Spending the time that I have with the ATR in the last couple of week’s has prompted me to explore the airliner field a bit more. While the PMDG 737-600 waits in the wings for me to get a better grasp on it, I decided to take a chance and try something else too. Enter Flight Sim Studio AG’s Embraer E170 and E175 E-Jets series. Not without controversy in its early access state, I thought I’d find out what it was like for myself. I had an absolutely epic flight with it and that definitely means that I’ll be having more adventures with it soon. This is fast and fun airliner operations with the FSS E175 from Munich, Germany to Bari, Italy. Let’s fly!
Fast and fun!
I am not a by the book flyer most of the time. I cut my teeth on World War II warbirds where some procedures were essential and other rules were meant to be broken all in the name of achieving that next victory. Being an airliner pilot is a very different kind of approach where things like fuel weight, routing, approach plates, and various procedures matter. While all of that is interesting and fulfilling, I’ve been on a quest to find a happy middle ground and ultimately to have a bit of fun.
I discovered with the ATR, through its EFB, that a single button press could have my aircraft up and running (not unlike the auto start procedure for DCS aircraft) in just a couple of minutes. So the first thing I wanted to know was if the E-Jet series had something similar and, as it turns out, they have just added something like that though its not well advertised.
Clicking a toggle switch in their EFB called “turnaround mode” puts the aircraft (once reloaded) into a state of near readiness. As an aside, I actually think they would be better off with a couple of buttons, ala the ATR, that let you click and set the status. Still, this works as turnaround status makes the aircraft ready for nearly everything except for the APU and the engines and makes the start-up very simple. Flick a couple of knobs and wait for the engines to start. It’s time to fly!
Even better than the ATR, this jet supports both MSFS’ built in flight plan as well as SimBrief flight plans which you can import satisfying (to some extent) both the casual as well as the veteran crowd.
With that as my backdrop, it’s time to tell you about this particular journey starting at XXXX Munich Airport in Germany and then flying south over Croatia and across the Adriatic Sea to the Italian coastal city of Bari.
Pushback, departure, and climb
I love to throw myself into the deep-end with these things. My first flight in the FSS E175 was an ambitious one. Fly a nearly 2-hour route in stormy conditions over the Adriatic Sea and then into Bari airport. Sure enough, my first attempt failed as I over-sped the aircraft and got that infamous screen warning me that I had crashed. Good thing its a simulator!
This route is based roughly on a real world flight flown by Air Dolomiti and their E195. I don’t have a livery for them nor is the E195 released yet…so just imagine. Meanwhile, the KLM livey looks pretty sharp on its own so that worked for me!
Pushing back from the beautifully detailed Orbx/Aerosoft XXXX Munich Airport terminal, I taxiied to runway 25L and departed without too much trouble. I knew from tutorials that the aircraft was often operated with 2 levels of flaps and so that’s what I did – untroubled with some of the more detailed calculations I still managed to make it work. Airliner pilot I am not… but here I am having some fun!
One of the great things with an airliner like the Embraer 175 is that they have some serious power – relative to the ATR anyways! Power enough to overspeed the airplane but more usefully the power to climb quickly and so here we were doing an expedited climb to 20,000 feet, then 29,000 and then 40,000 feet. And a good thing too because the clouds were thick and storms were ahead!
The beauty over the storm
Live weather and some of the best cloud rendering technology in the industry means that Microsoft Flight Simulator frequently produces some absolutely stunning cloudscapes and this was one of those times.
A large rainstorm with strong winds was over the Adriatic sea during this flight and cloud tops were punching their way up to 35,000 feet and a few just above that too. ATC cleared us to climb to 41,000 feet and from there we were skimming some light cirrus clouds (or what MSFS approximates as cirrus clouds) with dark, forboding, moody towers and billowing clouds beneath us.
Some of the cloudy weather also gave me the opportunity to appreciate the interior of the E175. The cockpit visuals are decent but do perhaps need a bit of polish while the cabin looks great already.
Every so often we’d see a break in the clouds and you could get the best sense of depth possible in a flight simulator looking down on the high resolution scenery below. This is some of the most scenic imagery in the sim with the mountains and terrain including the Alps and the rugged terrain along the coast of Croatia. Almost entirely invisible on this journey! Maybe next time.
The slightly nerve wracking landing
Now out over the Adriatic and with my flight plan showing me my destination of Bari, Italy coming up I started to prepare for the landing. I’ve watched enough tutorials to know some of the basics. Input the ILS information (I actually didn’t end up needing it or even being sure if it worked), following the ATC information to descend to the appropriate heights, and start using the autothrottle and spoilers to manage the descent speed.
Breaking out of the clouds and very fortunately into some clear conditions at the airport itself (Bari itself was shrouded in rain) I lined up and performed my first and successful landing. Not without a few bumps but nothing horrible and the feet per minute was probably in the 200-300 fpm range so good enough!
A few thoughts
FSS AG have taken some flack for their early access release of the E175 (and now E170) on Microsoft Flight Simulator. I’m not yet at the point where I can or want to write a full review but I will say a few words about the product on my own.
First, despite some of the hyperbole that is out there, I don’t think this project is at all deserving of being called a scam, being called crap or totally unusable. It is none of those things. There are developers out there dropping low quality products on the market and running away and this is none of those things. There’s a lot of care and attention here… but its also not done.
Although its just my first flight and subsequent flights will no doubt cause me to notice things that I didn’t on the first one, I have to say that there’s a lot to like here and the systems all functioned reasonably well from the autopilot to the radar to the various moving maps and the FMC. I’m not yet advanced enough to notice the missing VNAV so maybe when I get there it will annoy me some. Until then this is perfectly enjoyable for my more casual approach to airliners.
There are some missing sounds, the cockpit is clean and clear but a bit bland and could use some artistic flare, and it is still heavy on performance.
FSS have committed to regular updates and I’m both excited and hopeful on what they can achieve and accomplish. I’m no stranger to early access models as I took a chance on IL-2 Battle of Stalingrad in its earliest days and I regularly fly DCS World modules that are in early access phases so none of this phases me. So long as FSS stay committed I think this will mature nicely.
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Having fun is why we do this! Ultra-realism is just one flavor in the ice cream parlor of flight simulation. I often turn off the stuff in flight sims that annoy me IRL, like weather and ATC. This way I can always see the sights and I’m always #1 for the runway of my choice.
There is unfortunately a jarring effect when an airplane is way off from real life, akin to the sky being green or the runway being purple, so I can relate to those who might get hung up on things not being perfect.
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So true! Recently I’ve been looking for ways to have fun, for it to be authentic, but to ultimately enjoy the experience and not worry too much about some of the more dreary parts of the realism.