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As I type this, I am currently flying the Boeing 777-300ER from London Heathrow Airport to Boston Logan International Airport. Departing 4 hours and 38 minutes ago from gate 532, I currently have 18.6 tonnes of fuel left and cruising just over the YAY VOR. I have approximately 2 hours left until touchdown. At which point, I'll shut down the taxi to stand, shut down the engines and begin the 'shutdown' checklist. Despite having completed the flight, I will already be planning the return journey and be prepared to endure the 6 hour flight time home. But why do I put myself through such long hours for a 'virtual simulation'? Quite simple really: because it's PMDG. Any true Flight Sim enthusiast will know who and what PMDG are. Precision Manuals Development Group are the team behind the revolutionary products such as the 737NGX, the 747X and the often forgotten, but always loved, MD-11. As anyone who follow the group will know, the development cycles of their products are often long, teasing and hyped until most Simmers pass out from holding their breath or by breaking their F5 key. Every update the team bring us, every screenshot on their Facebook page and every like, downvote and comment from a member of their team is followed. It's almost like a simulation on its own. In September 2013, PMDG finally released their long awaited and much wanted Triple Seven. Two variants were released: The Long Range edition and also the Freighter edition. Initially, this update a few people, mostly because the 777-200LR wasn't exactly Boeing's best selling version of the aircraft. With only around 50 or so currently flying in the world today, a lot of people (including me) had to simulate simulating a flight with an 'alien' aircraft. Despite from the same family, the LR/F handle and look vastly different to their bigger brothers. Alongside this, a lot of people claimed to have issues with the Fly-By-Wire system within the simulation, as well as a host of other smaller issues such as wind forecast errors and erroneous caution warnings. Small things, but enough to warrant addressing. Further to waiting for the -300er expansion and also a host of bug-fixes and refinements, PMDG announced that BRAND NEW and INCREDIBLE features would be included, FREE of charge. Of course, we soon learned that we would have a simulated Weather Radar and also a brand new UpLink service within the FMC. After years of companies, including PMDG, stating that a weather radar would be impossible, we finally get one that actually works. Of course, this comes with a little help from Active Sky Next. Nearly a year later, PMDG have released both the expansion and also the Service Pack (currently on SP1b, which fixed a few pause errors and a few missed items). Before I begin to review, please allow me to state I won't be reviewing the T7 as though it's a brand new product. I will be reviewing the addition of the -300er and the new features / fixes of the Service Pack. For me specifically, one of the most immediate new features of the update was the increase in performance. Some may say it is the same as before, I can assure you, after some testing, that the update brings a certain amount of "smoothness" to the product. Before panning the Virtual Cockpit would feel clunky and stutter, yet now, it feels just how SP1C of the NGX feels to me. Silky smooth throughout. Not only that, PMDG have also addresses the issue of incorrect fonts within the VC and fixed small things such as the fact the runway doesn't appear above the ETA on the ND. It's small things like this that have further increased the realism and the immersion. Something PMDG spent a lot of time focusing on was the Fly-By-Wire. As mentioned before, the team was given complaints that it just didn't "feel" right and that trim wasn't as important as it truly is in the aircraft. Numerous times, PMDG mentioned to us that they were so busy trying to get the "feel" right, and after spending a few weeks with it, you can actually tell what differences they've made – just from hand flying the beast. Although I won't explain what is happening (more so that I can't!), it may take some time for the 'pros' to understand how to fly the plane again. Before it was good, now it is great! I'm not technically minded enough to be able to explain how the FBW system works, but I can assure you that the experts and real-life pilots all agree that this now feels right. The refinement here alone goes to show just how far the team at PMDG are willing to go for the consumer to be able to enjoy the simulation to its fullest. Nothing like it has been seen before and I doubt we will for a long time. Another focus point for the team was how well the aircraft handles itself during turbulence. Such a huge aircraft with such a large span, cruising at such high speeds could mean trouble for the FSX / Weather engine. However, PMDG have done it again and developed a model that almost counteracts FSX turbulence and replaces it with their own system. Again, it's one of those things you just notice and just 'feels' more accurate. With the new weather engine, it's obvious that more and more people will purposely try and fly through heavy turbulence in an attempt to experience a thrill. PMDG have done yet another outstanding job on designing and implementing yet another revolutionary piece of kit into their already revolutionary aircraft. [Reviewer's note: This is the point now where my descent has really started and I'm currently at 7800ft with around 40 track miles left to run. I was so heavily submerged into the immersion of checking fuel, inputting my fixes for my alternates and just glaring out of the virtual window, I kept getting side-tracked from writing this review.] So as previously mentioned, the all-new Weather Radar is an inclusion that surprised many. After years of requests for PMDG to include this with their products, the long wait has finally paid off. You do need to use HiFi's Active Sky Next to be able to use the weather radar. Once you have loaded up the sim and have injected the weather, you'll immediately notice the ND light up. Despite confusion prior, a weather radar only picks up returns if there is precipitation in the air. Before where you would fly blindly into bad weather, you're now able to fully see exactly what is approaching you and allows you to tactically avoid it. As you're cruising along at FL360, you notice