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Aircraft Review : C172S NG DIGITAL by AirfoilLabs

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Aircraft Review : C172SP NG DIGITAL by AirfoilLabs


It is September 8th, 2015 and the first aircraft release from Czech studio AirfoilLabs was the Cessna 172SP "SkyHawk". Since that release the development house also released a very substantial KingAir 350, this new aircraft is their third release in the same Cessna 172SP aircraft but this time it is in a digital glass cockpit Garmin G1000 form.


The Cessna 172 is the trainer's, trainer aircraft, the workhorse of most flying clubs around the world, first flown in 1955 (over 60 years ago) and there are still 43,000 172's scattered around the airfields of the world. They are the backbone of the General Aviation world, the Volkswagon Beetle of the general aviation plane world, the everyman's aircraft...  In other words there is a lot of them and they are part of the aviation scenery all around you. However out of your honey-eyed gilded memories is that the 172SP as an aircraft is also a morbidly slow and a shockingly noisy aircraft, but lets not damage the cloud high dreams.


With the introduction of the KingAir 350. AirfoilLabs also introduced their own plugin system called XJet. (most developers use the SASL System). Which can be a tricky thing to do and that proved to be just so as the Plugin on release was quite buggy in the KA 350 aircraft. But this is new project a few years on and I found this time around that the XJet Plugin is now very refined (now up to version v1.5.1) and thankfully this time around we had no nasty gliches in using it. To use the XJet System you have to download the "Product Manager" program and install it on your computer: Product Manager / Xjet 1.5.1


The installer can be downloaded in all Windows (.exe), Mac OS (.app) and Linux (.Jar) forms for your own type of operating System.


Product Manager

The "Product Manager" Application is used to download and manage your aircraft from AirFoilLabs, install then run and you will get a summary of the aircraft you have sitting in your "AirFoilLabs" Aircraft folder, if not the the installer will not only create the required folder, but also load in the required XJet Plugin into your X-Plane Resources/Plugins folder.


Select the Aircraft you want to Update/Install then load in via the "Install New Addon" button, then select (the path address) of your X-Plane installation and then the "Authorisation Key". Then the "Wizard" will do a complete (and Plugin install if required) aircraft installation.


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After the installation or update the Product Manager will then show you a summary and "Release Notes" of the install or aircraft update and version number. (shown is the original C172SP update). The full process is very good and efficient. 


Startup X-Plane and select the AirfoilLab's C 172SP NG DIGITAL aircraft...   and you also get a very impressive MSFS 2020 Startup screen with a rotating aircraft scenario (You can disable this startup option if you want to).


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To start the simulation you press the "TAKE CONTROL" banner, and in (or off) you go.


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The original AirFoilLabs Cessna 172SP "Skyhawk", was at the time a big step forward in quality and detail, and at the time a new level of realism. And the aircraft stands up well even today (AirFoilLabs have noted the aircraft will get the same full NG DIGITAL level upgrade in the Analog version of the C172SP). The NG symbol is to note "New Generation", or a more highly refined version of the Cessna 172SP.


In the walkaround of the newer NG DIGITAL aircraft it certainly looks and feels like it is in another level again in quality and detail. Improvements in texture quality, PBR (Physically Based Rendering) and brilliant NML normal, or Dot3 bump mapping have again raised the game significantly.


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There is the good, or there is the brilliant, and the AirfoilLabs C 172 NG is certainly in the latter category. We marvel all the time now with simulation aircraft detail, but you can still get blown away on just how far we have actually come in the last half a decade, Carenado's were originally very good, but can now look quite stodgy in being compared to the quality that is currently on show.


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Detail here is simply mindblowing... every component is modeled here, with each assembly quite perfect, but better are the strengthening panels that are perfectly created with the authentic riveting that is also stupendous in quality, it looks and would feel perfectly real. Door hinges have not only the required perfect hinges, but the cir-clip perfection as well.


The metal panels, look like metal panels, this includes the fuselage, wings and the corrugated flaps on the trailing edge. Lighting fixtures (here both with separate Navigation and Strobe lights assemblies, (note the amazing inner plastic lighting assembly to the outer metal skin) are again perfection.


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Every aspect you can remember on a 172 aircraft is replicated here, and in high detail, notable underwing fuel taps and water drainage. The elevator trailing edge wicks not only have the probes, but the excellent metal assembly as well.


Tail assembly is again excellent in detail and riveting, the manufacturer's plate is highly visible and nicely indented with the aircraft's details. All Elevator and Rudder components are beautifully recreated and animated.


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You have a choice between nice wheel fairings, or the naked gear assembly, which is quite simple on the C172...  but extremely well done here, note the logo and tyre canvas detailing. I always liked the unhoused wheels, mostly to see the touchdown better.


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Cabin glass is also highly realistic. It comes with nice thickness, tint and reflections, with no means that you can't fault it. oddly there is no clear glass option, but I don't think you need it here. Note the opening (animated) side window.


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Before we consider the cabin and interior, we will explore the very expansive and feature rich Menu, that pops out from the left side of your screen as a lot of features in the menu are relatable to the exterior. Notable is that AirfoilLab's always did do these extreme elaborate menus.



