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Aircraft Review : Piper Arrow IIIv2 PA28R-200 by VflyteAir


Stephen
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Aircraft Review : Piper Arrow IIIv2 PA28R-200 by VflyteAir
 
Route : KMVY - Martha's Vineyard to KPYM - Plymouth Municipal Airport and return.
 
It has only been a few months since April that VflyteAir released the Grumman Tiger, and now they are back again with the release of a Piper in the Arrow III (Cherokee) PA28R-200. The aircraft is also part of what I call the new collection of aircraft from VflyteAir that also includes the Grumman Traveler AA-5. This collection is very different from the original type of aircraft from these developers as before the focus was on mostly very light-weight or lightsport's aircraft. These current aircraft in this series are more focused in the GA (General Aviation) market and in particular the Carenado design-style and their quality designs.  As a design and the noted quality the Piper Arrow III is very good.

 

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The Piper PA-28 family are all-metal, unpressurized, single-engined, piston-powered airplanes with low-mounted wings and tricycle landing gear. Piper has a few created variations within the Cherokee family by installing engines ranging from 140 to 300 hp (105-220 kW), providing turbocharging, offering fixed or retractable landing gear, fixed-pitch or constant speed propellers and stretching the fuselage to accommodate six people which is the larger Saratoga. The first PA-28 received its type certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration in 1960, and the series remains in production to this day including the Arrow that is featured here. PA-28R-201 Arrow III is the series is the four seater with retractable landing gear and is powered by the Lycoming IO-360-C1C6 engine of 200 hp (149 kW), gross weight 2,750 lb (1,247 kg) and unless otherwise mentioned, the model number always refers to horsepower. And the PA-28 was first certified on 2 November 1976.
 
Originally, all Cherokees had a constant-chord, rectangular planform wing, popularly called the "Hershey Bar" wing because of its resemblance to the convex, rectangular chocolate bar. Beginning with the Warrior in 1974, Piper switched to a semitapered wing with the NACA 652-415 profile and a 2-foot-longer (0.61 m) wingspan. The constant chord is maintained from the root to mid-wing, at which point a tapered section sweeping backwards on the leading edge continues until the tip. Both Cherokee wing variants have an angled wing root; i.e., the wing leading edge is swept forward as it nears the fuselage body, rather than meeting the body at a perpendicular angle.
 
The documented takeoff distance, cruise speed, and landing distance of Cherokees of the same horsepower with different wing types is very similar and some of the differences that do exist in later taper-wing models can be attributed to better fairings and seals rather than the different wing design. The Hershey Bar wing design is not markedly inferior to the tapered design, and in some ways is quite advantageous. As Piper Cherokee designer John Thorp says: "Tapered wings tend to stall outboard, reducing aileron effectiveness and increasing the likelihood of a rolloff into a spin."...   Peter Garrison further explains: "To prevent tip stall, designers have resorted to providing the outboard portions of tapered wings with more cambered airfoil sections, drooped or enlarged leading edges, fixed or automatic leading edge slots or slats, and, most commonly, wing twist or "washout". The trouble with these fixes is that they all increase the drag, canceling whatever benefit the tapered wing was supposed to deliver in the first place." The point is you do feel this effect flying the aircraft as we shall see and mostly at the point of landing.
 
Performance: Gross Weight: 2600 lbs (Empty Weight: 1459 lbs) : Top Speed: 153 kts - Cruise Speed: 144 kts : Stall Speed (dirty): 56 kts : Range: 600 nm : Rate Of Climb: 910 fpm : Ceiling: 16000 ft
 

X-Plane 10.30

This aircraft functions best with the X-Plane version 10.30, You can use X-Plane 10.25 but the GNS GPS won't work and certainly X-Plane9 are not useable.

 

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VflyteAir has had full access to a real Arrow III (1977 PA28R-200 located in Texas, USA), and every nut, bolt and panel has been measured and photographed to reproduce the same aircraft in X-Plane, and that sort of minute detailing here really shows.

 

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The Arrow is not the most beautiful aircraft to come through a set of hangar doors, and is usually noted as solid, dependable or trustworthy. But it is a nice clean aircraft in any case you want to put out there. The windows are quite big and sit low and so you are not quashed to look out right or left and look only down like in the CT206H I flew lately. In my view it is a nice aircraft if a little squat on the ramp. The wings are squarish but nice and clean.
The detailing is quite superb, and have your "draw by pixel lighting" ticked on to get the best effect. The standard now in X-Plane is very high in quality, but the PA28 here ticks all the boxes and so. Check out just small areas of detailing like the landing gear and it is faultless and beautifully reproduced and all the rivets, paneling and vents are spot on. All the right aerials are on the fuselage (two) and one cable version from the roof to the tail and a V set on the rear of the tail itself shows the intricate work we all welcome. Cabin steps and access panel latches are also perfectly recreated.

