After 7 years in development, the QualityWings 787 is finally here. It has certainly been a painful wait for simmers, but the Dreamliner is finally a reality. Of course, there’s been a lot of vocal people in the community about the fact it’s currently only available for a dinosaur of a sim, but that shouldn’t take away from the aircraft itself and the development time the team has put in. Trust me, I am purely a P3DV4 user, so taking a step back to FSX:SE was pretty painful. Luckily, some gifted developers have produced scenery and environmental packages that really help the sim to look pretty good. With everything ready, it was time to finally load up my most anticipated aircraft in a long time.
So, a quick caveat: this is a first impressions article based on a handful of flights. This is not a review – that I intend to do once the P3D version has been released (with the service pack in check). So why is it not a review? There are a couple of reasons.
a) It’s not in my primary sim – so I’m unable to test it in the same conditions I would other products.
b) Reviews for detailed aircraft take more than a couple of weeks to flesh out, but I felt it was important to share initial thoughts.
c) QualityWings is committed to delivering a service pack which will enhance the aircraft. It wouldn’t be fair to pass full judgment on the initial release. Even with a team of beta testers, things will be missed.
First things first – the installation. QualityWings has chosen to use Flight1’s store and product wrapper to enable quick and easy access to your product in case of updates or change of PCs. Another advantage is the fact that Flight1 has a very generous 30-day refund policy. So, even if you’re completely unsatisfied, you’ll be able to get all of your money back and ‘return’ the product back to the vendor. There aren’t too many sim stores that provide such a generous offer to simmers, so this is a real benefit when buying the QualityWings Ultimate 787.
The process itself is pretty straightforward, and before you know it, the product is installed. When the product is first installed, you’ll find the documentation and the QualityWings Dispatcher. The Dispatcher is used for multiple purposes, such as setting the weight and fuel, changing the unit type, and it has all the functionality you will need to install liveries for both aircraft types: the 787-8 and the 787-9. It’s a simple process to download and install but it lacks a lot of the ease of use we find with other products for installing liveries. This was recently highlighted by the fact that people had to re-download their liveries to fix some errors.
The quality of the liveries available varied between good and great. Some, such as the United and Norwegian paints, looked great, but others lacked any proper detail. This is not a huge deal, as there are plenty of talented painters out there who will be able to make the liveries look excellent. Of course, this may also be down to the memory limit posed by FSX’s 32-bit environment.
With that in mind, let’s address the elephant in the room: FSX only.
QualityWings were very clear from the start that this would be first coming to FSX with a P3DV4 release following afterward. While it’s disappointing to many, QualityWings will be using this time to fix issues with the plane and release a stable version of the 787 for the 64-bit sim. So while this may be annoying for some, there’s something quite remarkable about having such a computerized aircraft fit within the constraints of the 32-bit application. QualityWings has also done a good job at making the aircraft as light on VAS as possible.
In my setup, I had the sliders all the way to the right for most situations – yet not once did I receive an Out of Memory error. I haven’t done any ultra-long hauls just yet, but flying between some busy airports didn’t result in any issues. At most, my VAS never went above 3.2GB – pretty impressive! If you’re very conscious about how much memory you’re using QualityWings have included a handy little VAS monitor directly on the PFD. This is obviously not featured in the real aircraft, but it’s a small addition to make the aircraft as user-friendly as possible.
Something that is really easy to use is the airport navigation charts, which are displayed right on the PFD. There’s a whole range of airports included, and if you’re parked at one of them, you’ll be able to see the airport layout. Making sure you have the airport code in the FMS and you’ve zoomed in enough on the map, then you’ll be able to see taxiway routes and parking gates to make getting around the airport really easy. The idea is to aid pilots who may be unfamiliar with airports and provide them with even more situational awareness. For the simmer, it’s a great tool to use when flying online or exploring a new airport. Airports to need to be added to work with this feature, but already the community has made a whole bunch to assist – but let’s hope that QualityWings finds a good solution to allow these custom airports to easily be added to their aircraft.
Another unique feature of the QualityWings Simulations Ultimate 787 is the use of an in-built EFB system. Whilst many functions are blanked out, the EFB allows you to calculate take-off and landing performance, as well as display navigation charts. The take-off calculations are based on whatever information you have inputted into the FMS and then with a few clicks, that data is then pushed back to the FMS to enable you to use the correct speeds. The same is done with the landing data. It’s really easy to use and the automation of it allows you to get the information quickly and accurately.
