Threshold Review: FlyJSim Q4XP

Threshold Review: FlyJSim Q4XP

November 19, 2021
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Copy Provided

Introduction

Since the release of the FlyJSim Q4XP, we have been putting the aircraft through its paces to be able to share our opinions of the aircraft with you. FlyJSim’s Q4XP is the latest aircraft and, in its own right, work of art, to be released by the developer. The aircraft has been in active development for over 3 years and we think the result shows this dedication.

Built-in the second quarter of 1996 the Q400 included an Active Noise and Vibration System designed to reduce cabin noise and vibration levels to nearly those of jet airliners. To emphasize their quietness, Bombardier renamed the Dash 8 models as the Q-Series turboprops. David and I were lucky enough to be in the final stages of the beta testing and to obtain FlyJSim’s rendition of the aircraft for this review.

Installation/Documentation

Installing the FlyJSim Q4XP is straightforward, simply requiring a quick drag and drop into your aircraft folder. Once you boot up your sim, enter your activation key and you are ready to go. 

The documentation provided with the Q4XP is nothing but helpful, you are greeted with 2 documents inside of the aircraft folder that tell you everything you need to know. The only aspect I found where the documentation falls a bit short of is that there isn’t a manual that ships with the aircraft where all the buttons are laid out, in this case, I could not find the brightness knobs for the displays, and the manual was of no help. This can be an annoyance when you are in a hurry. FlyJSim has however provided users with a Quick Reference Guide on their site. 

First Impressions

Alistair: At first glance, the FlyJSim Q4XP is visually stunning, the 3D modelling throughout the aircraft caught my eye and is a testament to the modelling skills that Jackal is known for, and complementing that is highly detailed textures, supplied by the talented Valdudes, provided me with a perfect photogenic platform for some screenshots. The first flight I took in the bird was a classic FlyBe flight from Edinburgh to Cardiff. From startup to shutdown the sounds were a real contempt, the authentic switches, engines and warning sounds provided a delightful experience. On takeoff, I could feel that the aircraft had a unique flight model and was going to present itself to be a challenge to land.

David: When I first loaded into the Q4XP, I was stunned by the amount of detail that went into the model. I immediately started the aircraft to see if the sounds lived up to my expectations and in a nutshell: yes, yes they did. Shortly after, I took it up for a quick flight from Belfast to Edinburgh. Although it wasn’t like I ever flew in the simulator, it felt very familiar right from the start. One thing I did notice was that as soon as you get closer to the ground, the Q400 starts to feel a lot more sensitive which caught me off guard, causing me to slam it into the ground at Edinburgh with a backbreaking 3G’s.  

Cockpit

Stepping through the door of the aircraft, Valdudes (the texture artist for FlyJSim) has coated the cockpit with scratches and marks from head to toe. Textures have been done to amazing levels of detail and with high poly modelling throughout, the cockpit looks and feel all fabulous

The left side of the cockpit is home to all 360 circuit breakers, some are also simulated in the nose of the real plane, but you can't get to them. FlyJSim has gone the extra mile by modelling and animating all of them with, pilots are welcomed to try and test their skills by popping a selective breaker. Although they may all not react like the real aircraft, Jackal has confirmed that: “they work, and all systems go through them, but no one has tested to make sure that cascade failures are correct.” The image below shows how the white box outlines where each function is. The top section is all systems found in the nose, and the two bottom white sections are found in the cockpit.

 

Further discovering the cockpit, I want to focus on the Overhead Panel and CWP (Caution Warning Panel). The top left side of the overhead panel is home to everything electrical and power. Further down we can find the ice protection panel, this is vital for pilots to keep an eye on when flying through clouds or in high precipitation situations. Finally, on the left side, we can find the windshield panel; which can control the wipers for both the pilot and copilot. 

Moving right we will find the all-important engine and APU fire panel. This area is vital if an engine fire is triggered as pilots can extinguish the fire, stopping it from spreading. Below we have the interior lighting nobs, which mean you get free control over the brightness of various lighting fixtures throughout the cockpit. As we progress down, we find the CWP (Caution and Warning panel), this is home for all the warnings and advisories for the pilots. 

