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  1. Today
  2. Behind the Screen : September 2023 The one thing I'm not is in being a negative person. I always see the light, even beyond the darkness. But I understand and accept that for the first half of 2023, my outlook has been continually dismal towards X-Plane and Laminar Research. I expected a lot of 2023, I had cleared my system totally out and ready for the 2023 year, but the first two weeks of January, it set a precedent for the year. A major hardware restriction, as my extremely good and loyal graphic card was suddenly now not being powerful enough to run X-Plane 12, in causing "Vulkan device loss" errors, and it was an expensive upgrade to fix. I'm not going to go on about this, but in reality the impact highlighted Laminar's non-communication of what X-Plane 12's requirements really were. Yes they put out as they usually do the minimum requirements for the new version's specifications. But looking back from this point of the now current relative stable running conditions, in reality the specs were way out. Lets not get too excited on that X-Plane 12 could or should of stayed the same performance wise. Every simulator update has classically required upgrades to your hardware to run the more feature loaded new version, certainly were weather or effects are concerned or to the more processor power that is always required, it is a given. I knew in early 2022 that X-Plane 12 would need or require a more powerful computer, or better hardware performance and invested as such into the system, with a new Asus motherboard and expensive (for then) new Intel 2th Gen IS1700 Core i7 12700K chips. These choices were in context with information that Laminar at the time were noting that a lot of the processing currently being done on the graphic card would be moved or shifted over to the processors to take the pressure loading off the graphic cards, and to put more power into the more modern and efficient multi-threaded processing chips, in other words, to even out the overall processing to be more balanced than just weighted heavily on graphic cards, plus the faster processing on the chips meant more systems were accessible to X-Plane 12. In X-Plane 11's later years you almost needed a separate computer with a mega graphic card and a factory sized cooling system installed just to run the simulator in full settings mode. The idea that X-Plane 12 could be a more efficient simulator by taking and using the newer Vulkan/Metal API capabilities, and then using them to their full potential was very encouraging, if even a help on the wallet costs. In July last year just weeks away from release, the Laminar conversation mood then suddenly changed (or flipped back), as powerful Graphic cards were noted as being still needed for the heavy processing with the new simulator version. More oddly with the beta "Early Access", I had absolutely no issues or restrictions of computer power in running the early beta versions of X-Plane 12 on my old card, as everything ran like an effortless bird in flight. But with the X-Plane 12 formal release in mid-December on 17th December 2022, which I missed with the Christmas/New Year break, when I had returned in early January the updated X-Plane 12 release it just didn't feel right, the computer was sluggish, weather was horrible, winds were off the scale. My theory (mine alone) was in trying to get more framerate to satisfy the complainers, Laminar had pushed the boundaries too far. I went from framerates (with my old graphic card) of 35 fr, suddenly they were down to a lineball 20 fr, with no menu graphic changes, the computer started slurring, then the inevitable "Vulkan device loss" errors started popping up, in that I had never had them even once before the X-Plane 12 official release. Did I burn my graphic card out? a good question, but X-Plane 11 at the time still ran perfectly and well under the limits and exactly like it had before the X-Plane 12 release on the same card and settings. To run a review site, I had no choice but to upgrade my graphic card to meet the higher requirements of X-plane 12, in other words I had to do a complete system upgrade to cater for the new Simulator version, my point is I was always middle field before on system requirements, but suddenly I was at minimum requirements with no headroom. The hardware changes were worth certainly worth the effort, but my unexpected bank balance was also seriously feeling the pain. Another element in the weather was also then causing pain. High winds proved you couldn't fly normally at altitude. Aircraft compensated via flickering aerodynamic surfaces, so in flights you were bounced around for two or so hours at a time, and it all looked very unrealistic. Worse was that you couldn't dial it out, and reviewing aircraft like in this state was absolutely useless. Switching to a manual weather mode caused the high irregular winds to still stick around at ground level, so you were faced sometimes with offset 35 knot winds on side when in trying to land. If you could lock in a calm day, you took it, then used it for many a review until it failed again, but that was unrealistic as well... then you lost the weather altogether when the "GRIB_get_field failed", in other words the NOAA or "NOAA Operational Model Archive and Distribution System", shutdown, mostly on public holidays where simulations loads were at their highest usage. Lately in the Development blog, Ben Supnic has finally noted that NOAA is a unreliable source and a secondary backup source is being created to cover the breaks in the service, which should have been noted and implemented well before X-Plane 12 was released. But overall my biggest struggle in X-Plane 12 has been the lighting, or the complete lack of it? X-Plane 12 is dark, very dark to work with. We are and I have noted often here the issues with "Dark Cockpits", and the later fix of lighting up the view lower instrument panel to compensate. But it goes far deeper than that. My problem are the images coming out of X-Plane 12 to create reviews. All X-Plane images from time immortal are darker coming out of the simulator via the screenshot function, usually an 10% brightness is required to adjust them back to normal. But X-Plane 12 is requiring 30% and + more brightness to make them look even credible, that sort of brightness obviously blows out the other light, say the windscreen light when looking at a dark cockpit. It doesn't look natural, and a lot of the adjusted images get a washed out black and white look, even normal flying creates a whited out windscreen, to which I have been using the Sunglasses feature lately to tone it down a little. Worse darkness was created by the light in not shining between the clouds, in other words everything was dull, except for using an absolute clear sky, which is again unrealistic, and the aircraft and even scenery were all very dull in view, and you couldn't get any life into the modeling or show off the detail. Thranda Aircraft react the worse to this effect. Their excellent industrial process creates an effect that reacts to the look of the object in the simulator, “Diffuse Light”, “Diffusion”, “Subsurface Scattering” are all aspects of Physically-based rendering or PBR, but here it totally works against you. Creating black holes of nothing with no detail, and you can't dial it out either. I know I have tried. Most users would note to change the settings (in my case) Nvida graphic settings... but that is not the way it works. Yes you can adjust the graphic settings to create the perfect image on your monitor, but those graphic settings don't actually affect the simulator, it still takes the same (darker) images no matter what it looks like on your monitor, and the internal simulator lighting is only affected by your weather, season and time settings, except for a totally clear sky. In the old days in X-Plane you could actually adjust the simulator brightness via the graphic sliders (gamma), but that option was taken away years ago, adjusting the Ambient Occlusion Quality to zero will reduce shadows, but will still not give you light into the simulator, so basically you hands are tied because the images screenshot is taken at the basic level of the simulator. There are visual tricks you can use to create light on an object (or aircraft model), a lot work, but doing all these adjustments per image for doing a review is time-consuming and not very work-flow friendly, so I have seriously struggled for the first six months of the year with all these complications... in other words, I wasn't a "Happy Bunny". Which brings us to the v12.06 release. First of all, don't think I don't like the X-Plane 12 lighting engine, because it is really good, excellent in fact. Images coming out of X-Plane 12 have a realism we only dreamed of only a few years ago, it looks and it is sensationally gorgeous. The lighting engine creates a reality of real presence in the aircraft and it's place in the world, this is a simulator, but the changes to your artificial environment here is quite spectacular, in other words, when it works it really does "blow you away", and big time. It makes X-Plane 12 a real serious contender as a great realistic simulator. It dragged on, but the (very) late v12.06/7 release has fixed a lot of the woes. Mostly the fix to the top level (Cirrus) clouds were a godsend, because they finally let the light flow (filter?) down to the lower levels, plus the light also flows on now between the clouds and thankfully lighting up the aircraft (model) below... it's not perfect yet, as you can still be greyed out even with a clear sky, but overall the lighting model does finally work. With the better reflective light, it now gives you more options in the cockpit to get the images you want, again it is not perfect, but the lighting is far, far better than we had six months ago, even two months ago. My initial reaction that the gains of X-Plane v12.06/7 would not last long (which shows my faith in Laminar), but to be told, six weeks after it is still shining nicely, and the test flights taken in between have been excellent, now I'm finally a "Happy Bunny", even a smooth simulation from "block to block" is now actually available in the Simulator, and with no damaging inbetween CTD's (Crash to Desktops). But it's been a very long road to get here, almost twelve months after the initial release of X-Plane 12beta and eight months after even the official release of X-Plane 12. So is that aspect still too long to get to a reliable running simulation. Yes you expect changes and "bumps in the road" with any beta process, and yes as noted any Simulator is a consistent work in progress, I get that, lived that aspect for a decade or so. But nine months after an official release to get a relatively stable flying platform is just simply too long, not fixed, and only now are Laminar Research looking at the refining stage and fixing things that should have been done months ago. It's great to have a stable simulator running up to Christmas, the promise now completed. ADD-ons in Aircraft and Scenery can now be completed and released in time for the holiday season, all can be enjoyed without another massive change coming along, although the Dev Blog notes... "flight-model and systems, plus external-visual networking and some ATC features"... flight-model changes? again? what to do if your a developer, sit it out or release and react, dumb... these areas, like the lighting, weather and everything else, should have been stable from the version release point, or nine months ago? Good news is that Ben Supnic is making pirate jokes again, always a good sign, as he has been missing lately for long periods of time, so has his humour, and that aspect shows everything was not all "Hunky Dory" behind the scenes either. I'm not saying perfection, but you do require a stable base to build up on, the X-Plane simulator in X-Plane 12 form deserves that at least, everyone from users, to developers, and to everyone that supports the Simulator deserves that as well... See you all next month Stephen Dutton 2nd October 2023 Copyright©2023 X-Plane Reviews
