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Aircraft Review : PA28R Piper Arrow III XP12 by Just Flight-Thranda

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Aircraft Review : PA28R Piper Arrow III XP12 by Just Flight-Thranda


JustFlight arrived with the original Piper PA28R Arrow lll for X-Plane 11 nearly seven years ago. back then the Piper added in another quality General Aviation developer into the mix, with vFlyteAir, Carenado and Airfoillabs. But you could never want for more in the GA category aircraft. Jump forward those six plus years and the X-Plane world has changed from those days of when General Aviation totally dominated X-Plane for aircraft sales and choice. With Carenado now gone, it is only vFlyeAir that is carrying the GA banner, Airfoillabs do of course still present their C172, but other wise it is down Aerosphere to fill in the gaps, but they are not set in that higher category of ultra quality and features.


JustFlight in co-operation with Thranda Design however have delivered some very nice General Aviation aircraft for the X-Plane Simulator in those six years, but although there was some conversions to the release of X-Plane 12, they were not what you would call to the XP12 standards, just a revamp to align the aircraft with the new Simulator version. But here now is the release of the X-Plane 12 JustFlight Arrow lll conversion, this is the full comprehensive revision and complete realignment with X-Plane 12.


The Arrow is a part of the PA28 Cherokee family, but in this latest more modern reincarnation as it is a four-seater that includes a five inch fuselage extension, span increase with a semi-tapered wing, a larger horizontal tail, gross weight increase and other minor changes over the earlier Cherokee. The Series III here also introduced the retractable landing gear arrangement. It also had enhanced performance and better handling characteristics compared to earlier Arrow models.



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Thranda use a system to enhance the PBR (Physically Based Rendering) materials with their real-time environment reflections for superb quality and realism, 8K textures are now also used, twice the density, but highlights the detail and quality to a far better compounding degree. It shows off easily the highlights of the superb quality of the surfaces and the exquisite detailing on the PA28.


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But the process also creates unwanted shadows, and dull areas, if you look at the model in certain lighting conditions. It is a Thranda phenomenon, it can also create darker areas were their isn't any, so in the X-Plane 12 lighting, it can be shaded in cases were there shouldn't be any effects. But the detailing is excellent, best in class. Glass is simply exceptional, perfect in thickness, tint and reflections.


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The three point landing gear has had a "Hard, Hard" life, with in being worn, oxidised and painted rusted springs...  this is an aircraft that has had a lot of flights in hard conditions over decades of use. Gear detail is also really well conceived and done here by JustFlight, as the landing gear system comes with an intricate retraction animation, slow/fast tyre rotation animation (blurry when rotating fast), and the precise shock absorber animation with multiple linkages are animated accurately. The "R" in the name designation means "Retractable".


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The performance of the Arrow lll is not what you call spell binding, not average either...  Maximum Speed is 148 knots (170 mph, 274 km/h), with a Cruise Speed of around 137 knots (158 mph, 254 km/h). The range is 880 nautical miles (1,630 km) with a service ceiling of 16,200 ft (4,938 m). Rate of Climb is 1,000 ft/min (5.08 m/s), but you would usually only do around 800 ft/min. The Arrow here is powered by a Lycoming IO-360-C1C6 engine of 200 hp (149 kW), all up gross weight is 2,750 lb (1,247 kg).


The realism extends to the flight dynamics, which are based on real-world performance and handling data, and input from Arrow pilots. Lets us be frank, the PA28 Cherokee series is the saloon car of the aviation world. It is a steady handling, doing the chores sort of aircraft. It is not a sporty machine (unless you go for the Turbo), or dynamic in it's flight envelope. But it is very solid, reliable and even handed machine.


It's not boring to fly, as you have those X-Plane 12 dynamics, which are now very well fine tuned. So if a word summed up this aircraft, it is "Classic". The Arrow trims quite nicely, but requires re-trimming with any power changes, which you can use also to climb or descend as well. Bank and you will need a bit of back pressure to keep the nose up, also flying straight and narrow requires a fair bit of right yoke to keep it in line, to counter the asymmetric thrust (there is a rudder trim, but hard to access)...  so you work in here to keep the Piper on an even keel, you trim and then keep on trimming to get it perfect.


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That is not to say I don't like it, as the PA28 gives you a lot of feedback...    the best sort of Simulation.


In a landing configuration you get a lot of drag, not only from flaps at 10º, but set 25º the Intermediate setting (used during approach and landing), and the 40º which is the Full flap setting (used for landing). The gear creates havoc with your nice clean approach, so be aware of when you drop it down.


