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Aircraft Update : Airbus A350-900 XWB Advanced v1.6 by FlightFactor/SteptoSky


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Aircraft Update : Airbus A350-900 XWB Advanced v1.6 by FlightFactor/SteptoSky

 

Since the earliest days you mostly saw FlightFactor Aero as a Boeing developer, there was the Boeing 777, then the Boeing 757 and then the Boeing 767... then out of the blue came an Airbus in the Airbus A350-900 XWB. But right from the first version of this aircraft it never felt... well very Airbus? Where as all the Boeings felt and flew like Boeings. Since the A350 FlightFactor went on to do another Airbus in the A320 Ultimate, which DOES feel like an Airbus and is still the best Airbus in X-Plane.

 

But the FlightFactor A350XWB was a really odd aircraft from the start? Excellent on the external, the A350 always looked very nice in X-Plane. The clever six display layout with X input system is also really clever and is well done (early versions were however extremely buggy) and the airbus system depth is very good. So overall it should have been perfect for me as I like to fly Airbuses more than Boeings...  but I never ever really fell in love with FlightFactor's A350XWB?

 

Which is really odd because Long-Haul is still my favorite form of flying and also the A350 XWB is the latest of the New-Gen aircraft and X-Plane is very short of Long-Haul airlines and certainly of the New-Gen class. The FlightFactor A350 should of very easily ticked off every box for me, but in all honestly it left me cold and I rarely flew the aircraft, even the last time departing Barcelona I even stopped mid-flight (I very rarely abandon flights) because I was really not liking it at all?

 

Why? well that is a good question...  the first one in the most obvious. The FF A350 didn't have SID/STARs and the FMS was in reality the default FMS undercover. And this missing aspect really was the biggest complaint, but to be fair the A350XWB FMS (Flight Management Systems) is quite complicated and very different in input from either a Boeing and even another Airbus as only the bigger A380 has the same input and navigation system. Poor Sounds didn't help either and they were really awful, and the cockpit textures were weird in a non-Airbus way, and the aircraft always felt buggy, it never seemed to come together as a whole or as a linear simulation, it was an aircraft you simply couldn't love.

 

The news of a v2.0 of the FlightFactor A350 was very welcome, but it became confusing in the light that the next update in v1.6.0 would be next and also include the infamous missing SID/STAR intergration, my guessing (wrongly) would that the SID/STAR intergration would only happen with the full new version of v2.0 (In selling the new version of the aircraft)...  The surprise is that the SID/STAR is in this update v1.6.0 version, so that will be a free update, the better news is that the FMS  is now really, really good...  far better than I expected and to the point even brilliant.

 

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Nothing wrong with the way the A350 XWB looks, but this is still the v1.0 aircraft and in a few areas the v1.0 has a few niggles, the wings do have flex, but in a weird stiff flexy way, so the wing flex still looks old and outdated, and the cabin is still also old and very dated as well.

 

A350_v160 Cabin 2.jpgA350_v160 Cabin 3.jpg

 

A worthwhile download is the new Lufthansa A350 livery by fscabral as the cabin textures have been redone and the results seriously lift the cabin from the really drab to the really nice...  and yes this cabin layout should be the default.

 

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Note in that the cabin lighting is controlled from the EFB (OIS/AIRPLANE/CABIN settings), lighting and sound settings settings are currently off at default.

 

Ground support still has those cold war Russian vehicles, and you shake your head why as all the FlightFactor Boeings now have the updated western styled vehicles. But thankfully where it counts in the air the A350 XWB still looks very nice.

 

Airbus 350 XWB v1.6

We will come to the big event in a moment, but first unlike other areas of the A350 the cockpit has had a very nice spruce up of the textures.  The original cockpit textures were a darker Airbus blue with some wear around the edges, but somehow it didn't feel right in context as the A350 is the most modern of the Airbus fleet? These textures are now in a far lighter blue/grey Airbussy feel and are far better to the current state of a A350 XWB.

