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Aircraft Review : TAF Sling 2 by Rusky Group


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TAF Sling 2 -Header.jpg

 

Aircraft Review : TAF Sling 2 by Rusky Group

 

The Sling 2, which was formerly called The Airplane Factory Sling 2, is an South African two-seater light aircraft designed and produced by The Airplane Factory in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Sling 2 is a light-sport aircraft (LSA), which is a fairly new category of small, lightweight aircraft that are simple to fly. LSAs tend to be heavier and more sophisticated than ultralight (aka "microlight") aircraft, but LSA restrictions on weight and performance separates it from the bigger and established GA aircraft category.

 

The Rusky Group are known for their Yak 52 Professional, or Yakovlev 52 which is a massed produced Soviet era primary aerobatic trainer aircraft. Now here is their second release with a more wider commercial angle, a LSA light-sport aircraft in the Sling 2.

 

When you start up the Sling 2, you are directed directly to the menu (portal?)...

 

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....  there are the "Mode Settings" on the left and the Fuel diagram on the right, if correct you can start the Simulation by pressing the animated propeller lower right (which turns red). You have two menu languages in Russian and English, accessed via the top right PCY/ENG selection.

 

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There are three different start situations; Preflight Inspection, Cold Start and Ready to Start.

 

Preflight Inspection

Select the "Preflight Inspection" tick box and you are positioned in a 3d space. Control around the space is via the noted keys W (forward), S (back), A (right) and D (left)...  and if you hold down the space bar, you can then move around the view with the mouse, but again only from your current standing position...

 

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...  oddly this control setup is quite limiting, as you lose your normal up and down movements? so in reality it feels like at first only a 2d movement access, but working with the space bar and the mouse, then moving the WSAD keys, you can move around the aircraft, but it takes a bit of practise to get it all right. In the space there is 44 Gal Fuel Drum for loading the aircraft. You can add or remove the chocks, pitot cover and turn the propeller...

 

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...   you can also takeoff the engine cover to reveal a 100 hp Rotax 912is engine, and excellent great detail it is. Details of the engine's running time, condition and Oil, Filter and Coolant levels are all shown. You can do maintenance on the engine, i.e; change oil, change coolant, change oil-filter, close hood. You will need to check the engine parameters and conditions before each flight, and with poor maintenance it may occur in giving you an indisposed or even a broken engine.

 

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You can refuel the TAF by clicking on the wing fuel cap, to position the fuel hose, then turn the handle to load in the fuel (liters) it will then load into the fuel tanks to a maximum 150 liters. You can load the fuel, but not take it out. (note the pack of Marlboro cigarettes.... sitting on a vaporised fuel drum...  boom! )

 

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...  you can also check the movement of the Elevators, Rudder and the wing Alierons. All good to go!

 

Except...  well here it all goes a bit odd. There is no connection or tab to get back to the menu? If you want the Menu back then you have to exit X-Plane... (yes close it right down) and restart the simulator...

To proceed to the aircraft you have to find (manoeuvre) to the hotspot on the leg up into the aircraft...  so you can go forwards only, but not back to the central menu? "What madness is this!"

 

TAFSling2_Menu 22.jpg

 

Cold Start

Restart...  and it is the only way back to the menu page, but the fuel you have put in is now not saved (66 lit) so you have to do it all again? Choosing "Cold Start" and you are back in the aircraft in a "Cold Start" situation...    you now have the return of the X-Plane key views (after opening the canopy, you can then go outside or do the actions from the cockpit) can do the same maintenance and set the chocks, pitot cover, and the fuel drum is still external, and will again still also fill up the tanks like with the "PreFlight" actions.

 

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You can start up the aircraft from cold to power on via the start switch, but how do you get rid of the external fuel drum?

 

Ready to Start

Actually the "Ready to Start" moniker is incorrect as the Sling 2 is now completely set up and comes with the engine running, and powered up as in "Ready" to fly.

