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    • For those who are looking to control the aircraft from external tablet devices, I have now released support in my Android XPlaneCDU app to support the SSG 747-8. So you can control the CDU directly from any Android tablet/phone, and quickly enter in data without having to use the mouse. It is a native Android app, so runs very quickly and completely full screen, and works on really old devices so you can get them quite cheaply.   Also, I have updated XTextureExtractor so that it also supports the SSG 747-8. This plugin can extract the textures for the ND, HSI, EICAS, and CONFIG screens, and display them in separate movable windows on any of your monitors, exported to an Android device, or exported to a remote PC with a Java client.   These plugins and apps are all open source and completely free. Check them out at: https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/42643-xplanecdu-for-android/ https://forums.x-plane.org/index.php?/files/file/42612-xtextureextractor/
    • News! - Development - X-Crafts and SSG   For a long time this decade then X-Crafts and SSG - Supercritical Simulation Group have been going head to head with their own E-Jet series. Both are worthy and both are very good aircraft for X-Plane, but if you follow a niche and then there are two of them then one developer is always going to come off worse, not only in development, but also in the division of the sales and cash. In the case of X-Crafts and SSG I think it was actually X-Plane that benefited because they seemed to spur each other on over higher and higher in quality and features, so would they go head to head again with their next projects?   The field of regional jets is of course quite small, with the main clash between Embraer (E-Jets) and bombardier (CRJ - Canadair Regional Jet). But that field has exploded with the introduction of the CSeries or now the Airbus A220, Russian Superjet 100 and the Japanese MRJ90 and Embraer has also redone the original E-Jet to the E2 series.   So that gives both X-Crafts and SSG a lot of choice? and certainly the CSeries/A220 would have been the obvious choice, but would both developers again clash with the same type of aircraft?   SSG announced their aircraft in the CRJ 700, which I think is a brilliant choice...     The aircraft has been in development now for a fair while now and since 2017 (even earlier), but the XP11 E-Jet updates and also the B748i/F has broken up that development time. But the development has also to be starting to getting into the endgame..     I really love the JRollon CRJ-200, but it is now really showing it's age, the odd thing is that the really numerous CRJ versions out there are missing, the -200 is more niche than mainstream, but then again JRollon did the Jetstream 32 and not the more popular 41 so there is a pattern there. Not to forget the Dan Klaue CRJ-140 that has had more coming revivals than any aircraft, but Dan Klaue is just too busy to revisit it. So this CRJ-700 couldn't come at a better time for X-Plane and a few hints that the -900 or -1000 versions may come as well (my pick is the -900), and if it comes with the current SSG quality and systems then they are on to a real winner...  Will we see the CRJ-700 this year? my gut says yes, but not till Q4 in 2018.   X-Crafts So would X-Crafts do the same again and do a CRJ in say the -900 or -1000? The answer we found out lately was no. As X-Crafts is staying with the ERJ Series, but with the earlier E135, E140 and the E145 versions and maybe even later the E145XR aircraft could be available as well.     In many ways both developers are still going head to head in the same aircraft genre, but thankfully with different manufacturers this time. The problem with X-Plane is that sometimes you get two (or even three) versions of the same aircraft but then the rest of the series is ignored, or you get the JRollon effect of the niche aircraft and not the mainstream. So only one or the odd one.   Thankfully both aircraft here of choice are the mainstream aircraft as well, so everyone wins and X-Plane users now have a lot to look forward to....  regional time!   Development Threads
      SSG - CRJ-700: SSG CRJ-700 Progress Report   X-Crafts - ERJ Family : Embraer ERJ Family by X-CRAFTS   Images are courtesy of Supercritical Simulation Group and X-Crafts   ________________________________________   News by Stephen Dutton 17th August 2018 Copyright©2018: X-Plane Reviews    
    • News! - Now Released! - XP11 Aircraft Upgrade for Carenado C340 ll   Carenado have released the XP11 (X-Plane11) version of their C340 ll. Could the C340 ll be the forgotten aircraft of the Carenado range, could be as it was initially released way back in the mid-2013 and that is over five years ago.   The C335/C340 Series was the Cessna reaction to Beechcraft's successful KingAir series and specifically the C90 or Model 90. The C335 was not quite so successful as it was unpressurized, but the later C340 was more spacious and had that pressurized cabin. The tail and landing gear were based on the Cessna 310's units, while its wings were from the Cessna 414.       The internal kit out is quite modern (for the period) and the aircraft was powered by twin Continental TSIO-520-NB engines of 310hp (233 kW) each.     Features
      Specially designed engine dynamics for XP11
      Flight physics optimized for XP11 standards.