 

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You can open and close the main and only passenger door, but only from the inside door latch, which sounds great in operation with a nice click and thunk.

 

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No doubt the aircraft that was used to represent the VflyteAir Arrow III has had a hard life. It is worn out in many areas that it comes into the second-hand market used version than a new polished aircraft. But that is also the attraction, only thing missing is the cigar smoke and oil smells. The lower worn wood on the main panel dominates the aircraft in the front seats and so do those large metal paint flaking ungainly yokes (you can make them disappear). Beautifully recreated in an olde world way, the PA28 feels very much your pride and joy if quite neglected as an investment. In the lower well the rudder pedals are also perfectly recreated The huge window blinds dominated the windscreen, and they are fully adjustable if hard to get out of the way when wanting a clear view, I love the power setting tables set out on the rear and the outside Temperature gauge attached through the glass. The wire "control lock" for the yokes... is great detail, It show up when you start and you can make it disappear by pressing just above the yokes, but you can't return it to lock the yokes after shutdown of the aircraft.

 

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Handbrake and flap handles are nicely worn and have had a lot of hard use. between the seats is the trim adjustment wheel. There is a little glass opening in the pilot's side window that has a slight aversion to being locked closed?  Several times I found it flapping in the wind and had to lock it again....  But overall inside the cabin it is beautifully fitted out with nice if worn leather seats. Belts and headset/radio cables are very well recreated and positioned for use.

 

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Hiding the yokes you really have to love this worn panel, gorgeous is the only word. You have the standard six instruments dead center and the VOR OBS and VOR 2 dials to the right, they look the same but they are not as the top one has extra roles. On the lft is a clock and VOR selection dials. Center of the panel is the equipment stack and a great variation on a stack it is. Top to bottom is first the standard Garmin GMA 340 audio panel we all know and love... But then we have a lovely Narco MK12D TSO COM1/NAV1 with another similar Narco MK12D TSO COM2/NAV2 radio set below. To complete the set is the Narco AT150 TSO Transponder which is an old but cool radio.


There is set of 70's style rocker switches that activate (left to right) Nav lights (scroll) - Main power switches (Gen/Battery) - Fuel Pump - Landing light - Beacon (on the tail) Pitot heat  and another scroll wheel for the main panel lighting... There is a switch missing here and it is for the strobe lights and that is flick switch on the right of the panel. On the far right Co-Pilot side of the panel it is dominated by an add on Garmin GPSPlus that we will note with the 10.30 GNS 430 internals. There is a suction gauge and right low down next to fuse box is a Electronics International Digital CHT/EGT display. ALT Vacuum does not work but the other switch is the main "Avionics" master power switch...  and yes you need to switch it on even though you will usually spend and hour trying to find it in the first place.  So to power up then the two red rocker switches and the avionics switch and you are in business!

 

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Lower panel under the Pilot's yoke is on the left the "autopilot" (come back to this feature in flight) and a Hobbs Meter to show the aircraft hours. Right of the start switch are two dials in a combined Manifold pressure/Fuel Flow gauge and the right dial is a tachometer.
 
Starting up
You have selected the power switches so now it is time to start the engine. On the center console is the standard Throttle - Propeller Control Lever - Mixture (fuel cutoff) lever and all are well worn in and have had a few hours under them. Push your Prop Control and Mixture levers up and then give the key a twist to start the engine...  you need to keep the switch on for a while till the engine catches and fires up, but I wasn't sure about the key position as it said L (left) and R (right) in a single engined aircraft? 

With the aircraft running the lower gauges come to life and are very realistic in their operation and flickering of the needles in their warming up periods, in fact in all the dials they flicker to the motions in their various ways, yes it is as real as it gets. You have more gauges either side of the yoke in on the left three gauges in Oil Pressure - Oil Temp and a Ammeter gauge. On the right of the yoke is the left and right fuel tanks and in the center of the two gauges is the Fuel Pressure gauge.
 