 

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Below the "Mode Selections" are "Payload" Options; Co Pilot, Sports Bag, Picnic or you can set the lot at Maximum Weight.

 

Checking or unchecking each box adjusts the "Centre of Gravity" shown right on the aircraft diagram.

 

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Co Pilot is very well modeled, but not animated, and the Sport's Bag is very nice, but I couldn't see a "Picnic" or basket?. As default there is a Pilot, again well done, but comes with seriously weird red eyes?

 

On the right side aircraft diagram, you can adjust the fuel amounts, and unlike the 44 Gal Drum loading, you can here increase or decrease the amount of fuel in the aircraft.

 

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So to be clear...  If you select Preflight Inspection you use external keyboard commands for views then you exit via the leg up hotspot. In Cold Start you can still do the maintenance however but this time in using the default X-Plane view keys to manoeuvre around the aircraft. In selecting Ready to Start, you go directly to the cockpit and are actually ready to fly...  in either selection, you can't go backwards to the menu, unless you do a full X-Plane Simulator restart.

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The Sling 2 has an aluminium airframe and comes in two forms with either a Quickbuild kit and as a full construction kit. Modeling here by Rusky is very good, and nicely done. Detailed panels and effective riveting are all very well presented.

 

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You feel the aluminium frame, certainly on the tail construction, which is highly detailed, and the nice aerodynamic wing and elevator profiles, notable are the wing kick-ups which are nicely done here. All three wheels are totally shrouded in aerodynamic boots, so there is not much wheel or strut assembly detail, but it is very nicely done. I like the front on aerodynamic cowling from the engine air intakes, which gives the aircraft a very shark-nosed appearance, highlighted by the Warp Drive 3 Blade Ground Adjustable propeller, the Airmaster Electric Constant Speed propellers however are only available on the 914UL engined version.

 

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Glass is good but quite basic, with no dirt, grain or depth to indicate wear and tear or any feel detail.

 

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It is very important to note how very popular these Mike Blyth designed aircraft are, since he began working on the design of the Sling 2 in 2006; the first prototype first flew on November 18, 2008. 310 Sling 2s had been completed and flown by the end of 2019 and the owners are fiercely protective of them. There is a tail-dragger version as well.

 

You open the cockpit via the handle, upper-lower on the top of the canopy (lower latch is the only one animated)...

 

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...  the canopy slides back nicely to reveal a two-seater aircraft, with a large baggage area behind the seats... put to use better in the Sling 4, which is the four-seater version of the aircraft.

 

Twin seats are nicely done with dark-grey outer and red inner material with lovely white stitching, their shape is good for a home-made aircraft, but there is not that much shape in heavy seat side or cushion bolsters.

 

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Cockpit feels very minimalistic, but the detail and cabin materials are well done. The highlight is the excellent Carbon-Fibre weave on the instrument panel and centre console...

 

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....  which is very empty of the usual controls; There is a Fuel Selector top (Left-Right-Off), Throttle left and Brake Right, and at the rear the main Parking Brake and that is it. Both sticks are excellent and note the highly detail floor mounts, as are the lovely aluminium rudder pedals.... twin floor mats are a nice touch also.

 

Instrument Panel

The instrument panel is dominated by the Garmin G1000 twin-screen display in a left PFD (Primary Flight Display) and right MFD (Multi-Functional Display) layout...

 

TAFSling2_Detail 20.jpg

 

...  there was a lot of vocal discussion on the forums about this G1000 layout, as many of the punters noted that very few Sling 2s used this instrument layout, mostly they had a one (left screen) display and a glovebox on the other side, the rest want the obvious analog instruments. Note the nice air-vents each end of the panel that are animated. Above left is a start key and the LANE A and B bus switches.

 

There is no power switch (but one for the avionics), so the power is switched on via the start key, note the nice "Garmin" start up screen...

 

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...  a nice touch is that if the MFD is blank the side engine parameters are moved immediately to the left PFD (arrowed above right).