      Ground handling adapted for XP11 ground physics.
      Physically Based Rendering materials and textures throughout.
      PBR materials authored with industry-standard software used by the film and gaming industries.
      X-Plane GNS430 (FPS friendly)
      Goodway Compatible.
      Realistic behavior compared to the real airplane. Realistic weight and balance. Tested by several pilots for maximum accuracy.     Included in the package
      4 HD liveries
      1 HD blank texture
      C340 Normal and Emergency Procedures PDF
      C340 Quick reference table PDF
      C340 Fuel System Description PDF
      Recommended Settings XPLANE 11 PDF.     Recommended System Requirements
      Windows XP - Vista - 7 -10 or MAC OS 10.10 (or higher) or Linux
      X-Plane 11
      CPU: Intel Core i5 6600K at 3.5 ghz or faster.
      Memory: 16-24 GB RAM or more.
      Video Card: a DirectX 12-capable video card from NVIDIA, AMD or Intel with at least 4 GB VRAM (GeForce GTX 1070 or better or similar from AMD) 615MB available hard disk space     Note: this is a completely new upgrade to X-Plane11, so a full price is required, but the aircraft is valid for free updates throughout the X-Plane11 version run.     Available here NOW at Carenado   C340 ll   Price is US$32.95   Images and text are courtesy of Carenado   ________________________________________   News by Stephen Dutton 17th August 2018 Copyright©2018: X-Plane Reviews    
    • Laminar Research : Q & A and X-Plane's current development   There are not a lot of business that allows a huge amount of interaction between their product and the people that buy's the product. Most companies want their so called feedback, but in most cases this is to be used for advertising purposes, or just to make the CEO's paypackets go even larger and that makes them look like they are actually doing more work, when doing even less for more... in other words it is all about branding and ego.   But although X-Plane is not in the brand league of say Apple, or Nike, and you know the main actors very well in both companies, you won't get today any real interaction with them in the way you did in the Steve Job's or Bill Gate's era. But Laminar Research is different.   You can interact with them, tell them what you do like and what you don't like about their product. More so is that a few times every year they do Q & A's at Expo's or Events or just a face to face chit-chat via YouTube. And their latest Q & A chit-chat was yesterday and now available on YouTube here. X-Plane LIVE (European Edition) and note it is in two parts because of a technical issue.   Overall it is a brave concept to be fully open with your customers, and many times it has put a few eggs on their faces, but the overwhelming outcome of this interaction is that, you can have a say in what you like or not like with the simulator, and in this day and age of firestorm social media that can attract the wrong form of publicity, but this openness also form a unique bond of not only with the product, but in that you actually care in the way it is created and perceived and even down to a personal level, again like in the early days of Apple fandom.   The Flight Simulation Expo in Vegas back in early June gave us a big roadmap going forward, so most of this Q & A was a follow up to that agenda, but it also showed clearer the layout of where the future X-Plane development timeline is going. Sadly we never got good coverage of the Q & A at Vegas, it was missing on the main video, and the only version was pathetic from the rear of the room (inaudible) and over talked.   X-Plane11.30 But here is what the current releases coming to X-Plane11 is start to gel into. Number one on the scale is that the coming v10.30 release (beta) is already gobsmackingly huge, even to the point you could call it X-Plane11 2.0.   Enjoy it while you can, because it will be the biggest release until X-Plane12. Overall it will be a huge and long beta, but I will say in the last few years the betas have very tight and solid even from day one, and the X-Plane11.30 Alpha is already done and ready for testing internally inside of Laminar Research. That point means it will be coming soon, or close to the end of August or the early weeks of September (fingers crossed).   v11.30's main announced features include particle effects, better ground effects, physics for better aerodynamics (for runway control and taildraggers), authentic brand autopilot systems for both GA and more AP functionality for heavy aircraft, oxygen, ice-anti-ice enhanced systems and propeller governor changes, but that is only scratching the surface of v11.30.   Over the last few months a lot of rumours have appeared that the current (but very old) shader system is being overhauled in v10.30, and officially in the Q & A they announced that it was in fact being (or has been) totally redone. The official line from Laminar is that it needed to be changed to work with the new coming API's of Vulkan and Metal as the current shaders won't work with the .glsl format, which is a fair comment, but underlying that fact is that the shader system has been also very outdated for years and has created a lot of comments in it's poor performance, and the noticeable visual fact that dawn or dusk is more of a slow slide sideshow than a nice calming change into either light or darkness, so in effect both the two areas have been fixed at the same time. Laminar Research also noted that they were not too keen on third parties messing around with the default shaders...  