Just Flight Fokker F27 'Friendship' Review

Fokker F27 'Friendship' 100/200/300 Series
For FSX/FSX SE/Prepar3D Published by Just Flight
Reviewed by Andrew Godden
July 2015

Introduction

Fokker is synonymous with some of the earliest and most famous aircraft designs and the company dominated the civil aviation market during its most successful period in the 1920s and 1930s. In the post World War II period, Fokker again re-established its place in the civil aviation market and in 1958, Fokker introduced the F27 'Friendship'.

Just Flight have a published a fantastic range of classic airliners over the years and there has been a renewed focus of late. As for the Fokker F27 'Friendship', it is one aircraft, which over the years, has been somewhat of a rarity in add-ons for Microsoft Flight Simulator and other flight simulator platforms. Just Flight have now filled that space with the release of this classic and iconic turboprop airliner.

History

The Fokker F27 'Friendship' is a regional turboprop airliner. It has a seating capacity of up to 44 passengers (in the 100/200/300 series) and a range of over 1,400 nm. It is a high-wing configuration with two Rolls-Royce RB.53 'Dart' turboprop engines mounted on each wing.

The F27 'Friendship' was designed as a replacement for the Douglas DC-3 and first flew on 24 November 1955 with an entry into service date of 19 November 1958. When production ceased in 1987, there had been 586 Fokker F27 'Friendships' produced across 13 variants, and at the time, it became the world's best selling turboprop. The F27 'Friendship' was also produced in the USA under licence by Fairchild as the F-27 (note the dash) and FH-227 with a further 206 units built across those two variants.


Fokker F27 'Friendship'

Availability and Installation

The Fokker F27 'Friendship' is currently available direct from Just Flight as a 'download only' product. It is priced at £24.99, or the equivalent on currency cross rates. The download file size is 237MB and it requires approximately 1.2GB of HDD space for installation.

The download and installation process is simple and seamless and during installation you are required to log in to your Just Flight account.

Model Features

The Just Flight Fokker F27 'Friendship' is provided with three variants, the 100 Series, 200 Series, and 300 Series. The model features listed for the F27 'Friendship' are extensive and typical of models produced by Just Flight.

The following summary of the major features provides a limited overview of the extent of the detail included in these packages:
    ● General:
        ● built over the most accurate plans available;
        ● distinctive whistling Rolls-Royce 'Dart' turboprop engine sounds have been captured to give the utmost realism in full stereo along
           with switch click and knob effect sounds;
        ● flight files have been tested and verified by real world F27 aircrew;
        ● comprehensive 68 page colour manual, including flight tutorial; and
        ● FSX, FSX SE, and Prepar3D v2 compatibility.

     ● Exterior:
        specular map to give realistic light effects on the aircraft surfaces;
        bump mapping to give a more realistic 3D effect to aircraft liveries;
        detailed animations include:
        accurate landing gear operations;
        authentic flap action;
        spring balance tabs;
        trim tabs;
        windshield wipers;
        cargo door;
        passenger and ground services doors;
        opening 'Clearview' pilots’ windows;
        feathering propeller blades; and
        animated pilots.
        ground power unit (GPU), baggage tug and trolleys, and passenger steps.

     ● Interior:
        highly functional 3D cockpits with most of the switches, knobs, and levers animated and functional;
        full cockpit lighting with atmospheric instrument back-lighting;
        special ‘baked’ textures have been used to present a well used look and feel to the cockpit area and controls;
        avionics include autopilot functionality from the operating period with NAV and ILS approaches, VOR and ADF receivers and displays,
           transponder, and a full communications suite;
        many features have been added to help with ‘usability’ such as switches to hide the control yokes for a better view of the instruments and
           pre-set angled views for the overhead panel, throttle quadrant and radios;
        numerous warning annunciators will illuminate on fault detection and a fully functional engine fire warning and protection/extinguishing
           system are built into the cockpit - if you get an engine fire warning, pull the fire handle and the fire will be extinguished;
        electrical systems have been authentically modelled to enable correct engine starts;
        instruments include Artificial Horizon Indicator (AHI) with flight director, fully functional Horizontal Situation Indicator (HSI) with dual
           Navigation capability, VOR and ADF, Radio Altimeter, and a full working suite of engine gauges;
        full avionics and communications package with detailed, tunable radio heads and realistic digit read-outs;
        the F27 can be flown IFR and is capable of ILS approaches and all conventional navigation procedures;
        the characteristic High Pressure Cock (HPC) lever control system is simulated, including the 'flight-fine' and 'below lock' propeller warning
           lights;
        realistic 'cold and dark' cockpit starts are possible;
        unique seat view adjustment utility panel allows infinite settings for the preferred view position when in the cockpit;
        pre-set camera views for all essential stations;
        comprehensive electrical and fuel system panels;
        on/off nose-wheel steering and authentic flap selection, trimming, and other controls are simulated;
        operating blinking oxygen supply indicator; and
        windscreens are textured with reflective effects and display 'Perspex splintering' when viewed in direct sunlight.