 

The G1000 layout is the standard X-Plane install with no custom modifications, both pop-out (some custom cockpit installs don't have the MFD poping out, but that is to be fixed in an update).

 

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Dominating the centre top of the panel is a Garmin G5 IESI (Intergrated Electronic Standby Instrument), it is a basic display, and a bit dull in brightness, but well situated. Either side are 4 x 4 rows of contact breakers (non-working), then lower left the "Avionics" and "Autopilot" switches.

 

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Centre panel is a very nice Garmin GMC 507 Autopilot Mode Controller, with below a Garmin GMA 350 Radio (Transponder is built into the G1000 system). Flap switch left (UP-1-2) positions (not degrees)...   lower panel is a set of switchgear that covers (LtoR); Main Pump, Aux Pump, ECU Backup, Heat-Pitot, AUX, NAV (Lighting), STROBE, TAXI and LAND (Lights).

 

All the switchgear is very and highly sprung, so needs quite a flick up and down to use... but very realistic. Overall a very easy cockpit to use and find your way around.

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Flying the TAF Sling 2

First to note is the unusual braking action...  as noted on the centre console at the rear is the main Parking Brake, but the usual mixture lever has a different purpose here in being your (regular) brake or handle brake, this will over-ride any other regular X-Plane braking effort (I use the trigger lever on my Rhino X56 Joystick.

 

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The trim (pitch/rudder) is set via the buttons on the joystick, but they sadly don't work here, so you have to use the X-Plane (keyboard) setup commands, you can see the trim positions via the indicators on the lower left of the MFD. Fuel selector is set to either Right or Left (Tank)...

 

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...  flip the start key to the second start position and the Rotax 912is bursts into life and settles down into a typical Rotax thumping idle, it sounds great, as all Rotaxs do, I love their agricultural mechanical sounds.

 

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Parking (Switch) off and put the "Mixture" lever to "OFF"... to release the brakes and a little throttle to move the TAF away from the stand...

 

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...  as I have the two levers on my Saitek Rhino X56 throttle system, it is easy to use both, left for throttle and right for the braking action, a touch with the lever forward and you feel the brakes, you do easily soon get the feel (instead of using the trigger lever) to slow down or manoeuvre the aircraft on the brakes, and it is quite intuitive. Detail on changing the action to whatever suits you, can be done via the manual, but to me this works the best. You can't taxi too quick as the Sling 2 will wander around, so you need to find that correct (slower) taxiing speed.

 

It is a very fidgety aircraft to taxi, as you need constant corrections to keep it straight which can be tiring after a while...

 

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...  notable is that you have to have the "Autopilot" system switch on, to use the FD (Flight Director), this does not actually activate the AP as that is another separate selection. Brakes full OFF, and power up and the Sling 2 startles forward...  surprisingly there is a lot of power for only 100 hp.

 

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The TAF will weave a little, but nothing you can't control and neither is the asymmetrical thrust strong here either, so it is quite easy to keep it straight. At around 70 knts (Flap position 1) you can pitch back and fly easily, notable is to quickly retract the flaps to gain speed...

 

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... controls are nice and light, and the aircraft is super controllable in the air, you can easily see and feel why pilot's love this machine as well as they do, it is super easy to fly...  quick and easy to trim as well.

 

TAFSling2_Flying 17.jpg

 

All out climb speed is noted at 900 fpm, but 500 fpm/600 fpm is about the nice climb out speed.

 

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Trimmed and it is very, very easy to fly, notable is that you need a bit of right rudder to keep the Sling 2 straight... on the real TAF, very few have a rudder trim knob (or lever), and known to have to fly with a manual correction, that again created a lot of debate on the forums... but you can cheat if you want by using the X-Plane key to adjust the rudder trim. Personally I flew it with a bit of manual rudder input.

 

It is nice up here with a nice modern cockpit, and the view out is excellent, with the big large open canopy.