as there has been created a full side industry in shader changer plugins and tools. Personally I don't like them either and that is why so few are reviewed on this site, overall they are messy and confusing but some are also very clever like the recently released xVision that was created as a payware package until vetoed by Laminar's Vulkan shader change and now is available as a freeware (for now) experience until v11.30. These packs are for the twiddlers only, but I am now very excited to see what Laminar will do with the new shader system, obviously it will be far better. Two other items for v11.30 is that the cloud transparency bug has been fixed (looking down through cloud) and jet engine wind milling is coming, if only for the native Boeing 737-800, but I don't think it will take long for that to be a full feature on all jet aircraft.   Hands poised over keys to report an annoyance (bug report) and the Q & A also notes that the Brown tiles bug (A bit like the old XPLM bug) that pops up under certain circumstances is also being looked at, but the one that I was going to report was the missing water tiles that are not rendering correctly, as were once there was only the odd one, now they are simply too numerous to count and are very ugly, the issue is having attention and hopefully there will come a fix in v11.30. As for the water system itself it is still being noted as a "Work in Progress", but I would not be surprised if it didn't have a few changes in v11.30 just to make it look at least more somewhat realistic. Austin Meyer noted he was going for his seaplane rating for getting better data on in the way aircraft relate and interacts with water, so there is the point that both areas in friction and the new water system could be developed in tandem, so for a complete water system overhaul my guess is you will be waiting for X-Plane12 or very late X-Plane11.   The coming particle system is mostly focused on external areas like contrails, Ice, smoke, fire, mist and not so much on windshield effects, this was noted in the Q & A as more an area for third parties to exploit and is unlikely to be modeled in v11.30. In reality this will create more confusion than a fix as a lot of developer versions of rain effects are mostly currently not working or simply a working hack. My personal take is that I think that Laminar will go halfway there to make rain effects work or at least create a baseline that developers can work to, more difficult in this area is for the environmental engine developers like xEnviro and the coming Active Sky weather engine from HiFi, but the developers of xEnviro have noted that some information (finally) has been produced by Laminar on how to move forward in this area (It will mean in rewriting a lot of code).   Vulkan/Metal Over the years I have become more interested in the smaller intimate details than the bigger splashy features of the X-Plane simulator, and don't get me wrong I am wanting and waiting for the new particle effect feature in v11.30 as much as anyone. But it is in the smaller and more efficient aspects of the running of the simulator that are becoming more and more important to me, hence that annoying water rendering bug, and landing ground effects, and getting these items crossed off the bug list have become far more higher in my satisfaction rating than all the wonderful highlights that are coming in the new version.   Laminar Research is also working hard in this area as well, but wholesale major system changes are on going as well. The last major change was when X-Plane moved over from 32bit to 64bit, but from this point in time looking back then that evolution in the simulator was certainly a milestone in why X-Plane is one of the very best simulators on the market today. Part of the problem as Austin Meyer noted in he Q & A is that X-Plane now has to be developed inside out, and as it is far to big and too complex to redevelop entirely or in sections. To a point is the coming change of replacing the older API of OpenGL with newer more efficient and more modern API's of Vulkan (Windows/Linux) and Metal (Apple) - (API - Application Programming Interface)   This is effectively pulling out the four cylinder engine and shoehorning in a V8 to get the absolute maximum performance from your computer, and this will not come before time as we shall see below bottom. Nothing really was added in the Q & A that wasn't featured at the Expo performance. Yes it is still coming at the end of the year in beta form, yes it will still be totally brilliant, addons that draw in 3D (not objects) will need to be adjusted for Vulkan, and this is not for major items like with aircraft, scenery and 2D addons and even then the required change to the older 3D addons will still actually work as OpenGL as the format is still installed and will be operating until the end of the X-Plane11 run. SLI/Crossfire is unlikely to ever be supported, in the fact that X-Plane processing is better done with one processor running efficiently and that fact is highlighted by the Laminar team than it is far better than two processors doing the same actions.   The Vulkan/Metal change goes to the heart of X-Plane itself, and promises a major change in the way the simulator is processed, in speed and efficiency and hopefully eliminating all those nasty stutters and give you a far better GPU performance. Overall there didn't seem any worries on or reactions in Q & A that noted any issues or anything that would hold up the current future timeline.   