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Aircraft Update - Cessna 172SP Skyhawk v1.40 by AirfoilLabs

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Aircraft Update - Cessna 172SP Skyhawk v1.40 by AirfoilLabs

Updates to newly released aircraft can come a quite a rate after the initial release, and mostly are nips and tucks to cover the wide spectrum of users and computer specifications. Airfoillabs were extremely good at clearing the way through their first time release of the Cessna 172SP for this new developer on the X-Plane simulator.

Reaction and quick implementation to comments and even ideas can gain you a lot of credibility and resales into the future, and no doubt Airfolilabs have done a great job to cover the notes and this update is noticeable in that the developer is willing to make big changes very early in the release period. 

What is interesting here is that the changes in v1.40 are not focused on the aircraft, but mostly on the menu structure.

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It was not like the original menus were poor in the first place, in fact they were very good, clear and well laid out. But here in v1.40 they have been already comprehensively redone. I do at this point recommend to read the full comprehensive X-PlaneReviews release review here :

Aircraft Review - Cessna 172SP Skyhawk by AirfoilLabs

Before understanding the changes between the release version and this update v1.40.

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The original release version put the menus side by side (original on the left) and you can see clearly the complete overhaul and look of the two menu versions.

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First off there is now a transparency look on the main menu tab, it is darker (as all the menus are) in black and blue than the white/grey look of before. I personally welcome the change as the white was sometimes a bit overwhelming on the bright computer screen, the darker tone works far better.

Menus can be moved around the screen, but not compressed.

The seven "Menu" tabs are situated left centre of your screen.

The alphabet tabs have also gone and now each tab is just worded

They still represent  Quickstart - Camera - Payload and Fuel - Settings - Controllers - Engine and Checklist. 

That adds in two new tab items in Controllers and Checklist.

On the "Quick Start" there is no change in any items, and they are...

Quick start in "autostart" or "cold & dark" when starting the aircraft up (cold and dark is the default), "Secure aircraft" will shut the aircraft down and add in the static elements in one click. "Prepare for Start" will have the aircraft ready to the point of turning the key. The other two options are to connect the GPU and use a flashlight.

"Autostart" is now excellent if you want to fly quickly, just watching the aircraft light up, set and start itself is great fun.

The "Camera" tab has been completely revised.

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All the same choices in views are still there in (Internal) Pilot, Radio Panel, Fuel, Co-Pilot/Pass1, Passenger 2 and Passenger 3. (External) Left wing, Right wing, Tail and Front. A slider is now your controller of the "Field of View" by degrees, instead of a - or + button.

"Go Outside" has been changed to "GO OUT/IN" but has the same function of moving you into the pilots seat or outside the aircraft.

The "Smart Camera" choices have been moved from the old settings menu to the Camera menu and have been completely changed.

G-Effects OFF - G-Effects Basic - Compatibility Mode -G-Effects Advanced are the new settings and you also have a slider to adjust the amount of effect in % you can have. The % effect slider is a great change, I didn't like the heavy movement effects in the original review it was even very disruptive to operating the aircraft, but now it is perfect as you can find your correct feel (of the brakes and movement), a great change.

One thing that is better in the G-Effect changes is that if you switch them off (G-Effects OFF) you get full movement back in the cockpit via your keys. Before you were locked into the pilots seat point of view only and restrictions if you wanted to move to the left or right or up and down around the panel.

The "Dynamic View" and "Simulated walk" (around the aircraft) options have now been moved to the bottom of the tab menu screen.

Overall on this tab the changes have been a significant improvement over the original ideas.

The "Weight and Fuel" menu is also a major change and even in name from the old "Payload and Fuel" menu.

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The menu has been greatly expanded and sliders again replace the old - and + adjustment.

It is brilliantly clever in being able to select the exact weight of the pilot and passengers on board, and so also the baggage. The fuel is easier set as well. Even more great is the fact as you change the weights you can see the shift and changes in the aircraft's Center of Gravity and the set limits of where that weight goes on the aircraft are shown on a very well prepared graph. Both "Total Payload" and "Total Fuel" are noted on the bottom of the menu.

Zero Fuel is the aircraft's weight with no fuel on board (the default position) and the Takeoff weight of the aircraft with the adjusted Center of Gravity, both weights are shown.

The seat forward and aft adjustment has been removed.

The "Settings" menu has also had a total makeover.

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The "Smart Camera" options on the original settings menu as noted have been moved to the "Camera" tab. The settings "Engine Running at Start", "Start with pilot inside" and "Disp Footer Panel" have been moved to the the top of the menu with "Display Text Messages" added in to the list. I have never seen a "Pilot Inside" yet? even though I have always had the box ticked on?.

