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    • News! - Aircraft Released : Cessna A-37 Dragonfly V2 XP12 by JCS     JCS has released an upgrade to X-Plane 12 for their Cessna A-37 Dragonfly in noted v2 form. The Dragonfly's configuration is very similar to the UK's BAC 167 Strikemaster which is also a twin seat British jet-powered training and light attack aircraft.   The Cessna A-37 Dragonfly, or "Super Tweet", is a light attack aircraft designed and produced by the American aircraft manufacturer Cessna. It was developed during the Vietnam War in response to military interest in new counter-insurgency (COIN) aircraft to replace aging types such as the Douglas A-1 Skyraider. A formal United States Air Force (USAF) evaluation of the T-37 Tweet basic trainer for the COIN mission was conducted in late 1962, after which it was concluded that it could be modified to effectively perform the role. The attack-orientated A-37 was directly derived from the T-37, roughly doubling in both all-up weight and engine thrust as to permit considerable quantities of munitions to be carried along with extended flight endurance and additional mission avionics. The prototype YAT-37D performed its maiden flight during October 1964.   A-37 Dragonfly features: Detailed 3D model Detailed virtual cockpit Custom jet engine sounds Multiple paint schemes, including T-37 trainer schemes (on the A-37 airframe) New, realistic flight model developed by X-Aerodynamics specifically for X-Plane 12 and 11 Fly with external fuel tanks and rockets, or in a ‘clean’ configuration with gun only       The X-Plane 11 version is part of this package, however it does not have the X-Plane 12 features or effects.   Images and video are courtesy of JCS __________________________     Yes! Cessna A-37 Dragonfly V2 XP12 by JCS is now Available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :   Cessna A-37 Dragonfly V2 XP12 Price Is US$19.95   Requirements: X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB VRAM Minimum Download Size: 151MB Current version : 2.012 ___________________________   News by Stephen Dutton 23rd September 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews   (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) All Rights Reserved  
    • Love these little airports! Thanks for the great review and references!
    • NEWS! - Airport Upgraded : KSNA - John Wayne International XP12 by Skyline Simulations     Orange County Airport was renamed John Wayne Airport on June 20, 1979. Then John Wayne Associates commissioned sculptor Robert Summers to create a bronze statue of "the Duke". The 9-foot (2.7 m) statue, created at Hoka Hey Foundry in Dublin, Texas, was dedicated to the County on November 4, 1982. Today, the bronze statue is in the Thomas F. Riley Terminal on the Arrival Level.   Yep! they named an airport after a Cowboy Actor, but this is America after all. They renamed the airport in 1979 in honor of actor John Wayne, who lived in neighboring Newport Beach and he died that year. John Wayne Airport is an international commercial and general aviation airport that serves Orange County, California, and the Greater Los Angeles area.   SNA Airport has two runways. The main runway, 2L/20R, at 5,700 feet (1,700 m) in length, is one of the shortest of any major airport in the United States, and passenger jetliners operating from the airport have never been larger than the Boeing 757 (although some larger cargo aircraft fly from SNA, such as the widebody Airbus A300 operated by FedEx). Runway 2R/20L is 2,887 feet (880 m) long and serves general aviation aircraft. No widebody passenger jetliners have ever been operated into SNA in scheduled airline service.   This is the upgraded X-Plane 12 release of KSNA - John Wayne International by Skyline Simulations, and it is a paid upgrade, but there is an offer for previous X-Plane 11 purchasers of the scenery as for you can get 33% OFF the upgrade price (US$11.73). Coupon code can be found in the original KSNA Invoice. This is a X-Plane 12 scenery only.   Features Include: ➤ UHD custom textures using the latest painting techniques ➤ XPLCity with custom 3D houses ➤ Super-detailed 3D modelling ➤ PBR materials on every building ➤ FSEco-subsystem ➤ Detailed HD ground with PBR and decals ➤ Custom 3D animated vegetation blends with orthophotos ➤ XPEco-subsystem ➤ Ultra-high-resolution custom orthoimagery for the airport ➤ Thousands of 3D custom static objects ➤ Amazing and detailed night textures ➤ Ground traffic       Images are courtesy of Skyline Simulations __________________________     Yes! KSNA - John Wayne International XP12 by Skyline Simulations is now Available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :   KSNA - John Wayne International XP12 Price Is US$17.50   KSNA -  XP11 purchasers can purchase this new X-Plane 12 version for 33% off (US$11.73). Please find the coupon code in the original KSNA XP11 order   Requirements: X-Plane 12 (not for XP11) Windows , Mac or Linux 8Gb+ VRAM Recommended Download size: 712 MB Current version: 1.0 (September 20 2023) ___________________________   News by Stephen Dutton 22nd September 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews   (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) All Rights Reserved  
    • Scenery Review: KMTP - Montauk Airport, USA   By Dominic Smith   Introduction Montauk Airport (KMTP), located at the eastern tip of Long Island, New York, has been a haven for pilots who enjoy VFR (Visual Flight Rules) flying since its establishment in the mid-20th century. With a single asphalt runway and a modest terminal building, this small public airport offers a peaceful flying experience amid scenic beaches and natural reserves. The X-Plane 12 version aims to capture the spirit and layout of the real-world KMTP. Retailing at a rather accessible price of $12.95, the scenery features actual layout data to provide a realistic flying experience. Custom materials and surfaces enhanced with Physical-Based Rendering (PBR) add to the visual richness, although within the constraints of its budget-friendly price point. The package also makes good use of X-Plane 12's new vegetation technology, offering hand-placed forests and custom 3D grass to complement the overall scenery. As a fan of serene airports conducive to low and slow VFR flying, Montauk Airport piqued my curiosity. One of the real airport's charms is its laid-back vibe, which provides an ideal setting for focusing on the essentials of piloting. Will the X-Plane 12 rendition capture that same sense of tranquillity? Let's find out as we explore the merits and performance of this budget-friendly scenery package.     Installation Acquiring this scenery is straightforward, particularly if you're familiar with the Org store. Upon purchase, you're presented with two downloadable zip files, one for X-Plane 12 and another for X-Plane 11. The size of the extracted scenery is modest, clocking in at just under 300MB. This small footprint makes for a quick download (as long as you have a reasonable internet connection) and is relatively light on storage space. The installation process adheres to the tried-and-tested method that many X-Plane users will find reassuringly familiar. There's no need for online activation or entry of a serial number, something that I personally find very appealing. Once you've extracted the zip file, simply move the resulting folder into your X-Plane Custom Scenery directory, and you're good to go. Documentation While the package does come with a text document that clearly outlines the installation steps, it feels somewhat sparse in other regards; there are no additional resources to be found. This absence feels like a missed opportunity to enhance the user's connection to the airport. Even a simple historical overview or a basic airfield diagram could have enriched the package and given flyers more context for their Montauk adventures. As it stands, users will have to rely on the software itself and perhaps a bit of online sleuthing to fully appreciate what Montauk Airport has to offer. Exploration  Starting my exploration as usual from a distance, the first thing that struck me was the expansive coverage of the area by the developer. Seen from the air, the landscape is notably more detailed compared to a "vanilla" installation of X-Plane 12. The three main water bodies, Lake Montauk, Big Reed Pond, and Oyster Pond, are all sharply defined, catching the eye even before you make landfall.     Diving lower (no passengers onboard), I was impressed by the meticulous redesign of the forests. The trees seemed carefully placed, offering a more authentic representation of the area's natural beauty. The shoreline also caught my attention; it is well-articulated, featuring an array of caravans, deck chairs, and tables. The only thing missing was a human touch, as there were no virtual people to be seen.     Further inland, additional residential houses had been added, making the landscape feel more vibrant and interesting. The docks, populated with a large number of different boats, contributed to the area's liveliness. While the scenery did incorporate a small degree of ortho imagery, which kind of worked, I feel the scenery could have easily stood on its own merits without it. I also noticed some maintenance buildings around the docks, which appeared to be from the default X-Plane library, going by some of the signage.     Among the unique elements of this package is a well-crafted breakwater, composed of numerous rocks and stones. While there's some artistic license involved, it adds a pleasing aesthetic touch to the overall experience.     As I approached the main airport, it became apparent that the layout closely mirrored its real-world counterpart on Google Maps. The textures for the runway and apron were clearly marked and finely detailed. Close inspection revealed weathering effects like cracks and general wear, adding to the sense of realism.     The airport hosts a few hangars and a modest main building and whilst they're well-designed, a bit of weathering could have made them feel slightly more authentic, especially given the location's proximity to the sea. That said, considering the scenery's budget-friendly price, this can be overlooked. Completing the picture, a small car park containing a handful of vehicles, faithfully echoed what I'd seen on Google Earth. Overall, the experience was positive overall, marred only by the absence of 3D characters to give the airport a more lived-in feel.     Night Lighting Upon exploring the airport under the cloak of night, it quickly became apparent that I was going to need a torch! While the runway did offer some degree of illumination, the airport buildings were noticeably lacking in this department. While the absence of lighting could be consistent with the real-world airport, it does take away from the experience a little. With the potential for future updates, one might hope that the developer could consider adding a few strategically placed lights, particularly around the main airport building and hangars. Such a minor addition could go a long way in enriching the scenery's night-time appeal. As night shots won’t be particularly interesting or beneficial, let’s go for some good old snow.      Performance Navigating around Montauk Airport and its surroundings was a completely smooth experience, which reaffirms why I enjoy smaller sceneries like this one. Framerates stayed high on my system, which isn't the newest or most advanced (specs listed below). For those with limited GPU resources, turning off 3D vegetation will offer a bit of additional performance, due to the number of trees present.         Conclusion Montauk Airport for X-Plane 12 may not aim for photorealistic accuracy, but it doesn't need to. What it delivers is a captivating and well-detailed version of a tranquil airport, a feature bound to resonate with many X-Plane aficionados. While there are areas for improvement, such as the missing 3D characters and somewhat limited nighttime lighting, the package does excel where it matters most. Covering an expansive area beyond the airport's immediate surroundings, this scenery is a commendable addition to any virtual pilot's repertoire, especially those who favour the peace and quiet of smaller airstrips for leisurely VFR flying.   Priced at a very reasonable $12.95, the package offers excellent value for money, despite a few minor shortcomings. Overall, it's an inviting scenery that assures countless hours of flying enjoyment.   ________________________     KMTP - Montauk Airport, USA by Skytitude is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here:   KMTP - Montauk Airport, USA Priced at $12.95   Features: Completely Renovated Scenery for X-Plane 12 with Outstanding Detail Level Actual Layout Data Custom Materials and Surfaces with Physically Based Rendering Effect (PBR) Highly Detailed Spectacular Buildings and Objects High Density Hand-Placed Forests and Plants Custom 3D Grass Using New X-Plane 12 Vegetation Technology Accurately Built Large Surrounding Area with Thousands of Hand-Placed Objects Requirements X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac, or Linux Download Size: 263 MB Current version: 1.0   Review System Specifications Intel i5 10400 – 32GB RAM - Nvidia Asus RTX 3060 – Windows 10 Home 64 Bit   __________________________________   Scenery Review by Dominic Smith 21st Sept 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews   (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copying of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions).    