ATC We noted in the Expo review that the ATC (Air Traffic Control) had not been mentioned, in fact the groans could be heard even over here in Australia, and that this one area was still in development hell. Chris Serio is in charge of the development of the ATC at Laminar, and he in the Q & A outlined the current point of development.   Overall the development is going well and it is all very interesting to boot for that. The focus currently is on the speech aspect and the way the ATC system builds up commands and sentences. In the older current version the ATC was built up around .wav files to say something, but the problem with this system it is inflexible and limited in speech capacity. So the new way is to use a text to speech (TTS) engine that is used in Amazon Alexia and Google Voice and are both a development of the Dragon NaturallySpeaking speech recognition software.   TTS can learn and be adjusted on the fly and you will be even able to contribute to the engine. So instead of the older communications of just the repetitive "X-Ray, Beta two five..  Runway five left" you can or will have "Speedbird 231, taxi cleared to runway five left"...   The ATC system will learn and grow and get better as does all current TTS software working now. The system will be also able to work with a multitude of different voices and not just the current male and female choice or no choice at all. Accents in regional or national voices will be available as well, and anyone who loves that aspect in BetterPushBack as my favorite is the Spaniard that notes for me to have a "Happie Day!" can see the immense possibilities of the idea and the naturalness of the speech and all for absolute realism.   Serio noted that the instructions on flying into mountainous areas will be addressed and all instructions will work with SID and STAR RNAV charts. In reality the third party contributions to online flying has changed a lot since X-Plane's original ATC was conceived, the data is there now that simply wasn't before, and Laminar will take advantage of that factor, but there is still a long way to go for the ATC to be introduced into X-Plane but at least we now know of the sort of shape and what for it will take, but it does already feel quite realistic, overall it will be worth the very long wait.   Mobile and Desktop A lot of discussion was around the mobile app of X-Plane and desktop versions. One aspect that was killed off was the possibility of a console version (X-Box, Nintendo and Playstation) of X-Plane. Mostly for licencing reasons than the pure technological point of view, which would have been interesting and another income source for Laminar.   Mobile is to become just X-Plane X mobile and no version attached in say "Mobile X-Plane11" as it is recognised internally as a continuous development and not a version/upgrade release as is the desktop version of X-Plane. Still they will both flip-flop in features, in that what is on the desktop will appear in the mobile and vice-versa, and currently aircraft will be improved are to be updated next this (North American) autumn and future development is for to the global scenery use compared to the current set regional boundaries.   Nightlighting and Scenery Laminar introduced a sort of fix for the limited distance lighting v11.20, that sorta added in texture lighting to the mesh... the conversation throughout the Q & A noted the developmental issues surrounding these areas and was mostly around performance, the general consensus is that it is in the hard to fix basket, but I remember that the older v9 night lit orbital textures, that were not perfect but were still quite realistic. Between the lines of the conversation is that it looks like Laminar are going to completely redo the whole system, again, so for X-Plane12?   Scenery is to have FMOD and the use of the particle system eventually and to be compatible with things such as IVAP. Both these items were noted in Vegas so expect them in a version update next year. That means global environmental sounds around you at an airport and realistic fire on the ground.   Laminar noted that landmark scenery will not be put out for users to create their own landmarks like airports can be in Gateway. The point is that the gateway is made up of refined objects (lego) that fit together, but landmarks are single (usually) large objects that are far more complex for detail. So to keep that efficiency and performance consistency they will be only made in house to their strict art director guidelines, I heard that more artists have been taken on board to speed up that process   A new World Editor (WED) version is coming that is to include OpenStreetMap and other visual data to help in laying out scenery more effectively, and expect that around the v11.30 release or as late as October as per usual in the Laminar release programs.   Seasonal textures (i.e. winter, spring, autumn & summer) is dead as a project inside Laminar. Obviously that is a big disappointment. Laminar is expecting third parties like "TerraMaxx" to cover that angle of the simulator. But that may be related to the same issue as the mesh night lighting. I still use the JSGME - Generic Mod Enabler (with wine for Macs) for my winter switching which works very well. Notably the issue of the missing custom scenery mesh zones that I convert via photoshop is messy and time consuming, but overall it works.   The Citation X aircraft that was promised as part of the X-Plane11 default aircraft package. But it is noted here in the Q & A as not making the cut in quality and detail (have they looked at the B748 lately?) so it has been quietly dropped or is it being totally redone?   ...   Moving forwards When you put back to back the Vegas comments and this Q & A you are seeing a bit of where in the future X-Plane is going. One thing that is foremost to remember is that after the completion of the v11.30 update by the end of this year, then X-Plane11 will be half way through it's version run (yes two years already). So from early next year Laminar will be starting to be looking forward and setting the agenda down for X-Plane12, and that is getting harder than it looks...  remember Laminar need some banner features to sell X-Plane12 to you, and strangely enough that box of features required is starting to get empty as X-Plane11 is getting to be all round lately a very polished product. Next time around there are no PBR effects, no VR,  no new sound engine, no new weather engine, better mesh, no new lighting effects and final part of X-Plane11's run will provide the updated ATC, Better performance with Vulkan/Metal, better shaders and a new particle system...  add all. So what rabbits do Laminar have to find and pull out of a hat to make you want to switch from X-Plane11 to X-Plane12 in two years time?   If you follow the latest comments then looking ahead then it does look like a complete overhaul for the current tile/mesh system. That will in one sweep of the hand fix a lot of current issues including efficiency, full range night lighting, better high and orbit views, those damn water/sea issues and even seasons, yes seasons as it can be built in from the ground up and and not be the framerate killer addon that it would be right now.   Austin Meyer made the point clear that it is simply to big a job to rebuild X-Plane from scratch, but the whiff of X-Plane12 is maybe not the visual features that will stand out this time but the internal structures that finally clears away the older code for the more modern code to revolutionise X-Plane from within.   Before all that though, we have v11.30 coming very soon.   ______________________________________   11.25 autogen I was going to do a completely different review to cover the released new autogen that came at the Vegas Expo in the X-Plane11.25 release. But in reality the new autogen is quite significant and also very highly related to the above commentary, so it is worth putting the two items together.   Released in the v11.25 update was new art assets that were divided into two areas. First was the new Landmark assets for Las Vegas and Chicago.   Las Vegas: The desert city of Las Vegas is quite average in the day, almost bland. But a lot of new casinos and Vegas detailing (mostly to tie in with the 2018 Expo) are present. The Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower always stands out as does the garish Circus, Circus. The Mandalay Bay and the Wynn are both striking in gold...     ...  as expected Vegas is far better at night. Detailing is very good and even better than the few payware versions. Vegas has never looked right in X-Plane, mainly because the autogen doesn't work well in the inner Vegas spaces leaving open blank areas and the coming FlyTampa Vegas will of course be very interesting in that aspect.     There is even animated signage and all promoting "Laminar Research" or "X-Plane". The “High Roller” Ferris wheel was an last minute addition as it was close to the Flamingo Casino were the Expo was held.     The high detail is astounding, as the artist that Laminar uses is very good and I haven't seen night window textures any better anywhere else.     Chicago: The second city covered with the new autogen was Chicago.     Chicago tends to work a little better than Vegas because the autogen is more available in the inner city here, in fact the city's high-rise buildings are quite well represented and unusually there is also a lot of them... obviously the main landmark buildings stand out. The Wills/Sears Tower and the 360 Chicago stands out as does the excellent Chase building, but the imposing new Trump International and famous Wrigley Building are both missing...     ...  highlight of course is the beautifully (and highly reflective) "Cloud Gate" sculpture but it does feel a bit isolated (try moving the time and watching the light changes on the sculpture, clever). Again detailing is really, really good with a lot of sky helipads and check out the high quality roof detail.   The Chase building and it's Chase Plaza is again the highlight at night, but overall again the night texture lighting is some of the very best.        So overall the new landmark objects are excellent, if not nearly enough...  you just want more, but this a good start in what X-Plane is now providing in quality scenery as part of the simulator. Sydney and London Landmarks was part of the v11.10 release.   Urban Industrial Autogen A lot of new autogen has been covered over the years going out from the early SoCal houses, to units, shops, taller buildings and large factories and the later Germanic housing (European). But all over the areas as you flew VFR was still a lot of grey blank areas. There was always that incomplete look...  and you felt you were missing something?   Well there was and now that hole has been filled in. What was missing was the smaller industrial element, like small factories, holding yards and general commercial buildings. In the v11.25 Laminar released a set of art assets to cover these missing areas. You can notice them by their tongue-in-cheek names like "Luminai Res" or "Meyerkopf" and even "SerioUS VR", but brilliant scenery they are. And they are well detailed with trucks, palleted freight and even rubbish bins and also general yard miscellaneous clutter.     