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Aircraft Review : CowanSim Bell 222B + UT


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Aircraft Review : CowanSim Bell 222B + UT

 

You know when something special is going on when the X-Plane forums were buzzing. It was "CowanSim this" and "CowanSim that", and everyone was wanting something relating to the aircraft, more unusual was that is was a Helicopter, and in most instances helicopters don't usually create this sort of buzz, mostly because chopper pilots are a minority bunch and stay mostly within their own flight pal circles...  so something must have been interesting to create a so much activity.

 

This comes with the release from CowanSim a Bell 222, from the 222/230 family. The manufacture's success with the Bell 206, or JetRanger required a machine that was slightly bigger and more powerful, so the B222 is often referred to as the JetRangers sister. There was the later TwinRanger with two engines as a variant of the B206, but overall the whole machine needed to go up a size bigger from a five seater to a 6-8 seater, but you can at a push accommodate 10 as in a pilot and nine passengers in a B222. The 222B is the most common version with twin Lycoming LTS101-750C turbine engines putting out 684 shp (510 kW) power (the 222A used 620 shp (462 kW)). In this package is also the Bell 222UT, which is the 222B variant with skids, introduced in 1983, and the lack of retractable landing gear also allowed for the fitting larger auxiliary fuel tanks, and not to be confused with the B230 Utility, only 70 examples B222UT were ever built. Often noted as the “Triple Deuce”, or the 222 spoken as the “Two Twenty-two”.

 

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First visual impact is that the B222 has only twin main rotor blades of a stainless-steel-fiberglass construction, and rotor hub has elastomeric bearings, which are lubricant free. It was B230 that had the more powerful engines and a four-blade main rotor. In this review my focus is going to be only on the B222B version, as both aircraft are actually identical except for the skids vs wheeled variants.

 

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Modeling is very good, not exceptional, but well formed without any cheap modeling tricks. Mapping (raised points) is a little heavy, but the upper engine vents are really well done, as are the engine inlets. Overall though the aircraft is let down by the low-res liveries, you can easily see the jaggies along the edges.

 

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Glass is excellent. Nice curvature, tint, but also excellent reflections to opacity internally.

 

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Retractable wheel assemblies are a bit basic, the modeling is basic and there is no detailed textures or wear and tear, front wheel assemblely is just basic untextured modeling, very average.

 

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Rotorhead and Tailrotor

Again the Rotorhead modeling is good, but not a really totally a realistic representation as it feels to small, and again you can see the modeling elements more than the real assembly. All the elements are here, tower, rods and mast, but the realism is indifferent.

 

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However the animations do work in Pitch and Bank...

 

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Tailrotor and yaw are better in design, and again the blades are active in operation.

 

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Menu

The CowanSim Menu (CowanSim-222B) is selected as part of the main X-Plane menu top left of your screen...

 

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The list is quite comprehensive with twelve selections; Fully Automated Setup, Radio and GPS Panel Swap, RXP GTN750 Owner, Show Rotor Shadows, Remove all doors, Black Instrument Panel, Avitab Configuration, Pilots & Passengers, Enable Window Rain, Enable Medical Interior, Park & Secure Rotor and Set VR Head Position to Current Pos.

 

There is also a VR (Virtual Reality) pop-up menu in the side pocket that mirrors the drop down menu. Note VR Position tools bottom left.

 

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Two items noted include the Tiedowns (Park and Secure Rotor) and the "Remove all doors". The rest of the menu selections we will cover while doing the Instruments and interior.

 

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The interior layout comes in two options (menu)...  One is the default Executive four seat club arrangement...

 

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....  the second is an excellent Medical fit-out that is really well done, but missing is a utility six seat rear layout that would be used for oilrigs or general passenger flying, certainly this layout would have been good for the UT version as the executive layout looks odd in the UT variant.

 

Seating again looks more modeled than realistic, and the leather too glossy to be authentic cowhide, but there are a few nice details like the seat inserts and nice pile carpets.

