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Aircraft Review: Piper PA-28-181 Archer TX/LX XP12 by Just Flight

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Aircraft Review: Piper PA-28-181 Archer TX/LX XP12 by Just Flight

By Peter Allnutt

The Piper PA-28 series, a line of low-wing general aviation (GA) aircraft, made its debut in the early 1960s. Over the years, it has evolved to include a multitude of models and variants. Four main models define this series: starting with the Cherokee and culminating in the Archer. This review focuses on the Archer-TX/LX, a modernised version of the Archer-III, equipped with a full glass cockpit aviation suite. These are unpressurised, single-engine planes featuring a fixed tricycle undercarriage. This offering comes courtesy of Just Flight, in collaboration with Thranda Design and includes both the TX and LX variants, aimed at the training and private markets, respectively.



Purchase and Installation
The Archer-LX package is available from the X-plane.org store for $44.99, making it a more considered investment compared to other general aviation aircraft for X-Plane. Once purchased, the product becomes accessible in your account, and you can download the roughly 1GB ZIP file. An order confirmation email will supply a serial number, which is also retrievable from your order details in the store, should you happen to misplace the email.

This download is compatible with both XP11 and XP12. The installation process starts off straightforwardly: simply unzip the provided files into the Aircraft folder of your X-Plane installation. However, the process for XP12 becomes slightly more complex, as the manual does not provide guidance for installing from a third-party store and makes no mention of XP12. Initially, I struggled to find the aircraft on the selection screen until I enabled the option "Show aircraft for older versions of X-Plane." Upon first loading, an error message about sounds pops up, followed by an activation prompt. After activation, reloading the aircraft initiates a detection process. This recognises that the aircraft is operating in XP12 and prompts the use of the X-Plane 12 ACF file. Another reload is required before you can take to the skies. For XP11 users, the package includes Librain, a plugin for windshield rain effects, with installation steps provided in the manual. This step is not required for XP12 users.


The package comes with two PDF documents: the primary manual and an Operating Data Manual, both courtesy of Just Flight. The latter contains tables of performance data, while the primary manual delves into extensive details about the aircraft systems, the panel, and various instruments. It is comprehensive, covering all essential aspects, however, disappointingly, there are no references to XP12 in either manual.




Exterior Model

Before diving into the finer details, it's worth noting that the Just Flight Archer doesn't skimp on customization. With six liveries from various corners of the globe and a blank paint kit, the package gives you more than just the basics when it comes to appearance.


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From a distance, the modelling and texturing of the Archer III appear impressive. However, upon closer inspection, the detailing and textures lack the crispness one might expect from a higher-priced add-on. Not long ago, the Archer would have garnered high praise, but as time and expectations have moved on, it doesn't quite meet today's elevated standards. This feeling is exacerbated by the complete absence of any mention of XP12, leading one to suspect that the transition to XP12 for the Archer was less than comprehensive. That said, the model does feature PBR textures and real-time reflections.


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The Archer III comes equipped with animations for both the door and the storage compartment. These animations can be toggled either through click spots on the fuselage or via the side-menu, and they function smoothly. The side-menu also offers the option to display tie-downs and chocks plus toggling the wheel fairings on and off. 

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Cockpit and Functionality
Across all six liveries, the cockpit layout remains consistent, even down to the panel colouring. The aircraft comes equipped with a G1000 glass cockpit system, which takes centre stage on the instrument panel. This G1000 functionality is the standard offering from X-Plane's inbuilt system. In addition to the main G1000 displays, the cockpit is further enhanced by a smaller Aspen EFD 1000 screen, located to the left of the pilot's seat.


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As previously mentioned, Just Flight includes a pop-out panel for various Archer III options, identifiable by a small arrow icon on the left-hand side of the screen. While it doesn't appear to be able to be hidden, it provides various pop-up windows for specific controls, such as the autopilot, automatic fuel selector changes, information on weight and balance, plus checklists.


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Although the icons on this panel are generally self-explanatory, tooltip displays when hovering over them would have been a useful addition, particularly for those still getting accustomed to the product. X-Plane's cockpit tooltip names for various controls can sometimes add to the confusion. For example, while the tooltip for the throttle is straightforwardly labelled "Throttle," the buttons and knobs on the Aspen EFD display more complex names, such as "thranda/ASPEN/leftknobup."


The night lighting in the Archer largely lives up to Just Flight's established standards. A range of separate controls for switches, the panel, and avionics ensure you're not left in the dark. Overhead dome lights for both pilot and co-pilot, along with additional cabin rear lighting, add to the atmospheric glow. Externally, the aircraft comes equipped with strobe, navigation, and landing lights. 


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Demo Flight
The package thoughtfully includes a section in the manual that walks you through an Archer III flight from engine start to shut down, covering taxiing, take-off, cruising, and landing. The guided flight takes you from EGBT Turweston Aerodrome to EGCN Doncaster Sheffield and has an approximate duration of one hour. This inclusion by Just Flight serves as a comprehensive primer for piloting the aircraft. My only minor criticism is that the autopilot feature on the G1000 wasn't enabled by default and had to be activated through the side pop-up menu.


Demo Flight.jpg


As someone who is passionate about flight simulation but not a real-world pilot, my assessment of the Archer’s flight model is based solely on my experiences in the virtual cockpit, and those experiences were challenging. My initial attempts at takeoff resulted in the plane veering uncontrollably, and adjustments to X-Plane's control and joystick settings offered no resolution. However, after reverting to the X-Plane 11 ACF file, I gained better control over the aircraft.