  3. Last week
  4. NEWS! - Aircraft Updated : T-7A Red Hawk X-Plane 12 by AOA Simulations Angle of Attack Simulations (AOA)have done a significant update to their T-7A Hawk as the aircraft is now X-Plane 12 compatible (noted as XP12 v1.0). The Boeing/Saab T-7 Red Hawk, which was originally known as the Boeing T-X, is an American/Swedish advanced jet trainer and F-7A light fighter that was selected on 27 September 2018 by the United States Air Force (USAF) as the winner of the T-X program to replace the Northrop T-38 Talon, and we all know the T-38 as it has been around for aeons. The T-7's design allows for future missions to be added, such as the aggressor and light attack/fighter roles. In the training environment, it has been specifically designed for high-G and high angle-of-attack maneuvers and night operations, with an emphasis on being easily maintained. The aircraft is equipped with a single GE F404 turbofan engine, but produces three times the total thrust as the twinjet T-38. The XP12 v1.0 update has a load of changes in the crossover to the newer X-Plane Simulator version, including a revised flight mode for X-Plane 12, improved autopilot, redesigned instrument displays, new TACAN/VOR radio navigation system and a better engine operation. It comes in three versions, the TX prototype, T-7A production aircraft or US Navy T-7N aircraft carrier capable training aircraft. XP12 v1.0 New X-Plane 12 dynamic flight mode New X-Plane 12 engine operation model Plugin code updated to SASL 3.16 Redesigned cockpit display screens Improved autopilot operation Preprogrammed GPS navigation system TACAN / VOR radio navigation system Popup “Options” panel to reconfigure the model as either the TX prototype, T-7A production aircraft or US Navy T-7N aircraft carrier capable training aircraft Improved “Taxi Look”, “Roll to see” and “Target Track” plugin code. This allows you to fly the model from either the front cockpit as a student pilot or as an instructor pilot in back seat. Two page, quick read “Get me flying, Now!” doc 54 page User Guide ( free download from T-7A support page) Multiple “Saved” settings throughout the cockpit (see details in User Guide) Detailed Beginner and Advanced training flight docs Integrated cockpit electronic engine start checklist, printable checklist and Xchecklist plugin audio checklist Included “AI only” version of T-7 model for practice formation flying Both X-Plane 11 and X-Plane 12 versions of the T-7A Hawk are both included in the package. Designed by Fabrice Kauffmann and David Austin of AOA Simulations Support forum for the T-7A Main features TX prototype, T-7A advanced trainer and T-7N Navy versions Highly detailed, fully animated 3D model and weapons PBR textures Advanced Features SASL 3.16.1 based plug-in system “Roll to See” dynamic pilot POV camera option (non-VR mode) points pilot camera based on pitch, roll and G forces "Target Track" points, locks and follows AI planes with pilot camera Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System Fly from forward or aft cockpits as student or instructor "Virtual" ground and In-Flight Refueling capability Track-IR and VR compatible AviTab tablet integration (Download AviTab plugin separately) Cockpit based on preliminary assessment of prototype T-X screen shots Head Up Display Up Front 32 points touch screen control and display panel Large format glass panel with embedded G1000 color moving map Multiple sub panel page options Dedicated engine data display Navigation Fully autopilot control thru Up Front Control panel Single ADF GPS Nav 1 / 2 TACAN and VOR / ILS capabilities Low altitude, all weather Terrain Following Radar Air to air, with radar lock on AI targets Dedicated threat situational awareness cockpit display Terrain mapping radar Miscellaneous FMOD Sounds, aural warnings Particle systems effects Animated ejection sequence Ground support equipment Removable test probe (T-X prototype) Three liveries Additional liveries available free on X-Plane.org download manager Download Quick Look PDF from our support page for a preview of the aircraft ________________ The T-7A Red Hawk X-Plane 12 by AOA Simulations is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store: T-7A Red Hawk Priced at US$36.00 Original purchasers of the AOA Red Hawk T-7A can update to the X-Plane 12 version for free by going to their account at the X-Plane.OrgStore Requirements X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 (both versions included) 4 GB VRAM Video Card Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 429 MB Current version: XP12 1.0 (September 29th 2023) ________________ NEWS! by Stephen Dutton 30th 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 Right Reserved.
  5. NEWS! - Aircraft Update : Felis Boeing 747-200 Classic v1.2.4 The Felis Boeing 747-200 Classic is always getting numerous updates, usually one a month, sometimes two a month, you do wonder were all the changes and fixes go. But here again is another significant update to the ultimate "Jumbo" aircraft to v1.2.4 The focus this time is mostly on system "Failures", with Instrument, Hydraulic, Autopilot, Flight controls, Fire Systems, Pressurization/Air Conditioning, Radar, Electrical system and loads more. There is a "Failures" page under the "Service" tab on the EFB (Electronic Flight Bag). You will find the "Random fail period" option looking like it is still switched OFF, but it isn't, as you adjust the random failure option by scrolling your mouse over the OFF to a maximum of 30 Min between failures. You can fix ALL, or just click on a failure to FIX it... here is the failure of Fuel Pump #3, there is also a EFB on the Engineer's desk for convenience. It's quite a basic fail system, but enough to give you the horrors on this very complex aircraft. At 2 Min between failures they soon start to stack up... Other notes include a better engine start and spool down speeds more realistic, airflow logic for equipment cooling system and the EPRL mode switch now works properly with GA ARM mode in AT (AutoThrottle). The list of bug fixes is long, but effective. Changelog v1.2.4 +++ added airflow logic for equipment cooling system +++ added manifold and engine bleed pipes leak failures +++ changed HDG bug logic in HSI +++ added bird strike effects and following failures +++ added radar fails +++ hydraulic failures added +++ instruments failures added +++ added override for AP to fix AT problem +++ custom failures for A/P, A/T, FD, YAW damp and ALT alert added +++ custom failures for the flight controls added +++ pressurization and air conditioning fails added +++ added flight controls failures +++ fixed fire system logic and custom failures added +++ new LE flaps logic and animation to make proper groups extend for Flaps 1 setting +++ re coded wing overheat detection system +++ remade logic for MILES indicator on HSI +++ fixed problems with XP FMS +++ fuel load app fixed +++ disabled reverse deploy failures +++ replaced deprecated datarefs for XP12 +++ tuned engine start and spool down speeds +++ changed HYD sources for AP controls +++ fixed logic in HSI to show LTN 3 instead of INS 3, when selected alt source. (LTN option) +++ PACK logic fixed. Actual door position was missed in temperatures calculation +++ 2 axis reworked. axis notches are not supported. +++ generator's PMG does not depend on the FIELD ON now. +++ APU generators don't have CSD and its RPM now always 0 +++ fixed DATA page on the LTN CDU to show correct HDG in range 0-360 +++ engine reverse should stay locked, when engine is off +++ fixed body gear steering related lamps +++ fixing failures also fixes flaps position to prevent desync lock +++ N1 gauges fixed to have their own corrections +++ fixed error in loading of the flight plan in LTN +++ BRAKE REL lamps logic fixed. Now they only show the pressure to release the stab brakes +++ Stall warning PWR OFF lamp fixed +++ HYD low pressure lamps on the front panel fixed +++ HYD temperatures reworked +++ changed logic for ESS AC bus +++ added custom failures for electric system +++ fire handles now don't extinguish fire right away +++ fixed engine oil pressure for XP 12.06b1 +++ extinguisher buttons now act as push buttons +++ used fire bottles now can be replaced on the Failures EFB page +++ master fire warning lamp shuts down when button is pressed +++ external APU fire horn fixed +++ changed dataref for TAS for XP 11.44 compatibility +++ EPRL mode switch now works properly with GA ARM mode in AT The 747 Classic is a glorious thing to look at... Update download v1.2.4 is now available via the X-Plane.OrgStore (Account) or use the Skunkcraft Updater. Re-authorisation is required (A full restart is also recommended). Yes! the Boeing 747-200 Classic v1.2.4 by Felis Planes is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Boeing 747-200 Classic Price is US$70.00 Requirements X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 1 GB Current version : 1.2.4 (September 28th 2023) ________________ NEWS! by Stephen Dutton 29th 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 Right Reserved.
