The iconic 747. Anybody, regardless of aviation prowess, can identify one. Long hailed as the “Queen of the Skies,” it has connected passengers across the globe for almost 50 years. With connotations of opulent luxury and ultimate prestige, the 747 was the plane to beat. Until 2006, when Airbus finally stole the crown from their American rival with the introduction of the Airbus A380. This fully double decker jet outclassed the 747 in class, capacity, efficiency, and comfort. So, since they lost the crown 10 years ago, Boeing has been fighting diligently to recover their glory, and this was the fruit of their efforts. The Boeing 747-8.
Designed to carry more passengers, burn less fuel, and offer a better passenger experience than the previous 747-400, it was a striking feat of engineering and technology. Sharing all the latest tech with its younger sister, the 787, it brandishes the name in it’s name. The -8. Made from new high quality materials, and employing the use of new high tech GE engines, the 747-8 was ready to steal back the crown fro m Airbus. And now, in X-Plane 10, you can fly the current champion of the skies with the SSG 747-8. It recently received it’s new v1.5 update, which added massive improvements such as upgraded textures, better performance, and a completely re-done flightdeck among other things. So, without further ado, let’s check it out.
The interior model of this plane has been vastly improved from v1.4. The SSG team have been hard at work completely re-doing all of the internal textures, something that was sorely needed. The result is a pleasing to look at cockpit that bears close resemblance to it’s real world counterpart. The labeling of buttons and switches is done to the same sharpness as their E170 (something I heavily praised them for) and the buttons themselves look very clean and sharp. I imagine that a considerable amount of time, effort, and dedication went into crafting each and every button and knob.
The layout of the 747-8 cockpit should be familiar to anyone who’s flown big Boeing planes in the past. The cockpit layout and logic is slightly modified to accommodate for the 4-engine layout, but other than that it should be easy to understand for most former Boeing pilots. The overhead panel loses the switch for the PAX signs (the knob was moved to the pedestal) but that was about the only thing up there that confused me.
The glareshield and main panel might as well just be drag-and-dropped from the 777, they look almost identical. For any Boeing pilot, this is a great thing, as it means this airplane will be very easy to pick up and understand for you. Once again the texturing is superbly done (might even be better than the E170 in some places.) The displays are clear and crisp, but do become a bit fuzzy when being closely zoomed into, but this is a flaw with most X-Plane aircraft. I’m not docking any points.
The night lighting in the cockpit is per the norm. Crank up the dials and watch as all of the labels become luminescent with that Boeing off-white. Very similar to a 757 in this regard. I like that the lighting is quite subtle and easy on the eyes, something that cannot be said about the 777 green color they use for lighting.
The external model hasn’t been majorly updated from v1.4, but this isn’t a bad thing. v1.4’s model was already superb, and the v1.5 just makes it slightly better. Detail is abundant, particularly around the tail area. Textures are sharp enough, but do get slightly blurry at close distances. Even though the passenger windows are just part of the texture, they look convincing enough to provide a good experience when flying. The engines are particularly well modeled, and really show off how good these new GEnx engines look.
Differences between the 747-400 and the new 747-8 include an increased hump, and an elongated body, making the -8 the longest commercial jet in the world, beating out the A340-600, A380, A350-1000, and 777-300ER alike. The wings also now have raked wingtips, as opposed to the A330 looking affairs on then 747-400.
Sadly, there is no Materials NG plugin for this plane yet, so we can’t enjoy X-Plane 11-esque reflections yet.
Now we get into the good stuff, the systems. Like I mentioned before, this airplane is very similar to a 777, and it’s operation is simple to pick up for those who have flown the 777 before. But how have SSG modeled the systems? Short answer: Fantastically. Long Answer…
The physical systems include every thing you control as a pilot that has a direct and immediate effect on the aircraft (flight controls and electricals for the most part.) They handle just the same as any good sim addon would. You can dig up a manual for the real life aircraft, and be able to do a large amount of what it tells you to do. From startup to shutdown, I had no issue manipulating the systems to get them to operate correctly.
