The Boeing 757: an iconic aircraft for many different reasons. Designed for both short and medium haul flights, while remaining perfectly capable of crossing the Atlantic, there just isn’t anything else quite like this beautiful narrow-body twin-engine jet. With a limited amount of planes built compared to other Boeings, and only a handful of operators still using it, the plane has well-deserved its iconic status.
You can imagine how happy we were when Captain Sim announced that they were working on an update to their 757. With all the aircraft we have for our sims, it seems like this one just never quite got the love it deserved. And what was there just didn’t hold up anymore in today’s age of 64 bit simulation.
The installation of the 757 is really simple and easy. There’s a straightforward installer and all you need to have saved somewhere is your product key. Point it to your P3D installation folder, and the installer will take care of the rest. The same goes for the update installers. Unfortunately there is no manual installed with the installer, and thus you’ll need to download it separately from the CaptainSim website. The manual is very comprehensive and will definitely help you out to understand the plane. It includes a lot of information about the plane and operations, a guide, and a comprehensive checklist.
Captain Sim ACE Tool
The ACE tool is used to configure and customize your aircraft. It includes a livery manager which you can use to manage and download liveries from the internet. Luckily, there is quite a wide variety of third party liveries made by the community, so you’re almost certain to find something to your liking here. There’s also a separate configuration manager that you can use to customize your aircraft even further. Think about toggling winglets or enabling/disabling the satcom and other antennae. You can also disable the virtual cabin of the plane that Captain Sim has created.
Modeling and Textures
After loading up the plane, there are a few things which you’ll notice right away. One: the engines are running (we’ll get back to that). Two: the interior modeling looks great. And I really mean great. The modeling is incredibly detailed and the textures are of high detail. If that’s not clear enough for you, this plane does not hold back in comparison to some of the higher quality aircraft that we’ve come to see as standard. When it comes to modeling and textures, this plane is right up there with the big names.
There is a panel in the simulator itself to animate several parts on the 757. Wheel chocks, emergency slides, and opening all kinds of doors and hatches is all possible. There are a lot of moving parts on this aircraft. Some – if not most – of them are rather useless, unless you want to spend a lot of time looking at your aircraft while the engines are opened up for “maintenance”, but it’s still nice that all these options are there.
Back to the interior: almost every button on the flight deck moves and serves its purpose. Textures are highly detailed and look very realistic. There’s some dirt on some panels and gauges and many items show some visible marks of use, and regular wear and tear. This perfectly captures the feeling of a plane that has been used quite extensively, and it really adds to the immersion of a somewhat older plane.
CaptainSim has also modeled an entire interior for the 757. The modeling and texturing of this section is, like the rest of the plane, of very high quality and looks very nice. It’s pretty cool to look out of the window, go to the lavatory (no expenses spared here either) or visit the galley.
Despite all these options, I am rather disappointed that CS only modeled the “old” panels with the steam gauges. Many, if not most, modern 757’s have been retrofitted with complete glass panels such as in other Boeings, and there is yet another update coming that will make the panels of the 757 more similar to the 787 with five large LCD displays.
An important factor which relates partially to the previous topic is lighting. Just like the modeling and texturing, the lighting is on point and accurate. This goes for both external and internal lighting. The external lights are all dynamic whilst inside the flight deck you can find texture based lighting. This comes with one big downside: the lighting is not particularly useful during the day,and turning on the lights will make the panel colors a bit darker too. That said, the lighting is done very well and you can even change the brightness for panels and displays.
From what I’ve heard, the sound has received quite a noticeable upgrade from the previous CS 757. I wouldn’t be able to tell since I didn’t own that one. However, I can tell that this version could still use a lot of tweaking in the sound department. Flight deck sounds are generally fine. Buttons, switches and knobs all have a feedback sound. It’s quiet, but it’s there.
The sounds in the exterior view are incredibly quiet and muffled, such as engine sound and the APU. During engine start-up you should be able to hear the engine spool up, but this sound is incredibly quiet – the engines can almost not be heard from the flight deck. Not only that, but this sound will randomly and continuously cut out. The same happens to the plane when you’re in the air but going less than 200 knots: there’s no sound from the wind.
Almost the entire flight deck is interactive. Doors, chairs and some panels open. And almost every button, switch or knob works. And they do what they are supposed to do, too. This definitely adds to the immersion and realism of this plane.