    • NEWS! - Scenery Released : RPMR - General Santos International Airport - Philippines by Airwil Sceneries     Midway through last year, Airwil Sceneries released a series of airport destinations in the Philippines, including Davao International Airport, RPVE - Boracay Caticlan Airport and RPSP - Bohol Panglao International Airport, and all three have been recently updated to X-Plane 12.   Here is another Filipino scenery to add to the collection...  RPMR - General Santos International Airport.   General Santos International Airport is also known as "Tambler Airport" (RPMR), is the largest airport on the island of Mindanao serving the greater area of Soccsksargen (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos). Despite being known as a nearby alternate airport of Davao International Airport, General Santos is officially classified as an International Airport. General Santos City is the largest producer of sashimi-grade tuna in the Philippines, thus, rightfully so was nicknamed the "Tuna Capital of the Philippines".   The General Santos International Airport has a single 3,227-meter (10,587 ft) runway with a width of 45 meters (148 ft), designated as runway 17/35. Made entirely of reinforced concrete and macadam, the airport's runway is the third-longest runway in the Philippines, after Runway 06/24 of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (3,737 meters, 12,260 ft) and Runway 04/22 of Mactan–Cebu International Airport (3,300 meters, 10,800 ft) respectively and is capable of handling the Airbus A380. It is the first airport in Mindanao to have accommodated the landing and take off of Boeing 747 aircraft.   The facade design of the airport is patterned after the fins of the yellow-fin tuna. The consideration of the existing second floor of the terminal building which is ideal for the terminal building to expand vertically and for the boarding bridges. Prior to the 2017–2021 facelift, the terminal had an area of 4,029 square meters (43,370 sq ft) and an annual capacity of 800,000 passengers. It was expanded to the current area of 12,240 square meters (131,800 sq ft) and increased its capacity to two million passengers per year. Jet bridges were also added during the said upgrade.   Features: Moving airport ground servicing vehicles More than 100 custom handcrafted objects/buildings Close to real life rendition of the brand new General Santos International Airport Terminal (with interior modelling) Tambler Control Tower Cab (with interior modelling) Highly detailed landside (parking area) Custom ground paint textures Close to real life rendition of the airport's runway Filipino Houses Filipino Jeepneys Filipino Buses SOX 3d signage Manny Pacquiao Billboard Comes with ortho imagery for better realism X-Plane 12 Default Jetway Features   Both X-Plane 11 and X-plane 12 versions are included in the package.     The low below $10.00 price to the quality of these excellent Filipino sceneries make for a great collection of all four.   Images are courtesy of Airwil Sceneries _______________________________   RPMR - General Santos International Airport - Philippines by Airwil Sceneries is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store   RPMR - General Santos International Airport - Philippines Priced at US$9.99   Requirements X-Plane 11 - X-Plane 12 (when available) Windows, Mac or Linux 4GB VRAM Minimum - 8GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 3.5 GB Current version: 1.0 (September 19th 2023) ___________________________   News by Stephen Dutton 20th September 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews   (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) All Rights Reserved    
    • Updated Aircraft Review : Cessna 172M Skyhawk DGS Series v1.1 by Thranda Design   I'm three thousand feet above County Clare, Ireland. Dribbling along nicely at 130 knts. Life is easy, free... carefree.     I'm in the "Skyhawk", the Cessna 172M, the most popular aircraft ever built with 44,000 units constructed, and is still going strong. The C172 is popular because it is just that right perfect fit for it's main role...  pilot training. The C152 is good for training as well, but is also a little too small, the C172 came out of the C170, but that aircraft was a taildragger, were as the C172 has the Tri-cycle undercarriage, it also has a slightly more powerful engine 160 hp (120 kW) (C152 has a 110 hp (82 kW) engine, so it was the follow-on larger and faster aircraft... and it hit that perfect spot all round, a sort of Volkswagon Beetle for the air. The C172 was first flown in 1955.     Part of the reason it is very good as a training aircraft, is the visual outlook from the aircraft. Being a high-fixed wing, the view internally to the external is very, very good. It wasn't always like this as the earlier 172's, as it had a had a "fastback" rear cabin with no rear window and also featured a "square" fin (tail) design. 1963 172D model introduced the lower rear fuselage with a wraparound "Omni-Vision" rear window and a one-piece windshield. On the 172K the rear windows were slightly enlarged again by 16 square inches (103 cm2). Although a Cessna 172, in later life it became known only as the "Skyhawk" and the 172 moniker was dropped from the name.   -Update v1.1- Less than a month on from the original release of the Cessna 172M, here is a significant update to the aircraft in a Float and Amphibian variant. The changes to v1.1 are now all noted in this revised and updated review.   This Cessna 172M is another Cessna from Thranda Design, after the Cessna Caravan and the later Cessna U206G Stationair, you could easily confuse this C172M with the U206G, but although they share the same bodyline they are completely different aircraft for different roles.   Modeling is of course superlative. Thranda quality in extreme detail and fittings. As noted the Skyhawk comes with 8K textures, a huge pixel area 7680 x 4320. Just because it is 8K doesn't mean that you need a 8Gb Graphic Card to run them. 4 Gb VRAM is still recommended as Minimum. And 8 Gb+ VRAM is however recommended as normal. But like with the earlier Thranda releases, they had more than one 4K texture size, sometimes two 4K textures to fill in the same 8K area. So in reality you are only using the 8K to fill the same gap of the two 4K set of textures before. So Graphic Card size is not the issue, if you can run your current Thranda aircraft with your current graphic card size, then the C172M will be exactly the same, in fact even a bit more efficient in that it only has to load in the one texture sheet, rather than the load of old 2(K)or 4(K) texture sheets.   It shows of course, but lately I have found Thranda aircraft to be incessantly dark. Externally and internally with the current development process, with an emphasis of the blackness shadow areas, however hi-res PBR realistic materials, featuring true-to-life plate deformation and to-the-rivet precision is very, very appreciable, you can spend hours going over the finer details of the aircraft.     The dihedral of the wing is 1° 44′ and the total wing area is 174 square feet (16.17 square meters). The horizontal stabilizer span is 11 feet, 4 inches (3.429 meters). So it's a nice clean wing as seen here. The M model is important as it was the first drooped wing leading edge for improved low-speed handling. This was marketed as the "camber-lift" wing. The 172K model, introduced those sported fiberglass, downward-shaped, conical wing tips , as seen here.     The 172L, sold during 1971 and 1972, Cessna replaced the main landing gear legs (which were originally flat spring steel) with tapered, tubular steel gear legs. The new gear had a width that was increased by 12 in (30 cm). The new tubular gear was lighter, but required aerodynamic fairings to maintain the same speed and climb performance as experienced with the flat steel design. These legs have been well reproduced here by Thranda.   Rear legs are fixed, but the nose wheel comes with an oleo strut and scissor-or torque links, it has a 15º degree adjustable turn. Tyres are so detailed that you can read the name "Goodyear Flight Specials", and there is great wear and tear on the hubs and rims. Overall excellent.     Glass is very good, as usual with Thranda...  here it comes with a nice green tint, always lovely reflections and depth to the thickness, there are also the nice motley glass marks and scratches, some even distracting, like the lines lower left windscreen.     Thranda comes up with some really interesting cabin interiors. In the Skyhawk it is the most unusual yet? The U206G had a nice cream and blue fitout, the Islander BN-2 had odd white seats. Here you get a light grey cabin with green highlights on the seats, lower instrument panel and side panels, seats are green with darker green inserts and even the adjustable blinds are green...  it's all a bit Shrek?     The side panels though are totally exquisite with the highlighted squares, and the cabin roof is dirty and worn with detail, beautifully done.     Everywhere you look you see the aged wear, door posts, window surrounds, wing end plates....  all so well done.     Instrument panel has a plastic cover plate (70's) design. But the DGS system is still an option here in a dynamic panel, the "Dynamic Generation Series" or DGS, is a Thranda speciality feature that takes full advantage of X-Plane's flexibility for in-sim, real-time modifications.     Avionics with the fixed panel include Garmin 340 Radio, Bendix/King KX 165 radios, Garmin GTX Transponder, S-Tec FiftyFive X Autopilot and Bendix/King KR87 ADF unit. A EDM 800 Engine Data Management system is also installed, and most pop out, as do almost 50 instruments!     You can hide one or both of the Yokes, they also come in two styles "Classic" and "Modern". But the trim (pickles) on the modern yoke (shown) don't work with the yoke options.     Lower instrument panel is the trim wheel and fuel selector (19 GAL per wing tank). The 172 is a very basic aircraft, but you have everything you need here. All oddments like ashtrays, in-wing air-vents work, as do both the side windows open.... and the glovebox/cubby opens to revel the Thranda development team.     Lighting Like a lot on the C172, the lighting is quite basic. You have the option of having "Light Posts" on the instrument panel, ON or OFF. And they make a big difference on. The one lighting knob has two adjustments, the panel lighting and the overhead red (dome) light.     