some lightning out of your window to your left. As you switch the range of the ND up, you then notice some red returns on your display. Switch the view up another notch and you see that red return is now on your route line and also 20 miles to your left. As such, you can actually plan how you handle the situation. In real life, pilots would contact ATC and avoid it by either vectoring or changing its flight plan. Now with the radar able to tell you this information, you can do just that. It completely changes how you fly at cruise and adds some of the exciting flying experiences I have had in flight sim. For example, I spent nearly 30 minutes holding over an airport just to allow the bad weather to pass. As you circled around, the ND would update reflecting on your moving weather. Despite holding for so long, I ended up diverting as it seemed to get worse. Before the radar, I would've approached and attempted to land anyway. Even during the cruise, I would often be vectoring or offsetting myself away from the weather. Suddenly, those long periods of nothingness just became exciting again. As you dodge, dip and climb out of bad weather, you can adjust the weather radar to show more or less returns, depending on the angle you tilt your radar and also the amount of 'gain' you apply. You are in complete control of the radar and thanks to the combination of PMDG and HiFi, you will have a true-to-life experience. There's so much to talk about, that I could probably write a review on the radar alone. Another fantastic new feature that came FREE with the Service Pack was the inclusion of a simulated FMC Company Data Link service. For those of you unsure what this does in the real-world, it essentially pulls in information sent by the airline to the aircraft to make everything more automated and save the pilots manually inputting the information in. For example, things such as route, expected ZFW and cost index are all sent to the aircraft via a Data Link connection. Now before you ask, PMDG are not sending you all this information, instead it is pulled from various sources local on your PC or within the Simulator itself. Just as before, you can type in a COROUTE code and expect to see the outcome exactly as specified. So if you typed in for example EGLLKBOS01 you would pull in the route from that file name. The Data Link works similarly, but now acts a little more automated. Say for example, you typed in EGLL in the destination box and KBOS in the arrival, and hit "ROUTE REQUEST", it will now pull in your route file automatically. Technically, it's the same thing, but the immersion factor has been increased because of it. The same applies to things such as wind aloft and descent wind data. Now pulled from Active Sky Next and your local .wx files (from pre-SP1), you will now be able to update your on-route wind data, on the fly. It means you can keep your ETA more up-to-date and also have a more accurate TOD calculated. There's a range of other quirks using the Data Link feature, but I believe it's quite exciting to experience it for yourself. Of course, one of the more anticipated releases from the Service Pack was also the fact the -300ER would be released on the same day. True to their word, PMDG released the largest in the Triple Seven family together with the new service pack. Now I've never been one to be so excited for what is essentially an add-on for an add-on, but I can claim without a doubt that the -300ER is easily my favourite aircraft within the Flight Sim universe. The extra length, the increased weight and the engines just seem to fit hand in hand. Whereas the 200LR felt very light and fluffy, the 300ER just feels like the engines were designed around it. It doesn't feel too heavy and seeing speeds as high as 180 for your V2 speeds is quite exciting. Taxiing the beast is also more challenging than before due to the extra length. However, a handy gear-cam will assist you here. Although not something I will use often due to the rapid decrease in performance, it's a testament to PMDG for their continued efforts to please everyone in the hobby. I've been asked many times if I feel the 300ER is worth the £20/$30 upgrade. I would quite honestly say the Service Pack alone is worth the extra entry fee. The inclusion of so many new features and a whole host of bug fixes (including new features in the PMDG Ops Centre, which I haven't even covered) justify the cost easily. Throw in a whole new aircraft, with completely different characteristics of its baby brother and you've got yourself an incredibly complete package. Without a doubt PMDG are at the top of their game with the release of the Triple Seven. The continued updates, the attention to detail and the sheer amount of detail the aircraft would last you years and years. I have already had countless hours exploring every nook and cranny of the beautifully rendered flight deck and hope to have countless more. As I head back over the Atlantic to Heathrow, I'm already planning where I will be taking her next. 5/5 | Publisher: PMDG | Developer: PMDG | Price: Base: $89.99 / -300ER: $29.99 / SP1: Included Without a doubt, the PMDG 777-300ER is my new favourite aircraft in Flight Simulation. The ease of use, the diversity in range and routes, the fantastically designed Virtual Cockpit and the incredible depth to the systems keep me coming back for more and more. This is a revolutionary product, that keeps becoming more and more intuitive thanks to new innovations such as Data Link and the Weather Engine. Regardless of cost, the -300er is different enough to warrant an immediate purchase. + Quite simply, the most detailed aircraft currently on the market. + Free service pack update includes working Weather Engine and more! - High price tag for some. - Steep leaving curve for new-comers. My Specs: Processor - 3.5GHz Intel Core i5-3770K Ivy Bridge (OVERCLOCKED TO 4.8GHz) RAM - 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 2133 (PC3 12800) GPU - GeForce GTX 780 FTW 3GB GDDR5 Mother Board - ASUS P8Z77-V LGA 1155 Intel Z77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard Hard Drives - 2 x 128gb OCZ SSD + 2 x 1tb 7200RPM HDD Operating System - Windows 7 (64-bit) Add-ons Used In Screenshots: Scenery – Taxi2Gate's Hammad Intl. Airport (OTHH) Aircraft – PMDG 777-300ER Utilities - REX4 Textures, Active Sky Next, SteveFX DX10 Fixer (Also tested with DX9), FTX Global, FTX Vector, ORBX's FTX Global openLC Europe.