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(R)Evolutionary SSG E-Jet E-170 Series Part I

Introduction

I was afraid for this although it was never the intention to split this SSG E-Jet Evolution E-170 Series review in two sections (Part I and Part II), but right now, I concluded that the review will be too big to read and therefore, I’ve decided to split it in a Part I and Part II, Due to this, I’ve added a Table of Contents in Part I.

Note per March 13th 2017:
While time flies and we’ve finished part II review of the Embraer Evolution E-170, I’m more then happy to offer you for your convenience the direct link to part II review. Enjoy this part I review, and when finished reading, you can continue with part II.

Part I | The SSG Embraer E-Jet Evolution E-170 Series
Relaxing, no no … so much to see!
– Virtual Cabin

What about the Nerve Center?
– Introduction
– Part 1 | 3D modeling and texturing
– Part 2 | DU’s, switches, knobs, systems etc.
– Options (Adjustments) Display

Where Are We?
Did I discuss the FMS MCDU?

– Introduction
– Popup MCDU
– AIRAC Updates
– X-Plane “fms” Flight Plan Loading
– Additional MCDU Procedures

After Landing Inspection at UUEE
– Clean and Used Liveries
– Walk-Around Inspection

That’s It

Part I | The SSG Embraer E-Jet Evolution E-170 Series

Yes, you’re right, on behalf of SSG and FJCC, X-Plained.Com welcomes you on-board of their Embraer E-Jet Evolution E-170 Series. And yes, I personally welcome you on-board on a test flight from Hamburg Airport (EDDH) in Germany, to Sheremetyevo International Airport (UUEE) in Moscow, Russia. And ….. just in case you think that this could be the SSG demo flight, no, it isn’t! I’ll discuss their demo flight, described in the Quick Start Guide, later in a separate section. By the way, their demo flight covers a flight from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (KSEA) in Sea-Tac, Washington to Los Angeles International Airport (KLAX) in Los Angeles, California.

It must be said that the SSG/FJCC latest E-Jet model will blow you away. It’s an aircraft build from the ground thus a completely new Embraer Evolution E-170 Series model and not an upgrade from their previous Embraer models.

All known knowledge and X-Plane 10 features they have gathered from previous projects, is put into this Evolution E-170 Series aircraft. That said, it’s my job to find out if it’s worth your investment and if you will blow away too. First some facts; this review/impression was based on model version 1.02, then I stopped on request of SSG and needed to wait for model version 1.03 but that became version 1.05. Only recently the product is also available for X-Plane 11.00pb12, which is also compatible with X-Plane 11.00pb11 although being a separate package.

The Evo is tested on an iMac Late 2013 (see the iMac specifications at the end of this review) with macOS Sierra (10.12.3) and X-Plane version 10.51.

No time to lose …… enjoy your flight!

Relaxing, no no … so much to see!

Virtual Cabin
As said before, I welcome you on board of the SSG/FJCC Embraer Evolution E-170 Series. I’m enjoying a drink from one of the window seats. This means I’m relaxing in the modeled virtual cabin and although a virtual cabin isn’t my priority, but perhaps others do have interest in it, I can conclude that the virtual cabin is well modeled and as far as I can see, every part that you expect in a virtual cabin, is there.

A virtual cabin is always a compromise between how many polygons does it us and is worth it to make it too complex in favor over the 3D cockpit. That said, the passenger seats look good, even the seat frames are modeled thus the overall passenger seat are nicely done. Further on, you’ll find the ground emergency strip on the floor and the overhead bins aren’t forgotten, but not all objects I see in the virtual cabin are sharp.

The wall and ceiling panels are blurry, the overhead passenger seat controls are fussy as well as the bin numbering system which is also applicable for the passenger door inner cover with decals.

You and I could ask ourselves if it’s worth for the developer to spend more time in modelling a virtual cabin then spending his/her time in modeling a gorgeous looking 3D cockpit? I think we all agree that the 3D cockpit wins! Keep in mind that modeling a gorgeous virtual cabin is nice when you only site there but it does cost polygons and thus costly frame rates.

Overall, the virtual cabin is OK and modeled in the same way as you see with most developers. When it comes to the previous mentioned blurry issues, I sincerely hope that SSG is able and willing to improve that and replace those blurry issues with sharper pictures.

What about the Nerve Center?

Introduction
As a VIP passenger uhm uhm ……. I’m curious to visit the 3D cockpit and see with my own eyes how it’s made and how systems are simulated. Ok, here’s the plan, I split the nerve center or just the 3D cockpit into two sections; Part 1 for the 3D modeling and texturing and Part 2 for the DU’s, switches, knobs and how the aircraft systems are programmed.

