydraulics available the AIL (aileron) TRIM switches, but I can’t get them working. My mouse changes in a hand, but the switches do not move.

In the middle, near the end of the pedestal, you’ll find a third dummy MCDU. Dummy means in this case it’s mounted in the pedestal, but it doesn’t do anything. As mentioned before, both forward MCDUs can be used independently of each other. That said, they are internally interact with each other, but they are modeled as two separate units.

The tablet
Let’s look at the pilot sidewalls. For those who are new to the Boeing 747, you won’t find any sliding window controls or whatever else you might expect. The simple reason is that the 747 has no, I repeat no sliding windows. Knowing this, you’ll find mounted just below the captains side-window the tablet.

For those who are familiar with the SSG 747-8i version 1.x, there it was known as the EFB (Electronic Flight Bag) but in version 2.x it is known as the tablet. As far as I’ve tried, it has no popup possibility. To switch ON the tablet, you need to click the ON switch on the right-hand side. I only hope that in the near future a popup function of the tablet will be added.

When the tablet is ON, you’ll find on the left-hand side of the tablet a blue menu bar with the following on-screen buttons:

- GND SERV
FUELING
PAYLOAD
SOUND
OPTIONS
– RESET CHECKLIST
– GPU DISCON

The GND SERV tablet page allows you to control all the aircraft doors at once, but it has also predefined settings like “service doors” and “on gate doors”. The “Service doors” option means that when the aircraft needs to be serviced, these doors are opened via this button. The same for “on gate doors” whenever the aircraft is parked at the gate. Very easy options.

The following screenshot shows you for example the “On Gate Doors” selected and that we also have the GPU (Ground Power Unit) connected to the aircraft. I assume it makes sense what you see on the screenshot; a white door synoptic means door is closed and locked while a red synoptic means door is open and unlocked.

The FUELING tablet page allows you to manually or via the FMS MCDU load fuel. The magenta indication and the SET PREDICTED button are linked to the FMS while the green fuel quantity in kilograms is when you enter the fuel quantity manually. This is done with the help of the “100”, “10”, and “1” buttons or you clear the manually entered value.

When you’ve set a certain fuel quantity, you can start the refueling with the START REFUELING button which is confirmed with the green FUELING text. And finally, when you need to tow the aircraft to the hangar for an inspection or for complaints, you need to empty the fuel tanks which is done with the EMPTY TANKS button.

With the PAYLOAD tablet page you’re able to control, logically, the payload of the aircraft thus the passengers and cargo if applicable. Most of the complex values are automatically calculated for you which helps, right? What’s left for you as rookie on the 747-8 is that you can enter the amount of passengers in percentages with the 25, 50, 75, 80 and MAX button. The amount of kilograms representing the amount of passenger and cargo is visible in the magenta field. The moment you click the LOAD SETTING button, the passengers and/or cargo is loaded on-board and this can be monitored in the green ACTUAL LOAD window.

In the following three screenshots you see what happens when you click the 75 percent button. A certain amount of passenger and cargo is loaded in kilograms. The outcome can be seen in the magenta window which is 39.5 kgs x 1000. When you’re satisfied with this, click the LOAD SETTING button. With the speed from Speedy Gonzales, passenger and cargo is loaded and this process can be seen in the ACTUAL LOAD green window. When both values are the same, loading is finished.

The SOUND tablet page deals with sounds logically. It allows you set per channel – 1 (ENG outside) till and including 7 (External Env) the level of sound. I’m not sure what the slider 8 is representing as well as what you can do with the last slider “MTR” what most likely “master volume” represent. I did check the FCOM page Vol II page 70, but that didn’t answer my question and therefore, time to contact SSG. According to SSG “Slider 8 is not used yet, it is an empty slot. The SSG team will decide later what to do with it.”

Finally, the SOUND page also offers HIGH- and LOW ISOLATION buttons. According to the FCOM “High isolation is when cockpit is more sound insulate, more quiet and users can just click instead of adjusting volume. Low isolation is the opposite, resulting in a more noisy cockpit.” It’s a nice implemented feature, but keep in mind that this is pure a simulator feature. Without adjusting other sliders, these buttons allows the simmer to quickly change the sound volume in the flight deck.

The OPTIONS tablet page gives you the possibility to hide/show the pilots yokes and to enable/disable the rain effect. For the rain effect is librian plugin is used and works great with Windows computers, but not with Mac. Either it doesn’t work at a Mac at all, or it works but it cost too many FPS.

The OPTIONS page allows you to switch between kilograms and pounds and finally, you can set the IRU (Inertial Reference Unit) alignment time to the real value which is 480 second or you choose for the fast alignment which is set to 60 seconds. Just in case you miss this; if you choose for a normal or fast alignment time, you always need to enter PPOS (Present POSition) else it never aligns. More about the alignment procedure in section Test Flight | Cockpit Preparations.

Last but not least; the RESET CHECKLIST is resetting the checklist (logical isn’t it) and GPU CONNECT allows you to connect the GPU in case it isn’t.

Overview Part II
Before having a look at the overhead panel, let me highlight something that’s I believe not modeled in the side windshield panels. That “something”has to do with the window heating system and then in particular with the control- and overheat thermostat. I miss these sensors although I have to say it’s not a big deal and being honest; I checked this from a 747-400 AMM (Aircraft Maintenance Manual), but I doubt that it’s different on the 747-8.

The overhead panel isn’t really filled with many sub-panels, keeping in mind the complexity of the aircraft systems. All buttons, switches, knobs, indicators are modeled with detail. There’s not so much else to say except that the placards/decals or just the text on the panel, are sharp. I’m pleased to see that it looks good. Adding to this, I also checked the animation of the switches or selectors and all of them are animated. If all of these switches and selectors have a function (programming) is something I can’t confirm yet. Hopefully I figure that out during the use of the QSG and the test flight.