There are nine rows of options in the Menu System;

  • Aircraft State
  • 2D Panels
  • Ground Objects
  • Options
  • Weight & Balance
  • Failures
  • Settings
  • Situations
  • Hangar Remote

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Aircraft State : There are FOUR options on the state of the aircraft;  Cold & Dark, Before Start, Before Taxi and Before Takeoff.


2D Panels : There are TEN options of pop-up 2D panels; Pilot PFD (Primary Flight Display), Pilot MFD (Multifunctional Display), AUD (Audio Panel), Avionics Panel, Backup Instruments, Start/Circuit Breaker Panel,Throttle/Mixture Panel, Fuel/Pedestal Panel, Electrical System Panel, And Engine Systems Panel.


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All pop-outs are extremely scaleable (from full screen to absolute nothing!), window pop-out and moveable around the screen, all pop-out panels are highly useable. Note: if you scale too small you may not resize the panel back to normal, as there is no default reset button either? 


Ground Objects : There are SIX static elements available; GBU (External Battery Power Unit), RBF (Engine inlet covers, tags, flags), Chocks, Tie-Downs, Door, Engine Inlet Heater and (Cabin) Cover.


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The six optional static elements are excellent. The Engine heater blower is HUGE, and the full quilted cover is a lovely piece of work, there are no door menu options though. Door operation is direct contact on the outer and inner handles.


Options : There are EIGHT Options; Fairings (Wheel), Hub Caps, Bush Wheels, Vortex Generators, Flap Gap Seals, AoA (Angle of Attack) Indicator, Tablet and Headset Sound (headset on or off).


The Fairings are nicely modeled and fit well, but look a little heavy for such a light aircraft, the Hub Caps are in silver, and I am not crazy about them....  The large bush tyres (sometimes known as "Tundra") are excellent, but not overly large in a balloon look and feel...


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...   you also have the option of upper wing 'Vortex Generators".

"This vortex air flow energizes the normally stagnant boundary layer of air on the wing's surface. An energized boundary layer is more resistant to flow separation than a stagnant boundary layer. The result is that airflow 'sticks' to the wing better, permitting flight at lower airspeeds with improved control authority.”


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Similar with the "Flap Gap" seals lower wing, to make the wing more efficient and cleaner. Notable is that with these Vortex generator and Flap gap seals and other options, the Flight Model is influenced and adjusted to the new elements.


There is a AoA (Angle of Attack) Indicator that is positioned on the top of the glareshield that can be also selected (Via menu and HotSpot)...


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...   and fixed to the far right of the Instrument panel is an optional "Tablet" very "IPad Mini" in size, it is also a "Menu" system access panel as well, but note that not all of the menu options are available on here. AviTab is also installed on the tablet.


Last Option is to lower the volume as if you are wearing a headset, there are a pair of headsets shown in the cabin, but the volume is not affected if you show or hide them, that aspect is done here in the menu.


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Weight & Balance : The weight and balance sheet is also excellent and it comes in two options (Select Units) of lbs/Gal or kg/l.


There is the full extensive list of weights available and the adjustments are numerous with the two standard wing fuel tanks, Crew, Passengers, Baggage and four Presets for both all the Fuel and Aircraft load weights... a full weight graph shows Centre of Gravity and inches aft of datum. Only notes are that the scale left is still noted in "POUNDS" on the Kg selection, but the Weights are thankfully are shown in both units and they can be directly typed in from your keyboard, and the very large panel is not scaleable. Overall the W&B sheet is excellent.


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Super nice are the options for both different pilots and passengers, their different weights are also calculated with your choice. There are the choices per seat of Seven different people (and their weight) options, or none at all in the seat except for the pilot, who is of course default.


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The quality of the on board people are excellent, very if extremely realistic and light years away from the frightful crew in the original 172, and all come with animated head movements. Both pilots and passengers can be shown separately, and visible When Outside, Always or Never.


Failures : The C 172SP comes with a significant "Failure" system. And covers both the "Aircraft" and "World" Scenarios. All together 175 Individual Components are Simulated and each Aircraft Component has a wear property with custom Logic in which the separate Components have Wear and Failures that are also influencing each other.


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Each "Scenario" can be set to "Fail At" (Altitude), Set MEAN TIME, Always Fail, Fail at Speed (KIAS) and Time to Failure. Details of each failure is also shown.


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If a failure has happened it will be noted in the "Failures Screen" and on the Menu icon by turning red...  press the right "FIX " (Spanner) ICON to fix all the issues instantly.


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You can SAVE a Scenario, LOAD a Scenario with 30 Scenarios provided built in, to get you already straight into trouble, Instantly you can FIX ALL Components via the lower button. So overall it is a very comprehensive failure system with multiple failures also allowed and you can STOP/START the failures at any time of your choosing.


Settings : There is a "SETTINGS" panel to cover FOUR areas in General, Sound, G1000 and User Interface.


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In General, you have options to... Save (current) Aircraft Configuration, so when you come back to the aircraft it will be the same as you left it. Save (current) Aircraft Condition, is the same but for wear and failure states. Both Pilots and Passengers can be shown separately, and visible When Outside, Always or Never.


