Aircraft Development and Announcement : QPAC A320-232 v2
Route - EGSS (Stansted) to LFBO (Toulouse)
In 2009 QPAC (QualityPark AviationCenter) announced that they were going to commission a clever code writer named Torsten Liesk who had already created his own version of the A320 to write the first full FBW (Fly-By Wire) with hydro-mechanical systems and simulation in X-Plane to be used for Research & Development. The brief included:
A detailed simulation of the Airbus flight controls and auto-flight functions, including:
- Flight Check
- Fly-by-wire normal law giving a realistic aircraft response to control inputs including flight envelope protection
- Auto Pilot Flight Control Unit (FCU)
- Features of the real FCU are to be realistically simulated
- Auto flight system in accordance to Airbus logic, including ILS-Autoland and automatic roll-out
X-Plane was chosen for this task because it has very realistic aircraft simulation by Austin Meyer’s “blade element theory”, and with that X-Plane users were lucky to see and use the development of the these modern realistic aircraft systems.
It was always noted that the first A320-232 version (v1) was going to be freeware, but when the system development was going to continue into the next more in-depth stage in that it would then become payware in v2. v1 went final in March 2012 (version 1.1) and v2 will be released as payware at the end of October 2013.
With this level of realism achieved by v1, it made aerospace companies like Flight Data Services Ltd or Universities like the Dresden University of Technology to choose the QPAC A320 with its fly-by-wire technology as the backbone for some of their projects.
Flight data services Ltd uses a modified version of the QPAC A320 for X-Plane to replay Flight Data Recorder data from in-service aircraft to analyze and rate in-flight occurrences. At the Dresden University of Technology, the QPAC A320 is used as backbone for a research simulator at the Institute of Logistics and Aviation. In fact, a lot of the development done for the Dresden University of Technology has flowed back down into the QPAC Airbus A320 V2; therefore, and now private users can directly profit from the cooperation.
The first thing to note is that although the QPAC A320-232 now a noted payware aircraft, the development is ongoing and will be available through several different levels of depth of systems and features.
v2 will be available in three categories (releases noted here are forecasted and are not set definite dates):
- Basic (available October 2013) - cost is noted as US$25.00
- Plus (available May 2014) - US$40.00
- Premium (available December 2014) - US$70.00
The v1.1 version will still be freeware for X-Plane 9 and X-Plane 10 - 32bit.
It must be noted that the QPAC Airbus A320-232 is about systems and logic system depth. It is not about features and add-ons or special effects.
There will be a 3d cockpit and wing-flex will also be available in (late) 2014 at a noted additional cost. All payware versions will be 32bit-64bit but the premium version will not be available for X-Plane9.
The “Basic” version is what we will cover here. So attached below is a .pdf download of all the future “List of Features” for all the packages as that is to complex to list here.
QPAC Airbus A320-232 v2 (Basic)
At first glance the 2d cockpit looks exactly like the standard 1.1 freeware version. But remember that in time the 3d cockpit will change this focus significantly. First to note is the standard rear pedestal which is located on the pilot’s side is now clickable to be removed (or disappear). This leaves you with a cleaner panel although the viewpoint is still central and not aligned to the left of the Pilots eyeline. (You can remove the centre pillar)
ADIRU (air data inertial reference unit)
All 3 ADIRU units are independent. From a cold and dark set-up each unit can be set up differently as each unit has its own sensor noise model. This can make for realism as that there is a slightly different measurement errors between the Pilot’s and Co-Pilots PFD’s (Primary Flight Display).
You can activate each ADIRU (1,2 and 3) Interdependently and noted above is that on the left picture (above) one ADIRU (IR1) will work only on the pilot’s PFD and noted is the IRS alignment.
Each of the ADIRU’s are also switchable to either the Pilot’s PFD or the Co-Pilot’s display. Here in the right picture the (IR3) is activated on the co-pilot’s PFD but the ADIRU data can be switched over to the Pilot’s display via the switches (Switching - two right switches) below the Situation display.
Now you are starting to get the ideas behind the direction of the QPAC version of the A320. It is a deep system involvement in the way you fly the aircraft.
MCDU - FMGS
The MCDU (Multipurpose Control & Display Unit) - FMGS (Flight Management Guidance and (Envelope) Systems) are the systems that run the aircraft. The Airbus A320 uses the (Smiths) “Thales” system and in the QPAC version the MCDU’s are completely separate and independent between the Pilot and the Co-Pilot positions.