Yard clutter is phenomenal, you have to pinch yourself this is autogen and not payware scenery. Note all the same clutter items are also available for use in the global library. More items include larger and medium size office buildings and a new petrol station, but still no churches?     Night lighting of the autogen is also as excellent as the above Landmark art. Window textures and downlighting is totally realistic and high quality work.     All in all this gives you the quality assets that you always dreamed of, and all are now part of the current X-Plane11 simulator.   ....  But You may be thinking, then what has these new art assets got to do with the Q & A? There is no doubt these new assets are above and beyond in filling out and creating a VFR landscape that fills out your visual references, but they still come with a cost... framerate.   You need the autogen count to be high, or your "World Objects" settings to be set at "Maximum" to get the full maximum benefit of these autogen objects, and quality wise the texture quality also needs to be set in the "Maximum" setting as well...  then throw in a quality airport and a big payware aircraft file and your framerate numbers are starting to feel the workload.   I really felt the framerate loss...  going from a safe 26fr-32fr with the above settings (but the texture quality set to "high") I was after v11.25 looking at 26fr - 22fr for the same, and so in many conditions even going down into the dreaded 20fr -18fr range. I have no total doubt that the autogen here in X-Plane is presented in about the very best in the balance between quality textures and efficiency, nothing out there is simply as well created (and crafted) as these assets.    Austin Meyer notes in the Q & A that for a long time it has been the Graphic cards that have been doing all the heavy lifting in X-Plane, I run a 8gb Graphic card and now I am starting to now really feel the pressure, the point is getting a better and even bigger graphic card is really not the answer as well this time, you really need a new approach.   So the introduction of Vulkan/Metal really can't come soon enough, anything to give me more numbers to fly with is certainly going to be a bonus, and especially here in the area of autogen creation is in that I really need the help...  but until then I will just simply have to bear it out until the newer API can work it's magic...  in other words "I hope I can have my cake and eat it as well"...  I hope.   ________________________________________   Analysis by Stephen Dutton 16th August 2018 Copyright©2018: X-Plane Reviews   (Disclaimer. All images and text in this preview are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions)    
    • Thanks Oleg, I see your problem with the gate? Overall the scenery was very good and I was impressed.
    • Thank you for the review! All negatives will be considered except one, gate can't be animated in this case because gate parking placed in 8 meters underground. If we find a solution we will animate it.
    • Scenery Preview : PAKT - Ketchikan International Alaska by NorthernSkyStudio   If your brief was to create an International airport with limited space and on the side of a steep hill, then certainly PAKT - Ketchikan International Airport, Alaska would be the result. Unique as well with this position is as the airport is located on Gravina Island, just west of Ketchikan itself on the other side of the Tongass Narrows, and passengers must take a seven-minute ferry ride across the water to get to the airport from the town.   Around the World War II era until the early 1970s, longer range land plane air service to Ketchikan including flights to Seattle were operated via an old military airfield located approximately 20 air miles to the south on Annette Island. Aircraft operated into the Annette Island Airport (ANN) for flights in the local southeast Alaska area included the Grumman Goose and Catalina PBY with these amphibian aircraft being utilized to link the airport with the Ketchikan Harbor Seaplane Base.   The current airport PAKT was opened on August 4, 1973 and was dedicated on the following day. The airport opening was the culmination of an effort by local residents, a 1965 study by the Alaska State Division of Aviation, another study in 1967 choosing the current site on Gravina Island, and land clearing in 1969. One of the first airlines to serve the new airport was Alaska Airlines which inaugurated the first jet service from Seattle to Ketchikan International Airport on August 4, 1973 with a Boeing 720 jetliner. Alaska Air primarily operated Boeing 727-100, 727-200 and 737-200 jetliners (including 737 passenger/cargo Combi aircraft) into the airport before switching to later model Boeing 737 jets. (edited wikipedia).   NorthernSkyStudio The first release in scenery for X-Plane by NorthernSkyStudio, was in Hawaii with their Molokai and Kalaupapa airport package. This was a well done package, but quite a small release that would be a great addition to anyone that need's a very good Hawaiian scenery. So here is their next release with the very complex PAKT - Ketchikan International in southern Alaska.   