Review

Introduction

Hawker Siddeley has a long established history in British aviation manufacturing, both in its own right, and also as one of only two such major British companies in the 1960s which emerged from combining the legacies of several British aircraft manufacturers, and then through a series of mergers and acquisitions. This further led to Hawker Siddeley becoming a founding component of the nationalised company, British Aerospace (BAe). Throughout the company's history, the Hawker Siddeley name has been synonymous with many iconic British aircraft and the HS.748 is just one such aircraft.

Just Flight have had a focus on publishing iconic British aircraft, both civilian and military, for some time. The HS 748 Propliner is one of Just Flight's latest releases in this British line and it is a release which has been greeted with much anticipation from flight simming fans of the British aviation industry.

History

The Hawker Siddeley HS.748 is a medium sized, low wing, turboprop airliner with a capacity for 40 to 58 passengers. Originally designed in 1958 by Avro as the Avro 748, it was seen as a replacement for the aging Douglas DC-3s, then in widespread service as feeder liners. Avro concentrated on performance, with a rugged design and better short field performance, allowing it to operate from smaller airports and those with rough surfaces. Other features included an internal engine starting system, and systems and structures which were designed to be easy to inspect and repair in the field with limited equipment. Consequently, and with its ability to haul payloads of over 10,000 lbs in and out of short, rough airfields with little to no ground service equipment, the HS.748 quickly became popular with airlines operating in remote areas.

The Avro 748's first flight was on 24 June 1960 with the first production aircraft being delivered in April 1962. Production encompassed four major passenger variants, and along with additional variants, including military, coastguard, and variants built under licence in India, total production reached 380 by the time production ceased in 1988. During the early production years, the individual identity of Avro within the Hawker Siddeley Group ceased and the design became universally known as the HS.748.

Availability and Installation

The Just Flight HS 748 Propliner is currently available direct from Just Flight and Just Flight resellers as a download only product (some resellers also offer a master back-up CD / DVD service for a minor additional cost). It is normally priced at £24.99, or the equivalent on currency cross rates. The download file size is 452MB and it requires 3GB of HDD space for installation. The installation process requires you to log in to your Just Flight account to verify the product and the installation process is intuitive and seamless.

Key Features

The HS 748 Propliner displays the typical features of other Just Flight aircraft add-ons.

The major features listed include:

accurately modelled HS.748 Series 2A, built using real world aircraft plans;
custom coded autopilot with pitch and bank hold and independent flight director;
electrical systems have been authentically simulated to enable correct APU and engine starts;
realistic "cold and dark" cockpit starts;
numerous warning annunciators illuminate on fault detection and a fully functional engine fire warning and protection/extinguishing system are built into the cockpit;
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;
GNS 430 GPS unit included for easy navigation; and
authentic stereo sound sets for the Rolls-Royce Dart engines.

Visual Appearrance

General Overview and Exterior. The rugged and short field performance design is clearly evident in the Hawker Siddeley HS.748. The aircraft has a long, high lift wing and a unique single slot flap with a hinged flap tab at the trailing edge. The wing is mounted low on the fuselage with the dihedral from the wing root. This allows good overall ground clearance and easy mounting of the strong durable landing gear. The aircraft also exudes the typical lines of medium sized regional airliners of the era. The large passenger windows and vertical stabiliser are similar to the HS.748's contemporaries, such as the Fokker F.27 Friendship, and the larger Lockheed L-188 Electra, and Vickers Viscount, and the long wing with its pronounced dihedral from the wing root is clearly evident. Just Flight promote the HS 748 Propliner as being modelled on the Series 2A variant, the most produced variant, however, the aircraft specifications provided in the manual and certain aspects of the aircraft configuration file make reference to the Series 2B variant. Regardless, the modelling captures the quintessential design of this iconic aircraft.

Flight Instruments, Avionics, and Aircraft Systems. Enter the cockpit of the Hawker Siddeley HS.748 and you take a step back in time to when analogue instruments were supreme and pilots earned their money by actually flying the aircraft. The cockpit represents the typical layout for the HS.748 and with its array of analogue gauges, it can appear daunting. The overhead panel contains the electrical, fuel, light, and de-icing systems and switches, as well as the radios, with the autopilot system mounted on the centre pedestal. The standard, analogue flight instruments are supplemented with the Garmin GNS 430 GPS unit mounted centrally on the panel, forward of the centre pedestal, to assist with navigation. So, for those unfamiliar with navigating using radio navigation techniques, or those who simply just don't bother, then this will provide some degree of comfort. The manual provides a good description of the panel and gauges and time spent reading the manual and familiarising yourself with the cockpit is time well spent.

