Any flight sim user who has ever stumbled upon a forum will quickly realize that one plane is recommended oh too often. The Just Flight 757 Freemium, a legendary reply to… “What is the best cheap payware on the market?” Those who reiterate their request for payware will receive nothing but hate for being so rude and closed to ideas.
This made me angry. If no one is going to respect the “cheap” payware market, I will. Sure, the Qualitywings gets quite a bit of publicity, but that usually comes from forum posts from 2009 that you accidentally replied to. Don’t worry, It’s happened to all of us. Anyways, I started doing some research, which proved invaluable (the people of 2009 flightsim.com are smart!) They all seem to agree that the Qualitywings 757 is a staple part of any virtual hangar, and at $25, it really is a steal. Most people will start getting visions of Wilco planes when they hear the price, but they would be wrong. Just wrong, sorry! This plane proves impressive for the price in quite a few ways. Shall we get started? I think we should.
(Feel free to skip the background part if you are only interested in the actual model for FSX.)
The Boeing 757 started development in the 70’s to replace the aging 727, due to rising oil costs. Full development of the plane started in ’78 under the code name 7N7. The aircraft was developed alongside the 767, so that pilots could obtain common type ratings. In 1979, British Airways, and Eastern both committed to the 757. After production began, orders ramped up, and by the time Boeing filled its last orders for 757s in 2005, they had cranked out 1,050 of the things.
The aircraft is most recognizable by its high-standing fuselage, blunt nose, and large engines. The 757-300 has the title of the longest single-aisle passenger jet in the world. The 757-200 has a max range of 4,100nm, and now holds a large grip in transcontinental routes. The 757-200 has a freighter derivative, used in the fleets of Fedex, DHL, and UPS. As the demand for these freighters increased, and passenger models declined, they started converting passenger models to freighter models.
The download was 360mb, and unpacked to about 1.5gbs with all of the models. I purchased through the FSPilotshop, and the download and activation went seamlessly. I will say though, it only backs up your files for a year, so if that is a big deal to you, I would consider that. Otherwise, I had no troubles getting the airplane installed and ready to fly.
Plenty of features are provided with this aircraft. You receive an eighty-page tutorial, and a livery manager. The tutorial covered everything that came with the aircraft, including startup procedures, checklists, and tutorials for the various applications provided with the plane. Speaking of, the livery manager proves invaluable when it comes to your aircraft configuration. This aircraft came without any airline liveries, so you have to install every single livery yourself. However, with the livery manager, this is easy. You simply download the repaint .qwl file from the website, and find it in the livery manager. Once you have installed it, you can configure whether you want retrofitted panels or not, and what payload you are carrying.
The virtual cockpit in this airplane received a graphical refresh with service pack 3, which was not needed, but appreciated none the less. The VC managed to impress at this price bracket. Most knobs, switches, and dials are modeled in 3D. In fact, most everything I saw was 3D. The only thing that was a little less than impressive to look at in the VC was the FMC. Out of all of the 3D things in the cockpit, the FMC was inexplicably flat. However, that was a very minor complaint, ever so slightly tainting a stunningly well-modeled flight deck. Truly, there was very little negative to say about this cockpit. It exceeded expectations in almost every department, and performed well with a decently spec’d machine.
The exterior model was nothing groundbreaking. The model didn’t look bad, but rather had an outdated appearance. The windows were not see-through elements, but painted on effects. Most of the fuselage was lacking depth, which made doors and lights look artificial. Once those doors opened however, they became a 3D object, and had animations. The same theme applies for most of the exterior model. The exception being flaps, speed brakes, and reversers, all of which were 3D, and have detailed animations. The main texturing on the fuselage looked absolutely fine at a normal distance, but zoom in, and you would quickly find that the model had a few flaws. This mostly relates to the actual texture work, which was low res, but also saw relevance in some elements of the underlying model. Mainly, the doors, as we mentioned earlier.
Although I may have sounded negative, the exterior model proved itself worthy, at least compared to its price-based competitors.
Qualitywings’ motto was “complexity… simplified.” This theory absolutely held true in their product, and really took charge in its development. Although the FMC had not been touched since you loaded the plane, it had already entered all of your POS INIT data. The APU knob did not move to all three positions, but rather went straight to start when moved. Although none of this really mattered, it made the difference between a study-level sim, and an F-LITE plane. I could configure the FMC for a transatlantic flight in about two minutes, depending on my start and end points, which was frankly ridiculous.
Qualitywings touted this package as the most in depth sound set available for the 757 in FSX. From the drone of cruise, to the intense roar of takeoff, I was starstruck into believing. If there was one thing that they spent most of their time on, this was probably it. Many people downplay the importance of a good sound package, but those people listen to music while flying anyways. For those of you who find other products lacking, you may find this product worth it for the sounds alone.
The flight dynamics were developed in tandem with real world pilots to be as realistic as possible, and I have to say, they did a great job. I found approaches a pleasure to fly, and I made a smooth landing almost every time, thanks to the maneuverability this aircraft was capable of. The engines were very powerful, and the aircraft could hit quite a high rate of climb. This could be both a blessing, and a curse, based on your payload.
DID IT HOLD UP?
Shall we look at the pros and cons before making our decision?
Great sound package, Great virtual cockpit, Decent looking exterior model, Awesome flight dynamics, Lots of variations of the 757.
Exterior model is a little flat, systems depth is shallow, lack of liveries shipped in the default package.
As you can see, although we have a few issues with the lack of great exterior visuals, or systems fidelity, the plane flies well, is fun to fly from the VC, and has almost every 757 variation. This, coupled with the $25 price tag means that I would absolutely recommend this product. There is also one more reason to buy it. As the people of Flightsim 2009 said “This airplane is a staple part of any virtual hangar.” So go ahead and buy it. It’s a steal.
EDIT: Shortly after the publication of this article, Quality Wings released SP3 for the aircraft, which fixed almost all of the issues I had with this airplane. They updated all of the graphics, and they are amazing! The airplane retained it’s $25 price, so I would still absolutely recommend buying it.