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Aircraft Review : PA-28-181 Archer III by JustFlight and Thranda

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Aircraft Review : PA-28-181 Archer III by JustFlight and Thranda

 

Over the 2018/19 holiday break I flew both the earlier JustFlight/Thranda aircraft in the Arrow lll and the lV Turbo. This was to see how the aircraft still lived up to their reputation of the best of the rest. Overall they did, but a few things also came to pass. First and foremost, the aircraft are slow, the Turbo was a little better at around 165 knts, but an average ground speed in the Arrow lll of 125 knts is a twiddle or play with your fingers time... even after two hours flying I had barely moved across the map, and yes that average cruise speed is correct. As a realistic simulation with immersion then the Arrow lll was very good, but if you like faster aircraft then you will find this new release of the Archer lll by JustFlight/Thranda down in the low cruise speed zone... it is certainly not boring, but you don't cover the ground very fast either.

 

Secondly do we really need another PA28 aircraft? many on the threads moaned that enough was getting enough... but the trick is that not all PA28 aircraft are created equally, as there is always a variation somewhere in the PA28's very long but illustrious career. We have already had the Cherokee, Arrow, Warrior and the only missing PA28 was the Archer. It was released by Piper after the Cherokee and the Arrow variants as the Archer variant had again another five inch fuselage extension, wing span increase, larger horizontal tail and a small gross weight increase over the Arrow. This release is the Archer lll from 1994, so that makes the aircraft a sort of a more modern variant, than say a 60's or 70's Cherokee, and so that gives the aircraft a more later open lighter feel.

 

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The Archer's distinctive smaller round engine inlets also help in the streamline effect of projecting a more contemporary look, that of say a more composite aircraft would than it would an early 70's aircraft design. The Archer lll does look and feel a size slightly larger than the Arrow (because it actually is), so overall it doesn't feel as connected to the PA28 family as the other family members.

 

By now after a few releases with Just Flight you expect the high quality of the design that is reflected in the price, and you are not disappointed here either.

 

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Modeling and detail is really good to excellent, with some really nice weathering to make it all look extremely realistic as well. It is very easy now to take this sort of HD quality now for granted, but it is still important to realise how far we have come in X-Plane in a very short time with this high level of ultra realism.

 

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Although complex in the convex and concave curves and it is also surprising the modeling is so outstandingly good, note the lovely air vents and NACA air-ducts. The corrugated ribs in the tail are beautifully done and the required antennas and RF aerials are excellent, note the nice vent in the upper leading edge of the tail. Build and registration plate is a nice touch, as is the tie down hook. 

 

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Glass is now again expected to be now first rate, and here it is in that high quality class in shape and reflections, and also comes with a look of a mottled feel in the glass.

 

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Two doors open with the passenger door and a locker baggage door like on all PA28's behind the rear seats. Passenger door internally opens via two locks and then a slide along the door trim...

 

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The PA28 cabins are tight, more so in the rear. The cabin colour scheme is a bit to your own taste, with a salmon lower trim and motif upper design, there is here only one interior design. Seats are nice and leather crumpled, with sheepskin covers on the two front seats which is really well done.

 

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Note the huge clipboard on the pilot's yoke... it is very large and a sort of in your face (or belly), I am not sure if I like that?

 

Instrument panel feels more Cessna in design with the lighter plain facia than the usual with a Piper, with the either usually covered or molded 70's panel trim on the earlier aircraft that is not used here. Electrical rocker switches are overhead.

 

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The trim wheel is low and tight between the seats with the three stage flap handle, all very familiar PA28.

 

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Nice rudder pedals are well done with the fuel tank switch on the left sidewall... always check if the tank switch is on before starting as the default position is OFF.

 

Instrument Panel

Overall the instrument layout in the Archer is quite basic, but it is an interesting layout as well with some unique details.

 

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The Standard Six (SS) flying instruments are quite small by design... Airspeed Indicator, Artificial Horizon and the Attitude Indicator are on the top row and the Turn Coordinator, Heading Dial/Course and Vertical Speed Indicators set out directly below. Left of the SS is a clock, Gyro Suction and ADF pointer...  note the interesting compass slaving switches far left lower...