In Sound, you have options to...  Hear "Environmental Sounds" (i.e. Wind, Rain and Ambiences) outside of the aircraft. Pilot/CoPilot Callouts "V1, VR, V2 etc. The "Callout" Volume and "Checklist" Speech Volume.


In G1000, you have the option to...  Disable the Aural Warnings (cautions and warnings).


In User Interface, you have the options to...  (Delay) the Popup Displays from "Instant to 2 secs".


Situations : The AirfoilLab's C 172 SP comes with a SAVE/ LOAD situation interface. Here you can Save a situation, then Load it back in to your own desire.


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Hangar Remote : The Remote is for opening a hangar door in the AirfoilLabs KAWO UHD Scenery, that will also have playing music inside the hangar. The KAWO scenery update containing this feature will be released in January 2022.



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Besides the Menu options, there are also a load of "Hot Spot" zones on the aircraft to animate the various areas.


Hot Spots

You can touch (Hot Spot) areas to also activate all the same Static Elements directly in GBU (External Battery Power Unit), RBF (Engine inlet covers, tags, flags), Chocks, Tie-Downs and Doors. Neat are the small opening flaps in the Wheel Fairings to check the tyre pressures. The elements can be activated with both the external view or internal view settings.


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Both side doors (and their windows) open, plus the baggage locker behind the seats (with bags if weights selected). You can check the Oil quantity via the right side cap on the engine cowling, and both Fuel quantities via the tank caps on the wing. 


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There is an Aircraft puller that pops up when you press the front wheel strut. You can then manoeuvre the aircraft on the ground via the puller.


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The External Battery Pack is connected via the left side access flap (press again for battery power). And push the (Hot Spot) areas front of the engine cowlings to remove both the upper and lower cowlings...


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...   this reveals the complete Lycoming IO-360-L2A (200hp - 149kW) engine and it's mounting frame and accessories. Nothing new actually as the original AirfoilLab's 172SP had the same engine exposure feature, but this Lycoming engine looks far fresher and more authentic than what I remember, but overall it is an extreme example of detailing.


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Press areas of the engine and the engine bay, and you get details of the part or unit, the same is linked to the "Failure Scenario" with the same events and failures.


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The thoughts of the Flywheel breaking gives me the "Heebie-jeebies" though...  nasty. Overall it is all simply amazing in the extreme detail and access you have to the aircraft and it's systems.


Views Menus

There is a views Menu that pops up far lower left screen. It is in three parts. External Views, Internal Views and the QuickLook system.


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The aircraft symbol allows you to do a walkaround of the aircraft via hotspots.


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You can manipulate all the flying surfaces to check them, and there is movement and sounds as you physically check each surface.


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The internal views selects a certain panel or area of the cockpit...


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...  at the bottom of the internal view icon is the "QuickLook" system. Here you can assign keys or a HAT SWITCH with the AirfoilLab's Camera Commands to navigate visually more quickly around internally in the aircraft, you can customise the view settings as well...  it is just another take on the X-Plane Number views system, but with far more options.


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The right side lower screen icon is your checklist feature. There are Five (four Checklists) in; General, Limits, Normal, Emergency and Performance. The same comprehensive checklist system is also available from inside the cockpit.


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At first glance the cabin looks very, very similar to the earlier released analog C 172SP. But there are a few subtle and significant differences.


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The seats themselves are the same design, but the material used is now vastly different in detail, quality and has a nicer darker tone, also the side paneling material is lighter in a grey tone, than the earlier darker material. Underseat detail is excellent, with a full frame seat construction.

If you select the centre of either front seat cushion, you use a hotspot to enter the aircraft and position yourself into either one of the front seats. Same detailing quality is in the rear with the same bench seating but coming with the newer materials and details.


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Cabin is still very, very tight inside, tall and not so very wide. Roof details are excellent with a ceiling molding, with a centre lighting module...


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....  the side air vents are animated and can be positioned on were you want them. Note the very nice (and readable) Information Plate on the high left side. Both blinds are nicely animated in both dropdown and sideways movements.


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Instrument Panel

Most trainer aircraft instrument panels are usually quite simplistic, they have to be at this level. But this panel is even more sparse without all the usual primary, analog and avionic instruments...  all there is really are two large Display Screens, Backup Instruments, Switch panel, Fuse (Circuit Breaker) Panel and central Throttle and Mixture push/pull knobs.


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But there is a far deeper depth and quality on show here, the grey facia is nicer and darker that the original silvery hue... it all feels very luxury or more modern than before. The twin displays have a lovely glossy sheen that speaks realistic. Twin screens note the DIGITAL in the title, and both are nicely labelled GARMIN for authenticity.


The twin Yokes are very authentic, right down to the lovely "Skyhawk SP" logo. They are wire gust locked, and the left yoke has a built in (working) electric Trim adjuster. Nice is that you can hide each yoke separately, so both, one or none.


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Turn on the power supply, the right PFD (Primary Flight Display) starts up with a really well done system test procedure, and it takes a minute or so to align and test the G1000 system ready for flight. Switch on the AVIONIC power supply and the right MFD (MultiFunctional Display) then also goes into startup mode. Avionic power has both A and B busses.