However, it’s not all just great: particularly operating the rotary knobs on the flight deck is a bit of a nuisance. CaptainSim implemented some kind of accelerated scrolling, which means that if you scroll for long enough on a knob it will start scrolling faster. A similar feature can be found on PMDG’s aircraft, for example. However, CaptainSim’s implementation is rather poor. The scrolling will accelerate way too quickly and with too big steps, making you constantly need to be very careful with these interactions.
You may recall another option from PMDG where manual engine thrust input can be overridden by the AT control once it’s enabled. Such a feature is lacking on the CS757. This becomes a big problem during take-off where the EPR switch won’t stay locked as soon as the aircraft detects the slightest bit of input from your peripherals. It would be really nice to see a fix for this added in the future.
Another slight point of frustration is using the settings and payload options in the FMC. The settings won’t save. Putting in your fuel and payload is not really a joy either. There are several pages to do this, and they are all a bit confusing. Furthermore, setting certain values will reset others. For instance, adding fuel to your aircraft will reset your pax load. And the manuals haven’t been updated yet to give you a good understanding of how this part of the FMC is to be used. There are also no panel states for the aircraft; it will always start with engines on on the ground so you’ll have to shut the plane down manually by yourself. Unfortunately you can’t save these states either.
That said, other interactions with the FMC work absolutely great. There’s a 2D pop out for it, but the 3D model is fully functional and every button works! The FMC works exactly as it should, and functions like SIDs and STARs also work really well. Only pity is that winds aloft and holds don’t work. If you’re familiar with Boeing planes you won’t have any issues going through it and getting your flight set up.
Controlling the aircraft feels horribly inaccurate and I feel like I may as well be controlling a paper plane. I know that she’s not as big and heavy as a Boeing 777, but the slightest touch of my input controls makes the plane go everywhere. She feels far too nimble for a 757. Of course I can tweak my settings, but what I have works for every other plane. So my feeling is that it’s not my settings that are wrong. The movement of this plane with the slightest input is far too exaggerated.
And I have more complaints in the flight dynamics department: the descent and landing need a lot of work. During the descent, the plane with always take a very nose down attitude. And it does this for very reasonable descent rates that don’t go over 2000ft. p/m. This will easily get me close to a -10 degrees angle, which ends up causing your speed to skyrocket and make the FMC scream for spoilers during the entire descent. And that’s what you’ll have to do: during the entire descent you’ll need to have your spoilers deployed. It’s incredibly hard, almost impossible, just to keep this plane on its indicated airspeed.
All this goes on until you’ve captured the glideslope, after which the plane will manage to keep a perfectly fine, slightly nose up attitude to slow down and descend. And in contrast to what I described above, during the final approach slowing down will be no problem at all. The plane will almost instantaneously slow down from 200-something knots to your approach speed. Before writing this review I’ve done my fair share of research, and from what I’ve learned I can only say that the way this plane handles descent and approach is incredibly unrealistic and needs a lot of work.
The performance of this aircraft is quite good. I got pretty good frames in general, depending on the complexity of the surrounding scenery and/or weather of course. No stutters or shoddy performance anywhere. It’s good to note that some users are reporting a quite significant increase in framerate when they disable the virtual cabin.
The base package of the Captain Sim 757 (v3) can be purchased for $75.70. At first, this may sound like a very reasonable price for a plane that’s rather enjoyable despite its apparent shortcomings. But the shortcomings should not be ignored. The 757 is a great plane, with high quality modeling and textures, lots of interactions, customizable features and more. But there are also a lot of issues with the plane as you’ve been able to read above. And sadly, these issues are most apparent in the areas that matter most. Sure, your plane can look great, but if it flight dynamics are off, is it really still that great? It’s an honest question you have to ask yourself. Sure, the issues are not breaking the plane. And you can work around them, and I certainly won’t deny I’ve had a great deal of joy getting this plane in the sky. But some issues are hard to ignore.
Furthermore, the $75.70 price only gives you access to the base package of the plane that features only the 757-200 model with PW engines. There will be three different upgrade packages, featuring the 757-200RR, 757-300 and 757F. If the previous price points of CS expansion packages are anything to go by, these expansions won’t be priced any lower than $20. This would bring the total price point up there with the biggest names in aircraft addons, such as PMDG and FSLabs. Again, I won’t deny the plane is absolutely great. But it does seem to lack some of the quality, complexity and depth that other aircraft in the same price range offer. And the other issues of the plane suddenly become a lot more glaring in this context as well.