  6. You don't quite get it do you? There currently no plans to update the Carenado Citation ll S550 to X-Plane 12, Carenado are not updating their product to XP12, check here for updates Carenado and xp12
  7. Scenery Review: Oslo International Airport, Norway by Taimodels By DrishalMAC2 Introduction Oslo Gardermoen Airport is an international hub serving the Norwegian capital city of Oslo. It also functions as a key hub for Norwegian Air Shuttle, Scandinavian Airlines, and Widerøe. Originally built as a military base during World War II, it has since evolved into one of Scandinavia's busiest airports. Located nineteen nautical miles northeast of Oslo, the airport features two parallel north–south runways measuring 3,600 meters (11,811 ft) and 2,950 meters (9,678 ft), along with seventy-one aircraft stands, fifty of which are equipped with jet bridges. TaiModels has returned with another highly promising airport rendition, this time extending its reach to both X-Plane 11 and 12. As of now, TaiModels' ENGM stands as the only payware option specifically designed for X-Plane 12, superseding, in terms of features, the version already available for X-Plane 11. The airport leverages PBR textures to deliver realism in lighting and reflections, a quality further enhanced by custom-made 3D models of the terminals and other structures. The ground markings also meet high standards of accuracy and detail. Let’s delve into some more details of this scenery! Installation The download size of the package is 1.4GB, which is relatively light when you consider the size of some X-Plane sceneries. All that’s required, once unzipped, is to transfer the airport and mesh files to your Custom Scenery folder. You may have to adjust your scenery_packs.ini file, since the mesh file should be positioned below the airport entry. Included in the download is an “Options” folder, where you can choose to use a flattened version of the airport, which removes the underground tunnel, and is recommended if you're not using the custom mesh file. This folder also contains an Ortho4XP patch file. This patch allows Ortho4XP to generate a tile using the custom mesh; without it, custom ortho tiles won't work. To use this patch, create (if you haven’t already) a folder named +60+010 in your Ortho4XP/Patches directory and paste the +60+011 file from the ENGM download inside. The correct file path should read Ortho4XP\Patches\+60+010\+60+011. I've generated an Ortho4XP tile using this patch and can confirm that it seamlessly integrates with the airport, providing full ortho coverage without sacrificing the custom mesh. Documentation The provided documentation is comprehensive, detailing how to install both the scenery and the required SAM plugin. It also guides the user through installing the additional options, which are straightforward. While the documentation does not cover how to use the Ortho4XP patch file, this information is readily accessible with a quick Google search. Airport The scenery comes with ortho imagery for only the immediate surrounding area, which is standard for most payware products. Although the existing coverage is of high quality and meshes well with my custom ortho imagery (BI or Arc), it would be great to have the option for a more extensive ortho area. The ground textures on the taxiways, ramps, and runways are top-notch and faithfully replicate the real airport. PBR textures, utilised throughout, take full advantage of X-Plane 12's excellent new lighting system. For me, the additional details like tyre marks and oil/fuel spills on the ground are particularly striking, contributing to a sense of weathering and usage at the airport. Transitions between different surface types are seamlessly managed with tar lines, adding depth to the ground textures. The primary terminal building is exquisitely modelled, featuring, as expected, high-quality PBR textures. The terminal roof is especially well detailed. A partially modelled interior provides just enough visual information when you're parked at the stand, striking a good balance between detail and performance. Surrounding structures like the Norwegian Armed Forces Aircraft Collection and nearby hotels, such as the Radisson, are also included and help enhance the general ambience of the scenery. A neat feature enhancing the airport's realism is the 3D grass, which is carefully placed to optimise visual impact and performance, and the balance is executed perfectly. Airport clutter is exceptionally well done, featuring all the objects you'd expect at a major international airport. The assortment of vehicles and clutter at each gate appears random, avoiding a repetitive, copy-paste look. The airport exudes a sense of liveliness, bolstered by ground vehicles and even a railway line. This is achieved through a proprietary ground traffic plugin that comes with the scenery package. Lastly, the SAM plugin is employed for jetways, and an effective VDGS system at certain gates ensures accurate and realistic parking. Night Lighting Night lighting at the airport is impressively accurate, with the terminal and gate lighting, as well as approach and taxiway lights, all contributing to an immersive night-time flying experience. A minor downside is the always-on NAV lights on parked aircraft, but this is a small issue likely to be addressed in future updates. Performance Given the high level of detail at this airport, the performance is exceptionally good. Personally, I only experienced a slight drop in FPS when flying a heavier aircraft, making this airport well-suited for lower-end PCs without significantly impacting performance. In lighter GA aircraft, such as the default Cessna 172, I encountered no FPS drop whatsoever. Importantly, the airport runs smoothly across various aircraft and scenarios, with no system stuttering to report. Conclusion In summary, TaiModels' ENGM airport is an absolute must-have for any avid X-Plane user, especially those who enjoy flying in the scenic vistas of Norway. Not only does it offer a visually stunning and realistic experience, but it also boasts seamless performance, even on lower-end PCs. From the intricacies of the terminal buildings to the small details like accurate taxiway lighting and immersive night operations, this airport excels on all fronts. The ease of installation and customisability via the options folder only add to its appeal. While some might find the lack of extended ortho imagery or the always-on NAV lights on parked aircraft to be minor drawbacks, these are far outweighed by the airport's many strengths. Most importantly, the developer seems committed to ongoing improvements, making it a worthy investment for the future. If the captivating landscapes of Norway call to you, then this is one scenery pack you won't want to pass up. ________________________ Oslo International Airport by Taimodels is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here: Oslo International Airport Priced at US$24.49 Features: Highly detailed models SAM amination jetways High quality PBR texture on object and ground High performance Completed autogen around airport Ground traffic plugins (car and truck) for both X-Plane 12 and X-Plane 11 Requirements X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 (2 versions included) Windows, Mac, or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 1.5 GB Current version: 1.1 xp12 (August 15th, 2023) Review System Specifications Windows 10 Intel i5-12400F 32GB RTX 3070Ti __________________________________ Scenery Review by DrishalMAC2 28th 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).
  8. Debatable, not from Carenado that's for sure, but someone may do a conversion to XP12 P.S, don't show your email in forums if you don't want a load of trouble, I've deleted it.
  9. Scenery Review - Airport Marseille XP by Aerosoft I've always had a strange relationship with Aerosoft Scenery. For one, on first glance they are in many ways quite basic sceneries, as you don't usually get a lot of frills with them... the really odd thing is on how much they have been used consistently over the years, even many from over a decade ago are still not to be beaten in quality and as a representation of the area. Notably a few are now showing the strain of only a few updates from Aerosoft, and so are struggling to be current in X-Plane 12. But don't take away the value here of an investment that has delivered for over a long period of time. That aspect is important, as you are getting a lot of value for your money. So here is one of the very few releases lately from Aerosoft in Marseille XP for X-Plane 12, an airport that is positioned in Southern France. As usual with a lot of Aerosoft releases. It is that in reality Aerosoft is only the host for the developers that create the scenery. In this case it is the Swiss developers of FSS or FlightSim Studios, in collaboration with ShortFinal Design. Marseille Provence Airport is an international airport located 27 km (17 miles) northwest of Marseille, on the territory of Marignane, both communes of the Bouches-du-Rhône département in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region of France. The airport's hinterland goes from Gap to Arles and from Toulon to Avignon. Scenery Installation Installation is via the "Aerosoft One" application. You get a serial number when you purchase the scenery, and then you register the product in the app, which then adds it to your collection to download and install the scenery directly into X-Plane 11 or X-Plane 12. Note here the position of the Serial/Product Key Number box (lower left), X-Plane version (11/12, top left) and the product to install. The scenery is installed, not in your usual Custom Scenery Folder, but in a dedicated folder "Aerosoft One Library" on your system, under a file (gameDirectory) via a shortcut, Install size is 2.72Gb. Marseille Provence Airport Aéroport Marseille-Provence Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) Y-14 IATA: MRS - ICAO: LFML 13L/31R - 3,500m (11,483ft) Asphalt 13R/31L 2,370m (7,776ft) Asphalt Elevation AMSL70 ft / 21 m The airport's position is not set on a harbour, but on a lake, Étang de Berre. This was because in the early days of the 1920s and 1930s, Marseille-Marignane was one of France's main points of operation for flying boats. It even briefly served as a terminal for Pan American World Airways Clipper flying boats. Other flying boat operators were Aéropostale and Air Union, the latter moving over from Antibes in 1931. I really love French and Italian airports because they build their terminals like monuments, you know you are either in France or Italy, just by the architecture sitting outside the aircraft's windows, and so it is at Marseille-Provence. The original administration control tower complex has been added to with a new control taller tower built in front of the old. Sensational is the work here. I love the older elements of a legacy airport, blended in with the new, and you certainly get that here. The Terminal itself is an extension of the administration complex. The hosted added section behind the control tower is a visual focal point, its very well done and very realistic. The interesting part, and certainly well conceived here by FSS, is the old terminal has had extensions built not only in the front, but also behind the old earlier terminal, and in so sandwiching the original building in the middle. The main Terminal 1 is split between "Hall 1A" and Hall 1B"... The design and detail of the main infrastructure is simply excellent, HUGE detail and all very well executed, glass is highly realistic as well. Great as well are the Turrets design of the gates/airbridge, intricate front terminal modeling is also sensational... you can spend a lot of time exploring around these airside areas and feel like you are really there. There has to be a trade-off, and so there is. Clutter airside is excellent, every bay is full of service vehicles, and there is a lot of animated vehicles running around as well. Landside and carparks are also full of vehicles, but there are areas like in front of the terminals, and with the storied carparks that are empty of vehicles and landside clutter (i.e. bustop objects, signage, even the buses themselves). SAM3 is used as the interaction between the aircraft and the animated airbridges, and the design of the animated airbridges is again excellent and authentic, with lovely SIXT car rental (french) branding. SAM vehicles/SAM follow is also available in the scenery. With the expansion of LCC or Low Cost budget carriers, then Marseille-Provence opened in September 2006 a dedicated LCC terminal in MP2, or Terminal 2. Positioned northwest of the Tower/Terminal 1 complex, it is a simple walk-on/walk-off terminal with 8 stands. Nicely done and excellent for regional services. Landside is dominated with long and short term carparks, which are nicely filled in and come with branded rental car areas, but there are still small open areas of just the underlying ortho-photo images, overall it works fine. A small note are the trees, they are the new X-Plane 12 3d trees, that move around in the wind, and in so adding quality to the scenery. Cargo here is small with two heavy stands 60N -61N/62N and the rest small regional stands, dominated by DHL, Conair and UPS also have receiving warehouses. Along the lake and FedEx and TNT are also represented by their own facilites. Airbus Helicopters SAS (formerly Eurocopter Group) is the helicopter manufacturing division of Airbus, and they have to the southeast a massive Manufacturing and training complex at Marseille–Marignane (they still use the old name). It is the largest in the industry in terms of revenues and turbine helicopter deliveries. The complex is huge in size, even bigger in size than the commercial airport. All the building and plants are very well produced, but there isn't a lot of smaller clutter detail, even a few nice static helicopters of the huge but impressive flightline would be nice. There has been an airport on this site since 1922 (they celebrated the 100 year anniversary last year). There are the few older elements to be found. But like the huge double hangars in the southwest, most of the older facilities have been upgraded, and are still used for helicopter training or testing. Other infrastructure is well done to fill-in the far landside areas, but a lot is a slight delusion in using ortho-photo images to create a realistic scene og hotels and airport infrastructure, it works very effectively, but go low and the non-3d buildings show... overall it is not an issue. Ground Textures First a note.... On my earliest flight into LFML Marseille, I flew the ToLiSS Airbus A319. As you know you can create a route in Simbrief, then load it directly in the Airbus's MCDU. Problem was the loaded route was missing the LFML runway data, and you couldn't insert it either via the MCDU radio? My AIRAC data for both aircraft and airports are both up to the current date. The A319's system worked at other airports (routes) but not to Marseille. So it's an odd business. I was able however to land using the