 

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The panels are still very left side pilot focused, with the right position more fixed with no display cycle active, the far right display is also fixed to a users guide page. The range and baro adjustments however do work, so it is not impossible to fly from the right seat as you can flip the FMS screen to the right middle display setting, but with no access to the menu sections unless again you move the menu selection to the middle screen.

 

A350_v160_Cockpit 7.jpgA350_v160_Cockpit 5.jpg

 

Glareshield textures are lovely, modern and very nice. Gone are the wheat coloured seats to be replaced by a very not corporate look of "stars"? A very unusual choice, but they do look better than the wheat seats with far more cloth and ripple detail..

 

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FMS - Flight Management System

The most important and the most welcome aspect of this v1.6 update is the intergration of SID/STARS into the FMS navigation, not only is SID/STAR routing now available, but it is also in how well the system has actually been done here is the biggest factor.

 

Pilot left station is very good with most items and displays active and interactive. FlightFactor recreated the X pointer system for use on A350 displays and although very buggy in the early days (the X pointer would stray badly out of the display limits) it is now a very robust system that works well.

 

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There are two drop down menus tight together top left of the MFD (Multi-Functional Display). Top one selects your FMS route (Sorry there is still only one FMS1 route available) and below to start a new route then select INIT from the lower menu.

 

A350_v160_FMS A.jpgA350_v160_FMS B.jpg

 

If you are used to the usual FMS via a left or right button input key, then you will have to adjust to this different pointer system. There are a few rules to know... one is that everything is via an input and menu selection, so you select the box with the X pointer (arrowed below left)...

 

A350_v160_FMS 1.jpgA350_v160_FMS 2.jpg

 

...  put the X pointer over the box you want to input into and you get a green dash line and a flashing cursor, the display then also becomes "KEYBOARD FOCUSED" for direct key input...  Type in your data, in this case Nairobi Airport "HKJK", but most IMPORTANT is to re-click to lock the data in!  This is usually placed over the very first letter in the box with the pointer, if the "Keyboard Focus" line goes out and the input text sets a little to the right...   then it is correctly inputted (locked in).

 

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Add in your INIT details...  Flight Number, From (HKJK) to (EGLL) Alternative (EGCC) and Cruise FL (Flight Level) and Cruise (CRZ) Temp ºC.

 

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DEP and ARR locations set it is now time to do the flightplan, you access the flightplan via the "ACTIVE" menu and select F-PLN.

 

Now comes the new SID (Standard Instrument Departures) selection...  Press the departure airport (HKJK) and up comes a menu, select on the menu "DEPARTURE".

 

A350_v160_FMS 8.jpgA350_v160_FMS 7.jpg

 

Drop down menus give selection for RWY (Runway), SID and TRANS....

 

A350_v160_FMS 9.jpgA350_v160_FMS 10.jpgA350_v160_FMS 11.jpgA350_v160_FMS 12.jpg

 

...  in my case it is RWY 24, SID "IBRA3D" and TRANS "KAMAS", all selections are then shown in the above Selected Departure box.

 

Go back to the F-PLN and the SID departure route (waypoints) are now completed.

 

A350_v160_FMS 13.jpg

 

Next waypoint (WPT) or AIRWAY is inserted in a similar way. 

 

Just select the last waypoint and select via thew menu either "INSERT NEXT WPT" or "AIRWAYS".

 

A350_v160_FMS 14.jpg

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For to "Insert Next Wpt" you select the selection box and insert the waypoint name (TUFTE) and make sure you click to insert, and you don't use the AIRWAY selection to add in the next WPT. For Airways then select AIRWAYS and add in the AIRWAY and the TO selections and like all FMS systems you can add in as many airways as you require.

 

A350_v160_FMS 15.jpgA350_v160_FMS 16.jpg

 

In every flightplan you get "DISCONTINUITY" breaks...  to remove you just select the Discontinuity selection and then select "DELETE" from the menu.