Visual Appearance

General. Just Flight have done a wonderful job with the level of accuracy and detail in the Fokker F27 'Friendship'. The features list is extensive and is a testament to this level of accuracy and detail.

Exterior. The iconic and distinctive appearance of the Fokker F27 'Friendship' has been captured by Just Flight beautifully, with accurate, detailed modelling. A comparative review of photographs of real world aircraft to Just Flight's rendition reveal the exterior shape and dimensions to be a true representation of the real world aircraft. Any noted differences are considered to be related to real world production variations or a degree of artistic licence on the part of the developer.


Front View


Rear View


Nose View


Rolls-Royce RB.53 'Dart' Turboprop

Interior. With the F27 'Friendship', Just Flight continue to focus their efforts in the detail of the interior. A product of 1950s design, the cockpit of the F27 'Friendship' epitomises this era and has a classic analogue ('steam powered') avionics suite of the time. The interior gives the flight simmer an insight into the experience of flying this classic regional airliner. The modelling detail of the main panel, overhead panel, and centre pedestal are excellent. Just Flight have deliberately compromised on the accuracy in the modelling of cockpit equipment and features and used artistic licence, opting to draw these from a number of types to give the best combination of features and usability. This is an admirable approach, but disappointing for a model which features such high levels of accuracy elsewhere, not to mention being somewhat of a departure from the modelling accuracy of other products in the Just Flight range. Nonetheless, the approach achieves the result Just Flight where aiming for and it caters for a broad range of users and experience levels.


The Cockpit


No 'Glass' Displays Here


Just Analogue Gauges

Flight Instruments and Systems. Taking into account the aforementioned modelling accuracy, all major flight instruments and systems in the F27 'Friendship' are represented and fully functioning and there is sufficient accuracy and detail to satisfy the yearning of the procedural flight simmer. Whilst some aspects of systems functionality have either been simplified or omitted, these are not critical and certainly do not detract from the modelling or flying of the aircraft. The instruments are magnificently detailed and clear and easy to read. A new feature is the 'Eyepoint Tool'. This replicates the 'Eyepoint View' keyboard commands and is a great addition which allows you to quickly move around the cockpit to the various panels and controls. This is in addition to the usual range of alternative cockpit camera views which are available to provide more detailed clarity of the various panels and sections in the cockpit. As usual, the manual becomes a MUST READ at some stage, and whilst the autopilot is a simple and effective device which is not difficult to operate, you should ensure that you are familiar with its operation and features before flying. The manual covers the operation of this and other systems in some detail, so, read the manual.


Pilot's Position


Overhead Panel


Radio Panel


Throttle Pedestal and Autopilot

Liveries. There are 12 liveries (a selection only shown below) included with the Fokker F27 'Friendship', and blank textures for aircraft painting enthusiasts are available from the Just Flight web site. The liveries are of a high quality and the surface textures, reflections, and shadings give the aircraft a crisp and realistic appearance, with additional dirt, oil, and grease stains providing a very natural appearance.


NLM - 100 Series


Air New Zealand - 100 Series


Air Anglia - 200 Series


Ansett - 200 Series


DLT - 200 Series


East-West Airlines - 300 Series

Animations, Lighting and Sounds

As listed in the summary of major features, the animations on Just Flight's 'Fokker F27 'Friendship' are comprehensive. They have been modelled to a high level of detail and all appear to be modelled faithfully.


