No Money Mondays: Starvingpilot’s Metroliner III for X-Plane 11
January 24, 2022
X-Plane 11 sees a new freeware aircraft on the forum. This time being the Fairchild Swearingen SA-227 Metroliner III. What a mouthful. Often jokingly referred to as the “San Antonio Sewer Pipe,” this iteration of the Metroliner will host countless hours of fun, ranging from retro American Eagle hops to modern-day Ameriflight rural cargo runs.
The Metroliner is a 19 seat, pressurized, twin-turboprop airplane first produced by Swearingen Aircraft and then produced by Fairchild. First introduced into the aviation scene in 1972, more than 600 aircraft were produced during its production run until 2001. Large swaths of Metroliners exist today as freighters, mainly in North America with Ameriflight, Key Lime Air, and Aeronaves TSM. Few still serve as passenger aircraft, primarily as charter aircraft and with companies such as Denver Air Connection.
Beginning with Starvingpilot’s passenger Metro, the exterior showcases PBR materials and an accurate model. It also contains working passenger and cargo doors as well as a GPU and baggage cart. This variant comes with 8 liveries: Air Oregon, American Eagle, Cascade, Continental Express, Horizon 1984, Horizon 1992, SkyWest, and TransMontana. On another note, some users have noticed that the windows aren’t transparent; this is due to the model not having been originally developed with a 3D cockpit in mind. Though, for those who believe this is a showstopper, fear not, as there is a mod that tackles this detail mentioned below.
Continuing into the cabin, the aircraft presents a completely modeled interior, including 19 seats. The cockpit is well-detailed for a freeware aircraft, resembling the real-life aircraft and encompassing the quirky environment of the Metroliner. Users have the option to select GPS navigation through the aircraft's menu for their navigation, or the old-school pilots can rely on radio navigation for extra difficulty. The menu also hosts options to open doors, select an autopilot subpanel, and utilize the GPU.
Starvingpilot’s cargo variant doesn’t differ too much from the passenger variant, except that users will find a wholly modeled interior featuring boxes to represent the cargo theme. The aircraft also features “blocked-out” windows and a fully functioning cargo door. All in all, the functionality between the two variants is about the same.
Before I continue this section, it’s imperative to emphasize that this is a *FREEWARE* project and was developed entirely from the excellent notion of Starvingpilot. There are a few main issues with the aircraft in its current state. One of the main complaints regarding the plane is the lack of good sounds. Another issue users have faced is the overpowered flight model. Metroliners aren’t necessarily known for having incredible takeoff or climb performance, but this iteration of the Metroliner is potent. The final nitpick of the Metro is the “painted” windows; I already explained above why the developer chose to do this, but it’s been a complaint by many, which has prompted “modders'' to tackle the issue, such as one of the mods mentioned below.
Luckily, all those issues above can be negated, as the developer has been very open to volunteers that want to improve the project. One of the best mods available currently is Steve’s Metro Mod, which enhances the PBR materials and makes the windows transparent. Another mod by “danhopgood1” has edited the airfoil and sounds to match the real-life aircraft.
Starvingpilot’s Metro III is an excellent introduction to the X-Plane 11 freeware scene. It also holds testament to the willingness of volunteers to better freeware aircraft to further the enjoyment of those who fly these aircraft. Many simmers long-awaited a Metroliner for a modern simulator; Luckily, this freeware delivers and fills a gap that has long been neglected.
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