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The 10.30 version of the Arrow gives you access to the latest GNS GPS. VflyteAir has done a sort of hybrid version in that on the panel is a portable Garmin GPSPlus. But if you press the center of the screen then up pops the new GNS 430 panel. The buttons on the GPSPlus are small and hard to use, so I used the standard GNS 430 all the time, mostly for the full functionality and because the new GNS can be a bit of a minefield in pages and actions. So the bigger the better and you can move it anywhere in the screen for the best position to work on, like where I loaded in a simple flightplan - CHOPY - KENAD - PEPDE - WOMEK to get me close to Plymouth Municipal Airport - KPYM and for a quick round trip back to Martha's Vineyard.
 

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Engine nicely warmed up it was time to release the brake and do some flying. The PA28R taxi's very nicely with only a few touches of the brakes, the strobe light switch is tricky to find as mentioned and the handbook supplied notes they should only be used in the air as they are quite bright flashes. Take off today is by runway RWY16.
 

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With the Arrow being an older sorts of aircraft and the GPS just an added bonus, it figures that the GPS and the aircraft via the autopilot don't communicate with each other, of which of course they don't. But that does not mean you can't use the system with a flightplan as a guide for your route anyway.  So here is the trick, we have already put in the flightplan with the first waypoint as CHOPY, if you activate the sector and then switch on the GPS and OBS via the menu buttons the top VOR dial will come alive.

Now you can home in on the waypoint (fix) and get a bearing to the position you want, in this case it is 33º... and as RWY16 is sixteen degrees it will give you a target bearing to the fix once you are in the air. (note: you don't have the TO/FR (TO and FROM) arrows in the OBS here but a small Blue indicator for TO, and Yellow for FR with red indicating no signal.)

 

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Off the brakes and up the throttle on clearance from the tower and the Arrow is moving at a steady pace. "Steady" is the word here, the aircraft is not flash off the line or a bolt into the sky. The PA28R trundles forward on just 200hp, so it gathers speed more than flies down the runway.

 

No flap needed here and the aircraft with light winds will track quite true down the center line, small pull back on the yoke and you have a very nice pitch to climb out. I like the way the undercarriage retracts, sort of stiffly as it stops then starts again, which is very authentic. The aircraft is absolutely rock steady and very nice in the air, but climbing has to be kept well under 1000fpm (feet per minute) and around 900fpm is recommended to keep the speed up without any dramas.

Once clear of Martha's Vineyard coast I turn to track to 33º and make for CHOPY, your OBS will go off center and you will note the new direction to the fix.


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That is because with the slight run out of KMVY RWY16 the actual bearing to CHOPY was now 42º but when you adjust the OBS for the slight heading margin and the heading is now aligned you soon are on the right track towards the fix. What shows on the pop-out GNS 430 screen is duplicated on the GPSPlus so you can hide the bigger screen if you want to.

 

Coming close to CHOPY it gets a little tricky because as the aircraft and the autopilot as noted can't talk to the GPS you have to change the waypoint fix to the next one manually. So first you clear the current fix in CHOPY and activate the next one which is KENAD (you have to again select the GPS and OBS buttons on the GNS GPS) and realign the top VOR OBS to the new bearing via the knob. If you want a more visual guide then switch to the MAP view on the GNS and you will see the flightplan and the magenta OBS bearing line to adjust to.
 

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Easy...  well yes after a few goes you do finally get the right set of actions, but it does work in giving you a perfect flightplan path to follow. The great thing about GPS is that even if you are off the track you still know your position and that makes it easy to adjust the aircraft to get back on the right bearing or just go and follow the line...  The next track you need is after the next fix as a white line as a guide to reset the next active fix on the GPS. I do recommend to start switching over to the next active fix before you reach your waypoint, so as that you turn right on the fix and not past it.

 

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The Arrow III comes with a very basic Autopilot (AP), on the real Arrow it is only a single-axis in wing-leveler & heading...   but X-Plane is a two axis unit and VflyteAir has set it up this way. It is a very simple unit but you can try to overuse it and that gets you into trouble. The problem is with the pitch and to use it the best it is better to fly to the heading and height you want and then switch it on via the left rocker switch, when activated the AP will just simply level the wings and keep the same altitude.

 

Hands off and the aircraft will just find its own correct position and when ready then switch on the right rocker switch to activate the heading mode and the aircraft will turn the heading set out in the Gyrocompass, you can adjust the compass to compensate for drift on the magnetic bearing as well (left knob) which is very handy. The knob in the center of the AP will roll you in the direction you want to go and it works very well, but again you have to make sure the heading switch is off for it to work cleanly and then adjust the heading bug to the new heading before switching it back on. In all cases it is switch off any mode on the AP, reposition the aircraft and then turn the AP back on...  follow that and it works very well.
 