Runway 13L (110.30 ML) ILS by inputting the frequency directly into the main radio's on the console and I landed fine, in other aircraft it also worked fine on the same approaches? X-Plane is just plain weird sometimes. The ground textures at LFML are bit bland, not bad, but not brilliant either with a slight flat sheen, tarmac (asphalt) edges are however very good, but there is no grass, which is odd for Aerosoft as it is their speciality So all the areas in ramps and aprons come across as a bit flat and dull, very little, if any grunge or noticeable oil and rubber dirt isn't present either. Signage feels too large in scale, but it is correct to Google Earth, maybe it is because again it is too clean and not at all worn in or degraded. The rocky seawall around the 13L threshold is very good, if you don't get in to close. Made up of photo images it looks the part, but odd when inspecting very intimately, overall the idea works. The X-Plane 12 water effect and the lake side feel is excellent here. PBR reflective (wet) active textures and burnt-in ambient occlusion is excellent here, and actually transforms the bland textures in something of depth and realism, it brings out the surfaces far better than the dry feel and look, snow is possible here, but this is the south of France, and the cold and dry strong Mistral winds would usually keep the snow away. Lighting Aerosoft is not known for its excellent lighting in X-Plane, as mostly it is usually a Flight Simulator look and feel, it is the same here at Marseille. Approach lighting has to conform to ICAO standards, which it does here, as does the taxiway lights. You have to be at full darkness before the lighting really kicks in, then the ramps are very workable. But Landside is very poor, the 1B Hall carparks are in full darkness with no lighting at all with the lights placed, in leading to the question if the area is not actually finished... Terminals use an old idea of images behind the windows, it does look dated, but also effective, problem also it's not consistent, so there are many dark areas. Cross field hangars are very FlightSim, meaning boring, and the Airbus Helicopter complex is building lighting only, and no fills. Other buildings have some lighting including down lights, but overall I would rate the lighting about a poor four, as it is just passable and all quite dull. Navigation signage is good, bright but with no reflections... except if it is raining and the reflections then look brilliant. _______________ Summary Even though most Aerosoft scenery is branded under the house name, in fact the product is usually created by a wide and varied developer studio, sometimes several in cooperation together. This release is Airport Marseille XP, for LFLM Marseille-Provence in the south of France by FSS or FlightSim Studios, is in collaboration with ShortFinal Design. Generally all Aerosoft product has a familiar look and feel, modeling is usually highly detailed, but the smaller tighter detail is usually ignored, a lot of FlightSim elements in X-Plane are also used. In short that sums up this Marseille Airport scenery from Aerosoft. The main Tower(s) complex and twin terminals are brilliantly conceived and designed, and it has great airside clutter and animated traffic, also added here is the massive Airbus Helicopters SAS (formerly Eurocopter Group) the helicopter manufacturing division of the Airbus complex. Like said airside has loads, even tons of detail, but landside is not as complex or as finely detailed, granted it is still visually a filling viewpoint, with excellent carkparks, rental areas and buildings, but it also relies heavily on the underlay ortho-photo images to fill out the areas, creating blank areas Landside. SAM3 is well done and airbridges are SIXT branded with SAM vehicles/SAM follow also active. The scenery is well inserted into the X-Plane mesh environment and has a very good realistic element and feel. Ground textures and lighting however are here all very average, but oddly the ground textures come really alive with the PBR and burnt-in ambient occlusion effects of X-Plane 12, the lighting however is old-fashioned and dull, even with most being classically aged FlightSim windows. If you have invested a lot in Aerosoft sceneries, then you will know they deliver mostly were it counts. As a great representation of Marseille-Provence Airport is very good here, even excellent, as the scenery feels and looks very authentic, it will be a scenery that will be around and used for a longtime into the future (MRS has already seen and done a lot of services on my own network since it's release, which is a very good omen). So importantly the airport will fill in your collection very nicely if you like and use quality custom scenery, so that evaluates the excellent value here, and the LFML airport comes also with all the X-Plane 12 features and effects... sounds like a real winner to me. __________________________ Yes! Airport Marseille XP by Aerosoft is now Available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Airport Marseille XP Price Is US$24.99 Requirements: X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 2.6 Gb (Using Aerosoft One) Current Version: 12 (June 23rd 2023) Installation Installation of Menorca/Marseille XP is done through Aerosoft one installer: Aerosoft One Universal After you have installed Aerosoft One, click on ENTER PRODUCT KEY (under the Library Tab) enter the Serial Number provided in this order. This will give you the option to download the airport. Note the different X-Plane 11 and X-Plane 12 installations. The Marseille scenery is downloaded into a dedicated folder "Aerosoft One Library" on your system, under a file (gameDirectory) via a shortcut, Install size is 2.72Gb. Documents There are no documents 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 12.07r1 (This is a Release Candidate review). Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00 Scenery or Aircraft -No additions_ ____________________________ Scenery Review by Stephen Dutton 28th 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
  10. Earlier
  11. Airport Review: KSAT San Antonio International Airport by SXAD Reviewed by Dennis Powell Introduction Welcome to historic San Antonio, Texas, the home of iconic landmarks like the Alamo and the River Walk. As the state's second-largest city after Houston, San Antonio is a bustling metropolis, complemented by attractions like Sea World and at least five military bases. As such, there's no better gateway to explore Texas Hill Country than KSAT, San Antonio International Airport. In 1941, the city acquired 1,200 acres of land, situated 8 miles north of the downtown area, with the intention of constructing the San Antonio Municipal Airport. The outbreak of WWII in December of that year disrupted these plans. The Army then took control, renaming the facility Alamo Field, and used it as a base for several training squadrons and the 77th Reconnaissance Group until the war's end. Today, KSAT has expanded to more than double its initial size, sprawling over 2,600 acres, and now boasting three runways, each stretching over a mile in length. It features two terminals: Terminal A, with 17 gates, accommodates both international and domestic flights, while Terminal B, hosts 8 gates, and caters to domestic and regional routes. KSAT San Antonio International is SXAD Studios' latest contribution to the X-Plane universe, offering an incredibly detailed recreation of the airport. The package not only covers the airport but also includes glimpses of the surrounding area, such as light industry, hotels, and segments of the freeway leading to and away from the airport. Interestingly, SXAD initially designed this airport for Prepared 3D and later adapted it to be compatible with both X-Plane 11 and 12, so it will be interesting to see how it holds up. One of the KSAT’s strengths is its ability to handle a broad range of aircraft. Whether you're piloting an ultra-light general aviation craft or commanding a massive jumbo jet, KSAT can accommodate you. Though I haven't piloted jetliners myself, the airport's real-life capabilities suggest it can handle the heavy stuff, just like it does in the virtual world, so heavy metal pilots are well cared for. Package Contents So, what do you get for your $19.99 investment? The download, clocking in at 1.2 GB, offers a feature-packed package. According to the official listing, this includes a meticulously detailed replica of San Antonio International Airport. It also boasts the new car park and rental building, 1 ft/pix seasonal photo scenery, a vast area outside the airport, custom night lighting, custom PBR ground textures, baked night lighting, and Ambient Occlusion. Download & Installation The download process was, like most X-Plane payware sceneries, smooth and hassle-free. Dragging and dropping the folder into my Custom Scenery directory was all it took to get started. Just be aware: you’ll need to install the free SAM library for the airport to function properly; this was the only slight hitch I encountered. Other than that, there were no activation codes or licenses to worry about. The only documentation that comes with the download is an installation PDF, which is brief and straightforward. It provides different configuration options, such as versions with or without grass and static aircraft. My advice? Go for the version without grass, as it doesn't really add much to the experience. Should you require more information, further documentation can be found online. Additionally, the real-world airport diagram for KSAT is compatible with its X-Plane counterpart. First Impressions Prior to my testing KSAT in X-Plane 12, I had a quick peek at its layout using World Editor to see what was included. As advertised, it provides an in-depth portrayal of KSAT and even extends into a large section of San Antonio's north side, just outside the airport's perimeter. This extra detailing features the light industrial zones encircling the airport, a handful of nearby hotels, and even fragments of Interstate 410, complete with on-ramps and off-ramps. These feed into the airport and connect to Highway 281, which takes you towards downtown San Antonio. Testing the Ground After satisfying my curiosity, I fired up X-Plane 12 and decided to give the airport a whirl, using my go-to Cowan Sim Bell 206B3 helicopter for testing out new sceneries. While this add-on might not be the most frame rate-friendly, it makes up for it by being incredibly stable and easy to hover; a crucial asset when you're meticulously inspecting scenery. The initial version I downloaded had a few anomalies; floating streetlights, absent fences, and even a hangar near the fire station that had trailers embedded inside. However, after contacting the developer, I was promptly sent a revised version, so, chances are, by the time you're reading this review, this version will already be available at the store. The outside of the terminals, hangars, car parks, and adjacent buildings are executed with great finesse, enveloping you in an authentic airport ambiance. If you're wondering about building interiors, I can confirm there aren't any. And how did I ascertain this? Well, let's just say flying a Bell 206 into a building is an unconventional method of investigation, but it got the job done Being a significant hub primarily for airliners, I thought I'd put the airport to the test using X-Plane's default Boeing 737. My primary objective? To see if the jetways were animated, and the result? Let's just say airliners aren't my forte. It wasn't a flaw on the airport's part; the fault lies entirely with my lack of skills in handling large commercial planes. One oddity that caught my eye was the lack of AI aircraft, as despite having several selected, the numerous ramp start locations remained deserted. The probable culprit here is the runway texture, which is transparent, with custom polygons from TearWearDesigns. While this workaround was a necessary concession for the X-Plane 11 iteration, X-Plane 12 now supports the use of multiple pavement polygons, offering a more accurate representation of the actual airport runway. Night Lighting One feature that truly stands out is the night lighting, a real showcase of X-Plane 12’s new lighting engine. Except for a couple of occasions, it's executed with a fine touch, never straying into the realm of excessive brightness, and contributing substantially to the airport's immersion factor. The terminal lighting, in particular, offers a dynamic experience. As the night deepens, so does the intensity of the terminal lights, an elegant touch, and one that was greatly appreciated. While most of the lighting is well-balanced, there were a couple of outliers near the red hangars. These lights seemed to emit an almost distracting level of brightness, but it's not something that would make or break the overall experience. The only major critique would be the airport beacon; it's surprisingly elusive at night, even when you know precisely where to look for it. Performance In terms of performance, KSAT was rather forgiving in terms of framerates, as speaking from someone with an older setup, and although I didn't hit my usual 30 FPS, the experience was far from a slideshow, which is something you notice, especially when piloting a helicopter where smooth operation is crucial. For those with even moderately updated systems, performance should be a non-issue. Conclusion So, is KSAT worth your hard-earned cash? My resounding answer is yes. Priced at $19.99, it offers a wealth of details that set it apart as the most accurate rendition of San Antonio International available for X-Plane. While I did initially encounter some minor issues, these were quickly acknowledged and addressed by the designer. As such, the updated version of the scenery should already be available in the store. Whether you're navigating intricate landing patterns in a helicopter or soaring high in a Boeing 737, this package is sure to elevate your flying experience to new heights of realism. For this reason, I see no reason why San Antonio International Airport by SXAD shouldn't achieve a full 5-star rating. Dennis Powell, Sunset Arts LTD. ________________________ KSAT- San Antonio International Airport by SXAD is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here: KSAT- San Antonio International Airport Priced at US$19.99 Features: A detailed recreation of the entire airport and buildings The new car park and rental building 1ft/pix Seasonal photo scenery A significant area outside the airport modelled Custom night lighting Custom PBR ground textures Baked night lighting and Ambient Occlusion Requirements X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4GB VRAM - 8GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 1.2 GB Requires the SAM Library Current version: 1.0 (August 30th, 2023) Review System Specifications Windows 10 Intel i5-6600K 16GB RAM Radeon RX-570 with 8 GB VRAM __________________________________ Scenery Review by Dennis Powell 23rd 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).