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When both displays are set up you get actually the standard X-Plane G1000 avionics interface. Obviously it is good, but I expected at least the Artificial Horizon colouring to be the the more custom lighter browns and blues at least at this level. Both displays pop-out and can be scaled and moved around the screen.


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The G1000's PFD main flight instruments are all the standard layouts, with the artificial horizon, speed and altitude tapes, bank roll scale and roll pointer and HSI (horizontal situation indicator), course and heading pointer which are all in one, ALT, BARO and HDG. The FD (Flight Director) elements are also shown. Other features include "Inset" map, alerts, REF/TIMER, NRST, XPDR, both VOR 1 and 2 pointers, DME and Wind (3 options), OAT and XPDR (Transponder)... top banner includes Radio NAV (left) and COM (right) Autopilot info (centre).


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Note the Crew Alerting System (CAS), and it comes as standard with the G1000 system, the CAS system will display WARNING (Red), CAUTION (Yellow) and ADVISORY (White) alerts, in that order of priority.


The MFD is both the MAP and FLIGHTPLAN display.


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There is the excellent ENGINE (Engine) mode screen. Note; the engine parameters viewed here are shown to be not running.

Engine parameters covered are "Engine RPM", "FFlow" (Fuel Flow), "Oil" Pressure and Temp. "Engine Temperatures" EGT ºF, VAC (Vacuum), "Fuel Qty" (in GAL) for both tanks and ENG HRS (Engine Hours). ELECTRICAL output section covers both Current (A) and Bus Volts (V) M&E and AMPS.

SYSTEM mode shows The Fuel section displays the same Engine RPM", "Oil" Pressure and Temp. Then lower is the FUEL CALC section, with "FFlow" (Fuel Flow), GPH (Gallons Per Hour), GAL USED (Gallons Used), GAL REM (Gallons Remaining), "Fuel Qty" (in GAL) and both the Fuel and Remaining settings can be reset. Lower is the same ELECTRICAL display as on the Engine display selection.


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A custom and interesting feature is you can select the LEAN button and see the EGT ºF of each cylinder. Moving between the cylinders is done via the CYL SELCT button, and you can also ASSIST in showing the PEAK ºF temperature.


The usual HIGH and LOW Range of MAPS. TOPO, TERRAIN and AIRWAYS are all standard, as is the FLIGHTPLAN (FPL) option.


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Between the two G1000 displays is the COMM Radio Panel, with a DISPLAY BACKUP that puts all the critical flying and system information on one or in this case both active screens.


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Instrument panel details include; Aircraft Registration that changes with the livery, STBY BATT (Standby Battery) with test that powers the backup avionics. MASTER and AVIONICS power (Avionics has BUS 1 and 2). Lower left is the Instrument DIMMING panel, and to the right the LIGHTS (external) switchgear, with optional FUEL PUMP, PITOT HEAT and CABIN PWR 12v switches.


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Centre are the three Backup Instruments in; AIRSPEED, ARTIFICIAL HORIZON and ALTIMETER, top far right is a QUARTZ Hour Meter.


Lower left panel is the IGNITION/MAGNETO switch, the an extensive and hot working Fuse (Circuit Breaker) Panel. Moving central is the Throttle and Mixture push/pull knobs, and to the right the WING FLAPS UP-10º-20º-FULL. Both Cabin Air and Heater knobs are highly animated.


Centre console has a very nice TRIM wheel, Fuel Cutoff (hard to use?), and Fuel tank selector in; LEFT, RIGHT or BOTH. Also you get the currently seriously popular X-Plane feature of a Coffee or Drink Cup!


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There is some seriously nice work to see under the Instrument panel...   modeled and fully animated are the wheels and pulleys of the flight cables (the wires that move the aerodynamic surfaces), and brilliantly done it is. The rudder pedals and mechanism is also fully animated, and the pedals are far better modeled and rugged than the pedals on the original C 172SP of which I wasn't crazy about.


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Also nicely done is the logo Cessna Key... when not used the key tab sits on the top of the glareshield. Note the nice Whiskey Compass.


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Each side pocket has something interesting... the left POH is the same checklist as on the right lower screen icon...


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... the right pocket has a map, that when touched (hotspot) it brings up the X-Plane Local Map. Notable is that if you touch the audio connectors it will Show/Hide the headphones on the seats.


Notable is the Detailed Damage Simulation as in the bending of the wings and propellers, Overspeed Flutter, Flaps damage, Gear damage, Wing loss and much, much more hairy stuff. Sparks will even flow if you are running the broken gear along the ground!


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Flying the C172S NG DIGITAL

In a release history AirfoilLab's has been interesting. The original C 172SP was their first, in that was a huge complex first project for them, and it felt a little underdeveloped when released that was quickly fixed in updates. Personally I just didn't take to the aircraft, but most C 172SP owners said it was a perfect rendition, so I respect that aspect.


Then came the KA 350. On this AirfoilLab release the aircraft now came with a very, very buggy new plugin system in XJet. Plus the aircraft itself was very buggy as well, huge on features and ideas...  when it came to piloting pleasure, again the aircraft just didn't ring with me. It is in no doubt brilliant and so don't get me wrong on that account, but not were it counted for me in the left seat.