 

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The Sling 2s cruise speed is 120 kn (140 mph, 220 km/h) true airspeed, with a Never exceed (Max) speed of 135 kn (155 mph, 250 km/h) indicated airspeed... Service ceiling is 13,000 ft (4,000 m) (no oxygen) and the Range set at 75% Power with 45 min Reserve is 750 nm/1,400 km.

 

I am a huge fan of the Garmin GMC 507 Autopilot Mode Controller, nicely positioned with nice big knobs to adjust, it is just about perfect, I wish more developers would use this controller, looks great as well...

 

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The Sling 2 is certainly not a aerobatic machine, they even tell you not to throw it around in the air, but certainly a very good touring aircraft for covering long distances, as everything you need for a lot of hourly flying is catered for.

 

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Lighting

The TAF's lighting is extremely basic, in fact it is just one LED light on the above bulkhead, switched off, then only the G1000 panels are lit, and even they are not lighting adjustable, so really flying in the dark is a bit patchy. So as the night creeps in, then it is time to head for home...

 

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External lighting is also basic, twin taxi and landing lights in the left leading wing edge...  a bright but very rapid tail beacon, that actually looks great in operation...   Navigation lights cut badly into the wing from all angles, so all external lighting need some refinement.

 

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One note...  if you do a situation restart, all the settings go back to zero? and again you go through the starter menu. So that means resetting everything back to right again in the cockpit, say the AP, Brakes (all on!), Trims and notable is that the flaps are set back again to "1", so you have a nose up pitch...  so the last flying settings when you saved the "Situation" are not retained.

 

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Head for home...  and again I will re-enforce on how sweet an aircraft the Sling 2 is to fly, nice light controls, and the TAF will do good "seat of your pants" flying easily, what you want with the aircraft it gives you instantly, but not in a nervy way, but nice and smooth to your actions...  yes I really love flying the Sling 2.

 

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Keep the descent shallow and the speed does not runaway off the clock (tape here), here I am using 300 fpm, and the speed drops nicely to select the "1" flaps in the white tape zone, to bring the speed down lower to around 70 knts...  as I get closer I drop the flaps again to "2" and give a touch of throttle (again back to the same 70 knts) to hold my approach altitude at 300 ft towards KHAF's Rwy 12.

 

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I do find the TAF does crab a little on approach, by how much depends on the wind strength and direction, so I aim off to the left and drift back into the centre line as I approach the threshold.

 

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Drop the speed a touch to 62 knts and the Sling 2 will descend nicely and slowly downwards towards the runway, you don't have to make constant throttle adjustments, just a smooth slow decline of the speed to come down nicely and slowly...

 

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... a touch less throttle to control the descent (59 knts) and smoothly down you come.

 

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There is really no need for any flare, certainly no aggressive flaring, as all the control is in the slight movements of the throttle...

 

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So it is a consistent slow descent and a small bump as you contact the runway, so how really easy was that!  No fighting the aircraft, no wrestling the controls, just a sweet siding down the power curve until you touch down...  sweet.  Stall speed is set at 40 knts (46 mph, 74 km/h) full flaps at an indicated airspeed, so quite low and you really never go below 50 knts anyway.

 

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TAFSling2_Flying 45.jpg

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Liveries

The liveries provided are quite basic, and there is only a single blank (white) and three liveries, mostly flying schools, but there is a livery request forum.

 

TAFSling2_Livery Blank.jpgTAFSling2_Livery LanmeiFS.jpgTAFSling2_Livery Red-White.jpgTAFSling2_Livery Sling Pilot Academy.jpg

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Summary

The Sling 2 is an South African two-seater light aircraft designed and produced by The Airplane Factory in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Sling 2 is in the light-sport aircraft (LSA) category, that tends to be heavier and more sophisticated than ultralight (aka "microlight") aircraft, that is purchased as either a Quickbuild kit or as a full construction kit. The Rusky Group are well known for their earlier X-Plane release of the Yak 52 Professional, this is their second aircraft release for the Simulator.

