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  1. Aircraft Review: AOASimulations-T6A Texan II By Stuart McGregor Introduction Now, I'm not sure about you, but does the X-Plane world feel like it’s in a bit of a twilight zone or no man’s land at the moment? The ground-breaking advancements achieved with X-Plane 11, are essentially at the end of their commercial run, and the eagerly awaited X-Plane 12, still has some way to go until it is in its final release state. For us armchair pilots this can be a little frustrating in our 365, 24/7 on-the-go world, where patience isn’t a commodity you see a lot of these days, so I can only imagine the dilemma this gives commercial developers. Do you wait until all the i’s are dotted and t’s crossed in X-Plane 12, or do you continue creating and releasing in X-Plane 11, knowing the platform has been superseded by its younger brother? Well, the good news is that the folks over at AOA Simulations have decided not to wait to bring us their ‘Texan’, the T-6ATexan II. This aircraft has recently been released for X-Plane 11, with a commitment of a free upgrade to X-Plane 12 for existing users when the simulator is in its final state of release. In real life, the Texan is described as a single-engine turboprop aircraft and has been around since the late 1990s. It has been used as a training aircraft by several military organisations around the globe and more than 850 have been built to date. From what I have read, it is still very much the mainstay of the United States Air force and Navy when it comes to pilot training. It has a low wing cantilever design with the majestic Pratt & Whitney PT6A-68 1100 hp engine, tandem seating arrangement with elector seats to allow the flight instructor and trainee to live every moment together, all topped off with a hefty four-blade constant speed, variable pitch prop. The Texan also has a retractable tricycle landing gear assembly, with many of the features being based on the original development aircraft, the Pilatus PC-9. However, don’t be fooled, because the Texan is indeed a very different aircraft in many ways. To explain this in greater detail, the AOA Simulations folks have included a very nice reference document in the manuals section of their package that describes the Texan’s development journey. This is well worth a read to see just how much it has changed from the original Hawker Beechcraft development PC-9. I personally always like additional features like this because in my opinion they bring a greater level of depth to the user experience and allow a more immersive environment when you know a bit about the aircraft, its history and how it came into being. Documentation I will be honest and say that military jets and combat aircraft are not an area I typically venture into very often, so when I had the opportunity to try out what looked a bit like a fighter jet with a prop on its nose, I was intrigued to find out more. My GA side was screaming, “Oh yes please!” The package in review comes in a 360MB download with the aircraft itself and a couple of liveries, as well as a few added extras in terms of documents. In the Manuals folder, you will find an alternative abbreviated checklist (X-Checklist plugin is required) to the one provided by default, a paper kneeboard checklist you can print, emergency procedures, a training flight tutorial with charts (KNGP to KRND), pictorial overviews of flight instruments, and if you are a MAC user, there is an explanation of a workaround if you experience issues when you first load the model. There is also a highly detailed 38-page User Guide to take you through every inch of the aircraft and that is a must-read if you really want to get the most out of the Texan. The developer has also included some contact details and links of where to request help if you get stuck. Sadly, I can’t offer any comment on how successful the MAC workaround is, as I use a PC, however it looks like the developer has put some serious thought into the issue which is good to see. The Aircraft The developers quote that their Texan has been in development since early 2020 and clearly a huge amount of work has gone into the aircraft. You get a real sense of the details and the hours of work by just reading the manual alone, so I believe it is fair to say that the Texan really does come fully loaded. I loved the fact that both the front and rear cockpits are fully functional, thus providing a unique flying experience from each seat, and it was nice to be able to have the choice. The internal details in both cockpits are well presented and bristle with features. The texturing is of high resolution and high quality, and I found reading the various dials and panels to be of no issue, even in VR, when using my Rift S. The developers even quote that the Texan has been optimised to maximise performance in VR, and I would have to admit, that when using my system, I had no issues and enjoyed a very smooth experience. When you first step into either cockpit, it is a bit daunting if you’re not used to military-style aircraft, however, the automated tutorial-level Checklist provided is very useful when navigating around the various systems. In my tests, I probably only scratched the surface of the instrument capabilities of the Texan, and you literally could spend hours and hours just working through your flows and testing out every feature, switch, lever, knob, button, panel, and fuse. As far as I could tell, everything shown works or is at least animated. If you are used to flying fast jets, I am sure the layout will come very naturally to you, however, I must admit it did take me a little time to work my way around. By the way…the ejection seat does work, so be careful with that handle!!! The unobstructed view that the glass canopy offers, is truly excellent, particularly in VR, and you really get a sense of just how compact and well-fitted everything is around you. The feeling of being in the cockpit was something I really enjoyed, and as I mentioned previously, just moving a few feet back to sit in the rear seat, adds a totally different dimension to the experience. The Texan comes with specially created FMOD sounds and the cockpit interaction sounds were nicely done, from the very subtle fuse click actions to the more distinct canopy locking mechanism. From the X-Plane main menu bar, you can access the dust lock removal option, as when in cold and dark, there are several covers protecting sensitive parts of the aircraft. Even these covers are well modelled, as they sway gently in the wind, a very nice touch and great attention to detail. From the outside when the canopy is open in cold and dark, there are no pilots visible, however, they both appear when closing the cockpit and removing the dust covers. The characteristic turbine whine as the engine starts up is very nice, and you really do have the sense of that mighty Pratt and Whitney engine roaring into life right beside or in front of you. As you move around the exterior of the aircraft, the engine tone changes as you would expect, and this is particularly noticeable when you throttle forward and set the Texan into action. The sense of power from the 1100hp engine and prop thrashing through the air as you accelerate down the runway is something you must experience to really appreciate it. The exterior details of the Texan are superb in my opinion and incorporate very high-quality textures, such as the hydraulic lines in the landing gear, through to the multitude of rivets across the shiny aircraft skin. During prefight, it is worth just taking a few minutes to walk around the aircraft and take in the quality of the modelling, and this is particularly impressive if you can do this in VR. You can literally walk up to the various parts and take a good look, reach out and almost touch the surfaces. The developers really have done a wonderful job both inside and out, and in my opinion, the Texan is one of the best in terms of overall appearance, although I do still think it is a little bit of an oddball with the fighter-style canopy, dual seating arrangement, and that big old prop at the front. It does take a little bit of getting used to at first. Now, if you’re anything like me, when you get a new toy, the first thing you want to do is to try it out, so the thought of working through a full set of start-up procedures may not be top of your list. The good news is that very early on, the developers thought of us “impatient types”, and kindly provided a very nice simple 11-step process on page 5 of the User Guide to get up and flying, and this is very helpful. Now don’t get me wrong, at times there is a real sense of satisfaction about going through every step of your flow and eventually seeing the ground disappear below, however, at times I just want to start up and off I go. I like the fact that in the Texan you can do both and I did, although I must admit that just firing up and heading down the runway was my preference. This is perhaps a suitable time to mention that I am using a VKBSIM joystick and pedal set as my control inputs, and I found these to work very well both on the ground and in the air. As there are no toe-brakes with these pedals, I did use a small script to give me brakes and this worked well, although there is a stick forward option that you can use within the aircraft if you prefer. I had no complaints about the handling of the Texan, although care with the throttle is highly advised both when taxiing and when taking off. There is a mighty amount of power at your fingertips, so my advice is to use it wisely. As they say, ‘with great power comes great responsibility…’ and never a truer word was said in the Texan’s case. Remember this thing can do more than 300 knots when flat out!! The glass canopy really does give an amazing view, particularly in VR, however, if you are using flat screens the developers have included a couple of highly novel add-on features to enhance your views in the cockpit. The manual goes into quite some detail to explain what you can expect; however, the best way is just to try them out. These are actioned via buttons on the glare shield and using dedicated buttons on your controller, and the ‘Roll to See’ feature allows you to pan around while taxiing, as well as some interesting effects when doing aerobatics. The Target Track feature allows you to lock on to AI aircraft if you are flying in formation (a key skill by all accounts) and if you are familiar with other aircraft from AOA Simulations, you are likely to be at home with this feature already. As I do most of my flying in VR, these features are disabled so I didn’t spend a huge amount of time testing them out, however from what I did see, this is quite unique and adds another and different layer of immersion to the Texan. One final system feature I would like to highlight is the Flight Assistance system which allows various assistance features to be turned on and off. The button is a bit fiddly to find (highlighted in the manual on page 11) however there are eleven different features such as AOA indexer and brake cues, airspeed indication of gear and flap speed bands, wind direction and speed, through to braking using the control stick and many more. The basic idea is to make life as easy as possible for any newbie pilot or as realistic as possible by switching this off for those who would like more of a challenge. When you are new to an aircraft, this sort of thing really does help, as there is nothing worse than getting frustrated and giving up before you have even started. As I mentioned earlier, the Texan is fully loaded with so many great details and features, and although this type of aircraft is not necessarily my “go-to” happy place in the sky, the more I flew it the more I came to appreciate just how good an offering this is from AOA Simulations, both in terms of the basic aircraft but also just how enjoyable the overall flying experience can be. If you also like lots of technical details, procedures and everything that goes with that side of things, then again, I believe the Texan has something to offer you. Final Thoughts The T-6A Texan II from AOA Simulations, under normal circumstances, is an aircraft I wouldn’t typically be flying, however, I am glad I had the opportunity, as it’s always good to try something new. When you factor in the excellent internal and external textures, the 3D modelling, the control and integration of features, the sounds, and of course the flying experience, I think it’s fair to say that the AOA team really has put out an excellent product. Although it is currently only available for X-Plane 11, I am sure as X-Plane 12 creeps ever nearer to having a final release version, all the new features in the sim in combination with the Texan’s feature set, will be something quite special. A real synergistic masterpiece… So, should you splash out $40 on the Texan? Well as always that is down to you, your budget and what you are looking for. However, I truly believe that the Texan is well worth thinking about, especially if you have considered the fast jet challenge but have not been sure where to start. If it’s good enough for real-world pilots, then it certainly works for me! __________________________________ The T-6A Texan II by AOA Simulations is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here: T-6A Texan II Price at time of writing US$40.00 Features: This model was developed using the official USAF 1T-6A-1 Flight Manual and SNFO (Student Naval Flight Officer) P-880 Aircraft Systems explanatory guide. Two default liveries, USAF and U.S. Navy TAW-5. 