(R)Evolutionary SSG E-170 Part II
As promised, part II of the SSG Embraer E-170 Evo review, based on product version 1.06. In case you missed our comprehensive review part I, then you must check out that too. For your convenience, here’s the link to the (R)Evolutionary SSG E-170 part I review.
Anyway, part II has been again a lot of work. I tested and flew many hours with the modeled SSG aircraft and wrote this review with all what I’ve seen, with a lot of pleasure. I learned new things, explored new features and worked them out in this review. I think, no, I hope that this a review offers you a lot of useful information, as well as some included step-by-step procedures. Although these step-by-step procedures where initially for myself, I think it’s worth to offer you that information too. Perhaps you don’t need it, perhaps you like it for yourself!
Let’s first start with the Table of Contents Part II.
Table of Contents
Installation, documentation and liveries
X-Plane 10.51 Test Flight EDDH-EHAM
– Xchecklist and clist
– Using the latest AIRAC Cycle
– General Preparations part I
– General Preparations part II
– General Preparations part III
– FMS MCDU Preparations
– Cockpit Preparations
– Taxi, Take-off and Climb
– FPS (Frames Per Second)
– Descent, Approach and Landing
Flying a Visual Pattern with ILS approach
– Ready to go?
– Final Preparations
– Taxi, Take-Off and Climb
– Cruise (flying the pattern)
– Approach, Final approach and landing
Installation, documentation and liveries
The installation is easy. You download the package, unzip it and install the SSG Evo package under Heavy Metal or you create your own SSG folder. Next, load the SSG E-Jet Evolution E-170 aircraft. A popup window asks you to enter either online or offline, your serial number. Quite sure that 99 percent of the simmers does this online. A straightforward process I would say.
The included documents are in the Documents folder of the aircraft. Ok, let’s be honest, the Custom_Commands.txt is a text file and not really a document. This Custom_Commands.txt file gives you all the custom commands that can be assigned for the SSG Evo E-170. It’s not more then that.
Next in this folder you’ll find the SSG E-Jet Evolution Quick Start Guide (QSG), an Adobe Acrobat file. There’s something weird with this; on the first page is written version 1.02. I’m lost to be honest. Either v1.02 has nothing to do with the aircraft package version and thus it’s manual version 1.02 or it’s just a mistake not upgrading this number versus the aircraft package although I must say that when aircraft package version 1.03 came out, the manual was renamed to version 1.03!
Whatever the reason is, most important is of course that the contents is correct in relation to the aircraft model and that you can reproduce all the steps to be taken.
This is it. No more manuals included and there’s also no checklist (in either Adobe Acrobat or Word format) included. I had hoped that an electronic checklist was included since the MFD does have this option in real. The electronic Checklist (ECL) button can be found on the MFD lower right-hand button which is now grey. I must confess that the ECL information was found in the Taca Embraer E-190/195 AOM, but I doubt that this isn’t available in the E-170/175 aircraft. Anyway, perhaps SSG will included such a ECL with the next model update since flying this kind of modeled aircraft without a checklist, isn’t logic!
That said, there’s light at the end of the tunnel … it’s called Xchecklist. In one of my next sections “Flying a pattern with ILS approach”, I’ll highlight the possibility to include in the aircraft package a clist file in combination with plugin Xchecklist. Although the clist file I found via X-Plane.Org isn’t for the E-170 Evolution, but for SSG’s previous model E-190, it’s a great way to have this. Perhaps …. SSG will be able and willing to create such a clist file dedicated for the Evolution E-170 Series.
When it comes to liveries … oh oh, you’ll find so many that you hardly know where to choose from. SSG tries to keep track of that, and therefore they started a dedicated Evo X-Plane.Org page for this.
I’m aware that aircraft reflection isn’t a part of the SSG aircraft package, but it’s hot these days, so some information and examples are worth to highlight. What said, hot these days …… the glossy look of an aircraft skin as it supposed to be, but is it worth it, and is it something you like?
That’s the question and besides that, it depends a little bit on the settings you have made in the settings.ini file. Just for your information; brand new aircraft or aircraft that have had their heavy maintenance inspection and are because of that inspection completely repainted, those all have a glossy look on their skin. But believe me, this glossy look or reflection is quickly gone with the wind, the flying, the ingress of the ozone layer etc. Before you know, the glossy look of the painting is back to that of the inside of an egg shell, or even worse, it has become dull.
Anyway, all of this is a personal preference, but it’s worth to give it a try. I suggest that you surf to this X-Plane.Org web page, brought to you by Org user jiggyb2 (Jetto Designs). It’s easy to use it as well as how to install it. According to jiggyb2 “To install, first download the Materials NG plugin via this link. Create a folder named “plugins” in the SSG E170 root folder, and place the “materials_ng” folder you just downloaded in this folder.
Next, download jiggyb2 reflection package via this link. Unzip and copy and paste the contents of the Objects folder (modified textures and materials_ng.ini file) into the SSG E-170 “objects” folder. Then you need to put the new settings file from the plugins folder (settings.ini) into the materials_ng plugin folder you just created, overwriting the original file. After this, you should have reflections for the E170.”