While writing this section, I became curious how it would look if there’s an engine fire, so I waited for 1 minute and the result was good and realistic. The handle illuminated in a way that comes close to reality. Engine fire 1 was initially simulated and therefore I used bottle A. After a while I got an engine fire 2 and used the remaining bottle B. This worked out well. Besides the handle number indication (1 or 2), you get a MASTER WARNING, EICAS red message, red light in the FUEL S/O level and EICAS messages. That small test worked out well!

Perhaps the only suggestion I have is that I miss a bit a weathered look on the overhead panel. It all looks a bit “too new” while we all know that the 747-8 is already for many years on the market. Before the release of SP1, I hoped that some more weathering is added to the many panels, and then I’m talking about weathering around switches and selectors.

Now that SP1 is released I’ve got the idea that not more weathering is added although it doesn’t look brand new. I’ve mentioned this before many times, more or less weathered panels is also a matter of taste. Not only from the simmers point of view, but also from the developer. I think it’s doesn’t look bad.

Above the lower overhead panel you find the circuit breaker (C/B) panel and aft overhead panel. It looks very nice, text is well readable, switches, guards, C/B’s and so on, are all nicely modeled, but non of them is functional.

Have I forgotten anything regarding my cockpit impression?
Perhaps I should highlight a little more about the cockpit integral and other lighting. On the overhead panel, left hand lower corner, you’ll find the following light rheostats and switches:
STORM ON/OFF switch

CKT BKR OVHD PANEL rheostat

GLARESHIELD PANEL/FLOOD rheostat

- DOME rheostat
AISLE STAND PANEL/FLOOD rheostat

Additionally, on each pilots side wall you find the following light rheostats:
OUTBD-DSPL-INBD rheostats
MAP rheostat
PANEL rheostat

You’ll see very nice lighting in the cockpit. At the end of the glare shield, there’s another small panel with the CLOCK push button and PANEL inner/outer light knobs for the glare shield flood lighting. Looking further down on this panel, you’ll find the rheostats for the EFIS DU’s. The brightness of the EICAS DU’s, by the way, is controlled with small rheostats situated just above the upper EICAS DU.

Simulated EICAS
Time to check out the EICAS synoptics via the display select panel. It allows you to select different aircraft system synoptics – ENG, STAT, ELEC, FUEL, ECS, FCTL, HYD, DRS, GEAR, INFO and CHKL – presented on either the left hand ND, right hand ND or by default on the lower EICAS DU.

The only button that didn’t show me a page on the DU is the INFO button, but when reading the FCOM page VOL II – 10 you will find out that “Information page (not implemented in the SSG 747-8)”. I also noticed that the CHKL button did show me a complete checklist. Instead, it only showed me a part of the checklist and I wasn’t able to scroll thru it.

It could be that I did something wrong and therefore, I’m not sure if it’s modeled or activate. Time to check out with SSG. According to SSG “The checklist should work with the checklist button located below each pilot’s CDU labeled as CURSOR CONTROL, with the SEL button. The checklist will automatically detect certain operations like in the real aircraft. A checklist reset function is available in the new tablet.”

For those who aren’t familiar with all these abbreviations:

ENG – secondary engine parameters

STAT – overall collection of parameters

ECS – environment control systems or air conditioning, pressurization and bleed

FCTL – flight controls parameters
DRS – passenger doors and cargo doors position

GEAR – gear and gear door position, brake pressure and brake temperature
INFO – not modeled
CHKL – checklist


Some examples of the aircraft system synoptics, selected via the EICAS Display Select Panel, presented on the co-pilots inner EFIS ND.

I think this section should give you a good idea of what you can expect from the SSG 747-8i v2 cockpit. I’m definitively happy with the current modeled cockpit and then I’m talking about the modeled systems. We can always keep on discussions weather cockpit textures should offer a more weathered look and feel or not. I’m aware that this is a personal feeling or taste if you like, but a more weathered cockpit gives for sure a more realistic and representative cockpit look and feel versus the real 747-8.

Did I cover every corner of the modeled 3D cockpit? I think so, but while writing this sentence I think .. no, I didn’t cover the cockpit sidewalls, the modeled seats, the ceiling and rear walls. That said, time to check those textures.

All the cockpit side- and rear panels as well as the ceiling panels are well modeled. I didn’t see an “opening” in the polygons and they are all covered with textures although the textures are a bit basic. No weathering at all, but that’s something I’ve highlighted already before and it’s also a personal taste. The cockpit lavatory door can be seen but isn’t modeled which makes sense to me. Using additional polygons for a virtual lavatory is in my humble opinion useless. It only case frame rates and you don’t get anything back.

But on the other hand, the cockpit door is modeled and can be opened and closed with the mouse. When open, the upper deck passenger area can be seen and doesn’t look bad at all.

Test Flight | Flight Plan Preparations

Your Flight Plan
How to make a flight plan, where to store it and how to handle it, that’s coming right now.

As you might know, for creating a flight plan you could use many programs like Routefinder which offers you quickly a flight plan, but this is not in “X-Plane fms” format. Or you could go for FlightAware, but again, this doesn’t allow you to export it to an fms file format. Another option simBrief. You need to register but it’s for free and a wealth of flight planning information becomes available, but you need a legal license to update the AIRAC since the default AIRAC that is used within Simbrief is a very old version.

Then there’s also the browser-based Online Flight Planner, but I go for SkyVector, but I need for this X-PlaneTools. One of the reasons I prefer SkyVector is not because it’s easier, but with SkyVector I have the control over the amount or sort of waypoints, VOR or NDB beacons.

You and I all know SkyVector, but SkyVector saves your flight plan in “fpl” format which in turn can be converted to fms with X-PlaneTools. I prefer to create a sightseeing IFR flight, so I use SkyVector above all the other options since it allows me to add waypoints on my scenic IFR route.

But you can also go for the offline freeware tool LittleNavMap. I can tell you that this is an awesome planning program, but it can do much more then just flight planning. Besides many other things, this is a great tool in case you need to create flight plans for many commercial aircraft which can be saved in many formats. When it comes to the SSG 747-8 V2.1, you can save your flight plan either in the default X-Plane “fms” format or in the UFMC “ufmc” format.

