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Aircraft Update: B 747-8 Series Anniversary Edition X-Plane 12

Dominic Smith

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Aircraft Update: B 747-8 Series Anniversary Edition X-Plane 12


Since its first flight on February 9, 1969, the Boeing 747 family of aircraft has become an icon of the skies. Dubbed "The Queen of the Skies", it has served for well over 50 years since its first iteration of -100 in 1969 with four generations following subsequently. A legend in aviation, it adores the hearts and minds of passengers and crew that have flown it. The -8 is the latest and final variant of the Boeing 747 which at the time of writing this review, has only one more delivery to be fulfilled in early 2023, meaning sadly we find ourselves right at the very end of its production lifespan, but certainly, with a few decades more to go for it to fly under commercial and freight operation.

I was fortunate enough to have flown on the -8 myself back in September, traveling with Lufthansa from Frankfurt to New York. I always said that my first visit to America would be on a Boeing 747, so as soon as they took their aircraft out of storage and back on the pecking order, I just knew I had to take it on the first opportunity I got!


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Supercritical Simulations Group (SSG) are a well-respected developer within X-Plane and has recently updated their aircraft to include all the features and extras available to them for X-Plane 12. In this review, we take an in-depth look at the Boeing 747-8 and see how it stands as a fully-fledged simulation of one of the most iconic aircraft to ever grace the skies.

Aircraft Specification
●    Crew: 2
●    Length: 250ft 2in (76.25m)
●    Wingspan: 224ft 7in (68.5m)
●    Height: 63ft 6in (19.4m)
●    Empty Weight: 485,300lb (220,128kg)
●    Maximum Takeoff Weight: 975,000lbs (442,253kg)
●    Powerplant: 4xGEnx-2B67
Aircraft Performance
●    Range: 7,730nmi (14,320km) 
●    Service Ceiling: 43,100ft (13,137m)
●    Max Cruising Speed: Mach 0.86 (504kn, 933km/h)

Download & Install
After purchase of the SSG B748, you are given a download page with two versions of the aircraft, one for X-Plane 11 and another for X-Plane 12. Select your chosen version (in this case we opted for XP12), download the file and extract it into your X-Plane “Aircraft” folder.
On the first launch of the aircraft, you are asked to input your Serial Number. This can be copied and pasted from the download page to the pop-up. Then, after an aircraft reload, you are good to go.

The SSG B748 comes with two PDF files and several text documents. These include a 238-page in-depth analysis and operations manual for the aircraft, a 45-page step-by-step quick start guide for the aircraft illustrated with pictures and screenshots as well as several change logs and license agreements. The Operations Manual I found rather special as while it marks each page as not for use in real-world flying, you can see that SSG took the time to analyse the real-world operators' handbook for the Boeing 747-8 and translate this into simulator terms, bridging the gap between their product and reality.

The two guides are certainly worth a read as these go into great detail about the operation of this aircraft as well as tips and tricks on how to get the best performance out of it. When it came to start-up and procedures, I found these guides more than helpful in pushing for the best out of the 747.

Exterior Model
SSG have included both the -8i passenger and -8F freighter variants of the Boeing 747-8 family. The biggest difference between the two is the upper deck which has been stretched for the passenger variant to include seats, while the freighter sticks to the original length (this also slightly lowers the weight of the aircraft as there are no seating requirements).




The -8F also features a nose opening for cargo, but apart from that, everything else from the wings back is nearly identical.


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From the get-go, I have to say the models look fantastic, as within the X-Plane 12 environment, you really do get a sense of the scale of this incredible aircraft. The Boeing 747 is the second largest commercial aircraft in the world, and as such, when you stand up close to it, you certainly get a feeling of its immense size, something I can attest to, having stood next to the real thing only a few months ago!

Detailing on the SSG 747 includes 4K resolution textures across the body, allowing for warning labels and text to be both clear and visible. There is also bump mapping across the fuselage where panel gaps and bolts will sit in place, as well as several animations across the aircraft - this also includes the freighter variant of the 747-8. As per real-world operation, cargo is loaded through the front nose of the aircraft. To allow for this, Boeing made the entire front portion of the aircraft in front of the cockpit raise up, thus providing ground crews unparalleled access to the cargo bay of the aircraft. This is quite some spectacle to see in real life and is well recreated within X-Plane 12.