Sounds have been completely redone into a set of five sliders covering; "All Sounds", "EXT. Sounds", INT. Engine", "INT. Environment" and "INT. Instruments". This set up gives you far more control and more great options to create better sound out of the aircraft, settings are on % of 100%. The "Intro Tutorial" on the older menu has been dropped.

Bottom of the Settings tab menu are three new options for "Glass" in; "Glass", "Fog effect" and "Ice Effect".

The "Glass" setting at this point does not seem to do anything, so is that for lighter or darker glass or rain effects?, ditto "Ice Effects", I cooled the aircraft down to -13º and put it in a snowstorm and could see nothing happening?

Fog effects however are amazing!..


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If the outside temperature is around or below zero the windows start to fog up...  and pretty soon you can see bugger all. Your thoughts are how can I land this aircraft and using a cloth and a wipe of the (computer) screen is not an option?

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A panic pulling of every knob and a search for any demisting switches was solved by pulling out the "Cabin HT" and "Cabin Air" knobs buried behind the Co-Pilots yoke...  and the screen thankfully slowly clears clean, frighteningly authentic.


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Add in to the tab menu structure is a "Controller" menu. Many users wanted more control of their Saitek Yoke addon system to get a better response to the feel of the aircraft, and this menu is in response to that feedback. It allows you to switch from the standard X-Plane axis settings to a custom set you can adjust to your perfect handling of the aircraft, again the "Saitek" option is a separate custom setting just for that addon gear or you can have the "Joystick" option. And the sliders cover the Pitch, Roll and Yaw axis areas of "Sensibility" and "Artificial Feel"

More tickbox options cover "Yoke Movement Swicthes (Switches) Autop. Off" in other words if you take control of the yoke the autopilot will switch off and give you back control.
 "Disable Rudder Trim" and  "Disable Aileron Trim" are two other options.

The engine menu tab is not changed and the panel is still blank. I thought this would have been operational in this v1.40 update...  but no.

The new "Checklist" Tab is just sensational!

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Designed around a spiral tabbed Aircraft Checklist notebook, its simplicity is so clever you wonder why it wasn't done before. The main tabs cover five areas in "Contents", "Preflight", "Takeoff-Cruise", "Landing" and "Emergencies". Navigation to other pages is via the arrows on the bottom of the notebook and the contents include almost everything you would find in a real checklist pad.

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"Crosswind Component" graphs, Landing distance tables, Emergency failure procedures and great vSpeed references are all in here besides the usual start up and shut down checklists...  just amazing.

No doubt this tab menu selection is vastly improved over the original system, it looks far better as well, a great improvement.

In the aircraft walk-around if you now touch the Rudder, Flaps or Aileron you get a popup info chart and tickbox checklist.

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I like the idea, but this means now if you are doing your walk-around if you touch the surface you have a menu option on your screen to click away before moving onto the next one, doing all the surfaces means a lot of boxes opening up and being closed again...  I am a visceral person, in the moment and I liked the idea of moving around the aircraft checking the surfaces ready for flight...  popup boxes will in this context would spoil that in the place and moment feeling, that is my view anyway.

KLAL Lakeland-Linder to KFMY Page Field, Fort Meyers

A quick run from KLAL to Page Field KFMY was decided to see how the C172SP felt with the upgrade. First up the effects in now being adjustable remove an irritant that I didn't like first off in the original aircraft, so I was more comfortable straight away. The loading of the aircraft was fun as well with the new "Weights & Fuel" menu, and the checklist pad was simply excellent.

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Speed is still pathetically slow, so take a book to read even on a short sector. But that is missing the point, as this C172SP is a trainer and not a long distance cruiser. I was slightly indifferent to the AirfoilLab C172SP with my first encounter with the aircraft, I found it overly complex for a simply trainer that would be aimed at first fliers (and sometimes new to simulation as well) learning the ropes. But now I feel this aircraft is turning into an X-Plane classic...  it is brilliant, and with tons of features.

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More adjustment in v1.40 have been inserted were it counts and the aircraft is more sorted and complete than the release version was and that was certainly very good.

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I really enjoyed the flight down to Page Field, it just worked really well and you know you want more flying time when after a slight rest you just turn around and fly back to base at KLAL, that means you want more, more fun and more time on the aircraft, that then makes it a good sign it is a great aircraft.

Summary

Like I noted at the start of this update review, great developers listen and change to what the users want, doing that quickly and even throwing away good ideas to do better ones are certainly paying off for AirfoilLabs and this C172SP is turning into simply a sensational aircraft, a classic even for X-Plane.