The red overhead light is quite powerful, and baths the cabin nicely, to the rear is a single large cabin light, its bright, but not very effective in the rear?     Externally I really like the light spray around the twin Taxi/Landing lights, Navigation light/strobes and a single tail beacon is all just basic lighting.     Flying the Skyhawk The Skyhawk is noted as "The Cessna 172 is arguably the most elegant compromise in the history of aviation.” A nice quote and not far from the truth, as the aircraft is perfect in the "right size, feels right" category.   Once trimmed, the Skyhawk is a very neutral and balanced aircraft on the central axis, again to make it easy for pilot training, interesting is to do tight turns, very heavy degree turns and you will need very little back pressure on the yoke to keep the same altitude...     ....  the aircraft will literally "Turn on a dime", stand on it's wing, as you twirl the aircraft around the sky... certainly any aircraft will do this sort of semi-aerobatic manoeuvres, but it is the ease and cleanliness of the actions that make the aircraft so easy to control, and this is a General Aviation machine here, a heavy one by aerobatic standards.     It's great fun, you can understand the love for the machine from not only newly born pilots, but from the professional aspect as well.     Unlike the C152, the instruments and controls are not totally in the basic, basic category in here. You have your VOR Pointers (again great for point to point training) and for doing circuits with ILS central alignments.     Performance of the C172M is good; Cruise speed is 122 kn (140 mph, 226 km/h), with a never exceed speed of 163 kn (188 mph, 302 km/h) (IAS) . The range is 696 nmi (801 mi, 1,289 km) with 45 minute reserve, 55% power, at 12,000 feet (3,700 m) and the service ceiling is 13,500 ft (4,100 m).   Time to return to Kerry (EIKY).   The Flaps indicator is quite buried (Fixed Panel) right lower, hard to see, settings here are 0º-10º-20º-30º-40º, a lot of adjustment, also they are continuous in operation, but really great for slow speed approaches with plenty of lift and support.     But the flap support is great for novice trainee pilots, it gives them time to adjust the aircraft ready for the approach, minimises mistakes. I found this out by dropping the flaps to 40º at the start of the EIKY Rwy 26 ILS approach (108.70 (IKR), then slowly approaching at 70 knts until the point of descent...      ....  adjusting the speed down to 63 knts, and you will get a nice 300 fpm descent into the runway, smooooth and clean, if a little slow, but again great for practising your approach skills, as the C172M allows you to do this. (note; Rate of climb is 715 ft/min (3.63 m/s) or usually about a 500 fpm). I feel too complacent, as i'm now too high, so an adjustment to 500 fpm is required, but the descent speed stays low enough around 70 knts to pull off the manoeuvre...     ...  in reality you wouldn't get away with this steep approach, but I feel totally in control of the Skyhawk.     200 ft above terra firma, I pull back the yoke, up goes the nose and I smooth out the descent pitch, the C172M responds perfectly, speed runs off, descent rate slightly climbs, and I'm soon in the perfect touchdown flare.     60 knts on touch...  stall is a low 47 kn (54 mph, 87 km/h) (power off, flaps down), and I'm rolling down the centre line, too easy!     Again you can see why the Skyhawk is perfect for learner pilots, it's so sure (if a little too safe, that it can distract you into complacency), but the feedback from the controls and airframe are excellent, highly recommended for practising skills or circuits, of which is the aircraft's Modus operandi. It's nice to fly an aircraft so perfect.   At taxi speed and idle throttle the familiar  "knock, knock" from the Lycoming O-320-E2D is well heard from the cabin, all sounds are perfect here with high-fidelity, multi-track FMOD2 sounds, there is aural simulation of multiple layers of engine and prop sounds, depending on camera angle, distance, atmospheric conditions, doppler as well... well everything you need for a great aural experience, Thranda are good at details like this, and it's important to the overall joy of the aircraft.     And it all works to the last splutter of the prop at shutdown (as also the excellent start sounds) are perfect...  "perfect", that word comes a lot around the Skyhawk here!     There is no doubt on how much I like this Skyhawk, but debatable on still which is the really very best one? I totally loved the Careando Skyhawk with a G1000 avionics suite, flew that 172 everywhere, there are glass instrument options here as well as we shall see, so time will tell if the Thranda Skyhawk can take the title away from the older version?   Added in to v1.1. are the optional Float and Amphibian Float Versions.     Float design and detail is exceptional, and anyone who has had an earlier Thranda Amphibian (C208B) will know about the high quality here. Float shape and modeling is about perfect, as are the the front strut and main wheel assemblies.     Rear rudders are controlled by a push/pull lever left centre console to raise or lower the twin fins...   the undercarriage is controlled by the "Gear Advisory" panel right Instrument panel...  there is the secondary pump lever between the seats for a manual upping or lowering of the wheels.       Option of a "Float" version is also available...  the detail is again absolutely "top notch".     v1.1...   Two other changes to the v1.1 update are the fixed Alt Static Air knob's Dataref, and now also enabled is WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) in the GPS units.   Menu Thranda's Menus are very feature rich and highly detailed. There is a popout TAB under the arrow, that can be (mouse) scrolled to hide it, that is if you don't like these sort of items crowding your screen (I don't). The Menu system includes the "Dynamic Generation Series" or DGS, a Thranda speciality feature that takes full advantage of X-Plane's flexibility for in-sim, real-time modifications.     As noted the "Menu" Tab (arrow) is far left middle of your screen, this will activate the Pop-Out Menu... The Menu has seven menu tabs in; GENERAL, LIVERY, WEIGHT/BAL, CAMERA, AUDIO/SLEW, PANEL and MISC (Miscellaneous). Basically it is the standard Thranda default menu.     Menu - General The menu "General" sections covers quite a lot of options, the layout is highly detailed and very comprehensive.   General menu selections cover; Electric Tug, Window and Instrument Panel Reflections on/off, Startup Running on/off (sets aircraft to full running mode), Chocks and Brakes on/off.     Three selections placed right cover group items, but any one item can be also accessed via "Click Spots" and can be individually selected or hidden via the aircraft graphic. "ALL COVERS" will select engine inlet/outlet covers and pitot covers, "ALL TIE-DOWNS" for rear fuselage and wing tie-downs and "ALL DOORS" for both the cockpit doors and the right side luggage door. All EXT - External Lights can be switched on and off as can the ALL INT - Internal lights.     The "Electric Tug" that can be used to move the aircraft around on the ground via your joystick (left,right-forward,backwards). Static Items include Wheel chocks, Engine Inlet covers, wing pitot cover.   One item not shown in the general menu panel is the front nose cowling removal. It's hard to do, but if you click the surround (arrowed) in the engine bay on the pop out menu, it will lift the nose cowling to reveal a fully modeled Lycoming O-320-E2D Engine, very nice it is as well.     There is built in "Checklist" (lower right menu, arrowed), and very good it is. But also again changed back to a simple black on red graphic, with green cross-off lines. The Checklist can the moved and scaled anywhere on the screen, but the list can't be reset back again to just the red restart list? and so there are 14 separate pages of the list to uncheck?     Menu - Liveries Second Menu option is "Liveries", there are two options here with the first being "PAINTED LIVERIES". There are altogether 8 liveries or two blank (DynamicLiveryResources/Thranda) and six designs, and all the liveries are of extremely high quality and creative flare with the package.       Two of the liveries are noted as "DynamicLiveryResources" and "ZZTEMPLATELIVERY", these are the current selected "Dynamic Liveries".   Dynamic Liveries Not happy with any of those designs, then why not create your own livery!      With their earlier releases of their Kodiak and with the Islander, PC-6, PZL-104 and Caravan. Then Thranda introduced a clever feature of a way to design your own livery. This is done by switching from PAINTED LIVERIES to DYNAMIC LIVERIES top.     You have a menu to select on the right that can colour a certain part of the aircraft, like the Roof, Wing, Tail or Wing tips. Select which one you want and then adjust the three RGB colours for that certain area, and the selected colour (here red) is shown in the square. You can also separately change the aircraft registration number, here I wanted an Irish Rego in EI-677. The Cessna logo can be added as well.     When done you can "SAVE" or ADD the livery and then "APPLY" it to the aircraft. The conversion takes a few minutes with some weird screen changes, but the results are excellent and now the C172 is in your own livery design...   If the custom livery does not load? then go to a PAINTED LIVERY, then load one close to the design you created, then go back and reload your custom dynamic livery...  and it should now load correctly.   A feature is the (Quick) selection of Dirt (Ext) Externally, Scratches and Dirt (Int) Internally. Via three percentage selections you can adjust the amount of Dirt, Scratches and Dirt Int on the aircraft (0%-255%) and apply it instantly.So you can have either a pristine or a very grubby aircraft with just a twirl of the numbers. Also changes can be made to Metal or Rough surfaces, this can be applied to any of the liveries.     There are already 30 preselected selections in their various designs, all are very good, and like noted you can add in your own version to the list. New to the Dynamic Livery application is ERA options in "Modern' or "Classic"....  