The Boeing 777 is a long range, wide body, twin engine jet airliner designed and manufactured by Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Depending on the configuration and model of the variant, it is typically able to handle between 300 and 350 passengers, or about 256,000 lbs of cargo in the freighter version. Captain Sim uses the -200 as a base model, with the 300 and Freighter versions available as upgrades. What is the difference between a 200 and 300 model? The only differences I found is the 300 is about 30 feet longer, has better range and can seat about 100 more people. Oh yeah, did I mention that the 777-300LR is arguably the worlds longest range airplane?
I’m a fan of Captain Sim products. Their B-52 is still my absolute favorite FSX aircraft to date and I feel that they offer an excellent product for a reasonable price. But, I always approach my reviews with an open mind. So, let’s jump in and review the Captain Sim 777 Captain base pack and -300 & -F expansion packs! As always, start with the free, downloadable manuals for this aircraft. They are written specifically to help you operate systems, troubleshoot issues, and generally fly the aircraft as it is intended, therefore minimizing stress and providing you with the best possible experience. If you’ve never used a Captain Sim product, the manual will also tell you how to use the Aircraft Configuration Editor, or ACE, to configure the weight and balance and manage liveries for the aircraft. Becoming familiar with these manuals is vital to your success, and any real world aviator, or serious flight sim pilot will tell you exactly the same thing.
After configuring the weight and balance, the next thing you are likely to see is the flight deck. I will note here that there is no 2D cockpit, only a virtual cockpit. However, I am more than OK with that because Captainsim has successfully taken the look and feel of a fleet aircraft and brought it to life inside of FSX. From the uniform caps on the wall & coffee stains on the side consoles, to small details such as window decals and warning labels, you get a real sense of being on the flight deck of a Boeing 777.
Functionally, the displays on the main instrument panel are clear, operate correctly, and even feature a working dimmer switch. The CDU is fully functional and programs much like every other Boeing product I have encountered in FSX, including the Captainsim 767, which helps with the learning curve. The MCP looks and functions like the real deal, although it did not play well with my Saitek multi panel, but I’ll get more into that later.
I would estimate 90% or more of the switches, knobs and buttons are functional, which can help or hurt when you are configuring the aircraft on the ground or in flight. The flight deck lighting is a thing of beauty. There are so many light switches that you can really set the lights any way you choose and know that they function and look like those in the real deal. There are far too many animations and features to mention them all, but suffice it to say that I was very impressed with the detail that was put into the overall feel. There is, however, one piece of technology on the flight deck that warrants its own paragraph, The Electronic Flight Bag.
Located next to both the Pilot and Co-Pilot, these independently operated EFB’s allow you to quickly look up charts, maps, approach plates, cameras, or anything else you want to program them to display. Basically, Captainsim has given you ability to load images into the program and call them up at any time via the EFB. That’s pretty awesome if you ask me. Be sure to check the manual for full use details. Overall, I am very happy with the layout and functionality of the virtual cockpit/ flight deck. Should you need help with the flight deck, I would highly recommend you consult the manual, Captain Sim Forums, or go to YouTube, where there is a plethora of walkthrough’s and tutorials. You also have the ability to contact Captain Sim Customer Service if you need help troubleshooting an issue.
Moving to the Exterior, you will see immaculate, very detailed, high definition textures. Captain Sim advertises these are “4X” liveries, meaning that they are four times the definition of their standard textures. I would agree with this statement and take it one step farther to say that they beat most any payware aircraft on the market in terms of clarity, resolution, and accuracy. There are multiple liveries for you to choose from in the base pack, and several free liveries available through the Captain Sim website. There is also a paint kit available for you texture artists out there.