My main connection with PAKT - Ketchikan is that is a superb supply airport for CZST Stewart, and the excellent Beti-x scenery that is positioned close by there. So I have over the years toodled back and too to Stewart in mostly Bush, 208 Caravan and the odd GA aircraft from Ketchikan. But that is not using this scenery to anything but it's full potential. The airport is of course positioned central on the famous "Inside Passage" that consists of thousands of islands that are stretched right up the upper west North American continent from Seattle to Glacier Bay, and it is noted as one as THE very best flying areas in the world, for bush pilot and regional flying services.   Ketchiken is also on the famous "Milk Run”. The Milk Run are routes that are run daily by Alaska Airlines and Flight 65, starts in Seattle and stops in Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg and Juneau before flying on and landing in Anchorage. The opposite route flight, Flight 66, starts in Anchorage and stops in Cordova, Yakutat and Juneau before flying on to Seattle. There used to be B737 Combi aircraft flying on the route, but the last run was completed last year, and the combi's have now all been replaced by three dedicated 737-700 freighters.   Ketchikan International Airport
          IATA: KTN - ICAO: PAKT - FAA LID: KTN   11/29 - 7,500ft (2,286m) Asphalt Elevation AMSL 92 ft / 28 m       The airport does have a very unique layout with the main runway of which is located about 30 feet (9.1 m) higher than the apron further on up the hillside, and is connected between the two areas by two sloping taxiways in Taxiway A - RWY 29 and Taxiway B - Rwy 11 for departures.       From an X-Plane modeling point of view this multi-elevation layout is extremely hard to get right as you can't rely on the initial mesh layouts, so everything has to be modeled to fit. Get it right, like here at this PAKT and it makes for one of the best arrival experiences in X-Plane.     To fit aircraft parking areas on a hillside, it requires different parking zones and there are two (another zone looks like a parking area on TWY A but it is large turning or holding area.). The lower, lower zone (above) accessed by TWY C is for all General Aviation parking and it is quite a large area. The upper apron in front of the terminal is the main commercial zone.     If International in the broad sense is the general idea, then PAKT is not in the same capability as say like KDEN - Denver or KLAX - Los Angeles. To put that into context it is to say international here is going from the USA into Canada, not to Japan or Europe. So in that context you have one (yes only one) airbridge and only one large stand or two large (B737/A320) parking slots.   The (small) international terminal and it's very striking offset control tower is excellent, really well done with even the local carving set out around the building for authenticity, all the areas around the terminal are also very authentic and highly realistic...     ....   including the ferry connection ramp system landside, which is highly detailed. The Ferry itself "Ken Eichner -2" is also animated and docks on both sides of the Tongass Narrows waterway. On the airport side it perfectly fits into the wharf. Only comment is that the single airbridge is static and not animated, which is a shame as that would have been a big feature for the scenery.     Next to the main apron is a commercial apron for local services, in i.e. charter, sightseeing flights, and island hopping. On the apron are four large hangars of which the first "Aero Services" of who is the cargo handler for the airport. All four hangars have been faithfully reconstructed and are simply excellent.     Note the excellent grass and foliage, that is done all around here very well. Ground clutter is again excellent, with correctly branded and shaped custom cargo pallets (called cargo Igloos!), ramp aircraft boarding stands and branded baggage trolleys. Static aircraft are also provided with 208 Caravans and Lear Jets and are all also correctly locally branded.     Detail is also really well done. With all the correct fencing and airport aids (including the ILS System).     Seaplane base is also highly detailed, beautifully done. There is also a tunnel under the runway, a small thing but again great detail.     Textures and surfaces are good, but feel a little light in colour and especially with the runway and taxiway A, which both needed to be both slightly darker, and note the excellent steel drainage grids. The odd looking light green colour surrounding the runway and taxiway areas is actually correct, and not a faded poor texture as it must be a coloured concrete mix (I checked).   Port of Ketchikan Where as the airport island scenery is excellent, the port area on the other side of the narrows is a mixed bag. The area looks fine from the airport view point, but I feel the issue here is the underlay ortho textures in being far too light (washed out) in colour. The textures are flat around the wharf edges and level with the water and that creates a non-realistic feel?     Worse there are a few important buildings missing that in their distinctive style and roof colour looked poor in being flat, and are as well front and centre visually... overall there is that "okay we will stop there, why bother doing any more" sort of feeling. And missing is all the shipping at both here at the port zone and in downtown Ketchikan (cruise shipping) as well and because they would be noticed from the airport on arrival or departure it makes it all look again rather more empty than it needs to be ...     ...  there is a huge slipway building, but I can't find the same on any maps? but it looks visually very good. The sailboats don't work either?     