Anyway, I saved within LittleNavMap, just to test this, my KIAD-KJFK flight plan as UFMC format (KIADKJFK.ufmc) and copied and paste is into the X-Plane folder Custom Data/UFMC. You find this “ufmc export extension” in Little Navmap via menu File – Export Flight Plan to Other Formats – Export Flight Plan for UFMC. When you’ve saved the ufmc flight plan in the above indicated folder, you can call up the co route as described in the QSG page 15.

But you can also create, and save your favorite flight plan with the X-Plane extension fms. In that case, take care that you save the flight plan with the right fms X-Plane 10 format and that you copy and paste it into Output/FMS Plans folder. An important note from SSG “These need to be in the older X-Plane 10 format to work with the SSG 747-8 FMC.”

In case you’ve saved your KIADKJFK flight plan as fms format then you can retrieve the flight plan via MCDU key MENU followed by LSK 1R (NAV DATA>). In the MCDU scratchpad you see LOAD FMS PLAN? Confirm this with the EXEC key. A default X-Plane window pops up. Select from the list your KIADKJFK flight plan and you’re done. The *.fms flight plan is loaded.

Practicing with Little NavMap
Although Simbrief gives you after you’ve entered the necessary data for the flight from KIAD to KJFK, it automatically add also the SID and STAR to it which is in my humble opinion normally not the case. A SID and STAR is something that it’s later added to the flight plan depending on the runway you take and the wind conditions. With that experience I decided to go to my favorite Little NavMap program.

Creating a flight plan with Little NavMap is very easy and the QSG gives the following waypoints including the SID and STAR used in this flight. According to the QSG the overall flight plan is as follows; JCOBY3 AGARD DONIL V229 PANZE V44 CAMRN. To be more exactly, every thing that’s bold are waypoints and airways (V229 and V44) while JCOBY3 (actually it’s called JCOBY THREE) is the used SID in combination with the chosen runway (01R) and CAMRN (actually this is known as CAMRN FOUR) is the STAR with runway 04L.


This Youtube movie should give you an idea how to deal with Little Navmap including adding a SID and STAR as described in the QSG although I mentioned that adding a SID and STAR isn’t needed for the SSG 747-8i V2.

Use or not Using the QSG (Quick Start Guide)?
It’s a complex aircraft and when you’ve read the FCOM and QSG, you’ve understand by now how important it is to read or to use the tutorial/QSG for the Denver / New York test flight?

I can tell you, it’s important!
Everything that deals with cockpit preparations and all that has to be done in the cockpit before the engines are started is important and also applicable to this test flight, even the pages of the tutorial after engine start are useful. I’ve said it before, print the QSG or else read it on a tablet while you’re doing the necessary preparations.

Loading a flight plan from the DB (Data Base) or entering waypoint by waypoint depends on the type of flight, destination and airliner. I’ve seen pilots using the company’s navigation DB where they only need to enter a Company Route code, but I’ve also seen pilots entering waypoint by waypoint to create a flight plan.

I know, this was many years back, I know, when we had a flight from EHAM (Amsterdam) to KMIA (Miami) via Scotland, Iceland, Greenland, Gander (Newfoundland, Canada), Bangor (Northeast United States) along the coast down to Miami. Very unusual for these days, but it was a flight with an Airbus A310-200 with no ETOPS, except that it used in those days the ETOPS Grandfather rights. All right, I know, this has nothing to do with the SSG 747-8i flight, but just for fun to tell you how the pilots did it those days.

Back to “if it is useful to use the QSG” as a tutorial or as a reference. Using the FCOM as a tutorial isn’t a good idea, but you need to see this as a reference manual in case the QSG doesn’t explain it or doesn’t cover it. It’s called an QSG so actually it’s not really a step-by-step tutorial. Certain sections aren’t written with the intention to be a tutorial while other steps are. Still it’s a very helpful guide to find you way thru the modeled 747-8i.

Before moving on to the next section, I created with Little NavMap two flight plan formats. One saved in “fms” X-Plane FMS 3 format as required for the SSG 747-8 and one in the UFMC format and stored them at the designated places. Additionally, it would be an idea when new simmers would like to use the flight as described in the QSG, in a way to offer simmers via a link the flight plan.

Test Flight | Cockpit Preparations

General
The first thing I’m looking for is a COLD and DARK situation or the possibility to create a “situation”. As can be found at the X-Plane.Org forum, the initial SSG 747-8 v2.1 release has no COLD and DARK start. When you start-up the 747-8 v2.1, you can get a dark aircraft, but as far as I noticed, it always comes with a GPU connected. This can be confirmed by the AVAIL light in the EXT PWR pushbutton on the overhead panel. Just as a side note; you won’t see an animated or modeled GPU object outside.

You can, at this moment, select the GPU OFF since the SSG tablet is already alive. According to the SSG QSG “we can connect/disconnect the GPU using the “GND SERV” menu, as well as with a dedicated button that says “GPU CONNECT” or “GPU DISCON” to connect/disconnect it.”

Right now, the SSG doesn’t offer the possibility to set/save certain ground/flight situations. This is also one of the comments/request that can be found at the X-Plane.Org forum. Hopefully a feature like this will be added in the near future.

Cockpit Preparations
For the cockpit preparations I use, said that before, the QSG. I’ve parked the 747-8i at KIAD, RAMP R28 R. I used for this the default X-Plane 11 KIAD, but you can also decide to search the Internet for a more realistic modeled KIAD like for example this one from X-Plane.Org user “By jjandjj” with his version of KIAD version 4.0.3.