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Otherwise when fully configured for landing it is all about the throttle control, in adjusting your height, a bad cross wind (12 knts) didn't help either, but otherwise it was a nice clean if easy landing. Note, the PA34 is a bit shimmy on takeoff, so fine rudder control is needed so it doesn't become a problem, overall you need careful control and slow up throttle movement to get the best clean track.


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I love it when things are done properly...  I love the door on the Arrow, yes I love a door, you may think that is just plain weird or whatever, but I do...  It takes more actions to open or close it than what they use on the Apollo capsule.


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There are two catches to open, one set on the roof and a big catch set forward in the door, then you can use the outside latch to open it.


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Other doors (and windows) include a very large baggage hatch set right rear, and the opening paper window on the pilot's side. Note the nice metal window surrounding plates.


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Two other ground options include, Chocks on all three wheels, and wing tie-downs...  but there are no flags or inlet covers.


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Notable also on the exterior is the opening oil hatch top, and the excellent detailed exhaust system. The Hartzell Scimitar 74 inch Three-Blade Propeller is a variable-pitch, but not demonstrated here.


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Cabin materials can be divisive here...  they are first and foremost excellent, but bright red. You will either love this cabin or totally hate it, myself I adore it, even if it sorts of dates the interior. It feels like that brushed velvet, and red Faux Leather trim, there is even the chrome fittings as well...  the beige curtains, or window shades are really well done.


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The rest of the cabin and roof is beige and cream, again very 70's. The roof has a massive air ducting module, that makes the cabin tight and even claustrophobic, but again quite authentic, if even fancy...


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The internal textures have had the same treatment as the exterior, better PBR effects and Ambient Occlusion, so it has that X-Plane 12 highlight sheen, that gives the aircraft a big "wow" factor. Yes it is the same cabin as the X-Plane 11 version, but it now feels so very different in it's better feel and look.


Instrument Panel

In the X-Plane 11 Arrow version you had two panel options, as I noted "loved and cared for" and "worn" or unloved and scruffy". Here JustFlight have reverted to just one design, the older 70's padded look.


Panel design is absolutely first rate, beautiful detail and with all the sheer realism you can get in simulation today, a highlight is the lovely glareshield with it's realistic stitching...  you can just feel and touch it, or is that a caress for the sheer ownership of it all. The aircraft's registration still also changes with the different liveries on the panel which is a nice touch.


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The yokes are still really outstanding, the left different to the right with the Piper logo.


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The left yoke is fitted with a digital chronometer. The mode button allows you to toggle between either the clock mode or the timer mode. On top of the yoke but very hard to see is a black electric trim button with down (forward) and up (rearwards) adjustments.


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You can have both yokes visible, or one each side, or hide both together...  very flexible.


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The instrument panel layout is exactly the same as the earlier X-Plane 11 in features...


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Instrument panel is set out with the Standard Six instruments that are centred in line of sight of the flying pilot with the Airspeed Indicator, Artificial Horizon and the Attitude Indicator on the top row and the Turn Coordinator, Heading Dial and Vertical Speed Indicators set out directly below. Left of the six pack top is the Gyro Suction dial with the Bendix/King ADF indicator set below. On the right top is a Garmin OBS VOR indicator (VOR1) and the same OBS VOR indicator (VOR2) below. I prefer the pointer VOR needle than this version as it is better for circuits and runway lineup (that is if the VOR is placed close to the runway). All the main dials are older black/white in design and not with the coloured Artificial Horizon  that you could also have in this aircraft.


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Mid-left panel gauges are standard Cherokee with Oil Press, Oil Temp and Alt Amp on the left side and Left Fuel tank, Cyl Head Temp and Right Fuel tank on the right of the yoke.


Lower-left panel has a basic Piper "AutoControl IIIB" Autopilot, which we will cover in more in detail later, the start key and a Manifold Pressure (inHG) and Fuel Flow gauge (Gallons per hour). Another gauge here is a Tachometer/RPM dial with built in Hobb's meter.


Avionics in the Arrow are very old, the only modern gadget is the centre stack mounted X-Plane default Garmin GNS530, and yes of course it pops out. There is also the provision to install Reality XP's GTN 750 unit, but this is an addon extra and it costs you another $49.95.


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Lower right panel is an Exhaust gas temperature (EGT) indicator and you can rotate the screw to control the position of the red (maximum value) needle and left of the EGT is a comprehensive set of active circuit breakers. There is a fan switch and heating controls as well. The only instrument on the right side is a standby Altimeter and spare hobbs meter.


Custom-coded electrical system comes with functional circuit breakers. 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.


The audio panel is a very early model Bendix/King KMA T20 TSO which is above the GNS530, below bottom is the Benedix/King 76A transponder.

