x+s+r // PA-28R III-T / IV-T +MMCZ + KXNA

xsr T4 hdr

Word is out now that Delta is taking delivery of its first Airbus 220 on 31 January next and will start using them in five focus cities where they plan to play up the aircraft’s state of the art quality and comfort in advertising aimed at American and United customers (JetBlue has ordered a bunch, too). But…where is the “Airbus 220” for X-plane? Any rumors out there yet?

Today? Two nice freeware airports to go along with our look at JustFlight’s second Piper Arrow. The question, and I mean the obvious question, is: can this new Arrow III-T/IV-T be good enough to warrant purchasing even if you bought their original Arrow III? Well, stay tuned, and let’s find an answer or three along the way.

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Piper T34 hdr

So, lot’s of Arrows being bandied about here – because the name “Arrow” represents a model lineup and not just a single model. To make things even more clear (irony alert) Piper’s Arrows derived from their original Cherokee lineup and many Arrows can hardly be distinguished visually from their older brethren. Like even muddier water? Well, Piper’s Cherokee Six provided the platform for the Saratoga. And an even funnier factoid? Many pilots first learned of Embraer’s high quality standards because they built PA-28s under license in Brazil.

When JustFlight came to X-plane last year they chose to release a normally aspirated Piper Arrow III (the original aircraft’s first flight was in the mid-70s), and the file was met with serious approval. Though some complain(ed) about poor performance (FPS), those with reasonable CPU/GPU horsepower raved about the file’s panel and handling. Here are a couple of images of that .acf (or Aircraft File):

PA3earliermodel

If I have one complaint about JustFlight’s original Arrow III file it’s that the interior looks like two teenagers who are allergic to taking showers live in the thing – full time. Half the pilot’s yoke is stripped bare of paint, the panel looks too worn in places, and the file exudes an underwhelming sense of filth, or perhaps sloth is a better word. In fact, this file was the reigning champ of utter filth until Carenado released their Dornier Do-228, which has a cockpit that looks exactly like someone fed a bunch of raccoons chocolate and laxatives and then locked them in there – and ran like hell. My skin crawls when I look at that panel…and I always feel dirty after using it…

With their second release, the Arrow III-T and IV-T (originals built in ’78) JustFlight opted to make these cockpits look factory fresh – a decision I applaud if only because I no longer feel the need for a rabies shot after flying the things. And because these beasts are turbocharged they are ideal movers for high altitude flights (well, high for a GA piston powered aircraft). Yet…the panels are almost identical to the Arrow III (a general lack of utter filth being the biggest difference, color the other) and, indeed, the only difference between the two Arrow III models is one is turbocharged and the other isn’t, while the Arrow IV-T is primarily different due to its T-tail configuration.

Recognizing this as a potential marketing problem, those folks who purchased the original Arrow III file from the Org Store may purchase the turbocharged Arrow III-T/IV-T combination package for 15 buckeroos (aka US dollars). The original file’s price was about 42 bucks, so add 15 more and for 57 bucks you end up with three unique GA singles, albeit three almost identical GA singles…so the new obvious question becomes – which one of these files is “the best.”

Well, for me the answer became obvious after spending a few hours in the Arrow III-T. The exterior has all the features we’ve come to expect from Carenado and Alabeo, while the cockpit is simply a great place to work. The panel is gorgeously clean and all instruments are brilliantly easy to read and crisply lighted. With a big, fat Garmin 530, two VOR heads as well as an ADF, if you get lost it’s all on you. Yes, I’d prefer to have an even bigger and fatter HSI, and yes, a radar altimeter would be nice too, yet I can make do with this panel quite well, thank you very much.

And to prove the point I took off from LLHZ Herzliya, Israel bound for Larnaca, Cyprus – about 200 nmi distant, and I took off in the middle of a frontal passage (wind blowing like snot, heavy rain). Yet to put it simply this little Piper hauled the mail and with not one problem. Yes, I could feel the turbulence; no, it presented little in the way of handling issues. I got above the weather by 5000MSL and set the AP (which only holds heading, not altitude) then sat back and monitored my trim while I knitted three sweaters and two pairs of socks.

Which brings up a salient point. Some acf are so poorly executed that dialing in elevator trim is a hit or miss affair, and it’s here that having spent some time in real aircraft is a real plus. Real aircraft are almost impossible to trim by using trim tab alone; rather a combination of trim plus throttle is best used to achieve the desired rate of climb or descent, so that to trim for level cruise, climbing or descending, you set power for optimal engine performance then go about getting the trim set as close to possible to level, then coaxing-out the last little differences by adding or subtracting small amounts power. In a poorly executed acf you dial in the trim and away you go, which means, in effect, that if learning to fly in such an .acf you’re going to miss out on learning a more than valuable skill. Carenado and Alabeo get this, and so too does the crew at JustFlight.