of course personal taste is optional!     v1.1... in the Float/Amphibian menu, you can also colour in the float design to your own preferences, or to match in with the aircraft fuselage design     Menu - Weight/Bal The Skyhawk also has a great Weight and Balance menu.     Lbs and Kgs which can be selected and changed via the toggle...  Lbs In Green, and Kgs in Blue.     There is the weight selection of all the seats. Missing is the usual Thranda seat removable X option, as here you can only select the seat weight.     Fuel can be added and the amounts are then shown and are adjustable as well in the menu (above)... pilot, passengers and cargo can all be set for individual weights and all are selected via a scrollwheel...  and then all of the CofG (Centre of Gravity) parameters are all shown on a graph, go too far or too heavy and the CofG goes red. When done you can Save the Configuration and then later re-load it, or press Load to add in the set weights.     Oddly there are no bags or luggage shown in the rear (behind the rear seat) luggage area like with most Thranda's with the C172M? But the usual two animated Pilot and front seat passenger are still in there when you adjust the seat weights above 36 kgs/80 Lbs. They both will also disappear if the electrical power is switched off and the chocks added.     But obviously there is a compromise? If you want a full passenger and baggage load, then you can't have full fuel tanks, as the excess weight takes you over the weight and the CofG limits as shown on the graph. For four passengers (with maybe a bag thrown in) then can you have your full tanks and the longer range and not go into the red.   Menu - Camera     There is a camera feature under the menu "Camera" selection. The left side of the panel is the "Walkaround" views, just pick the dot viewpoint you want to see to rotate around the aircraft. To the right is the default views can be selected via a menu, or press the keypad to select the view. The FoV or "Field of View" is adjustable via a slider.     Menu - Audio/Slew Sound can be adjusted via the Audio menu. There are seven slider selections with: Master, Aircraft External, Aircraft Internal, CoPilot, Radios, Environmental and User Interface. One other sound setting is on the Flap panel...  As noted, on the right and left of the panel you get the audio simulation of an active noise canceling headset, which is seen as wearing a headset. Sound quality is beyond excellent as it is a built in audio mixer, so you can individually control the audio channels in real-time and you can adjust the volumes while hearing them play.     Slew mode allows you to manually move the aircraft around in a disconnected X-Plane space. It functions by temporarily overriding the various aerodynamic and physical forces on the X-Plane settings, it is to allow the user to reposition the plane as desired. This feature is however highly touchy and it is used mostly only really with the Amphibian/Floats option in docking the aircraft to say a pier or marina. Currently there are no plans for an Amphibian version of the C172M, but you never know.   Menu - PANEL The sixth "PANEL" Tab option allows you to adjust or change the instruments and dials.     First feature here is a new one to Thanda's Dynamic Panel...  the selection of a "Molded Plastic Cover" panel, and to add in or takeaway the panels "Light Posts". (hint... nice on). The non-plastic cover look is a flat dark grey facia, actually very nice and the same as the U206G.   Scroll the "Panel Preset" number to see all the three preset layouts. Preset 0 is the grey standard panel with the GNS 530, Preset 1 is the Molded Plastic Cover (top)...  Preset 2 is the standard grey panel with the Bendix/King KX 165A radios...  Preset 3 is the Aspen EFD 1000.     Aspen EFD is a self-contained multifunction digital display that is divided into a Primary Flight Display (PFD) in the top half, and an Electric Horizontal Situation Indicator (EHSI) in the lower half. As EDF 1000 systems go it is not as highly featured with the GPSS, MAP,  360 and Menu functions all not simulated...  all the lower NAV1/NAV2/GPS selections are however available, as is the TPS (Tapes) see/hide option with the MIN (Minimums) selectable as well. and the PFD can be reversed with the EHSI. The EFD 1000 PFD pops-out for convenience.   Customising the panel to your own personal layout is just as easy. Just select the "3D EDIT PANEL MODE" (arrowed) that gives you access to all of the 53 individual instruments and avionic units...  There some great options including the Aspen EFD 1000, S-TEC 55x Autopilot, Angle of Attack gauge and so on...     For those that find instruments are not to their liking in say, "I wish I could move that altitude meter just a bit more to the left", then here you can simply adjust that instrument, or even swap the instruments around the panel to your liking. Here I have added in two instruments...  A DME ranger and a PS Engineering Incorporated PM 1200 two place panel mount intercom. You can even adjust the brightness of the instrument.     When you can "ADD" (or Duplicate) in a new "Preset", and then "SAVE" that new layout Preset (Preset /4). So basically you can start off with a completely blank instrument panel and then create your own unique or personal instrument layout if you have the time and patience...  and you can have up to or save 14 different instrument layouts. It is however very important to restart X-Plane to lock in the new instrumentation layout before flying.   Panel features include; S-Tec Fifty Five autopilot and the noted Aspen EFD 1000, KR 87 ADF Radio, Garmin GMA 340, Garmin GTX325 Mode C Transponder and the usual GNS 430/530 PS/Nav/Comm units.   Both the GNS 430/530 GPS units can be selected. But you have to save them, then do a restart to lock them in. The Reality XP GTN 750/650 Touch can also be installed if you have that external option as the 3d bezel is provided.     The DGS system is clever and very versatile, but a small annoyance is that to get your custom livery or panel, you have to reset everything, every time you fly? Yes the custom SAVES are there ready, but not when you start/load the aircraft?   Menu - MISC The Misc (Miscellaneous) page has four panels that cover External; Skis and Fairings. Internal; Yokes, Windows and Pilot options. Wheels; Tires and Mud Flaps. lower right is the DynaFeel.     High quality designed "Skis" are available, and so are neat wheel "fairings"     Tyres can be changes from "Regular" size, to the larger "Tundra" style. The larger tundra tyres work with the skis, but not with the fairing option.     On the rear you can have "Mud Flaps", again they work with either regular or tundra tyre options.     Yoke options include; "Classic" or the more upright "Modern"...  I prefer the later upright yoke to the flatter earlier version.     Door windows can be "Flat" or "Bubble"     You can also swap around the pilots, in Male/Female, or Female/Male in the drivers seat.  A nice touch is the change of clothing style with the change of seat position.     "DynaFeel" on the right lower is a system that dynamically adjusts the rate at which the controls deflect. It is  based on airspeed and how much the control is deflected. This means the controls will feel light and responsive at low speeds and with small deflections, but will get progressively heavier as the airspeed increases.   v1.1...  The Float/Amphibian MISC Menu is different. You still have the earlier Window options (Flat/Bubble), Pilot options and the DynaFeel.     New options include a Cockpit V brace, and a Ventral Fin under the tail...     ...    You can Retract or Extend the rudders from the menu, also select either the "Float" or "Amphibian" variant. The "Slew Mode" only works on water, but it is excellent to move around or or to align the aircraft with a jetty.     Links to both the excellent Support forum for the C172M by Thranda, and to download with the newly updated Skunkcrafts v3.0 Updater are also provided. __________________   Summary The "Skyhawk"  Cessna 172M is the most popular aircraft ever built with 44,000 units constructed, and the airframe is still going strong. The reason is that simply the Skyhawk is the best ever or the most perfectly positioned aircraft for training and instructional purposes, mainly also for it’s reliable flight characteristics.   Thranda Design are one of the best developers in X-Plane, their history and quality is legendary. So that quality build and detailing is always going to be significant from the start, and so it here... exceptional. In every area and detail, modeling, fine details, glass and the interior materials.   Feature list is very high (clever) with adaptable weight and balance graph cabin seating and baggage options; Skis, Tundra Tyres, Mud Flaps, Wheel Fairings, Checklists, two Yoke options and Flat or Bubble windows.   Menus are also excellent with menu tabs in; GENERAL, LIVERY, WEIGHT/BAL, CAMERA, AUDIO/SLEW, PANEL and MISC (Miscellaneous), that covers all the options and including sound, weights and balances also including graphs, walk-around and camera options and general static elements including chocks, pitot covers, removable engine cover (with detailed Lycoming O-320-E2D Engine) and tie-downs.   Thranda always comes with a high range of clever and unique features to give the user a lot of personal options. Known as "Dynamic Generation Series" or DGS, this is a Thranda speciality feature that takes full advantage of X-Plane's flexibility for in-sim, real-time modifications. Here you can change the actual livery to your own designs, but build the instrument panel to your own liking as well, including options of the Aspen EFD 1000 glass instrument and a special 3d bezel for the insert of a RealityXp GTN 750 unit if you own that add on.   A new feature here is a standard "Molded Plastic Cover" panel, it sets the instruments in a solid form (so DGS can't be used), but it is more uniform in design... personally I like it a lot.   X-Plane 12 dynamics are simply sensational here and a level above in feel and handling with those important C172 characteristics well founded, but also notable is the excellent sound package, in being very rattly lower and loopy in higher revolutions. Note that the Thranda C172 is X-Plane 12 only, there will be no X-Plane 11 version.   