The original fresnel_coeff value in the settings.ini file is set at 0.7 while the replacement file from jiggyb2 is set to 0.4. Is it worth the add-on reflection?
Check out the following comparison screenshots I made and then, judge for yourself if you like the glossy reflection. The 1e screenshot is without any glossy files which is thus the default SSG look and feel. The 2nd screenshot has the package installed and this gives the aircraft a glossy reflection with a fresnel_coeff setting of 0.4.
I would like to add one thing to these glossy reflections.
Remember that once you’ve installed the package for the aircraft, it’s always available, irrespective of the environmental conditions. Further on, there’s also no material glossy difference as is with X-Plane 11. In other words, the glossy look is always the same irrespective if the material e.g. Aluminium, steel, a polished spinner, a dull Aluminium skin, cotton etc.
X-Plane 10.51 Test Flight EDDH-EHAM
Weird title … X-Plane 10.51 test flight etc., isn’t it?
Yes, it is! It’s because I initially planned to make this flight with X-Plane 11.00pb13, but I’m not happy with the way my Saitek X-52 Pro behaves. Spoiler panels move up by themselves, even when I haven’t assigned them. Engine exhaust smoke .. no goodness, it looks like I’m having very dirty and old-fashioned engines having underneath this aircraft. No, that doesn’t give a comfortable feeling. That said, at the end …. this test flight is done with X-Plane 10. Does it make any different for my story? No, not at all. The aircraft should behave the same, but as we all know, X-Plane 11 is still beta, and every new update can break the aircraft!
So here we go ….. in a sudden I decided to skip the description and operation of the SSG demo flight. I don’t have a good reason for this, except that SSG does offer already for a while a movie. That said, what can I add to then? Therefore, I decided to create a short flight, a real route that is flown by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Air Berlin and Germanwings, although they all use different aircraft types on this route. Neither less, a short flight with a cruising level of FL290 and an approximately flight time of 1 hour.
Xchecklist and clist
What about a checklist?
In one way or the other I need to have a checklist and therefore I need to find one. The more complex and realistic X-Plane aircraft models become, the more there’s a need for a checklist. It feels perhaps to some as useless time to go thru a checklist, but when you’re used to it, it doesn’t cost much more time and you’re sure you haven’t forgotten anything.
You’re sure that you don’t miss anything …. you’re sure that during your flight you don’t see an amber TCAS OFF message on your PFD/MFS or that you’re flying IFR in the United States and having squawk code 1200 set on the MCDU RADIO page. Hum …. that’s because you missed the checklist! Since the SSG E-170 Evolution does have a lot of systems programmed and thus functional, it’s good to know what to do and when to do. So, a checklist is needed!
Preferable I would like to use the Xchecklist software with a dedicated Embraer E170/175 clist. I’ve got luck, finding the Xchecklist version 1.21 isn’t difficult. Here’s the X-Plane.Org link and I could even find a clist. Ok, it’s for the old SSG E-190, but still useable I think. When you prefer this too, follow the Xchecklist instructions and you’ll have your integrated checklist in the E-170 Evo.
Following the Xchecklist instructions by the way is easy. Paste the “Xchecklist” folder to the X-Plane directory “Resources/plugins” and paste the clist.txt file in the root of the SSGE-170LR_V3_Evo V1.05 XP10 folder.
Using the latest AIRAC Cycle for X-Plane 11
He, still something left from the planned X-Plane 11 test flight?
Yes, I decided to leave this paragraph in this part II review for all of those who prefer X-Plane 11 above X-Plane 10. For those who use X-plane 10, check out part I of the review and find section “Did I discuss the FMS MCDU?”. In there you find the correct procedure to update your AIRAC cycle.
Perhaps you know how to load the latest AIRAC cycle into X-Plane 11 for use in combination with the SSG Evolution E-170, but it could be also that you’ve got no idea or struggling with it. Therefore, it is worth to highlight the installation procedure since it is different then that of X-Plane 10.
Keep in mind that these file packages are in X-Plane-11 format and are not compatible with X-Plane 10 navigation data format despite having the same name!
The following steps are based on the Navigraph packages:
In this macOS Sierra step-by-step procedure, I’ve downloaded and installed AIRAC cycle 1702.
- Download from Navigraph the above packages and unzip.
- The ssg_b748i_fmc_native_1702 package include the following files:
- With a file manager program, go to X-Plane root directory “Custom Data”.
Open this folder and create folder named “UFMC”, if not exists.
- Copy all files from the unzipped ssg_b748i_fmc_native_1702 folder to X-Plane/Custom Data/UFMC folder.
- The xplane11_native_1702 package include the following files/folder:
– Folder CIFP with contents
– xxxxxxxxxxx .index (name will vary with downloads)
- Copy all files from the unzipped xplane11_native_1702 folder to X-Plane/Custom Data.
- Start the SSG Evo E-170. Check that the MCDU IDENT page shows the correct AIRAC cycle.