 

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All four doors open from the internal catches and the paperwork window hatch(s) also open.

 

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You can Show/Hide (Menu) pilots and passengers in the aircraft, not totally individually, but divided by the Passengers and the Co-Pilot. You can't set up set weights and baggage, as it is simply on or off. Quality of the people though is very good and very lifelike. But would I have liked a services uniform of a crew, well yes.

 

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Cockpit

This Bell 222B is a mid-seventies design, but the cockpit and instrument panel looks like a more modern style in design and operation.

 

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Instrument panel is the most impressive aspects of the CowanSim B222, it is really well done with excellent instrument reflections, there are two options (Menu) in a Grey facia or an all Black facia.

 

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Power on and the panel is even more impressive, the Overhead (OHP) is also nicely done.

 

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Nice details include a really well done glareshield annunciator/warning panel, with dim and bright settings.

 

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And I really like the detailed green OHP switchware and buttons, note the yellow lever is not the rotor brake lever, but an air vent.

 

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Behind your heads are two headphones, if you click then, then the sounds lower in tone, but to be honest I like the sounds here at full volume. Headphone detail and the metal headbands are really well done.

 

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Like most instrument panels, if you section them off they are not as complicated as they look, this one is more interesting because there is not a centre pedestal for switchgear.

 

Both sides of the panel in front of both pilots are the main flying Standard Six instruments, of; Artificial Horizon and a Heading Dial below, top left is the Airspeed Indicator and right the Altitude Indicator, below left is the backup Artificial Horizon and lower right is a V/S Vertical Speed dial, lower panel is left OBS Pointer, and right a RAD ALT (Radar Altimeter).

 

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The arrangement is slightly different on the left side of the panel, the Altimeter is shifted down a position and is replaced by an Engine Torque dial (Twin Engines), and on the left centre a Turn Coordinator replaces the backup Artificial Horizon. Both ends of the panel have a Davtron M803 digital Clock and Temp panel.

 

Two main dials on the right pilot's side next to the S6 are the Rotor RPM and twin Torque Dial. Centre panel is dominated by engine readouts, Main (top to bottom for both engines); Gas generator speed (NG) RPM, MGT (torque indicator), Engine Oil  Pressure/Temp, Hydraulic Oil Pressure/Temp. centre panel has three dials that cover the Fuel QTY (Quantity) total 188+48 US gal (710+182 L) there is also a third tank noted later, Ampreres, Oil pressure, below is the landing gear panel...  one other large panel is the Flight Director Panel (Autopilot).

 

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Avionics include both COMM/NAV 1- COMM/NAV 2 Bendix/King KX 155, (noted Laminar/King?) Bendix King KR 87 ADF tuner and bottom a Bendix/King KT76.

 

The avionics can be switched (Menu) with a Reality XP GTN 750/650 Touch optional avionics if you have that product, and also you can switch the avionics panels around with the same on the mini pedestal, with a GNS530/GNS430 combo setup, by just pressing the touch zone on the bottom of the avionics stack.

 

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Glaresheild has two Bendix/King KMA 24 selector units, and that very nice annunciator/warning panel. The "Agent Release" (RLSE) are the fire handles (switches) to smoother the burning engine, you "ARM" and then release via the centre switch.

 

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There is a (Third) Auxiliary Fuel tank and gauge in the right pilot's footwell, and I like the ID Plate in the left side.

 

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There is an "Avitab" feature (Menu) that is position down right from the pilot. The Avitab can be rotated from the landscape horizontal into the Portrait vertical position...

 

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...  there are also two sizes in "Small" and "Large" screen sizes.

 

Flying the Cowansim B222

I was initially perplexed on why the CowanSim B222 was so popular, looking over the aircraft I can easily see why, it is a very easy aircraft to set up and fly, a lot of the usual systems here that are very automated, and you get helpers as well to make a transition to helicopters pretty easily, so obviously this is a very good helicopter to learn on if you want to give helicopter flying a go. The basics are still the basics for flying in these machines, but even in that aspect it is an easy aircraft to fly.

