One of the biggest milestones for most flight simmers is when they finally opt to leave behind the single-prop Cessnas and Beechcraft Barons they’ve been flying since they began taking it all seriously, and start looking towards the ‘heavy’ end of the default aircraft. Trouble is, there’s not much in the way of ‘starter’ multi-engine aircraft to be had and jumping from a Cessna to a 747 is asking a bit much. Enter the British Aerospace 146/Avro RJ series.
The so-called ‘Whisperjet’ (due to the four remarkably quiet engines nestling under its wings) is a perfect ‘entry-level’ airliner, being a third of the size of a typical 747 and significantly less daunting to handle. QualityWings Simulations has just released its Ultimate 146 Collection, a pack that provides all three variants of the Avros – the RJ70, RJ85 and RJ100 – at a superb level of detail that stretches from the flight model to the high-definition flight decks.
While the cockpit of an airliner can seem daunting, the Ultimate pack comes with a series of pretty thorough documents that run you through starting the bird from ‘cold’ (i.e. completely powerless) in a clear and friendly manner that is often missing from the startup checklists you see. Explaining why you’re flipping particular switches helps to illuminate proceedings far more than a dry step-by-step. Give a man a fish/teach a man to fish and all that. A nice touch is that you can flip between ‘lite’ and standard panel modes on the fly if you’re just getting used to these aircraft and it all starts to get a bit too much to handle.
Perhaps the 146’s biggest claim to fame is that from the mid-80s through to today, it is one of the key components of the Queen’s Fleet – the air transportation used to ferry the UK’s beloved by all monarch from one corner of her fading empire to the other. Converting the interior into an all luxury model, reducing the number of passenger seats from 70 or more down to a couple of dozen, and presumably installing a state-of-the-art throne room (read that how you will) means Lizzie, Phil and the corgi set can travel in style and not have their royal eardrums assaulted by overly loud engines.
Now, unfortunately, the Queen’s Fleet’s distinctive red livery isn’t one of the twenty-five included paint jobs. But if you really want to feel like the future of the British monarchy (and thus the world’s, face facts Spain) is in your hands, then the custom paint kit included with the pack is a very comprehensive set of Photoshop templates for you to paint over. It’s not the most straightforward thing I’ve ever used (and the included manual could be a LOT more helpful for non-livery painting experts), but you can pull off some pretty amazing results if you put the time and effort in (or not):
There’s also a nice set of ‘atmosphere’ sounds included, with your airline crew making announcements such as welcoming passengers to the flight, instructing on safety features and politely asking the man in 22F to switch off the digital timer on his suitcase bomb as it might interfere with the navigation equipment. Helps that they sound as though the voiceover artists are doing their best impressions of John de Lancie, Majel Barrett and the guy from Everyone Loves Raymond too.
There’s a lot going on with this collection set, both in terms of eye candy and game experience and it’s fair to say that if you’re looking to add some short-haul passenger airliners to your fleet, you won’t go far wrong with the Avro RJs.
The Ultimate 146 Collection is available from SimStop here.
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