I’ve added the following screenshots (only applicable for X-Plane 11) to clarity it a bit more. The upper screenshot shows you on the left-hand-side the X-Plane/Custom Data contents while on the right-hand side the contents of the unzipped ssg_b748i_fmc_native_1702 and xplane11_native_1702 folders. The second screenshot shows you the MCDU IDENT page with the current installed AIRAC cycle. Thank you Javier for the provided information.
General Preparations Part I
Normally, I run X-Plane 10.51, depending on the screenshot size that is needed, in either full screen mode (2560x1440 pixels) or in a windowed mode with an approximately size of 1900 x 1100 pixels. But for this test flight I’ve decided to go for the windowed mode. I’ve parked my aircraft at JustSim’s latest airport EDDH (Hamburg Airport) and as previous indicated, installed plugins Xchecklist and X-Life. How I have set every, can be seen on the screenshots below.
The flight goes from EDDH (Hamburg Airport) to EHAM (Schiphol Amsterdam International Airport). For this, I loaded the SSG Embraer E-170 Evolution at EDDH parking location 91, but you’re free to park it somewhere else. Suppose after reading this review, you want to test it yourself, for those flight simmers I’ve created a package that contains the EDDHEHAM.fms flight plan as well as the necessary EDDH and EHAM charts.
General Preparations Part II
Besides the above package with some of the charts and the fms file, it’s also a good idea to offer you the links that lead you to all other airport charts. For EDDH (Hamburg Airport), you could surf to the dedicated UKVirtual EDDH web page and download the complete EDDH package via this link. For EHAM you’ve got the possibility the visit the official Dutch AIP (Aeronautical Information Publication) website via this link. In the right-hand column, you can choose the charts you need.
Although AI traffic or static aircraft have nothing to do with this SSG E-170 Evolution review, I would like to bring the following possibilities to your attention.
Adding some dynamic life to the airport can be done with AI traffic as we all know. You can use the AI Aircraft option within X-Plane via menu Aircraft | Aircraft & Situations | tab Other Aircraft. From the aircraft library, you can select any aircraft type you want, but you’ve got no control over the liveries. Further on, as far as I know, these are not always low poly aircraft or optimized to function as AI aircraft which probably means they cost computer resources.
Perhaps a nicer option and free of charge is X-Life from JARDesign and adding to this HD “Bluebell XL” traffic AI library. Installation is straightforward. Follow the instructions on the provided JARDesign X-Life URL and before you know, you’re no longer alone anymore at EDDH.
General Preparations Part III
A part of this section could be the external inspection. Real pilots, but even virtual pilots like you and me, could decide to inspect the external of the aircraft before entering the cockpit. Most of the time the co-pilot is doing a quick inspection. He/she looks at the external model if there are no visible damages, no leaks, if all the tires are OK, if all panels are in place, if all lamp units (lights) are OK, and finally (I hope I haven’t’ forgotten anything) secured panels and/or access doors. Up to You!
FMS MCDU Preparations
The following step-by-step MCDU paragraph means to me a lot of additional work which was not really planned to write, but I think it’s good for me and you to highlight the steps to perform on the FMS MCDU. Remember …. this step-by step MCDU procedure can be used any time as general guideline how to perform the necessary MCDU steps, but it’s of course based on this EDDH EHAM flight.
It’s basically that what you find in the QSG but then written slightly different. Keep in mind, it’s a simplified set of step-by-step instructions, based on model version 1.05 and applicable for X-Plane 10 and X-Plane 11. For full details, you either check one of the SSG movies or the QSG.
- Load FP via MCDU keyboard button MENU, following LSK 1R (NAV DATA >)
- LOAD FMS PLAN? appears in scratchpad
- Click LSK 6R (ACTIVATE >)
- Select from popup window EDDHEHAM.fms and click Open FMS button
- Select MCDU keyboard button NAV, following LSK 6L (DEPARTURE >)
- Choose your runway via right-hand LSK’s; LSK 1L 05 (example)
- Choose your SID via the left-hand LSK’s, LSK 2L WSN2C (example)
- Click LSK 6R (ACTIVATE >)
- Select MCDU keyboard button NAV, following LSK 6R (ARRIVAL >)
- Choose your runway via right-hand LSK’s, LSK 1L ILS 27 (example)Choose your STAR via the left-hand LSK’s, LSK 2L EELDE1A (example)
- Choose your TRANSITION via the right-hand LSK’s, LSK 2L I27 ARTIP (example)
- Click LSK 6R (ACTIVATE >)
- Select MCDU keyboard button FPLScroll thru flight plan and (PREV/NEXT buttons)
- Check for ROUTE DISCONTINUITY
- If found, select the LSK key of the next/following waypoint
- The waypoint is then copied to the scratchpadNow click the LSK of the ROUTE DISCONTINUITY line
- ROUTE DISCONTINUITY is replaced by the copied waypoint from the scratchpad
- When no more ROUTE DISCONTINUITY is found, click LSK 6R (ACTIVATE >)
- Select MCDU keyboard button PERF. You’re now at PERFORMANCE INIT 1/3 page
- Click MCDU keyboard button NEXT. You’re now at PERFORMANCE INIT 2/3 page
- Enter FUEL RESERVE, let’s say 2000. Type 2000 and enter via LSK 2L
- Click MCDU keyboard button NEXT. You’re now at PERFORMANCE INIT 3/3 page
- Check INIT CRZ ALT value. If OK else change value “xxxx” or “xxxxx” via LSK 2L
- Check SPD/ALT LIM. If OK else change value “xxx/yyyy” or “xxx/yyyyy” via LSK 1R
- After you’ve checked, click LSK 6R (CONFIRM INIT >)
- Select MCDU keyboard button TRS. You’re now at the THRUST LIMIT page
- Choose your TO and CLB thrust limits:
– For TO select either LSK 2L (< TO), 3L (< -10 %) or 4L (< -20 %)
– For CLB select either LSK 2R (CLB >), 3R (CLB-1) or 4L (CLB-2)
- Select LSK 6R (TAKEOFF >)
- Set FLAPS to 2 and enter via LSK 1L
- Confirm V1, VR and V2 via LSK 1R, 2R and 3R
- Write down the STAB TRIM value and adjust the stabilizer position accordingly.