The latter is of course very important since that’s the hearth of the programming and how the aircraft flies and, if the systems are correctly simulated including the FMS, it will hopefully fly as real as it gets. One word about “as real as it gets”; that’s in my humble opinion for every developer difficult.

Either the developer has own flying experience in the modeled aircraft which is possible and the best option, but the moment the modeled aircraft becomes too big and an ATPL (Airline Transport Pilot License) is needed, real pilots are needed to confirm how real the modeled aircraft flies and that’s even for real pilots difficult unless a pilot deals with a CAE (Canadian Aviation Electronics) Level-D simulator and that’s not the case with X-Plane 10 or X-Plane 11.

For some simmers the look and feel of the modeled 3D cockpit is worth a lot while other simmers are interested in the most possible realistic flight characters. Of course, both would be great when included.
Let me first start with part 1 on how everything is “textured” thus how’s the look and feel of the 3D cockpit is.

Part 1 | 3D modeling and texturing
Before starting with how I personally find the look and feel of the 3D cockpit, it must be said that real Embraer E-Jet cockpits are sterile, or clean if you prefer. This is for example on the glareshield; it’s clean with in the middle only the AP Mode Control Panel besides the lighting controls on the both ends. Although the pedestal does have a couple of sub panels mounted on it, it’s also a clean area. The only exception is the overhead panel which offers a look and feel as can be seen with many other aircraft builders.

Further on, and that gives the real E-Jet also a specific unique look, the huge 5 Display Units (DU) which fill up the main- and center instrument panel. That said, a real Embraer E-Jet cockpit doesn’t have much sex-appeal although some like this clean look and some don’t like it at all. Up to me to be as objective as possible!

When I enter the modeled SSG 3D cockpit, I get right away that feeling of “oops, that’s way too clean, way too sterile and it looks almost brand new however, the look and feel of what I see is how a brand-new E-Jet looks like too although “used spots” and “weathering” aren’t included. Real or not as real as it could be? During some email conversations, I had about this weathering item, it became clear to me that the SSG team’s goal is to create a brand new looking cockpit and not one that it weathered or used. At the end it’s their choice!

On the other hand, when zooming in on the different panels, I must conclude that all knobs, switches, text, panel screws, are all very well modeled with great precision and eye for detail, but even I find the absence of a weathered look a missing item although I’m aware that this is my personal thought.

I think it’s fair to everybody to offer a set of photos (courtesy of Airliners.Net) from real Embraer E-Jets cockpits. Not sure if they are all from the E-170 Series, but they show you how the Embraer cockpit could look like when it is used. I marked on two photos, the used/weathered spots on the AP panel, around the knobs. This is what I miss, although this is just an example.

Another item that I marked is a “DU dirty screen” with fingerprints on it or just a “simulated DU screen reflection”. I also noticed that you don’t have an option to add/remove cockpit windshield reflection.

The strange thing is, and perhaps that’s also some good news, what I just wrote down in the previous paragraph about the real AP panel, when you zoom-in closely to the modeled/textured AP panel on the glareshield, I see dirty light brown/yellow spots so in one way or the other some weathering is introduced, but I got the feeling of not having it done enough.

The main instrument panel or what’s left with these 5 huge DUs in position, and the pedestal are made with eyes for details, text, knobs, switches are all razor sharp. But what with the side- and back walls including the ceiling? All these panels have all one grey tint and that makes it in my opinion not as real as it could be. But looking to the real photos I’ve seen, it is in real also like this although I know for sure that a used Embraer does have slightly damaged or scratched walls. Needed to highlight this, but not really to worry about.

Looking to the overhead panel I must conclude that this is great precision and although I can’t find any weathered spots around knobs and/or switches, it looks great. In-between the overhead panel and the glareshield you find the “Options Display”. I believe that in the real aircraft this is a camera display, but the solution having here the Options Display is a nice and elegant way to make space for changes and/or adjustments. More about this “Options Display” later.

Since you and I are invited on this test flight, I see a modeled cockpit with everything working and I can tell you that his looks good, very good. So good that after you compare this with YouTube movies, you must come to the conclusion that the reality factor is quite high. Up to part 2.

Part 2 | DU’s, switches, knobs, systems etc.
To me the DU indications which are by the way sharp, offer an almost perfect look. Testing a bit around on the MFD, I’ve got the feeling that the MFD MAP-PLAN-SYSTEMS-TCAS and WEATHER grey buttons on the top/bottom of the MFD are a little bit blurry while for the synoptic system pages itself are razor sharp.