The chart system feels a little more basic. It will show you the SIDs and STARs of your departure and arrival airports based on the data in the FMS. This movable map will allow you to see the waypoints on the chart as well as constraints. It’s basic in terms of details, but enough to get you by without the need of a Navigraph or Navicharts subscription. I used it a couple of times but found myself quickly going back to my tablet and using the beautiful Jeppesen charts found elsewhere.
Whilst the aircraft is really easy to use, there are some design choices I don’t agree with. For example, to allow the displays to pop out, you need to click on some specific click-spots. Not a problem in itself, but to close them, the click-spot is different. Furthermore, while the dispatcher program is good, I want to be able to load my passengers and fuel directly in the sim. This also applies to changing units of weight.
In the cockpit itself, I recognized immediately how well modeled and textured it all looked. Even in FSX, edges were sharp and colors were varied. It really felt like a modern airliner with plenty of focus on simplicity. The large screens house all the information you’re going to need for a flight and each one is adjustable depending on the information you need. It takes some getting used to, but the information is presented well. I did note a few bugs with the wind indicator and direction pointer where the text clipped off the screen. I also felt that the text itself wasn’t sharp enough to be read when zoomed out a little.
Buttons are easily clicked throughout the cockpit and most things have an impact or the action expected. As this isn’t a study-level sim, there are some elements missing or mirrored from other parts of the plane. For me, this is okay as this is exactly what the team at QualityWings were aiming to achieve. There were a few issues with the speed at which I could adjust heading or speed on the MCP as it was really slow to adjust. A bit annoying when flying Cross the Pond and a controller is getting upset with you for not turning fast enough – whoops.
One of the most impressive elements of the QualityWings 787 is the external modeling. I personally think that the 787 is one of the best looking airliners in the world thanks to its unique nose shape, the flexible wings, and the great looking engine cowlings. QualityWings have done an exceptional job at bringing the elegant aircraft to life in the sim. The fuselage, raked wings, and engines all look like the real aircraft. There’s so much detail wherever you look, whether in the modeling or the animation. Take the landing gear for example. The doors and struts of the gear react realistically and are buttery smooth. The same can be said about the control surfaces too.
An element that most people will be interested in is how the wings react to the forces of flight. With such a sweeping wing made out of such light material, in real life, the wings flex and change shape almost all of the time. QualityWings have paid special attention to how the wing reacts to the forces in the sim and have modeled it accurately. When you take off you can see the curve of the wing go up, and during any turbulence, the wings react just as you would expect. The animation is also really well done with no jerkiness or trapped frames.
Whether you’re flying during daylight or in the middle of the night, the aircraft looks great thanks to the dedication the team has put into creating wonderful night lighting. Looking at videos and screenshots, you would have thought the lighting was created in P3D using some of the more advanced technology. But no, this is in FSX and the effects are second-to-none. Adjusting the lighting in the cockpit is easy and creates an ambiance before only known to real-life pilots. Now you can experience the feeling of flying the 787 at night too.
Externally, the effects are also just as good. The landing and navigation lights splash onto the ground nicely and add yet another layer of realism when flying through the darkness. Strobes and beacon flashes also reflect off of the aircraft skin, although the beacon effect could use some changing as it looks a bit too solid on the inner-side of the engine.
Whilst the aircraft certainly is appealing to the eye, another consideration for many of you would be the availability and depth of the systems.
QualityWings has always said that their 787 would not be study-level, but that it will aim to accomplish most tasks of the 787 and for the pilot to be able to complete flights. It’s the most in-depth aircraft the team have produced. From my limited time with the aircraft, most of what I would desire is there.
Things like checklists and test systems are all there so you’ll be able to do flows from cold and dark all the way through to shut down. Additionally, there are plenty of small details that help to bring realism to the aircraft. For example, EICAS displays are accurate for each engine type, and things such as tire pressure and brake temperature are also visible to the pilot. There are a lot of indications in the real aircraft to help pilots and QualityWings have done the same for simmers.