17 additional liveries will be available on the X-Plane.org freeware download manager. This is the T-6A model with federated (many small units combined into one system) glass display panels. The project has been in development since February 23, 2020 and is our most detailed model to date. The Model High quality 3D model with high-resolution, 4K PBR textures. Fully functional virtual front and rear 3D cockpits with more than 380 control manipulators. Everything works, fly from either cockpit. Both pilot and instructor models visible in cockpit views. Optimized to save FPS in VR. Ground equipment The Flight model Fully aerobatic, high performance dynamic flight model tested and approved by several former T-6A pilots. Single “Power Lever” control of engine and propeller enables "jet like" simplicity. Unique T-6 Trim Aid Device (TAD) is accurately modeled. This compensates for most engine torque effect with automatic rudder trim. Sounds Professional FMOD sound package by SimAccoustics Documentation Detailed 38 page User Guide and detailed avionics illustrated guide sheets available HERE ON OUR SUPPORT PAGE prior to purchase. Several checklists options to choose from including detailed checklist powered by Xchecklist freeware plug-in. Tutorial checklist and example Training Flight to get you up to speed with the aircraft. More details All panel displays are accurately modeled and powered by SASL plugin / lua code Complete electrical systems model. Every circuit breaker on both the battery and generator bus panels is functional. Individual systems can be isolated, failed and restored via its cockpit circuit breaker. Optional "AOA Extras" for student pilots or those who want to know a little more about what's going on with while the fly. Save load feature allows you to save some options once and they are the same on your next flight in the model. Default Laminar G1000 available to use with a custom database in the panel mounted GPS unit. Future developments This model is for X-Plane 11 only. It is not compatible with X-Plane 12. When X-Plane 12 is stable then a new version will be released as a free upgrade for existing users. Requirements: X-Plane 11 This model is for X-Plane 11 only. It is not compatible with X-Plane 12. When X-Plane 12 is stable then a new version will be released as a free upgrade for existing users. 4 GB VRAM Video Card Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 360 MB Current version: v1.0 (November 1st 2022) Review System Specifications: Windows 10 64 Bit CPU Intel i9-9900k 64GB RAM Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti Oculus Rift S Aircraft Review by Stuart McGregor 30th November 2022 Copyright©2022: X-Plane Reviews (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)
    2 points
  2. Scenery Review: Global Forests v2 for XP12 by Geo-Reality Designs By Nick Garlick Introduction The team over at X-Plane.org headquarters, knowing that I have a sweet tooth for eye candy, asked if I would share my thoughts and opinions on a new global tree product for X-Plane 12. Being the willing type…how could I possibly say no? The product in question is Global Forests V2.0 from Geo-Reality Designs. GFv2.0 draws on the same ethos as their original product for X Plane 11, in that it provides a unique combination of tree-type variation with density and height all derived from real-world data. Only this time around, it’s set in the new world of X-Plane 12, and as such, takes full advantage of the sim’s ability to create seasons. Now, unlike the original X-Plane 11 product, this updated version covers all the previous three regions, those being, Europe, North America, plus Asia and Oceania, in one sole product. This is a major plus over the original product, especially when you consider the entire world can be purchased for just $15. However, with X-Plane 12 already populated with 3D trees, you’re probably thinking, why "wood" I need a third-party tree add-on?" Good question! Please allow me to "X–Plane"… There’s no question that the new treescapes with X-Plane 12 represent a vast overhaul over the default treescapes we previously observed in X-Plane 10 and 11. Stretching from the pines of Norway and Canada to the palm trees of the tropics, to the silver birches and ancient oaks of old England, the X-Plane world has been greatly improved. However, for all their improvement in X-Plane 12, I found the trees to be a little splintered in places, and as such, they have left me wanting just that little bit more, or in some cases, just a little bit less as we shall see. Geo-Reality Designs were very quick out of the chocks with this package, which, is for X-Plane 12 only (it will not work with X-Plane 11). For that, you will need to purchase their original Global Forest packs. Now, I am not going to re-blurb the detail from the press release or the product pages, as you will have no doubt seen and read that a hundred times over. However, what I do have are some screenshots and a few words so you can see for yourselves how it all fits together in X-Plane 12. Product Download The GFv2 package requires a minimum of 4GB of VRAM, though ideally, I would recommend 8GB or above as the norm. GFv2 is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux. Once purchased from the X-Plane.org store, you will find on your account page the product links for each of the respective volumes. You will then need to download each of the following zip files - Global Forests v2_vol1 Europe.zip @ 4.3GB in size Global Forests v2_vol2 NorthAmerica.zip @10.4GB in size Global Forests v2_vol3 Asia_Oceania.zip @ 18.5GB in size Having successfully downloaded each volume, you will then need to use the relevant license key for each respective volume. Once extracted and installed, GFv2 will plant around thirty acres, sorry, use…30GB of your hard drive space. Installation Once installed, for Global Forest V2 to display correctly in X-Plane 12, you must ensure that the Global Forests V2 entry is placed within the correct area of your Scenery_Packs.ini file. In other words, it must be located above any scenery mesh, ortho photo tiles or overlays, but it must be below any airports. Ensuring GFv2 is placed correctly within your Scenery_Packs.ini file, will guarantee that it is prioritized over any other vegetation data, except foliage from addon airport sceneries. First Impressions As we all know, pictures can speak a thousand words, so I will let these do most of the talking for me. When composing the comparison screenshots, I adopted the following method. They were all taken at the same time of day, this being noon on the 15th of November with manually set weather. The following set of comparison screenshots illustrates how the woodland scene is changed with the addition of the GFv2 product. One of the improvements offered is that it will place trees in a far more believable fashion. For example, there aren’t that many trees around Leeds Bradford airport, so GFv2 trims back the default foliage to a level which is more prototypical to the area GFv2 also replicates and makes use of the new seasons feature found in X-Plane 12, as can be seen in the following set of screenshots. From top left to bottom right: summer, autumn, late autumn and winter. A Hybrid in the Mix Another feature of GFv2 is that it can be used to work alongside orthophotos. I do not have any dedicated orthophoto tiles (ortho for XP etc), however, what I do have is Orbx True Earth GB. Having tried GFv2 in a default install of X Plane 12, I decided to try GFV2 in an install which featured Orbx True Earth GB, and this is where I found the product to really enhanced my X Plane world. Thinking that it would replace all the trees leaving sparse areas, I was quite surprised by the result, as GFv2 did not replace the default trees, it actually added to them. It filled out the sparse gaps within the default tree placement and I found it complimented those found within Orbx True Earth. However, it should be noted that the default trees within True Earth will not change with the seasons. The following two screenshots illustrate how the trees fit in with True Earth GB Framerates It’s important to remember that framerates are subjective as we all have our bespoke rigs and setups. For reference, I have a PC that I feel is now quite old (specs mentioned at the end of the article), but it can still hold its own. Provided I can maintain between 30 and 50 fps, I find X Plane will deliver a stable and enjoyable experience. Overall, I found that GFv2 did not cause any significant impact on framerates, and the very few areas where it did, were so negligible to the extent that they are not worth mentioning. Here is what I observed on my system (framerate top left of second picture). Technical Support During the initial stages of the download and setup, I required some support from the developers. The issues I had were not the fault of the developers but of other quarters outside their direct control. I found the level of technical support from Geo - Reality Designs to be excellent, with the support being delivered professionally, courteously, and very swiftly. Areas for Improvement The original Global Forest product for X-Plane 11 featured a setup file to allow for the automatic installation of the product into X-Plane, but unfortunately, this wasn’t included in the X-Plane 12 version. Hopefully, one will be included in a future update, as it would prove advantageous, especially for those unfamiliar with how the file structure works within X-Plane. It has also been reported that in some areas, there was a distinct lack of tree coverage, with parts of New Zealand being cited as an example. However, upon checking Milford Sound (one of my favourite locations), I found the results to be quite well-represented. The first two images show Milford Sound in a default install of X Plane 12, whilst the bottom two show the same location with GFv2 installed. As can be clearly seen, the tree coverage is not quite as prolific as the default install, and as such, I feel that the install with GFv2 delivers a slightly better rendition and represents a more plausible scenario. The team at Geo - Reality are aware of certain issues, predominantly the lack of representative tree coverage in some small areas, and as such, are hard at work rectifying these shortcomings. They are also improving their product in response to feedback from their customer base. All going well, the team hope to release an update to the product by Christmas this year or possibly earlier. Conclusion A phrase which comes to mind when thinking about GFv2 is "When you change a little you can change a lot", and in most places, this product achieves its goal. A good example are these two comparison screenshots of Hamar Stafsburg Airport (ENHA). Default foliage is on the left and GFv2 is on the right. Summing up, Global Forests V2 is not perfect, but what I found, was that it delivered a delicate blend of trees and treescapes that enhanced the global woodlands and forest environments within X-Plane 12. By boosting the plausibility of the X-Plane world, it enables you to unwind and discover a true forest of delight, and as mentioned earlier, this was especially true when using GFv2 in conjunction with your own ortho imagery. At the time of writing, GFv2 is available for purchase from the Org store for only $15, which makes it excellent value! If you would like to try before you buy, Geo - Reality Designs also provides a "Demo" version. However, it’s important to note that the installation does require a licenced version of X-Plane 12 as it will not work in the demo version. You can get access to the demo here. Well, that about wraps it up, so please let me know your thoughts. Until next time, it's Tally-ho, pip-pip! _______________________________ Global Forests v2 for X-Plane 12 is available from the X-Plane.Org Store here: Global Forests v2 for X-Plane 12 Priced at US$15.00 Features: Accurate representation of the Global forest footprint in XPlane12, according to global data More than 400 .for files, with unique combination of tree type, variation, density, and height, based on real-world data Tree type and classifications according to global data Tree height information has been analysed from global maps and infused into Global Forests Seamless integration with Ortho4XP, or any other package that includes satellite images Seamless integration with default X-Plane12 terrain Requirements X-Plane 12 Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 30 GB Review by Nick Garlick 24th Nov 2022 Copyright©2022: X-Plane Reviews Review System Specifications:  Windows 10, Intel 4790K liquid-cooled, overclock to 5GHz, 32GB DDR3 1600MHz RAM, Nvidia GTX 1070ti, Titanium HD Audio Card. (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
    2 points
  3. Recently purchased the Aeroprakt A22–LS, in part due to your thorough review, and am very much enjoying this unique aircraft and its systems. Like many of Huss’s aircraft, there’s a certain forthrightness to the design and liveliness to the flight model, and the A22 is delightfully easy to trim for level flight. Thank you for steering me toward this very fun to fly back-country airplane. It is certainly no typical Piper or Cessna. By the way, you really should check out the Avitab tablet plug-in, either as directly implemented in the cockpit as it’s done here in the Aeroprakt, but also as a standalone command-able pop up window. It’s very versatile and presents a lot of useful information at your fingertips.