The DU lighting control work perfect, smooth and perhaps worth to highlight, you have individual lighting control of the captains and co-pilots DU’s. Only thing I noticed; on the REVERSIONARY PANEL’s you only have the options PFD – AUTO – MFD. PFD is basically the same as what you see in AUTO, MFD switches the PFD with the MFD but the last option on the selector, EICAS isn’t implemented.

A quick look at the simulated aircraft synoptic pages on the MFD teaches me that the ECS (Environmental Control System) is the only page that isn’t simulated. Check this the SSG team; “There is indeed not ECS page and we do not know if it will be, lots programming, this is not a study level aircraft so it might just stay that way.” I’m wondering, looking to the real FCOM ECS page, why this is so complex. Other synoptic pages are not easy either, so it’s a disappointment that this MFD ECS synoptic is still in model version 1.5 not included.

You’ll be surprised about the way displays, indicators and other objects are modeled. When I zoom in on the pedestal and see the FMS (Flight Management System) MCDU’s, although they don’t have a weathered or used look, they do look very nice. I didn’t check every button, but I noticed that the brightness control (BRT/DIM) can’t be adjusted.

Perhaps with a later update this will be possible. It must be said this SSG Evo has, as far as I can see, chosen for a single FMS MCDU system. This means, the 2 MCDUs are one unit! When you enter data on the left hand MCDU, it straight away happens on the right MCDU. Example; I press the NAV button on the left MCDU, it happens also on the RH MCDU. This means no split system. Just to let you know!

Question; is it possible to get a popup MCDU?
Easy answer …. as mentioned in the Quick Start Guide (QSG), a popup MCDU belongs to the possibility for those who prefer that. The popup MCDU looks great and is even resizable. Dragging the popup MCDU goes via the left hand upper corner while resizing is done from the right hand upper corner. Since I’m a Mac user, you can call the popup MCDU via fn+F8. Removing the MCDU can only be done via the same fn+F8. I haven’t found a “X” om the popup MCDU itself.

Question; is it possible to get a popup MFD, MFD or EICAS DU?
Easy answer … as far as I’ve seen, no option to do this!

I highlighted this before, the overall readiness of the DU’s is great. I like the way the PFD symbols are modeled and a comparison with the real PFD tells me that this is close, if not 100 percent, to the real DU. The same implies basically for the MFD and EICAS DUs too.

The only problem is ….. there’s no pilot’s handbook or FCOM included. I noticed this already when I started with my review with model version 1.02, and now with model version 1.05 there’s still no additional user manual or a kind of FCOM included. That said, it’s difficult for me and all the other simmers who bought his aircraft to check what’s all visible, what’s not programmed/simulated on the DU’s and many more things you can imagine you would like to know.

There are however many videos available on YouTube and one of them is from SSG. It covers the demo flight, but it doesn’t cover for example how to load the “fms” flight plan. Instead, it only explains how to enter waypoint by waypoint and safe it then. That’s OK, but not always the way it happens in the real world and when you have a “fms” flight plan, why not showing how to load it.

SSG member Andrzej Borysewicz and Ricardo (via the Org forum) reported back to me a while ago “for now the package has only QSG. For an AOM, Ricardo mentioned at forums that we will be releasing shortly a partial AOM and a full version hopefully together with product release version 1.03.” I feel there’s a need to highlight this because the package still only includes a QSG and this doesn’t cover all my and your questions.

This is in my humble opinion really needed because SSG team member Javier Cortes modeled the Auto Flight system “as it is” in the real Embraer. That said, without an AOM, that has at least the chapters Automatic Flight and Flight Instruments/COMM/NAV/FMS, you can’t check or read anything back.

What else to highlight on the main instrument panel?
Left and right of the EICAS DU, you’ll find some individual indicators, knobs, buttons, the clock and gear handle which are all with great precision modeled and, I must admit, they look gorgeous.

A quick look to the aircraft clock gives me the idea that not everything is modeled. I see that the RST (reset), CHR (Chrono) and TIME/DATE SET buttons are functional, but I can’t set the time from the indicator. Nor that GPS and AUTO selectors on the right-hand side are functional and for now, no ET (estimated time) is shown, but perhaps this is linked to the FMS when a flight plan is loaded and I don’t worry too much about the clock.