 

Most of your controls including the throttle system is grouped on the collective head...

 

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...  understanding how the throttle system works is probably the hardest thing to use here...  it is mostly automated, but you unlock it via the IDLE STOP release switch (arrowed above right), and it is tricky to use as you don't really know if it is locked or unlocked?

 

You have to Rotate (the throttles) to idle stop position, then activate IDLE STOP release switch then open throttles. Then rotate back again to IDLE STOP, and then activate IDLE STOP release switch...  confusing? well it is until you work it out, in reality the throttles are locked, then you have to release them again to feed in the fuel, the Fuel switches are on the OHP. More switches turn on the external lights and beacons, and internal instrument and interior lighting...   you prime the fuel, then hit the engine starter buttons mid-panel.

 

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In the startup procedure you adjust throttles open, then when running, back to idle, finally you turn on each BUS (Intcon) for each engine, and turn off both primer pumps...  the B222 then slowly comes into life.

 

There is a cheat option...  CowanSim provide a full (automated) procedure (Menu) that goes right though the startup procedure, and very good it is...  a run through a few times with the supplied checklist, and you will pretty well have the procedure sorted. It is far better to use the inbuilt option than the manual, as the manual is pretty lacking in detailed instructions, even the instrument layouts and details are not even represented and here you need to find things, like locating the rotor brake which is hidden behind the right pilot's seat, the manual should be far better in this aspect.

 

It took me a fair while to work out the throttle system, but basically it is fully automatic, but you have to unlock it and then INC (Increase) the throttle to the line for full power, it then sets it's own throttle setting ready for takeoff.

 

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Sounds of the B222 are impressively good, internally and externally...  sound set was developed with the X-Plane FMOD system. And the sounds and animations work together with visual rotor-speed vibrational feedback, rattling, shaking and dynamic blade slap and rain effects if you have them selected.

 

Collective up and the twin-blades bite...  I found it was easy to find the centre of the yaw for tail control, even while giving more bite to collective, hover then was also easy, if the B222 did lean slightly left to be easily corrected, notable that this action is correct.

 

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Normal hover position is slightly pitch up or nose up, but I found after the very tricky Gazelle, the B222 is very nice and a facile handing machine in this crucial point of flight, "Putty in your hands" is the words that comes to mind, and I am not a dedicated Helicopter pilot.

 

Yaw or turning in the hover was also sweet, add a bit of collective you can easily transition to forward flight.

 

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You can gain height and speed easily and you feel very much in control, without serious effort to control the machine, that is not to say you don't get some nice feedback to your flying, as that effect is also very good.

 

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I am following an old flightplan, of which I rarely use flightplans while flying choppers, but this time I wanted to see the autopilot in action.

 

So I flew up to my required altitude (4,000ft) at the required 1,730 ft/min (8.79 m/s) and locked the B222 in...  first the flightplan only works on the upper GNS530, and the selection switch is upper right on the panel (arrowed).

 

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The autopilot system is a bit of a mixture in use, in reality all it does is hold your current heading, speed and altitude. I tried to change altitude with the V/S option, but it didn't really work because there is no V/S setting (wheel) to change your V/S height?, you can set the required altitude and the ALT setting goes to "ARM", but how do you adjust it?... I tried the collective and too a point it adjusts the height, but 200 fpm either way is the limit, but good for any small altitude changes, but for bigger changes I couldn't work it out? except for taking manual control and adjusting the height and speed manually, and then locking it back in when done, the same for descending.

 

CowanSim do provide an action autopilot outline in the manual, but not on how to actually use the system? They say it is automatic in the set rate of climb, but how do you do that? The system also restricts the speed to around 98 knts, so you can't go faster or slower unless you trigger the alarms. But once set at altitude, speed and NAV or Heading the B222 will cruise there all day.

 

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I also found I had a "Wobble"? At first I thought it was a heavy gusty winds on the aircraft, but checking the weather and everything it was still there even in set calm conditions, not that... then I set the "Auto Trim" on the collective and the wobble went away, and the flight was smooth from then on...