As I said you can overuse the AP and that is where it gets a little dangerous. Change the pitch with the AP on and the aircraft will adjust the trim to do so? But when you switch off the AP then the trim...  is it still set in the wrong place?
 

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I found that I did a pitch up and leveled off, later I turned the AP off but had to have the yoke hard full forward to keep the aircraft level?. I wanted to go down, but how do you go down even with a reduced throttle with the yoke right up against the panel, pull the yoke towards you and towards neutral and you go up? A "ah ha" moment in seeing the trim wheel full "UP" and so what do you do?  you trim it back into the center?... bad idea...  very bad idea, as the Arrow III went then more Arrow like and plummeted straight down towards the water.

 

The lesson learned was, turn off the AP and change height and then turn the AP back on at the new altitude, simple really...  There is a trim indicator directly in front of you between the warning lights on the glareshield, but in some sharp morning light it can be hard to see.
 

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You have to be careful with your fuel tanks. If one is getting low (usually the left wing tank) then you need to switch to the other (or right) tank before you run out of the "Go" juice. So an eagle eye is always needed on both of the fuel gauges.

 

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In flight the aircraft is a very nice place to be. Long flights would be a breeze in here, like I mentioned the Arrow is no racehorse but it is very capable and a very nice aircraft to fly and you really enjoy those moments of the sheer bliss of GA aviation.
 
Liveries
There are 15 liveries and a really great cross-section of choice as well. Not just American rego's but also one for each country including Canada and Europe to spread the gospel. The VflyteAir livery is the default, and a paintkit is included.

 

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What livery do I like? well for once the choice is very high, but I settled finally on the nice yellow/orange one.
 

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Panel lighting
 

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Panel lighting is very good, but I wish the instruments where a little brighter (The scroll knob is on the lighting set of switches), There are two lights above in a "red" for night flying (DIMMER on the panel) and a dome light. both can be adjusted and you can usually find the right lighting for the right occasion.

 

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Outside lighting is very good and the strobes are really bright and so is the tail beacon, but there is just one weakish landing light in the nose.
 
Landing
My flight to Plymouth Municipal Airport KPYM was done and the passenger was deposited minus his cash at the GA terminal, and I turned straight around and when leaving KPYM, I then tracked directly back to KMVY (no sightseeing this time).
 

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All sounds are first rate and very authentic as the stereo sounds are recorded from a real 1977 PA28R-200, it was not buzzy in the cabin either so the ride is very relaxing. As I lowered my height to 1000ft go into the circuit to land on KMVY.

 

There is an Audio Advisory System or AAS with a voice that calls out warnings or actions like turning off the AP, you can turn it down on the panel on the left knob of the Garmin GMA 340, however these are features you like or you don't. So when I was sorting out my final landing altitude I got "altitude"...  "Okay I know what I am doing..."Landing Gear!" and off she goes again, then "altitude" again and I am looking at the radio and saying things like "I can fly an aircraft you know, and I damn well know what I am doing!" So yes I turned it off as good as what she was.
 
Under flap (4 stage) the speed drops away nicely and the aircraft is very nicely balanced in the fact I feel very comfortable to turn in nicely quite close to the centerline. With the gear down you get a nice drag that makes you add a little more throttle to keep the speed up. Stall speed dirty (or flaps down) is 64 knots or 70 clean (flaps up) but the maneuvering speed at 134 knots is underlined, so keep well under that if doing tight turns. 
 

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You feel you are going faster than the 70kts than what you are on finals and you tend to want to drop the speed almost to the stall line. So watch it carefully and a good throttle control is great here to get that perfect descent and speed balance, but again the aircraft is beautifully balanced and very easy to place...  and yes "sturdy!". But when you do touch down it takes awhile to run off the speed so you are tempted to touch the brakes earlier than you should do, the Arrow pilot's note 800ft of runway and yes you will use all of that...
 

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Summary
Carenado have the Archer II in the Cherokee class and comparing the two, then the Arrow certainly feels far more modern and certainly has more instruments and navigation tools. It feels brighter and cleaner than the Carenado of which it also shows its age with the fixed gear tricycle and 20bhp power less at 180hp, But the Carenado Archer II has more features. On votes the VflyteAir is certainly the better four seater in this class, In fact overall it is very good indeed.
 
This is a very nice aircraft to fly and the inclusion of the 10.30 GNS GPS is a real bonus and also highly usable and with only a little imagination it can be a serious tool for long distance flights. Frame-rate was excellent but just as you make sure you don't overrun your graphic chip limits and in my case 512mb, once over you see the drop off quite heavily and single digits, below that and the PA28R dreams along. There are plenty of great liveries to choose from and really suit the aircraft in all their various nationalities.
 