Gear Retracting


Configured for Landing


Ground Support Equipment

The lighting and lighting effects on the Fokker F27 'Friendship' are a good, realistic representation of the real world aircraft and replicate the night lighting seen in photographs of real world aircraft.


The Cockpit at Night


Instrument Lighting

The sounds on the Fokker F27 'Friendship' are a good representation of the real world aircraft. In particular, the classic high pitched screaming sound of the Rolls-Royce 'Dart' engine has been captured and represented very nicely.

General Characteristics and Performance Specifications

The general characteristics and performance specifications for the Fokker F27 'Friendship' are provided in the table. This is based on data from the data provided by Just Flight and general research sources. Some of this data varies between sources and also may be an approximation due to variances in data and the specific aircraft modelled by Just Flight.



Flight Performance

Those familiar with flying regional turboprop aircraft, such as the de Havilland Canada / Bombardier 'Dash 8' series, will find the conversion to flying the Fokker F27 'Friendship' a relatively easy transition. The manual has a tutorial flight section, and this tutorial flight is a good 'type certification' flight to take.

Using the 100 Series variant, a specific Test Flight was conducted from Townsville (YBTL) to Launceston (YMLT) to test the flight performance of the Just Flight Fokker F27 'Friendship'. The flight was conducted in clear weather with a full fuel load and the aircraft at maximum take-off weight (MTOW). A cruise altitude of FL190 was chosen and the route distance was approximately 1,338nm. The route was particularly selected to provide a basis upon which to test the range characteristics of the Fokker F27 'Friendship'.


Take-Off


Climbing Turn

I found ground steering to be somewhat tricky, especially for extreme limit turns, and I had great difficulty using the steering tiller, often resulting in significant under-steer. Minimal amounts of power are required to taxi, and I do mean MINIMAL, so beware. Following the procedures in the manual for a normal take-off and climb out, with a flaps setting of 'Flaps 16.5', aircraft rotation occurred at approximately 100 knots indicated air speed (KIAS) and the aircraft easily maintained a rate of climb and climb speed consistent with the specified parameters. The aircraft was established at the cruise altitude and a cruise speed of 220 KIAS. This cruise setting produced a fuel flow rate of approximately 2,200lbs/h (328 gph). Configured for landing, the aircraft’s approach speed was approximately 130 KIAS and it touched down at approximately 100 KIAS.

At FL190, whilst the expected cruise speed could be maintained, this cruise setting resulted in a shortfall in the expected range performance. Further testing at various other flight levels resulted in either the expected cruise speed or range performance not being achieved. Testing across the 200 Series and 300 Series variants revealed similar performance variances. The noted variances on cruise speed were marginal in the 100 Series variant and greater in the other two variants. In all cases, it did not have a significant impact on the operation of the aircraft. The noted range variance was in the order of approximately 10% for the 100 Series and again, greater in the other two variants, thereby reducing the effective range of all aircraft variants. The various flight tests confirm the modelling of the Fokker F27 'Friendship' to be reasonably accurate for cruise speed and less accurate for range performance. The noted variances, whilst particularly more noticeable for range performance, are disappointing, but are not considered too significant to detract from the general flying of the aircraft.


In Flight 1


In Flight 2

In testing the accuracy of the instruments, based on the measured Test Flight, the speed indications on the airspeed indicator, were consistent with the averages measured. Additionally, when establishing a set rate of climb on the vertical speed indicator, the respective gain in altitude on the altimeter was achieved within the measured minute, and a standard rate turn was achieved, consistent with the aircraft type.


In Flight 3


In Flight 4

The general performance of Just Flight's Fokker F27 'Friendship' was excellent in flight, displaying the typical flight characteristics expected of this regional turboprop aircraft. The aircraft responds nicely to control inputs and it handles very well. It is a nimble aircraft and the power of the two Rolls-Royce 'Dart' engines needs to be managed judiciously, especially whilst taxiing. One operating aspect of the Rolls-Royce 'Dart' turboprop engine is the long spool up time and careful attention to this is necessary otherwise it will catch you unawares. Overall, and noting the observed variances in speed and range performance, the aircraft model displays an excellent rendition of the expected flight characteristics and a reasonable rendition of performance against the real world aircraft. Having said all that though, I found the modelling of the aircraft performance characteristics across the three variants to be too generic.