 

Right of the SS is the GNS-255 driven OBS VOR2/ILS dial, with a Stormscope set below. Lower panel are four engine readout dials that cover Oil Temp, Fuel Press, Oil Press - EGT (Exhaust gas temperature) - Left Fuel tank (24 Gal) and Right Fuel tank (24 Gal) - Tachometer. Top panel has a very nice set of (testable) Annunciator panel lights

 

There are no instruments on the right panel side except for a standby Attitude Indicator.

 

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Avionics stack is the usual Bendix/King KMA 24 TSO radio which is above the S-Tec 55 Autopilot with the GNS530 below (the Reality XP's GTN 750 unit can also be fitted, but this is an addon extra and costs you another $49.95.) Note the power switch for the S-Tec 55 is below right and hard to find... until the green light comes on to show it is powered up.

Top of the stack is an active intercom switch and a Monroy Traffic-Watch ATD-300, this is a useful tool that displays traffic on a Garmin 430/530, personally I don't know if it works in X-Plane or with the Reality GTN 750.

 

Second stack has top an interesting transponder in the Trig's TT31, that most pilots retro-fit over the Bendix/King KT76A and KT78A transponders. It is really nice to use and set. The COM2/VOR2 unit is a different unit as well with the Garmin GNC 255 which is a current modern avionics set. A Bendix/King KN 64 DME unit (ground speed and distance) and a Bendix/King KR 87 is the ADF unit.Upper right is an usual digital ammeter.

 

Lower panel has the main Throttle lever, Mixture lever and a hidden Friction control. There is a full set of circuit breakers which are noted to be active..  but I couldn't get them to work? which is real surprise as they did on the Arrow lll/lV. The outside temperature gauge is up on the lower side window frame left.

 

Menu

The menu is set on the left side tab (mouse scroll to hide!) and this brings up the now familiar JustFlight menu.

 

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There are seventeen menu tiles to use including:

Top row : Open/close cabin door - Open/close baggage door - Toggle GNS 530 GPS pop-up window (or the GTN750 payware add-on by RealityXP) - Toggle window reflections and interior glass dynamic reflections - Toggle dome light if the engine is running, or flashlight when starting cold and dark.

 

Middle Row : Toggle autopilot pop-up window - Toggle Wheel Fairings - Toggle automatic fuel selector (switches fuel tanks automatically) - Toggle fuel refill menu window - Open weight and balance window - Toggle volumes window 

 

Bottom row : Select ‘ready for takeoff’ or ‘cold and dark’ state - Toggle checklist pop-up window - Toggle flight computer pop-up window - Toggle logbook pop-up window - Toggle ground handling pop-up window - Toggle chocks and tie-downs.

 

The arrows at the very bottom of the menu panel allows you to select the livery you require and far more quickly than the X-Plane menu. Oddly missing is the usual altimeter barometric pressure scale between InHg and mb?

 

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The weight and balance window  is very good, with weights for all four passengers, and baggage, fuel can be set here also as can the change from kg - lbs. A full list of weights, CG and a large graph of your settings are all very helpful into balancing the aircraft.

 

Chocks, tie-downs and a ground pull handle are visible when activated. Switching the wheel fairings ON/OFF gives you a more exposed gear that I tend to favour. The animated pilot disappears as well, and yes he is realistic, but certainly not in the way of the better Carenado style human realism.

 

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Flying the Archer lll

There is a fuel "Prime" button that is required, but don't over use it, a few seconds is fine, and then hit the starter (you did set the fuel tanks position?) And then the Lycoming IO-360-C1C6 engine of 200 hp (149 kW) should easily fire into life.

 

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The missing barometric pressure scale between InHg and mb are both shown directly in the Attitude Indicator, but either can be very hard to set unless you get very close... the standby attitude indicator on the far right has to set independently as well.

 

Brake off, and they is a nice feel of weight (1054.7 Kg) that you feel under the throttle, and it needs a fair push to build some forward momentum. You also feel the difference of the mixture setting from lean to heavy, so you keep the mixture lever around the 3/4 mark. This aircraft feels that is now under the new X-Plane11.30 rules in better engine refinement, you just feel those new differences more now, and yes you do.

 

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The sounds reflect those minute throttle changes as well, but this more a gentle refined aircraft, than the earlier noisy shaking if over realistic forbears.