Now updated to v1.1... the update includes both Float and Amphibian variants, fixed Alt Static Air knob's Dataref, and enabled WAAS in GPS units. Update is at no extra cost, and included in the package.   Negatives? more slight inconveniences. Incessantly dark, inside and with the heavy shadows, makes the C172 hard work in the dark cockpit, not excessively bright in the simulator as well with heavy shadows. No saving of current liveries and custom options, means that every time you want to fly, it can take awhile to reset everything back to your previous (custom) choices. loading custom liveries can be tricky as well.   Having the classic Cessna 172 in your virtual hanger is always a bonus, and a brilliant aircraft from Thranda Design is always a triple bonus. Hugely engineered to a high quality and all round exception detail, they are some of the best General Aviation aircraft in the X-Plane 12 Simulator...  so basically here you have the best of all worlds. Deep down though is the exceptional performance and dynamics of the aircraft that are on display here, so take advantage of those skills and use the Cessna 172M to it's most profound devices....  Highly Recommended. _______________________________     Yes! the Cessna 172M Skyhawk DGS Series v1,1 by Thranda Design is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here:    Cessna 172M Skyhawk DGS Series Price is US$39.95 (Currently on a pre-sale of US$29.95)... you can save:$10.00(25%))   Requirements X-Plane 12  (not for XP11) Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 3 GB Current version 1.1 (September 15th  2023) Special features: Extremely high res textures (1700 pixels per meter). 8K textures. Includes Land, Float and Amphibian Float Versions FULLY configurable 3D instrument panel. Fully VR Compatible Interchangeable yoke styles: old fashioned and modern Over 50 instruments to choose from! (Including Aspen EFD 1000, and support for RealityXP 650 and GTN750) Move any instrument to any location on the panel, or even between pilot and copilot's panel! Optional plastic molded cover for instruments Comes with 4 panel presets, but can easily be expanded by moving instruments around, using a simple and intuitive interface. Optional 3D light posts per instrument. Lighting is fully 3D, and dynamically move along with the instruments, as you configure the panel. Save your own presets, and even share them with the community! Almost every instrument can be popped up or popped out as a 2D floating window! They can be placed on other monitors as well. Instruments can be moved in 3D directly, on a 2D pop-up preview window, or by numerical entry for precise placement. GNS430 and 530 can be swapped out, but a restart of the plane is required, as 430s and 530s are mutually exclusive in terms of compatibility in X-Plane Dynamic livery editor (like in the Kodiak, the Beaver, the Wilga, the Caravan, the C206, the 337, the Islander, and the Pilatus PC-6) Full PBR control! Create stunning metallic liveries, or matte, sand-blasted look in mere seconds! Additional control over dirt/scratches, adjustable in real-time to dial in the exact desired amount of wear and tear.   Create "virtual" liveries, based on two basic common design layouts (Modern and Classic), and assign any colour to any available paint segment. Quickly create preview of livery in real-time, using intuitive controls.  Previews include visualization of metallic materials and dirt overlays.  Apply selected livery in real-time, right in the sim, without the need to even touch a 3rd party image editor! Option to change the tail number in real-time, or disable it altogether. (Enter a "space" instead of a callsign number to create a blank tail number.) Easily and quickly create dozens of paint schemes in-sim! Also includes 9 traditionally painted liveries, all visible in a convenient pre-selection preview window. Ability to swap pilot/co-pilot figures Uses SkunkCrafts Updater (Now also available as a standalone app).  Option to participate in Beta program, via checkbox in SkunkCrafts Updater.  Excellent hi-res PBR realistic materials, featuring true-to-life plate deformation and to-the-rivet precision. Fully modelled Lycoming O-320-E2D engine. Windshield ice and rain effects Individual functional circuit breakers. Feature-rich elegant fly-out menu with the following features: Electric tug, with in-panel controls to move forward/backward at the desired speed, and steer proportionally Control over chocks, individual tie-downs, covers, internal lights, external lights, window reflections, instrument reflections, etc. Option to start up running (all systems ready), or cold-and-dark, for realistic startup procedures, directly from this fly-out menu. Control landing lights, strobes, beacon, and nav lights via fly-out menu Detailed weight and balance manager with visual chart, individual passenger seat weight control, Lbs/KG unit toggle, CG control, external tank control, and the option to save and load configuration. Multiple camera snap points, above and beyond what's available by default in X-Plane, so you can perform your walk around checks. Adjust your camera's Field of View without having to go to an X-plane menu, allowing for real-time adjustments. Audio mixer: individually control audio channels in real-time, so you can adjust volumes while hearing them play. Slew control: move your plane around the world, temporarily bypassing flight physics.  Includes ground mode and air mode. Dynamic panel control page, with a separate view for the entire panel layout preview, or a per-instrument view, allowing for fine-tuning of instrument position, as well as copy-paste function to quickly replace instruments. Option to equip instruments with light posts Option to fit entire instrument panel with molded plastic cover with holes for the instruments Option to swap pilot and co-pilot Option to select different yoke styles DynaFeel panel: Dial in precisely how you wish for the controls to react as a function of speed. Flight dynamics and systems: Detailed and accurate flight dynamics and weight and balance with the help of multiple real-world active 172 pilots.  This not only gives this aircraft the proper "feel", but also accurate takeoff, climb, cruise, and landing performance. Tie-downs and chocks actually keep the plane from moving, even in high winds. DynaFeel: controls that simulate how strongly the control surfaces are affected by oncoming air, and how much strength would be needed to overcome these forces.   Advanced FMOD-based sound system: High fidelity, multi-track sounds with smooth, finely tuned transitions (actually having calculated the precise beat frequency for each section, to minimize "muddy" transition sounds), and amazing atmospheric effects. Individual volume control over different aspects of the sound experience, adjustable in real-time (while listening to the sounds) Different sounds for front of plane than for back of plane Panning around the plane in exterior view yields awesome 3D audio effects, including "blade slapping" sound when view is perpendicular to prop Far away sounds include aerodynamic interaction effects between front and rear prop.  At a distance, you hear overtones caused by turbulent air feeding into the rear prop. Individual buttons and switches in the cockpit each have their own unique sound. Engine has typical cool-down ticking sound, based on engine temperature. Sounds actually give you clues as to what's happening under the hood.   Outside wind intensity is affected by slip and AoA. (The more the surface area of the fuselage is hit by oncoming wind, the louder the sounds Doors and windows opening, let outside sounds in _____________________________   Installation and documents:  download for the Thranda_C172M. is 3Gb and the aircraft is deposited in the "General Aviation" X-Plane folder. Download can also be by the Skunkcrafts Updater (file supplied)   Full Installation is 5.74Gb   Documents supplied are: C172M Performance Charts.pdf Thranda C172M Manual.pdf Thranda Graphics Settings XP11.pdf Thranda Joystick Settings.pdf X-Plane G430 Manual.pdf X-Plane G530 Manual.pdf There are a huge amount of Documentation provided here, not only for the Thranda C172M including performance charts, reference guides, but also X-Plane/hardware settings and custom and default avionics.   All updates are via the new Skunkcrafts 3.0 Updater   Support forum for the C172M by Thranda _____________________   Updated Aircraft Review by Stephen Dutton 19th September 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews   Review System Specifications:  Windows  - 12th Gen IS1700 Core i7 12700K 12 Core 3.60 GHz CPU - 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - PNY GeForce RTX 3080 10GB XLR8 - Samsung 970 EVO+ 2TB SSD Software:   - Windows 11 Pro - X-Plane 12.05r1 (This is a Release Candidate review). Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00 : RK Apps XPRealistic v2 - US$34.99 Scenery or Aircraft -EILY - Kerry Ireland by Boundless -EINN - Shannon Airport by Boundless   (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) All Rights Reserved    