For me the actual work flow starts at page 9 of the QSG. From here I try to follow all the steps. I’m not 100 percent sure, but as far as I’ve seen, it’s not possible with a keyboard combination to get a popup of the SSG tablet. Perhaps this is something that can or will be implemented in the near future. By the way, when you use the QSG as a reference for your flight, keep in mind that the QSG is set to pounds and not kilograms. So go to the tablet “Options” page and tick the KILOS/POUNDS box. All indications are now in pounds (lbs).

A small note I found out during my preparations and using the QSG; at page 10 the tablet page shows in my humble opinion the selected weight in magenta in kilograms while the green value is in pounds. Oops!

Switch ON the IRU’s to NAV, not the ALIGN position, and by doing this you’re able to enter PPOS from the scratchpad with LSK 5R into the line. When you’ve set the IRU (Inertial Reference Unit) alignment time to 60 seconds, you can see that on the ND left-hand upper corner. It shows you TIME TO ALIGN for the IRU unit L, C and R in minutes. That said, it shows you initially 1 MIN and that 1 MIN indication stays on the ND till it’s aligned and then it disappears.

Following the (M)CDU steps as written in the QSG are OK, but I can imagine that new 747-8 simmers will have some problems. It’s in my humble opinion not always clear what to do or which step is needed. I’m aware that the QSG refers to the FCOM and that the QSG is not a tutorial, but in particular those steps related to the (M)CDU could have been a good idea when it was explained in a bit more detail.

I follow all the steps as described in the QSG and besides what I mentioned before about the (M)CDU, the other steps work fine. I think it’s important to mention that you need to find your way thru this. A good idea could be that you have the QSG and the FCOM “preliminary procedures” visible on an iPad or a second connected monitor. You can also decide to use for the cockpit steps the “preliminary procedures” steps which is then as real as it gets.

The steps I’ve followed are till the BEFORE START section on page 23 of the QSG. When I look back I can say that it’s also fun trying to understand what you’re doing. Play around I would say and dare to do something else then is written in the QSG and see what’s different then intended.

Besides the steps to perform by using the QSG and when needed the FCOM, you can also use “as guide” the build-in checklist. For this we have three controls if I may say so; the EICAS DSP (Display Select Panel) CHECKLIST button, the SEL CURSOR below the (M)CDUs and the RESET CHECKLIST option at the tablet.

To see the checklist on the lower EICAS DU, you click the CHKL button on the EICAS DSP. The checklist of presented on the DU and all steps that are green and ticked are monitored by the system itself. All lines that are magenta need a manual action. I must say that the build in checklist is rather limited, but what it does, does it well.

You perform the action that is written on the lower EICAS DU and when you’ve taken action, you click the SEL CURSOR button. At the end of the checklist when every item is done, you can scroll to the next checklist page. Scrolling from one page to the other is done by turning the SEL CURSOR button. And finally, resetting the checklist back to the starting point, you click the RESET CHECKLIST option at the tablet.

Pushback and Engine Start Preparations
If you decide to request a pushback from the parked position what is needed by the way, there’s a lot to choose from which pushback truck to use. First of all, the SSG 747-8i V2.1 comes with a build-in pushback function. It works fine, but it has no external pushback truck. It only has a pushback function. Although it works, I know that many simmers would love to see an external modeled pushback truck.

Another item to keep in mind is that when you have SET the parking brake, you can’t use the pushback function which is logic, right? And the other way is also applicable; when you have released the parking, you can’t connect the external power!

Since there’s no modeled SSG pushback truck, you could also decide to download and install the freeware BetterPushback plugin. It’s a beautiful truck and it comes with a nice controlling tool and it visualizes how and where to pushback too. Very nice add-on for free!

I tested the BetterPushback plugin version 0.47 with macOS Mojave and Catalina. The plugin works fine with Mojave, but as we know, the mac.xpl file gives problems with Catalina. In other words, BetterPushback doesn’t work right now with X-Plane 11.40 on Catalina. Hopefully this issue will be history once the mac.xpl files aren’t recognized anymore a malicious software.

For those simmers who bought the JARDesign Tugmaster Deluxe, they can use this add-on too. Although it’s pay-ware, it comes with 3 different trucks, ranging from small, medium to large. Depending on the aircraft size, you can choose the truck the fits the best and together with a handy controlling tool, you’ve got full control over your pushback. More information can be found at the dedicated JARDesign web page.

After pushback, it’s time to start the engines. Normally I won’t write down anything on how the engine starts or just a brief engine start experience, but this time, I need to! For a comprehensive review as for this aircraft, I found it a good idea to check several 747-8 movies. Movies that deal with ground preparations, engine starts, aircraft takeoff, climb, cruise, influence of bad weather and so on.

That said, the engine start and sounds are real, as far as I can recall from my period as ground engineer. Listening to it, seeing how the engine starts, how it accelerates, very realistic! And it’s not just the engine start behavior, it’s everything that starts already with placing the ENG START selector to ING/START and how other system react on that, as well as when the engine is stabilized.

But there’s on issue I noticed and either it’s a bug or I do something wrong or I’m thinking too much back to my 747-400 experience and that’s the starter light inside the start switch on the overhead panel. In my humble opinion a light should illuminate in the starter switch the moment you pull the switch, indicating that the starter valve is OPEN and pilots need to check that when the engine is up and running and the N2 speed is less or equal to around 45 percent N2, that the starter light extinguishes.

It could be that I’m wrong, it could be that this is no longer applicable on the 747-8, but I need to check this. After checking several Youtube movies I can confirm that the starter light in the starter switch should illuminate/extinguish as described above.

Test Flight | KIAD -> KJFK

As described in the previous sections, I performed the necessary (M)CDU preparations and with the help of the checklist, the overall cockpit configuration.

From parking position RAMP R28 R, it takes a while before I’m at runway 01R. This gives me the time to explain that although taxiing this Jumbo isn’t difficult, you have to keep two things in mind, especially for all new virtual 747-8i pilots. First, the cockpit is quite high above the ground and the NLG is far behind you.

