Jump to content

Behind the Screen : October 2020


Recommended Posts

Behind the screen- October 2020.jpg


Behind the Screen : October 2020


Currently the very last assembly of an Airbus A380-900 was completed in Toulouse, and this Ship 272 is destined for Emirates, the largest user of the giant jet with over 123 A380's in it's fleet. So the superjumbo's project is now coming to a close. Worse for the A380 is that most airlines with Covid 19 are already selling off or retiring their A380 fleets.


So the question is that "Was the A380 a commercial failure", most would laugh and say yes, but again we have the horrible, "we didn't build it, so won't use it mentality" of the American operators, same as Concorde, it is a terrible mindset, but a very real one and a damaging one to the industry. But to already put the giant out to pasture may also be a big mistake.


Yes the A380 has a very high fuel consumption (four gurgling engines), and yes it is huge aircraft to fill out with passengers and cargo every day, but the initial concept behind the A380 is still there and that aspect is still as threatening. The world has currently 8.6 Billion people, and 4.4 billion of those people traveled by air in 2019...  that is 4.4 billion passengers. No doubt Covid 19 will change that perspective completely, but currently that is the situation now, not in five years time. The A380 was created solely as a hub to hub or major population centre to major population centre transport, and again people are not going to leave the cities all to soon to go and live in the wilds of Scotland or Alaska.


The last significant major generational change was of course the original wide-body in the Boeing 747, it's like are now being retired also in high numbers, but the B747 very quickly changed the perception of mass transport, so what went wrong for the A380. One is that the aircraft is not being configured to do what the A380 does best, lift a huge amount of people and cargo in one flight. The Boeing 747 started out the same way with whole decks set out as bars and lounge rooms, but that went by the wayside very soon as aircraft yield became the operators focus, in other words bars and showers take up space on aircraft that can fit in paying passengers.


The A380 has also been heavily configured towards these sort of luxuries, yes the yield factor is very different as a First Class or Business passenger will pay far higher for the extra space and services, and mostly airlines find that a far bigger yield in those areas than with the rear cattle class, so overwhelmingly they cater to them. Covid 19 will certainly now again change that situation. So the first reaction is to just get rid of the giants because the airlines cannot see anyway of creating better yields from the aircraft, which I think is quite short-sighted.


Airlines are focusing on those 20% savings that a New Generation A350 or B787 can deliver, and there is no doubt that these airframes will be come the dominant aircraft of our generation, just like the B747 was for our former generation, and again you can see the A380 is out of step. But in areas you need two of the new generation on the same route to cover the requirements of an A380, and that is two full sets of crews as well, that is if the A380 is reconfigured to be a more dense configuration, just like the B747 was in the eighties. That also creates another change for the A380 in the Covid era.


The past mentality of packing in passengers densely can't continue either, as the current very tight seat pitches are not only already extremely unhealthy, and profit margins aside airlines have to change, it will take only a few to litigate their health concerns to open a rush of major court cases in that the old arugument of "Low Fares" to space can't continue, It is extremely unhealthy with these current seat pitch practices, Covid will now totally highlight the issue magnified. I am not talking domestic pitch here (which is still very bad) but on International routes over 8 hours, currently we are pushing 18 hour sectors and 21 hour sectors are being planned, it is total madness.


Change the aircraft configuration to fit the new pitch rules and suddenly your 20% margins are going to take a hit. The one thing the A380 has is space, loads of space... yes it is an expensive aircraft to fly, but with better configurations you can do better yields, suddenly that open expensive space dominated by First or Business class suddenly looks like wasted space, certainly on new era Big Twins, but not on the A380.


Emirates (the airline) have noted and proved that the aircraft can be a money maker, passengers love the aircraft and the world is now finally configured to handle it's giant size, the biggest drawback was it's 300m+ cost, and the earlier aircraft were overweight (why most of these versions are being scrapped), overall it is a very young airframe as well, so second hand versions are now also going to be very competitive in yield.


Most will note that the era of a jumbo sized airliner is over, the A380 as the dodo of the air, but I wouldn't write it off to history just yet. Once we can fly again then the perceptions of the new Covid era will change our world, and as with most things Covid has already totally changed the game, for the A380 a virus could be its ultimate saviour.


X-Plane World

On a few days off mid-October I reminisced about the past ten years that I have used the X-Plane Simulator, where it has come along and thinking of it's current future. Yes MSFS has been the big debate in 2020, besides that other nasty distraction of a virus. In a pandemic it is best to not panic, in a simulation revolution it is again wise not to lose your head but to think clearly, because in both aspects the results are always the same...  when the changes are over and done with, it is usually not never what you expect on the other side. But back to the past.