  12. Aircraft Update : vSkylabs C-47 Skytrain v6.0b2 and DC-3 Airliner v2.0b2 Midway though 2017. Established developer vSkylabs released a classic aircraft for the X-Plane Simulator in the form of the Douglas Commercial 3, or DC-3 as it affectionately became known. The earlier release was of the C-47 variant, or the military "Skytrain" version that won World War ll. Well the aircraft had a big part in winning the logistics side of the war. But in reality the main success of the C-47 was post-war with the huge surplus of these ex-military aircraft becoming an aviation legacy that will never be repeated. The earlier vskylabs C-47/DC-3 aircraft was an analog design, but that all changed around Christmas 2022, when the aircraft was then divided into three separate variants... The original C-47 Skytrain, a new DC-3 Airliner and the forthcoming Tri-Turbo-Three, In context; VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot': C-47B Skytrain: Highly defined C-47B simulation of the 30's-50's era; authentic WWII era cockpit, powered by PW1830-90C two speed supercharged engines, Astrodome, cargo loading, operational weights of the C-47's and more. Includes two variants - C-47B and XC-47C (float plane). VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot': DC-3 Airliner: (this model) Highly defined DC-3 simulation, a modernized C-47A restoration, with modernized cockpit; 3-display G1000 cockpit, powered by PW1830-92 engines, passengers cabin configuration and loading system. VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot': Tri-Turbo-Three: (Available soon) Highly defined DC-3 turbo-conversion based and inspired by the Conroy Tri-Turbo-Three conversion. The "DC-3 Airliner" split included a move to a glass Laminar Research default G1000 three display panel installation, which in my opinion is going away from the original philosophy of a pre-war designed aircraft. It is very good in this guise, but what if you still wanted the original "DAK". Well that is the original C-47B Skytrain variant, as the C-47B is a simulation of the 30's-50's era with an authentic WWII era cockpit, powered by PW1830-90C two speed supercharged engines, and the aircraft (unlike the DC-3 Airliner) is available for both X-Plane 11 and X-Plane 12. Both variants have now received updates a week apart, v6.0b2 for the C-47, and v2.0b2 for the DC-3 Airliner. There is a good 95% compatibility of the changes between the two aircraft, the other 5% is noted in separate changes to the Airliner variant in this update review. The vSkylab philosophy is that you are purchasing an ongoing project, so any aircraft you purchase is not fully completed or is completed to 100%, that is the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft, and all the development is free and ongoing throughout the X-Plane 12 version. These projects are under constant development: the development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements. But first let us have a quick look at the two aircraft. C-47 Skytrain Over the years, the vSkylabs C-47 has evolved quite considerably since it's debut back in 2017, in fact not much of the internal design has survived. Some aspects I miss, like the very worn window surrounds, but overall the original design and great modeling has survived very much intact, that Dakota aspect is also still very strong. Bonuses currently is the much higher quality of the design with the changes and PBS effects, certainly now with X-Plane 12, were as the aircraft has a far more realistic feel to the eye. There are no menus with vSkylabs aircraft, so everything is accessed via "Hotspots", but they are cleverly done. The cockpit is the antique look of the post-war era, but if you have checked out the earlier C-47, it is a huge and significant difference in detail and change. The X-Plane 12 infused lighting is also a huge bonus on the overall feel and look of the iconic cockpit. The Sperry Type A-3A autopilot is thankfully still installed here, but added in is also a few mod-cons, like the S-Tec Fifty Five X autopilot, and the two Garmin GNS530 GPS units (they drop down mid-window)... another thankful retention from the original aircraft, which is the huge middle windscreen "bouncy wouncy" authentic whisky compass. Although a significant improvement over the original release, the cabin is still pretty basic in design, it could do (or is due) with another overhaul to make it more authentic like what was done to the "Airliner" variant, or a cargo aspect would be nice. DC-3 Airliner Put side by side and there are some quite considerable differences between the two aircraft variants. Externally it is the same "Dak", but in the cockpit it feels and looks very different with the Laminar G1000 Avionics in place, the panels eyebrows are different as well. It's also a greeny-blue in here, more than the older darker green diamond blanket look of the post-war aircraft. It is a taste thing, some will like the modern approach, a lot would probably like the earlier darker feel... the Laminar G1000 displays pop-out as well, but only one of each panel, for the PFD (Primary Flight Display) and the centre single MFD (Multi-Functional Display). In other changes the two GNS 530 GPS units are gone and so is the large whiskey compass, to be replaced by a smaller (non-floating) version on the top of the instrument panel, another item is the massive window de-mist piping, once on the C-47 (as an option) but removed to the DC-3 variant, personally I didn't like it? as it significantly blocked a lot of the view out of the front windows. Cabin has the different diamond padding and colour, and very realistic 3d passengers, very good they are as well. But the seats are actually the same as in the C-47. There is full review of the DC-3 Airliner release here; Aircraft Release : DC-3 Airliner by vSkyLabs Updates v6.0b2 C-47, and v2.0b2 DC-3 Airliner Common changes to both aircraft in these companion updates is with the New "Mixture and Carburetor" systems, here now replicating the C-47/DC-3 mixtures operation with better authenticity. Mixture levers are now set in 'steps' with; (Idle-)Cutoff, Auto-Lean, Auto-Rich and Emergency positions. So the text is still there, but now not just for show... they actually work with the mixture lever setting. Auto-lean and auto-rich are fully automatic modes, with separate control for each engine. To take advantage of the mixture lever settings, you have to set them to different axis modes... the Left-Engine mixture lever is set to the "Wing Sweep" axis, and the Right-Engine axis is set to the "Thrust Vector" axis... I set those settings here with the Saitek X-56 Throttle, I don't have extra levers on the add-on throttle, but only knobs, but it worked fine. You do have another option, that is to lock both mixture levers together. Press the area side-plate, and the right mixture lever knob turns yellow to signify that the levers are now locked, to unlock just press the side-plate again. In this locked guise, the left lever controls both. So the "Thrust Vector" action will now move both levers together. The lock set up however does also allow you to use both Saitek throttle levers, with the left "Throttle" setting, and the right "Mixture" setting, but you can't adjust both of the Throttles separately (you can't anyway) or the Mixture levers separately... of course any lever can be set manually, or to be used hands on. Personally I like my Throttles separate... the reason I found was the Dakota has a habit of drifting to the right over a longer distance, so a slight reduction of power on the right engine (or more power to the left engine) would keep you more on the heading. The new fuel system in these updates now allows you full control of all four tanks, feeding into each engine in separately... This is done by the cocks/valves each side of the pedestal, with each noting the L Main, R Main, L AUX, R AUX and OFF. Shown here in the OFF and MAINs running, with L-R cocks opposite, all four tanks all are accessible, here with accessing the only the L-Tank, and R-AUX. Reading any tank capacity is via a switch lower right Instrument Panel, which is totally authentic. Fixes in the update relate to the Fuel level indicator, which is now equipped with a shifting-plate, showing the designated tank in each mode, and the Fuel level indicator needle 3-d and animation has been changed to provide better a reading, and to be more accurate. But currently when feeding each engine from the Aux tanks (from the same side or opposite sides), the Aux tank with the higher remaining fuel quantity will feed both engines, until both Aux tanks are equal. Then, both tanks will feed both engines. This is an (X-Plane) limitation and changes are coming (from Laminar Research) to rectify this restriction. Fuel capacity is - Main tank (front) each - 202 U.S. galls. Auxiliary tank (rear) each 200 U.S. galls. Total each side: 402 U.S. galls, with total 804 U.S. galls fuel capacity. Carburetor air-intake heat controls now also work... Two levers top right pedestal controls the carburetor heating, for the left and right engines. The third (lock) lever is a dummy. Oddly it works back to front, forward is COLD, rearwards is HOT, or the rear selection brings the heated air from around the cylinder heads into the induction system to clear the ice, or for running in very cold temperatures. Carb heat is shown far right centre Instrument Panel C-47, and lower dead centre Panel DC-3 Airliner. What we are talking about here are authentic or realism in these operations. Yes a lot of aircraft have the same options, but these systems are created to be very authentic to the operation of the DC-3. The huge pitch trim wheel has been totally redone, or re-modeled to be more authentic to the real one. I personally would like more dirt, wear and tear on the wheel, it is supposed to be over 80 years old, but it looks like it came out the spares store yesterday. The cockpit PBR (Physically based rendering) and tone has been updated in both aircraft, bringing it up to X-Plane 12 specifications. We are now in X-Plane 12.06 and that comes with the better lighting adjustments, it shows in here as the detail now just jumps out at you... a far cry from the past vSkylabs cockpit environments. (note we are now actually in XP12.07r1, but it was in X-Plane 12.06 that the lighting adjustments were made). It's a quirky machine to fly is the DC-3/C-47... It is always a good idea to do a quick look through the (very explainable manual) in what is what, and how all the quirks work. Like the gear... as it is a two-operation, operation. You have to unlock (or lock) the gear up or down. This is done by the lever on the floor, before you can raise or lower the undercarriage. You also have to check (via the large Hydraulic Pressure gauges) if the pressure is working for gear operation. If all fails there is a manual gear pump to do the action, it is set behind the cockpit. There is also the two engine-driven pumps to operate the vacuum system. They provide air suction for the operation of the artificial horizon, directional gyros and turn indicator. Check suction indicator on automatic pilot instrument panel for vacuum indication of 3375" ti 4.25". Again very authentic to the post-war aircraft. It's a tricky aircraft to fly as well. You use a lot of rudder movement on takeoff to keep control, mostly far worse are the exaggerated movements required once the tail lifts. In the air it is a lot to handle as well, but you will soon get the feel of this very big taildragger design. Once you settle the "Dak", then it comes into it's own... but flights are usually long, because they are low and slow by modern, even regional propeller aircraft standards. You get a Maximum speed of 200 kn (230 mph, 370 km/h) at 8,500 ft (2,590 m), a cruise speed around 180 kn (207 mph, 333 km/h). But the range is excellent at 1,370 