    1 point
  4. Aircraft Review : Cessna Citation 560XL by AirSim3d Within any family there are the odd branches, certainly in the families of very successful aviation aircraft and in this case it is the Cessna Citation family. The Citation is a very large and diverse line of successful business jets, but within that long line, there is always a compromise aircraft to fit into a certain aircraft market segment. The problem is with a successful family is that the next aircraft in the series has to be better, faster, bigger and have a longer range. But that also puts the aircraft out of reach to a certain lower segment of purchasers, so you have to diverse the order to create a product for that particular segment. So rather than being a direct variant of another Citation airframe, the Excel series was created to be a combination of new technologies and designs. To produce the Excel, Cessna took the X's wide, stand-up cabin fuselage, shortened it by about 2 feet (0.61 m) and mated it with an unswept wing utilizing a supercritical airfoil (based on the Citation V Ultra's wing) and used the tail from the Citation V. The Excel has the roomiest cabin in its class of light corporate jets and can seat up to 10 passengers (in high-density configuration; typically the number is six to eight in a corporate configuration), while being flown by a crew of two. The Excel has a 2,100 nmi-range (3,900 km), 20,200 lb (9,200 kg) MTOW, and the jet is powered by two 3,650–4,080 lbf (16.2–18.1 kN) PW545B turbofans, and the XL variant first flew in 1998. If you go back a decade, there was virtually no Business Jets in the X-Plane Simulator. DDEN's Challenger 300 changed all that, and lately there has been a flurry of Private/Business Jets now of all sizes, except the really big transcontinental machines, the Aerobask Dassault Aviation's Falcon 8X is still in development, but the Gulfstream 550 was released last month. For Citations there are a load of them. There is the Citation CJ4 Proline21 by Netavio, Carenado Cessna Citation ll S550 and the Citation X coming as a default aircraft in X-Plane 12. But no Excel Citations. This AirSim3d Cessna Citation 560XL is currently only being released in X-Plane 11, X-Plane 12 compatibility will come after X-Plane 12 goes final. AirSim3d are a new developer to the X-Plane Simulator and a very welcome one. As we will see this is a very impressive debut aircraft, but still a new debut aircraft from a first time developer. So you have to, and as I have done in the review is don't expect the absolute extreme of say Aerobask quality. But as noted for a first release it is extremely impressive and I have also been very impressed with Mark Eduljee's (developer) responses and quick fixes, which is all you need for a good developer. This is a nicely sized Business Jet. Not too small or short, or too large to be cumbersome, I really like the look and feel of the machine. The Citation distinctive wing has a slight dihedral, while the tailplane had a steeper dihedral. Flight control surfaces were conventional: ailerons, one-piece flaps, elevators, rudder, and trim tabs. All the flight control surfaces were manually actuated, except for electrically-driven flaps, and an electrically-driven elevator trim tab. There was also a hydraulically-operated grid speed brake on top of each wing. Detail is very good, your not going to get exceptional at this level, but the modeling and the detail is quite impressive here. You see and feel the construction of the C-560XL. Panels access panels and the highlighted (Dot3 bump mapping) riveting is well done, There are a few drawn lines, but nothing to worry about, the excellent tail and rudder assembly is the highlight. All VHF and UHF antennas are present and correctly done. The Excel has two PW500 turbofans, this version is the PW545B, which has an additional LP turbine stage to drive a larger diameter fan. So the maw engine inlet on the engine pod is quite large. There are also two large can thrust-reversers on the exhaust outlet. Overall the engine pods are very well done with the chrome inlet a very nice piece of work, note the small but detailed inlet fire sensor. Glass is very nice and a smoky grey in colour, and has nice reflections and opacity. The original glass in the early beta's had a red tint, a reflection of the internal wood, but it didn't work in my eyes, good idea, but in theory and practise this grey is far better and realistic. Citation wings have two stage grid airbrakes, and they look sensational here in operation. Cord and wing detail is good, but not absolutely top notch, the fine fillers of experience will eventually create these areas better, but it's still great work if not brilliant for a first project. Chrome leading edge are very nicely done, as are the wing details, with nice wear and well done wing vortex generators. Rear undercarriage is a trailing-link single wheel gear setup. The detail here is excellent, with a lot of complex detail and modeling, all links, arms and struts are really well done, but I am not sure of the brightly coloured hydraulic clips on the piping, there are quite bright, fine for a factory new aircraft, but for a working one? But you won't complain about the quality of detail here. Single nose-wheel is really well done as well, simple and with a nice chrome hydraulic strut. External Elements There are no menus with the C-560XL. To open or operate items you use the small arrows as selectors, most have a double click action. On the C-560XL there are external elements you can access and use. There are there doors lower rear left that is the Electrical panel and the Aft Baggage hold. As noted to use these arrows they can sometimes have a double operation, one to open, then one to do the operation. Here you can open the baggage hold door then secondly load or unload the internal baggage onto a waiting trolley. One arrow on the door opens it, then another arrow on the trolley loads (well fly through the air) the bags to stack on the trolley, use the up arrow on the trolley to reload the bags. Note the baggage door does not open cleanly, as the real door is also fiddly to open and close. In the electrical bay you can disconnect or connect up the battery power. GPU There is a small hatch rear of the baggage compartment, that is the GPU or Ground Power Unit connector. Again you select (arrow) once to open the hatch, then again to attach the power cable which makes the GPU unit appear which is very highly and nicely detailed. There is a small lid on the side to access the power unit control panel, to start and it also has a great "Emergency STOP" button that actually works. There are also wheel chocks and safety cones as static elements, engine inlet and outlet covers and "remove" pitot covers for detail. These elements are shown in steps of when the aircraft is powered down or cold with the power totally switched off. A detail I really like, but the engines covers are always on when with no engine power, but the aircraft still powered up, which is a bit odd. Internal Again to open or operate items you use the small arrows as selectors, like on the main door, called the "Aerostar" door. It is a bit tricky to use. You have to press the button to pop-out the handle, then use the arrows to open or lock the door, same in reverse. The cabin is "Lux", 7 seats and all executive. In an off cream club style seating, expensive wood paneling and thick pile carpets. The four club seats can be reclined via the lever on the arm rest... .... and the window blinds can be raised and lowered by the lever at the base. There is a rear washroom. You access the washroom, by opening the doors twice, once ¾ opening, then full, via the front handle and then the side knob. Bathroom is very classy, with a custom sink unit, and a toilet on the other side. Washroom blinds work as is the same in the cabin. Forward, there is a nice buffet/small galley left and a wardrobe right. Overall it is a very nice fitted out and usable cabin, however the glass tinting in areas would be better toned down a little. Cockpit First look and the cockpit doesn't feel as plush as the cabin. First thing to note is that this C-560XL is of the mid-90s era and the cockpit is configured and styled that way, but it feels slightly older in age and style. I'm not sure of the seats, one word certainly comes to mind is "uncomfortable", but I think the developer is having a rethink on the design. They are thin and narrow in this tight cockpit in the C-560XL, but I don't think so square in shape. They do however move forwards and backwards with moving armrests. Twin yokes are super lovely. They have a nice central metal casting with the "Excel" logo in the middle, and nicely worn arms. You hide them by pressing the area behind on the panel (arrowed). Electric Trim works on the yoke (arrows). Instrument Panel The Excel (original) uses the Honeywell Primus 1000 three-screen EFIS avionics package of two CRT Primary Flight Displays, one for each pilot, and an offset lower MultiFunction (MFD) display. I will be extremely honest with you. When I first saw this panel layout I really wasn't that taken to it. But after using it and being in front of the panel now for quite awhile, I now think it is extremely well done. It has a different feel and look certainly, and it also gives you the feeling it is a different and an authentic aircraft than the usual Business Jet, so once adjusted I really, really like it in here. The system uses a IC-615 Integrated Avionics Computer (IAC) that includes the Flight Guidance System (FGS) and the Electronic Flight Instrument System (EFIS) other systems include the AZ-950 Air Data System (ADS), Primus 880 Weather Radar, Attitude and Heading Reference System (AHRS) and the Primus II Radio System, but the Laminar G1000 has been customised to do the GPS/Flightplan role. PFD - Primary Flight Display. The Primus 1000 PFD is split with the Artificial Horizon top and the Horizontal Situation Indicator lower. Artificial Horizon, Speed and Altitude tapes, bank roll scale and roll pointer, Vertical Speed markers, Pitch markers, ILS bars and AOA (Angle of Attack) guide. Lower display is the COM1/COM2, ATC1, RAT ºC and UTC (Time). And there two styles of wings on the HSI. It is a complicated layout and study is required before flight to work out every separate knob or switch function, but many functions are doubled up. All three in; PFD (left) - MFD and GNS G1000 all pop-out for use. You can change the panel configuration from AUGM (modern AP) to REAL, or the original panel layout, which is the pilot right mid-console panel moved to the main Instrument Panel. The Engine management uses the AMLCD or "Active-Matrix Liquid Crystal Display in two units. Each engine is equipped with the following instruments displayed on the center instrument panel; Fan RPM (N1), Inter-Turbine Temperature (ITT), Turbine RPM (N2), Oil Pressure, Oil Temperature and Fuel Flow. Also shown in addition to the engine instruments are; Ram Air Temperature (RAT), Fuel Temperature and Fuel Quantity. MFD - Has four heading options, and Terrain Radar (Dr Gluck's Terrain Radar plugin required). Glareshield, there is a very large annunciator panel, also known in some aircraft as the Centralized Warning Panel (CWP) or Caution Advisory Panel (CAP). It has three warning states "Red" Warning, "Yellow" Caution and "White" Advisory/Indication. Thrust reverser states and over-ride are positioned on each end. Testing the CWP can be done via the switched at the rear of the Throttle pedestal, in fact all system lighting and signs can be checked from this system. It is a very comprehensive CWP. Large centre shelf console covers; Anti-Ice, Pressurization, and External lights switchgear, bottom right is a large "Temperature Panel" for the Cockpit and Cabin. Throttle Pedestal is excellent. There are twin-throttles wit built-in reverser