 

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CowanSim recommend to set the standard trim on the top hat again on the collective for trim control, I have mine set on on the keyboard, but that is the same thing for the same actions. Powering along now the B222 cockpit is a very nice place to be, sounds are again as noted are excellent, with great blade slap if you push the aircraft too far out of it's parameters. I do like the twin GNS530/430 arrangement on the facia, more than set down on the mini pedestal, you can set one up as the map and the other as your flightplan.

 

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The flightplan was from South Florida KRSW to Daytona Beach KDAB, but I was going to Lakeland KLAL, so at the turn (ROGAN) I set the heading off the flightplan...  One thing that I needed was the VOR Needle? I think every helicopter should have a VOR neeedle for direction finding. You do have an OBS, but it only works off flight plan (VOR2 selected), and in reality you use the Heading dial "Horizontal Situation Indicator" or HSI instead of the OBS (they are connected here)... 

 

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...   compensation in that there is a VOR2 readout below the Heading Dial, but a dedicated VOR pointer here was sorely missed.

 

Performance; 200B has a Max Speed of 135 kt (155 mph, 250 km/h), 200B also has a service ceiling of 15,800 ft (4,816 m), and a range of 486 nmi (559 mi, 900 km).

 

One note is that in certain lighting conditions (low light) the (mostly lower) curved window reflections are too strong and actually quite bad, and to the point of heeding your progress, I didn't like them at all, and neither could I turn them off?

 

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Arriving at Lakeland and I am low at 800ft and flying still fast, the best way to flying helicopters...

 

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Transitioning from fast forward flight known as Effective Translational Lift (ETL), the B222 can balloon if you don't get the speed and descent right, I did it slightly here on this approach, but quickly and easily arrested the gain.

 

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30/30 approach and it looks good, the B222 nudges forward, not to fast and not to slow to arrest the speed into a hover...

 

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...  the Lakeland Terminal looks large in the windows with this slight nose-up hover position.

 

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The bonus is that you can hold that hover steady, unless you do something erratic, then you can descend easily to the apron, no drifting or last minute rotorwash to throw your nice landing into turmoil, don't get me wrong in that the feel of both effects are still there, but control is far easier here than with most helicopters at this vital landing phase.

 

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Once parked on the ground, to kill the engines then just, flick the "IDLE STOP" to each engine and cut the fuel, in time the rotors will swing to a stop.

 

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Lighting

The lighting on the B222 overall is basic, There is adjustment for each side of the panel (Captain & Pilot) and centre instruments, but it is all quite dull, certainly the green highlight lighting is not powerful enough to be really effective here, which is shame.

 

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There is separate adjustments for the mini-console and very good OHD lighting...

 

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...    and there is a built in Dome cabin light up here as well, you touch to use. On the right side overhead is a red swivel light, that is again highly ineffective, and hard to use?

 

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Cabin lighting is however very good, but not adjustable. There is also a separate Seatbelt/No Smoking illumination sign... but the EXIT signs don't light up.

 

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External lighting is Navigation and top and lower tail beacons (Anti-Collision), and the two underbody landing lights are blobby and quite nasty in being so unrefined.

 

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Liveries

 There are 21 liveries including an all White, Air Wolf (80's TV Series), most American Medical units, Police Units, Coast Guard and a few military versions...  Helisimmer livery is really nice. Blue and White stripe is default.

The liveries are the same for both the 200B and 200UT variants. Most are really good, but close-up shows the Low-Resolution base of detail, shame because there is a lot of great work here, that deserves better. Both a GIMP and Photoshop paintkit is available.