Upon reaching out to Just Flight support, I learned that an update was available for the Archer III TX/LX through the SkunkCraft Installer/Updater package. After applying this update (from 1.9.1 to 1.9.2), the aircraft became more manageable on the runway, though I still found it challenging to maintain a straight course without encountering significant oscillations. Again, no mention of this upgrade process is mentioned in the accompanying documentation.


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Once airborne, the aircraft felt rather docile, with events unfolding at a leisurely pace. While I can't comment on the realism compared to actual flight, it felt considerably more subdued than other general aviation aircraft I've flown in the simulator. Occasionally, especially when flying low, the plane seemed even less responsive to control inputs and not simply because of control sloppiness at low speed. Additionally, I noticed that the aircraft is particularly sensitive to throttle adjustments, with minor changes necessitating a rudder trim tweak to counter the torque. Whether this is true to the real aircraft, I can't say, but it's a prominent characteristic that sets it apart from other virtual GA aircraft I've flown.


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The sound package provided is serviceable, albeit not extraordinary. I noticed that certain buttons and controls appeared to lack auditory feedback, leaving one to wonder whether they had been activated. Nevertheless, the included sounds are clear and distinct. The engine noise is well-executed, avoiding an obvious loop and becoming appropriately subdued when the cockpit door is closed.




In my time testing the Archer III TX/LX by Just Flight, I experienced no performance issues. Frame rates remained consistently high, devoid of any noticeable lags or spikes. For context, my X-Plane setup features an Intel i9 10900K, 32GB of RAM, an NVIDIA MSI RTX 3090 Suprim X, and runs on Windows 10 Home 64-bit.


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The Archer III TX/LX by Just Flight and Thranda comes at a premium price, and given the issues I've encountered, it's difficult to label it as a 'must-buy'. I found the flight experience more satisfying when using the X-Plane 11 ACF file compared to those for X-Plane 12. Rumour has it that Thranda is actively working on updates to improve XP12 compatibility across their range, a move that could hopefully dispel the current sense that this package was somewhat reluctantly adapted for the new environment. Until then, the package stands as a mixed bag; impressive in some areas but clearly in need of further refinement for XP12.






The PA-28-181 Archer TX/LX XP by Just Flight is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here:


PA-28-181 Archer TX/LX XP

Priced at US$45.99


Product Features



  • Accurately modeled PA-28-181 Archer TX/LX, built using real-world aircraft plans and comprehensive photography of the real aircraft
  • Numerous animations including multi-animation passenger door that, when open, responds to G-forces and air resistance, baggage door, cockpit window and sun visors
  • Ground equipment including chocks and tie-downs
  • HD textures are used to produce the highest possible texture clarity
  • PBR (Physically Based Rendering) materials with real-time environment reflections for superb quality and realism
  • Detailed normal mapping for down-to-the-rivet precision of aircraft features


  • Fully functional G1000 PFD and MFD, and EFD 1000
  • Optional GFC 700 autopilot controls
  • Realistic aircraft and engine systems indications
  • A truly 3D virtual cockpit right down to accurately modelled seat belts and screw heads - every instrument is constructed fully in 3D with smooth animations
  • Cockpit textures feature wear and tear based on reference photos taken in the real aircraft to produce an authentic environment
  • Interactive engine start checklist that responds to user inputs and sim variables
  • Interactive checklists for every stage of flight
  • Aircraft configuration system that will allow you to choose between 'cold & dark' or 'ready for take-off' (if aircraft is stationary on the ground)
  • Interactive logbook panel for logging your flight details (X-Plane native)
  • Flight computer panel with useful information such as fuel burn, endurance, speed and wind speed/direction
  • GoodWay compatible
  • Option to activate flashlight from within pop-up window, to aid in those pitch-black cold and dark starts at night
  • Option to remove window and instrument reflection effects
  • Animated toe brakes
  • Functional throttle quadrant tensioning system
  • Radio knob animations routed through plugin logic, for optimum movement fidelity and sound synchronisation


  • Custom-coded fuel system, including the option of automatic fuel tank switching for use on those long distance cross-country flights (this option is remembered for future flights)
  • Custom-coded electrical system with functional circuit breakers, avionics power circuit and secondary power system. Circuit breaker logic is linked to X-Plane's internal failure logic, so if the plane is set to fail a certain electrical component after a certain number of hours, the circuit breaker for that element will pop out.
  • Realistic landing gear with slow/fast tyre rotation animation (blurry when rotating fast), precise shock absorber animation and wheel chocks and tie-downs
  • Dedicated interactive engine pop-up window displaying values such as fuel tank weights and imbalance, fuel pressure, oil pressure, oil temperature, battery charge (with quick charge option), and information about spark plug fouling and vapour lock condition
  • Simulated vapour lock condition, with warning pop-up and suggested actions
  • Simulated spark plug fouling condition, with indication of percentage of fouling
  • Lighting system includes separate lighting control for gauges (via rheostat)
  • Simulated fan and vent system with realistic blower sounds (linked to circuit breaMac, logic and electrical system for realism)
  • Custom external light logic with custom strobe light pattern and custom light halos for added realism


X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11
Windows, Mac or Linux
4GB VRAM Minimum - 8GB+ VRAM Recommended
Download Size: 1.1 GB
Current version: 1.9.1 (May 12th, 2023)


Review System Specifications

Intel i9 10900K – 32GB RAM - NVidia MSI RTX 3090 Suprim X – Windows 10 Home 64 Bit



Aircraft Review by Peter Allnutt
16th October 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.





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  • Dominic Smith changed the title to Aircraft Review: Piper PA-28-181 Archer TX/LX XP12 by Just Flight

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