Coming into this updated NG version of the C172SP DIGITAL, it was a far more effortless installation and set up, the aircraft itself feels a whole lot better and should I say now even more authentic...  but it will be in the flying that it has to convince me into fly it regularly.


First off is the option to allow for continuous ongoing wear and tear on the aircraft (Save Aircraft Condition). This will make your starting procedures easy or difficult, for as starting the tiddler C 172SP it can get harder and harder as time moves on, unless you replace the worn components. Very realistic, but it can also get seriously infuriating if you can't start the aircraft and just want a quick zip around in a few circuits around the area.


On approaching the aircraft at the start of the day I found everything set as I had left it the night before, including the still set flightplan...  nice. This can be activated by the "Save Aircraft Configuration" option.

Consistent resetting everything from absolute zero has been one of my constant pains throughout the year, developers need to use better saves and turnaround settings. (ToLiSS saves are golden). There is of course the option here of the four start states of; Cold & Dark, Before Start, Before Taxi and Before Takeoff.


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Settled in and I then selected the big gruff bearded passenger as my Co-Pilot, mainly because he looked like a strict instructor. Then did a control check, by putting the yoke and rudders through all the motions. Throttle slightly in, Mixture at ¾ and "chuck, chunk" and the C 172SP fires into life.


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The effect shakes are not as I remember them, they used to be quite violent, but now they are more tamed with the cowling vibrating nicely in your view. Sounds on churn and starting are excellent, very realistic, but again not as noisy as I remember them. Other effects cover Rain (drops), Fogging, Icing and a Broken Windshield.


Trim is set to neutral, and flaps to 10º. Off with the park brake and your rolling....


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...  even touching the brakes will give you a very bouncy nose movement as I quickly remembered as it was the same in the Original, courtesy of a very soft nosewheel. So taxiing can be tricky as the C 172SP will weave and scare you if you try to go too fast down a long taxiway like at Taxiway C at YBCG (Gold Coast), so you need to moderate the way you travel at ground speed. Plus I keep out of the way of the jet blast from a departing QF Boeing 737 as we both head for Runway 32.


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Lined up on RWY 32, and I can't sit around, there is now a VA Boeing 737 now turning into finals behind me.


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On the hold the aircraft sounded perfectly authentic and real with the rough aircooled four-stroke clatter patter perfectly right, throttle up and you get that roar and the wind effects you know well. The aircraft has moved on from the original DreamEngine Sound plugin which had then 140 different sounds to the now more modern FMOD system with 320 sounds plus all the detailed layered engine samples with full audible failures simulation.  So okay it was back then actually very good...   however now it is even far, far better aurally.


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So with the power knob in and it is "lets Go". The VSpeeds are listed in; Y, G, X and R, and once underway they move into their correct positions on the speed tape.


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The asymmetrical thrust is actually not bad, but you have to be really good on the rudder pedals in not letting the aircraft get away from you, if you weave too wide you will lose it...   and it will always end up in disaster.


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Rotation is noted at 73 Knts, I lift at 77 knts, so you could say VR (Y) + 5...


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Vertical speed is not riveting at only a top climb rate of 700 fpm (721 ft/min (3.66 m/s)) or usually your climbing out at around 500 fpm, and if in wanting to test out the aircraft's ceiling altitude 13,500 ft (4,100 m) it is going to take an afternoon to do so.


In the air I feel very confident, not a lot of wind is making the flying smooth and easy...  yes "I feel very good".


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I'm a bit slow in retracting the flaps, and that shows in the speed and aircraft pitch angle, with them extended to 10º you feel the aircraft pulling back with the drag, very impressive...  once retracted the aircraft settles nicely.


Now I trim with sound clicks from the Yoke. Again very impressive as the Skyhawk finds itself a really nice balance, and it is very easy in the aircraft is to fly manually, and even with your hands and feet off the controls, ditto are the sweet turns, but you have to watch the slight power drop if at a tight bank angle.


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There is a very heavy purple window tint like on the Original, it is one of those things that you will like, or don't. Personally I'm still not sure?


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Cruise speed is 122 kn (140 mph, 226 km/h), but generally you keep around the 100 knts mark, slower sometimes than the cars down there on the freeways. Never exceed speed is 163 kn (188 mph, 302 km/h) (IAS) and the range is an impressive 696 NM (801 mi, 1,289 km) with 45 minute reserve, at 55% power, at 12,000 ft.


172 NG_Digital_Flying 33.jpg172 NG_Digital_Flying 34.jpg172 NG_Digital_Flying 32.jpg172 NG_Digital_Flying 35.jpg172 NG_Digital_Flying 36.jpg


The exhaust particle effects are really good, the Original 172 was a bit of a smoker, but this NG version would find you with a notice from the Environmental Agency. Underside fuselage detail is worth a long look.


  172 NG_Digital_Flying 37.jpg



Overall for such a small aircraft the lighting is impressive with HDR Lighting throughout. The main cabin lighting is courtesy of three overhead lights, two forward adjustable, and one rear which is just a push button.


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The forward overhead lights are moveable adjustable spotlights, but still being close together they don't create a darker one side and bright the other effect, it is nicely dimmed however, but with such a small cabin the tamdem spot lighting could still distract the pilot.