 

222B_Cowansim_Livery Air Medic 1.jpg222B_Cowansim_Livery Air Wolf 2.jpg222B_Cowansim_Livery Calstar 3.jpg222B_Cowansim_Livery Careflight 4.jpg222B_Cowansim_Livery USCG 5.jpg222B_Cowansim_Livery Discover Aviation 6.jpg222B_Cowansim_Livery ERA 7.jpg222B_Cowansim_Livery Gend Francaise 8.jpg

222B_Cowansim_Livery HeliSimmer 9.jpg222B_Cowansim_Livery ISAF 10.jpg222B_Cowansim_Livery Laminar Sheriff 11.jpg222B_Cowansim_Livery Maine Forest 12.jpg222B_Cowansim_Livery NYPD 13.jpg222B_Cowansim_Livery OSF Healthcare 14.jpg222B_Cowansim_Livery PHI 15.jpg222B_Cowansim_Livery White 16.jpg222B_Cowansim_Livery Police Belge 17.jpg222B_Cowansim_Livery Taxi Aereo 18.jpg222B_Cowansim_Livery US Army 19.jpg222B_Cowansim_Livery Yellow Black 20.jpg222B_Cowansim_Livery Blue white Stripe 21.jpg

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Summary

This is the twin-engined Bell 222, in the "B" version and a separate UT (UTlity) variant, with the UT variant having the skids and the "B" variant having the retractable undercarriage. It is the larger twin-engine version of the unique Bell 206, or JetRanger, and created in the Mid-70's

 

In context this is a first time developer, so you have to give them a little space to improve, and overall this a very impressive debut, the CowanSim B222 is a great and modern feel Helicopter that is very automated and nice to fly, so certainly aimed at anyone that wants to try their hands (and feet) at vertical flying, also helicopters are scarce in any simulator and to have any machine released is always a good thing.

 

The instrument panel is very good, but a lot of the modeling here is average, it is passable in context, as the machine overall looks very, very nice and certainly in the air, but in this category you are expecting fine detailing and Hi-Res quality textures (liveries), in that area the aircraft is a little wanting, certainly on the important areas like the rotor head assembly and the cabin is quite average in clunky glossy detailing, instrument panel lighting is average and you have blobbly landing lights. There is a no weight, baggage and fuel menu either. Personal preferences include a six seater cabin arrangement and a VOR pointer dial.

 

Sounds are excellent, and also very realistic with effective blade slap, and the (exhaust) partical effects are good as well, and overall this 200B is nice and feels realistic in all phases of it's flying.

 

So as to fly, the B200 is very, very good, once you workout the automated throttle and trim system, this is an aircraft that pretty well anyone can learn to fly on, but wanting also is a decent manual, another serious requirement here to point out the instruments and how the use (the throttle) and the Autopilot systems? They note there are a zillion you tube videos by CowanSim, but we still need the basic information with the aircraft for new users to learn the systems and on how to access the controls to get the best out of the machine, again a Payware requirement. Most I think in time will be rectified and part of the developer learning process.

 

There are separate packages for the "B" and "UT" variants, and a combined twin B+UT package, the singles are good value, but the twin package is really the same aircraft with skids on it, and not much else to differentiate between the two variants maybe one should have been the Medivac/Utlity and the 222B being the passenger, with two choices of cabins... that aspect is debatable.

 

Overall this an excellent machine that covers the Professional and the Learner aspects of flying helicopters, you still however need skills to fly helicopters, but this is one of the easier ones as an introduction, you can see why it became very quickly very popular because the aircraft is very accessible, and it delivers a lot for a value investment...   Highly Recommended.

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X-Plane Store logo sm.jpg

 

Yes! the Bell 222B + UT by CowanSim is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : 

 

CowanSim 222B

Price is US$24.95

 

CowanSim 222UT

Price is US$24.95

 

CowanSim 222B+UT

Price is US$39.95

 