Additional Guidance Panel steps to perform can be found in the QSG page 24 and up.
You can imagine that I use for my cockpit preparations the Xchecklist plugin with clist and because of that, there’s no reason to tell you that BATT 1 and 2 switches must be respectively in ON / AUTO before you can move the APU CONTROL selector to START? You could start the APU once you’re in the cockpit, but you can also first do all the preparations and when most of the work is done, you start the APU. In real, some airliners have this kind of policy to safe fuel since a GPU is much cheaper then APU running hours.
By the way; APU indications are minimal, but you can find the APU RPM and EGT on the EICAS page, just below the landing gear indications. You can check the MFD ELEC synoptic to see who’s electrically supplying the aircraft. When you have the GPU still connected, you’ll notice that the GPU is supplying the aircraft network (AC and DC) although it’s difficult to see on the ELEC page since everything related to the APU is also green.
It is a basic rule that AC sources can never supply together an AC BUS or what’s known as AC parallel operation. Ok, the Douglas DC10 had a provision that made it possible to connect more then one AC source to the same AC BUS. Just some old-fashioned history!
I’ve seen a while ago on either the X-Plane.Org or AVSIM forum a question from somebody about how and where to select the IRUs (Inertial Reference Units). Most modern aircraft do have two or three IRU panels on the overhead panel, but this Embraer E-170 (or perhaps the whole E-Jet family) doesn’t have it, so simmers got confused … where are they?
Perhaps you know already, perhaps this is new to you or perhaps you’ve never thought about it. When you switch ON electrical power to the aircraft, you’ll see on the EICAS a cyan message telling you IRS ALIGNING. In other words, in the Embraer the IRS aligns automatically without any input from the pilots.
I continue with the panel preparations, the MCDU, and a couple of more things like watching for the passengers, the freight and when all is ready to start the engines. When it’s time to close everything, it’s time to contact the ground crew to remove the GPU. Before doing so, first switch OFF the GPU switch on the overhead panel till you see “AVAIL”. Additionally, when all passengers are on-board, we can ask the ground crew to remove the stair and close the FWD PAX door. As you know now, this is all controlled from Adjustment Display OPT 1.
One other item to do, very important, is refuelling the aircraft.
Once you’ve entered all the FMS data, look up to the Adjustment Display, select OPT 2, and look to the FUEL section. Before you tick box FMC/MAN SEL, see the amount of fuel (in magenta) calculated by the FMC. Once you’ve seen this, click the FMC/MAN SEL box and the “tick” will change from magenta (FMS calculated) to green (manual inputs). Next click the FUEL box and automatic refuelling is started till actual fuel quantity is equal to the calculated quantity.
Starting the engines, not a difficult job since the simulated and real FADEC does almost everything for you. I double check the following with an AOM, but it leaves it open which engine is started first. Some airliners prefer to start ENG 2 first, then ENG 1. At the end, it’s entirely up to you if you follow that sequence or that you start first with ENG 1, followed by ENG 2. Nice to know although this won’t harm the simulated SSG engines, is the following, directly extracted from the AOM. It deals with ENGINE WARMUP; “In order to allow thermal stabilization of the engines, operate them at or near IDLE for at least 2 minutes before selecting high trust settings. Taxi time at or near IDLE can be included in the warm up period.”
Time to move on, right?
Oops, don’t forget to select the FMS button on the left-hand side of the Guidance Panel. This connects the FMS flight plan to the Automatic Flight system.
Taxi, Take-off and Climb
Being parked at location 93, I need a pushback. Since a pushback function is included in the modeled SSG E-170 Evolution, it’s a good to test it. Perhaps for some not so important, the pushback truck itself with tow bar is very nicely modeled. And yes, it’ a small truck, but it’s also a small aircraft, right? Once you’ve released the parking brake, you can ENGAGE the pushback truck which means, the truck is positioned in place and the nicely detailed tow bar is connected to the aircraft.
I tick the AFT square which means I get a pushback. Suppose you click FWD, then we’re talking about a PULL. The only thing that I can’t find is how to make turns at the end of the PUSH or PULL. Hold on, it does, but differently than you think. As Ricardo from the SSG team is saying “pushback turns to the left / right are initiated via your rudder pedals or joystick, whatever is applicable. control.” In my case with X52 Pro, I twist the joystick (YAW) to turn the pushback /aircraft combination in a left or right turn, at a moment that I want. Try it, very easy! Realistic? No, not really, but I can live with it.