172 NG_Digital_Lighting 8.jpg172 NG_Digital_Lighting 9.jpg


Four panel adjustment knobs cover; Lower Switch Panels, STBY IND (Standby Instruments), Avionics (G1000 screens) and a PEDESTAL for a lovely little light over the Fuel Selector.


172 NG_Digital_Lighting 4.jpg172 NG_Digital_Lighting 5.jpg172 NG_Digital_Lighting 6.jpg172 NG_Digital_Lighting 7.jpg


So that low-light flying or perfect approach feel without any bright panel or cabin distractions can easily be achieved in here with the excellent lighting adjustments.


172 NG_Digital_Lighting 10.jpg


Impressive are the mid-wing LED Main and taxi lights, and they stream forward nicely in the dark. The rest of the external lighting is also good, with nice Navigation, Tail Beacon and perfect tight flashing wing Strobes. Again all excellent.


172 NG_Digital_Lighting 11.jpg172 NG_Digital_Lighting 12.jpg172 NG_Digital_Lighting 15.jpg172 NG_Digital_Lighting 13.jpg172 NG_Digital_Lighting 14.jpg


Arriving at YNBA (Ballina/Byron) is a tricky western approach into Runway 06, it is hilly and hides the airport directly from view, and so you can't go to low either in the circuit.

So getting as low as I could (initially 1200ft) then 800ft, it was making you work hard to use the throttle knob correctly. Too much power and you didn't descend (at all), drop the power too low and you easily fell into a stall or consistent fading speed zone. So it takes a little practise to get it all right with the correct speed and altitude.


172 NG_Digital_Landing YBNA 1.jpg172 NG_Digital_Landing YBNA 2.jpg172 NG_Digital_Landing YBNA 3.jpg172 NG_Digital_Landing YBNA 4.jpg


With the gruff instructor watching my every move, he also knew how hard I was working to fly the aircraft... Turn to finals in the circuit.


172 NG_Digital_Landing YBNA 5.jpg172 NG_Digital_Landing YBNA 6.jpg


On finally sighting RWY 06, I dropped the speed to 82 knts and the flaps to 10º, the trick is that even from 600 ft, I was going to go over the hill and then dropping hard down into the airfield, so the slowest speed I can approach the field gives me more of the time to do the descent correctly.


172 NG_Digital_Landing YBNA 7.jpg172 NG_Digital_Landing YBNA 8.jpg


The Cessna 172SP is the ultimate training aircraft, but here you will still need a bit of skill to fly the aircraft, as I am working everything pretty hard in here on the controls.


172 NG_Digital_Landing YBNA 9.jpg172 NG_Digital_Landing YBNA 10.jpg


Again it is a balance. At Full flap you have get the power thrust right, or you will easily stall the aircraft now at the (Y) 75 knts. Loosening the power down to 72 knts will then give you a nice descent rate of 200 fpm, another few knts down and you get 300 fpm... all up and down control is now via the throttle.


172 NG_Digital_Landing YBNA 11.jpg172 NG_Digital_Landing YBNA 12.jpg


Over the fence, and I go into a 60 knt float, but still gradually dropping to the surface. Stall speed is 47 kn (54 mph, 87 km/h) (power off, flaps down), so again you don't have a lot of room to manoeuvre in the low power zone...


172 NG_Digital_Landing YBNA 13.jpg172 NG_Digital_Landing YBNA 14.jpg172 NG_Digital_Landing YBNA 15.jpg172 NG_Digital_Landing YBNA 16.jpg


No time for a slight flare here, just all wheels straight on to the ground...  and rolling.


172 NG_Digital_Landing YBNA 17.jpg172 NG_Digital_Landing YBNA 18.jpg172 NG_Digital_Landing YBNA 19.jpg


Tricky yes, but I got the thumbs up from the gruff instructor, so I must have done good. You have to be aware that the current development of X-Plane aircraft in that the dynamics are now extremely good (Experimental Flight Model here is actually off). So the AirfoilLab's C172SP's handling and feedback is still exceptional... in every area the dynamics are more heightened and that is certainly in this case. But your skills now have to match the heightened dynamics as well...   total realism now has a price.


172 NG_Digital_Flying 38.jpg



There are 47 liveries provided with the 172, yes FORTY SEVEN. That covers most areas that has this aircraft still in operation. The USA gets the bulk of the action with 23 liveries, the rest are Europe (but only one G- Rego) and two in Australia. I couldn't do all of them to show what they are like, but most are white with stripes, but the best 12 are shown here.


172 NG_Digital_Livery D-ECWQ.jpg172 NG_Digital_Livery ZeroA.jpg172 NG_Digital_Livery N423SC.jpg172 NG_Digital_Livery JCG.jpg172 NG_Digital_Livery G-LANE.jpg172 NG_Digital_Livery N698CS.jpg172 NG_Digital_Livery EI-OOR.jpg172 NG_Digital_Livery CAP.jpg172 NG_Digital_Livery AeroFoil.jpg172 NG_Digital_Livery KLM.jpg172 NG_Digital_Livery SAA.jpg172 NG_Digital_Livery Power Hawk.jpg



This is the third aircraft released from Czech studio AirfoilLabs after the Original Cessna 172SP "Skyhawk", then a  KingAir 350, and now in this release in the same Cessna 172SP but this time in a digital glass cockpit Garmin G1000 form. Notable it is titled NG for "New Generation".


