BlackBox Simulations Shorts Regional Pack: Flight Sim's Ugliest Plane?
November 20, 2023
I have a bit of an interesting personal connection to the Shorts SD330. Currently, I'm living in southern Alberta and all the way back in 1976 a regional airline based out of the small city of Lethbridge would be the first airline to debut the brand new Shorts SD-330. As someone who lives in the area with an interest in both local history and aviation, I was through the moon when a few locals who also share those interests decided to start what would go on to be called the Time Air Historical Society(TAHS). The main goal of the TAHS is to have a museum focusing on both Time Air and Canadian Regional which later purchased the airline. Currently, TAHS have acquired some former Time Air and Canadian Regional aircraft including a Fokkrr F-28 and an SD-330.
When I originally saw a post by Graham in a Facebook group looking for help from people who worked with the SD-330/360 I was very excited to finally be able to fly what might be the quirkiest airliner ever made. I kept a keen eye on development updates and when the aircraft was released earlier this month I knew I had to get my hands on it.
The Shorts Regional Pack comes with both the Shorts 330 and 360 and including military and cargo versions of each. The 330 has a very unconventional design and has many interesting nicknames including “The Flying Shed”. The 330 has a maximum service ceiling of 20,000 feet and a max range of 915 nautical miles. Even with its looks, the 330 flies surprisingly well and is an absolute dream to taxi on the ground. On each wing of the SD330, you'll find a Pratt and Whitney PT6A paired up with a 5-bladed Hartzell constant-speed propeller. BlackBox has brought these engines to life with the quality of the sounds included with the aircraft. All of the interior switches have a very satisfying click, and the engine sounds are out of this world.
The depth of the systems included with the BlackBox Shorts Regional pack is incredible and very much study level. The pack includes a very thorough manual as well as a tutorial flight with step-by-step instructions. It definitely took me some time to learn where everything was located in the cockpit, but once I had a good idea of where to look for things the SD330 became a very enjoyable plane to fly! While many 330s and 360s weren't originally equipped with GPS and Autopilot, BlackBox has included the option to use a Garmin GPS 400 as well as the original analogue avionics. My one wish for this aircraft would be the option to include 3rd party GPS panels like the GTN 750 from PMS50 for example. Overall the interior modeling I would say is adequate, it definitely is at a level that matches the price point however it definitely isn't the best feature. For the external modelling, I don't think there's anything that could be improved, the external model is extremely detailed.
I know for me personally, I find older airliners typically require a lot more involved than modern airliners like the A320. However, I feel like the SD330/360 is a nice place to start learning retro airliners. While the starting procedure is quite involved the flight beyond that is quite easy. I found the SD330/360 to be surprisingly stable on both the ground and in the air. One small thing I did notice about BlackBox’s rendition of the plane is that there seems to be a bit of a delay between yoke inputs and the animation happening in the cockpit. Ultimately I think this just has to do with the animation's timing and it didn't affect my ability to fly the aircraft.
If you're looking for more vintage aircraft the Shorts Regional Pack is definitely something you need to add to your hangar. With 9 variants, accurate avionics, and fantastic sound the €49.99 price tag is more than worth it.
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