At the end of the pushback, I tick the STOP box, and set the parking brake. This automatically disconnect and removed the pushback truck with tow bar.
Taxiing goes well and the following is something I mentioned already in part I; during taxi you heard a rumbling sound or it’s the sound of the pilot seats frame. Whatever it is, is sounds good!
At holding point runway 05, you’ve either clicked the A/T button on the Guidance Panel, followed by the hidden spot on the glareshield (left of the MASTER CAUTION/WARNING lights) at the gate, or during taxi or you it now before turning onto the runway. SSG suggests that you can do this already at the gate or during taxi, but when I looked it up in the AOM, unless I read it wrong, and although the real Embraer has no “hidden spot”, it is indicated that “Arm the AT when the airplane is lined up and ready for take-off.” Anyway, before the actual take-off starts, I click the CHR button on the clock, click the HDG button on the Guidance panel to align the HDG bug with the PFD ROSE with the runway if not done yet, and time to go.
As mentioned in part I, after lift-off you can connect relatively quickly the AP, but just don’t do that yet. Try to fly this aircraft for a moment yourself. Use the trim, feel how it responds and you’ll be surprised how well it’s all programmed. Once I’ve connected the AP, flying in (L)NAV and VNAV, it’s time to relax a little bit. Keep in mind that during the climb, and applicable for the descent too, altitudes are ordered or in conjunction with/by ATC.
They must be set manually on the Guidance Panel and values can be seen on the PFD. That said, my first assigned altitude was 9000 feet, then FL160 and finally climbing out to FL290. Perhaps you’ve noticed that ALT indications on the PFD are always in cyan, which means manual mode thus it’s not FMS controlled / calculated unlike with the SPEED indication. This can be either cyan (manual) or magenta (FMS calculated).
With the SSG E-Jet Evolution E1-70 version 1.05 being in cruise, controlled and monitored by the Automatic Flight system, I can’t say anything else then that it flies great. Of course, I don’t do anything yet, but it’s the way the AP is modeled and how it controls the aircraft. I assume that the modeled aircraft flies quite realistic since SSG does have 2 Technical Advisors, both active Embraer E-Jet pilots. They are the best source who can judge how it really flies, and it feels good.
As far as I can see, the modeled aircraft behaves the same as with X-Plane 10. The aircraft just levelled off at FL290 on my flight to EHAM and this time it went all according to the FMS book. That means FMS controls LNAV and VNAV and does the thrust calculations.
A big difference with X-Plane 10 is, as we all know, a different environmental although not everybody is happy with the total different hazy atmosphere. It’s a good habit that when the aircraft follows the flight plan and the aircraft heading changes accordingly, that at a regular time interval you press the HDG button. When you press the button, it will move to the current HDG you’re flying.
Although the T/C (Top of Climb) and T/D (Top of Descent) aren’t visible as waypoints on the MCDU FPL page, they are visible on the MFD. It depends a little bit on the distance to fly between the T/C and T/D, but when you start for yourself with some descent preparations, it’s also a good moment to check the different altitudes after T/D. One thing to keep in mind is that you need to enter on the Guidance panel a new altitude, normally assigned by ATC, before you reach your T/D. Why … because then the FMS will, when you’ve reached your T/D, automatically start the descent. How and what you enter next for another descent altitudes, is of course up to your flight.
FPS (Frames Per Second)
Do I get high frame rates?
I can’t complain, but higher was better, but that has not so much to do with the aircraft right now, that’s because of my rendering options. Am I disappointed? No, because I know and expected it and mentioned this also in my part I review; it doesn’t mean you can’t smoothly scroll thru the 3D cockpit. That’s not the case. It goes smoothly and what I always say … when something is between your ears and you see low FPS, you immediately think … oh oh, that’s too low, that’s not good which is ridiculous to think that way!
Descent, Approach and Landing
Looking up the legs to go, I’ve entered before my T/D a new descent altitude, and so on for every descent that is needed. If you want, you can also change speeds/altitude in the MCDU. When approaching waypoint ARTIP, it turns out that I’ll level off at approximately 7000 feet. According to the charts I should be in-between FL100 and 7000 feet. If needed, you can always, like in real at this waypoint, enter a holding pattern. Since I leave everything as it is in the FMS MCDU, I decide to enter already a VOR/DME beacon in the MCDU RADIO page that reflects PAM (Pampus). The reason I do this is that from waypoint ARTIP isn’t not far to Schiphol and runway 27 and ……
What happens in real; approach ATC mostly guides you with HDG commands towards the runway or a specific location. At those altitudes and close to airports with so much traffic around, ATC wants the overall control of all those aircraft and therefore, following the FMS FP is not an option, but you’re all aware of this, I hope?
In other words, the flight plan is there, but we don’t use it anymore after ARTIP although we’ve still entered all kind of information in it as well as the intended landing runway frequency, and that’s what we need later.