The final part of the flawless cockpit is the convenient JPad. In line with the extreme detail in the aircraft, the team have poured many hours of work into their JPad. The Q4XP’s EFB comes equipped with 4 menus: General/Home, Payload, Checklists and Settings. 

Starting with the home page, This page is very useful to inform you when the aircraft needs an update as shown in the image below. Below the index information, lies information about the aircraft, the hours you have flown, the number of flights you have completed and the amount of passengers you have transported. 

Venturing into the weights and payload page, the tablet also houses everything to do with loading passengers and fuel into your aircraft. An extra detail the FJS has done is the addition of the boarding passes for each passenger, detailing their: name, age, gender and seat. The next sub-page is where pilots can load/unload Passengers, Cargo and Fuel. 

The penultimate page is home to 14 checklists to guide the pilot through operations during every stage of the flight, right through from starting the plane to shutting it down. This was very useful when a problem occurred in the complex start-up procedure and I could quickly refer back to the checklist.

The final page is where pilots can find the options and most importantly the credits page. This is the time to congratulate the team on their amazing work and all the effort that they have put into this masterpiece. 

Avionics

The Q4XP features highly realistic systems, however, there is no option to change any of the systems to make it easier to operate, so the aircraft does require some previous knowledge to successfully operate it. I did, however, find the systems easy to understand when flying for the first time; everything is self-explanatory if you have flown previous turboprop aircraft. Moving back to the radios, the Q400 has 2 VHF radios on each side of the cockpit, with each working as their independent unit with the possibility to set them to their separate frequencies. 

Noteworthy is that the aircraft doesn’t feature TCAS(Traffic Collision Avoidance System), a terrain radar, and weather radar. I do think this is slightly poor and possibly indicates a rushed approach towards the end of development. However, I do understand that these are planned features for upcoming updates, and have not been completely overlooked.

Another critical element of the aircraft is the fully custom UNS-1E. At first glance, it might look like your ordinary FMS (Flight Management System) but when using it to plan a flight, it sets itself apart in terms of functionality and looks. Where the UNS sets itself apart is the layout, whereas most aircraft with a regular Collins or Honeywell FMS would have Departure/Arrival airports, cost index, and what not on the same page, the UNS lays it out differently. Something worth mentioning is that the UNS does not cover any flight plan uplink, so you'll have to dive into the system a bit more to get a grasp of how the UNS works, but if you’re like me and don’t mind a complicated FMS then you'll feel right at home. If you struggle to operate the UNS, make sure to check out our FMS guide

Cabin

The cabin was made with true FlyJSim quality, having been implemented to a truly next-level standard. The textures of the seats are the main eye-catcher, the lumps and bumps that real leather seats provide an immersive feel to the aircraft. Paired with the textures is an immersive flight attendant panel. This is a new feature in the X-Plane community, previously seen in the LES SAAB 340 and is a must-have feature for high-quality aircraft. Pilots can head back into the cabin to control which lights are on and off during different stages of the flight.

Following the lighting control panel, the cabin also has a range of useful features. Window shades can be found on all windows and are operable, allowing passengers to block out the outside world, at their convenience. On most chairs, you’ll find an operative table for passengers to enjoy food and beverages onboard. The final interactive passenger related feature is the operative overhead bins, paired with a satisfying click as they shut, items of baggage can easily be stored during flight allowing passengers to keep their limited legroom to a max. 

The final item to cover in the cabin is the toilet, although not the most practical feature in a flight simulator, the toilet is modelled with an operative seat and lid. In correlation with a flush sound, users can leave the flight deck mid-flight if they require to relieve themselves in the virtual environment.

Exterior Modelling

As we can expect at this price point, the exterior visuals are nothing but stunning, FlyJSim’s in-house team has done an incredible job at reproducing the Q400’s exterior. Moreover, the exterior textures are beautifully done and are complemented by an outstanding normal map.