They are all a bit bright and samey... I'm not expecting every one to be different, but a few changed styles would have made it that all the more realistic.   Lighting The lighting overall at PAKT is excellent...  Approach lighting is fine.     The signage though looks totally out of scale...     ...  the sign looks as big as a Cessna 152? The colour brightness reflection is far to strong as well and not realistic. A shame because the terminal building and ramp lighting is absolutely first rate.     So many developers get night lighting textures so wrong? but here they are perfect and highly realistic. Detail lighting including the excellent down lights are very well done...     Ketchikan Port side is more simplistic, but fine and still includes nice lighting window textures, so the lighting is very good all over the scenery.   WT3: WorldTraffic GroundRoutes are provided with the scenery, and over all they work very well including the hard situation of a taxi and turnaround on the end of RWY 29. But don't expect a lot of traffic here at PAKT as it is pretty quiet operations wise.   Preview Notes I was actually pretty surprised by this PAKT - Ketchikan International Alaska by NorthernSkyStudio as it is really very good, even excellent. Quality and detail is very through and there is a lot in this scenery to consider it's worth. And plus Ketchikan as in it's position is a pretty important airport for not only recreating the "Milk Run", but for a base to cover and explore this excellent "Inside Passage" area, as it is a bush pilot, and regional service supreme flying area. There is a lot of excellent work in here, and to say that NorthernSkyStudio is a developer to watch in delivering quality scenery, but there is the odd fumble in here that needs to be watched, but overall from them this is an excellent release.   Positives: Great modeling with a very difficult X-Plane terrain (mesh) to recreate. All airport scenery is absolutely top notch, and night lighting is first rate, detail is excellent with the terminal and ferry ramp and ground clutter is branded and well recreated in detail. Negatives: Ketchikan Port feels like a bit of a left over from the main airport scenery, and feels a little half finished, no shipping is a big visual emptiness that shouldn't be? Signage is out of scale to the airport, looks odd at night and the single airbridge is only static.   ____________________________________________________________________     Yes!...  PAKT - Ketchikan International Alaska by NorthernSkyStudio is Available from the X-Plane.Org Store here :   PAKT - Ketchikan International Alaska   Price is US$25.00   Requirements : X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 2Gb VRAM Minimum - 4Gb+ VRAM Recommended Current Review version : 1.0 (August 6th 2018) Download Size: 1gb : Install Size 2.29gb   Installation is the airport folder must be set above the "terrain" mesh in the .INI order   PAKT_Northern_Sky_Studio (2.25gb)
      PAKT_Terrain_Northern_Sky_Studio (35.80mb)   There is optional 2K textures if you run a lower powered computer, but to be honest they are not really needed as there is really nothing around PAKT to overuse your processors, running 4K textures my framerate was well within the 40's to 50's   Extras and Documents: Manual in txt   PAKT Installation manual ______________________________________________________________________   Preview by Stephen Dutton 13th August 2018 Copyright©2018 : X-Plane Reviews   (Disclaimer. All images and text in this preview are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions)   Review System Specifications: Computer System: Windows  - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 16 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo 512gb SSD  Software:   - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.25r2 Addons: Saitek x56 Rhino Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose  Soundlink Mini Plugins: Environment Engine by xEnviro US$69.90 : WorldTraffic 3.0 Plugin - US$29.95 : BetterPushBack - Free Scenery or Aircraft - Boeing 737-800 - Default X-plane by Laminar Research    
    • Yes I'm with you all the way on this, I am really, really disappointed there is no internal cargo option...  😢
    • Nice review as always Stephen.   It's a bit surprising that they didn't model the cabin, not that its needed for myself but a minimum is always interesting. I'm more a cargo hauler and I like when we can open the cargo doors to see some payloads.   Anyway, the most important thing is not in the trunk by the way...   I just made a first loop VOR-to-VOR Portland - Ketchikan - Juneau - Sitka - Kelowna and it's just marvelous. I guess I'll have to add the CIVA in short term.   A lot of things to learn or habits to tweak if I want to drive the beast instead of she drives me 🙂
    • I made a short flight yesterday with the v10 version at Bella Coola... I really should fly more often, it's still a pleasure; should upgrade it, especially with the v11 features.   If I check the history of my virtual hangar, few years ago, I flew everytime the same aircrafts and today, most of them stays in the hangar. Too much developers, I mean, too much good developers with awesome add-ons. It's great ! 🙂   But the priority is given to the rollout Friday of the marvelous FJS 727... then, the Bandeirante.   Thanks Stephen !
    • its a pity theres no sound in xp11.25r2 wish some one would make it xp11vr ready sound works in xp10.5+ though
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