Most of the focus in v1.40 has been on the "Menu" system and the effects the changes in there has on the aircraft, which in this case is quite comprehensive, there are a still a few notchy things like sometimes the engine is missing when you remove the covers? and some items like the tiedown won't disappear but these are very, very minor issues. But the changes to adjustablity in effects, Addon (Saitek) control and sounds are a good big move forward.

The choice now in X-Plane in the General Aviation category is one of the fiercest and competitive areas in X-Plane and more so in the this higher price range bracket. To spend and invest here means you want value for your high investment, no doubt even at this early stage the AirfoilLab's C172SP Cessna is a great deal and a long termer in usability in your hangar and overall there is no doubt that AirfoilLabs will be a major player in X-Plane in the future.

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The Cessna 172SP Skyhawk by AirfoilLabs is available from the New X-Plane.Org Store here : Cessna 172SP Skyhawk

And is priced at only US$34.95

If you have already purchased the Cessna 172SP from AirfoilLabs then go to your X-Plane.OrgStore account, log in and download v1.40 from your account.

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Fully featured and including:
FLIGHT MODEL

Very accurate Flight Model. Tested and approved by real world Cessna 172 SP pilots and flight instructor
Realistic weight and balance - lateral and longitudinal loads placement
Custom made flight characteristics derived from the real aircraft flight recordings and based on real flight manual performance data 
Calculation of real KIAS based on KCAS according to flight manual
Realistic stall characteristics
Climb performance according to flight manual performance data
Cruise performance data precise match (PRESS ALT, TEMP, POWER, KTAS, GPH)
Electrical system derived from the real ELECTRICAL SCHEMATIC
Functional Circuit Breakers logic


HIGH QUALITY 3D MODEL, TEXTURES AND ANIMATIONS

High resolution 4K textures
Easy to read, high-resolution panel
All switches, buttons and knobs animated
Volumetric side view prop effect
Realistic 3D night lights effects. 
Dynamic loading/unloading of 3D parts and plugin logic for FPS optimization

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Installation :   Download file size is 567.80mb to your X-Plane - GA Aircraft Folder. Installed file size is 962.80mb

Notes: None

Documents :  You get a Manual that at this point is still a bit of work in progress and you can check and download a manual here: AirfoilLabs.com

Requirements : X-Plane 10.40+ (any edition) running in 64bit mode - Windows 7+, Mac OSX 10.7+ or Linux Ubuntu 14.04LTS or compatible 64bit version required - Microsoft  C++  Redistributable  2013  64bit is required - 1Gb+ Dedicated VRAM Video Card (2GB VRAM Recommended)

Current version: 1.40 - Last updated on October 16th 2015

Developer Support Site : (AirfoilLabs X-Plane.Org Support)

Full v1.40 update notes

NEW MENU SYSTEM
NEW CAMERA SYSTEM WITH MORE COMPATIBILITY
NEW PRE-FLIGHT SYSTEM WITH WINDOWS AND NEW ACTIVITIES
NEW SYSTEM FOR CONTROLLERS SETTINGS
CHECKLISTS
WEIGHT AND BALANCE SYSTEM
WINDOWS FOG AND ICING EFFECTS
REDESIGNED ELECTRICAL SYSTEM WITH FUNCTIONAL CIRCUIT BREAKERS
UPDATED SOUNDS AND ADDED SOUND SAMPLES (AVIONICS FAN, ENGINE COOLING, STALL BUFFETS, etc.)
REDESIGNED SOUND MANAGEMENT WITH MORE OPTIONS AVAILABLE
INSTRUMENTS, AVIONICS AND RADIOS FIXES
NEW CUSTOM COMMANDS FOR EASIER INTERACTIONS
TEXTURES CORRECTIONS AND NEW TEXTURES
3D MODEL FIXES

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Update Review by Stephen Dutton

26th October 2015

Copyright©2015: X-Plane Reviews

Review System Specifications:

Computer System:  - 2.66 Ghz Intel Core i5 iMac 27”- 9 Gb 1067 Mhz DDR3 - ATI Radeon HD 6970M 2048 mb- Seagate 512gb SSD 

Software:   - Mac OS Yosemite 10.10.1 - X-Plane 10 Global ver 10.40 (final)

Addons - Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose  Soundlink Mini : WorldTraffic v2

Scenery or Aircraft

- KLAL - Lakeland Linder Regional Airport 2.01 by Drankum (X-Plane.Org) - Free (note: personal added items in an office (okay demountable building and vehicles)

- KFMY - Page Field, Fort Meyers by Timbenedict3 (X-Plane.Org) - Free

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