Models and Liveries. The Just Flight HS 748 Propliner is provided in a single model with 16 individual liveries (a selection showing below). There is an additional blank texture available for aircraft painting enthusiasts. Displaying high quality, the surface textures, reflections, and shadings, give each aircraft a very good appearance. However, the lack of other than very superficial scuff marks, scrape effects, dirt, oil, or grease stains, presents the aircraft in a very bland, pristine, and unnatural state.

Summary, Issues, and Variations. The rendition of the Just Flight HS 748 Propliner is highly detailed and reasonably accurate, the visual quality is very good, and it provides a faithful representation of the real world aircraft. Most major elements of the cockpit are clear and easy to read, with the typical range of various alternative cockpit camera views to provide more detailed clarity. Exceptions to this were some of the engine gauges on the centre panel and the Garmin GNS 430 GPS unit which lack clarity unless viewed at high zoom levels. Otherwise, the texture quality was very good. Whilst the Garmin GNS 430 GPS unit is provided in the virtual cockpit view, the default Garmin GNS 500 GPS unit is provided in a 2D pop-up. Other simple aspects of visual quality, such as curves on the dash being very angular or lacking defined shape, and an overlap in panel components, also detracted from the quality and experience in the cockpit. These oversights are considered simple tardiness, if not laziness, and along with inconsistencies over whether the aircraft modelled represents the Series 2A or Series 2B variant, it raises overall questions on the technical quality of the model which are not easily verified. Nonetheless, any other noted visual variations were minor and are considered to be related to real world production variations or a degree of artistic licence on the part of the developer. Any noted issues and variations with cockpit functions and operation were considered minor and / or in the interests of simplifying the function for practical flight simulator use.

Animations, Lighting and Sounds

The animations on the HS 748 Propliner include:

primary control surfaces – ailerons, elevator, and rudder;
secondary control surfaces – flaps;
others – retractable landing gear, rudder trim tab, cabin and cargo doors, retractable air stairs, and cockpit windows; and
various static elements.

One of the more notable and impressive animated features is the cockpit quarter windows, which can be opened progressively to any angle. This is a change from the normally standard fully open or fully closed condition. However, the retractable air stairs on the cabin door can be deployed and retracted through the closed cabin door. Again, this is just tardiness in design and the operation of these air stairs should have been linked in some way to the operation of the door.

The lighting and lighting effects on the HS 748 Propliner are reasonable. However, the cockpit and panel lighting at night reduced the realistic look of the panel compared to its view under natural light conditions. The roof panel lighting produces a discoloured effect towards the edges and if this is switched on during the day, it obliterates the outer edges of the panel. Furthermore, there was no discernible difference between the light effect produced by the taxi and landing lights, the white flood light in the cockpit does nothing and the external starboard navigation light is blue, rather than green. On a positive note, the engine sounds are a good representation of the Rolls-Royce Dart engine and, as they spool up, the sounds capture that characteristic fever pitched whine which builds to a scream at full throttle. The engine sounds displayed reasonable stereo separation with view movement in the Virtual Cockpit view but this was barely discernible, if at all, in the external views.

General Characteristics and Performance Specifications

The general characteristics and performance specifications for the Hawker Siddeley HS.748 are provided in the table. This is based on data from the official Hawker Siddeley HS.748 Pilot Operating Handbook, 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.

General Characteristics

Crew Two
Passenger Capacity 40 to 58
Length 67 ft 0 in (20.42 m)
Wingspan 96 ft 6 in (30.00 m)
Height 24 ft 0 in (7.57 m)
Empty Weight 27,126 lb (12,327 kg)
Fuel Capacity 1,440 US gal (5,451 l)
Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) 46,500 lb (21,092 kg)
Power Plant 2 x Rolls-Royce Dart RDa.7 Mk 536-2, turboprop, 2,280 hp (1,700 kW)

Performance Specifications

Cruise Speed 244 kts (281 mph, 452 km/h)
Range 926 nm (1,066 mi, 1,715 km)
Service Ceiling 25,000 ft (7,620 m)
Rate of Climb Approximately 1,500 ft/min (457 m/min)

Flight Performance

A specific Test Flight was conducted to test the flight performance of Just Flight's HS 748 Propliner. The flight was conducted in clear weather with a full fuel load and the aircraft at maximum take-off weight (MTOW). The weight and balance section of the aircraft configuration file only has one load station specified and, based on the default figure, it appears to be for the pilots. Whilst a very large figure can be added here to bring the aircraft up to MTOW, this is artificial and appears to have no affect on the centre of gravity for the aircraft. A cruise altitude of 18,000 ft was adopted and the route distance was particularly chosen to provide a basis upon which to test the range characteristics of the aircraft.