The right side stack has a Bendix/King KX 175B radio for VOR in COM2 and VOR2 (COM1 and VOR1 is set via the GNS530). Then below is a Bendix/King KN 62A DME (Distance Measuring Equipment) set, the Benedix/King KR 85 ADF radio is set out below the KN 62A.


There are a set of rocker switches mid lower panel for (L to R) Power (Battery & Alternator), Fuel pump, Landing Light, Anti-Collision Lights in rotating and navigation and Pitot Heat. Either end of the switch panel are two scroll wheels for Avionic brightness and Instrument brightness.


The centre mini-pedestal has the familiar Throttle, Propeller and Mixture levers, but also a mixture lever lock on the side that restricts the mixture lever from moving below a 40% setting. The levers are a bit odd in that you have to move your movement upwards to move the levers down and vise-versa and in busy traffic conditions it can be annoying in the actions being the wrong way around. Also you have to use your switch gear before moving the Propeller and Mixture levers to the full forward position as they cover the avionics lighting scroll wheel, main power switches and fuel pump switch. I love the chunky T throttle handle.


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Below the mini-pedestal is your aileron trim wheel and park brake lever. Between the front seats is your beautiful elevator trim and flap handle, there is an emergency gravity assist gear drop lever here as well that works. Left lower wall panel is the Fuel Selector, with a Fire Extinguisher set beneath your thighs.


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Gotta love those filthy, worn, dirt strewn red carpets, detailing 101... metal foot plates are gorgeous. Authentic "Piper" branded rudder pedals are worth your gaze as well.


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The Arrow III's lighting here is quite basic, but it is very good in what it does. The panel is really very sepia and black/white in its design, but it does make for a very readable panel in the dark or in low lighting conditions. The instruments are backlit, but show the aircraft's age.


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Cockpit lighting is done via an overhead red lamp, it is quite bright, but the rear cabin is dark.


The external lighting is the same in just being the basic lighting, with a strobe on the tail and navigation lights (or noted here as "anti-collision") There is a very strong nose landing light and the bright flashes of strobe lighting that don't strobe together which is interesting, in that you get the left wing and then the right wing in multiple flashes on each side. All external lights are very different in colour and in the more modern LED halogen bright than X-Plane dull, you get the brilliant star feel (new X-Plane 12 halo) effect as well.


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At this level you expect really good sounds. And the JustFlight Arrow does really deliver here with custom sounds for; switches, doors, gear warnings and far more, it features accurate location placement of sounds in the stereo spectrum, 3D audio effects, atmospheric effects, adaptive Doppler, and the exterior sounds spill in when window or door(s) are opened, there are the different sound characteristics depending on your viewing angle and distance from the sound source. It is all FMOD 2 in quality as well.



The JustFlight Menu system is all changed for X-Plane 12 as noted in the Duchess Model 76, that was released early March. Gone is the generally average looking dated tab menu.


Here it is replaced by an iPad style tablet, stuck to the left window, or bring the tablet up in the screen by clicking the arrow tab top left (you can also popup the main tablet menu by pressing the left side of the window tablet)...  But you do have other options, as the tablet can also be placed on either yoke and right side windscreen by clicking the bottom of the tablet... 


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The pop-up tablet can also be scaled, or moved anywhere on your screen.


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The tablet is also adjustable (movable) via the hot-spot, top frame. But because of it's size and shape, the view-point is not ever really square or set head on, the yoke position is usually better, but now also situated far lower in your eyesight.


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The earlier X-Plane 11 version had eighteen tiles for selection, here it has been reduced down to twelve...


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Top row : Aircraft Options, Weight & Balance, Instr Options, Engine Config, and Static Liveries

Middle Row : Configuration, Log Book, Checklist, Ground Handling and Dynamic Liveries

Bottom row : Flight Computer and Avitab (Plugin required)


Aircraft Options: Covers the two doors; CoPilot, Baggage Door and Pilot Window (Open /Close), Window and Instrument Reflections, Cockpit Lights, Swap Pilots, Altimeter (IN.HG/MB) and Ground Equipment (Left/Right Tie Downs, Nose, Right and Left Chocks).


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We have seen the opening doors and pilot window, also the Tie Downs and chocks. Dan Klaue and his wife turn up as your pilots, and basically they are same two fully animated pilots as in Thranda Aircraft, by this menu option, you can swap the seating position of the pilots.


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Weight & Balance: The weight and balance window is very good, if basic to look at (it is the original W&B window). It comes with adjustable weights for all four passengers, and baggage, fuel can be set here also as can the change from kg - lbs. There is the option to load the Aircraft "Half" or "Full" tanks.