No doubt that VflyteAir has a great aircraft in the market of General Aviation with this aircraft...  It is that good and that complete an aircraft with really excellent and up to date features. Very hard to fault the PA28R and it flies exceedingly well and at the price below the $US20 dollar mark it is a very good investment for an aircraft of this class.
 
Review By Stephen Dutton

 

Installation

After downloading (a whopping 819.20 mb) and unzipping the file (819.20.40mg) then place into your X-Plane "General Aviation" folder. The aircraft will fly in X-Plane version 10.25, but you will need X-Plane version 10.30 to use the GNS GPS system.

 

There are two documents covering the aircraft with a users manual and an original POH owners manual: post-2-0-85254500-1411648899.jpg

 

The VflyteAir - Piper Arrow III PA28R-200 is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :
 
Price is US$18.95 - Piper PA28R Arrow III
 

Developer Site: vflyteair
Dev Support : vflyteair support

25th September 2014
Copyright©2014 : X-Plane Reviews
 
Technical Requirements:
Windows Vista or Windows 7 (32 or 64 bits) or MAC OS 10.6(or higher) or Linux
X-Plane 10.25 (or higher) - X-Plane 10.30 required for the GNS 430 - 32 and 64 bit compatible
Multi- Core 2 GHz - 4GB RAM/1GB VRAM- 500MB available hard disk space
Version 2 (last updated September 24th 2014)

 
Review System Specifications:
Computer System:     
- 2.66 Ghz Intel Core i5 iMac 27”
- 6 Gb 1067 Mhz DDR3
- ATI Radeon HD 4850 512mb

 
Software:     
- Mac OS Mavericks 10.9.4
- X-Plane 10 Global ver 10.30 (final)

- Hi rez planet textures from ISDG
- Hi-Res Runway textures by Jack Skieczius
Addons
- Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle

- bose Soundlink -Mini portable speaker
Scenery
- KMVY Martha's Vineyard by dkm (ver3.1 .org)
 

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I purchased this beautiful model. There's a lot to like with this package with one exception: the in-flight engine sound is surprisingly poor, with an annoying pulse that distracts from an otherwise enjoyable flight experience. It's unacceptable for the price and I sincerely hope VflyteAir releases a fix soon.

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I agree with the message above - A great aircraft but the looping engine sound is a big let down. I can not enjoy this aircraft until it is fixed. Please fix it and then it will be oerfect.

 

Cheers,

 

Craig

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  • 4 months later...
Guest AntonioG

Im a real PA28R-200 pilot. Just bought this aircraft (V2.1) from VFlyteAir, and didin´t like it. It does not fly like the real aircraft (like the XP Carenado aircraft usually do). Unstable (too fast) roll movement, and too much acceleration and power compared to the real one. Also, this model has this annoying tendency: it starts to oscillate (porpoising) if you touchdown just a little bit hard... Also, it has the tendency to sideslip when you use your rudder on ground. That flap indicator on panel doesn´t exists. And what about that female voice like a GPWS system? No PA28R200 has such thing. No stall horn (just the same woman saying "stall!, stall").... Its a beufifull model, but the flight model is definitly no good.

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Im a real PA28R-200 pilot. Just bought this aircraft (V2.1) from VFlyteAir, and didin´t like it. It does not fly like the real aircraft (like the XP Carenado aircraft usually do). Unstable (too fast) roll movement, and too much acceleration and power compared to the real one. Also, this model has this annoying tendency: it starts to oscillate (porpoising) if you touchdown just a little bit hard... Also, it has the tendency to sideslip when you use your rudder on ground. That flap indicator on panel doesn´t exists. And what about that female voice like a GPWS system? No PA28R200 has such thing. No stall horn (just the same woman saying "stall!, stall").... Its a beufifull model, but the flight model is definitly no good.

 

We are always grateful when real pilots give real feedback on the real aircraft compared to the simulated version. I will note that first X-Plane does have a slightly odd behaviour at the point of touch down. This is an area we have wanted to have some attention for some time and you can be slightly caught out by it and various aircraft are also caught out in it as well. vFlyteAir did have full access to a real PA28R-200 when creating this model? I know that for sure, so I guess they would need to go back and recheck those comments. This aircraft does also have a slightly bent history as it had to be released and maybe a few things were lost in the process? I would wait for the next update from vFlyteAir and see where it is at then. I found the female voice irritating as well as I noted in the review. SD

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