One thing that bugged me was that when you switched in one view, say on the pilots side, then the displays on the Co-Pilots view would do the same. But here not only are the main PFD and MAP displays completely switchable into every mode. The MCDU is also switchable to input from the position of the either the point of view of the pilot or the co-pilot’s position. And it is highly realistic. With 2 fully independent MCDUs with pages INIT, FPLN (main page), DIR, and PERF. Also pages MCDU Menu, RADNAV and DATA.
The “Basic” version comes with the welcome feature that will load a standard X-Plane FMS (route) that is compatible with UFMC and XFMC and then transforms it into a FMS route that looks like the programmed route of the directly entered data. This is a transition FMGS that will change to be almost 90% compatible FMGS that will be available in the “premium” version and will still be a fully functional FMGS in the “Plus” version.
In the “basic” version operation it is highly effective as the route is organized around the fixes (waypoints) as the curves (arrowed) create the correct flight passage. You can have one display on one section (long) of the route and the other display on a shorter distance or closer to the turn point. As everything in the displays are independent, you can have a large selection of views of your route and information. As noted for when the other (plus & Premium) versions are released the system will go more towards standard installation of the FMGS in the A320 aircraft. That will then include the extra MCDU pages : FPLN subpages (Lat Revision, Vert Revision, Arrival, Departure), PROG.
There is “Improved flight plan editing” which comprises of representation of 5 flight plan points in the Airbus MCDU style with the possibility to insert waypoints without overwriting them. Additionally, the possibility to enter Place/Distance/Bearing waypoints is added to facilitate flying circles at a constant radius are a VOR, for example.
(Above) Approximation of the constant distance arc around a VOR/DME at KDLH, using the possibility to enter Place/Distance/Bearing waypoints in the MCDU.
In flight you can see the split between the pilots and co-pilots separate autopilot and FMGC systems by inducing a failure in the “electrical bus”. This will cause the co-pilots displays and also his MCDU to malfunction. You can transfer the data to the pilots systems and fly on the AP1 as the AP2 function is now non-operational. Full warnings and hints on how to fly the aircraft will be then displayed on the centre display.
The weather radar is also highly effective. Each Nav display shows the radar sweep (well done), and you can independently adjust the display to the range. There is also the adjustment to change the intensity of the weather data.
An algorithm developed by QPAC detects an offset between the ILS localizer data and the runway data of the airport. (This frequently occurs at airports with custom scenery installed.) The algorithm corrects this offset to bring the aircraft in over the centerline of the runway. The algorithm maintains potential heading offsets between runway and localizer.
Other features include “Oxygen Mask” that is operated from the Pilot or Co-Pilot side panels and compatibility with:
- Marginal’s Autogate plugin
- Ground Services - Pushback, Refueling alpha-5
Supported Startup-configurations: The user can choose between four different startup configuration via the QPAC menu in the MCDU: Cold & Dark, Ground Power, APU and ADIRU running, Engines running. The last chosen setting is remembered next time the airplane is loaded. Also, the user can do inflight startups, e.g. to practice ILS approaches. (With inflight startup, give the FBW 5-10 seconds to adapt to the current configuration.)
“Improved PFD and ND (Navigation Display) synoptic” include:
- Full custom ND to achieve Airbus’ “heading up” mode rather than the XP-default “track-up” mode. All ND synoptic have been reworked to be as close to the Airbus synoptic as possible.
- Custom artificial horizon in the PFD, including a moving heading tick band, selected heading bug, radio altitude information moving with the aircraft bank angle, side stick position indicator on the ground and more.
- Custom altitude and VS band to get as close to the real thing as possible.
The Airbus A320-232 has had some modeling changes in a new nose and an upgrade to high-quality 3D model, including 3D cockpit and wing flex and XP10 HDR lighting will be available for all 3 payware packages. Your current livery collection for the v1.1 will work fine as well with the v2 version.
Release of the QPAC v2 (basic) is noted as 31st October 2013.
The effect of the QPAC’s involvement with X-Plane is significant. And this new phase will see the development go to new levels of this sort of modern computerised aircraft technology. The early releases of (v1) tested our skills and there is no doubt the future developments of this series will give you a very technical, but very in-depth simulation of Airbus systems. If you fly Peter’s Aircraft Airbus A380 then you will understand how these systems translate beyond the QPAC version and in development of this new series it will be interesting how the newer features will translate more into our flying in the X-Plane simulator.
23rd October 2013
Developer site: QualityPark AviationCenter (QPAC)
Note: the technical details here are supplied by QPAC.
Legal note: While QPAC is of course interested in providing an as enjoyable experience as possible to its customers, the release of any version of the QPAC Airbus A320 V2 does not lead to legal liability of QPAC to publish any of the currently planned subsequent versions or to provide continued support of the released version.
QPAC ; Features and Plans (pdf)
QPAC A320-232 features and plans.pdf