Once we got up in the air, this plane really got to flex it’s muscles. After all, planes are meant to do one thing, fly. From the surprisingly large amount of power the GE engines made to the responsive and agile FBW system, this airplane was a pleasure to get up and fly in. For a plane that size, it really had a great amount of get up and go. Many people testify that the A380 is as agile as a fighter jet, but this plane is fantastic regardless. I decided to do a stupid test flight from KCLT to KAVL with a friend. He made the reasonable choice to take an A319, but I went with the 747. And this airplane absolutely killed it. I was off the ground and gear up before he rotated. I hit v1 speed before the end of the piano keys, it was insane. I then continued to absolutely power climb to my low cruise of 10,000ft. Due to FAA regulations, I could only go up to 250kts. Not that the airplane had any issue, it flew that speed with idling engines.
And the impressive performance continued. Due to some neglectful ATC, I started my final at 7,000 ft. 7,000. And yet I managed to land the plane at 56fpm. The smoothest jet landing I had ever made came from a 4 degree nose dive to the runway of a regional airport somewhere at the foothills of the Appalachian mountains. Yeah, I’ll call your fighter jet performance beat.
Good old Virtual Systems. Sometimes, you just have to hand it over to AP to do the work, and luckily this airplane delivers. I divide the Virtual Systems into 3 categories, MCP manipulation, FMC manipulation, and A/T integration (will be touched on in the MCP segment.)
The MCP is the hub for all of your on-the-fly changes to the autopilot. As with any Boeing plane on the market today, the MCP is extremely easy to comprehend for anybody who has ever flown a Boeing airplane before. From the MCP, we can engage LNAV, VNAV, A/T, or choose to set manual parameters. The SSG proves to emulate the MCP with ease, and apart from my occasional inability to disengage a flight mode, I had no issues with it. Most of the time, you’ll be flying this plane in LNAV / VNAV mode, meaning interaction with the MCP is infrequent and a minimal part of the flight. Still works great though.
The FMC is the center for all of your advanced operation of the airplane. Once again! You’ll be using the FMC much the same way as you would a 777. Which is to say, awesomely. I find that the longhaul Boeing FMCs are the easiest to comprehend and program, and this one is no exception. Everything is straightforward, and works without a hitch. The only slight quirk that I found is that when you put in a route, a “DIRECT DESTINATION AIRPORT” constantly shows up in the route. It can just be overwritten by putting in the correct info over it, and it does not tamper with the flightplan at all. Overall an awesome, high-quality user experience that will leave you satisfied, even if it operates similarly to other FMCs on the market.
The only major gripe that I had with the E170 by SSG was it’s less than satisfactory performance when the load got tough. Luckily, the 747-8 gets better performance than the E170, and the only time that I ever got a real slowdown was when I was flying near Dreswicki’s NYC, since I leave all three airports enabled as well as the city. Overall, I was very satisfied with the performance I got in the 747-8.
So we’ve discussed what this airplane does similarly to other big Boeings, so how about we discuss how it’s different. We’ll start with the integrated aircraft controls that SSG put in the cockpit. From here you can control the load of the airplane, the sounds, the pushback tug, the aircraft doors as well as things like rain effects and whether the yoke is enabled or not.
We can also take a second to talk about the fact that they thankfully removed cockpit walls, letting us get those sweet sweet wingviews!
And this doesn’t necessarily pertain to SSG, but this airplane has awesome features like being able to start 2 engines at once, making for a lot shorter of an engine start process. There’s also the fact that you can zoom in the ND below 1 mile, and as long as you are on the ground, it will show you an airport diagram. This is so unexplainably useful. If you’re using the 747 for intended purpose of long-haul flying, you won’t often know the airport you’re flying in or out of, so this is very useful for pretending to look like you know what you’re doing.
So, onto the question you came here for me to answer. Should I buy this airplane? Well, I only do this very rarely, but I’m going to give a blanket yes. Whether you’re a real-life pilot or a casual simmer, there is always something fun to enjoy in this airplane. If you want to fly it by the book, it’s really good for that, but it’s also amazing for just screwing around and seeing how much fun you can have in a jet. After all…
It’s just a sim.
THIS PRODUCT WAS PROVIDED AT NO COST TO ME BY SSG TO REVIEW. THIS DID NOT SWAY NOR AFFECT MY OPINION OF THE PRODUCT. ALL IMAGES USED ARE MINE AND SHALL NOT BE REDISTRIBUTED BY ANYONE OTHER THAN MYSELF.