Logically isn’t it, but there’s a reason for to tell you this. Making turns with this giant aircraft means that you need to move further forward along the taxiway with the 747-8 before actually starting to turn the NWS (Nose Wheel Steering). If you do it too early, you’re no longer taxiing on the taxi center line.

If you keep the above in mind, taxiing the 747-8i won’t be a problem. OK, back to the flight. Just before turning onto the runway, I do my last checks. I check the (M)CDU once more and I’m ready to go. Double check if I had preset the LNAV and VNAV. Since they are both ARMED and visible on the PFD FMA and with a green light in the button, I’m ready to go. Oops, almost forgotten. On the left and right hand side of the glare shield you’re find a few buttons. The top button, identified as ACPT is the TO/GA button and should be used to activate the TO/GA mode for the takeoff and go around. By the way, the button directly below this one, CANC, is the Auto Pilot Disconnect switch.

The speeds are aurally announced and the PFD speed scale shows me the V1, Vr and V2 speeds and the moment I’m airborne, the speed mode becomes active too. Let me give you an advice although I’m not an ATPL licensed pilot but …… after takeoff, try to fly the SSG 747-8i by hand. Don’t immediately select the L (R or C) CMD AP, but relax, sit back and try to fly the Boeing by yourself. It’s easier then you think as long as you don’t make large flight control movements. And keep in mind, the A/T is engaged/connected so the speed is maintained for you.

After you’ve trimmed the aircraft, the only thing you have to do is to follow the FD (Flight Director) needles. OK, after a 10 minute manual flight, you’re allowed to select one of the three AP channels, but feel free to continue with the manual flight!

While the aircraft is climbing, check your checklist and switch OFF the landing lights when passing 10,000 feet. When you’re done with the checklist, look around in the 3D cockpit and play with the EICAS Display Select panel and see which and what synoptics can tell you since we’re now in flight which is in most cases different then when the aircraft is on ground.

I will discuss this also in the debriefing, but it is a good idea to do some work before the approach and landing at KJFK. The reason to mention this is that it’s a short flight and before you know, you’ve reached already the T/D (Top Of Descent) and then you’re too late to do all the preparations.

While you’re looking around in the 3D cockpit, I’ll check the (M)CDU for some final checks that we’ll need later on during our approach. I decided, before reaching my inserted holding point, to fly the 747-8i by hand. I leave the A/T (Auto Throttle) ON, but disconnected the active AP. Flying the planned route isn’t as easy as I thought. Suddenly you’re surprised about the constant pitch and roll inputs that are needed to keep the aircraft on track. With the AP connected, you’ll never see this. The trim is needed to correct the aircraft flight attitude, with minimal trim, before things felt normal to me.

Remember, an aircraft is never 100 percent trimmed and therefore constant and small corrections are needed. I haven’t even raised the issues about environmental influences like clouds and winds. I’ve reached my holding point and normally you won’t do this, but for this virtual test flight, it’s a good idea to see if the aircraft is following what the (M)CDU says. There’s nothing significant about this holding point, but important to try out in case you ever need it.

It’s good to see and some will say that they may expect this, that both NDs (Navigation Display) are working fully independent. Try it out yourself and you’ll see that the LH ND can have different presentations, modes or selections then the RH ND and visa versa. The only thing I noticed is that the captains and co-pilots BARO knobs and their adjustments are not independently or I’m mistaken that this is normal.

I’m also pleased to say that the quality of the DUs (Display Units) is really great. The presented images on the PFD, ND, UPPER/LOWER EICAS are all sharp, very sharp. The popup of the left or right (M)CDU is great. In my cade on macOS, it’s just with “fn + F8” and pop, there’s your floating (M)CDU. Or you use one of the programs to present the (M)CDU on your tablet or on a second connected monitor.

Extending the landing gear during cruise is not something you would normally do, but for testing the SSG 747-8i, it’s good to know if it works or not. I know, perhaps this will only be done during a Boeing test flight and only and I repeat only when the aircraft IAS is below the maximum speed for landing gear travel.

Anyway, the answer is YES. The moment you extend the gear, there’s a MASTER CAUTION message, aural sound, EICAS message “GEAR SPEED”. More or less the same as you’ll see when you try to extend the FLAPS. A MASTER CAUTION, EICAS message FLAP RELIEF“ and an aural sound is what you get in this instance. When you try to select a higher FLAP position, the FLAP LOAD RELIEF prevents the flaps from extending any further with the given airspeed. Test successful! Again, not something you will do in real but one thing is for sure, it’s implemented.

I also did some system tests like switching OFF fuel and hydraulic pumps or AC generators versus the respective EICAS synoptic. I’m pleased to say that these links work. This means the respective EICAS synoptics responds as expected when a system change appears.

As we know now, it’s a short flight and doing additional tests or trying out systems on the MCP (Mode control Panel) will bring me and you in big problem. To solve this, I tried first to play with adding a holding. This goes very easy and before you know, you’ve introduced a holding and logically, the aircraft will follow this holding. During the holding time and it doesn’t really make a difference when or where you do it, you’re able to test other systems since the aircraft keeps on flying at that spot in the air.

Another test related to other AP modes can be done either during climb are testing the aircraft behavior in V/S (Vertical Speed), HDG HLD / SEL and so on. It seems that the aircraft is doing exactly what I expect and it’s easy to return for example to the LNAV mode when you had tested the HDG modes or when you where in V/S, back to VNAV. I didn’t ask Javier Cortes from the SSG team, but I’m sure, no almost 100 percent sure, that the modeled 747-8i has a dedicated developed Auto Flight system, also because the modeled FMS is dedicated made by SSG.

Although it’s a nice test flight and good to start with, it is also a bit short. According to SSG it’s around 45 minutes, ok, make it 60 minutes and not even 300NM. Personally I would have seen a longer flight that allows you and me to do more testing of all system, but I think the overall review will give you a good idea of the SSG 747-8i V2.