Structurally speaking, these aircraft are superbly modeled. With about 100 animations, you’re sure to get your fix on these features. You get everything from engine cowlings, outflow valves, APU intake and cowling and airline matching flight attendants that stand in open doorways to the old standbys you expect like opening doors, working flaps, ailerons and spoilers, etc. Again, there are far too many to list here, but one could spend the better part of an hour just looking at the animations. Those of you who have an eye for accuracy are going to love how much work the modeling team provided for our enjoyment. FSX Film makers should also appreciate how realistic and naturally everything moves.
Moving inside, I was pleased to see a true-to-life reproduction of the interior cabin areas. There are three cabin classes (First, Business and Coach, or Economy as it is more formally known). Each class features appropriate passenger seating, flight attendant work stations and galleys, and even lavatories – because when you gotta go, you gotta go! I was also pleased to see that details such as food, beverage and reading materials was dispersed throughout the cabin. This is a nice touch that really helps to bring that reality feel to the flight, and is often overlooked. The modelers and texture artists did really great work on this aircraft!
The Freighter version offers some real interaction, if you choose to use it. You can control the cargo loaders and load your own airplane, with the weight and balance reacting in real time; and is a hoot to play with! I literally spent two hours just loading and unloading cargo of various weight. Now, in my opinion, the most important part about a flight simulator aircraft is how it handles when you’re flying It . This combines all of the systems, functionality, modeling and textures I have talked about to bring you into the experience. I made several flights in this gorgeous bird. My first two flights were local area, hand flown, familiarization flights in all three models. My next three were short, regional flights. At this point, I had put about five hours on the plane. I feel like all three variants flew nearly identical and use the same virtual cockpit, so short of looking at the plane in the external view, it’s difficult to tell a difference. However, the real 777 is a fly-by-wire system, so I suspect flying the real variants of the aircraft are also very similar.
Feeling confident in my system knowledge, I decided to take a flight from Salt Lake International Airport (KSLC) in Utah to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (PANC) in Alaska. The flight got off to a rough start. I took off and climbed to my cruising altitude manually, but used my Saitek Multi Panel to activate the auto pilot. The problem was, it didn’t do what I told it to do. I noticed that if I switched on the autopilot via the Saitek Multipanel, my altitude setting would automatically run all the way up to 90,000ft and all the way down to zero. Nor could I get any other autopilot function to work properly. However, when I unplugged the panel and only used the MCP buttons, it worked perfectly. It was a frustrating thirty minutes figuring that out. After another half hour of troubleshooting, my best guess is that it’s simply a software incompatibility issue between the Saitek program and the Captain Sim code.
After my thirty minute troubleshooting session, I reloaded the flight and proceeded normally until I crossed the southern coast of Alaska. Not long after I had done so, my number one engine flamed out and I was unable to restart it after multiple attempts. Thankfully, the 777 is one of the few twin engine aircraft cleared for ETOPS, so I diverted and flew at a slightly lower altitude and airspeed to a safe landing in Canada. I have no idea what caused the engine failure, and to this day it’s a mystery to me. I tried the flight again the next day and it went off without a hitch. Every aircraft has a personality in the real world, perhaps the same is true for the simulator.
Conclusion – Is It Worth Your Money?
There are so many good things I could say about this airplane. Captain Sim have lived up to their advertised statement of the aircraft being complete, “From the wipers to the aft galley.” I challenge you to compare this to any other high end 777 on the market today. I think you’ll find it just as equipped, professionally modeled, textured and enjoyable as any of them. The best part is you won’t have to break the bank doing it!
Total Flight Time – 30 Hours
Resolution Played – 1440×900
Platform Reviewed – FSX
System Specs – AMD Phenom II X4 965, 8GB RAM, Radeon HD 6670
Controls – Saitek Pro Flight Yoke and Throttle, CH Products Pedals
Bugs/Crashes – Auto Pilot would not properly engage using Saitek Panel
Availability – Official Site
A note from Stephen Todd:
This review was completed before the events of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. On behalf of the team at TPG and myself, we wish to extend our sincere sympathies to those who are affected. We also extend our support to those who are involved in the search efforts.