nmi (1,580 mi, 2,540 km) (maximum fuel, 3500 lb payload), but you get there very slowly, the Service ceiling is 23,200 ft (7,100 m), or regional propeller driven aircraft altitude... climbing is with a Rate of climb: 1,130 ft/min (5.7 m/s), but usually around 1,000 ft/min. The odd thing is I have had some really brilliant epic Journeys in this aircraft (maybe because they took so long), but thoroughly enjoyable. Maybe this is why I'm a little bit defensive on in there being too many changes away from the original concept of the DC-3. The Sperry Type A-3A autopilot is something I love. So adding in the S-Tec is going against my grain. Saying that it works very well, the Sperry is also very tricky to use... If connected to the S-Tec then the heading is adjusted by the RUD (Rudder) knob and the upper compass drum, but tricky is the alignment of the heading as the lower compass drum is adjustable... ... so the lower compass drum needs to be aligned with the main whisky compass. You do this by pressing the centre of the lower adjustment knob, known as "Cageing" or Cage, and that will align the two compasses together. If the lower drum is out of alignment, it gets seriously confusing on where your heading actually is, or set. If you want fly on the Sperry alone you still can. And the heading is adjusted manually by moving the AIL (Aileron) knob to bank the aircraft to the new heading and then adjusting it back again to keep the heading. In both adjustments the heading can still be very vague, but as noted... adjusting the throttles or power outputs on the engines can keep you on the heading a bit tighter. Odds in the updates includes a better (or brighter) tail beacon, the landing/taxi lights also now have that X-Plane 12 flare look as well... ... DC-3 Airliner only changes include Fuel pumps sounds tuneups, which now have reduced intensity (sounds overall are excellent). Also the DG sync, and a manual sync is now possible with the use of the sync-knob. Back at Keflavík BIKF, and I'm on approach. I'm not going to say the DC3 is an easy aircraft fly, because it isn't, even demanding. It takes skill to get it all right, and is a big challenge to your perspective. But that is also the attraction, the wanting to fly the aircraft again and again... .... my advice is to get in there, stay in there and learn it thoroughly. The systems, the odd handing traits, and yes... even do a lot of practise. But when the aircraft comes to you, you'll be glad you did all the time and effort... it is an authentic all round experience. Summary vSkyLabs have updated their C-47 and DC-3 Airliner to versions v6.0b2 for the C-47, and v2.0b2 for the DC-3 Airliner. This is after the earlier three way split of the original 2017 release of the C47/DC3 into three different variants; C-47 Skytrain, DC-3 Airliner and the coming Tri-Turbo-Three. The update covers about a good 95% compatibility of the changes between the two aircraft, the other 5% is noted in a separate change to the Airliner variant in this update review, these include different FMOD pump sounds and DG - Sync. The main changes are with new mixtures, carburetor system algorithm and mixture control is now also fully differential. Fully automatic. Mixture levers have now working detents (steps) for 'cutoff', 'auto-lean', 'auto-rich', emergency, and all auto-modes are fully automatic. New fuel system now allows to feed each engine from any of the four tanks, and the Carburetor heat system and levers are now also operable. Both aircraft have a lot of attention on the PBR (Physically based rendering) and tone of the internal areas to make them ultra realistic. It's sweet set of updates to an iconic aircraft. There is as noted a very authentic feel to these pre-war designed aircraft, with a few modern twists in the systems. My preference is still the analog C-47, it recreates the era, and has that Type A-3A autopilot as an added attraction. In X-plane 12, with it's more advances lighting, effects and features.... the original release C-47/DC-3 feels very far away now and the aircraft with it's current updates reflect that aspect. Go low and slow for a long flight, and you will love the "Dak" in all it's post war glory... it's an excellent simulation of the most iconic aircraft in the world. Currently both the vSkylab's C-47/DC3 Airliners are 50% off in a sale... ___________________________ The C-47 Skytrain v6.0b2/DC-3 Airliner v2.0b2 by VSkyLabs Flying Lab Project is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here : VSKYLABS C-47 Skytrain Your Price: US$34.95 Currently on sale for $17.45 or 50% OFF. Requirements X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 6.02 (September 14th 2023) VSKYLABS DC-3 Airliner Your Price: US$34.95 Currently on sale for $17.45 or 50% OFF. Requirements X-Plane 12 Only (not compatible with X-Plane 11) Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 2.0b2 (September 19th 2023) ___________________________ 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 12.07b1 (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 - BIKF - Airport Keflavik by Aerosoft- (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$19.20 _____________ Update Aircraft Review 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
  13. 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
  14. Love these little airports! Thanks for the great review and references!
  15. 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
  16. 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).
  17. 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
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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
  23. NEWS! - Aircraft Update : C-47 Skytrain v6.0b2 by vSkylabs Back in December 22 (last Christmas). VskyLabs split the versions of it's DC-3 into three distinctive variants. The original C-47 Skytrain, a new DC-3 Airliner and the forthcoming Tri-Turbo-Three, In context; VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot': C-47B Skytrain: Highly defined C-47B simulation of the 30's-50's era; authentic WWII era cockpit, powered by PW1830-90C two speed supercharged engines, Astrodome, cargo loading, operational weights of the C-47's and more. Includes two variants - C-47B and XC-47C (float plane). VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot': DC-3 Airliner: (this model) Highly defined DC-3 simulation, a modernized C-47A restoration, with modernized cockpit; 3-display G1000 cockpit, powered by PW1830-92 engines, passengers cabin configuration and loading system. VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot': Tri-Turbo-Three: (Available soon) Highly defined DC-3 turbo-conversion based and inspired by the Conroy Tri-Turbo-Three conversion. The "DC-3 Airliner" variant had an significant update back at that same date, including; a move to a glass Laminar Research default G1000 three display panel installation, which in my opinion is going away from the original philosophy of a pre-war designed aircraft. It is very good in this guise, but what if you still wanted the original "DAK". Well that is the C-47B Skytrain variant, and here is an update for that aircraft. C-47B is a simulation of the 30's-50's era with still an authentic WWII era cockpit, powered by PW1830-90C two speed supercharged engines, and the aircraft (unlike the DC-3 Airliner) is available for both X-Plane 11 and X-Plane 12. The vSkylab philosophy is that you are purchasing an ongoing project, so any aircraft you purchase is not fully completed or is completed to 100%, that is the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft, and all the development is free and ongoing throughout the X-Plane 12 version. These projects are under constant development: the development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements. This v6.0b2 update is mostly focused on systems and new controls (mixture levers)... Flight Dynamics and Systems: New mixtures, carburetor system algorithm:Mixture control is now fully differential, and fully automatic, replicating the actual C-47 mixtures and carburetor operations. Mixture levers have detents (steps) for 'cutoff', 'auto-lean', 'auto-rich', emergency. All auto-modes are fully automatic. For more information refer to the included manual. New fuel system:The VSKYLABS fuel system in v6.0b2 allows to feed each engine from any of the four tanks, directly (identical to real-world C-47 operation). (known issue - due to a system architecture restriction in the VSKYLABS C-47 v6.0, when feeding each engine from the Aux tanks (from the same side or opposite sides), the Aux tank with the higher remaining fuel quantity will feed both engines, until both Aux tanks are equal. Then, both tanks will feed both engines.The fuel system is under development and this ‘feature’ will be fixed in future updates. Carburetor heat system - levers are not being operated internally via sliders (for more information refer to the included manual). Vacuum system - vacuum system re-wired. On-board DG are now vacuum-powered. DG sync - Manual sync is now possible with the use of the sync-knob. Bug fixes: Fuel level indicator is now equipped with a shifting-plate, showing the designated tank in each mode. Fuel level indicator needle 3-d and animation changed to provide better reading, more accurate. Enhancements: Pitch trim wheel re-modeled, re-textured. Carburetor heat levers now showing 'L' / 'R' for better interaction. Various PBR fixes all-around in the cockpit. Manual/POH update: Rev 007 Although not noted, this aircraft is updated to X-Plane 12 (as long as you pick that version), the Skunkcrafts Updater has also been added into the mix as well. This is a project update, not like the DC-Airliner new aircraft version, so it is a free update, via currently the Skuckcrafts Updater or download from the X-Plane.OrgStore. Project's Highlights: Project is 'VR Ready' for use with X-Plane: VR functionality is a part of the project aspects which are constantly under evaluation and development for reaching a higher level of immersion as the VR features and possibilities are growing. Highly Realistic Handling and Flight Performance DC-3/C-47 Simulation: Highly accurate performance and handling simulation of the DC-3/C-47, along with a full set of traditional/old school navigation and autopilot systems. Aircraft performance and handling qualities were designed and tested in a "Research level" approach and went through a validation process of hundreds of flight testing and evaluation, tested and refined by a real-world C-47 pilot. Workhorse for DC-3/C-47 pilot skills: Experience authentic flight performance and handling practices (takeoff, landing, single engine operations, flight planning, long range flights and old school navigation). It is a perfect platform to recreate and fly historic routes using authentic performance. Unique look and feel: There is nothing to hide - the VSKYLABS DC-3/C-47 is a mixture of a simplified yet very engaging design. Two C-47 variants included: The C-47 and the XC-47C floats-equipped variants. Systems: All the relevant systems are being simulated. Here are **some** of the more unique systems: Two speed Supercharger blowers - based on the PW-1830-90C engines model, equipped with lo/hi blowers. The high blower configuration allows high altitude cruise. Oxygen system - including crew dilution/regulator, pressure indicator and functional flow-indicator ("Blinker"). Do not forget to enable hypoxia in X-Plane's general settings menu. Fire Extinguisher system - including fire indication system. The fire extinguisher control panel is located behind the hinged cover on the cockpit floor, between the pilot/co-pilot seats. Damage simulation - engines are sensitive to rapid spool-up. Engine mishandling will result in severe damage to the engine/engine fire. Stressing the airframe will result also in severe damage, following a visual representation of the damages. Blown tires are also being visualized and simulated. Engines/propeller systems - designed with fully featured, functioning and authentic propeller feathering systems, for highly realistic single engine simulation. Landing gears and flaps simulation - are being simulated with a high level of authenticity. Sperry Autopilot - Old school autopilot is configured. Optional modern avionics - dual GNS 530, S-TEC autopilot, AviTab compatibility. Anti-Icing/De-Ice systems - including icing and rain visualization. Skis - Animated, incorporated in the flight dynamics model. Passengers/cargo configurations. Comprehensive FMOD sounds. AviTab plugin compatibility included (AviTab plugin not included). Highly responsive VSKYLABS support system (including C-47/DC-3 operational knowledge and support/assistance). Images are courtesy of vSkyLabs (X-Plane 12 version) ___________________________ The C-47 Skytrain by VSkyLabs Flying Lab Project is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here : VSKYLABS C-47 Skytrain Your Price: US$35.95 Currently on sale for $17.45 or 50% OFF . Requirements X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 6.02 (September 14th 2023) ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 15th 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