The aircraft was easy to taxi. With flaps set for take-off, aircraft rotation occurred at approximately 120 KIAS and effortlessly lifted off the runway, with a climb out which was expected for the aircraft. For all its short field performance, do not expect the HS.748 to leap into the air, the take-off and climb out were smooth and gradual. During cruise, I attempted to establish a power setting to maintain a cruise speed of 220 KIAS, as indicated in the manual. However, even with the engines at full throttle, this was not possible, and the maximum speed achieved was only approximately 200 KIAS. This cruise setting produced an average fuel flow rate of approximately 2,400 lbs/hr and an endurance inconsistent with the characteristics of the aircraft and less than that specified. The Test Flight highlights major deficiencies in the modelling of the aircraft for speed and range performance.

Configured for landing, with full flaps, and trimmed for a descent rate of approximately 500 ft/min, the aircraft's approach speed was approximately 110 KIAS and it touched down at approximately 95 KIAS, with a landing roll-out comparable with the specifications for the aircraft.

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 within the measured two minute period using the turn coordinator.

The performance of the Just Flight HS 748 Propliner was, at best, only reasonable in flight. The general handling characteristics are good, with the aircraft being responsive to control inputs, and it is also very steady once trimmed for level flight or established on approach. However, the performance against the specifications and procedures in the manual left a lot to be desired. If you can ignore these deficiencies, the HS 748 Propliner is a pleasure to fly.

Documentation

A 46 page manual is provided in Adobe Acrobat format (.pdf) for the Just Flight HS 748 Propliner and includes:

panel guides for all instruments;
a guide to flying the aircraft, including a flight tutorial; and
normal procedures.

Whilst the manual covers the basic, necessary aspects for the operation of the aircraft, it is not overly detailed and lacks any kind of detailed performance specifications. What performance specifications there are, some were inconsistent with the actual operation of the aircraft.

Value for Money

In a word, disappointing. Whilst I can accept that the HS 748 Propliner was not presented as an aircraft with thorough systems coding but more as a light, easy to fly add-on, I do expect it to be what it is presented as and perform as per the manual and specifications. Add in the identified graphical / visual issues and the value for money starts to dissipate very quickly. Consequently, the Value for Money for the Just Flight HS 748 Propliner is only considered good.

Simulator Performance

The aircraft model performed excellently within the existing settings I have in P3D. I have most of my settings set very high and there was no need to make any adjustments. There was no discernible frame rate impact directly attributable to the Just Flight HS 748 Propliner and P3D continued to perform smoothly.

Technical Requirements

This version of the Just Flight HS 748 Propliner is for FSX / FSX SE / P3D only. Other specified technical requirements are as follows:

Windows 10/8/7/Vista/XP (32 or 64bit);
FSX with SP1 and SP2 installed (or Acceleration Pack), FSX Steam Edition, or Prepar3D (v1/v2/v3); and
2GHz or any Dual Core, 2GB RAM, 1GB graphics card, and 3GB 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, XMP T1 CL9 HyperX;
Windows 7, (64bit); and
Lockheed Martin P3D Version 3.4.

Additional Major Add-ons. Active Sky 2016, Active Sky Cloud Art, FS Global Ultimate region series, Orbx FTX Global BASE, Orbx FTX Global VECTOR, Orbx FTX Global openLC series, Orbx FTX region series, Orbx FTX airport series, and Orbx FTX Trees HD.

Conclusion

The Just Flight HS 748 Propliner was released with a lot of expectations and, like the Just Flight One-Eleven 300/400/500 before it, fans of British aircraft were looking forward to the HS 748 Propliner's release. Generally speaking, the HS 748 Propliner is a lovely add-on which is a delight to fly, but it is marred by issues which just should not exist. Whether there was a push to release this to market or problems with the beta testing regime is unknown, but the end result is an average product. A small Service Pack was released back in early December and it can only be hoped a further Service Pack is planned. If you can overlook the issues, you will still enjoy flying the Just Flight HS 748 Propliner.


Verdict and Scores

Verdict

The Just Flight HS 748 Propliner is, generally speaking, a good aircraft add-on product which is a delight to fly, but is let down by very obvious misgivings.

Scores

For
Against
Category
Score
High quality textures Air stair operates through a closed cabin door External Model 8.0
Good exterior modelling Mismatch in GPS units Internal Model 7.5
Good flight experience Graphical inconsistencies in the cockpit Sounds 9.0
Documentation is basic Flight Characteristics (does it fly by the numbers) 8.5
Value for Money is marginal Flight Dynamics (does it feel like what it looks like) 9.0
    Documentation 8.5
    Value for Money 9.0

Overall Score

The Just Flight HS 748 Propliner is awarded an overall Mutley's Hangar score of 8.4/10,

with a "Recommended" and a Mutley's Hangar Bronze Award.