Documentation

The Fokker F27 'Friendship' is provided with a 68 page colour flight manual in Adobe Acrobat format (.pdf). The documentation is very well detailed, albeit generic across the three included variants, and provides detailed descriptions of the various instruments and systems. It also includes a descriptive tutorial flight, again, generic, taking you through a full start-up to shut down procedural sequence, and procedural checklists. This is a valuable resource and, as I have said earlier, a MUST READ at some stage.

Value for Money

The Fokker F27 'Friendship' is an aircraft with a high level of detailed exterior modelling, features, and a wide range of liveries. Even with the somewhat generic performance modelling and noted performance variances, on the value for money stakes, it is still considered exceptional.

Simulator Performance

The aircraft model performed exceptionally within the existing settings I have in FSX. I have most of my settings set very high and I also have the TEXTURE_MAX_LOAD entry in the FSX.cfg file set to 2048. There was no need to make any adjustments to these settings and FSX continued to perform smoothly.

Technical Requirements

Just Flight's Fokker F27 'Friendship' is for FSX, FSX SE, and Prepar3D v2. Other specified technical requirements are as follows:
    ● Windows XP SP2, Vista, or Windows 7;
    ● Microsoft Flight Simulator FSX with SP2 (or Acceleration or Gold Pack), FSX SE, or Lockheed Martin Prepar3D v2 installed; and
    ● Pentium V, 2GHz equivalent or higher or any dual core, 2GB RAM, 512MB graphics card, and 1.2GB available HDD space.

Review Computer Specifications

The specifications of the computer on which the review was conducted are as follows:
    ● Intel i7 990X Extreme 3.46GHz;
    ● NVidia GTX980 G1 Gaming, 4GB, 1228/1329MHz;
    ● 12GB Kingston DDR3 2000MHz;
    ● Windows 7, (64bit);
    ● Microsoft Flight Simulator FSX Acceleration; and
    ● additional major add-ons include: Active Sky Next, REX Essential Plus Overdrive; Ultimate Traffic 2; Orbx FTX Global BASE;
       Orbx FTX Global VECTOR; Orbx FTX Global openLC EU; Orbx FTX Trees HD; Orbx FTX region series; and Orbx FTX airport series.

Conclusion

The Fokker F27 'Friendship' is another great classic airliner from Just Flight and the level of detail in the modelling is superb. Just Flight deliberately used more licence in the modelling accuracy of the cockpit equipment and features, and this is a stated and accepted design point. The somewhat generic performance modelling for the three variants and the noted performance variances for speed and range are disappointing aspects, however, it still provides the flight simmer with the experience of what it is like to fly this 1950s classic regional turboprop airliner. The end result is the Fokker F27 'Friendship' displays an very good balance of accuracy, detail, and quality at an exceptional price.

This review has involved over 20 hours of specific (and very enjoyable) flight testing flying hours. If you are a fan of classic commercial airliners and, in particular, classic regional turboprop airliners of the 1950s, you will enjoy the Just Flight Fokker F27 'Friendship'.


Short Finals - YSTW Rwy 30R

Verdict

The Just Flight Fokker F27 'Friendship' is a solid product which displays high quality and detail, with a balance in represented accuracy to provide exceptional overall value for money.

Pros:

    ● Quality and attention to detail.
    ● Highly detailed cockpit.
    ● Exceptional value for money.

Cons:

    ● Performance modelling too generic across the three variants.
    ● Performance variances against expected speed and range.

 Verdict:   silver
• External Model: 10/10
• Internal Model: 9.0/10
• Sounds: 10/10
• Flight Characteristics (does it fly by the numbers): 8.5/10
• Flight Dynamics (does it feel like what it looks like): 9.5/10
• Documentation: 9.0/10
• Value for money: 10/10
The Just Flight Fokker F27 'Friendship' is awarded an overall Mutley’s Hangar score of 9.4/10, with a "Highly Recommended" and a Mutley's Hangar Silver Award.