    • Updated Aircraft Review : Eurocopter EC130 B4 v1.1 X-Plane 12 by HSF   The Bell 206 JetRanger changed helicopter operations forever. Before this light rotor craft came on to the scene, then Helicopters were used mainly for Military, Oil or Government operations. But the Bell 206 was reliable and cheap enough to operate in commercial areas. Hence the load of television stations that became the "eyes in the sky", also Fire Police and Customs used the aircraft for their own particular services, but more so was the commercial aspect of personal transport, or the use of helicopters in the field of consumer usage. Not only for heliport to airport transfers, but the flourishing tourism market of which where the real action was... or sightseeing from the air.   Today we take this air tourism market for granted in "Sightseeing Flights", but a few decades ago they were then very compelling and opened up a world to the masses and not only for the rich few. It's big business, go to the Grand Canyon, Nevada and see the huge flightlines of machines, or at any scenic attraction, and there is also a very good chance you will be able to also go for a sightseeing flight.   The Bell 206 dominated this tourism market for decades, it was the perfect machine for the job, so how do you replace it. The French developed the Eurocopter AS350 Écureuil, or Aérospatiale initiated a development programme to produce a replacement for the aging Aérospatiale Alouette II and in so created another iconic helicopter. But for tourism operators the AS350 was slightly too small, so (then Eurocopter, now Airbus Helicopters) had to develop something else for the market. The designed EC130 was achieved in close cooperation with the said tour operators, one such operator, Blue Hawaiian Helicopters was also in being the launch operator; The EC130 has been described as having a spacious cabin for accommodating up to seven tourists and also providing excellent external visibility.   It also created a strange machine in being very wide with it's three forward seats and four rear seat configuration, the pilot flies from the left seat, even a dual operation it puts the second pilot in the middle seat. Another change on the EC130 for safety was the use of the guarded Fenestron anti-torque device in place of a conventional tail rotor, the Fenestron also has unevenly spaced blades to reduce noise generation by 50% compared to a tail rotor; this enabled an FAA Appendix H fly-over noise signature of 84.3 EPNdB, 8.5 dB and below stage two limits. So the EC130 is a quiet machine for operations over densely packed environments.     Update v1.1 This is an updated review of the EC130. Original release date was the 26th August 2023, this comprehensive update v1.1 was released almost a month later (17th Sept 23) and so it made sense to combine the two versions and highlight the changes with the newer updates included.   HeliSimu France are a newly formed (2019) community dedicated to French designed helicopters. The EC130 is their first collaborative venture for the X-Plane 12 Simulator, there will be no X-Plane 11 version of the aircraft. And there is a lot of collaboration going on here, mostly by HSF with a design by highly renowned NemethDesigns. First views of the HSF EC130 are extremely good for a first time developed aircraft. Particularly for a helicopter as the quality and detail in this sphere is, always been extremely high...   The EC130 is a single-engine helicopter. It uses a three-bladed Starflex main rotor which is matched to an enclosed tail fan anti-torque device, known as a Fenestron, the latter feature replacing the traditional tail rotor found on the older AS350. The EC130 uses the Turbomeca Arriel 2D turboshaft engine; the performance of this powerplant 710 kW (950 hp) has led to the type having been described as possessing "better power margins and range than competing models, particularly in hot and high conditions". The B4 is the Initial launch model of the type. First flight 24 June 1999, and 700 aircraft have been built to date.   First of all there are two versions of the aircraft from HSF, one is the standard "Analog" avionics, the second is "G500" for FAR Part 23 Class 1/Class 2 aircraft, dual-screen electronic flight display classification. You select either system from the X-Plane Flight Configuration menu.     On the G500 EC-130 aircraft there is also the extra option to install a RealSimGear G500 for a more higher detailed and menu driven avionics version of the unique system.   Detail As noted the modeling and design here is by highly renowned NemethDesigns. It shows as the quality is very good, again we will note that helicopters are a level above in quality and detail than the usual aircraft fare in the simulator.   The complex construction of the EC-130 is really well done here, all the panels are all perfect and so are the locking latches, steel/chrome highlights are well done as well. Underside of the fuselage is also highly detailed, highly realistic. Noted as PBR 2K textures, they are very good.     The burnt exhaust is very realistic, as is it's complex shape, but the air-vent circular pipes could be more rounded. The Fenestron in flight looks great as is the nicely surrounding sculptured enclosure.     The construction detail of the rotor hub is excellent, all rods, tower and joints are perfectly modeled with a cap on top.     But the rotor hub is not animated, as there are no pitch or roll movements, its all very static, a pointer to the depth of the design...  on the Fenestron however the blades simulate the Yaw aspect by movement with the rudder controls.     Glass is exceptional, dark thick and beautifully curved and intergrated into the fuselage, notable are the central window panels, that give the aircraft it's width, and excellent skylights set in above, it is a very scenic built forward cabin for sightseeing.     So the modeling and detail is excellent, very high quality and very well executed by NemethDesigns. As we go into the cabin, we will look at the menu options as well, because they are related.   Menu The Menu is situated upper left panel by clicking a hotspot on the Caution Warning Panel (CWP)...  you can move the menu panel in a semi-circle around you via the arrows, left or right. Obviously this menu system has been created for VR or Virtual Reality users in mind, its easy to use and accessible as well.       All the four doors can be opened, the left rear is a slider, the right rear an opening dummy door.     The seven seats are tall, very thin and built on a metal frame, three front and four rear. The seat construction frames are excellent, and the cabin interior is most all shades of grey with black. nice carpets and the interior is a darkish grey.     There are also the various material design options (and colours) from seat covers to changeable seat patterns, via the differently selected livery.     Also via the menu you have the option to remove both the forward (two) seats and the full rear four seats.     Clever is the use of the X-Plane Weight & Balance menu to add in the pilot and passengers...     ....  slide the Pilot weight slider above 50 kgs and he will appear. Slide the "Front" passenger (PAX) to 75 kgs and a passenger will appear, another 75 kgs and a second passenger appears. The same system is used in the rear with the four passengers left to right.     - Version 1.1 - There are changes to the Weight and Balances menu with the addition of new features in v1.1...  added are four new sliders to cover the weights in "Cargo" and "Basket" loads.     There are excellent cargo baskets on each side of the EC130, Adjusting the weight slider (v1.1) and you can now have baggage (cargo) in the baskets, nicely done....   and you can also open the baskets with a hotspot.     Another v1.1 change is the addition of opening side cargo (baggage) compartments... like with the Baskets, if you adjust the W&B menu slider you will get internal compartment bags (luggage)     Other external options include; Left side Mirror and underside Sling Hook.     You can select the Sling Load weight and Object on the X-Plane W&B menu, but there are no objects to load, or provided? Set the weight, turn on the "Sling" selection in the SCU or system control unit...   and the weight is shown on the far left "Sling load Indicator". Externally because there is no object you get a white and red box to lift, In time I would expect real objects to lift. The EC-130's aircraft keel is of high-strength, with chemically milled beams rather than the usual stamped metal, so it's lift capacity is higher.     More external options include lower and upper wire cutters...     Working "Floats" and rear skid "Bear Paws".     Final external option are the "Handling Wheels" again on the rear part of the skid.     You can manoeuvre the helicopter by the wheel control panel when you select the Handling wheels selection...  just press the arrow on the direction you want to move, but it is very, very basic...  even primitive in action?     Instrument Panel - G500 The Instrument binnacle is huge, but still small in this wide cockpit... set to the far left it is very well done here in look and detail. Black on black, it is quite dark internally.     There are the two layout configurations as noted... Analog and G500, we will look first at the G500.     And it has built-in a "Synthetic Vision" feature that is excellent, the best Synthetic I have seen yet. The G500 avionics package is designed specifically for FAR Part 23 Class 1/Class 2 aircraft (singles and twins less than 6,000 lbs.), G500 system is an affordable, dual-screen electronic flight display that works with your avionics stack to provide a fully certified “glass cockpit” retrofit option.   Dual 6.5" LCDs are mounted side-by-side in the bezel, put both the Primary Flight Display (PFD) and Multifunction Display (MFD) capabilities directly in your field of view to help streamline instrument scanning. There is real-time True Airspeed calculations and selectable Winds Aloft data as well as aircraft ground speed, GPS active waypoint, distance-to-waypoint, desired/actual track, and more.   PFD consolidates all primary situational information regarding your aircraft’s position are in tapes, speed, attitude, vertical rate, altitude and flight progress. plus Nav 1, Nav 2 and GPS data. This version from HSF is very, very good, but you can also install a payware version as noted from RealSimGear G500. There is a provided folder and instructions in the package to install the RealSim G500 version correctly.   The left display MFD provides detailed moving-map graphics of your aircraft’s current position in relation to ground features, chart data, navaids and more. TCAS and Weather overlay (X-Plane) are both supported. On the HSF version I couldn't see the flightplan tools, and too a point the MFD is a little basic here, but more detail may follow.   How to use the G500, I will cover in the flying section of this review, it is a one knob operation, clever.   v1.1 Added is a Toggle custom command for the starter and hydraulic switch, mostly for home cockpit builders, but also for a button press start on your keyboard.   VEMD - Vehicle and Engine Management Display Aérospatiale helicopters use the excellent VEND (Vehicle and Engine Management Display) system. It is a two display (Upper & Lower) arrangement with screen options available via right side buttons, on power up you will get a test loop of the system.     Upper screen shows two displays, "Starting" and in "Flight".     