levers, and lower fuel cut-off levers for each engine. Pitich Trim wheel left and Flap lever right (0º-7º-15º-35º). Engine Sync selector works. Lower panel has the System Test selector, Landing Lights and Pulse Light (Beacon) Side cockpit panels have the circuit breakers (fuses), but they don't work? Map Lights and on the Pilot's side, an AUX PANEL LIGHT. On the right panel is the same (no AUX light), but added is the APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) panel which is very well done. Lower pedestal is a selection panel for each pilot selections, mostly the same as on the panel itself, but more finger handy. Notable is the PITCH Trim (Electric) and TURN (This is an important knob which we will cover later). Then at the rear the large Rudder Trim knob. Flying the C560XL Engine startup is very authentic. The onboard APU provides power and bleed, start then wait until it is running at at 100%. It will tell you it's status. Fuel Cutoff's are under the throttles, but they can be tricky to switch with the small up/down arrows. Main start panel is over far left instrument panel, with the required "Fuel Boost" pumps ON, Ignition (always on) and engine starter buttons centre. Like most Citations there is "Full Authority Digital Engine Controller" or FADEC to start the PW500 turbofans. Startup sounds are excellent with a nice whine, and the engine sounds in the cockpit settle down to an excellent background hum. One thing I really liked is that you can set an N1 Thrust limit target on the AMLCD, by using the knob at the end of the panel. I use the word a lot, but it's important here, "Feel". This is an aircraft you have to feel and become one with. First it is a good idea to cover the systems and layouts before flying. As a lot of the switchgear actions are doubled up, so using the sets you are most comfortable with is important, and I found I liked adjustment panel directly left of the HSI the best. There are areas that you feel (that word again), still need a little fine tuning, certainly in the areas of power and braking, they are good now, but over time will become more or less urgent to make the machine even more supple and realistic. Keep the speed low to taxi, the 560XL has a very nice wide wheel spread, so she rides very nice and steady on the ground. Centred ready to fly, and you have to set the T/O Trim (wheel), but more importantly set the "TURN" trim on the rear console, if not centred the AP (Autopilot) will not activate in flight. You have to be super careful with the throttles, the PW545B creates a power of 4100 pounds of thrust at takeoff. So the Excel will literally takeoff from rest (hence the N1 Thrust target) and the careful power inputs required (weight dependent here at 8100 kg). Flap here is set at 5º for takeoff. I was shocked at the serious power for the first few times until I reined myself in and controlled it better. Rotate is around 200 knts, then once off the ground you can climb almost straight up, this Citation JUST GOES, up and up. It will (officially climb at 3,500 ft/min (17.78 m/s) and practically right off the rate of climb chart. When in the air you just really like this jet, yes again there are a few rough edges, but the core is excellent, great performance, great handling, great feel. And you very quickly tune into the machine. And a very nice looking machine in the air this is. Performance of the Excel is an empty weight of 12,800 lb (5,806 kg) and a Max takeoff weight of 20,200 lb (9,163 kg). Cruise speed is 441 kn (507 mph, 816 km/h) true airspeed, at 45,000 ft (13,716 m), with a range of 1,858 nmi (2,138 mi, 3,441 km). Lighting Lighting is excellent, but could still be noted as a work in progress. Externally you have two landing lights under the belly of the XL, taxi lights in the wings and navigation lights in the wingtips and tail. There is tail lighting and a red beacon top... A note on the landing lights is that you can make them "Pulse" from one to the other... At a certain setting, the cockpit feels very military or even fighter jet in feel, and yes I really love it. There is adjustment for panel dropdown lighting, left, right and centre lighting, You can get an almost all black instrument panel, but with a background feel... an oddity is the panel light switch (lower bottom left panel) is the opposite way around in highlighting the instruments, OFF for on, and ON for off? .... there are side panel lighting, and also two overhead spotlights that can be positioned (animated). The same animated spotlights are also above every seat in the rear cabin, again a very nice place to be at night, with some lovely subtle lights. But overall you still feel it all needs a bit of fine tuning, like the EXIT lights are too bright, and spots not showing their sources enough. But overall the Citation is a very nice place to be in the dark. Currently you still have the the Laminar default G1000 unit in the aircraft, but it is customised to a point, and it works and even looks good (yes it pops out). The dreaded red line is still used on the MFD, but I expect that to be upgraded in X-Plane12, as these areas have all been redone with better scale, notes say that a custom Flight Management System will come later with the aircraft, but not in this version. Notable is the excellent (easy to use) AP (Autopilot system), you can adjust from the panel or from the lower rear console and it feels very authentic to use. You don't get a full clear or blank Centralized Warning Panel, mostly Yellow caution lights are always flashing away, and that aspect can be a bit distracting in flight, but again it is very good. The style and feel of the instrument panel is highly debatable. I will be honest, I particularly didn't like it at first as noted earlier? But having flown the Excel a lot over the past month, I now really love it, even miss it a lot when flying other aircraft as it is quite authentic to the real 560XL design. You also have the choice of "Wings" in the HSI, bent or straight, personally I found the straight version easier to see and use, and selection is via the HSI side panel. Sounds overall are very good, push the throttles and there is a nice roar from the PW545B engines which I really like, they are from samples of recordings from the real Citation jet at Boeing Field. Internally all Warnings, Call outs, Clicks, Beeps, airflow, in/out, sound modulation are all included, and this is a very clickable (noisy) cockpit if you like noisy switchgear. APU sounds externally and internally are all very realistic. In the air internally the 560XL is a quiet aircraft, those engines are way back from your ears, but there is still a lot of the required feedback with any engine throttle adjustments, so sounds are a highlight of the aircraft. The aircraft is slippery, so you need those airbrakes to control your descent, they look great operational from the cabin windows as well. That straight clean Citation wing with the wide track wheels is a very stable platform when configured for landing. You feel totally under control and have a very nice balance on the final approach, as long as you have prepared the trims correctly for the landing phase. Approach speeds are quite low (Full 35º Flap) at around 130 knts, but thankfully very stable at that speed. Slowly you reduce your speed to around 120 knts to reduce your height... With a touchdown (nice slight nose up flare) of about 105 knts, which is pretty slow for a jet, notable to be very level on landing, if not the wide track will bounce you from the the left or right wheel... I do recommend (pedal) toe-brakes with this 560XL, keeping the aircraft straight is tricky without them, yes it can be done, but the dancing footwork is far easier for ultimate control, then for the final braking. Opening and closing the clam reversers is a double action, press once to arm, then again to activate, the stopping reverse thrust is effective, even impressive. Liveries There are nine liveries, N456AX (is default) and the rest have very decorative names, in order; Brazilian Carnival, Indian Summer, Italian Classic, NZ Fern, Spanish Treasure, Swiss Snowstorm, UK Red Ribbon and US "Singing the Blues". Paintkit is also available. ____________________ Summary The Cessna Citation 560XL (Excel) is an off-shoot from the main Cessna Citation family to fit a certain niche in the market. It uses several combination of new technologies and designs and the sections of other Citations, but the Excel creates a more bigger cabin, bigger engines, but it is a smaller aircraft overall with a lower range to create a lower market price or entry level aircraft to the family. AirSim3d are a new developer to the X-Plane Simulator and a very welcome one. As we have see this is a very impressive debut aircraft, but still a new debut aircraft from a first time developer. So you have to, and as I have done in the review is to don't expect the absolute extreme of say ultra Aerobask quality. But as noted it is still very impressive. The Excel 560 is being only released currently for X-Plane 11, the X-Plane 12 version is currently in development and will follow when X-Plane 12 goes final. The word to say here is "Quirky". Not quirky in a odd or even a bad way, but different quirky if you have flown or have known other Citation aircraft. The C560XL is different, feels different and you use it differently. So the first impressions here are quite construing to your senses as it feels and looks to a different era. But use the Excel and fly it, then you begin to really enjoy it, savour it and in the end you will find it a very nice aircraft to use frequently, in fact you will want to fly it consistently as it is deep down a very good aircraft. Modeling is very good, as is the detail, but that word quirky will come up with the way you interact with the aircraft (arrow/pointers) and no menus. But you will soon click into the way the system works. That ultra shine is not however there, but everything else is including a nicely fitted out cabin with seat and window animation and nice lighting. Other features include Cones, Chocks, engine covers, Pitot covers, working GPU, battery hatch and a Baggage compartment that can load or unload bags at a click of an arrow. Business Jets have become a very popular of the last few years. Mostly because they perfectly fit that segment between General aviation flying and the larger Commerical jet aircraft. They are a pleasure machine with great performance and speed, so this AirSim3d fits that context perfectly. Also in the same context is the design and feel of the original Excel style aircraft. Once bitten you will love it, the 560XL certainly grows on more with every flight. It's not totally absolutely perfect, but for a first incarnation of an orginal design it is very good.... Recommended. ____________________ Yes! the Cessna Citation 560XL by AirSim3d is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here: Cessna Citation 560XL Price is US$59.95 Features: AirSim3D C-560 XL: Real-Jet authenticity Real jet visits at Boeing airfield were extensively used to inform build and design decisions 100’s of pages of real POH manuals, specs, drawings, pics used Real pilot tested and extensively beta tested Result: real-world systems, lighting, functions, modeling and procedures authenticity Rich FMOD sounds Sample recordings from the real jet at Boeing Field Result: Custom Engine, APU, GPU, Warnings, Call outs, Clicks, Beeps, airflow, in/out, sound modulation...all included Example: AP disconnect – that's the actual sound real pilots hear! But not overdone: The real jet is quiet at cruise; AirSim3D’s C-560XL follows that model Summary: Win, Mac, Linux tested VR ready PBR materials and Occlusion shading everywhere Hi-fidelity cockpit and instrument objects Bump-texturing and grunge elevated to an art form Finely detailed 3D objects that match real world dimensions