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Looking up close at the engines, the GEnx units used by the Boeing 747, share the same diameter as the entire body of the 737! These are extremely well-detailed, with the ability to see inside the engine through the fan blades and vents that appear when the reverse thrust is active. When combined with the wing and flex when in the air (remember, the Boeing 747 uses tungsten bricks in the wings to counteract flutter when airborne!) you can appreciate the size and weight of the aircraft as it flies.


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Cockpit and Interior
The Boeing 747-8 gets its designation from the 787, with many displays and systems crossing over from Boeing’s newest jet to their longest in production. This means several digital displays as well as several backup EICAS units. Having once required three pilots to operate, there is now a lot of space behind the pilots where the flight engineer once was, giving you a lot of room to move around. 

The 747 is also the only Boeing aircraft of this generation to use the brown cockpit colours, as opposed to the grey they now use within their jetliners. Boeing used brown as it was light and pleasing to the eye of the pilots and SSG has certainly replicated this within their own rendition of the aircraft. Textures are done at 4k resolution, with text, panels, and gauges all clear and easy to read. The overhead panel can appear cramped at first, especially with all the systems in which to manage and maintain the four engines, but I found myself having no issues whatsoever when it came to reading and manipulating the various systems of the aircraft. The 747-8 is also surprisingly well-optimised for what it is too. A lot is going on both inside and out, so it was pleasing to see that everything performed smoothly when it came to framerates. 


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You also have a different interior for both the passenger and cargo variants of the aircraft, and as such, the 747-8i includes a full passenger cabin interior for you to explore. This is both the upper and lower deck modelled in a tri-class configuration, textured and detailed to the same level as you would find inside the cockpit.




I decided to position one of X-Plane’s custom camera points on the seat I had occupied when flying on this type myself. When up at cruise altitude, I was taken aback by how the cabin looked and felt - it was almost as if I was back onboard the 747 I had used just a few months previously! The detailing on offer, combined with the sound (something we will cover later in this article), really helps bring this aircraft to life and is something I have really appreciated.  



The 747-8F features the entire lower deck with cargo box mountains and trails for the movement of containers. This once again looks superb within the simulator environment and fits with the scale of the aircraft. The space is indeed massive, with a number of containers modeled into the aircraft, sitting two-by-two towards the centre of the cabin where the centre of gravity would be.




You can decide on the number of containers and load factor and adjust this in the EFB tablet. The upper deck has also been modeled into a small crew rest area, making use of the small hump behind the cockpit. This includes a toilet, beds, galley, and seats for the crew – somewhere to enjoy a bit of shut-eye when flying ultra-long haul.


Buttons, Gauges & Functionality
For an aircraft of this size and complexity, I think it’s fair to say that a lot is going on within the SSG Boeing 747-8. Your core panel features your main Primary Flight Display, Navigation Display and EICAS screens as you would expect, but with several buttons and switches surrounding it that control your lights, displays and other features within the cockpit. The glare shield is also massively used with all of your autopilot systems sitting ready to take over once your aircraft is airborne and en route. This will be familiar to you if you fly Boeing (and even Airbus) jets often, but it’s the overhead panel that really takes time to learn.


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The overhead is littered with switches and buttons that maintain each aspect of your flight. Here you will find your lights, anti-icing and engine systems to keep all four power plants alive and burning. With the development of the previous 747-400 which removed the need for a flight engineer, the overhead panel became a lot busier with extra engine management systems included. This was carried over to the -8 and SSG has utilised this well. Everything is laid out in order of use, with most checklists on the aircraft starting in the top-left and slowly working their way down section by section. 


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The Flight Management Computer is also custom-made and developed for the 747-8.


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This includes all of the route inputs and calculations that the pilot would make on the real aircraft as well as system management and planning that helps you in guiding the aircraft through each stage of flight. This has been well-developed and shows in operation when planning your different phases, allowing for each detail of your flight plan to be tweaked and perfected before you depart.


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Getting to grips with the 747-8 took a few moments to get going but having spent a lot of time in virtual Boeing jetliners, as well as having flown the -8 that comes packaged with Microsoft Flight Simulator, I didn’t find myself too out of depth. Familiarity with the aircraft is key, especially when planning to take it long-haul, which can take up most of your day. I would certainly advise spending time just looking around the cockpit and gaining an understanding of where different systems are located so that when it comes to flying, you know exactly where to look and know what you are expecting to see and do. As with any aircraft, the more practice you put into it, the better and easier you will eventually find the operation to be. 

