Threshold Review: Felis 747-200
Threshold Review: Felis 747-200
September 22, 2021
Built in 1968, the 747-200 was a major breakthrough in aviation. The 747-200 is a successor to the older 747-100, which was powered by Pratt & Whitney JT9D-3A engines, only offering airlines enough payload and range for medium-haul operations, but this range was marginal for long-haul route sectors. The demand for longer range aircraft with increased payload quickly led to the improved -200, which featured more powerful engines, increased MTOW, and greater range than the -100; thus allowing more passengers to travel and explore further.
I was lucky enough to become a beta tester for this aircraft and I will note that my position in the project has no effect on my opinion of the aircraft.
The installation of the Felis 747 is simple, it is a simple drag and drop into the aircraft folder and the aircraft is ready to fly. Documentation included in the Felis 747-200 includes 4 manuals: Cockpits, Autopilot, INS and Normal Procedures. Each manual consists of an in-depth guide to learning the aircraft.
I used the INS guide to help me learn the CIVA INS navigation system as I had only had minor knowledge of the INS previously. I found it had the right amount of information and I didn't find myself being drowned out in information.
At first glance, the Felis 747-200 is a looker, the 3D modelling throughout the aircraft caught my eye and is a testament to the modelling skills that Felis is known for, and complementing that is highly detailed textures which provided me with a perfect photogenic platform for some screenshots. In my maiden flight with the Felis 747, I’m starting out from Heathrow-Copenhagen in the iconic British Airways Landor livery. On engine start, the sounds provided an amazing ordeal and the spool up upon take-off added to the overall audio experience. The bird flew perfectly in every stage of flight, be that taking off, cruising or landing, Felis has done a great job on the flight dynamics, the aircraft flew well and felt heavy like it should. Not being a real-world pilot, the aircraft flew how I would expect the real aircraft to fly.
Stepping into the flight deck, pilots are welcomed with amazing details from floor to ceiling. The attention to detail in the switches, gauges and displays is stunning. Textures have been done well throughout providing that aged look that most retro jets inherit.
The engineer’s panel has every dial and switch modelled, whether that is a simple desk light or a vital fuel pump. The left side of the vast panel consists of generator switches, these are used to control which system power unit is being used by the aircraft. APU switches can be found at the top and the engine switches at the bottom of it.
Moving onto the middle of the panel, this is home for everything to do with air conditioning, whether you want to adjust bleed air systems or control the heat of the cabin, it will all be found in the centre panel.
In close partnership with the engineer’s panel is the overhead panel, brimming with features from top to bottom. A cool feature on the left-hand side is the BODY GR STRG switch, when set to arm it will activate the rear wheels to turn when taxiing, this is useful for backtracking a runway for departure or turning around tight corners. In the centre of the panel is the Cabin Interphone, Felis has included custom cabin announcements, some of these announcements are automatically executed when certain light switches are moved.
Although a retro jet, the aircraft comes with some highly detailed systems. With the option to use the default FMC or Felis’ custom CIVA INS, pilots can take the safe option if need be. I found the FMC useful when learning the systems during flight as I didn’t have to think about miss entering a waypoint and veering off track. The CIVA INS holds all the real functions and works to real standards. Radios wise, the 742 has 3 separate VHF radios, each working on its own and can be set to any frequency within limits. The aircraft is also equipped with a transponder unit that has TCAS (Traffic Caution Avoidance System) built into it.
Another vital system is the EFB, Felis has integrated 9 options into the EFB. Avitab is required to access the following pages in the EFB: Chart fox or Navigraph charts, World maps and aircraft manuals. Next in line is the load calculator, this can be used to fine adjust the layout of cargo, passengers and fuel. It is also where you can find the final weight data. Refuel and Payload work in similar ways, you scroll to the value you want and can even quick load or normal load the adjustments. The INS page is very useful for new users as if you are worried about messing up when entering waypoints you have the option to load a flight plan with all the waypoints. The ground services page works in correspondence with JarDesign’s Ground Handling Deluxe. Another useful tab for new pilots is the checklist tab, with the ability to provide a step by step guide from before starting to securing the cockpit, this is a very useful tab. The final tab is the Performance Calculations tab. Two simple options available on this page: read from loadsheet to obtain correct weights, and read from the sim to capture the airfield weather. Having obtained this data, you can easily calculate accurate takeoff speeds and send them to the takeoff speed tape.
The interior cabin has a perfect balance of details to performance. The upper deck cabin lives up the first-class experience with leather chairs and wide armrests. Moving down the stairs to the front portion of the cabin, the unique first-class passengers seats, located in front of the cockpit, can head to the galley to obtain a nice bottle of wine to enjoy with their meal. Textures have been done very well throughout the cabin, from high-quality chairs to overhead bins. In the back of each Economy class seat, the 747-200 safety card can be found, Holding vital information in the case of an emergency.
Similar to the interior modelling, the exterior modelling and texturing have been done very well. Felis worked with Origami Studios’ Delta_Who to bring next level detail to the fuselage, also adding new and improved normal maps.
The aircraft ships with 9 default liveries, created by a variety of painters in the community. An addition on the fuselage that stood out to me was the high detail decals that have been placed throughout.
The normal maps have also been done with expert quality, when set to the right channel, painters can obtain an amazing retro aluminium finish. This can be seen in Delta_Who’s BOAC and American Airlines livery as he achieved an amazing look on the belly of the aircraft, representing the iconic metallic livery.
With a pleasurable custom FMOD sound pack, Felis didn’t fall short on the sounds provided by the big bird. From satisfying switch sounds to a satisfying engine whine on takeoff.
Starting in the cockpit, the aircraft has been fitted with that retro aircraft tone. Whether that’s the air conditioning in the cabin or the retro warning sounds. The warning sounds is a whole other ballpark, the stall horn will audibly warn the pilot if a stall was to occur and the autopilot disconnect tone will provide a clear warning that the system isn’t flying anymore.
Engine-wise, both inside and out the sounds have been done very well. There is an audible engine rumble from the cockpit on takeoff, but it is not too loud to not overpower the cockpit ambience. I believe that the balance of sounds inside the aircraft has been done very well.
Outside the aircraft, the engines roar like a lion when taking off, this gives a real retro style as if the engines would exceed modern-day noise regulations. The only issue I had was that the engines outside were too loud, but Felis has added an option in the EFB which will allow users to decrease the interior and exterior volume.
Overall, My experience flying the Felis 742 was extraordinary. With a few problems with sounds experienced, the Felis offers a smooth and comfortable experience for pilots seeking a retro flight experience. Although it took some time to learn the retro systems, once learnt, the aircraft is contentment to fly across the skies. Being priced at $70 I believe this aircraft is priced perfectly, the relentless amount of effort that has gone into the aircraft, not just from Felis has been extraordinary.
I highly recommend this aircraft to anyone who has an interest in retro jet aviation or to someone who wants to try something new. I’m sure you won’t regret your purchase!
I would like to thank Felis for supplying me with the impressive aircraft to fly and beta test. The Felis 747-200 can be purchased from the X-Plane.Org Store for $70.
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