A full list of weights, CG and a large graph of your settings are all very helpful into balancing the aircraft. Press "Save Configuration" to save your preferred load setup, and "Load Configuration" to set up the aircraft.


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Lowering the Co-Pilot weight usually will make Him/Her disappear, but not in this aircraft....   there are there no passengers either if the weight added in the rear, or any bags if added to the baggage area, such is shrinkflation today. You can open most pages into a "Window" via the arrow logo right top.


Instr Options (Instrument Options) includes two pop-ups for the GNS 430 and the Century IV (autopilot).


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The "AutoControl IIIB" has only two functions in holding the heading and roll L&R. You can adjust the heading (thankfully) via the Heading instrument knob, or switch off the heading on the AP and roll the aircraft to your new heading. There is a hidden function to hold your altitude (not on the real system) by pressing the "Piper" text above the coupler knob on the left part of the panel, It is hard to find and almost half-hidden but you do get a  manipulator hand or finger to say it is actually there and but not when activated? It does work very well but the aircraft has to be perfectly trimmed before pressing it on...  it deactivates with a kick as well when or if you adjust the trim wheel, so be ready for that. Another point is that because if you don't use the altitude hold function, you can adjust the trim without disconnecting the AP, so it is quite easy to hold an altitude by setting the trim finely.


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The old "Refill Menu" has been changed here to the Engine Options; this allows you to view the fuel and oil status as well as the status of spark plug fouling and Vapour Lock, and you can also recharge the battery if it goes flat, of which it does with regularity. There is also an "Imbalance" indicator for the Fuel Weight, you can do a "Refill" here of the fuel here as well.


Static Liveries; You can rotate through all the six liveries with the Arrow lll via the "Static Liveries" menu. An option here (new) is that you can adjust the Dirt (dirtiness) between 0-100%. Very Thranda.


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Configuration: Here you can change the aircraft configuration, and there are three options; Engines Running (power up to flying mode), DynaFeel and the tablet (screen) Brightness.


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DynaFeel" is a system that dynamically adjusts the rate at which the controls deflect. It is  based on airspeed and how much the control is deflected. This means the controls will feel light and responsive at low speeds and with small deflections, but will get progressively heavier as the airspeed increases. If you fly Thranda Aircraft, then you will be familiar with the system.


Logbook: This icon brings up the X-Plane standard Logbook. 


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Checklist: There is a 31 page checklist that you can tick off...  very good, but even though there is a "End of the Checklist" tickable box, it doesn't oddly reset all the boxes to a reset...  that is a return through of 31 pages, and an average of twelve boxes per page to untick, so you do the maths...  


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Ground Handling: All JustFlight menus have odd useless tools, here is one...  the X-Plane "Ground Handling" tool, for "Pushback" and "Request Ground Service"? It's a GA, not a Boeing 737.


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Dynamic Liveries: Here is another Thranda feature now available on the JustFlight Series. Thranda introduced a clever feature of a way to design your own livery called DYNAMIC LIVERIES.


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You have a menu to select on the right that can colour a certain part of the aircraft, like the Roof, Wing, Tail or Wing tips. Select which one you want and then adjust the three RGB colours for that certain area, and the selected colour (here seagrass) is shown in the square. You can also separately change the aircraft's registration number, the Piper logo can be added as well. Another option is that changes can also be made to the Metal or Rough surfaces, this can be applied to any of the liveries.


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When done you can "SAVE" or ADD the livery to the index and then "APPLY" it to the aircraft. The conversion takes a few minutes with some weird screen changes, but the results are excellent and now the Piper Arrow is in your own nice livery design...   the results are found under the "DynamicLiveryResources" in the liveries.


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Flight Computer: The flight computer panel provides a wealth of information that is very handy in flight, with highlights including OAT (Outside Air Temperature), GS (Ground Speed), Endurance (time), Range (available), NMPG (Nautical Miles Per Gallon)/ SMPG (Standard Miles Per Gallon), Altitude (Density and Pressure), TAS (True Airspeed) and FF and used fuel flow, Winds (Headwind and Crosswind)....   fuel burn can be reset. Units can also be changed from Metric to Imperial..


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AviTab: The AviTab tool can also be used, and with Navigraph charts if you have an account. There is no tablet rotation from landscape to portrait, and to get back to the main menu, you press the right centre section of the frame. I found that for using charts, it is best setting them up in the side window, before opening up the main Pop-up, otherwise it just goes to a window setting.


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There are six (Painted Liveries) liveries plus the two of the system liveries are noted as "DynamicLiveryResources" and "ZZTEMPLATELIVERY", these are the currently selected "DYNAMIC LIVERIES".