I’ve set a V/S for a further descent, HDG mode active, but instead, I decided to fly straight to PAM (Pampus) VOR/DME. That great, since it’s already entered in the MCDU RADIO page, and it’s also moved to the upper line, but nothing happens? Oh oh, the NAV button on the Guidance Panel works either for FMS, NAV (VOR/VORTAC) or LOC. When I deselect (or click once more) the FMS button, and click the NAV button, I’m now tuned for VOR1 or VOR 2. In big letters, you read VOR 1 (2) on the MFD.
It’s time to pick up the checklist, and don’t forget to check the MCDU APPROACH REF page. It offers important information about our landing speeds with FLAPS 5 or FULL. When nearby PAM, I’m commanded to follow a HDG of 260, which should guide me directly to the ILS 27 and yes, LOC is picked up, followed a while later by the GS signal. Oops, don’t forget to extend my FLAPS (and SLATS) as well as extending the landing gear. Before I know, the weather conditions aren’t to be honest favourable, but OK. With APPR 2 on the FMA, the aircraft lands as expected.
What can I say?
I’ve very enthusiastic about this little plane. Even an Airbus can be very easy to fly, but this model SSG Embraer is that too. Perhaps not everything is right now 100 percent functional, but I’ve said this before, SSG is well known of improving their aircraft. But you can forget that, it’s flies great, manual trim is a pleasure to see how this aircraft behaves and how it responses/reacts from external environmental conditions.
Flying a Visual Pattern with ILS approach
The intended pattern to fly looks very similar to a VFR pattern. I’ve seen flying these patterns many times during pilot training sessions which was fun. Not sure if these are well-known by everybody, but for sure it’s something different then you’re used to. It’s basically “learning the aircraft by doing” and in this case “doing” means not using the FMS, although you will use it for your speed calculations, and if you feel ok, flying by hand belongs to the possibilities.
Flying in HDG mode, using the V/S, and tuning for ILS approaches and more. Since you can use the A/T separately from the AP, it will minimise another thing to look for, thus it’s advisable to connect the A/T and do the rest by yourself. When you don’t feel comfortable in the beginning, you can connect the AP and fly the basic AP functions HDG and V/S.
That said; where to start, how to start, what to do?
It’s not that complicated and no, I won’t give you a complete tutorial. There’s no need for since it isn’t complex. But what’s then important …. first, find a good airport with, preferable, several VOR and NDB beacons in the nearby area. Hold on ….. I know a good one for you and me where I did my training sessions as being an on-board ground engineer at the Martinair Holland Airbus A310-200; ICAO code EINN (Aerfort na Sionna or just in English Shannon Airport).
Unfortunately, in the nearby circumference of Shannon Airport is only one VOR beacon and that’s near the airport itself (VOR/DME SHA 113.30). Further on, there are a couple of NDB beacons and of course many fixes, but those fixes we don’t use since we then need the FMS MCDU and that’s something we don’t want.
Ok, what do we have and what do we need?
- Airport charts EINN with ILS CAT II runway in-use ident ISW 24 (110.95)
- VOR/DME SHA 113.30
- SHANNON NDB OL 339
- ENNIS NDB ENS 352
- FOYNES NDB FOY 395
- Pattern altitude 4000 feetILS chart 24 EINN, entry altitude for ILS at 3000 feet
- EINN airport scenery comes from Org user tdg
- Required libraries for tdg EINN: CDB Library, OpenSceneryX, R2_Library, ruScenery, FF_Library, The Handy Objects and RE_Library.
Ready to go?
I’ve parked my Embraer at the West Apron, and should taxi via D1, D2 to holding point runway 24. I’ve tuned for VOR1 ACTIVE 110.30 (VOR/DME SHA), VOR1 / 2 STANDBY are set for 110.95 (ILS 24 ISW). Further on, I’ve entered a squawk code. Any code is OK if you don’t enter 1200 (VFR US), 7000 (VFR Europe), 7500 (hijack), 7600 (radio failure) or 7700 (emergency). For all other settings, follow the checklist. Oops, I mentioned this already in my review part I, there’s no checklist included! A bit weird, so time to look for it, right?
The first thing I do, remove the yoke out of view via the OPT 1 page on the Adjustment Display, located between the Whiskey compass and overhead panel on the mid window strut. It’s by the way only possible to remove the yoke on the captain’s side. If you want, you can even remove the captains seat!
Let’s focus now on the Guidance Panel.
Set an altitude of 4000 feet. If you prefer 5000 or 6000 feet, that’s also fine. Then I set the runway heading (235) or you can leave the HDG bug as it is, but don’t forget to align the bug when on the runway. Don’t turn the HDG knob when aligned with the runway, just pressing the HDG button is enough. Set the clean speed that was found in the MCDU TAKEOFF page or when you find that too complicated, set a speed of for example 210.
When you see a cyan speed indication on the PFD it means that the input comes from the SPEED knob on the Guidance Panel. When the speed indication on the PFD is magenta, it’s input comes from the FMS. Changing between MANUAL or MANAGED (FMS) SPEED inputs is done by placing your mouse about the speed knob on the Guidance Pane till the mouse becomes a hand. When it’s a hand, you hold down the left-hand mouse button and move the mouse to the left for FMS or to the right for MANUAL speed control.
