SSG EMB 170 Evolution Review.

Introduction: The EMB 170 is an 80 seat twin jet regional airliner developed by the Brazilian aircraft manufacturing conglomerate Emberaer. Primarily used on short haul medium-density routes, the EMB is designed to offer the performance of the big jets while carrying less passengers. Powered by two GE CF-34 engines, the E170 has a max cruising speed of Mach .82, or 481 kts. The X-Plane version developed by Supercritical Simulations Group (SSG) is aiming to provide one of the most realistic renditions of this aircraft to date.

FEATURE LIST:
Advanced FMC and Navigation system

  • Custom-built FMC (done by FJCC)  designed for the SSG Evolution Series
  • SIDs, STARs, transitions, approaches, flare and rollout modes.
  • FMC is compatible with AeroSoft’s NavDataPro and Navigraph navigation databases.
  • Manufacturer’s performance data embedded as tables in the fully functional FMC.
  • Option to use either a 2D pop-up (resizable) FMC or one within the 3D cockpit.
  • Custom radio communication audio consoles optimized for on-line virtual ATC operations.
  • FMC performance information based on real aircraft data, including calculated V-speeds.
  • FMC includes capability for autotuning navaid frequencies.
  • Vertical Situation Display (VSD) on the MFD.
  • Terrain display mode on the MFD, which is a part of the Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System (EGPWS) on the real aircraft.

High-Res 3D modeling complete with detailed animations and textures.

  • Realistic displays (PFD, MFD with system synoptics, and EICAS)
  • External lights and strobes operating realistically.
  • Display management similar to that in the real aircraft.
  • Autobrakes with anti-skid system that works in all conditions and includes a realistic rejected takeoff mode.
  • Realistic wing flex and other animations.
  • Window rain effects and animated wipers.
  • Option menu incorporated into the cockpit 3D.
  • Ground vehicles include a tow truck, GPU and airstairs.
  • Over 10 detailed liveries comes with the plane

Custom systems and Flight Model

  • Aircraft will meet most of the real aircraft’s performance data for consumption, AOA, speeds, flight dynamics, etc. in close consultation with real world E-Jet pilots.
  • Realistic 3D cockpit with high resolution.
  • Many systems are implemented with realistic logic, such as electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic, engine fire extinguishing, fuel, wing and engine anti-ice (including automatic mode), communications, and TCAS.
  • Comprehensive autopilot functioning in modes similar to those of the real aircraft
  • First Officer’s MFD display is independent from the Captain’s, and MFD has a pop-up option.
  • EICAS messages based on the real aircraft’s with lists and scrolling

DreamEngine Sound System

  • 3D sounds with DreamEngine plugin.

Comes with a comprehensive Quick Start Guide in PDF and video tutorial

 

Cockpit:

Glareshield/Glass Cockpit: Glareshield textures (specially pretaining to the MCP) are crisp enough, possibly a little hard to read at normal viewing distances. (This is mostly thanks to the incredibly small text on the buttons, not the actual textures.) The glass cockpit displays were done extremely well. They had accurate and pleasing colors, awesome touch screen functionality that has yet to fail me, and the ability to have a very wide range of brightness levels. I kept the brightness level pretty low, as I felt it offered the best readability, while maintaining a somewhat bright feel. However, your mileage may vary. GRIPES: Shading/Texturing near the top of the glareshield looked grungy and extremely low quality. The side of the cockpit (near the window) looked like not a lot of effort was put forth, which is a disappointment anytime you glance to the side.

SSGE-170LR_Evo_1SSGE-170LR_Evo_24SSGE-170LR_Evo_25

Overhead Panel: Texturing on the overhead was very well done. Text is clear and easy to read, and back lighting works as expected. Not a single 2D knob or switch was to be found. One thing to note is that the overhead panel is Dark-Cockpit concept, meaning that if something has a white light, it most likely is in the wrong position (AKA off.) The documentation failed to provide this piece of precious information, leading to one of the most stressful start up procedures I have ever experienced.

Most knobs are already in the position they need to be in throughout most stages of flight. It was disorienting how little effort this plane needed to be taken from cold and dark to ready for takeoff. Almost everything has an “auto” function, making this plane rival Airbus in terms of simplicity and computer managed systems.

Pedestal: Texturing and labelings are clear and easy to read, something that shouldn’t some as a surprise to you at this point. Everything is 3D and detailed. The Radios are controlled via the FMS, so don’t let the lack of knobs around the Radio Panel scare you. Quick Tip: The clickspots for the for the engine start switch covers are above the word “start” for the right hand side, and above the word “stop” for the left hand side.