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The Arrow is a part of the PA28 Cherokee family, but in this latest more modern reincarnation it is a four-seater that includes a five inch fuselage extension, span increase with a semi-tapered wing, a larger horizontal tail, gross weight increase and other minor changes over the earlier Cherokee. The Series III here also introduced the retractable landing gear arrangement. It also had enhanced performance and better handling characteristics compared to earlier Arrow models.

Here the Arrow lll has been extensively upgraded to X-Plane 12 by JustFlight/Thranda, note this is an upgrade, and earlier purchasers of the Arrow lll XP11 can get 10% discount off the new Piper X-Plane 12 aircraft.


The X-Plane 11 version was an excellent aircraft. But this rejuvenated version for X-Plane 12 is far, far better again,


Highlights of the changes are the new 8K textures, and the far better PBR effects, and this creates a far more quality exterior and interior. First glances say, old and tired, but on a closer inspection, it will cry out with "Classic" authenticity and it all comes to a very high quality.


The Arrow comes alive in X-Plane 12, highly realistic and it gives you a very high quality PA28 for X-Plane 12. There is also a new menu system, as replacing an old tab system, and it is a quality iPad/tablet, that can be positioned in four different places. Besides a few of the original tabs and pages, there are also three new added features directly from the Thranda Design stable, with now the "PAINTED LIVERIES" function, the build your own livery feature of "DYNAMIC LIVERIES" and the "Dynafeel" tool. Performance, physics and handling have also been highly improved to X-Plane 12 standards, based on real-world performance and handling data, Sounds are totally upgraded, with a full stereo spectrum, 3D audio effects, atmospheric effects and adaptive Doppler, and the feature list is very long.


But the odd quirks oddly remain? The Static Objects in being separated here are better, but there are very few of them. Lighting is basic, and you still get the very odd tab and useless elements like the X-Plane Ground Handling? and Logbook?...   fillers only. The checklist is another oddity, with 31 pages of checks, that you can't uncheck in one operation.


Priced in that high price range of US$40+, you expect a lot for your money. Thankfully you get that aspect here, but now even more so in the X-Plane 12 environment. It is an aircraft to spend time with to understand it's depth, the more you use it, then the more you find what you really like about it...  depth in design is the words here.


JustFlight/Thranda create excellent, lovely aircraft, that even the most novice pilot can fly and enjoy...  overwhelmingly the main thing about the Arrow lll is that it brings back that deepness required, that seems to be lost in the more modern environment. So it's like going back ten years but still having all the mod-cons, the effects and dynamics that X-Plane 12 provides as well are part of the deal, the JustFlight Duchess had this same feeling, as does the Arrow lll here, it is a brilliant combination of the very best of both worlds....     Highly Recommended.



X-Plane Store logo sm.jpg


Yes! the PA28R Piper Arrow III XP12 by JustFlight Thranda is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :

PA28R Piper Arrow III XP12

On sale: US$42.99



X-Plane 12  (not for xp11)
Windows, Mac or Linux
8 GB+ VRAM Recommended
Current version: 1.0 (July 1st 2024)
* Customers who own the PA-28R ARROW III XP11 by JustFlight can get 10% off this new XP12 model. Coupon code can be found in the original PA-28R ARROW III XP11 Invoice
Installed in your X-Plane Aircraft folder 2.47 Gb. Installation 2.65 GB,  Authorization on startup is required.
AviTab Plugin is required for this aircraft
  • ChangeLog.rtf
  • EULAstandardcommercialandacademic2024.pdf
  • GA Fleet X-Plane 12 EFB.pdf
  • PA-28R Arrow III ODM X-Plane 12 manual.pdf
  • PA-28R Arrow III X-Plane 12 manual.pdf


JF_PA28_Arrow_XP12_Manual 2.jpgJF_PA28_Arrow_XP12_Manual 1.jpg

JF_PA28_Arrow_XP12_Manual 3.jpgJF_PA28_Arrow_XP12_Manual 4.jpg

Design by JustFlight/Thranda Design
Support forum: JustFlight Arrow lll


Review System Specifications: 

Windows  - 12th Gen IS1700 Core i7 12700K 12 Core 3.60 GHz CPU - 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133PNY GeForce RTX 3080 10GB XLR8 - Samsung 970 EVO+ 2TB SSD

Software:   - Windows 11 Pro - X-Plane 12.1.0rc2 (This is a Release Candidate review).

Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00

Scenery or Aircraft

- EGHI Southampton Airport by PilotPlus+ (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$19.95



Review by Stephen Dutton

4th July 2024

Copyright©2024: 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) All Rights Reserved


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