PMDG vs iFly … a raging debate to this day. Both planes cater to very different markets, with similar results. Both of them find sales virtually anywhere, making them both a hit. But many customers have no clue which one to go with. Today, I would like to provide insight as to what kinds of features and systems this plane models, and if the iFly is worth the hefty price tag.
I received my product from Flight1, and the installation went over smoothly. I activated my product through the “re-activation” method, and had no trouble doing so. After the product finished installing, I went straight to the Flight1 library system to download liveries, as the plane came with none. Although not a huge issue, I would have liked to see a few liveries off the bat for those who don’t want to wait. However, this approach means that you will have more room for liveries you want, not ones you don’t.
Those of you who have read more than one of my reviews will likely remember the documentation being mentioned alongside installation. However, this plane came with a very thorough set of manuals and tutorials meant to really give you a proper understanding of the airplane, which deserved their own topic. The 529pg AOM (Aircraft Operating Manual) is complemented by a 75 pg tutorial, and its 71 page supplement. You shouldn’t expect to fly this aircraft on your first day of ownership. The manuals are very comprehensive, and without previous experience you won’t be airborne for a few days. Now, that may sound bad, but it really isn’t. I found that the airplane was well worth the effort, and it was a rewarding experience every step of the way.
iFly CONFIGURATION MANAGER
The configuration manager is an integral part of the correct operation of the aircraft. From here, you configure payload, liveries, eyebrows, winglets, engine types, and the style of MCP. Not to mention the tabs upon tabs of configuration for things like IRS alignment speed, and FMC display type. As you can see, there is quite a bit to customize, and quite a bit to configure. You can fill the plane with fuel, passengers, and cargo manually, or you can randomly generate your payload. The configuration manager will then give you some numbers like gross weight and center of gravity, which are needed to fill out the FMC correctly. Overall, the tool was easy and convenient to use.
The virtual cockpit in this plane is a faithful representation of it’s real-life counterpart. I wasn’t able to find very many blurry areas, or hard to read labels. The aircraft tries it’s best to immerse you, and succeeds most of the time. Things like the reflections on the PFD and ND are cool, until you realize that they are static. This isn’t a bad thing, but I fell like they should have just gone ahead and made it reflective. Another main point is that the cockpit isn’t modeled to show wear and tear. They put dust on the screens, but that is about it. While it seems I am saying more bad than good, I would like to remind you that these are tiny nitpicks. None of these really get noticed on a regular basis. As a whole, this VC is one that enjoy very much.
The exterior model of this plane is beautiful. The texturing is very well done, and really shows that they put some effort into the plane. Alongside the amazing texturing, the model underneath looked stunning. I really would say that this airplane rivals the Aerosoft A320–if not beats it in terms of exterior visuals. As much as I like to criticize, I can’t find anything to fault this airplane with. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.
The systems in this airplane were geared towards the higher-level simmers, while not being superbly hard to operate. It modeled everything a simmer needs and wants, without throwing overly-complex operations at them. Things are modeled like the hydraulics system, the electrics system, the flight management computer and its related auto-flight system, and pneumatic systems, to name a few. However, things like detailed operation of the window latches aren’t modeled. But the whole point as that they don’t need to be. Lack of ridiculous depth is fine. What matters is that most systems you need are modeled well, which they are.
The sound package provided with this airplane got the job done. I enjoyed the sounds of the airplane coming to life, even if it was a little loud. The drone of cruise was modeled correctly, and so was the roar of takeoff. However, for those who favor music over the sound of batteries, this may be a less favorable option. In my opinion, the plane met expectations, but might not be accommodating to some of the simmers out there.
Should I buy it? The question you have been asking the whole time. Short answer, yes. Long answer, maybe, but let me explain. Most simmers aren’t real world pilots, nor do they need pilot level simulation. However, that doesn’t mean all simmers should neglect the PMDG. If you need it, then go ahead. But, for most people, this level of simulation will either anger them, or simply never be used. The result is that you’re $20 worse off, for nothing more. Some people say that the casual simmer still gets use out of the more advanced features, and I cannot verify that until I am able to compare the two. So, for right now, I would say to go ahead and buy it. Flight1 has the killer 30 day return policy, so there is virtually no risk. I know I would buy it.
Disclaimer: This product was provided to me for review purposes free of charge. However, this did not impact any of my opinions, nor did it impact my final verdict.