Below, the sequence from Israel to Cyprus, and note the rate of climb and speed in the second image (not bad for a single!):

Pa3 1

The last four images above depict a fun training exercise: fly along on a tight downwind and when you get parallel to the thresholds see if you can make the turn onto final while you bleed off enough excess speed to land on the numbers and/or make the first turn-out. Easy to do in a well executed flight model, not so easy in a dud.

Below, taking the IV-T (the T-tailed model) from KTEX Telluride, Colorado on the short hop up to Aspen. Same basic aircraft, the biggest difference being the tail configuration. Same autopilot, too, so no ALT or VS functions…

PA IV c1

…and yet this .acf felt more tender, was a little more difficult to get trimmed for level flight (I put this down to the T-tail). Any other issues? No, not much to report. Instead of being gray, the panel seemed more gray-beige; other than that the cabins were identical.

Below, some of the basic details, all of which are uniformly well executed on all models.

PA3 details

So, assuming you haven’t purchased either one of these files, which should you consider?

Again, this is a simple question. Don’t bother with the original Arrow III, opt for the III-T instead. It’s a little faster, has much better high altitude takeoff performance and rate of climb, while the cabin is modeled clean, not worn (think of the money you’ll save on soap and vaccinations alone). Still, you should consider that when you buy the III-T you also get the IV-T gratis, so two for the price of one.

But what if you already own the Arrow III? Should you go for the Arrow III/IV package?

Only if the performance of the III disappoints you. The files are so similar the only thing “new” you’re buying is high altitude takeoff performance and about 5-10 KIAS more cruise speed. If you love T-tails? Well, that makes things simple, doesn’t it? Anyway, my favorite of the lot was the III-T. Still, its only 15 bucks, so why not get them all…?

Which GA files does the III-T/IV-T most compete with? My nod goes to the Carenado F33A, their C210T, the Alabeo Piper Saratoga II, and the Alabeo Mooney Ovation. The F33A still wins in my book; it has the best overall IFR panel and the best night panel. The Mooney Ovation and this Piper III-T are about tied, while the Cessna’s bright blue panel really puts me off some days… Still, the Alabeo Saratoga II is almost as good as the Bonanza, and this is my take on the five best GA singles in X-plane. But…

…get them all and you’ll never be bored again!

The JustFlight III-T/IV-T file is at the Org Store. Raccoons and laxatives optional.

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MMCZ hdr

ruifo rounds out his collection of Mexican Caribbean resort airports with MMCZ Cozumel today, and you’ll find another LegoBrick creation that needs no third-party scenery library files to run. He adds resort area hotels as well as a small GA airfield a few miles south of the main airport to his usual mix of excellent creation and execution.

This is a very small commercial airport that handles a ton of international traffic (see the complete list here), and the airport is configured in an unusual V-shape (which presents all kinds of new variables for trouble). The airport lacks a real car park and the ramps are a little bare, but it is a small airport. The addition of the area’s hotels and resorts was a good idea, otherwise this would be an overgrown jungle-island airport…

MMCZ 1

Maybe the ramps could be brighter, but that’s about my only gripe. The file sits on a nice ortho with decent undersea features showing on final.

MMCZ 2

The longest runway (5/23) is 10,120 feet long, so bring on that A380, Bubba!

Pick up the file here: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/47678-mx-mmcz-cozumel-intl-airport-2018/

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KXNA hdr

So, you don’t know the story behind this airport, huh? No problem, we-got-ya-covered.

First, the University of Arkansas Fayetteville is about 15 miles distant, and 21,000 screaming football addicted kids attend. On Football-Saturdays in the Fall, the population swells by 400-or-so-million people (parents and other alum)…so the need for a good airport became pressing by the 1990s.

And, oh…the headquarters of a little corporation called Wal*Mart is located a few miles away, too.

NOW you understand?

If not, look over the list of airlines and destinations and that might help. Then, take a look at this sweet little file:

KXNA c1

This is a nicely conceived and well executed file; the only issues I have concerns the parking lots and some of the terminal lighting. The parking lots (sorry, car parks) are depicted by simple (smeary) ortho, so points off there. Some of the windows in the terminal were black at night, so that might be an easy fix, and if the developer keeps at it he may end up with one of the better files of the year.

Other than the two issues we mentioned, we think this is a neat addition for pilots in Xp flying in the American South generally, or for those looking for something new in the region. This is a solid 9/10 file worthy of your consideration, and you can pick it up right here:

https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/47685-kxna-northwest-arkansas-regional-airport/

And we’ll see you around the next bend in the road. Hasta later –

This entry was posted in Aircraft file reviews, Mexico & Central America, Scenery: Americas and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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