The first Cessna 172SP had a big feature list and was by all accounts quite an impressive reproduction of the most famous training Cessna of them all. The "Skyhawk's reputation is exceptional, loved by one and all and most of these Cessna's are still flying actively in clubs all round the world.


So this not just a heavily updated aircraft of the C172SP, but a compete ground up redevelopment of the aircraft (AirfoilLab's have noted the Original analog version will get the same complete full development treatment as seen here). And a serious new aircraft it is.


Modeling is above and beyond just great work, the result here is an almost perfect replica of the 172 Cessna aircraft. Everything is modeled and to an extreme high quality in PBR Texturing. Metal looks like metal, and the rivets and plating is all to perfection. Glass is really great, but the tinting is to your personal taste. Interior cabin is to a greatly higher quality in detail and materials, and "Just like the real thing".


If you want BIG feature lists, then you can't go past AirfoilLabs. And the C172SP NG doesn't disappoint here. Basically every idea or feature you could think of you have available here via nine rows of options in the comprehensive Menu System. Including removing the engine cowlings to reveal a complete Lycoming IO-360-L2A with all it's engine parts, it's impressive.


Full custom GARMIN G1000 avionics suite is installed, based on the Laminar Research version, it is customised with startup test screens and layouts for the Cessna 172SP


There is a comprehensive weight and balance sheet, comprehensive view system, comprehensive failure system, excellent internal and external lighting, comprehensive quality 320 sounds plus FMOD system, animated choices of pilots and passengers, ten popout panels and 47, yes count them 47 liveries and a "partridge in a pear tree". This aircraft has absolutely everything in details and features.


The overall proof though is in the flying and use. Earlier AirfoilLab's aircraft were good, but so complex that they may have hindered slightly themselves, a brand new XJet plugin didn't help either.

But this new "Generation" aircraft has moved beyond those aspects. The plugin now works faultlessly, and the Product Manager is also very good at loading in and updating the AerofoilLab products. And the ease of use of flying and using the aircraft is also now very good. It was not just more features that you needed, but just the basics done well... and the proof of that aspect has now been done as well and creates a very good experience all around. Any negatives... not much, the consistent popping out of the menus can be annoying and the failures can be like little fireworks going off sometimes, I personally would have liked the more custom Artificial Horizon than the Laminar default dark blues and browns...   but overall the aircraft is totally brilliant in every area.


The proof for me will be in the time going forward for this Cessna 172SP NG. In just selecting it and flying not only circuits, but also doing small point to point routes will then mean I want to fly the Cessna and WILL want to use the aircraft as well. My gut currently says that will certainly happen, so that means also a high recommendation of the level of the quality and dynamics of the aircraft, and overall this is a supreme elevation to another level of Simulation and for the standout quality of the X-Plane Simulator...  Highly Recommended.


X-Plane Store logo sm.jpg


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



Price is US$49.95


This aircraft is noted aircraft for X-Plane11 but X-Plane12 will be supported.