Features 222B+UT

This package includes both variants:
  • The 222B
  • The 222UT
Realistic Flight Dynamics
Tested by real world helicopter pilots while being developed. The model has an authentic feeling while exploring the virtual world, thanks to the pilots and Laminar Research for developing a fantastic flight
sim.
4k Physically Based Rendering Textures
4k PBR textures, or physically based rendering, provides the ability for very realistic lighting that mimics the flow of light in the real world. This model takes full advantage of X-Plane’s lighting with dynamic reflections and materials.
Custom 3D Modeled Instruments
Everyone loves a detailed and realistic looking cockpit. After all, that is where we spend most of our time in the sim, flying! The 3D instruments were developed to a high standard and are fully functional, with extensive custom coding to make it as realistic as possible.
A Nice Cozy Cabin
Sit back and relax in the cozy rear cabin and enjoy replays of your flight from a passenger’s perspective! Was it as comfortable and smooth as you thought it was from the pilot seat? This is especially interesting in VR and landing replays are the best.
Paint Kit & Liveries
Each model comes with 20 liveries and we also included a detailed paint kit. The kit is provided in both GIMP and Adobe® Photoshop® formats. A UV map layer included in each file allows for easy and accurate repaints.
Vibrant and Detailed Night Lighting
X-Plane has wonderful night lighting. The 222 project aimed to have plenty of lights, inside and out, making night flights possible. From the landing lights to the cabin lighting, these helicopters really stand out at night. There’s also a fully functional searchlight that is controlled on the collective in the cockpit or can be mapped to your hardware controls.
Animation & Sound
Thousands of lines of custom code make up animations and systems. The fully immersive sound set was developed with FMOD. Sounds and animations work together with visual rotor-speed vibrational feedback, rattling, shaking and dynamic blade slap, rain effects and more.
Reality XP GTN 750 Integration
The Reality XP GTN 750 is fully integrated into the cockpit. This was released with the very first update since it was requested by many simmers. Reality XP GTN 750 Touch is the genuine simulated device used by flight simulation enthusiasts navigating the virtual skies as well as real world pilots for familiarization with the device. This add-on is a payware add-on and you can purchase it here: Reality XP
Also Included
  • Luxury & Medical Interiors
  • FMOD sound pack
  • Window Rain Effects
  • Compatible with X-Plane 11.50’s Vulkan API
  • Compatible with Virtual Reality
  • AviTab Integration
  • RXP GTN 750 Integration
  • Customizable Panel Configurations
  • Realistic Flight Dynamics
  • Tested by Real Pilots
  • 4K PBR Textures
  • Custom 3D instruments
  • Passenger Cabin Modeled
  • 20 Liveries
  • Vibrant and Detailed Night Lighting
  • Blade Slap and Vibrations
  • xLua for Systems and Animation
  • SASL v3 for Custom Plugins
 

Requirements

X-Plane 11
Windows, Mac or Linux
4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8GB+ VRAM Recommended
Download Size: 531 MB
Current and Review Version: 1.0 (4th February 2021)

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Installation and documents: Separate downloads are required for both the 523Mb (222B) and 519Mb (222UT) and both aircraft are deposited in the "Helicopter" X-Plane folder.

 

Documents supplied are:

  • CHECKLISTS - START-UP.pdf
  • MANUAL.pdf

 

Manual is half completed with no instrument references or just basic system references, checklist is very good.

______________________________________________________________________

 

Aircraft Review by Stephen Dutton 

24th February 2021

Copyright©2021 : X-Plane Reviews 

  

(Disclaimer. All images and text in this preview 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

 

Review System Specifications: 

Computer System: Windows  - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo 1TB SSD 

Software:   - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.52

Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00 : Environment Engine by xEnviro US$69.90

Scenery or Aircraft

- KRSW - Southwest Florida International Airport by Aerosoft (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$24.95

- KLAL - Lakeland Linder Regional Airport 1.0 by Nicolas (Airport by NAPS) - (X-Plane.Org) - Free

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi there!

 

I want to thank you for this in depth review and contributing all the time to provide this.

 

There are very many differences between the B and UT as well, the panel being a major one. But it doesn't end there. Skids and wheels are not the only thing. Several months of full time development is the difference there. 🙂 

 

Again thank you for the great and long review. I just wanted to correct you on those couple statements.

 

Have fun,

 

Josh

 

 

 

 

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