However, a point of critique is that the decals placed on the fuselage and wings are of a lower resolution compared to the rest of the fuselage, which had me zooming in to see what they said.

In addition to this, the nose is slightly blunt when compared to the real aircraft, this is a difference that is hardly noticeable, and is only out by around 5cm, but a corrected nose would add to the overall experience. On the contrary, I did find that the detail around the external power port is very detailed compared to other aircraft, shown in the image below.

A feature on the fuselage that caught my eye is that the flap tracks on the wing box are modelled with the same high attention to detail as the rest of the exterior, leaving little to be desired on the modelling aspect of the fuselage. Another detail that stood out to me is the refuelling port, where you will discover that the fuel panel is fully modelled and textured. Albeit the fact that this area is not functional at the moment, I’d hope to see it added later on down the line. To top it all off, the aircraft ships with 18 different liveries providing for a lot of realistic routes to be flown. 

Sounds

The Q4XP features a highly realistic soundset, providing for an immersive experience during all stages of the flight.

Starting in the flight deck, you can immediately notice how much work has gone into these sounds. The aircraft has a very modern feel to it sound-wise, which is accurate considering the aircraft is relatively modern in comparison to its siblings. Moreover, the sounds of the various switches and knobs are well done, although I do wish that some buttons would feature a bit more of a heavy and clunky sound.

Moving back to the engines, you can immediately hear the power of the propellers powering the mighty engines on the Q400. Turboprops have a very distinct sound to them as the propeller blades spin near the speed of sound, this has been replicated extremely well, both inside and outside of the aircraft. 

The sounds outside of the aircraft leave little to be desired, you can hear the sheer power of the aircraft as you fire up the 2 Pratt & Whitney engines mounted on each wing. One thing that I did notice is that the engine sounds are a bit less powerful when in the exterior view, but all in all, it is a very well done soundset and amongst the best I’ve heard to come default with any aircraft. 

Flight Dynamics

The flight dynamics of the Q4XP are something special, the quirky flight model well known on the Q400 provides pilots with a challenge as they try to conquer the landing phase. To conquer the landing phase you cannot idle the throttles until touchdown otherwise the aircraft tends to fall out of the sky. This matches the real-life Q400 as I knew a pilot who used to fly for FlyBe and she stated that the “Q400 was a lovely bird to fly, but the landing was a major challenge when compared with flying the E175''. 

As shown in our media review, FlyJSim has done an amazing job of modelling the torque exerted on the flight model of the aircraft. As you increase the power from the engines, the raise in torque being produced causes the aircraft to roll left. This matches perfectly with the real-world aircraft and most multi-engine turboprop engines. 

User Experience

When it comes to user experience, I'll keep it fairly short as there isn’t a whole lot to mention on this subject other than that the aircraft has a very user-friendly environment, which made me feel right at home when first loading up the aircraft.

 A large factor in such a comfortable flying environment is achieved with the previously discussed Jpad, which accommodates you with all the data you need to achieve a successful flight.

Something that I did notice was the performance, albeit it not keeping me from flying the plane properly, there is a fairly heavy performance impact, giving me a solid 20 to 25 FPS on the ground(instead of 40 - 45 FPS) with Enhanced Skyscapes installed. 

Conclusion

Overall, the FlyJSim Q4XP is a masterpiece, the 3 years of hard work and dedication was well worth the result as I believe that the aircraft is the best turboprop on the market. We both believe that the price of the Q4XP is very fair, with 3 years of hard work, multiple additional features (lighting control panel) and high-quality textures, this sounds about right for $79.95. 

I would highly recommend this aircraft to anyone who is looking for a new type of aircraft to add to their hangar, or even to a newbie pilot as with all the documentation, guides and videos, the aircraft is a great addition to any simmer’s hangar. I’m sure you will not regret your purchase. 

The FlyJSim Q4XP can be purchased from the X-Plane.org Store.

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