SSG has also included an EFB tablet within the cockpit which serves as the loadmaster of the aircraft, allowing you to input your fuel and payload as well as interact with ground services and calculate your departure speeds. It also allows you to control the doors and exits on the aircraft which in the case of the freighter, includes the nose rising to allow for cargo to enter via the front. As more developers include these within their add-ons, I find them incredibly useful to procure my Flight Management Computer with the numbers it needs to programme a perfect departure and landing.


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To put it simply, the SSG 747-8 sounds fantastic! There’s no other way of putting it, you can sense that a lot of time was spent recording audio samples from both within and outside of the aircraft, with fine-tuning in which to replicate the actual environment of the real aircraft.
The spool-up of the engines sounds great when making that take-off run or listening to the rumble behind you as you start to pull back on the yoke and take the aircraft to the sky. The whir of the engines during start-up is also really well-defined, especially when you focus on all four engines being activated during the pushback procedure of the aircraft.


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One thing I have always enjoyed and appreciated about X-Plane is its fly-by-camera view. Not only is it visually appealing, but it also enables you to hear the sound variations from around the aircraft as well as the Doppler effect that is applied. Listening to the engines purr as the aircraft glides past your camera is great and a real testament to the time that SSG has put into getting that effect right for their aircraft.
The immersion doesn’t just end within the cockpit. Moving my camera over to the passenger cabin and sitting myself down on one of the seats, I found the audio to be rather immersive; I was back in the seat of that Lufthansa 747 flying to New York!

Flight Dynamics
The SSG 747-8, as expected, feels very heavy when in the air. I find myself putting a lot of input on the yoke to bank and make turns. I haven’t had the pleasure of flying the real-life aircraft myself, but you can certainly (as a passenger) get a feeling for how the aircraft behaves, especially since using far more nimble jets and props in X-Plane in the past. As the 747 grew with each generation, and despite advancements in fly-by-wire technology to make control easier, I can still imagine it takes a lot of input from the pilot to tame the aircraft.


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The aircraft has a strong rate of climb too, more than you would perhaps expect for its sheer scale and mass. The GEnx-2B67 is a powerful engine and having four of these, helps propel the 747 into the sky. Descent too is quite something as the 747 can drop like a brick, especially with flaps and spoilers to help slow you down. When trying it out on a hop from Frankfurt to New York following the same flight plan as my trip in real life, I had one or two late descents which I could easily manage by dumping the spoilers and watching the altitude go without much movement from the pitch. 


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During cruise, the aircraft is a joy to fly. With the autopilot on and FMS navigation in control, it will glide through the sky getting you to your destination with ease.


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This especially comes into play when performing a landing with crosswinds involved. You need to make a lot of small corrections to keep the aircraft on course, but the moment those rear wheels touch down and you find yourself gliding down the runway to come to a halt, you can certainly feel the sense of accomplishment of having performed an expert landing.


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Taxiing the 747-8 is also worth commenting on. It’s the longest commercial aircraft in the world (beating the Airbus A380 by 3 meters) and you’re looking out from the upper deck.


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This means you have very little coverage of the ground below you, with little sense as to where your nose gear is. Airbus achieved the ground control of the A380 by placing the cockpit on the lower deck, but with Boeing, and using 1960s technology, combined with the need for the cargo variant to load through the nose, this was never going to be the case for the “Queen of the Skies”. The more you practise ground movement the better you will get at positioning the aircraft, as well as learning to fine-tune and steer the aircraft with the throttles, adding power towards the direction you want to go. It’s certainly a beast in that regard!


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SSG has also included several liveries for the Boeing 747-8, both freighter and passenger variants, while there are also several more available on the org ready to download. The sets included are as follows:
•    Air China
•    BBJ
•    Boeing Family
•    Boeing Sunrise
•    Korean Air
•    Lufthansa

•    Atlas Air
•    Boeing Family
•    Boeing Light
•    Cargolux
•    Cathay Pacific
•    Silkway Cargo


They are a nice selection of liveries, but all are new. Again there has been a change to the file structure, and so the sets of older liveries don't work anymore, they have to be v2.5+ or higher to work with the X-Plane 12. There are six Internationals liveries and six cargo liveries included.