For me, looking to the modeled pedestal and overhead panel is really a pleasure. I’m pleased with the way panels, knobs, switches, buttons etc. are modeled. In some cases, I’ve got the impression that photo real material is used for the SLAT/FLAP handle knob, PARKING BRAKE handle. I think that this is also applicable for the SPEEDBRAKE handle. By the way, when hovering over the individual pedestal sections, I notice that for example the IGNITION panel, section POWER PLANT, does have scratches and a slight weathered grey panel which is good news, but why then not more in the cockpit?

It must be said that the control column looks gorgeous too. If photo real material is used or not is difficult to judge for me, but what I see looks well made, which is the same as for the seat sheepskin. Ok, the sheepskin isn’t 3D, but just flat, but it looks OK.

It must be said that the SSG 3D graphics modeler has put a lot of time and effort in the creation of the overhead panel. From a distance it looks good, no doubt about that, but when you zoom in on the individual sub panels you’ll be surprised about the sharpness of knobs, switches, buttons, safety guards, and the panel text. This is, by the way, also applicable for the Captains and F/O lighting controls on each side of their glareshield panel.

And I shouldn’t forget the way the integral lighting is integrated in the overhead panel. Ok, other developers have this too, so perhaps you would say nothing new, but right now I’m judging the SSG Evo jet.

Options (Adjustments) Display
Anything else what got my attention?
Yes, that’s the “Adjustments Display” which is situated between the standby horizon and the overhead panel. The display has two synoptics; OPT 1 and OPT 2.

OPT 1 allows you to control the passenger- and cargo doors, the sliding windows and connecting the GPU. Also, the FOV (Field of View) belongs to the possibilities. Then the package offers a towing control an allows you to show/hide certain objects like the external passenger stair, a yoke, pilot seats etc. And finally, this synoptic gives you the preference for using Lbs or Kgs.

OPT 2 allows you to control the aircraft payload as well as the amount of fuel. Remark in respect to the fuel is who controls it? This is either you (manually) or via the FMS MCDU.

These OPT 1 and OPT 2 are both selected from the left-hand selector knob. The panel has a second knob that is used to control the cabin lighting. Overall a nice and well modeled feature this “Adjustments Display”. And this also means that although I have my own ideas about the implementation of a weathering look and feel in the 3D cockpit, the simulated aircraft systems, DU’s and others are well done.

Where Are We?

The previous section started that I welcomed you on board of a SSG test flight to UUEE, but where are we right now and how does it go?

I’m aware that the following issue I want to highlight all depends on my/your actual X-Plane rendering options, the screen resolution X-Plane is using and so on, but the aircraft loves to grab frame rates. We all know that it isn’t difficult to get enough FPS (Frames Per Second), but to get decent frame rates, you need to reduce the rendering settings and that’s not always what I want.

Not mentioned yet, but logical, do you depart from a complex add-on airport, do you have SkyMAXX Pro or xEnviro installed and so on. Find below a screenshot of my rendering settings and using X-Plane with a native screen resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels, however, X-Plane itself runs in Windowed mode with an approximate resolution of 1900 x 1100 pixels.

The additional screenshots are examples of the actual frame rates during the flight with SkyMAXX Pro 4.0.1. I would like to add the following; although the frame rates aren’t’ that high and thus I have my X-Plane Rendering Settings set too high, it’s not that you face that problem in the cockpit or looking at the outside to the aircraft. I’m also aware that my iMac isn’t the latest and fastest model, but even with these Rendering Settings I’m still satisfied.

On this first test flight to UUEE, I decided to fly the E-170 Series Evolution manually. This allows me to get the feeling how it is to trim and to fly it and of course, I used the modeled Auto Pilot too which is most likely programmed by Javier Cortes (this is indeed confirmed by Javier as being the same as in the real Embraer E-170 Series). Flying it manually gives you normally also the idea how the flight characteristics are and if they are as close to the real Embraer, but that’s something I don’t know. I’m not a licensed ATPL Embraer E-170 pilot, so I’ve got no idea how this modeled Evo jet flies.

Flying the Evo manually, after being trimmed, is not difficult. The Evo or E-Jet series these days have FBW (Fly-By-Wire) control. What I’ve heard from real pilots flying FBW aircraft, it flies totally different and it also makes a difference if the aircraft is flown by an ordinary control wheel/column or via a sidestick.

Flying a FBW controlled aircraft with X-Plane, I tell you honestly, to me it doesn’t make any difference since every X-Plane aircraft, old-fashioned or brand new with the latest FBW, it’s at the end all electronic simulation. That said, the real Embraer E-170 has for manual flight a pitch, roll and yaw trim. I only assigned on my Saitek X-52 the PITCH and ROLL trim. With those assignments, I can trim the aircraft as I want.