  24. Scenery Review: CYTZ - Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport XP12 By Michael Hayward Introduction As someone who has recently explored the beauty of Canada, with Toronto being one of my fascinating stops, I was thrilled to dive into Skyline Simulations' rendition of Billy Bishop City Airport. Skyline Simulations, well-known and respected among X-Plane simmers, has a knack for bringing virtual landscapes to life, and this latest offering caught my eye for obvious reasons. Situated southwest of downtown Toronto City, with its stunning skyscrapers and the iconic CN Tower, this small regional airport is a gateway to a vibrant urban landscape. Having experienced Toronto's charm firsthand, I was particularly eager to see how accurately this scenery package captured the real thing. Operated under CBSA classification, and capable of handling aircraft with up to 90 passengers, Billy Bishop City Airport offers unique challenges and aesthetics, drawing in pilots and aviation enthusiasts alike. Whether by pedestrian tunnel or a quick ferry ride, the airport serves as a bustling hub and a testament to modern aviation. Join me as I delve into this X-Plane rendition of a place that's still fresh in my travel memories. Installation The process of installing Billy Bishop City Airport by Skyline Simulations was a straightforward affair. The download size was 1.2GB, which when unzipped, came to a total of 2.9GB. The installation itself was a simple matter of unzipping the package and then placing it into my X-Plane 12 Custom Scenery folder. The absence of online activation or the need for a serial number, further eased the installation process, a welcome feature that adds to the user-friendly experience. With such a seamless start, I was all the more eager to discover what lay ahead, but let’s first look at the included documentation. Documentation The documentation accompanying Billy Bishop City Airport was both concise and informative. Included within a 10-page PDF document, I found clear instructions for the installation, scenery load order, and recommended settings. Additionally, there were helpful links to airport charts, ensuring that simmers have access to all the necessary information to fully enjoy the scenery. Toronto's Skyline I was immediately taken by the impressive skyline of Toronto, meticulously recreated by Skyline Simulations. The Rogers Center, Roundhouse Park, and the highly detailed Toronto City Hall, with its integrated signage prominently featuring the city's name, were standout structures. However, the towering CN Tower commanded particular attention. Completed in 1976, the CN Tower stands at a staggering height of 553.3 meters (1,815 feet) and was once the world's tallest freestanding structure until 2009. It serves as both a symbol of Toronto and a marvel of modern engineering. While the tower is impressively rendered, it's worth noting that from ground level, it appears to float a few metres above its foundation. This doesn't detract much from an aerial perspective but becomes evident when viewed up close. In addition to these landmarks, numerous skyscrapers (too many to mention individually), adorned the cityscape, lending a true sense of urban grandeur. Various piers and docks, including numerous boats, further enriched the scene. On closer inspection, however, some of the boats appeared to float above the waterline, and trees emerged through the roofs of certain waterfront buildings. Additionally, a handful of residential houses appear misplaced, occupying portions of the waterfront that they shouldn't. Overall, the portrayal of Toronto's landmarks manages to capture the essence of the city and offers an engaging experience, albeit with room for future refinement. Billy Bishop City Airport Skyline Simulations has invested considerable effort in capturing the unique atmosphere of Billy Bishop Airport, although the results are a bit of a mixed bag when compared to their excellent portrayal of Toronto's skyline. While the general modelling and texturing of the airport's main terminal and airstrip are competent, reflecting reasonable accuracy, the smaller buildings like maintenance sheds and hangars do not live up to the same standard. These structures offer little more than a cursory resemblance to their real-world counterparts. The ferries, a distinct feature near the airport, are aesthetically pleasing from a distance but betray their imperfections upon closer inspection—specifically, they appear to be filled with water, likely due to their placement near the sea. While not a significant issue for those enjoying the scenery from the skies, it becomes noticeable and somewhat distracting for users who opt for a more detailed exploration. In terms of atmosphere, the airport is lacking in elements that would convey a sense of busyness or liveliness. Sparse ground clutter and the absence of 3D human figures contribute to this shortfall. This renders the portrayal of Billy Bishop Airport as what one might call a "lite" version, certainly a step up from the default X-Plane offering but falling short of capturing the airport's full vibrancy and detail. Note: I've been informed that the developers are aware of these inconsistencies both at the airport and within the skyline. They have assured me that fixes are on the horizon, although the timeline for these improvements remains unspecified. Overall, Skyline Simulations' rendition of Billy Bishop City Airport is a commendable effort but one that could benefit from additional refinement. It serves as a respectable placeholder, with the potential for growth and improvement, especially when considering the already high standard set by the Toronto skyline. Night Lighting As evening sets in, the cityscape takes on a new dimension. The CN Tower’s lighting becomes a focal point, subtly cycling through a palette of colours that adds an appealing touch to the skyline. The skyscrapers, too, contribute to the nighttime atmosphere. While the lighting techniques may be a bit dated in places, they are effective in capturing the essence of a bustling urban setting, enhanced by various lit signs. Toronto City Hall’s illuminated signage lends an additional layer of charm, complementing the overall nighttime view. However, it also serves as a reminder that while the visual effects are effective, they are not cutting-edge. Over at Billy Bishop City Airport, the night lighting is adequate, illuminating key operational areas like the main runway and taxiways, as well as some maintenance hangars. While the airport lighting doesn’t quite match the vibrancy of the city, it does its job for pilots navigating during darker hours. Performance When it comes to performance, Skyline Simulations' Toronto package is generally solid, but there are some points to note. During daylight operations, the scenery runs smoothly, maintaining good framerates that facilitate an enjoyable virtual piloting experience. However, as twilight sets in and the city lights begin to flicker on, there is a noticeable drop in performance. Whether this is an X-Plane 12 issue, a glitch reported by several users, or specific to this scenery is not entirely clear. It's a factor worth considering, especially for those planning numerous evening or night flights. Memory usage is another area of attention. When pushing the scenery to its limits by maxing out all graphical settings (excluding Anti-Aliasing), VRAM consumption soared well beyond the 8GB mark. While this won't be a concern for those with high-end setups, users with less powerful rigs should be mindful of this when adjusting their settings. Conclusion Skyline Simulations' Toronto package is a tapestry of highs and lows that offers a mixed yet promising virtual experience. The Toronto skyline is undoubtedly the crown jewel, featuring captivating landmarks like the CN Tower and City Hall, albeit with room for improvement in certain areas. Billy Bishop City Airport, on the other hand, feels like a 'lite' version of its real-world counterpart, lacking the bustling atmosphere and attention to detail seen in the cityscape. Performance-wise, daytime operations are generally smooth, but users should be cautious of potential framerate drops during twilight and night-time flights. Memory usage is also a concern when operating at high graphical settings. All said, while it's difficult to give Skyline Simulations' Toronto offering an unreserved recommendation due to its numerous issues, the package does have its merits, notably the striking skyline. For those with a fondness for Toronto or a connection to the area, these positives may well outweigh the negatives, making it easier to look past its current shortcomings. ______________________________________ Skyline Simulation's CYTZ - Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport for XP12 is available from the Org store here: CYTZ - Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport XP12 Priced at US$25.55 Main Features: UHD custom textures using the latest painting techniques XPLCity with custom 3D houses around the island Super-detailed 3D modelling PBR materials on every building FSEco-subsystem Detailed HD ground with PBR and decals Custom 3D vegetation blends with orthophotos XPEco-subsystem 7Km Ultra-high-resolution custom orthoimagery for the airport Thousands of 3D custom static objects Accurate Island and City using original OSM data Amazing and detailed island night textures Ground traffic Animated Radar Requirements: X-Plane 12 (not for XP11) Windows, Mac, or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Video Card Current version: 1.0 (July 16th, 2023 Download size: 1.2Gb Reviewers System: Windows 10 Professional AMD Ryzen 5 3600 Processor 32GB RAM Palit GeForce RTX™ 3080 GamingPro Scenery Review by Michael Hayward  14th 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 copying of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions)  