Can you remember from part I … click the MCDU MENU button, select the TAKEOFF page LSK 5L, enter TO FLAP position 2 or 4, and confirm on the right-hand side of the MCDU display with LSK 1R, 2R and 3R the different speeds. These speeds are then also visible at the PFD. Before I move on ….… I need to write down on a piece of paper the STAB TRIM position. It can be found on the TAKEOFF page near LSK 3L (CG and TRIM).
One thing I need to add or to clarify in case you decide to do this practical flight too; when you’re on the runway, the captains PFD shows you that VOR SHA is 1NM away from us. That’s correct because the VOR beacon lies behind you (see the map).
One more note although you can read it in the checklist – for sure you found one on the Internet or you installed as I did, the Xchecklist plugin with the clist file – is that you don’t forget to set the STAB trim before your take-off else you’re presented with an aural and visual WARNING message!
Yeah, that sounds so logic, but how to do that?
Go to the pedestal, look on the TRIM panel for the PITCH BACKUP switches (simulated as one switch). Depending where your actual STAB trim is (EICAS DU, right-hand lower section), you position your mouse pointer at the UP or DOWN section of the STAB BACKUP switch (it becomes a hand), hold down the left-hand mouse button while sliding the mouse in a UP or DOWN direction. The stabilizer itself and the STAB pointer on the EICAS DU will move.
Taxi, Take-Off and Climb
When you and I are ready with all the preparations, it’s time to taxi. By the way, you can arm the A/T already at the gate or do it before you turn onto the runway. We don’t need a pushback, so that makes life easier. During the taxi, you’ll hear something that simulates a kind of taxi noise. Not sure what kind of sound it supposed to be, but it’s nice.
Hold at holding point runway 24, double check with the checklist if everything is done and when all OK, it’s time to line-up with the runway. Once lined-up, click the hidden spot that finally activates the Auto Throttle. Got a note from SSG regarding the A/T button and the hidden spot on the glare shield; “You can already arm the A/T button while at the gate as well as clicking the hidden spot on the glareshield. This is already possible even with the engines OFF. The Auto Throttle system becomes automatically active when you’ve moved the TLA (Throttle/Thrust Lever Angle) past 50% of its travel.”
During the take-off roll when the throttle levers are moved far enough, TO appears in green on the FMA which was first white – one line lower – being armed. The moment the TO indication on the FMA becomes green, you’ll also ROLL and TO in the FMA. After a while, the O is replaced by HOLD. I try to fly, with rough weather conditions, the Embraer manually myself which isn’t difficult. While climbing out for 4000 feet, passing thru 3000 feet, I connect the AP. Set my speed to 230 and relax a little bit.
Cruise (flying the pattern)
I’ve decided to fly the runway heading out for 21NM VOR SHA. That’s a bit far, I’m aware of that, but the advantage is that it gives you some more time. Remember, you’re sitting alone in the cockpit while in real it’s occupied by two pilots!
When, on the captains PFD VOR 1 SHA readout is approximately 19.5NM’s, I turn the HDG knob to 325 (right hand turn). If I want, I can ask the virtual ATC for helping me out, but once I’m flying on a HDG of 325 and VOR SHA shows me approximately 24.5NM (the diagonal line from VOR SHA to my Embraer, I changed the HDG once more to 55.
While the AP and A/T are flying the aircraft, and controlling the thrust, it gives me more than enough time to enjoy the outside view, but also to check the APPROACH VREF speeds on the MCDU. You can check this via the MCDU keyboard knob MENU, followed by LSK 6L. Further on, nice to practice with ADF (NDB beacons) is tuning for ENNIS NDB ENS 352. The moment I’ve entered this NDB frequency as ADF 1, made it the active one, I select on the captains PFD ROSE ADF 1 and the blue single pointer shows me the direction to ENS, but not the distance.
I’ve got two options; either I use the VOR 1 SHA indication as a reference to make another 90 degrees turn or I use the ADF pointer. When the ADF 1 pointer points downwards, I could make the 90 degrees turn. No, I go for option 2. I go for the 25NM indication on the VOR 1 SHA. Then I turn the HDG knob to a HDG of 145. Once I’ve done this, I enter on the Guidance Panel an altitude of 3000 feet, with a vertical speed of -1000 and activate V/S by clicking the VS button.
Approach, Final approach and landing
Everything goes well which means, my Embraer is descending, leaving 4000 feet for 3000 feet with a vertical speed of 1000 feet/min. When I’ve reached approximately my intended 3000 feet, I change the HDG to around 200. Next in row, although we’re still far out from EINN, I make both ILS frequencies which I entered before in the MCDU RADIO page for runway 24, the active frequencies via the MCDU RADIO page.
When you want, and knowing if everything goes fine, you can always sneak your actual position on the map by selecting X-Plane menu Location-Local Map. Next I select on the Guidance Panel the APP knob, and although LOC appears in white, it will take some time before it will pick up the localiser beam and that it will turn to green. I’ve noticed, and when you fly this too, that on both PFD’s the VOR is replaced by LOC1 (2) and on the MFDs is written ILS 1 (2).