According to my navigation equipment it’s time to start my descent. Just check the (M)CDU, verify it with your ND and start your descent. Double check the (M)CDU for the approach page and you’re basically ready for the approach and landing phase. You could go for a single, dual or triple Auto Land. That’s entirely up to you, but if you decide to go for the Triple Auto Land, it’s good idea to check the manual to make sure that you’ve entered all the necessary data for the Auto Flight system.

While descending and approaching KJFK area, I’m cleared for an ILS landing on runway 04L with a CAMRN FOUR ARRIVAL. I enter this data into the (M)CDU and everything is done for a successful arrival. I leave the Auto Pilot connected to see what’s happening as we approach our landing. The simulated AP is doing her work and every goes according to my plan. Since there’s no online ATC, there’s no need for me to enter a holding point, but if you would like to, you can play with it, even during the descent.

By the way, for some reason the Auto Pilot picked up another localiser – ok, I had the APP button already selected – far before reaching KJFK. Due to this, the 747-8i made a 180 degrees turn that wasn’t the plan. Just switch to HDG SEL mode and steer the 747-8 towards the flight plan track. When nearby the track, select LNAV and the FMS will pick up the flight plan track. Not expected, but good to see and to test another AP mode.

A small glitch I noticed and explained above, was the wrong LOC signal that was picked up, but I think this has nothing to do with the aircraft, but a manual interference thus myself. I’t great to see how the 747-8 nicely picks up the LOC signals of runway 4L and some later – I found., no I felt very late – the G/S. That I felt it was slow in picking up the G/S is perhaps just me. When the LOC was picked up I was at an altitude of around 2200-2000 feet and when the G/S was engaged, the noticed V/S was normal, roughly 700 feet/minute.

According to the official sheet, you have to be at waypoint AROKA at 2000 feet, which was the case. Perhaps that feeling that the G/S was picked up too late could be also due to that you’re sitting much higher in the cockpit then with e.g. a 757, 767 or a 737. I don’t know, but all other G/S parameters where OK so I think it’s just me.

Everything seems to be simulated such as the Auto Land FLARE and ROLL OUT modes. Those modes will only be active if you choose a dual or triple Auto Land. If you trust the SSG Auto Pilot and leave the aircraft on its own doing what it’s supposed to do, then it’s really a pleasure to see how this aircraft makes the first landing with me on board. The last part is up to me and that’s the taxi to my parking position.

On the following screenshots you can see that the modeled 747-8i picks up the LOC (Localiser) and later the G/S (glide Slope). It all goes via plan, all 3 APs are connected for a LAND 3 even though the weather is perfect, it’s good to see how the modeled 747-8i is following the ILS of runway 04L

I didn’t mention this before, but you can also call up the VSD (Vertical Situation Display) on the ND which was already available with version 1.x. It’s quite useful when making approaches with NULL visibility and complicated terrain approaches. You can add the VSD to the ND by pressing the CRT button on the EFIS ND mode selector. You either have full ND view, or a rose or a small rose with the VSD.

For those who are new to this VSD, here’s some background information. “The VSD gives a graphical picture of the aircraft’s vertical flight path. The aim to is reduce the number of CFIT (Controlled Flight Into Terrain) accidents; profile related incidents, particularly on non-precision approaches and earlier recognition of unstabilised approaches.”

“The VSD works with the Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS) to display a vertical profile of the aircrafts predicted flight path on the lower section of the ND.” Although this VSD link is related to the 737NG, the basic principle is the same and it’s a very interesting presentation.

Since the approach and landing at KJFK where under good environmental conditions, almost clear sky, there was no need to have the VSD in view on the ND, but it’s good to see what it does.

What said before, I’m happy with the current model although I know that SSG will continuously be busy improving the 747-8i model. I did check the SSG X-Plane.Org forum and yes, I’m also aware that the “bug” or “improvement” list is growing and growing, but I have confidence that SSG will succeed. Let’s be honest, SSG did a great job already with version 1.x, and now the initial v2.x comes with a lot of new features. And yes, it’s not yet perfect and yes, it does have still issues, but as long as a developer is constantly busy improving their product, I feel OK with this.

Test Flight | Debriefing KIAD -> KJFK

What can I say?
I’m really happy with the overall flight model and, as far as the flight characteristics, it’s a pleasure to fly the SSG 747-8i version 2.1 although I’ve got no idea at all how real the 747-8 flies versus a real 747-8 Series. After this short test flight, I made several other flights. Most of them were medium flights of lets say a couple of hours, but realistically, the 747-8i would only fly long distances.

For me it’s just testing the aircraft while en-route and adding for example holding points what keeps me busy. I haven’t tested the VR possibilities since I have no VR, but what I’ve read at he X-Plane.Org forum, several simmers do have issues. If these are real issues or that simmers don’t follow the steps that are needed, is something I can’t confirm.

Although I had a lot of fun during this test flight, it brings me also to a couple of things I would like to share with you. You can use the QSG as a tutorial, but you need the FCOM too. The QSG isn’t a complete tutorial that explains all the steps for this short flight. The QSG is an updated version of the previous 747-8i version 1.x model and this means not too many new actions / steps are introduced. It is a complex aircraft and this means a lot of things need to be done before you’re even ready to fly. Because of that, I sincerely hope that a more in-depth tutorial, either as Acrobat manual or iPub or a YouTube movie, will become available.

As I mentioned before, I flew other successful but I also had some unsuccessful flights. What the reason of this was, I don’t know. These unsuccessful flights where all with macOS Catalina and X-Plane 11.40r2 while all the flights I made on Mojave, where OK. Perhaps Catalina is still causing a lot of problems. From Evgeny Romanov from JARDesign I understand that Catalina is almost a nightmare when it comes to security and their mac.xpl files.

So I tried another longer flight, prepared my flight plan from KSEA to KMSP with Little NavMap and Simbrief. I copied the original flight plan from FlightAware and made “ufmc” compatible flight plan files of it. For some reason something goes wrong with the Little NavMap while the SimBrief flight plan is according to what I expect. So I flew that flight too, did some additional tests, but I decided not to include the flight description in this review. The review is already soooooo long that I think it won’t bring anything more then what I’ve already seen and written. And I don’t feel the need to write a tutorial for this flight.

