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Aircraft Review - Viperjet by Aerobask

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Aircraft Review - Viperjet by Aerobask

When it appears you think "why didn't anyone else do that"? And there is a point to that question. A two seater personal Jet aircraft is not your average General Aviation aircraft is it, as most aircraft in this category are for military (training) and in fact all personal tandem seaters except for a few odd aircraft from Burt Rutan like the VariEze which was a forerunner of the Viperjet because this Viper aircraft was also originally created with a pusher propeller 350 hp (261 kW) Continental TSIOL-550 powerplant then known as the Viperfan. 

Basically the ViperJet is a kit aircraft, homebuilt. The kit costs US$182,000 and you are going to spend another US$300,000 to $500,000 get it airborne, that is if you can find a General Electric J85 jet engine lying around. This J85 version is the MkII as the MkI didn't really fly very well with the underpowered Turbomeca Marboré installed.

The original Viperjet prototype flew late in October 1999 at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in 2000.The MKII prototype flew on 12 June 2005 and you can upgrade your Mk1 to the MkII. The LXR version here uses the P&W JT15D-1A (2200 lbs thrust).

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This is a thoroughly composite material aircraft for lightweight and strength. And you have to admit the Viperjet is a very striking aircraft for the sort money it costs as you would usually pay about 10 million apiece for something of this nature in built for the military (notwithstanding the military hardware and the outrageous development costs).

Aerobask

The Viperjet has all the Aerobask traits, composite aircraft (tick), modern glass instruments (tick), lightweight (tick) and not usually mainstream aviation (tick). But aerobask do these aircraft very well, and they are a lot of fun to fly as well. In saying that the Viperjet is quite different in that "fun" category in the flying aspect. so it makes the aircraft not really fit in anywhere and maybe it is that definition in why Viper Aircraft have sold only a handful of aircraft.

Performance: Rate of climb (aerobatic weight) 7500fpm / Rate of climb (gross weight) 5000fpm - Mmo (FL250) 0.72 / VNE (Sea Level) 375 KIAS - Maximum speed cruise (FL280) 400 KTAS - Economy cruise speed (FL280) 350 KTAS - Approach speed 120-130 KIAS / Landing Speed 95-105 KIAS - Landing speed Range economy cruise (with Tip Tanks) 1450 nm.

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The Viperjet is a striking aircraft, like a slightly smaller smoother version of the  Hawk Trainer without the canted rear tailplanes. being composite you don't have the minute detailing of panels and screws, but were they are required they are well done for instrument or wing access and the wing tanks are very well detailed and realistic. The left and right wing sections can clearly be seen as separate construction items and the curves and shape design is excellent.

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Internally it is very well crafted, no bulky ejector seats in here but leather couches and carpet...  not very military in look or feel.

Underneath that huge opening canopy, is the two seat formation layout. The front pilot's position has full instrumentation and the rear is for basic instrumentation flying and aircraft control and a handy handgrip to hang on. But at least you can fly the aircraft from the rear position.

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In the front the panel/glareshelid is quite high and restricts the viewpoint forward, in the rear it is far better and the view is simply excellent.

Aerobask has taken a little liberty in the instrumentation and flat displays, but every Viperjet built is different and so there is really no standard in this area, so that is to our advantage than non-compliance.

Below on the center panel are four round backup instruments in Artificial horizon, Altitude, Speed and HSI (Heading indicator) and the main fuel switch is set below. Joysticks front and rear are beautiful and realistic, and the rudder pedals are basic lightweight metal.

This aircraft you would think being powered by a jetengine would be complex...  but it is not, and in fact quite the opposite in being actually very basic.

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Left panel holds mostly all your main aircraft switches and controls. GPU (Ground Power Unit), Main battery and Avionic power switches, Igniter (to start the engine), Combined Starter & Generator switch (very clever), Boost pump, L&R Fuel Tanks transfer pump, Main fuel Throttle/cutoff and Airbrake levers. An important dial (unless you want to die) is the Pressurization Dial that shows you your cabin pressure. Your outside static elements can be switched on and off here as well that includes wheel chocks and pitot covers.

Right Panel is mostly covered in circuit breakers (breakers for gear, avionics and engine are operational). But there are three important pressurization switches and cockpit heating switches. Canopy seal is three actions in pressure, safety lock and the actual canopy release lever.

Power on and avionics switched on and the panel starts to come to life.

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It takes a few moments to start up the avionics but when completed you have nice set of instrumentation. Left to right is first your Falcon AOA (Angle of Attack) Kit with a simple three position flap switch below.

Then your main Electronics International MVP-50T EIS engine display that covers most of your engines operational parameters. Below is a Garmin SL 30 VOR (VOR1 & VOR2) Radio and the standard Garmin 240 Radio set below that.

Central is the huge Garmin GDU 370 PFD, with built in Artificial horizon, Speed and Altitude tapes, Rate of turn and pitch indicators, and an excellent HSI (Heading indicator) with built in NDB and VOR indicators.