Besides the stories in this review, I made many other flights and flew the E-170 Series Evolution many times by hand thus without the Auto Pilot. In most cases I did connect the Auto Throttle system or to be exactly, it’s a combination of Auto Throttle (movement of the thrust levers) and Auto Thrust (calculation) system.

Flying the modeled SSG E-170 Series Evolution is gorgeous, but what does this mean? The word is nice, but how does it feel? A manual flight, even at approach and final offers you a smooth operated and modeled aircraft. When moving my joystick, it doesn’t make huge bank or pitch angles. It’s all dampened, and keep in mind that I haven’t changed X-Plane sensitivity slider. What said before, if this manual flight behavior is as real as it gets, is something I don’t know but it feels good, very good!

Connecting the Auto Pilot and of course also the Auto Throttle (combined system that controls the movement of the throttles on the pedestal and calculates the thrust), is the minimum you need to do, logically. Hold on, let me first highlight how this system is really called and what it does since it’s not just an AP and A/T (Auto Throttle). According to the E-170/190 FCOM “The Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS) is an integrated system that processes inputs from several airplane systems and sensors. The AFCS supplies this data to the Flight Guidance Control System (FGCS) and Thrust Management System (TMS), thus enabling their operation and producing visual and aural information. The Guidance Panel (GP) provides means for selecting functions and modes as follows:
– Lateral Guidance Control.
– AFCS Management Control.
– Vertical Guidance Control.

The GP contains two independent channels (A and B), each one providing independent communication to the FGCS.”

With the AP and A/T connected and thus the Auto Flight System is flying the Evo, it gives me the time – by the way, we’ve just passed the Gdansk (Poland) and heading for the border with Lithuania – to check the PFD and MFD versus an official Embraer E-190/195 AOM which I found on the Internet. Interested? Check out this link.

I can tell you, I’m impressed when I look closely to the PFD and MFD. Ok, that’s also applicable for the EICAS DU, but let me first focus on the PFD/MFD. Perhaps it’s better to say that these two DUs are modeled with such a great precision and accuracy that comparing the images on the upper/lower parts of the PFD as well as that of the MFD with the AOM, you and I will be surprised how realistic it is modeled.

Let me highlight some of these surprises ….
The upper part of the PFD with the horizon and separate inserted sphere is slightly out of the middle to the right. Weird? No, not at all. When you compare that with the AOM page 14-03-10 page 22 you’ll notice the same. Other example; When a mode is selected, let’s say I’m in NAV mode, and select HDG. HDG appears on the MFA first as green text, then it becomes and flashes 3 times as a green box to get the pilots attention. After this, the HDG as green text appears again and now not flashing. Same when I switch back to NAV (it’s LNAV that’s selected) but then it’s magenta.

Same, not to be performed during flight unless you really need to, with the AP disconnection e.g. by a manual trim input. The green AP text is replaced by red, and then it becomes a red box that flashes 3 times. I know, all tiny things, but gorgeous to see.

By the way; there’s one thing I don’t understand and that is the absence of the green activation lights on the Guidance Panel whenever a mode (button) is selected and active. Although I know already the answer, I would like to bring this to your attention.

On the modeled Guidance Panel, you do see something above each button that could be a green activation light, right? I did double check the Taca Embraer E-190/195 AOM (screenshot below) and although these illumination lights are drawn there too, no text that indicates that an active mode is visible by a green illuminated bar. Then I check several real E-170 and E-190 movies on YouTube and surprise …… the green lights aren’t illuminating whenever a mode is selected.

Overall, I’m very happy with the modeled DU’s and let’s not forget the modeled MCDUs although these are in the simulated model one MCDU. Saying that, this is not the case with the synoptics presented on the PFD and MFD. The captains MFD can be in the MAP mode while the co-pilots MFD is in PLAN mode. The same for the FD; the left-hand can be OFF while the right-hand is selected ON although you normally won’t do this. Another example; on the left MFD you can select via the MAP dropdown for TERRAIN and on the right MFD WEATHER, besides the other different selections as can be seen on the following screenshots.

The flight to Moscow slowly comes to an end and I decide to fly the final approach manually although I leave the A/T connected. Due to the very bad weather condition, I’ve decided to reconnect the AP and although I’ve written many things already about the AP, it controls the aircraft smoothly thru the turbulence, windy and rainy conditions.