 

A350_v160_FMS 19.jpgA350_v160_FMS 20.jpg

 

STAR (Standard Terminal ARrival) is the same procedure as the SID selection, select the arrival airport, then ARRIVAL from the menu and then use the menus to fill in the arrival data...

 

A350_v160_FMS 24.jpg

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... the drop down menus select RWY, APPR (Approach), VIA, STAR (shown) and TRANS. All selections are shown in the upper box like with the SID selections.

 

All changes and selections are only TEMPY or Temporary in yellow and insert via INSERT TEMPY, or backstep by ERASE TEMPY... 

 

A350_v160_FMS 26.jpgA350_v160_FMS 27.jpg

 

....   and at any time while constructing the route you can make it active (Green) to see your progress on the PFD... The final full Flightplan is shown with diversions of which you can scroll up or down.... brilliant!

 

It takes a little while to adjust to this pointer system, but it is quite easy to do once you are used to it. Overall the FMS is very versatile in creating route flightplans and I found it very refined and not buggy at all, which is very good thing with long route insertion flightplans like from Nairobi to London.

 

Other FMS details are important as well...   OIS (Onboard Information System ) Aircraft AIRPLANE/PASSENGERS gives you the A350 weights, and the AIRPLANE/PERF CALCULATOR gives you TO Performance and vSpeeds.

 

A350_v160_PERF 3.jpgA350_v160_PERF 4.jpg

 

...  and the calculated data is then transferred to the PERF (performance) page and the very important FUEL & LOAD page in the FMS...

 

A350_v160_PERF 5.jpgA350_v160_PERF 6.jpg

 

You can save your flightplan via the INIT page under "RTE SAVE", but the interesting aspect is that you have three choices of save, 1. the FULL complete flightplan, 2. SID or 3. STAR, so this makes it a very versatile system...

 

A350_v160 Route Save 1.jpgA350_v160 Route Save 2.jpgA350_v160 Route Save 3.jpgA350_v160 Route Save 4.jpg

 

....  the route is confusingly saved in your standard X-Plane FMS folder but not in the alphabetical order, but under a (*) moniker at the very bottom, which means a lot of scrolling. Quicker access is to use the "Filter" box lower right which reduces the flightplans to the chosen ICAO label. 

 

Wind pages have been added and it noted is that Alterative Flightplans are also now available, but I couldn't find a second flightplan?

 

A350_v160 Wind 1.jpgA350_v160 Wind 2.jpg

 

All in all it is a very extensive and detailed upgrade to the FMS in the A350XWB, I absolutely love it, yes there is more you want like a second FMS for the First Officer, but overall it is a fantastic working system... not perfect but far better than we had before.

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There are no notes that the sounds have had attention in v1.6, but they certainly sound far better to me? Cockpit hum and wind noise is very good for a long haul flight and the exterior sounds far better as well, more distant in the background now is that really annoying "tring, ring" from the engines, it is still there but now highly subdued...  thank god, the annoying Purser to Captain "Dings" are still as bad as ever, finding the issue is made hard by the language spoken in a gobble... usually it is the cabin that is TOO hot or TOO cold "but mister if the damn engines are switched off I can't heat or cool the cabin can I?... so go away", or the cabin lights are down, but it is really, really annoying...   If any aircraft requires a specialist addon sound pack it is the A350 XWB.

 

Contrails and and particles have now been added as well, the APU hums and breathes out exhaust air, and in the air the aircraft looks great.

 

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Another new menu page on the OIS is the "JOYSTICK ACTIONS" menu and noted to make the aircraft compatible with the new Thrustmaster TCA Airbus Throttle Quadrant. The new hardware offering from Thrustmaster, part of its new TCA Range is due to release in late September this year.