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You have the excellent X-Plane default GNS 530 built in with popout screen, but the list of buttons on the right of the GDU 370 PFD mostly just duplicate the GNS 530 buttons in operation.

The MEGGiTT autopilot is powerful but simple as well and a great addition if you are flying over a distance combined with the GNS 530. Final set is the Garmin GTX 330 Transponder, which is a very nice unit. Undercarriage gear switch is to the side with three green lights showing extended.

There are a row of annunciators across the top of the panel (and airbrake extended annunciators) and the main light switches below the GDU 370 PFD for Land, Taxi, Nav, Strobe and beacon.

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The menus are quite simple in one button for one action and to adjust anything on the MFD you turn the knob top right and the buttons cover HDG (heading), CRS (Course), CDI selection (Nav1/Nav2/GPS) BARO and ALT. On the MVP-50T EIS on the menu you have a Fuel Management Data page that covers Fuel Level Data, Fuel Flow Data, Fuel Tank including dumping the Tip Tanks. GPS data is also shown. You can fill the fuel tanks but only when the aircraft is cold and dark.

On the GDU 370 PFD the menu will give you the option of having the WRX weather screen on or off.

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The rear left switch and lever panel is a duplication of the front pilots panel.

The instruments set in an upper console panel are a nice three screen set for Artificial horizon/Pitch/Rate of Turn, central Speed and Altitude tapes and right a basic HSI (Heading indicator). The GTX 330 Transponder and SL 30 VOR units are set out below. Flaps and undercarriage switches are set out left and right like on the front panel.

Below on the bulkhead is the MVP-50T EIS and default GNS 530 units. All basic units but you could easily fly as well in the rear as in the front seat as you have everything except the Garmin 240 Radio.

Flying the Viperjet

You have an external GPU to provide power and a starter for the aircraft and that is activated by a switch on the left console.

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Central Fuel switch to on, boost pump switch to on, and igniter switch to on...  You must take throttle out of the fuel cutoff gate and then just hit the "Start" button and the engine whine will start up behind you, engine startup is fully automatic. "Start" switch to "Gen" is a failsafe clever way to make sure the generator is switched on. Once the engine parameters have steadied down you can switch off the boost pump and igniter switches and close down the external GPU. It is noted that you never exceed maximum EGT (exhaust gas temperature, 710 °C) for more than 5 minutes, to avoid engine failure and that is simulated in this aircraft.

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Closing the huge canopy is a push of the red lever, once down then pressurize the cockpit with the "canopy seal switch" then switch the engine bleed switch to on to redirect the bleed air to the pressurization system, If correct it will show the pressure on the Pressurization Dial.

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In the front is is slightly claustrophobic and the view a little tight with the high panel. The undercarriage from a distance is basic and a little spindly but close up wheel detailing is excellent, with all the nuts, bolts and brake components well done.

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Small details like the push-pull rod that controls the rear tailplanes is well done, and so are the minute flaps and huge main wing ailerons.

There are a set of default views set out to the numeric keypad, but I have my own set of default views, so I over-rode them.

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Lining up the center line and throttle up and the aircraft leaps off the brakes. It is skittish as the speed builds so you have to work to keep the aircraft straight. The Viperjet feels all the bumps and lumps on the taxiways and runway, so you have to be wary of any big ones throwing you off course. Around 85knots and rotate and then your flying nicely and the shuddering stops.

The Viperjet will climb well, but this is no MD Eagle F15D, In fact it runs out of puff early and at this weight I found only 10º pitch up was the maximum I could achieve without losing power.

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You have to keep rechecking the artificial horizon when leveled out as you tend to look slightly down the nose and through the gap in the front and that makes you fly slightly nose up, it is perspective thing. But once level the aircraft will very quickly go to its cruise speed and here about 260knts. As an aircraft to fly manually it is totally easy and brilliant, but I couldn't find the trim knobs or tabs?

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Instinctively you just want to throw the aircraft around. You can do aerobatics in this aircraft and it would be interesting to see a pro fly this aircraft around, but it is great on the stick and you know you want too...  but "hey, lets barrelroll" and yes it is as much fun as it looks, but also harder than it looks in getting the aircraft to come out of the roll cleanly.

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You keep an eye on that cabin pressure gauge as it keeps you comfortable. Inside the rear the view (10.36 for the review, is now a crap view without the extended scenery in 10.40) but it still gives you the feeling of space and glorious openness inside the aircraft, the window reflections were always a aerobask trademark, and they are very good here as well.

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The overwhelming feeling while cruising along at 20,000ft is that the real Viperjet must be simply an amazing aircraft to fly and be in, and to own one must be incredible...  why, why, is there not hundreds of Viperjets flying around?

The MEGGiTT autopilot is a great tool for flying high and fast point to point over a distance, 1,400nm range is not to be sneezed at for such a small aircraft.