Yes, it’s indeed raining cats and dogs! But be serious … it’s a pleasure to see how the aircraft is controlled under these terrible conditions. Yes, it wobbles around it’s longitudinal axis, but the roll channel is in a realistic way controlling this. And yes, I’ve selected HDG mode, and yes, I’ve tuned manually on the MCDU for ILS UUEE runway 07R (ILS CAT II). When close enough to the runway, I click the APP button on the Guidance Panel, and LOC appears in white on the FMA. Some later, LOC becomes green (first 3 times flashing in a green box, remember), a little bit later G/S appears in green, but that also depends where you entered the LOC beam.

Then, below the line in white from left to right; RETD (throttles retard on landing), ALIGN and FLARE, but there’s an additional important note needed. The note is needed in case you will try it yourself.

When you’ve entered in the MCDU RADIO page only for VOR 1 the ILS frequency, you’ll see on the captains PFD LOC1 and the ILS beacon identify (for UUEE runway 07R this is “INL” and on the captains MFD in green text ILS 1. When you’ve clicked on the Guidance Panel APP, you only see, when captured, in the FMA LOC and GS. Nothing more and no further assistance of the Auto Flight system upon flare and landing.

However, when you had entered in the MCDU RADIO page for both VOR1 and VOR2 the ILS frequency, yes, you know already what comes, then you have on both PFDs and MFDs the LOC1 and LOC2 indications as well as on the MFDs ILS 1 and ILS 2 and consequently after capture of the LOC and GS, on the second line in white RETD, ALIGN and FLARE. Since I haven’t found in the AOM, normally we would call this DUAL AUTOLAND mode.

Funny, isn’t it?

Did I discuss the FMS MCDU?

Introduction
No, I didn’t discuss this yet since I invited you on-board of a flight from EDDH to UUEE, but perhaps it’s now a good moment to highlight a bit more how to use the modeled FMS MCDU. I will need it for my demo flight as provided by SSG!

Popup MCDU
While playing around I noticed with the popup MCDU being available, that the CLR and DEL buttons don’t work. All other MCDU keyboard buttons do work, except these two. Did several X-Plane and aircraft restarts, but the problem exists. So, in that case I need to use the fixed mounted MCDU when I need to use the DEL or CLR buttons. Just to clarify; these issues are noticed on Mac. I can’t judge if this is also a problem with the aircraft model on Windows.

AIRAC Updates
Then there’s the next issue to get grip on; updating the AIRAC navigation DB. In the QSG page 46 and 47 is something written how to deal with this as well as on the X-Plane.Org forum page. When you’ve followed the correct description of page 47 of the QSG, I’m wondering how to update this with the latest AIRAC information.

Normally I would suggest that you download either from Navigraph or from the Aerosoft NavData Pro the SSG 747-8 AIRA DB and copy and paste the files as indicated in the QSG to update from the default AIRAC 1601 to the current version.

Let me quickly offer you a step-by-step procedure how to update your AIRAC version to the latest cycle. As indicated before, you can either use the AIRAC data from Navigraph or Aerosoft if you select the SSG 747-8 package. In this step-by-step procedure, I’ve downloaded and installed AIRAC cycle 1702.

  • Download from Aerosoft or Navigraph file “ssg_b748i_fmc_native_1702.zip” and unzip.
  • With a file manager program, find in the X-Plane root directory “Custom Data” and open this folder.
  • Create a folder inside with the name “UFMC”, if not yet available.
  • The Custom Data folder should have now folders GNS430 and UFMC as well as a Readme.txt file.
  • Copy from the unzipped ssg_b748i_fmc_native_1702 folder files all files except the index file to X-Plane/Custom Data/UFMC.
  • Go into X-Plane/Custom Data/UFMC and copy the 3 earth_xxx.dat files to the X-Plane/Custom Data folder.
  • Start the SSG Evo E-170. Check that the MCDU IDENT page shows the correct AIRAC cycle.

See the following screenshots for clarity.
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 folder. The second screenshot shows you the MCDU IDENT page with the current installed AIRAC cycle.

X-Plane “fms” Flight Plan Loading
Loading your own “fms” flight plan seems to be a big issue because at this dedicated X-Plane.Org posting no clear answer is given. In the QSG is something said, but it seems some steps are missing. Knowing this, is it really that difficult?