  25. Update Review : Cessna 172SP NG Digital v1.5.1 by AirfoilLabs It was very early in the X-Plane 12 beta or 1.4.0b that I reviewed the Cessna 172SP NG from AirfoilLabs. It was also a moment, in that the future was suddenly laid out in front of the Simulator, this was X-Plane 12, and you saw and felt here all the new benefits it was going to deliver. The bonus of that moment was because, even this early in the evolution of the new X-Plane 12 version. AirfoilLabs had done a pretty good and highly detailed conversion to X-Plane 12. Although the release was noted as a "beta" (1.4.0-Beta (October 10th 2022)), it did cover all the unique aspects of what X-Plane 12 was going to deliver. It was exciting, but also a bit of a relief in that the changes were going to work... It was a review I liked a lot, as it gave us some really great images of cloud formations, before unseen in earlier X-Plane versions. There was another very small tuneup in December 22 (v1.4.1b) for the 172SP, that covered a more detailed Aircraft Performance Tuning for the latest changes in XP12 flight model, an enhanced Camera Initialization Bug fixed and the dark Glass bug that was fixed for the latest XP12 version, really it was all another tight tune to the release of X-Plane 12. This brings us to this update, well two actually. With both v1.5.0 and v1.5.1 which are combined here. Considering both updates, there is not a lot of changes here, but what is important to note is that the aircraft is now officially an X-Plane 12 version, not in a beta. Changes to Version 1.5.0 (August 10th 2023) were small with the G1000 LPV Approaches fixed, those Yoke Erratic Movements were also attended to, and finally the (over) harsh landing sounds have been fixed. The latest update Version 1.5.1 (September 8th 2023) is just as small, call it tinkering if you want to.... Here the Main Landing Gear Leg are not so flexible anymore (slightly harder landings), better Empty Aircraft Initial Attitude, less Tire Skid Sound Effect (connected to the above), and finally the G1000 is Implementing default XP12 Features, in other words the G1000 mirrors the updated X-Plane 12 version. This review is really a reacquaintance of the aircraft. It was then so very early in the beta phase with X-Plane 12 with the earlier release. So what is the aircraft like a year on, I wanted to find out? Product Manager AirfoilLabs use there own external updater system or "Product Manager" to install and update their products. It is very good, but initially also confusing? You can download both an X-Plane 11, and also an X-Plane 12 version of the updater, and both can be installed. All to the good, but it then gets easily confusing on which updater is for what X-Plane version? as both updaters are identical, in not just installing the updater, but in using them... Initially I couldn't find or use the X-Plane 12 version? It's not labeled 11 or 12, even when running the application, it also kept producing and updating only the X-Plane 11 version, and not the X-Plane 12 version? In the end I had to remove entirely the XP11 version and reload the XP12 version to get it to work... even then the application is not anywhere in being noted as the XP12 version of the application, there was a hour lost for this review, in just working it all out? Once updated the "Product Manager" works like this... On starting up, it will show you what AirfoilLabs products are listed in your portfolio. This includes the XJet plugin and version. Important as AirfoilLabs have their own plugin system of all their aircraft (not the usual SASL system) and it has to match the version of the aircraft. Any changes required or new versions are noted in the application. You select a product, then are required to type (cut/paste) in the Serial key to authorise the aircraft. I like this factor, as it means there is no required restart in the simulator (so no slow total redo process to get back to where you already are?). The the installer will look at your current aircraft version and storage capacity, and show you the download file size. Happy it will then install either the full aircraft (product) or update the aircraft to the current version... all the version and changelog changes are shown when the process is completed. The system and use is very good, once you are using the correct X-Plane version. Cessna 172SP NG Digital First look and again the Cessna 172SP really delivers. You currently get a lot of choice in the Cessna 172's in X-Plane 12, and there is a lot of tough competition in the mix. First is the newly released Thranda 172M Skyhawk DGS Series, very good it is. Then there are the two Laminar Research Skyhawks, one analog and the other a Garmin G1000... another but not updated to X-Plane 12 is the Carenado C172 G1000, one aircraft I really liked. A lot of choice, and all good choices as well... so why the AirfoilLabs aircraft? It is a very good question, and one I can answer. There is something quite original about the AirfoilLab's 172, it looks and feels different, but 172 different. For the important aspect of Circuits and Training, if I had the choice of all of the above, then the AirfoilLabs version would still be my selection, the word here is "authentic". As you know if you follow my aircraft or scenery reviews, is that word "Authentic". For me, the whole aspect of Flight Simulators is to get the most realistic experience possible from the combination of the Flight Simulator, Scenery and more importantly the aircraft. If all three combine perfectly then you should get the feeling of real flight, and a real presence of a place. The model here looks totally authentic, very, very real to me in the simulator.... and X-Plane 12 dynamics really bring it alive! The Cessna 172M, is the most popular aircraft ever built with 44,000 units constructed, and production is still going strong. The C172 is popular because it is just that right perfect fit for it's main role... pilot training. The important thing here is just that you have to have complete mastery of the aircraft, if you do, then you feel confident in the machine (that is a very good simulation as well). A stable platform in the aircraft is the total aim. Here you can do that, banks and rolls are perfection, holding the bank whilst not losing (or gaining altitude) is the sign of great aerodynamics, and I could twirl around the sky all day to perfection in the AeroFoilLabs 172. Note the excellent AOA (Angle of Attack) meter in your eyesight. Instrument panel is nicely laid out, clean and efficient, and both the PFD (Primary Flight Display) and MFD (Multi-Functional Display), and both can popout and are highly scalable to size. Set the middle lower panel are the three backup analog instruments for; Airspeed, Artificial Horizon and Altitude. Cabin is very nice... not old, old, but still nicely worn, and yes that word again.... Authentic! Lovely dated and branded "SP Skyhawk", both Yokes can be individually hidden and rudder pedal design is well done deep in the footwell... A side note is the excellent POH or "Pilots Operating Handbook". Situated lower left door pocket, it has a POH introduction, then LIMITS, NORMAL, EMERGENCY and PERFORMANCE data and checklist. Scalable again it is very easy to use. Almost a year on, and I'm flying the same route as that early beta version Brisbane YBBN to Gold Coast YBCG, settings include "real Weather", and yep looking out of my window, the sky looks exactly the same as the X-Plane Simulator download. Unfortunately its a total pristine clear day (early September days in Australia are like that, until the sheer heat kicks in), they can come with no heavy cloud around... but it makes for nice flying. It also shows off X-Plane 12 as well. But I wanted to come up here and see more heavy weather, but you can't doubt the quality of the aircraft and the simulator producing a perfect rendition of the day. I'm very impressed Menus There are a lot of options and menus available on the AirfoilLabs 172SP. The menu options list is sensational, the best in the business, with eight different categories, and 35 different selections... View options include internal and external walkaround. There is a "General" settings panel, and all the main Menu selections are also available on the optional AviTab tablet. Lycoming IO-360-L2A (200hp - 149kW) engine and it's mounting frame and accessories are all here to admire, interactive as well... .... you can check the oil, or see the wear on an engine or system component, you can fail it, or repair the element. All ties downs, inlet, pitot covers, chocks and portable power supply are all available here. Standard or Tundra (large) tyres are also available, as all doors open (cabin and small baggage access). Other options includes several types of wheel covers, or streamline fairings, neat are the small opening flaps in the Wheel Fairings to check the tyre pressures. The Skyhawk is very comprehensive, so anything detrimental? really only one... the Replay doesn't work? press Alt-R and you get an immediate X-Plane CTD or Crash to Desktop, Save a situation and it is a lucky shot as well, I recovered two saves, but also had an instant crash a few times. A better save feature would be a nice addition as the XJet plugin requires custom settings. Finished after a long day's flying... then just wrap up and cover the aircraft for safety, you gotta love it all! As noted earlier, this is just a reacquaintance of the airfoillab Skyhawk and to highlight it's benefits, honestly not much has changed on the aircraft, but you have to acknowledge on how much has changed around the 172SP Skyhawk. X-Plane 12 has evolved hugely over the last twelve months. Even back then you felt the conversion to X-Plane 12 was excellent, and nothing here really changes that aspect, but still the AirfoilLab Skyhawk seems to be better than ever. The main point here is the 172SP itself, like with the Thrandra 172, it is the platform for the pilot that is the most important thing, the line to be at the top of the list. Yes the options list and features all here are outstanding, but the basics have to be perfect if the Cessna is to be usable in the simulator, the 172SP is above all and everything else still a training aircraft, the dynamics and control feel are the most important aspects of this aircraft. This flight down the coast was excellent, everything combined to create a perfect simulation, sounds are great as well, with 320 sounds + detailed, layered engine samples with audible failures simulation.... so there it is this totally "authentic" atmosphere around it, In then I think that is why the AirfoilLabs C172Sp Skyhawk is the highest standard currently in X-Plane if you want a very good Cessna 172SP. Highly Recommended. ________________________________ The C172SP NG DIGITAL v1.5.1 by AirfoilLabs is NOW available here at the X-Plane.OrgStore 172SP NG DIGITAL Price is US$49.95 This aircraft is X-Plane12 supported Requirements X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 - both versions included Windows, Mac Intel, Mac Silicon, or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 1.5.1 (September 8th 2023) Download for the AirfolLabs 172SP NG DIGITAL is done via an installer "AFL+Product+Manager+Windows+installer" To use the XJet System you have to download the "Product Manager" program and installed on your computer: Product Manager / Xjet 2..0.0) The installer can be downloaded in all Windows (.exe), Mac OS (.app) and Linux (.Jar) forms for your type of operating System. And the final install in X-Plane folder is 2.95gb. Authorisation is now done via the Product Manager. Updates are also done via the same Product Manager. Version 1.5.0-1.5.1 Changelog: AirfoilLab 172SP v1.5.1.txt Designed by AirfoilLabs Support forum for the C172 NG Digital _____________________ Aircraft Review by Stephen Dutton 15th September 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews Review System Specifications:  Computer System: Windows - S1700 Core i7 12700K 12 Core 3.60 GHz CPU / 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo M2 2TB SSD - Sound : Yamaha Speakers YST-M200SP Software: - Windows 11 Pro - X-Plane 12.00B7 (This is a beta review). Plugins: JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00 Scenery or Aircraft - YBBN - Brisbane International by Orbx - YBCG - Gold Coast International by Axonos (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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