Flight Perf:

Setup: As stated previously, starting this airplane is an absolute breeze. You simply: Turn on the batteries, activate the GPU, turn cabin signs on according to preference, configure the FMS, start APU, disconnect GPU, start engines. I had all of the preflight (excluding FMS) done in less than 2 minutes, and I’m still very new to this airplane. The most time-consuming part however is…

The FMS: The FMS is pretty awesome. A common problem with X-plane addons is their reliance on a 3rd party FMS for any sort of valuable experience. Let me tell you right now, the last thing this airplane needs is an addon FMS. We’ll start with the IDENT page. It has all the details you would expect from a comparable FSX addon. One thing that did stand out from this page was the AIRAC cycle, which turned out to be from January 2016, which is a nice little touch. Equivalent FSX addons would have FMS data from sometime around the middle of 2015, making this data almost half a year newer. Next, we head over to the POS INIT page, where we can enter our reference airport and gate, all pretty standard stuff. It has the IRS position already entered, which can be either a good or bad thing depending on who you ask. I personally think it’s a good feature that removes additional complexity where it really is not needed. We then move on to the RTE page, which will look familiar to anyone who has ever interfaced with a Boeing FMS, as this page is essentially drag-and-drop copied from the 737.You fill in all of your standard info, such as Departure Airport, Arrival Airport, FLT No, departure runway and so on. In order to program your SID (yes this plane supports SIDs, STARs, and Airways) you must navigate to the NAV page, from which the rest of the process is self explanatory. Once you have completed your route programming, you may continue to the PERF INIT page, where you may input your CRZ altitude, transitional altitude, speed limitations for certain flight levels (ie. 250kt below 10,000 in the US) as well as navigate to the Departure and Takeoff pages, in which you put in your SID (if not done already) and takeoff data respectively. Standard flaps for takeoff in the airplane is 2, but different flaps may be used based on runway conditions.

Overall the systems in this airplane are very well done. Everything appears to be modeled to a satisfactory extent, and some systems look to detailed extremely deeply. I wonder how much work would need to be put in to make this a study level sim airplane.

 

EXTERIOR MODEL:

Model/Detail: The exterior model is a detail-rich masterpiece, While the E170 isn’t exactly the hardest shape in the world to recreate, this model truly does shine. Not only do the proportions and shape of the plane look bang-on, but there is also painstaking detail crammed into every nook and cranny. Correctly sized, modeled, and placed pitot tubes on the front of the airplane, as well as grungy looking metal on the APU exhaust really brings this airplane to life. The landing gear is also well modeled, and it’s a fun pastime to figure out where all the hydraulic lines go through research and deduction.

Animations: The animations in this plane do what they say on the tin. They are smooth, realistic, and seem to be plentiful. Not much else to report about them.

Liveries: This airplane comes with 13 liveries (over 20 if you count the Used liveries as well, a great touch) coming from all around the globe. From American Eagle to Flybe to JAL, there’s quite a bit of diversity. Disappointingly, there are some key liveries missing (for me, my tip over point was United Express.) However, fear not, as at the time of writing, there are already over 60 community made liveries ready to be downloaded and installed at your leisure. I was surprised to find that the community liveries were as detailed, if not more detailed than the original liveries, which  is to say pretty stonking detailed. The only thing that let me down about the liveries was how not-sharp the operator logos (Republic, Envoy, etc…) at close distance. However, this is honestly a really big non-issue, and can be neglected.

Sounds: The sounds in this airplane get the job done, with included support for the Dreamengine 3D sound plugin. The engines whine and roar as they should, and the shrill whine of the APU sounds spot on. The product also seems to come with it’s own switch toggling sounds, a nice touch. Overall, the sounds are nothing to complain about.

 

Flight Dynamics: To test flight dynamics, I did a series of takeoffs and landings into and out of the excellent KSFO and KPHX freeware scenery packages in both the base 747 (to test for FPS) as well as the Embraer. The results are as follows:

Landings: For landings, I did a mix of flaps 3, 4, 5, and full landings to test the differences that increased drag would have on the airframe. During all of my landings, the airplane felt extremely generic, and easy to predict and manage. I nailed the approach and landing almost every time, despite varying conditions. Whether this is a good or bad thing is entirely up to you, however I feel like this airplane could do with a bit more character, a bit more liveliness. As of now, the airplane just feels like any other twin engine jet around.

Takeoff: Takeoff was much the same story. Increase power to 40% N1, engage TO thrust, wait for VR, rotate at 3 degrees a second to 10 degrees, confirm positive rate and store gear, and proceed on your climb. While I understand there is no real room for variation in this process, it all felt very mundane. The airplane didn’t have some weird tendency to pitch to one side if not kept in check, it just did as it was told. Whether this is good or bad is again 100% up to the user, but it feels just a little too average for my liking.

Framerate: Now we come to the elephant in the room, FPS. I’ll be honest, this plane performs pretty poorly. During my tests, I saw a trend of about a 10-20FPS difference based on scenario compared to the default 747. This wouldn’t be bad if there were occasional stutters (particularly close to touchdown) that made my sim look like a slideshow presentation of the different landing stages of the Embraer E170. However, all of this said, I believe that with the next coming patches, we will see a big focus on improved FPS, which may make this issue a lot more obsolete. For now, all we can do is hope however.

Conclusion: This airplane is a gleaming example of what a developer can do if they really dedicate themselves to a project. Awesome 3D modeling combined with lots of liveries and detailed systems make this airplane difficult to not recommend, despite the FPS issues. Overall, I would recommend this product, as I see most issues I have with it being remedied in the coming weeks and months.

 

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