The ATX-72 by Erick Gregan has been around for a while and has been talked about positively by several of my fellow pilots as far as flight dynamics is concerned. Until recently, I have not paid a lot of attention to this plane because of its lack of a modifiable airframe. The most recent release, however, made the version designed for end user painting to be modifiable. So, based on feedback from friends and a few other reasons I will cover shortly, I took to the skies with the airplane.
What You Get
The package comes with two editions of the basic aircraft:
- Painted version. No modify. Predefined single paint choice.
- Unpainted version. Modifiable airframe. Paint can be applied either by a menu with UUID’s of the textures, a drop script.
Also included is a HUD, boarding pass that is copy/transfer, a transferable personal flotation device, a small model version that can be used as an aid for painting, and an accessory pack for crew members including a flight attendant cart.
The plane includes a highly detailed flight deck with working switches and gauges. Here is a picture of the flight deck with the seats removed so you can see the entire control system.
The cabin is nicely done with more seating capacity than you would dare actually fill on an SL flight and expect to make it past the first sim crossing.
The plane has a self serving step door in the back for passengers and a working cargo compartment door. When the cargo door is opened the plane rezzes a baggage tractor/train and displays luggage in the compartment.
The hud is well done, and fully featured. It include all of the basic quick controls needed to operate the aircraft for those that prefer the easy operation mode where the plane does a lot of the “work” for you. It also includes a limited use version of the Shergood Aviation GPS/Waypoint system built into both the HUD and the flight deck display.
The plane comes with several note cards of documents in both English and French including:
- Primary user manual
- Painting manual
- Shergood transponder manual
- Boarding pass instructions
Where the manual leaves off, there are some videos on youtube that will help further demonstrate the general operation.
Note: Erick’s videos on this plane are not publicly listed so I will not share them. Please do not post them in the comments. If Erick chooses to do so he is welcome to.
Flying the Plane
Pilots that like a lot of clicky procedures (yes many do) will love this plane. It’s basic start up procedure is actually a bit complicated. There are some functions that are essentially nothing but role play and have no actual effect on aircraft operation. But I’m told that if you use the detailed start up procedure, you need to get it exactly right. The only source is the Youtube video. This gets a slight negative because it means you have to write it down from a video.
The plane also has an auto-start procedure where you just type “start” and all the little gizmos click on automatically and the plane starts up and is left in a ready to taxi state.
There are four automatic configuration modes for the plane which essentially set all of the standard settings for the appropriate modes:
These are possibly helpful for beginners. Experienced pilots will probably prefer not to use them.
The plane gives a nice powerful takeoff, smooth turns and about as good as any region crossing performance can be under normal circumstances. It has bank angle and stall alerts and in fact will stall if not operated correctly. Pilots I have talked with have not expressed issue with the overall performance of the plane.
This topic are the things about this plane that make it stand out. Some have been mentioned earlier but they are unique features, or potentially superior implementations:
- Fuel system. There is no need for airport based fuel systems. The airplane rezzes a very realistic set of fuel trucks on demand which fuel the airplane simulating ground fuel storage.
- Baggage cart. Cargo door opens with baggage and a small baggage train. It is not movable but it has a nice look to it.
- Wearable flight attendant cart with hud. A “seated” flight attendant wearing these items can “move” through the airplane with or without the cart visible.
- Built in voice safety briefings (English and French).
- “Water landing” (a.k.a. crashing in the water). If you hit the water, the plane actually only partially sinks. Not so much an ongoing feature…but if you do have issues, and passengers it can allow for role playing out a bad water crash which can happen after a particularly rough region crossing. In fact, it also comes with a transferable personal flotation device you can give out.
- LOD issues. The plane still has a few LOD issues. Pulling the camera back very far causes the doors to decompose slightly. There are instructions on how most viewers can be tuned to work around this. But it would be better if it was fixed.
- Boarding pass system. This is a mandatory system whereby you must give each passenger a “boarding pass”, which they must wear, in order to sit on the plane. While security at big airports like Hollywood and Second Norway are its goal, as an airline pilot I see this as a solution desperately in search of a problem. It is an overkill to a rarely encountered issue. The best recommendation I can make for this is to make it optional. Allow the owner to turn it off. A less intrusive approach that would have been an actual improvement over the eject method used by most airplanes would be to make the eject save the uuid of the ejected avatar and automatically re-eject the passenger if they sit again.
First of all I applaud Erick for joining the newer generation of aircraft makers that have chosen to make their planes modifiable.
This is a great plane for just flying around SL. It is not difficult to fly, despite the LOD issues it mostly looks great. It has some very neat role play features most specifically for flight attendants since they can more personally interact with passengers by the simulated “walk” through the aircraft. This in fact was one of my motivations for restoring this plane into active Vulture service.
For use in general passenger service, however, unless you have a co-pilot or flight attendant to guide passengers while doing flight preparation, the boarding pass system will cause significant distraction and breaking of character while trying to guide unfamiliar passengers to their seats.
Getting the Plane
If you are going to purchase the plane, I recommend getting the plane from Erick’s store rather than the marketplace. Here is the Slurl: KBEG Airport and Shop
As always, Blue Skies.