3D Model
  • 3D Model based on real aircraft and rebuild from the ground up
  • Exquisite PBR Texturing
  • Lycoming IO-360-L2A with all engine parts
  • Engine Heater, GPU, Refueling details, Fuel Sampling, Oil Management
  • Covers, Chocks, Tiedowns
  • Interior with many animations, vibrations, zero-G floating objects, baggage, and more
  • Damaged Aircraft Parts
  • Many detailed passengers and pilots
  • Rain, Fogging, Icing, Broken Windshield
  • Custom Particles Effects
  • 48 Liveries
  • Countless additional details, features, and animation
  • HDR Lighting System
FMOD Sound
  • More than 320 sounds + detailed layered engine samples with audible failures simulation
  • Many real aircraft recording sessions
  • All animations, movements, and situations are producing sounds
  • Weather effects outside and inside of the aircraft
Flight Model
  • Based on real aircraft flight recordings
  • Performance tuned and correlated with performance tables
  • Behavior details consulted with Pilots and Flight Instructors
  • Additional custom behavior: Stall and Spin, Soft Field Takeoff, Crosswind Ground Operations
  • Lift, Drag, Moment Forces Airfoils Data customized by internal plugin-based tweaker
  • Detailed Damage Simulation as Bending of the wings, Overspeed Flutter, Flaps damage, etc.
  • Wing Tail and Fuselage ground strike simulation.
  • Flight Model is influenced by - Vortex Generators, Flap Gap Seals, Bush Wheels, Fairings, Broken Windshield, etc.
Aircraft Systems
  • Custom Fuel System Simulation including fuel flow and individual components logic and failures
  • Landing Gear plugin-based tuning of forces including Side Moments, Skidding, and more
  • Detailed Landing Gear Damage - Bending Struts, Tire Wear, Flat Tire, Brakes, etc.
  • Flight Controls Damage simulation
Electrical System
  • Plugin Based Custom Electrical System designed according to real C172 Electrical Scheme
  • Simulating All Circuit Breakers, Electrical Components Failures, Short Circuits
  • Custom Busses, Fuses, Corrected Voltages, Amps, Batteries, behaviors, etc.
  • Electrical Scheme 2D Panel with live states
Engine Logic
  • Plugin Based Custom Engine Components Simulation and Wear
  • Per Cylinder Simulation of Temperatures, Wear and Failures
  • Custom Oil Temperature, Pressure Simulation
  • Custom Per Cylinder EGT simulation
  • 2 Magnetos and 8 Individual Spark Plugs Simulations
  • Spark Plugs Fouling Simulation
  • Additional Engine Components Wear and Failure Simulation (Air Intake, Fuel Pump, Exhaust, Fuel/Air Control Unit, Fuel Flow Transducer, Oil Filter, etc.)
Failure Management System and Scenarios Saving
  • Custom Plugin Based Failure Management System
  • 175 Individual Components Simulated
  • Each Aircraft Component has a Wear property with custom Logic
  • Components Wear and Failures are influencing each other
  • Components State Saving Option
  • Failed at Altitude ASL/AGL Option
  • Possibility to Save Failure Sets as Individual Scenarios with thumbnail and description
  • 30 Scenarios Provided
C172 Knowledge Base
  • All of the failable 175 components are explained in detail in a 2D window
  • It provides valuable C172 information about how the aircraft works in real life
  • Engine Components are 3D clickable from the outside with Instant Descriptions, Explanations, and Illustrations.
User Interface and 2D Panels
  • New Gen User Interface with Floating Menu - Ergonomy and Ease of Use in mind
  • Instant Loading of Aircraft States: Cold&Dark, Before Start, Before Taxi, Before Takeoff
  • Detailed 2d panels with detachable windows for second monitors
  • PFD, MFD, Audio Panel, Switches Panel, Standby Instruments, CBs, Throttle Quadrant, Pedestal, Electrical System, Engine with animations 2D Panels
  • Aircraft Options Menu
  • Weight & Balance Detailed Options
  • Complex Failure Management System
  • General Settings include aircraft states, components conditions, sounds, intro, etc.
  • Custom Load/Save Situations Dialog
  • Remote Control for Airfoillabs Hangar at KAWO airport
  • Camera and Quick View Interface
  • Automated Checklists with Performace Calculators (Takeoff, Landing, Cruise)
  • Stylish Intro Animation
  • Cockpit Builders Optimized
  • Preparing Support for RealSimGear Hardware at the beginning of 2022.
G1000 additional features
  • Custom Engine Panel with Realistic Lean and System Tabs
  • Lean Assist Logic
  • Reversionary Mode Logic related to custom components
  • Custom Alerts, Caution, and Warning System
  • Speed Slip Improvements (Acceleration, V Speeds)
  • Simulating Loading Sequence and Instruments Initialisations
  • Custom Instruments Failures Warnings
  • G1000 Components Failures simulation
Aircraft Options
  • Wheel Fairings, Stylish Disc Wheel Covers, Bushwheels
  • Vortex Generators, Flap Gap Seals
  • Cockpit AoA Indicator and Tablet with AviTab Implementation
  • Headphones Logic and Noise Canceling
Checklist and Performance
  • Complex Automated Checklist System
  • Camera Focus on Instruments Option
  • Checklist Flow Options: Manual, Semi-Automatic, Automatic
  • Checklist Hints
  • Short Field Takeoff Calculator
  • Short Field Landing Calculator
Ground Operations
  • Manual Towing
  • Exterior Manual Check of Flight Controls
  • Covers, Tiedowns, Chocks Manipulation
  • Manual Fuel Sampling
  • Manual Refueling and Fuel Quantity Check
  • Manual Oil Refilling and Oil Quantity Check
  • Engine Heater Operation Logic
Walk Feature and QuickLook Camera with Collisions
  • Walk Feature with Terrain and Aircraft Collisions
  • Walk, Run, Crouch and Gravity Simulation
  • Climb on aircraft to refuel, get in/out
  • Customizable and Comfortable QuickLook System for Hat Switch Joysticks, compatible with other plugins



X-Plane 11

X-Plane 12 - Planned !
Windows, Mac or Linux 
4 GB  VRAM Minimum -  8 GB+ VRAM Recommended
Current and Review version: 1.0 (14th December 2021)



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 install it on your computer: Product Manager / Xjet 1.5.1

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 4.60gb. Authorisation is now done via the Product Manager. Updates are also done via the same Product Manager.



There was no Manual or documents at the time of release.



Review by Stephen Dutton 
14th December 2021
Copyright©2021: X-PlaneReviews

Review System Specifications: 

Computer System: Windows  - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo 1TB SSD - Sound : Yamaha Speakers YST-M200SP

Software:   - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.55

Plugins: Global SFD plugin US$30.00 : Environment Engine by xEnviro US$69.90 : RK Apps XPRealistic v2 - US$34.99

Scenery or Aircraft

- YBCG - Gold Coast International by Axonos

- YBNA - Ballina/Byron Gateway


(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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  • 5 weeks later...

If you are a Linux user, this product will not work straight forward and you will be expected to install a particular JRE to make things work. Even so, things are not going to bump up immediately and you will have to do a few workarounds. Not a plug and play aircraft at all.


Do not buy if you are going to require support from the vendor, because it will be pointless.


Safe flies!

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