Sharp, authentic labeling and correctly placed across the whole aircraft Animations and their timing match the real jet to 99% 99% of instrument follows real-jet/POH/specs and requirements Over 90 total system warnings failures, and lights Exclusive THXp Lighting: 300+ tuned and directed lights make night flying spectacular! Exclusive Real and Augmented AP/AT instrument layout on demand FPS is comparable to similar popular jets and LR default aircraft Airfoil and Weight/CG modeling AirSim3D’s Specialty Glass; Reflections are subtle and don’t distract Real-jet conforming flight characteristics, Engine performance Exact Main Door operation (in or out) with custom step lighting Superior Gear, Flight surfaces, Engine blur modeling, animation, and texturing All Lights use light beams (not flat LIT 2D textures from paint programs) In/Out Emergency Lighting with custom over-wing “shark lights” Fully functional Lighting, Electrical, Start, Pressure, Radio, AP panels Functioning APU & GPU; start-up/refuel/charging procedures and sounds Authentic cold and dark startup/shut down Controls lock and Emergency brakes, Gear blow down functions Fully animated Cockpit, Cabin, Lav; Wizard-inspired baggage load/unload Grunge wear and tear everywhere -- elevated to an art form External attachments (chocks, cones, covers etc.) 8 custom, country-specific marked liveries + paint kit Pilot Operations Handbook online – always up to date Instrument Summary Authentic, fully functioning Annunciator panel * 90 + custom and lighted faults * 42 annunciators track L and R faults/sys status independently * Complete MC/MW integration Custom Auto Pilot fully integrated with the custom PFD, MFD, and G1000 * 9 functions: YD, HDG, NAV, APR, BC, VNAV, ALT, VS, FLC * On demand Realistic and Augmented AP panel layout modes * VVI, Bank angle, Low limiter * Custom Auto Throttle in Augmented panel mode * FMOD callouts Custom Collins-inspired PFD (pop up) * Custom AP status annunciator integration * Mach, ASI, VVI, HDG, CRS, WIND, TAS, GSPD, FPV, BARO. IMO markers * Authentic SPEED, ALT tapes (to -1500 AGL – now fly to the Dead sea airports with AP!) * Custom APR/DPT ASI flags * PFD 1, 2 source * Cat II ILS tested HSI * Custom art Artificial Horizon * Wind direction/speed * Ground speed * Kts/Mach selector * VOR 1, 2, GPS, ADF tracking * Speed and VVI prediction * 2 “wings” displays * 2 Flight Director modes * Custom artwork for real 3D look and feel * Custom AP and Speed tapes function to -1500 AGL * Automatic reference speeds displays for Gear, Flaps, Speed Custom MFD (pop up) * Weather and Terrain radar * Range selector (1-360 miles) * Standard HSI: Rose/Arc with ARPT, WPT, VOR, NDB, TCAS 6 MFD sub modes * APP, VOR, MAP, NAV, PLN * TCAS Alert call outs integrated with Pulse Landing lights * 14 Authentic all-flight phase checklists * 23 checklist sub modes Authentic Electrical system * Outside Battery disconnect (animated, functioning, lighted outside Panel) * Normal and Emergency battery instrument profiles * Amp/Volt gauges, source select, battery charge/discharge profiles * Gens/APU/GPU charging integration * Battery Over Temp * Interior and Master Battery disconnect with full systems/lights/avionics integration * Authentic Cockpit, Entry, and Cabin lighting Authentic and fully functional Lights panel * Day/night Switch * Dim-able EL lighting * Dim-able Flood, Map, Panel lighting * Independent L, C, R instrument stack dimming * Over 300 individually placed and tuned (real) lights (not images) Radios / DME / Clocks * 2 Custom Primus II RMU: Active + Stby: NAV 1, 2; COM 1, 2; ADF; XPNDR (with Mode C) * 2 Custom DME: Station ID, Distance-To, Time-To, Closure Speed, Mi/KM * 2 Custom Pilot/CP Clocks: (GMT, Local, reset Stopwatch, Auto-Flight Time recorder) Requirements X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current Version: 1.0 (November 18th 2022) Installation and documents: download for the Cessna Citation 560XL is 355 Mb and the aircraft is deposited in the "General Aviation" X-Plane folder. Full Installation is 732 Mb (Includes noted liveries) Documents supplied are: On-Line details only currently available; Summary - AirSim3d Designed by AirSim3D Support forum for the C-560 XL _____________________ Aircraft Review by Stephen Dutton 18th November 2022 Copyright©2022: X-Plane Reviews 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 M2 2TB SSD - Sound : Yamaha Speakers YST-M200SP Software: - Windows 11 - X-Plane 11.55 Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00 : Environment Engine by xEnviro US$69.90 : AviTab Plugin - Free Scenery or Aircraft - LOWS- Salzburg Airport W. A. Mozart v2 by Digital Design (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$19.50 - LFMN - Nice Cote d'Azur v2 by JustSim (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$18.50 (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. Aircraft Update: Aeroprakt A22-LS Project XP12 by VSKYLABS By LPNils Introduction VSKYLABS has modelled the A22-LS version, tailored for the American market as a Light Sport aircraft, which means a max gross take-off weight of 1320lbs (600kg) for land planes and 1430lbs (650kg) for seaplanes. It also means the aircraft cannot stall at speeds higher than 45 knots. Other limitations are a fixed pitch or ground adjustable prop, two seats maximum, one engine, fixed gear, unpressurized and a maximum speed in level flight that does not exceed 120 knots. Fear not though, as this plane certainly won’t get near those numbers! Purchase and installation The VSKYLABS A22, like the developer’s other work, is available at the X-Plane.org store, for a very reasonable price ($27.50 at the time of writing). The pack has download links for both an XP11 and 12 version of the aircraft, but for the purpose of this review, I tested the XP12 model (even though 12 is still in Beta!). Reassuringly, the developer Huss has committed to keeping the pack up to date with changes still happening to the X-Plane Beta. He always tends to stay on top of updating models, so no worries in that regard. The download size for the A22 is just under 200MB. Installation is very straightforward, just drag the A22 aircraft folder into your X-Plane Aircraft directory as instructed by the manual found in the download. Documentation Inside the aircraft folder, you will find an installation manual, which is very clear and to the point. The most important piece of documentation is the Instructions Manual / POH. Huss compiled the manual as some sort of Pilot Operating Handbook Supplement. In it, he is very clear about what this Aeroprakt add-on does and doesn’t do, how it compares to the real-life aircraft and the limitations of X-Plane and how he worked with or around those. In all, it’s extremely clear and transparent, which is superb! If you would like to configure your hardware to the A22, Huss has written a detailed list of what control assignments are required for specific interactions with the aircraft. In this list, he again mentions some of the X-Plane limitations and how you should work with those. VR users will be able to find all interaction zones described in the manual, with visual representations. Huss also goes on to explain the Experimental or LSA Autopilot included in the X-Plane model. The “POH Supplement” ends by referring to the real-life Pilot Operating Handbook and you can download this POH for real-life operating instructions and performance. Exterior The VSKYLABS A22 is well-modelled and really does mirror its real-life counterpart. There’s plenty of detail on the external model, but not so much that it’s overly excessive. I love the triangular windows on the aft sides of the cabin. An Aeroprakt A32 regularly visits the airfield I work at, and it does have a cool look to it (also it’s entirely black) …except for the extended range fuel tank covers, which do slightly odd. It’s a lot less odd looking in this A22 model though and flying this VSKYLABS rendition sort of made me get used to them. The real A22 has these bigger fuel tanks as an option (57L each instead of the standard 45L) and I am glad Huss went for the larger tanks. Another feature that stood out to me was the design of the wings (TsAGI wing profile, Soviet equivalent of NACA). These are slightly swept forward which after talking to a local aviation buff (CFI, examiner, airport manager) was told is sometimes done to add more flexibility to weight and balance. The empennage of the A22 is equipped with some sort of ventral fin with a small wheel to protect the stabilizer. I doubt it can take excessive forces of incompetency, but it is incredibly nice to have, especially since it has an elevator with plenty of authority, although, in backcountry operations, or rougher strips, I wouldn’t advise getting the tail feathers down that low (protect them from debris). Speaking of the backcountry… it also comes with decent size wheels and mudflaps, which are great options to have on STOL planes. The mudflaps probably won’t stop all the muck from slinging onto the aircraft (wings in particular), but anything’s better than nothing, plus it looks cool. The flight control surfaces of the A22 are huge, and this is well represented in the metallic & orange livery. It also doesn’t come with separate ailerons and flaps, it comes with flaperons. A wing has only a limited span to add ailerons and flaps, so why not combine both so you get a decent lift increase from the flaps and good roll authority at low speeds? It’s also simpler to implement than let’s say drooping ailerons and flaps, and again, it looks cool! It’s interesting to see what the flap settings do to roll deflections and in particular to deflection limits. The A22 comes with five liveries in total, with the standard livery being fully yellow. In addition, there’s a blue version with yellow door/window frames, a metallic grey body variant with orange frames, flight controls and cowl (black on top to block reflections), a red and black body version with white frames and number 22 (air rally look?), and lastly, a blue frame with yellow wings and stabilizers (reminds me of old USAAF basic trainers). Personally, I really like the metallic and orange livery. Interior & Functionality The first feature of the Aeroprakt A22-LS that catches the eye is the optional yoke! The standard control is a Y-shaped stick mounted in the centre console. This can appear an odd configuration at first, but on an earlier flight in a Zenith STOL, I learned that it feels nice, and on longer flights, you can lean your forearm on the Y and chill out a bit. I like it, as it suits my Honeycomb Alpha yoke very well. Upon a cold-and-dark start, the gust lock pin will be installed, which can be removed by clicking on the tag. Also, the yokes can be hidden by clicking where the rod enters the panel. Another huge plus of this model is the Garmin GNS430. It’s getting old for a Garmin GPS/NAV/COM, but for its size, it’s a very suitable instrument for this cockpit. I imagine in this modern age; one may be looking for a newer setup if you have funds to spare and that’s where the tablet comes in. I do not have the AviTab plugin, so I cannot elaborate too much on it, but I think it’s a welcome feature to this pack. Tablets are what most modern pilots use to fly with nowadays, using apps like Foreflight or SkyDemon. One oddity is the location of the (battery) master switch! It’s under the left-hand seat and is a plastic key that with a quarter turn switches on power to the battery (12V DC). Then there’s another master switch on the panel, with a regular key, which also acts as a starter switch. The ignition switches are two separate toggles on the panel, rather than included in the master/starter switch. You may see them mentioned as mag switches (magnetos), but the Rotax 912 uses two electrical ignition boxes (of Ducati make) instead of antique magnetos. This brings me to another thing