Opinion & Closing Remarks
Overall, I have had an absolute blast flying the SSG 747-8 within X-Plane 12. The aircraft is a joy to fly and while it does take some practice getting used to, especially when performing banking turns once airborne, I have enjoyed virtually every minute since adding it to my virtual hangar.

With an extremely well-defined model, cockpit, cabin, and audio, what SSG have is a complete package for one of the world’s most popular aircraft, with their passion for this project showing in every detail they have included. A great deal of time and effort has been put into getting the best they possibly could out of the X-Plane platform, and it certainly shows.

The Boeing 747 has been around for well over 50 years now, and whilst not necessarily a ‘rare’ aircraft type to fly on (especially between popular destinations), I just knew I had to fly on it. Being able to recreate my two real-world flights within X-Plane 12 has been a wonderful experience and I am very impressed by the end product that SSG have managed to create.

The aircraft is also very much in active development, meaning we will likely see updates and improvements for it for some time to come. SSG’s 747-8 is a product that I would be more than happy to recommend to anyone looking to fly the Boeing 747 within X-Plane 12.



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Yes! the Boeing 747-8 Inter Anniversary Edition X-Plane 12 By Supercritical Simulations Group is available from the X-Plane.Org Store here


B 747-8 Series Anniversary Edition
Price is US$69.00 (currently on SALE for US$54.90)



Officially licensed by the Boeing Corporation.

  •  The entire external 3D model for v2 has been redone, including the following:
  • All new fuselage closely modeled on the real one with added details
  • Each door can be opened individually and is more detailed
  • dded animations and details (almost all parts that can open/move on the aircraft are modeled).
  • New external details such as a satellite antenna and tail camera
  • New cut passenger windows instead of textures
  • New vertical and horizontal stabilizers with added details
  • New nacelles and engines with more details and new animations
  • Reworked and more detailed landing gear/gear doors with additional animation
  • Improved and more detailed leading and trailing edge flaps and added flap mechanisms
  • Upper deck interior with seats/galleys and stairs to lower deck
  •  New wing flex and nacelle animations 
The textures for the entire aircraft have been redone to match the new model, along with decals for certain detailed areas, right down to most of the external placards, working closely with our technical advisors to ensure all the main details are present and that we have gotten them right.
  • The entire cockpit 3D model has been largely redone and completely retextured. 
  • New overhead panel and buttons/switches
  • New forward panel and buttons/switches
  • New pedestal and buttons/switches/handles
  • New miscellaneous panel and buttons/switches
  • Side panels and window frames completely redone
  • New cockpit seats
  • Various added details
  • Almost all switches function properly and independently 
  • IRS alignment process implemented
  • More realistic fuel system with different pumps and tanks along with FUEL TANK / ENG logic
  • Realistic AUTOSTART and RUNNING indicators on secondary engine displays
  • Improved and more realistic air conditioning system and logic
  • Better track representation on ND
  • Clock and chronometer on ND working like on the real aircraft
  • More realistic baro pressure logic (STD, preselected, transition altitude)
  • Captain and First Officer FMCs are now independent
  • FMC FIX page added
  • FMC Route 2 function added
  • FMC Diversion function added
  • Librain rain effects (currently not working on Macs)
Skuncraft Updater
  • Now with Skunkcraft updater. No need to download anything for updates, the plane will automatically be updated



X-Plane 11 or X-Plane 12 

Windows , Mac and Linux
4 GB MB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended

Current version :
XP12: 2.6b4 (December 21st 2022)
XP11: 2.5.1 (June 7th 2022)
NOTE: Framerate requires a decent graphic card, minimum of 8gb is RECOMMENDED, so I would also recommend a power machine as standard.
Installation : Download is 1.17gb which is unzipped and is inserted in your Heavy Aircraft  folder as: 1.80gb
Key authorisation is required. 

Documentation : includes 
  • SG 747-8 V2 FCOM.pdf
  • SSG 747-8 V2 Quick Start Guide.pdf
  • SSG License Agreement.txt


Aircraft Review by Michael Hayward 

13th January 2023

Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews 


(Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) 

The Technical Bit
Review PC Spec
•    Windows 10 Professional
•    AMD Ryzen 5 3600 Processor
•    32GB RAM
•    Palit GeForce RTX™ 3080 GamingPro

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