One of the most important elements of the 787 is the fly-by-wire technology. This enables pilots to fly with more stability within the performance envelope of the aircraft. For example, it will prevent you from banking outside of the limits or will try to prevent you from stalling the aircraft. There are plenty of in-depth functions that fly-by-wire does, and QualityWings have replicated them all within the 787. From my understanding and limited knowledge, the aircraft flies smoothly inside those laws and delivers a smooth and easy flying experience. As I dig a little deeper, I can hopefully provide more information on it. It’s worth noting that you can turn off the protection and take the plane beyond the limits for a bit of fun.
During your typical flight, you’ll know that you will need to key in important information in the flight management system. Everything from route to weights and cruising altitude needs to be set here. It’s really easy to use, especially if you’ve done it for past Boeing aircraft. As in the real aircraft, it’s no longer hard keys for selecting information and some of the button placement has moved about so it can take some time to get used to. QualityWings have modeled most pages for every day flying, and there’s a great message system if you input wrong or inaccurate data, giving you more information than the Boeing aircraft of yesteryear.
The FMS is suitable for flying but lacked some of the more detailed, but equally important, elements. For example, as a long-haul aircraft, I would expect to be able to input wind information to help ensure that I had enough fuel in the tanks. Furthermore, I initially thought I was doing something wrong when deleting altitude constraints when flying a SID, but it turns out that you aren’t able to yet. Just like the wind aloft, you aren’t able to import any forecast wind data for the descent either. Some of these design choices I find odd, especially when other elements of the aircraft feel very study-level like. I’m hoping this will change with the upcoming service pack.
Furthermore, in the FMS, you are able to change a few aircraft options such as callouts. Like I’ve previously mentioned, this would be the ideal place to also host the ability to load fuel and payload, as well as configure a few other elements which are currently placed outside of the sim.
Finally, there is a fully functional terrain and weather radar which overlays on your ND to give you further awareness of the elements outside. You’ll need Active Sky Next or Active Sky 2016 for the weather radar to work, with REX integration coming soon.
Other elements and systems I haven’t used a great deal yet:
- There is a great looking heads-up display (HUD).
- There’s also QWPAS and the QWCAS which enables real-life sounds to be emitted in the flight deck to add realism. For example, passenger announcements, cockpit talk etc. It works nicely, but so far I haven’t used it too much.
- I haven’t talked about the differences between the 787-8 and the 787-9, but there are a few and have all been modeled.
- There’s online ATC interaction with the COMM page.
- QualityWings JumpAhead and ApproachConfig feature are really cool especially for practicing your skills in certain situations.
One of my favorite things about the QualityWings Ultimate 787 is the sound pack. Both engine types are modeled and each one carries a unique set of sounds to enhance your experience within the sim. The sound of the spool-up on engine start sounds very realistic and gives you that sense of powerful jet engines starting up from behind you. During the take-off roll, the engines are loud, exciting and really give you that feeling of taking off the world’s most advanced aircraft. Each power increase yields a different sound with varying pitch giving you a really authentic experience. During the flight, wind sound effects will eventually drown out the sound of the engines, but it feels very real. Moving to the external view, you’ll be just as impressed. Flaps and hydraulics can be heard, the APU sounds really good and no sounds are ‘cut-short’ just because it’s the end of the sound file. Something that did disappoint was that switches in the cockpit repeat the same sound effect. I would also like to see some more ‘bumps’ when taxiing or taking off to give it that feeling of moving over uneven surfaces through the airport. Overall, the sound engineering is excellent and it really feels like a Boeing 787.
My favorite sound effect has to be when you bank the aircraft too excessively and you hear a ‘scream’ from the cabin. Try it out.
There’s plenty I haven’t covered in this first impression article, as there’s plenty to talk about and go further into detail. However, I’m guessing you’ve read this far and want to know “should I buy it”? Right now, I see no reason for you to not buy it. There are elements of the QualityWings Simulations Ultimate 787 that are missing or feel incomplete, but overall, the team has done a good job at bringing one of the most advanced airliners over to the simulator. This is far from a final review, but with a generous 30-day money back system in place and a commitment to update, it’s a no-lose situation. If you like the plane, then keep it, if not, you can return it. If you’re waiting for the P3D version, I wouldn’t buy it yet (unless you intend to use it in both sims) as it won’t be a free upgrade.
I’ll continue to fly the aircraft and eagerly await the P3DV4 version. Once it’s out for Prepar3D V4, the official review will follow soon after. For now, if you have any questions, post them below and I’ll do my best to answer them.