that is a little off or confusing depending on how old the aircraft/engine is. If you click on the checklist at the top of the panel, it will come up for you to read. When looking, you’ll see that it mentions Coolant Temperature but if you look at your engine instrumentation you will only find a Tecnam brand CHT gauge (Cylinder Head Temperature). However, the Rotax 912 has air-cooled cylinder bases and liquid-cooled heads. Older Rotax 912s had the temperature probe on the bottom of the #2 or #3 cylinder and picked up Cylinder Head Temperature, whereas more modern cylinders have the probe on top of the cylinders, dipping into the coolant. So Rotax, in 2015, published Mandatory Service Bulletins (SB-912-066 & SB-912-068). This requires owners or operators to change the temperature limit numbers in the documentation and get rid of the potentially confusing usage of both terms “CHT and CT”. With a newer engine (or cylinders) you just go with Coolant Temperature. Along with that, a CT gauge gets installed instead of the CHT gauge (in consultation with the aircraft manufacturer). I also notice that the engine instruments stay live even with the master is off, so this is a slight bug at the time of writing. Another cool feature of this VSKYLABS model is the clickable airspeed indicator as this can change units between a joint MPH/Kts (BK-3) or KPH (BK-240) backplate. Rotax-powered aircraft can have different RPM gauges and since the Rotax 912 is a geared engine, the engine RPM and Prop RPM differ (this rendition in X-Plane has the engine RPM indication). The gearing is included in the engine to maintain enough torque on the prop while the engine itself has rather tiny pistons (compared to a Lycoming O-320 for example). As mentioned in Huss’ aircraft manual, the choke doesn’t work quite the way the real one works. You see, Rotax engines don’t have a mixture control. In a legacy engine, you would use a full-rich mixture to start the engine, after which you can lean pretty aggressively. Rotax requires you to add more fuel to the mix upon starting and has Bing carburettors with membranes to maintain a proper mixture after that. So, it’s not even a real choke (which chokes the air to enrich the mixture), it just injects a little more fuel. To start a cold Rotax, you use full choke and close the throttle. After it fires up, remove the choke and increase the throttle to a minimum smooth RPM (1900-2100ish). A recurring mistake is that pilots want to add a little throttle while using the choke. Of course, it won’t start that way, you’re just draining the battery. I noticed some other small details where it differs from the real deal: if you leave the choke on, RPM will not drop below 2400 engine RPM. For reference, I have had plenty of students and renters come back complaining that the engine idles too high, and this nearly always means that they have forgotten to take the choke out after starting. If you try and add choke quickly while it’s already running, the engine starts to shake and tells you it is not happy with what you’ve just done. Also, adding carb heat should induce a very slight RPM drop, not as much as a legacy carbureted O-320, but just slightly. But hey, for a sim this will do just fine. The flap(eron)s are actuated manually and the handle is located on the ceiling. It comes with three positions: up, 10 degrees and 20 degrees. Manual flaps are great for this type of STOL aircraft as you can use them to push it off the runway by using ground effect for minimum take-off roll. If you search YouTube, you’ll see this used in STOL competitions. Being a modern light aircraft, it comes with a BRS (ballistic rescue system) recovery chute, and you’ll be pleased to know, it works in XP! Make sure you pull the locking pin before you fly (as per the checklist). The sound of the BRS activating in the sim is slightly underwhelming as I’ve experienced a real deployment up close, and boy does it grab your attention with that rocket being fired! But then again, I’m amazed this model even comes with a working chute. Apart from the autopilot, which is displayed by clicking the compass, the VSKYLABS A22 doesn’t come with many other features. It’s a very basic aircraft, but what I can say is that what’s included is done to a very high standard. Another attribute of the A22 is that its visibility is very good, being a high-wing aircraft. I very much appreciate being able to look down and forward, so I can still sort of see where I’m going while on final approach. Handling Now on to the real fun! Before I begin though, I have to say that I have noticed the model tends to fall on its tail when parked slightly nose-high, which can be an issue in the backcountry. However, I have a feeling this may be the same for its real-life counterpart, as some are very light on the nose. When treating the brake system like the real thing, I felt it sometimes lacked some nose wheel steering authority (I added some toe-brakes to help it turn). Nose wheel steering is effective enough to make relatively tight turns with no help from brakes needed, though for sim use I don’t feel this is a large issue. During takeoff, it’s highly apparent that the elevator has plenty of authority. I say this because it’s easy to over-pitch, leading you to potential tail dragging, which risks damaging the stabilizers and adding drag on your roll. Be very gentle when applying back pressure and once you have a feeling for it, it’s easy to do a soft field departure with the nose wheel just slightly off the ground. The A22 will fly off rather quickly after a very short run as it’s very light, and with a ~100 horse Rotax 912ULS, you have plenty of power for a decent climb. At low speeds, the aircraft feels mushy, and it really does depend on those huge control surfaces to make its way around turns, but they do work, which is incredible, especially when you realize just how slow the air is moving over them. During the cruise phase, the controls are very light and direct, with plenty of airflow over them. Stalls are relatively docile. You can make the plane descend in a stall by keeping the yoke pulled and then power right out of it. Letting the nose drop also ends the situation. It can however snap on you, dropping a wing if you wrestle it just too much. On landing, it depends on the weather, location and other variables as to what technique you want to use. You can drag it in with some power to do spot landings without obstacles, or you can drop it in from high and use all the drag you can get from the flaperons and maybe even some forward slip. Again, the roll control feels sort of mushy, so you need large deflections sometimes, but this means it’s easier to make small corrections. During my testing, I can’t say I’ve got the landings nailed quite yet but it sure is fun getting to know the character of this low-and-slow fun machine. Sounds The sound pack is OK as it sounds like a Rotax 912. The starter sound is there, and you can hear the gearbox slapping on shutdown, which always hurts my “mechanic feelings” a bit. In real life, I close the throttle and while spooling down, I cut the ignition. Tough to nail, but oh it’s so nice not to hear the gears rattle, so yeah, it does sound and feel like it should! The sound does change when you open or close the doors, which makes for a nice and loud experience when flying with the doors open. There are sounds for the buttons and switches, but it appears to be rather generic. Overall, the sound is fine for what it is and does a good job of mimicking the Rotax engine experience. I suspect the price of the pack would go up if a high-detail FMOD soundset was included (I’ve seen the process of how SimAcoustics records those, quite professional and has lots of expensive-looking microphones). Those are nice but aren’t a must-have. Conclusion Well after my testing, I must conclude that this is a highly enjoyable model from VSKYLABS, especially for the price and what Huss is trying to do with his VSKYLABS range. I say this because Huss uses the default X-Plane flight modelling instead of resorting to all sorts of plugins and ‘dirty’ tricks often employed by others. This means there are some compromises made when it comes to specific systems and handling. In saying that though, the A22 is right there in the ballpark, where it should be. The documentation is very clear and transparent about it, which is a trademark of VSKYLABS. To sum up, the A22 looks great, includes some good quality liveries, sounds realistic enough and is interesting and enjoyable to fly. Sure, if you want to go somewhere in a rush, it might disappoint, but if like me you enjoy the magical world of low-and-slow flight, then the Aeroprakt A22-LS makes for the perfect companion. _______________________________ The VSKYLABS- Aeroprakt A22-LS Project for X-Plane 12 is available from the X-Plane.Org Store here: VSKYLABS- Aeroprakt A22-LS Project Priced at US$27.50 Project's Main Features: VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Project: designed for use with X-Plane's cutting edge Experimental flight model environment, featuring superb flight dynamics with authentic performance and flight handling characteristics. Built for VR: development was tailored specifically for VR, and optimized for 2D usage. Engineered and designed as a default X-Plane aircraft (Like all VSKYLABS projects). The VSKYLABS projects are practically show-casing X-Plane, as they are stretching X-Plane default features, systems and flight model to its limits without any dependencies on complementary plugins or software...delivering a very robust simulation model, having maximum compatibility with the ever evolving X-Plane flight simulator. Perfect fit for beginner and expert pilots: The VSL A22-LS is featuring the standard, basic analog cockpit suitable for VFR + night flying. The simple and clear analog gauges layout is perfect for beginner pilots. It is also featuring an optional experimental LSA-grade autopilot. Built-in Avitab Plugin Compatibility (AviTab plugin is not included). STMA Auto Updater plugin is included - all updates are being pushed smoothly without the need to re-download the entire base package (base package will be updated every once in a while to minimize the gap). Highly responsive and professional support: VSKYLABS is offering continuous professional support from aircraft related aspects (operating and flying) to X-Plane technical support. The project is under constant maintenance and development. Requirements X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: XP12 - September 5th 2022 1.0 (April 29th 2021, XP11) Review by LPNils 17th Nov 2022 Copyright©2022: X-Plane Reviews Review System Specifications:  Ryzen 7 3800X - 32GB RAM - Gigabyte RTX 2070 2X 8G - Windows 10 64Bit (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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  6. Really? Not everyone takes their flight simulation as seriously as you or I might do. Not everyone pours over every forum. Not everyone notices every small glitch or focuses on the next micro stutter. Like all those people who bought MSFS when it came out, suffered all the issues of downloading it and getting it to work and still being enthusiastic because they saw their house. All users, all paying the same amount as we do to Laminar. There will be further updates after it is released, just as there always have been, maybe in January. It may well be that Laminar intended the Beta to be better sorted by the holiday season but video sales in November and December are each generally around three times higher than any month in the year. It makes sense for Laminar to give up that potential revenue for another year? Plus MSFS 40th Anniversary Edition is due for release tomorrow. Many people when they select as Flight Simulator stay with it. Should Laminar give MS a free run at this years holiday market?