I will mention the following also in the Summary section, but the question is ….. did I cover everything? Did I test every part of system of the aircraft? I tried too, but that’s almost impossible. I did check the X-Plane.Org forum for additional info about issues or other things after the release of Service Pack 1. Most of the issues were related to VR (Virtual Reality) and that’s something I can’t test or cover in the review since I don’t own an HTC Vive or Vive Pro set.

Sound, FPS and more

Sounds
The modeled SSG 747-8i comes with a lot of dedicated 747-8 sounds. Perhaps the sounds are the same as the 747-400, but they are from a Queen of the Skies. SSG added the following sound sub folders:
- alert
- contact
- custom
- engine
- systems
- weather

So wherever you’re flight goes, you’ll have custom sounds from the moment you switch ON electrical power till aircraft shut down.

FPS (Frames Per Second)
The FPS (Frames Per Second) of the SSG 747-8i v2 are OK, but not exceptional high and then it’s also difficult to say what is good and what is not OK for you. Besides that, frame rates depend on sooooo many things that it’s merely impossible to compare PCs or Macs with each other.

You deal with hardware configurations, your monitor dimensions thus your X-Plane screen size is important, but so many things in the Rendering Settings of X-Plane are also of great importance for the overall performance. And then I’m not even discussing if you have add-on airports installed, if you use environmental cloud programs, if you use AI traffic programs and so on.

Anyway, back to the frame rates. Don’t think you can get 40 to 50 FPS or more with high settings, but you can get enough frame rates to fly comfortable with the aircraft. This was also one of the requirements of the SSG team. After SSG implemented SP1 the frame rates are better then with the initial release. As a reference; I departed from default X-Plane KIAD with high rendering settings, WT3 active, modified cloud textures and I was able to 30-35 FPS. This was on macOS Mojave. I tried several flights on Catalina, but wasn’t happy with the overall performance of X-Plane.

There’s always a chance that I’ve forgotten something. Although I use a “review checklist”, at the end when it’s published, people ask “how was this” or “you didn’t see this or that” or, I even found that something isn’t covered. That can happen too! But I think I covered most aspects of this SSG 747-8i V2.1 Anniversary Edition.

Summary

Let me first start with “should you buy it or not?”
I can imagine that you think “of course they would say you should buy this new SSG 747-8 V2.1 package else no review was written, right?

Not entirely correct I would say. When the model it’s good, or let’s say that the textures are of a bad quality, frame rates are so terrible low that you can’t fly with it, or that systems do not function at all or systems do not work in flight and so on, I won’t even review it. When people ask me why there’s no review of that or that model, I will say it and explain why I didn’t review it. But back to the initial question; yes, it’s absolutely worth to upgrade to version 2.x or when you’re new to the SSG 747-8i, then it’s also worth to buy assuming you like big jets!

As of this writing, the review covers the SSG 747-8i version with Service Pack 1 included since there was a need to solve the many issues that have popped up with the initial release. Although everybody has his/her own experiences and/or issues, knowing that some simmers fly the aircraft using Windows, macOS or Linux, certain issues where common like low FPS and high VRAM usage. I won’t say that with SP1 released all problems are gone. For sure other problems pop up while some issues need more time to solve. But, I mentioned this before, SSG has a good reputation in trying to do their best and releasing updates whenever needed.

If you don’t like the Queen of the Skies or large commercial aircraft like this 747-8, then you shouldn’t buy it, but most likely you’ve not read or stopped by to read this review. Remember, this is a well modeled and good looking 747-8i V2 Anniversary Edition aircraft with a well modeled cockpit with great instruments and included a fully operational FMS with full AIRAC support using either Navigraph or Aerosoft NavData Pro.

The SSG package comes with a couple of liveries and a paint kit will be available at a later time. So, there’s no need to worry that you won’t have your favorite airline livery. As I mentioned in the beginning of this review, as of this writing End of November 2019, SSG in-house painter Konstantinos (Kostas) Koronakis is publishing almost on a daily base dedicated for V2 airline liveries.

Furthermore, the installation is just drag and drop into the Aircraft folder or your own created sub folder. Since the SSG 747-8i comes with a comprehensive manual, you’re able to master the aircraft using that. Hopefully, if some YouTube tutorial videos are added to your knowledge base, you’ll be able to see, feel and do it yourself. When you own already the SSG 747-8 model version 1.x, you won’t be surprised that you step in and fly out unless you want to try out the new dual FMS MCDUs.

The 3D model is really gorgeous and as far as I could compare the SSG model with real 747-8 external photos, it seems nothing is missing and a lot of work has been put into it. The added NML files give a 3D effect on those places you’d expect. Because the real 747-8i comes with a very smooth surface, many parts of the modeled fuselage, wing and tail are smoother then I initially expected, but they reflect reality, although I personally had seen a little more ribs and longerons effect on the fuselage, wing and tail.

The 3D SSG cockpit is as well modeled with a lot of passion and with a brand new “real” aircraft feel. It’s difficult to say how much of a weathered look should be added. The moment pilots sits in the flight deck on long flights, they eat in the cockpit, they drink and they touch buttons, knobs etc. I miss this a bit although SSG tried to create a kind of weathering. If it’s enough, that’s always a personal taste of either the developer and simmers. Some like it new, some have no problems with weathered parts, scratches, dents and so on.

Oops, Virtual Cabin
Almost forgotten to highlight the virtual cabin. The SSG doesn’t and does come with a virtual cabin. For those who are looking for a complex modeled upper- and lower deck passenger area, sorry, it’s not modeled. But what is then modeled besides the 3D cockpit?

The upper deck passenger compartment is modeled including the AFT galley as well as the stair to the lower deck passenger compartment including the belonging attendant seats near this stair, some sidewall panels near the stair, the toilet units although these are just a wall and that’s it. Clearly to me, SSG priority is the 3D modeling – external and cockpit – and systems functionality.