Select flaps to 1, reduce the speed on the Guidance Panel to 165. I don’t worry too much that the reducing KIAS (Knots-Indicated Air Speed) leads to a slight drop in altitude, but what said many times, the modeled AP reacts smoothly and corrects for this. When the LOC captures the localiser beam, I set flaps 2, and reduce my speed. You can continue with selecting flap positions and reducing your speed, but don’t forget the landing gear!
When both the LOC and GS are green thus captured, I notice as I did during my Moscow arrival, on the second line of the FMA in white RETD, ALIGN and FLARE. Can you remember what I mentioned in my part I review: you only see this (RETD-ALIGN-FLARE) when you have entered both ILS frequencies into the RADIO page. When all is done via the FMS, it happens to but then the FMS takes care for it.
Before we know, we’ve reached the end of part II of the SSG E-Jets Evolution E-170 Series review. Part I was not easy, but part II wasn’t easy either. I started initially with SSG aircraft package version 1.02, but faced a couple of issues with the modeled aircraft and the fact that the aircraft only had a QSG (Quick Start Guide) included. A simplified or another version of a FCOM or AOM wasn’t yet included or not yet finished. With that in mind, and in consult with SSG, I decided to stop the review and waited for version 1.03 that finally became version 1.06.
Trying to be objective, not easy to be honest, I still hope, even when it’s only a test sample, that SSG will try to add some more weathering in their 3D cockpit and/or at the external textures. SSG is aware of my thoughts, but finally it’s their decision what to do although listening to customers would be a good idea!
That said, the simulated systems including the FMS MCDU as well as how the graphics look like is gorgeous. When it comes to the simulated systems, we all need to keep in mind that a product is never finished. But the good part is that SSG is always busy to improve their product(s) and over time updates are released to make the model better and better, and with success.
As mentioned in my part I and part II reviews, the FMS MCDU popup is gorgeous as well as that you can even resize it. The issues I faced with the not correctly functional CLR and DEL buttons of the popup MCDU, I’m quite sure this will be solved with the next update.
The aircraft flight characteristics, as far as I can judge, in manual or automatic mode are great. It flies in manual flight mode smooth and elegant, but this is in the automatic mode the same. External conditions are picked up smoothly by the AP and even engine surges are corrected nicely by the A/T system. I think it must be said that SSG team member Javier Cortes, who is responsible for the modeled Embraer Automatic Flight system, did a great job!
One thing is for sure, the Auto Flight system, with the connected DU’s and the FMS MCDU makes it all complete thanks to Javier Cortes. Perhaps soon, SSG can offer at a later time, a dual Flight Management System. Further on, it’s worth to highlight the presence of the ground equipment and the gorgeous included FWD passenger door stair with the glass roof. Well done!
Overall a well-deserved modeled aircraft with a lot of features and a great replacement for the old SSG E-Jet which is now freeware and available via X-Plane.Org. This Embraer E-Jet Evolution E-170 Series cost you, as per March 2017, 44.95 USD (reduced in price from 49.95USD). If you own one of the previous SSG Embraer models (E170 or E190), SSG offers you for a limited time 10.00 USD discount on this new model. If that’s the case, then you should contact firstname.lastname@example.org to get your discount code.
Did I forget something?
Perhaps I did, but I think most of the Evo model is covered in these two reviews. I tried to show you how you can fly the model with the FMS and a flight plan as well as via the old-fashioned way with the help of VOR, VORTAC or NDB beacons. And perhaps I forget the most important item, where to buy it? You can buy this SSG Embrear E-170 Evolution at the dedicated X-Plane.Org store page.
For this review I used the following payware and freeware software:
– Ventura Sky
– JARDesign X-Life
– Zone Photo ZL16 Photoreal Scenery Holland and Germany
– JustSim EDDH Hamburg International Airport
Angelique van Campen
|Add-on:||Payware SSG Embraer Evolution E-170|
|Publisher | Developer:||X-Plane.Org | SSG|
|Description:||Realistic rendition of the Embraer E-Jet E1-70|
|Software Source / Size:||Download / Approximately 1GB (unzipped)|
|Reviewed by:||Angelique van Campen|
|Published:||March 9th 2017|
|Hardware specifications:||- iMac 27″ 3.5Ghz Late 2013|
|- Intel i7 3.5Ghz / 3.9Ghz during Boost Mode|
|- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780M 4096 MB|
|- 32 GB 1600 MHz DDR3|
|- 1 internal 1TB SSD (Sierra 10.12.3)|
|- 3 external 1TB SSDs|
|- Saitek Pro Flight System|
|Software specifications:||- Sierra (10.12.3) | El Capitan (10.11.4)|
|- Windows 10 Professional|
|- X-Plane 10.51c | X-Plane 10.51m | X-Plane 11 pb6|
|- SkyMAXX Pro 4.0.1 plus Real Weather Connector 1.1|
|- Ventura Sky|
|- JARDesign X-Life|
|- Zone Photo ZL16 Photoreal Scenery Holland and Germany|