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  7. Aircraft Update X-Plane 12 : Diamond DA-62 by Aerobask Released in March 2019, the Diamond DA-62 followed on from a long line of Diamond composite aircraft from Aerobask. The DA-42 Twin Star and the Diamond DA-50RG. The differences were that the DA-42 was a Twin-Engined aircraft and the DA-50RG is a Single-Engined aircraft. Sadly the Twin-Star has been retired, so the replacement Twin-Engined machine has been this more later and larger DA-62. The larger DA-42 was built as the DA-50, but only one prototype was built and the DA-50 was also only a single-engine aircraft as well. The DA-50 soon morphed into the DA-62 which kept the larger fuselage of the DA-50, but added the Twin-Engined design of the DA-42, and comes also with the more powerful Austro Engine E4 (marketed as the AE 300) which is a liquid-cooled, inline, four-cylinder, four-stroke, diesel piston aircraft engine of which the DA-62 has the 180hp AE330 version. There was a large update (v2.0r) to the original DA-62 just under a year ago in late November 2021, so it is very up to date in systems and detail. So here is the transition aircraft of the same to X-Plane 12. It doesn't have any changes from the 2.0r version, but does have all the X-Plane 12 features added, in the Flight Model by X-Aerodynamics, lighting, texture adjustments (Internal/External) and weather effects. The DA-62 looked very good originally in X-Plane 11, but now the refined X-Plane 12 effect gives the Diamond a more serious "WOW" feel. The aircraft just "OOOOZES" quality, our of every pore and it's skin. The detail is simply of the chart, so get closest inspection that you can. I have always loved the organic shape of the engine cowlings, incredibly well done, masterful modeling. Internally it is just as extravagant, nobody does interiors better than Aerobask, it is a feast for your eyes all in the perfect detail and materials. Since v2 of the Diamond DA-62 the menus have been changed. Now they are more concise and easier to use they cover the standard Weight & Balance of the aircraft, 3d passengers, Fuel and Static Elements of Chocks, Ties, Bollards, Pitot covers, GPU (Ground Power Unit) and non-working pushback trolley. On the Menu "Options", it covers the (Main) or aircraft options and then the three avionics sets of options for the, G1000 PFD, G1000 MFD and the MD302 backup instrument. EDDB (Berlin) to EDDP (Liepzig - Halle) The flight here is quite short, just a few hundered kilometers from Berlin to Liepzig. Starting the DA-62 is simple simon, just switch on the fuel flow (levers centre console), then the main fuel pump, and press the correct dinky button for the engine you want to start, as easy as starting a diesel engine in a car or truck. As this is a very modern GA, and so the engines don't need to be coaxed into life, they will start easily and run up to temperatures very quickly with that odd (in an aircraft) slightly rattly diesel sound. Although the DA-62 is not newly released. I love the fact that all Aerobask aircraft are so fully resolved when being used, virtually no bugs and issues to contend with, it is all a nice clean operation and flying. Notable as usual that we are still in the X-Plane 12 Beta phase, so (I can't find anything wrong with the DA-62) the external beta issues are still there including the odd wind and weather behavior... but thankfully also none of the wild wing behaviour I saw on the DA-50RG. Note the Aerobask "Synthetic Vision" on PFD, that was added in here on the last update. I'm not going to say the DA-62 is easy to track straight because it isn't. Daddy long legs in gear feels like three points on a surface, so you work hard with the rudder in keeping it in line and on track. 100 knts (no flap) and only a small rotate is required, and your flying. Rate of climb is noted at 6.1 m/s (1,200 ft/min) but I found that 700fpm gave me the best climb to altitude (5,000ft) without putting pressure on the power output... Ceiling is a massive 6,096 m (20,000 ft) because you have oxygen. I really liked the custom power outputs on the MAP/NAV screen, but they are native different on the pop-up version. Like most general aviation releases lately the DA-62 comes with the native Laminar Research G1000 twin panel avionics system (both PFD and MFD pop-out), but custom here. It is a very good layout, but not as really detailed as a real G1000 system actually is, but it does cover about 85% of the systems. Mid-Panel is the MD302 SAM® or the "Standby Altitude Module" Basically is a standby instrument which is very authentic to the real instrument. View out is sensational, big front curved screen and large side windows give you the sense of space. Lighting Internally like everything on this aircraft the lighting is above and beyond the best... the Instrument panel is fully adjustable with down strip lighting under the glareshield. You can also adjust both the G1000 screens. But I will note with the X-Plane 12 Beta the lighting is still being worked on. I'm not completely happy with it either, so it feels not yet totally refined as it could be... but the promises are here. Attention to detail shows with the MD302 SAM being on a different power source and shuts down in its own time and speed, you can also shut it down quicker if you wish. There is twist adjustable lighting for the pilots and switchable lighting for the seats. The lighting switches are on the bottom, but two are hidden at the back of the roof assembly, but can still be switched from the front view. The detail of the switchware and lights is phenomenal. The external lighting isn't very comprehensive and there are no (red) beacons on the aircraft. There are twin Taxi and Landing light sets central under the cabin. But it is refined for X-Plane 12 (well for now anyway). And one for each wing Ice lights and that lighting switch is on the de-icing panel and not with the main lighting switches. Position or Navigation lights are on each wing, but none on the tail and wing double flash strobes covers all the external lighting. Sounds are modern FMOD and with Enhanced 3D system sounds, including Doppler and Flanger effects. They do sound a little different from the normal, but the engines are very different as well in being diesels, but at the cruise speed they have this lovely thrumm that passes the flying time nicely. Start up is almost instantaneous with a slight cranking, so they are almost electric in that aspect. The Oxygen system is very active. It is activated by the knob under the panel far left of the pilot. When the juice is flowing all the occupants on board get oxygen masks, but you have to use it sparingly and only for short periods of flight as it soon used up. You can replenish the oxygen from the menu but only on the ground. All Circuit Breakers (Fuses) work, here I have pulled the MFD fuse... The 3d world of X-Plane 12... loving it all. Here I settled into a 150knt cruise, with 325 km/h (202 mph; 175 kn) (TAS) the official cruise speed and a Max speed of 367 km/h (228 mph; 198 kn) and the Range is outstanding at 2,380 km (1,479 mi; 1,285 nmi). Now approaching EDDP EDDP (Liepzig - Halle), it's time to get ready for landing. 1,500 ft is my goal on approach (from 5,000 ft) and 100 knts... I am still amazed at the quality of X-Plane 12, is this really the same X-Plane Simulator? It shows how much decent lighting can make a difference. There is the EDDP field and Rwy 26L. 78 knts on final at Full flap is very nice. On experience the DA-62 can be a bit niggly on approach in winds, but thankfully today is calm. Being niggly on approach means a bit of skill in getting the touch down about right, the gear doesn't have a lot of give, but this X-Plane 12 version feels better (more supple) than the earlier versions... nice. Oddly the speed doesn't change much as you transfer into the flare, it says around the same 78 knts, but you still have full control. The biggest trick here is trying in not dig in your nosewheel, you can't flare to much either, so it is a bit of a balance to get it all right. Note the runway in the "Synthetic Vision". Transition to taxi can be tricky, but you can get a feel between using the rudder pedals for fine steering, and the yoke yaw for the more tighter turns, like with everything in Simulation Flying you soon adapt. X-Plane 12 icing and rain effects are also available as well, the original DA-62 did have icing and rain, but here it is far better and built in as default. Liveries There are Eight liveries (down from 10 in the earlier version) and one white paint livery. There are a four older designs (but updated for X-Plane 12), and four new ones added. All liveries are 4K extreme high Def quality and picked for their extreme reproduction in X-Plane 12 (in other words very nice). The White is the default. Summary Released in March 2019, the Diamond DA-62 followed on from a long line of Diamond composite aircraft from Aerobask. Here is the X-Plane 12 version, not a full X-Plane 12 release, but a compatible aircraft as we are still in the Beta (11) phase of X-Plane 12. There are no actual new features or changes since the last DA-62 v2.0r (November 25th 2021) release. But you do get the full package of X-Plane 12 Flight Model, lighting, texture adjustments (Internal/External) and weather effects. Liveries have dropped to eight (from ten), but overall better quality. Notable as usual that we are still in the X-Plane 12 Beta phase, so (I can't find anything wrong with the DA-62) the external beta issues are still there including the odd wind and weather behavior... but thankfully also none of the wild wing behaviour I saw on the DA-50RG. All the huge feature list are still there, including; "Synthetic Vision", active Circuit Breaker Panel, Icing and rain systems, Oxygen System, MD302 SAM Backup instrument, power rudder adjustment and top level FMOD sound. G1000 system is still native X-Plane, but customised and well intergrated and excellent to use. Aerobask would be on anyone's "Must Buy list", on just their name alone, that is the solid reputation the developers already have, and I have absolutely no reason to discount that aspect. Aerobask make brilliant modern composite aircraft, excellent modeling and extraordinary interior design... they fly pretty good as well, and are very good value with excellent back up service... now all available in X-Plane 12, basically how much more do you want? Highly Recommended of course. ______________________ Yes! the Diamond DA-62 X-Plane 12 by Aerobask is NOW! available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Diamond DA62 Price is US$39.95 Features Now supports X-Plane 12 Both X-Plane 12 and X-Plane 11 versions included Advanced Flight model Flight model by X-Aerodynamics, very closely matching real performance (based on public data). Aerobask Systems Suite Fully Integrated Laminar Garmin G1000 with custom EIS and annunciations (In 3D only) Customized FADEC/ECU with test procedures allows engines and propellers to deliver their documented performance with unprecedented accuracy, including in fuel usage Auto-feathering is also accurately managed, for a total immersion Simulated oxygen system Simulated ice protection system MD302: custom coded Standby Attitude Module Fully functional breakers (configurable reliability) High Resolution Model High quality 3D model with high resolution PBR textures (4K textures) Fully functional virtual 3D cockpit, with smooth and VR-friendly manipulators Windshield effects: reflections, rain and frost Many parameters saved between flights Configurable pilots, passengers and luggage Optimized to save FPS Custom Sounds FMOD High Quality Enhanced 3D system sounds, including Doppler and Flanger effects Auto-Updater Keep your aircraft up-to-date with a convenient auto-updater Requirements: X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac (using Rosetta) or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum. 8 GB+ VRAM recommended Current version: 12r2 (October 27th 2022) Installation Download of the Diamond DA-62 is 376mb and it is installed in your General Aviation Folder as a 933mb folder. Documents Documentation is excellent. Great manual with feature details, checklists/Performance tables and MD302 manual. Quicklook views.pdf DA62 Flight Manual.pdf DA62 Checklist Normal Operations.pdf Airspeed Normal Operation.pdf DA62 Checklist Emergency Procedures.pdf DA62 Performance Tables.pdf Install_Settings.pdf Quick-Doc MD302.pdf ______________________ Review by Stephen Dutton 4th Nov 2022 Copyright©2022: X-PlaneReviews (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) Review System Specifications:  Computer System: Windows - S1700 Core i7 12700K 12 Core 3.60 GHz CPU / 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo M2 2TB SSD - Sound : Yamaha Speakers YST-M200SP Software: - Windows 11 Pro - X-Plane 12.00B11 (This is a beta review). Plugins: JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00 : RK Apps XPRealistic v2 - US$34.99 Scenery or Aircraft - EDDB - Berlin-Brandenburg V2 XP by Aerosoft (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$29.99 - EDDP - Leipzig/Halle International Airport by JustSim/Digital Design (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$20.00 (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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  8. Aircraft Review: VSKYLABS F-19 Stealth Fighter for X-Plane 12 By Alan Ashforth This is a review of the