 

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Taxi speed is easily kept to, but pull the throttle back too far and the speed will run off and you quickly slow, so it is a bit of a trick to keep it all moving at a nice pace.

 

Full mixture and throttle up... don't push the throttle right up quickly to the forward position but feed the fuel in nicely, then slowly the aircraft will start to move and then build up speed, again the required propeller thrust is felt before any movement, that is not sluggish in feel, but in realism.

 

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Flap is set at the first notch, and the aircraft tracks very nicely. Around 80 knts you can pitch up and fly, but once you feel the airflow over the wings lifting well, then quickly retract those flaps to gain more speed. Climb rate officially is 667 fpm but you can be liberal with that, I found even 700 ft fpm easily achieved, but you won't do that would you... stay at 550 fpm for the best results of a climbing speed and the nice gain of height at the same time.

 

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First thoughts on handling are "Predictable", "Solid"...  even "Undemanding" but also engrossing. It is a nice aircraft to bank, climb and fly. Your certainly not going to throw it around, so your movements are very precise and slow to the actions you want to convey.

 

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One of the things I really didn't like on all the Just Flight Arrows was the manual trim...  The Arrow lll was a monster to trim, and I tried everything to make the aircraft balance itself, even then it also had a nasty tendency to porpoise to any wind movements, and that made the vertical speed to always pitching badly between the positive and negative movements and sometimes for as much as 300 ft either way, and that took a lot of pleasure out of the flying. it also would have the odd effect of the aircraft having a hiccup every now and again. And the nasty trim wheel location with no panel indicator just sent you mental in trying to trim it out anyway in the first place. I tried knob adjustments (worse) and key adjustments (better but still too big a trim step).

 

So to a point I was fearing the Archer lll would have the same behavior? but it is not...  There are some interesting differences between the Arrow and the Archer. One is X-Plane 11.30. I think the better dynamics of 11.30 have calmed the aircraft down, and two there is now a better trim adjustment for your key input in "Pitch trim down-Mechanical, not servo". The adjustments feel smaller so you can now get more finer trim control, there is a very nice "Electric Trim" on the Yoke (left handle), but you really need that very fine trim adjustment that only the keys can give you.

 

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But the aircraft (thankfully) can now be trimmed out. The only note is that the Archer still has the tendency with the thrust to tilt to the left, so there is the requirement to just slightly keep a light force on the yoke to the right to keep it in a straight flightpath. Note to trim the aircraft with the yoke force applied, as if not it will be set wrong. It will be interesting to test fly the Arrows when they have been updated also to 11.30 to see if the trim issue has been reduced to be more realistic like this Archer.

 

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The now 11.30 default S-Tec 55 Autopilot is a nice bit of kit...  (remember the hidden switch!) but like for all the avionics the autopilot pops-out for use. Here it is in the new X-Plane panel window system (for VR and home panels) that can be adjusted from very small to incredibly large. But you do have to adjust the background to fit the unit.

 

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Speeds are noted as 75% power, best power mixture, 8,000 ft 128 KTAS/3.8 hr (63 pph/10.5 gph) and 65% power, best economy mixture, 12,000 ft with both at 125 KTAS/4.5 hr (54 pph/9 gph) with a service ceiling of 13,236 ft and a range of 522 NM (Max Payload), So you don't cover the distance very fast, but the Archer does feel actually faster than the Arrow lll?

 

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Throttle adjustment is required to get the best downward vertical speed as well as setting -3 on the S-Tec, the thick white band on the airspeed is your performance band, and the upper yellow is the caution zone...  the flap zone beneath 100knts is the smaller white band, but it is very hard to read.

 

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Time to head back in....

 

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The one thing I really loved about the JustFlight Arrows was the low speed balance and manoeuvrability, it was a fun factor to fly, again and again.

 

Dancing between 70 knts and 65 knts to control the height, more throttle to slow the descent and less to drop a little more was highlighted by an 8 knt crosswind.

 

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I was on the centreline and then I wasn't, so it was a balance between the right rudder and right or left yoke movements to correct the line.

 

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I eased the Archer into the correct position and then slowly reduced the throttle and at around 60 knts to sweet touch the runway...

 

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"ahhh... " nice that. So the low speed handling is again brilliant but also challenging to your skills, also it is highly rewarding, and I have done three landings now and each one was perfect, even in these blustery conditions.