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The panel displays are very good, clear and precise you can target a runway by VOR and NDB points and set to line up the runway by your CRS (course) direction and follow your markers. On approach (I tried both APP and manual) and the aircraft is easy to place and control, the flaps are small but effective and you can sit at 120knts and down to 95knts on landing.

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The Viperjet is easy to place and it is also easy to mark your point of landing...  and make it perfect.

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Airbrakes are like tabs under the inner wing area and are effective to a point. Your landing speed is critical, but if you have a choice between a long runway and a short one then pick the longer one.

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As I found out on my first adjustment circuit in that I did stop, but...  just.

Speed does not run off quickly and the jet is light, and on top of that the bumps and notches in the runway that can have you working the rudder hard to keep it in line, like what happened on the takeoff run.

Liveries

There are six liveries, White/Red (noted as Red), Silver/Black (noted as black), Checkerboard, Gold/Black (noted as yellow), Silver/Blue and Orange. All are excellent and most are real Viperjet liveries.

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Lighting

The Viperjet's lighting is fine but quite basic.

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The cockpit is a nice place to be at night. But you only have two adjustments in Instruments and overhead, strangely the backup instruments are lit by the overhead lights and not the instrument adjustment?

In the rear it is just as good and it looks professional in quality.

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External lighting is okay, but the taxi lights shine through the wingpods from the side, tail-light is a bit blobby and is too big. lighting spread is okay but not very wide for taxiing.

Summary

Overall this is an amazing aircraft, a jet and a small powerful one at that. So who would not want one in their hangar, certainly I would and flying it would be an amazing experience. We can only get a glimpse of that dream here and actually get a chance to fly an aircraft that can be as close as you want to be with out joining an airforce, certainly this aircraft has some potential in being a cheap jet trainer?

Aerobask has again pulled out and delivered a different aircraft experience, and one you can fly and even do some basic aerobatics in jet style. Design and great instrumentation means the Viperjet can be a fun all over sky afternoon or a distance flight point to point.

The overall theme is the aircraft is very easy and basic to use and fly, yes you still have great gizmos and wonderful instrumentation, but the important bits and radio units means it can be professional flyer aircraft as well, so it is really a good all round trainer and great for VOR to VOR and NDB trials.

If you want to learn to fly a faster GA, then this is your aircraft. Set up and flying is easy, nice to fly and you can cruise at 30,000ft and feel on top of the world. Great aircraft and another great design from Aerobask.

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The Viperjet by Aerobask is available from the New X-Plane.Org Store here : Viperjet LXR

And is priced at only US$21.95

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Fully featured and including:

  • High quality 3D model with high resolution textures (4K), ambient occlusion, specular and normal mapping
  • Flight model defined according to the specifications of the LXR version. Fun to fly.
  • Fully functional virtual 3D cockpit.
  • Functional rear cockpit (instructor).
  • Panoramic windshield with reflections
  • Integrated systems: Start sequence, pressurization, engine failure, radar weather, setup page
  • Many custom sounds: rolling, gear, flaps, canopy, vocal alert, callout, ...
  • Enhanced sound engine using SASL scripts

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Installation :   Download file size is 369.30mb to your X-Plane - GA Aircraft Folder. Installed file size is 435.90mb

Notes: None

Documents :  You get a lot of documents including a good Manual including a basic checklist, Your liveries, Recommended settings and a very good set of real Viperjet documents and MVP50 instruction sheet.

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Requirements :
Windows, MAC or Linux - X-Plane 10.36 or higher - 32 and 64 bit compatible. (X-Plane 9 not supported) - 1.5 GB VRAM Video Card Recommended

Current version: 1.0 (Last updated August 20th 2015)

Developer Support Site : (Aerobask- Harransor Support .Org)

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Review by Stephen Dutton

21st August 2015

Copyright©2015: X-Plane Reviews

Review System Specifications:

Computer System:  - 2.66 Ghz Intel Core i5 iMac 27”- 9 Gb 1067 Mhz DDR3 - ATI Radeon HD 6970M 2048 mb- Seagate 512gb SSD 

Software:   - Mac OS Yosemite 10.10.1 - X-Plane 10 Global ver 10.35 (final)

Addons - Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose  Soundlink Mini

Scenery or Aircraft

- KLAL - Lakeland Linder Regional Airport 2.01 by Drankum (X-Plane.Org) - Free

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Guest   
Guest

I really like the plane but the fuel system is a pain, i wish you could burn the external tanks first somehow. It burns the main tanks first then if you need to burn the external tanks you can only do one at a time, if you switch the pumps back and forth the plane shuts down. 

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Guest Guido Ostkamp   
Guest Guido Ostkamp

Hi,

you wrote that one can do NDB trials with this aircraft.
However I cannot find any NDB receiver on board this aircraft. Where to enter my NDB frequency?

The GNS 530 allows only to enter to setup VOR1/2 and COM1/2 frequency as does another panel on the left side, transponder and autopilot.

Can you please let us know?

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