When you know it, it isn’t, so let’s find it out:

  • Store your “fms” flight plans into the X-Plane folder /Output/FMS Plans
  • Click the MENU MCDU keyboard button
  • Click LSK 1R (NAV DATA >)
  • In the scratchpad appears LOAD FMS PLAN?
  • Click LSK 6R (ACTIVATE >)
  • The native X-Plane “FMS Plans” folder popups up
  • Select your flight plan
  • Click the Open FMS button
  • This will take a couple of seconds, depending on the number of waypoints included
  • When you check the MFD, you’ll notice that the FP is loaded

In the QSG page 15 is also a different procedure indicated (loading a COROUTE via RTE 1 page), but as far as I can recall, these are for UFMC generated flight plans. This happens when you load your flight plan yourself waypoint by waypoint into the MCDU and then save the flight plan. Then you use for loading your flight plan via the COROUTE (LSK 3R) on MCDU page RTE 1.

Note from SSG team member Javier Cortes “to save your entered flight plan waypoint by waypoint included airways as “UFMC”, go to the MCDU INDEX page, press LSK 5R SAVE ROUTE >, followed by ACTIVATE >. Keep in mind that you can save it before being airborne, not after!”

Additional MCDU Procedures
With the above knowledge, loading your “fms” flight plan, you and I can follow the steps in the SQG, starting on page 15 (enter your flight number), and continue at the end of page 16 where we need to enter our DEPARTURE and further on, our ARRIVAL data. To be able to enter for example your DEPARTURE data, you need a chart with the intended SID information and of course which runway you want to use.

When you’re flying online, then ATC informs you about the runway in use and you find out the SID to be used. The same goes for the ARRIVAL MCDU pages although I remember from my real aviation period that pilots can’t enter ARRIVAL data since it can on their way change. So you can decide to enter already all the ARRIVAL data in the MCDU as indicated in the QSG.

One additional note to page 18 of the SQG; when you’ve selected on the MFD PLAN mode, you can scroll thru the flight plan with LSK 6R, indicated with STEP >. Since with a PLAN mode the waypoint is in the middle of the circle, you scroll with LSK 6R thru the flight plan and then you’re able to check the contents and if there’s no DISCONTINUITY in it.

In case you find a DISCONTINUITY, click the LH waypoint LSK directly under the DISCONTINUITY line. This waypoint is then copied to the scratchpad. Now you click the LSK next of the DISCONTINUITY line. The DISCONTINUITY is removed and replaced by the scratchpad data which was the copied waypoint.

I think this is it. For sure I’ve forgotten something, but there’s also a part II coming after this.

After Landing Inspection at UUEE

Clean and Used Liveries
The “virtual” pilots do their cockpit termination which gives me the time to do an “after landing inspection” on the exterior model. Before starting with the external impressions, I would like to highlight that the package comes with liveries in a “clean” and “used” version. Let me give you an example of the Air France livery. On the screenshots below you can see on the left side the clean livery and on the right-side a used livery.

The upper screenshot represents the complete texture file while the second screenshots is an enlargement of this file and offers more details about the “clean” and “used” model. There’s a difference noticeable between the clean and used although I had hoped for a more weathering. Right now, the clean, but in my humble opinion the used texture too, are showing me an almost brand new aircraft. Ok, I know, it’s a matter of taste and it’s up to the SSG team what they want.

Anyway, time for the “after landing inspection”.

Walk-Around Inspection
Looking from a distance to the modeled E-Jet 170LR Evo, I’m pleased what I see, and even when zooming in on specific parts of the landing gear or fuselage decals. When fully zoomed in, it’s not razor sharp, but I’m happy with this. When I zoom in on the nose landing gear with doors, I see for example – good news – that the text on the fixed nose landing gear doors is well readable. This is by the way with other decals on the fuselage, engine cowling etc.

The nose landing gear itself seems OK to me as well as for the main landing gears too, but they have no weathering at all. I’ve seen many landing gears in my real live as ground engineer, and landing gears that are newly installed are due to the grease, weather conditions and brake pad wear before you know, dirty.

Although the nose landing gear doesn’t have wheel brakes, it has in real many grease nipples which means grease will make the strut dirty too. So, although the gears look OK to me, struts aren’t as clean as they are modeled.

What mentioned before, during my walk around, I noticed that the text (decals) on the external aircraft are sharp and well readable which is good news. As previously mentioned in a previous section, via the “Options Display” you’re able to control the doors (entrance door, cargo doors and service doors) however, when a passenger or service door is controlled to OPEN or CLOSED, I had hoped that the control handle was moving too which isn’t unfortunately modeled in the 3D model. Yes, I know, that would mean again additional polygons and thus a possible reduction of frame rates. Perhaps a thought for future products!