 

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So the aircraft is great for both in the fact if you are a bit of a novice it is a great platform to learn on with excellent feedback, but also challenging enough for the pros to show off their skills.

 

Lighting

The instrument panel lighting is simply gorgeous... instruments have in-direct lighting, but the various avionic systems colours fill out the rest, again the lighting looks more Cessna than Piper.

 

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Two adjustable blue roof lights give off an off-world glow that is highlighted by the lovely rocker switch-gear lighting....

 

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There are two overhead rear lights that brightens up the rear seats, these are activated by the switches on the side wall by each seat.

 

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All in all it a lovely place to cruise at night, but functional as well for serious night flying. The external lighting is a bit sparse...

 

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...  there is a landing light set at each wing tip, but otherwise the rest of the lighting is all set together in the wing-tip assembly. There are the navigation lights, the end strobe lights (bright) and in a different layout the white rear pointing navigation lights are also here in the same assembly..    there are no beacons or other external lights, so the aircraft can be silhouetted quite dark at night. A tip if you like your replays, then leave the strobes off while flying.

 

Liveries

There are ten liveries, all 4K HD high detailed quality. The choice is nicely varied and mostly focused on Europe, but a few are very similar in the variation of the same burgundy colour scheme. There is also the standard blank/white. Included are: C-GUXL (Canada), D-EFVC (Germany), EC-JQO (Spain), F-GNCH (France), G-CCHI (UK), G-CIFY (UK), HB-PPN (Switzerland), N6092U (USA), PH-AED (Netherlands) and VH-PPR (Australia).

 

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JF_PA28_Turbo Arrow_Livery_C-GUXL.jpgJF_PA28_Turbo Arrow_Livery_D-EFVC.jpgJF_PA28_Turbo Arrow_Livery_EC-JQO.jpgJF_PA28_Turbo Arrow_Livery_F-GNCH.jpgJF_PA28_Turbo Arrow_Livery_G-CCHI.jpgJF_PA28_Turbo Arrow_Livery_G-CIFY.jpg

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Summary

This is the fourth variation of the PA28 aircraft from JustFlight/Thranda, the others being the Arrow lll, Turbo Arrow lll and the Turbo Arrow lV. The differences of this Archer lll besides the variant changes is that this is a more modern in 90's design and feel than the others in their late 70's disguises. The differences are down just not to the actual different panel and interior design, but also to the avionics packages that are quite different and unique to X-Plane with a Monroy Traffic-Watch ATD-300, GNC 255 and the Trig's TT31 transponder as the highlights... So this is a PA28 with a difference.

 

In this mid-forties price range you expect a lot, and JustFlight are very good of delivering the quality and features that you expect. The aircraft is also up to date with the current specifications in X-Plane 11.30, and yes you notice the differences between the adjusted and the non-adjusted aircraft, and that is a significant bonus here as the Archer flies far much better than most PA28's and loses a lot of the irksome characteristics that is noticeable on the other JF PA28s and mostly in the trim area.

 

Modeling is as noted very good, but the Salmon interior design is to your own taste, and it is certainly not like the very dramatic reds of the Arrow lll, but the more you fly the Archer then the more you love it as it sorts of through it's realism and flying characteristics in that you realise that this is certainly the very best PA28 yet. Features are very good and plentiful as is the lighting is excellent with the interior that is simply beautiful as are all the sounds which are all top quality FMOD and 180º dynamic. So the package is very strong.

 

You don't purchase these aircraft to just put another aircraft into your hangar. In most cases it is for a personal reason, in that you have flown or owned one or want the very best dynamics of a certain aircraft. So it has to deliver on many levels as this is a serious investment. I personally think it does, but the real verdict will really be only out there with the owners that can relate to the aircraft on their own personal level....   Highly Recommended

 

_______________________________

 

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The PA-28-181 Archer III by JustFlight and Thranda is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here :

 

PA-28-181 Archer III

 

Priced at US$41.99

 

