x+s+r // 737-200 v3 flight tests

732 main hdr

So…taking over where we left off…at LFLL Lyon in the freshly revised FJS 737-200v3.

With only a couple of landings made so far, the idea was to spend an hour or so here, just flying touch-n-goes in the pattern, trying and get a better feel for the airplane in lower speed regimes.

732 LFLL tnd

Notes:

  1. She’s twitchy, very sensitive to even the slightest input, right up to her stall.
  2. Aggressive pitch inputs result in noticeable porpoising. You need to fly this girl real smooth.
  3. Dropping flaps is not a big deal. No exaggerated pitch up when flaps are dropped – at the correct speed. If speed a little too high, expect a modest pitch-up.

732 LFLL land 1

4. Come off the power too hard, and with not enough speed, and she drops like a rock – no matter the flaps. If you counter with too much power, welcome to porpoise land.

5. Starting the flare to land she really wants to flatten out and drop, even when around 10 KIAS over stall speed. Carry your approach deep, flare at the last possible instant.

732 dep LFLL.jpg

I found the standard seating position a little too low, necessitating moving my POV up a little. In take-off and initial climb, this was an issue.

First leg of this part of the test flight was down to LFMN Marseilles. Again, simple VOR/DME flying, no FMS. Go over the handbook, especially the six pages on autopilot OPS. If you’ve not flown with this system before, it seems archaic and counter-intuitive (it was, and still is). The A/P has a VOR mode that is self-explanatory: when in range enter the frequency and once the head registers reception the A/P will begin tracking in on the VOR with no input on your part. Change to the next frequency and ditto…

I manually trimmed for all phases of this flight (climb out, cruise, descent), and did not use the ALT HOLD feature. I also reefed the aircraft into a tight climbing turn and cut power until she stalled, both to the left and the right. Easily manageable recovery with minor altitude loss.

732 threshold LFML 2

Changed time to dusk coming into LFML, dropped vis to 10 miles.

Same issue noted, have to be ultra smooth or you get porpoising with rough throttle input, once in the hi-130s you have very little margin for error and need to hold speed, not let it drop into the 120s. I carried 134 KIAS on short final with just a little nose up, which seemed to be ideal here – in the groove. Just hold this speed all the way to your flare – and again, do so at the last possible moment. If you start your flare too early, odds are you’re going to pancake and drive the mains through the wings. Not a lot of ground effect, either, so very little float – assuming your speed is in the low 130s.

732 LFML threshold 3

Again, steady speed on short final, not a lot of positive pitch until you flare. I was holding around minus 300 FPM here…very gentle. If you’re over the threshold at 145 or greater, I’d just go around. If in the 120s, get on the power…

732 LFML threshold

There’s a pronounced tendency to roll when taxiing, even with speeds around 15-20.

A positive trend, perhaps, and unlike the 733, when taxiing it doesn’t sound like a bunch of tennis shoes are tumbling in your clothes dryer.

732 LFML taxi

And, by golly, there’s a rear air-stair. Adding air-stairs was a big deal for many carriers, too. They were an expensive option and so typically there might only be one up front. An aircraft with two was carrying a lot of extra weight – and airline accountants hated them.

Another option that might make sense at some point…the gravel kit, so the 732 can operate out of unimproved air-strips. Alaska had a bunch of these. A lot of Canadian operators, too.

732 LFML gate over

Re-set the sun and on to LFMN Nice, and there was hardly any need to climb to more than ten thousand feet – so, well, I didn’t. Below, coming into Cannes, LFMN just to the left of the window divider. This .acf is so easy to trim there’s just not a pressing need for an A/P on a short leg like this. Just remember: when trimming don’t rely solely on pitch trim; fine-tune AOA with your throttle, too.

732 over Cannes

Make sure you’ve got the flap schedule printed out and handy. I also printed out pp.33-39 of the manual – so I’d have a quick reference of the relevant A/P operations on hand. You’ll need it until you’ve got things set in memory.

732 LFMN APP 1

This 732 is capable of making coupled ILS approaches under A/P; it WILL capture LOC and GS, but auto-throttle is another matter entirely. There is an IAS capture mode on the A/P panel, but I didn’t use it during any of my approaches.

732 LFMN pitvu

More than once, I had to use speed-brakes to slow on descent. Unless AOA is kept very shallow, this .acf picks up speed easily, even with flaps fully extended.

732 LFMN L 2

So, with speed at 134 and almost zero pitch, below, the aircraft is at -500FPM with full flaps. This is about 7-10 over stall, so by the time you flare you’re golden. Assuming you don’t flare too early, that is! That’s why setting your POV is SO important!

732 LFMN pitvu 2

Ah, that rear air-stair again. The entire door folds down. Quite a decent animation, well worth watching.

732 LFMN ramp rear

Fly-J-Sim have done a bang-up job on the model this time out.

More Paint

At the end of one day, we already have seven new freeware paints for v3 of this file (links in blue):

732 BA

A 1970s British Airways

732 BBJ

A BBJ

732 Br

Britannia Airways

732 DL

A 1970s Delta “Widget” 

732 NW

South Africa’s Nationwide, which I’ll use on the run from Namibia out to St Helena

732 Orion

Orion, and…

732 Ryan

And…the dear old folk from Dublin. Also, the Ryanair Jaguar paint, here.

732 N panel

So. Final thoughts and recommendations?

It’s hard to say where the porpoising comes from. It’s a real enough phenomenon out in the world, yet as I’m not using a separate throttle my adjustments are a bit coarse. That could be the culprit, or the flight model could use a tweak, but I feel this in no way is an issue worth fretting over as it’s easily overcome with easy throttle movement. And, again, it could easily be my rig, too. The rate of descent issue I’ve mentioned too is not, in my opinion, a matter of real concern. More likely this .acf simply feels radically “different” than other 737s – OR, I just need to spend more time in this pit vs in the others in Xp.

That said, over the next few weeks, I definitely will be doing that. Not to conduct flight tests, mind you, but because this file is so enjoyable in use. By the time we pick up a few more relevant paints there’s nowhere this aircraft won’t be useful: the 732 was, after all, the first RJ, and this file is modeled with enough care to make it useful all over the four regional route structures we’ve built here over the past few months, from the Baltic to the American West.

That said, we’d rate this file a 10 out of 10, and it’s certainly worthy now of being considered one of the very best aircraft files in X-plane. Congrats to Jack for a job well done. Best of luck going forward.

A wish-list of paints for this aircraft would include these former operators of the type:

Aerolineas Argentinas, Ansett, both Austrian & Lauda, Air Comet Chile, LAN Chile, Sabena, Varig, Air Canada, Czech, Finnair Cargo, Condor, Hapag-Lloyd, Olympic, Air Atlanta Iceland, Iran Air, El Al, Kenya Airways, Air New Zealand, Braathens, TAP, South African (and SA Cargo), Air Sweden, Air Tanzania, Caledonian, TNT European Cargo, Air California, Alaskan, America West, American, Braniff, Continental, PSA, Pan Am, Piedmont, US Airways, Western, and a variety of UAL paints. I’ve bold-typed the ones I’d really like! Pardon my narcissism, but I had to ask.

Okay. That’s all for now, and we’ll see you around the campfire soon enough. We have word that the current iteration of the flu is terrible, especially out in California. Take care, and keep washing those hands with hot, soapy water! If the bug has you, keep warm and rested, drink lots of OJ and try to fire up X-plane when you feel up to it.

Adios!

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