 

Powered by a 100 hp Rotax 912is engine, this is a very and easily sweet aircraft to fly, and very well liked and heavily defended by it's users in the real world...  It is a extremely good touring aircraft, distances of 750 nm/1,400 km are nothing to this nice fly anywhere with little worries aircraft, so you can see why it is so popular.

 

Modeling is very good, with the installation of the default X-Plane Garmin two display (PFD/MFD) G1000. Nice additions include the G5 IESI (Intergrated Electronic Standby Instrument) and a really great and easy to use Garmin GMC 507 Autopilot Mode Controller, with Garmin GMA 350 Radio. Switchgear is springy realistic, and the quirky mixture lever as a regular braking action, is odd, but you soon quickly adjust to it...  Sounds are good and the construction and fit-out the Sling 2 is excellent.

 

Odd though is the Menu system? It is like a portal to the aircraft at start up...  with three very different entrances to the aircraft; Preflight Inspection, Cold Start and Ready to Start. "PreFlight' allows you to do maintenance (fuel the aircraft from the nice 44 Gal Drum, add oil, filter, fluids) add chocks and pitot flags, plus check aerodynamic surfaces)...  but uses an odd key/space bar view and movement system. "Cold Start" uses the old X-Plane views movement key system, but you can still access the maintenance system? and the Ready to start gives you the complete and full running aircraft, once through the portal however, you can't go back to the menu, unless you do a complete X-Plane restart that wipes all your set settings? I probably did more X-Plane restarts to get back to the menu here than any review in the last five years....  very odd, even a weird way of accessing this really good aircraft. Don't get me wrong I understand what the developer is try to achieve, but it stumbles very badly with the non-reverse actions and the completely different access channels. Lighting needs a lot of refinement.

 

It is a very popular kit aircraft is this TAF Sling 2, and flying the aircraft you can easily see why, options of a single G1000 (PFD) and even analog dials would be nice in a kit bag sort of way...   overall I really loved flying this excellent machine, in that aspect Rusky has got that bang on, but could I really live with that abnormal menu portal?  but still recommended!

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X-Plane Store logo sm.jpg

 

Yes! - TAF Sling 2 by Rusky Group is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :

 

TAF SLING 2

Price is Currently US$27.95

 

Features:

  • The flight model was tested by real Sling pilots
  • Realistic Flight Model
  • First person walking system (walk mod)
  • Engine maintenance mode
  • 3D ground equipment services
  • FMod realistic sound
  • VR support
  • Full clickable cockpit
  • 3d light
  • Garmin avionics

 

Requirements

X-Plane 11
Windows, Mac or Linux
4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended
Download Size: 460 MB
Current and Review version : 1.1 (August 28th 2021)
 

Installation and documents:  download for the TAF Sling 2 is 567Mb and the aircraft is deposited in the "Aircraft" X-Plane folder.

 

Full Installation is 674Mb

 

Documents supplied are:

  • Sling_Checklist.pdf
  • Sling-LSA-Sling-2-RTF.pdf
  • Manual for aircraft model v1.0.pdf
  • Sling-2-POH-Revision-2.7.pdf

And TABS

  • Rate_of_climb.pdf
  • Cruise_speeds.pdf
  • Fuel_cons.pdf

Documents include a very good factory POH, Checklist and promotion RTF... Manual is good, but needs more depth to explain the complicated Menu and access.

_________________________________________

 

Review by Stephen Dutton
11th September 2021
Copyright©2021: X-PlaneReviews
 
(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)
 

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 11.53

Addons: Saitek x56 Rhino Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose  Soundlink Mini

Plugins: Environment Engine by xEnviro v1.07 US$69.90 : XPRealistic Pro v1.0.9  effects US$19.95

Scenery or Aircraft

- KHAF - Half Moon Bay by Rising Dawn Studios (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$19.00

 

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