Shown on the upper "Starting" display is; Fuel gauge, Fuel quantity, Bleed valve flag, Starting T4 indication, Torque indication NG and delta NG indication, VEND caution messages and OAT (Outside Temperature). On the "Flight" display is; Fuel gauge, Fuel quantity, Bleed valve flag, In flight T4 indication, Torque indication, NG and delta NG indications and OAT.   On the lower "Flight" display is more flight performance data; Engine oil temperature, Engine oil pressure, Voltage ( Battery and Generator), Generator amperage, Fuel Flow and Endurance in hours.     When you shut down the Ec-130, the lower VEND display will create a "Flight Report", incuding; Total flight number(s), Last flight duration, Last flight N1 and N2 cycles, Total N1 and N2 cycles and a Over-limit indication if detected during the flight.     What is missing from this HSF system is the "Test" routines for the VEND system and displays, and you miss that visual (and colourful) test loop (There is a static test, but not the animated loop testing), and most of the buttons on the two displays are false, except for ON/OFF, Reset and Brightness?   Analog Panel Besides the G500 Avionics you also have a standard analog instument package, this layout is excellent with instruments; Caution Warning Panel (CWP), NR indicator (rotor/ N2 speed) 3 way Emergency switch, Standby Horizon, Gyro slaving control, indicated air speed (kts), Pilot Horizon, Altimeter (ft), large Radio Altimeter (ft), HSI (Horizontal Situation Indicator), Variometer (ft/min), Clock/Chronometer, HSI source switch, lower Cockpit Lightings Knobs and NAV 1 GPS.     Switiching Avionics (G500 - Analog) changes the display (slightly). The Airspeed and Altimeter become lower panel backup instruments, and the Lighting Panel is moved to the right hand side. A custom instrument is the NR (Top Left) Indicator, which shows the rotor speed and the N2 engine speed, Low NR will send alarm sounds in the headset if NR is under 360 rpm, and high NR alarm sounds in the headset if the NR is above 410 rpm. There is also an "Electric Emergency Switch" (Emer SW), that switches off all DC power, except vital power consumers.     There are two other instrument menu options with the Artificial Horizons (main and backup), as they can be the switched between a Floating Globe, or Electronic Horizon instrument. I prefer the nicer Floating Globe option.     The other (menu) option is to install the SAS (Stability Augmentation System), which is basically a Helicopter Autopilot System. It is situated below the GNS 430 GPS unit.     Lower console is really well done, with a Garmin GMA 340 radio top, Bendix/King NAV 2 radio centre and Garmin GTX 327 Transponder unit bottom.     The lower console has the "SCU" or System Control Unit, with a multitude of operations, including; Battery on (bat epu and dct/bat work together), Generator on, Horn (low NR and high NR alarms in the headset), Cockpit light, Avionics on, Generator reset, Anti-Collision light, Nav lights, Fuel pump, System lights, Instruments lights, Pitot heat, Sand filter, Sling load indicator, Taxi & Landing lights, Floats arm on, Crank engine, Warning lights test, Fire test and Servo test. Pressing the W/L switch will test the Caution Warning Panel (CWP), VEND and SCU, like I mentioned earlier it is only a lights test here, not a VEND system test?     You have (more) options for changing the Avionics in replacing the GNS 430, and the Analog Radio/NAV 2/Transponder with a Reality XP GNS 430W and Reality XP GTN 750 Touch on the main panel and upper console, if you own those external options, and then the switching can be done in the menu.     There is the option to use the AviTab, positioned on the far right of the instrument panel, the plugin is of course required.     The option for a "Single" or "Dual" controls (Cyclic and Collective) is also available via the Menu.     You can "Lock" the Cyclic by pressing the base plate...  the Collective has a huge amount of active functions available, including; Landing light, Inflate floats, Hydraulic switch, Taxi light, Wiper, VEND scroll function, Landing light pitch, Twist (Throttle) grip in idle or flight positions and Collective Lock. The Huge massive two section Wiper is an option, and the switch is hard to find, but it is situated far left on the collective handle.     Above you are four very nice Bose headsets... click for sounds and instrument warnings! The "Rotor Brake" lever (apply below 170 rpm rotor speed) and the Fuel shut off lever and Fuel shut off lever guard are all situated forward roof.     Added in v1.1...  is that the aircraft registration is now noted on the top of the instrument panel, it changes with the applied livery registration.   ______________   Flying the EC130 B4 Helicopters are all about feel, mostly in the controls. Get it right and it a glorious place to be, get it wrong, and your struggling with the machine. The type of machine helps as well. Big heavy helicopters are more gentile, easier to fly, but light helicopters can be tricky and nasty. The AS350 can be like that, it will take smooth control and minimum inputs to get it right...  so where does the EC130 stand, well in the middle, with more a benign nature, than a hairy jiggling machine. Yes a novice could fly this EC130 B4, it is nice enough and benign enough to warrant that. But it does have its odd characteristics.   Changed in v1.1 is the Rotor animation...  to a smoother rotor blur or a more realistic rotor movement, very nice it is. There is also the allowance now of Rotor blur on both blades sides, it also allows you to customise each side differently, but there are no notes on how to do this? Another note is that the Fmod external sound has been increased, and so has the doors (open) sound in external view.     Taking off and the Yaw (rudder) feel is odd, there is thrust, then give the rudder more right foot and the thrust becomes less, then kicks in higher in a boost that sends you in the opposite direction (twirling). But I eventually controlled the yaw oddities, even got a low hover in place above the pad without drifting...  then a forward motion (in the direction I wanted to go)...  so the EC130 not (thankfully) one of those sweary impossible machines to fly.     Find your groove and the machine is very good, nice to fly once you have settled the angle of forward flight to the altitude.     An option you have is to switch on the "Vibrations", so you don't need an external "Effects" plugin to get realistic movements...  and I really like them, nice movements, without not being too severe or silly, if you don't like them, you can "Kill" the effect in the Menu.   The famous Matterhorn looms in the scenic windshield as I try to gain as much height as I can...      The rate of Rate of climb is 9 m/s (1,800 ft/min), a Cruise speed of 237 km/h (147 mph, 128 kn), with a Never exceed speed of 287 km/h (178 mph, 155 kn) over a Range of 606 km (377 mi, 327 nmi), or 4 Hours endurance. Service ceiling is a remarkable 7,010 m (23,000 ft) with a Hover ceiling IGE of 3,429 m (11,250 ft). So the EC130 is a very capable machine.   Manual hands on flying is easy, not at all tiring as some Helicopters are, they require a lot of concentration, physical tension to keep the movement and motion going forward... but not here, its a nice aircraft to fly, hands on the controls, as I hate aircraft you have to fight all the time, but that is not what you get here. v1.1 brings even more Improved flight "Stability", a more hands on feel from the machine, and yes it is improved.   Notable is that HSF recommend 6 Flight Models per Frame, on the X-Plane/General Menu page, and I will confirm that action for a smoother flight and less weight on your framerate.   Sounds, quite brilliant with FMOD 2...  All the startup whines and the blades cutting the air, with the howl of the turbine Arriel 2D in the background, the blade slap is good as well if you dip or turn too fast, in cruise it is excellent, but I can't hear any doppler sounds.     My aim is to get over that ridge and into clear air...     ...  now that is done we will look at the G500. The operations here are in conjunction with the SAS (Stability Augmentation System)   It is a nice simple system, select your operation from; HDG (Heading) CRS (Course), ALT (Altitude), V/S (Vertical Speed) and BARO from the left selections, then adjust the knob for that selection, a single handed operation...  clever, very easy to use!     Only two notes, one be careful you react to the right selection if connected to the SAS, otherwise the helicopter will go bananas, its easy to do, as I did did it not once but twice. Second is how to use the V/S selection? No tutorial manual (or video) makes it hard to use? BARO can be set in both hPa and inches Hg.     The SAS is very good, clean entry and exits to the system, and it is very easy to use. But you need brighter operation lights, you can't see which selection is selected in the daylight? The SAS selections are not noted in the G500 either.     v1.1...  the SAS selection operation lights have been brightened in the update, it is far better to to your selections now. Also the tail beacon strobe light is brighter.     Two final v1.1 notes include an Analog Barometer setting bug fix and a Autopilot disconnecting bug fix.   Lighting Lighting is good, but not brilliant....   The instruments can be faded by a 3 way dim switch...     ...   two knobs adjust the backup instruments, and the VEND/G500 surround highlight buttons.     There are two rear DOME lights, but they are not very effective? Certainly no use for MAP reading, or for even lighting the rear compartment.     v1.1...  as noted above the internal lighting was average. But in the update it has had attention. The Instrument lighting has now more adjustment, meaning far brighter, and much more nicer it is, the G500 panel lightning has also had a bug fix.     The overhead DOME lights have had adjustment as well, again far brighter... but I still think a couple of overhead spot (map reading) lights would be nice or more useful.   External lighting is basic...  A large Landing light, then a Taxi light is set behind it. Navigation lights are small, but the nice Anti-Collision beacon on the top of the tail is good.     v1.1...  external lighting has had adjustment as well, all lights are brighter (it needed more brightness), and the landing light has more pitch as well (and now works in the replay).     