new VSKYLABS F-19, which along with X-Plane 12, is rapidly receiving updates. As such, this article will offer a snapshot of the F-19 in its current state (version 1.5 at the time of writing), and X-Plane 12 Beta 9, as of 29th October 2022. Introduction The actual F-19 story can be traced back to the 1980s when numerous news articles began circulating about a supposedly secret stealth aircraft called the “F-19”. At the time, the USAF had taken delivery of the F-117 Stealth Fighter, and when one of these highly secretive aircraft crashed in California in 1986, it only helped stir the media interest. To this date, the F-19 has never been officially acknowledged, but this fact has done nothing to deter the public’s interest. In fact, quite the opposite has happened, as the F-19 has been referenced numerous times over the years, most notably in the highly popular computer game, “F-19 Stealth Fighter” by Microprose, released in 1989. The F-19 model represented here by VSKYLABS, continues this trend of “what might be”, as much of what this model is based on is pure speculation. However, that is where a lot of the excitement comes into play…so let’s have a look at some of the F-19’s statistics. Performance figures provided by VSKYLABS are of an aircraft that can reach a maximum speed of Mach 1.2, an altitude of 53,000ft and a range of 1,400 miles. Not too shabby in the slightest! The aircraft carries internal missiles which include two AIM-9X air-to-air (AA), and AGM-158A air-to-ground cruise missiles. Download & Installation Once purchased and downloaded from the store, the VSKYLABS F-19 (unzipped) weighs in at 341MB. Contained within the folder, you will find a concise 14-page manual, which according to the developer, will be updated into a comprehensive manual. There is also an install guide complete with a warning that the model just purchased is an “Early Access Aircraft”, due in part to X-Plane 12’s rapid beta progression. Exterior There’s no denying it, VSKYLAB’s F-19 is a remarkable-looking fighter aircraft, with obvious stealth attributes on offer. From its pointed nose, angled front cockpit, concealed engines (from frontal radar returns) four-engine cooling ducts on the fuselage top (to reduce heat signature), rounded wings and inward tilted twin ruder/ vertical stabilizers (complete with built-in speed brakes), this is a design modelled entirely to go unnoticed by enemy radar. Other notable features of the aircraft include the in-flight refuelling (IFR) cover on the top centre of the fuselage (not yet implemented in X-Plane 12), tailhook, brake chute and the fully internal missile weapons bay. Interior VSKYLABS has modelled the interior of the F-19 to be quite snug, but in a way that fully embraces a design from the 1980s. It is equipped with mostly steam gauges, plus a few additions from the nineties, those being a Garmin G530 and a few EFIS units. Looking around, it is clear to see that the developer has put a lot of time and effort into making the interior as authentic as possible. Everything is modelled to an extremely high standard, including a nicely detailed seat and canopy surround, a nice feature of which, are the numerous marks and scratches on the glass. A feature I especially enjoyed (which is due in part to how X-Plane 12 works), was the wonderful rain effects on the cockpit glass, incredibly atmospheric and great fun to boot! Due to the layout of the F-19’s cockpit, learning where everything is located, is relatively simple. Yes, it takes a bit of time, but that’s half the charm of flying an aircraft such as this type. However, once done, everything falls into place and the experience is highly enjoyable. Flying & Operation When starting the F-19 from cold and dark, the battery is only used to test the fire warning and annunciators. Set your L/R engine shutoffs to the SET (UP position) and then turn on the APU switch; a green light will appear within 30 seconds. Hold down the right engine starter until 30% is achieved and the engine should then self-idle up to 65% RPM. To start the left engine, you simply follow the same procedure. If you happen to have AviTab installed, you can read the Normal Procedures list for engine startup. With our GPS, radios and other equipment checked, we can now progress to the takeoff phase. The advice given by VSKYLABS in the manual, recommends rotating at 130kts, with takeoff being achieved at between 150-170kts, depending on aircraft weight. At full throttle, afterburners (AB) will be activated, so if flying below 250kts, these can be switched off. For CAT launches, the procedure is almost the same, but with slightly more emphasis on having your afterburners ready, and don’t forget the launch bar switch on the lower front left panel. One of the first things you’ll notice about the F-19 when in the air, is just how stable an aircraft it is. This is particularly evident in the FCS Dogfight mode, as you’ll be able to undertake some rather impressive manoeuvres without even a hint of complaint. Of course, if you want to add some additional challenge to your flying, you can always turn off the artificial stabilizers, which has the effect of making the aircraft a lot more sensitive. It’s fun, just be prepared for the odd…shock! The F-19, whilst not as fast as the likes of the non-stealthy F-15/16/18, climbs very well and achieves its desired altitude in almost no time at all. All the weapons carried by the F-19 are stored internally in which to maintain the aircraft’s stealth properties. These include the two sidewinders stowed in the left and right fuselage bays and the larger air-to-ground missiles (AGM), located in the central fuselage compartment. Whilst X-Plane isn’t labelled as a combat flight simulator as such, it’s still possible to have a great deal of fun in it, especially with an aircraft like the VSKYLABS F-19. To operate the weapons, you first turn on the Master arm switch and then choose either AA or AG (your chosen selection will then be lit up). In this mode, all relevant weapon bays will be opened, and the radar will show any “enemy” aircraft in range. For this example, I set up an AI MiG 27 as the enemy aircraft, and by using the keyboard command “Next Target”, I was able to select the MiG on the radar (turns red). As well as displaying the target, the radar also provides information regarding the speed and altitude of the enemy, in relation to your position. With the MiG locked and within around ten miles, I released a single sidewinder at the target. It looks like someone is going to have a long walk home! Unfortunately, when it comes to using the air-to-ground missiles in X-Plane 12, there is no means currently of being able to lock them onto either a ship or ground target. This doesn’t mean you can’t use them; you just can’t watch them hit anything. You can however observe a test flight of the AGM-158A during its launch phase, which to be honest, looks great, especially when the wings unfold, and the rocket motor kicks in! As well as selecting the desired ordinance, there is also a button for both chaff and flare countermeasures, but sadly during my testing, I couldn’t get the chaffs to work (this will no doubt be fixed in later updates). When navigating, cruising, or using the autopilot in the VSKYLABS F-19, it is recommended to use the Tactical mode of the FCS. This provides a smoother ride with less angle of attack (AOA), thus making the aircraft safer to fly when at low altitudes. However, one thing to remember, is that the autopilot will switch off if your speed drops below 170kts, so be aware of this, especially during landings. When flying at night, the F-19 looks fantastic, as not only are you presented with an easy-to-read cockpit panel, but you are also provided with some exceptionally bright landing lights. When combined with the new NAV and APR autopilot settings, night flights and carrier landings are a lot more enjoyable and safer. Due to the F-19’s poor forward visibility, both takeoffs and landings can be quite challenging at times, so you’ll have to move around the cockpit to get an idea of where you’re situated in relation to the airport or carrier. If you’re still having difficulty, then I recommend controlling the aircraft from (dare I say it), the external view. Whilst this isn’t as realistic, it does help with the frustration. Navigating in the F-19 works well during all phases of flight, as you can use either the sat-nav/autopilot or VOR/heading modes to complete objectives. When you factor in the new ILS making runway landings easier, plus the option of having either air-to-air combat or missile tests, the whole experience is just incredibly fun. Sounds No aircraft add-on is complete without a decent soundset, so you’ll be glad to know that the F-19 is well-catered for in this department. Not only are you provided with some truly incredible engine effects (FMOD), but this must be the first aircraft where I could hear myself breathing through the oxygen mask. There are also sounds for the closing and opening of the canopy, plus many other audio alerts, which when added all together, make for an audiophile’s dream. Conclusion As many of you will know, I have a fondness for military aircraft and as such, the VSKYLABS F-19 ticks many boxes in this regard. It’s an aircraft which is exceptionally well-modelled both inside and out (even in this early access stage). When you consider that fact, I think it’s safe to say that the model reviewed here will only get better, which is high praise indeed. The flight characteristics are both forgiving and challenging at the same time, plus the sound is to die for (wait till you listen to those flypasts). VSKYLABS are renowned for their modelling skills and the F-19 is no exception to the rule. One must also mention the model’s cost, which for an aircraft of this type, I think is more than acceptable. So, if like me you enjoy fast military jets, modelled to an exceedingly high standard, then VSKYLABS F-19 should definitely be on your radar! _______________________________ The VSKYLABS F-19 Stealth Fighter for X-Plane 12 is available from the X-Plane.Org Store here: VSKYLABS F-19 Stealth Fighter Priced at US$34.95 Project's Main Features: Project Highlights (Early Access Version): Early access version! A new aircraft for X-Plane v12.00 beta. Advanced concept aircraft simulation, including detailed, fully functional 3-d cockpit environment with realistic, working systems. Extensive, professional real-world experience and knowledge of jet-fighters design, systems, performance, handling and operation were involved in the making of the VSKYLABS F-19. Designed for X-Plane 12 cutting-edge flight model environment and presents superb flight dynamics with presumably authentic performance and flight handling characteristics for the hypothetical F-19 aircraft. Developed for VR: Development was tailored specifically for VR and optimized for 2D usage. Engineered and designed as a genuine, default X-Plane 12 aircraft. The VSKYLABS projects are practically show-casing X-Plane, as they are stretching X-Plane default features, systems and flight model to its limits without any dependencies on complementary plugins or software...delivering a very robust simulation model, having maximum compatibility with the ever-evolving X-Plane flight simulator. Comprehensive FMOD sounds for 'As Real As It Gets' experience! Perfect challenge for beginner and expert pilots: Provides a very wide flight envelope with comfortable control from ~140 knots to Mach 1.1. Autoupdater based on the SkunkCrafts autoupdater - all updates are being pushed smoothly without the need to re-download the entire base package (base package will be updated every once in a while, to minimize the gap). Highly responsive VSKYLABS support forums: VSKYLABS offers continuous professional support, from all aircraft related aspects (operating and flying) to X-Plane technical support. The project is under constant maintenance and development. Requirements X-Plane 12 - Not compatible with X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac, or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 1.0 (October 21st, 2022) Review by Alan Ashforth 3rd Oct 2022 Copyright©2022: X-Plane Reviews Review System Specifications:  Windows 11, Intel i7 10,700 Processor, 32GB RAM, 2TB SSD, GeForce RTX™ 2070 (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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  9. I am not sure that Inibuilds have suddenly seen the light. To quote Inibuilds ‘To manage expectations there is no ETA for this (we are targeting some point in 2023), and will ensure items such as the new FM are addressed accordingly. At this time, it is only the intention to update the A300V2. ‘ Some point in 2023 is not much of a commitment and at the same time the A310 and Beluga are being walked away from. No ETA doesn’t sound much of a plan. It is charitable to suggest they are now listening to their customers. What is more likely is that they have seen that XP12 has some level of success and that XP11, at least in terms of new sales, is not going to bring many new purchases going forward. So a lick of XP12 paint and stick it in the store for future sales. Updating it to be compatible with XP12 sometime in 2023 is not the same as other developers like Flight Factor and Toliss are doing, updating for XP12 compatibility and then having a development path going forward.
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