Oh, almost forgotten … NML (Normal Mapping Layer) files and consequently the resulting 3D effect which is under the right external lighting conditions visible although the effect is always there.

By default, the SSG Evo E-Jet has the low resolution NML files installed. The aircraft package also offers high resolution NML files. You can simple unzip this ZIP file (Hires_Normals.zip) within the NORMAL folder and copy and paste the contents into the aircraft “Objects” folder. No need to preserve the original low resolution NML files since the NORMAL folder also has included the original low resolution files. In other words, when you prefer to return to the original low resolution NML files, you unzip the Lores Normals.zip file and copy and paste them in the Objects folder.

See below two screenshots; upper screenshot is with hi resolution NML files installed, second screenshot with the low-resolution NML files.

Walking from the aircraft nose along the left-hand side of the fuselage, along the engine and wing leading edge via the wing tip to the tail, I must say that it looks OK. The 3D modeling is done with great precision, but some dirty spots, weathered parts, scratches or dents, that would do the aircraft good! It will give the aircraft something extra since real aircraft are never, like this kind of aircraft where the belly is quite low to the ground, free of anything.

Belts, trolleys and what else of ground equipment can be found near the aircraft, and before you know, they have created a scratch or dent. Not that all of this is needed, but modeling a too clean model isn’t realistic. A thought for future SSG projects?

Just passed the wing tip – by the way, very nice modeled static dischargers – and having the flaps extended and the spoilers UP. With the FLAP and spoilers in this position, I spot in the AFT wing spar the hydraulic- selector valves and lines of the spoiler control. At the same time, I also noticed the, in my humble opinion, huge size of the flap rivets. It’s a little bit over the top. Yes, you do see rivets in real of course, but these rivets are a little big too big.

Moving to the tail and having a closer look to the horizontal and vertical stabilizers as well as the elevators and rudder, I got the idea that the elevator static dischargers are missing, but it could be that I’m wrong. On the other hand, the rudder has static dischargers modeled to it, so perhaps that’s enough in real and thus in the modeled aircraft. The tail cone is very nice and I’m not sure if photo-real material is used to cover the cone. If not, then it still looks nice and above all, realistic. Walking towards the aircraft nose via the right-hand side, I’ve got a good look inside the opened AFT and FWD cargo holds.

Back at the nose landing gear, I see that the left forward passenger stair is placed in position and although it’s just a stair, the simulated plastic glass cover is gorgeous. It’s semitransparent and that looks as real as it gets.

Overall, I’m satisfied with the modeled 3D Embraer, the textures are OK, but the “used” liveries look is not really one of “used” compared to the “clean” livery. I’m aware this will be a personal note, but more weathering would give the models a more realistic look and feel. I would say … who gives it a try?

That’s It

That’s it for now, but there’s so much more to come in part II. I hoped you enjoyed part I of my SSG Embraer E-170 Evo review. It was as usual a lot of work, testing, testing, making error after error, but at the end it became a complete story, but this Evo story isn’t finished yet.

As I started my review in the very first paragraph, the review became too long and therefore I’d decided to split it. Part II, for those who can’t wait, will deal with the discussion of the included KSEA to KLAX demo flight. It probably offers more tips and tricks since SSG made already a movie of this flight (), but I noticed that not all “out-of-the-box” issues are discussed.

Further on, but that also depends on the stability of X-Plane 11.00pb12, a test flight with X-Plane 11 as well as a step-by-step procedure for uploading in the right way a Navigraph AIRAC cycle.

Another section what will be included is a IFR pattern for virtual pilots training flights. Just as you know that you have for VFR patterns to fly, to learn making take-offs and landings, the same you have for IFR or the big jets. This IFR pattern has nothing to do with the FMS. You fly a pattern and for landing an ILS is used. The ILS landing can be without or with the AP and/or A/T connected. That will be fun!

And finally, a non-common VOR flight. Why always using a Flight Plan and FMS? Although the Embraer E170 Evo may be a very modern aircraft, flying only with the help of VOR and perhaps even some NDB beacons, is also fun. And for take-off speeds you can still use the FMS MCDU, but that’s for part II.

All together …. There’s a lot to expect in part II. See you soon!

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: Freeware / Payware SSG Embraer E-Jet Evolution E-170 Series
Publisher | Developer: X-Plane.Org | Supercritical Simulations Group
Description: Realistic rendition of the Embraer E-Jet Evolution E-170
Software Source / Size: Download / Approximately 1GB (unzipped)
Reviewed by: Angelique van Campen
Published: February 27th 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 pb12

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