All in all the Eurocopter EC130 B4 by HSF is an excellent first release, yes there are a few areas to still or could be developed deeper, but the basics are all really good here, modeling, flight dynamics and it comes with a huge feature list...  It's nice to fly, unusually for both the Pro's and the Novices, basic Helicopter flight is always a challenge, but this aircraft will at least meet you halfway....    _______________   Liveries There are 29 liveries! a lot, with most current EC130 operators provided. Liveries are all of a high quality and are brilliantly presented. We can't show you them all, but here is a small selection. The aircraft including the individual liveries all use "XPersistence". Which is a plugin for X-Plane 12 which adds persistence by saving some datarefs at the end of a flight and restores them at the beginning of the next one. The datarefs are all saved individually per livery and with the options selected.     V1.1...  Two new liveries have been added in the update; C-GPHF Phoenix Heli-Flight and F-GXPG Private Owner...  Also there is a new paintkit, with or without dirtiness.   _______________ Summary The Eurocopter EC130 was created basically for one major role, Sightseeing and Tourism, hence its ultra-wide cabin and seven seat arrangement. The spacious cabin also makes the machine a great Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) aircraft as well. It was a role created initially by the venerable Bell 206 JetRanger. But the EC130 was developed to be a larger and faster Eurocopter AS350 Écureuil. Built around the Turbomeca Arriel 2D turboshaft engine and a Fenestron anti-torque device in place of a conventional tail rotor, the EC130 B4 first flew 24 June 1999, and to date 500 aircraft have been built.   HeliSimu France are a newly formed (2019) community dedicated to French designed helicopters. The EC-130 is their first collaborative venture for the X-Plane 12 Simulator, there will be no X-Plane 11 version of the aircraft. Design and modeling is by highly renowned NemethDesigns, the quality and detail is therefore very good.   Helicopters in X-Plane are certainly some of the best simulations in the simulator, complex and usually come with a load of options and features, that aspect is well delivered here. The menu is simple (popout 3d) but loaded with detail.   All the usual features are here, Opening doors, doors removal, cargo baskets (2), underside Sling Hook, Mirrors, Wire cutters, single or twin controls and a great Weight & Balance Menu is used to add in a Pilot and six Passengers. Also are there two versions with either the glass version G500 or Analog avionic choices, and options for the addon RealSim G500 and Reality XP GNS 430W, Reality XP GTN 750 Touch intergration. Vibration Effects and AviTab are also included. The VEND (Vehicle and Engine Management Display) system is also very good, but not as deep in systems as seen in others.   The Fenestron system is unusual to fly and use (Yaw thrust), but overall the aircraft is very good for Novices and Pro's alike, with a good SAS (Stability Augmentation System) to help out on longer flights. Sounds are universally very good as well, with all the required aural alarms.   Obviously the Eurocopter is a collaboration of French Helicopter enthusiasts, certainly the people were focused for good detail, as this is an extremely good first release. Nothing is perfect, certainly a few areas in the VEND, G500 and the internal lighting could have more depth, Object provided for hoisting and physical cargo...   and a tutorial manual would also be a good addition as well considering the complex aircraft systems.   Notable is the v1.1 update (17th September 23). It brought New opening side Cargo doors, with 3d baggage and for the side baskets, better rotor blur and animation, and various internal and external lighting improvements.   But overall the EC500 B4 is excellent, another brilliant machine to use and to fly regularly. The X-Plane Simulator always did lead the simulation market with excellent Helicopter designs, this one from the French Developers is another one to savour and invest in, great value price as well....   Highly Recommended! ________________________________________     The Eurocopter EC130 B4 by HSF is now available from the X-Plane.OrgStore!... Here:    Eurocopter EC130 B4 Price is US$27.95   Requirements X-Plane 12 (not for XP11) Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Size: 1.11 GB Current version: 1.0 (August 26th 2023)   Designed by Ceds from HSF (Heli Simu France) Support forum for the EC 140 B4 _____________   Installation and documents:  download for the EC130 B4 is 959Mb and the aircraft is deposited in the "Helicopter" X-Plane folder. Full Installation is 1.1GB   Full version v1.1 changelog EC 130 v1.1 changelog.rtf   AviTab Plugin is required for this aircraft   Documents supplied is: 1 HSF EC130 B4 Introduction.pdf 2 HSF EC130 B4 Configurations.pdf 3 HSF EC130 B4 Normal Procedures.pdf 4 HSF EC130 B4 Normal Procedures Printable white version.pdf 5 XPersistence Plugin.pdf 6 HSF EC130 B4 Acknowledgements.pdf 7 HSF EC130 B4 End User License Agreement.pdf 8 HSF EC130 B4 G500 RSG installation.pdf Eight documents cover setup, configurations and general options on the aircraft available, details for XPersistence Plugin is also provided, as is the installation details for the RealSim G500. No Tutorial, which is a small annoyance as the systems are complex to a novice.   Review System Specifications Windows  - 12th Gen IS1700 Core i7 12700K 12 Core 3.60 GHz CPU - 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - PNY GeForce RTX 3080 10GB XLR8 - Samsung 970 EVO+ 2TB SSD Software:   - Windows 11 Pro - X-Plane 12.06b4 (This is a beta review). Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00 Scenery or Aircraft - Alps UHD XP12 by Frank Dainese and  Fabio Bellini.- (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$49.95 _____________   Updated Aircraft Review by Stephen Dutton 18th September 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews   (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) All Rights Reserved    
    • Well thank you for your feedback Arnon. Certainly we need developers perspective on were they are coming from, as you are the lifeblood of any simulator. Your comments are very valid, it is a brilliant deal... I wish you the best.
    • Thank you for the excellent post. As a developer myself, I must come to the defence of the small and dedicated x-plane team. I fully support their slow and careful release process. In stark contrast to what's going on in MSFS 2020, where instability is king and where bugs don't get fixed for years, new releases break addons constantly, and the game itself often even fails to start, let alone that they force the updates - with x-plane, the officil release is incredibly stable, I can open the simulator every time with confidence that it would work as expected. The company listens to its users and responds to their inputs. While they don't always agree with some of the community members - they explain exactly why, and you cannot satisfy everybody all the time. But there is transparency. There is a clear log (MSFS has no log)   I highly value the stability, clarity, and transparency provided by the team. I value their careful release process, however long it takes. I abandoned MSFS and moved to X-Plane 12 exactly because of the low quality and instability experienced there. It's been a huge positive experience for me. Sure, I have my wish list - everybody does. But I'm a happy camper.   As for paying for upgrades. This one I really don't understand. Flight simmers are happy to pay thousands of dollars for their hardware. So why when it comes to the core software that this hardware is for do they get cheap all of a sudden. $60 once every 5 years? No subscription BS? This is nothing? What's there to complain about? Do people expect developers to work for free? I think that what the X-Plane folks charge is more than fair. It's cheaper than the competition for a better product. It's cheaper than some of the most popular add-ons. Paid upgrades are huge steps forwards and they don't force you to upgrade. You don't what to - you permanently own the previous version, and no one stops you from using it forever. Best deal in the world in my book.
    • NEWS! - Scenery Updated : KMTP - Montauk Airport, USA v12 0.1 by Skytitude     Montauk Airport (IATA: MTP, ICAO: KMTP) is an general aviation airport located on East Lake Drive between Lake Montauk and Block Island Sound, and it is the easternmost airport in New York State, USA. The airport has one asphalt runway 06/24 with 989 meters length by 25 meters wide and one helipad located on the apron.   This is the X-Plane 12 update v12 0.1 for Skytitude's Montauk. Released in June 2021 for X-Plane 11. The Montauk scenery has been completely converted to X-Plane 12 features. Note you have download either the original X-Plane 11 version, or the updated X-Plane 12, as they are separate scenery files. But both versions (11/12) are available for both Simulators in the package.   Features Include: ❯ Completely Renovated Scenery for X-Plane 12 with Outstanding Detail Level ❯ Actual Layout Data ❯ Custom Materials and Surfaces with Physical-Based Rendering Effect (PBR) ❯ Highly Detailed Spectacular Buildings and Objects ❯ High Density Hand-Placed Forests and Plants ❯ Custom 3D Grass Using New X-Plane 12 Vegetation Technology ❯ Accurately Built Large Surrounding Area with Thousands of Hand-Placed Objects     Priced very reasonably at US$12.95 and now in X-Plane 12, KMTP - Montauk Airport is available from the X-Plane.OrgStore.   Images are courtesy of Skytitude _____________________________________     Yes!   KMTP - Montauk Airport, USA by Skytitude is available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :   KMTP - Montauk Airport, USA Price is US$12.95   Requirements X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux Download Size: 263 MB Current version : 1.0 (September 15th 2023) ___________________________   News by Stephen Dutton 16th September 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews   (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) All Rights Reserved  
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