I’m much more interested in how the 3D model looks, how the 3D cockpit looks and how realistically it flies and howe systems are simulated. That’s what counts for me!

As far as I can judge, a lot of effort has been put into the flight dynamics to give the modeled 747-8i realistic flight characteristics. A comparison between the real and the modeled aircraft is difficult for me since I’m not a real 747-8i pilot and I have no motion on my Mac. Neither do I have the possibility to visit a Level-D FFS (Full Flight Simulator) 747-8i, so there’s no chance for me to compare it with a real flight simulator.

Even if I could visit – and pay a lot of money – a real Level D FFS 747-8i, then still it’s difficult to compare that with an XP flight model. But overall, I’m happy with the way aircraft and navigation systems work in the SSG 747-8i and also how well it flies. The implementation of the FMS with AIRAC support is a big plus although it must be said that this is more and more common with modeled medium to large commercial airliners.

I highlighted the custom sound and the reasonable frame rates or VRAM usage. It all depends on your Rendering option settings. Since I tested this aircraft with macOS 10.14.6 and macOS 10.15.1, I have no idea how it will perform under Windows 10. One thing is quite clear though. I tested the SSG 747-8i with XP11.40r2. I highlighted the issues with the mac.xpl file, but must immediately say that this is not an X-Plane 11 issues, it’s because Apple sees this file as malicious software.

Considering everything, this is a gorgeous looking aircraft with high potential. Not only in the way the 3D cockpit looks, but also when it comes to system functionality and flight characteristics. an d it’s worth a big plus that SSG constantly updates their products.

More information can be found at the dedicated X-Plane.Org store page. I mentioned it before, but just in case you lost it due to the length of the review; this review deals with the SSG 747-8 Inter Version 2.1 Anniversary Edition (initial release October 30th 2019). As of this writing – December 2019 – the model cost 65.00 USD.

Feel free to contact me if you’ve got additional questions related to this impression. You can reach me via email Angelique.van.Campen@gmail.com or to Angelique@X-Plained.com.

With Greetings,
Angelique van Campen

 

 

Add-on: Payware SSG 747-8i V2.1
Publisher | Developer: X-Plane.Org | SSG
Description: Realistic rendition of the Boeing 747-8i
Software Source / Size: Download / Approximately xxxxxMB (unzipped)
Reviewed by: Angelique van Campen
Published: December 2nd 2019
Hardware specifications: - iMac Pro
- Intel 3GHz Intel Xeon W / 4.5Ghz
- Radeon Pro Vega 64 16368 MB
- 64 GB 2666 MHz DDR4
- 1 internal 1TB SSD (Mojave 10.14.6)
- 1 internal 1TB SSD (Catalina 10.15.1)
- Saitek Pro Flight System X-52 Pro and X-56 Rhino
Software specifications: - Mojave (10.14.x)
- Catalina (10.15.1)
- X-Plane 11.40r2

2 Comments

  1. Mark Printup

    Well, I went ahead and bought it. The temptation to see what’s new in v2 was too much to resist. Here are my takes. NOTE: Angelique has already covered the positives pretty well so I’ll treat this as an aircraft squawk log (i.e. listed chronologically as I see them, mostly discrepancies, some greater than others, but I’ll throw in accolades where it’s deserved):
    • For the tl;dr crowd, I’m actually very pleasantly surprised to like it. It’s not perfect but it’s certainly very good. As Angelique stated, the aircraft is beautifully and accurately rendered. The cockpit looks impressively like the real one. More than anything, the FMS works very much like the real one and that brought a huge sigh of relief.
    • The FPS hit is pretty bad. I’m normally running around 35-40 fps with complex aircraft in graphics-rich areas (i.e. ORBX TE WA). I’m on Win10 with an MSI, 6-core i9, GTX 1080, with 32GB RAM and at startup for my first flight I was only getting 12-15 fps. The XP11 graphics sliders need to go WAY down to improve the fps. Some of this is Laminar’s fault for not getting Metal/Vulkan out yet; even with Project Lasso spreading the CPU workload to a point, the bottleneck is primarily in the CPU.
    • The dual FMC systems are not accurately modelled. There are two of them but only the left is active (the right FMC being updated by it, should the left one fail, but not providing reciprocal input). In this model, the FMC switch is there but doesn’t do anything, selected half-way between L and R.
    • With no other electrical power sources and STBY PWR in AUTO, among a few other things, right off the bat, I should notice the only things powered are the left-side screens and upper EICAS screen. In this model, they’re all illuminated. However, the left-side radios are the only ones lit, so that’s accurate.
    • Cockpit door opens the wrong way. It swings into the cockpit, not out towards the cabin.
    • Fuel distribution is too complex to go into details here, but suffice to say that it’s all wrong.
    • FMC is leaps and bounds better than v1, my biggest gripe with v1. It’s not fully functional compared to the real thing but I am very pleased with it.
    • Switches that should be selectable on or off (not the intermediate action switches) are not animated to actually go and stay in or out.
    • The autopilot side of the AFDS is very slow and sluggish. The real aircraft AP keeps up with the FSs much better.
    • Clickzones too small and difficult to manipulate
    • CLR on the CDU isn’t quite right. FMC messages should clear with one click (not requiring repetitive clicks), scratchpad entries should clear by holding the CLR button for a couple of seconds (or repetitive clicks)
    • “NEXT HOLD” on the CDU’s HOLD page simply takes you to the regular LEGS page, similar to the real plane but with no option to select a waypoint from that page.
    • I know it’s a big plane but the model handles much more sluggishly than the real plan

    • Angelique van Campen

      Perhaps it’s an idea to offer this list with issues And/or suggestions to SSG. I don’t think it brings much when SSG is not informed about it. Everybody who finds issues – right or wrong – is using for this the dedicated SSG X-Plane.Org forum. Thank You!

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