I didn't know of course what a smorgasbord I was letting myself into, I also found out through X-Plane I had also a very nasty addictive personality, a collector of wanting absolutely everything...  worse X-Plane divulges you no end in feeding you endlessly in this terrible inflicting personality disorder.


I came into the simulator in the last throws of X-Plane9, you know the one with the very poor mesh textures, although they did look brilliant at the time, but thankfully they didn't last long as X-Plane10 cleared them all away, and even as X-Plane12 nears we still have them, but in a much more OSM (OpenStreetMap) refined form, and in reality this mesh is basically the same tiles as it was released eight years ago, however they do look completely different, and even still actually highly realistic in the visual aspect.


Go back only to five years ago and you now wonder at the basics we were flying and using, although the current future in detail and dynamics were already there in certain aircraft, like the JRollon CRJ-200, of which I had the pleasure of revisiting recently. Go back ten years and most of the aircraft popular then are now long gone, only one is highly significant from that period in a Boeing 757 from the XP-Freeware Project, in that it had the first and at the time the only 3d rendered cockpit, all the other instrument panels were 2d or flat, it feels now like the stone age, but we did a lot of flying with 2d panels.

We also collected a lot of aircraft, now all lost on platters of forgotten hard drives, hours and hours of painstaking work, now gone. Scenery collection was also a big deal. You made lists, lots of lists and collected and ticked them off with gutso, now only a few survive...  most went after a serious cull a few years ago, with a rebuild this time consisting of only quality scenery that I only required and had not collected. Most of those developers back then are gone as well. A few survived like Dan Klaue and Jack Skieczius, but to be fair back then they were the new breed and the next coming generation and became the great generation. Sadly the hardest thing to observe was the demise of the older original X-Plane developers. As the changes came through and they were certainly faced with PBR lighting and the more extreme dynamics, extreme modeling, deep systems and then the final axe was the old school struggled to transition their craft from Planemaker to SASL plugin coding, all are now gone, but remember the X-Plane that we know today was built on their shoulders.


To a point in retrospect, the core of the simulator has not changed actually that much when you really think about it, but externally it has been transformed by the two major moves to 64bit and Vulkan/Metal, the weather currently also covers over a lot of the old mesh and textures, and the dynamics have highly transformed the simulator around it's core base. Ditto the excellent plugin's and addons, that again they have gone around or replaced earlier significant tools, for me only one still survives, a little plugin called "DiscreetFPS", that shows you your current framerate in a small numbered window on the top left of my screen...  simple but still very effective, but for the rest like pushbacks, moving maps, airport docking and rain/movement dynamics, well they were all replaced years ago.


So what brought all this nostalgia on? Well take a good look at X-Plane in it's current form, because if my gut is right, then the last elements that connected X-Plane back to these heady days also are about to be removed. Like the significant step from X-Plane9 to X-Plane10 in the look and feel of X-Plane a decade ago, then it is all about to happen and totally change again soon.

As after X-Plane12 the simulator will be different, different mesh, different textures, different weather dynamics, different lighting dynamics, and although these significant changes won't happen overnight, but by this time next year you will have to agree with me on that finally X-Plane will not be the X-Plane simulator we have flown together in the past, X-Plane11 will be the X-Plane9 of the past and with that change there will then also be finally no connection to that far past era either, as it will be a totally new era for X-Plane and simulation per-se, you dreamed of an X-Plane in the future a decade ago, and here it is, now you will be dreaming of the next era of X-Plane, and that aspect is now coming very soon.


See you all again next month


Stephen Dutton

1st November 2020

Copyright©2020 X-Plane Reviews


Logo Header X-PlaneReviews 200px.jpg


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...
On 10/30/2020 at 4:19 AM, Stephen said:

The world has currently 4.6 Billion people,

well said John, couldn't agree more with your editorial (despite we have 8 billion people, typo?)

Being a Marketing Executive and Aviator myself, i don't spend a second on regrets that this state of evolution became reality.

Sometimes visions stand way on top of commercial evaluations, and the A380 was a needed step in bringing the Aviation Industry to its current state.

There wouldn't be a 787, nor a 737MAX nor a A350 if the A380 wasn't been built. They are the answer for both, market trends as well as techology.

Imagine mankind would never know how big an airplane can make it, we needed to know. 

I am so anticipating the A380 - a cold manufacturer war's (Boeing vs. Airbus) status symbol - coming to X-plane, so we can preserve its uniqueness virtually

and enjoy its extraordinary construction for the rest of time.

If we wanted to look for errors, we would have to blame some Asian Airline Managers not Airbus Industrie. Their pressure into building such a sized plane

was based on their expolaration/expectation of travel trends and home made status megalomania.

I can't help to see similarities to Howard Hughes's  H-4 Hercules story. History repeats itself.




Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...