Special Features

Cockpit
  • A truly 3D virtual cockpit right down to accurately modeled seat belts and screw heads - every instrument is constructed fully in 3D with smooth animations
  • Cockpit textures feature wear and tear based on reference photos taken in the real aircraft to produce an authentic environment
  • Interactive engine start checklist that responds to user inputs and sim variables
  • Interactive checklists for every stage of flight
  • Aircraft configuration system that will allow you to choose between 'cold & dark' or 'ready for take-off' (if aircraft is stationary on the ground)
  • Fully functional and comprehensive IFR capable avionics fit including:
    •  KMA 24 audio selector
    •  Fully featured X-Plane-native GNS530 (supports procedures out of the box, and supports Navigraph and Aerosoft custom nav databases)
    •  GNC 255 COM/NAV 2 radio
    •  KN 62 DME unit which can display information from NAV 1 or NAV 2
    •  S-TEC autopilot with lateral hold modes (HDG, NAV, APR, REV) and vertical modes (ALT, VS)
    •  TT31 transponder
    •  KR 87 ADF
    •  Traffic-Watch ATD-300 traffic awareness unit
    •  Strikefinder stormscope
    •  HSI and ADF gauges
    •  Support for RealityXP GTN750 (sold separately, Windows only)
  • Interactive logbook panel for logging your flight details (X-Plane native)
  • Flight computer panel with useful information such as fuel burn, endurance, speed and wind speed/direction
  • GoodWay compatible
  • Ability to change barometric units from InHg to MB in altimeter adjustment
  • Option to activate flashlight from within pop-up window, to aid in those pitch-black cold and dark starts at night
  • Pop-up autopilot window
  • Option to remove window and instrument reflection effects
  • Animated toe brakes
  • Functional throttle quadrant tensioning system
  • Radio knob animations routed through plugin logic, for optimum movement fidelity and sound synchronisation
Aircraft systems
  • Custom-coded fuel system, including the option of automatic fuel tank switching for use on those long distance cross-country flights (this option is remembered for future flights)
  • Custom-coded electrical system with functional circuit breakers, avionics power circuit and emergency bus controls. Circuit breaker logic is linked to X-Plane's internal failure logic, so if the plane is set to fail a certain electrical component after a certain number of hours, the circuit breaker for that element will pop out.
  • Realistic landing gear with slow/fast tire rotation animation (blurry when rotating fast), precise shock absorber animation and wheel chocks and tie-downs
  • Functioning carburetor and primer controls
  • Dedicated interactive engine pop-up window displaying values such as fuel tank weights and imbalance, fuel pressure, oil pressure, oil temperature, battery charge (with quick charge option), and information about spark plug fouling and vapor lock condition
  • Simulated vapor lock condition, with warning pop-up and suggested actions
  • Simulated spark plug fouling condition, with indication of percentage of fouling
  • Lighting system includes separate lighting control for gauges (via rheostat)
  • Functional electric trim control on yoke
  • Simulated fan and vent system with realistic blower sounds (linked to circuit breaker logic and electrical system for realism)
  • Custom external light logic with custom strobe light pattern and custom light halos for added realism

 

Requirements

X-Plane 11+
Windows, Mac or Linux
4GB+ VRAM (GeForce GTX 1070 or better or similar from AMD)
Windows 10 / 7 / Vista / XP, MAC OS 10.10 (or higher) or Linux
Current and Review version and : 1.0 (January 30th 2019)
PS: Owners of any the PA28 by JustFlight can purchase this new Archer lII with a $7 discount ( $34.99). Find your coupon code under your Arrow invoice at the store (doesn't apply to Arrows from other designers)
 
 

Installation and documents:

Download for the PA-28-181 Archer III is 730Mb and the unzipped file deposited in the aircraft "General Aviation" X-Plane folder at 818.60mb.

 

Documentation:

There are two manuals provided. The ODM is full of performance graphs and data and the X-Plane Manual is a full detailed manual of the aircraft's systems and layouts, a good if basic tutorial is also included

 

  • PA-28-181 Archer III ODM manual X-Plane.pdf
  • PA-28-181 Archer III X-Plane manual.pdf

______________________________________________________________________

 

Aircraft review by Stephen Dutton

9th February 2019

Copyright©2019 : 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)

 

Review System Specifications:

Computer System: Windows  - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 16 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo 512gb SSD 

Software:   - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.31 (v11.30 is required for this aircraft)

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

Plugins: Environment Engine by xEnviro US$69.90 : WorldTraffic 3.0 Plugin - US$29.95

Scenery or Aircraft

- LMML- Malta International Airport by JustSim  (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$22.30

 

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