This covers your joystick "Deadband" area (centre), throttle detent location and "MCT Detent" (Maximum Continuous Thrust) location.

 

All the settings of course are for fine tuning your hardware joystick and throttle systems, but one selection is quite important... "REV ON SAME AXIS" will set your throttles with a "Beta' reverse detent. fine in some cases but horrible with my Saitek X56 Rhino setup as it set the idle position to reverse thrust, you can turn the action OFF here (arrowed below left).

 

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Radios are now 8.33 (as X-Plane11 went to this earlier). The 8.33 kHz channel spacing adds two additional channels for every 25 kHz channel. This is to overcome the frequency congestion in the medium to long term by providing more channels.

 

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Navigation ILS, VOR and ADF frequencies are under the "NAV" button, but you still have the default FMS at the rear of the pedestal and it's radio channels if you want a easier way to access any of the frequency settings or route information.

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Summary

Although noted as a "Advanced" version of the Airbus A350XWB, the Flightfactor version never really hit the mark in delivering a totally realistic simulation, and so in that aspect I was never yearned for the aircraft and rarely flew it, which is a shame because we need really good long haul and next generation aircraft in the X-Plane simulator.

 

But now with this new v1.6 version of the A350XWB we have a game changer. The missing SID/STAR intergration that was missing is now part of this extensive Flight Management System. A difficult system to replicate because of it's unusual pointer and menu based input applications. But this intergration has been a huge success here in creating a master simulation of this unique Airbus FMS. Most FMS areas are now covered, but you will never ever cover everything as it is simply too complex, but the aircraft in reality should lose it's "Advanced" moniker and be now named a "Professional" aircraft because of the depth of the systems here...  the only area missing is the right hand seat interaction to the OIS (Onboard Information System).

 

A few areas have also been cleaned up including the cockpit textures which are more Airbus grey and lighter in tone and new seat (star) coverings. Over the updates the A350XWB has had a lot of behind the scenes work done and not actually noted officially, but you certainly feel in this version a far more co-ordinated and less buggy aircraft to fly, the FMS especially is really well coded and quite bug free in being versatile for corrections and data changes, a far cry from the original interface and flying conditions.

 

So now it works, in almost every area and if not absolutely perfect the A350XWB starts to live up to it's quality standing as a very good if now excellent simulation. Over many hard flights (most Long Haul) it is an excellent aircraft to enjoy, the v1.6 update maybe on reflection small, but the aircraft has become something else than just a pretty aircraft to look at, it now a very realistic flying simulation as well.

 

Once the outcast, the Airbus A350-900XWB can now be seen in the same context as the other aircraft from FlightFactor. A brilliant update that in the long wait users deserved...  Not perfect but a free update with these enhancements will bring a lot of smiles to a lot of users faces, if you don't have the A350XWB from FlightFactor, but love long distance flying, maybe it is now time to take the plunge and enjoy this amazing aircraft.

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X-Plane Store logo sm.jpg


The Airbus A350-900 XWB Advanced v1.6 from FlightFactor is Available from the  X-Plane.Org Store:

 

Airbus A350 XWB Advanced
 
Price is currently US$ 64.95

 

You can update to v1.6 via the "beta" selection in the X-Updater tool...  it will be hosted soon on the X-Plane.OrgStore
 
Livery packs at US$10 for ten liveries are available here: A350 Liveries Include: North America, Oceania, Africa & Middle East, Asia, Atlantic, Europe 1, Europe 2 and Pacific.

 

If you already have purchased the A350 XWB from FlightFactor then go to your account at the X-PlaneStore and update to v1.6

 

Requirements:

X-Plane 11
Windows - Mac - Linux - 64bit Operating System Required
4Gb+ VRAM Minimum, 8Gb+ VRAM Minimum.
 
 
Support forum : FlightFactor A350 XWB

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Update and Tutorial by Stephen Dutton
18th July 2020
Copyright©2020: X-PlaneReviews

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