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Update Review : Cessna 172SP NG Digital v1.5.1 by AirfoilLabs

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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.


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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".


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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. 


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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.


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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.


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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!


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Lovely dated and branded "SP Skyhawk", both Yokes can be individually hidden and rudder pedal design is well done deep in the footwell...


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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.


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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.


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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


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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...


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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.


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Lycoming IO-360-L2A (200hp - 149kW) engine and it's mounting frame and accessories are all here to admire, interactive as well...


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....  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.


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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.


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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!


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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.


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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.


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The C172SP NG DIGITAL v1.5.1 by AirfoilLabs is NOW available here at the X-Plane.OrgStore



Price is US$49.95


This aircraft is X-Plane12 supported



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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  • Stephen changed the title to Update Review : Cessna 172SP NG Digital v1.5.1 by AirfoilLabs

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