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  1. News! - Announcement : Boeing 787-9 coming from FlightFactor FlightFactor announced last month that a completely new aircraft to add into the line up of a B777, B767/B757 twins, A350 and the Airbus A320 Ultimate is coming from the development house. This aircraft is the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner and details are noted that the B787 will reach new heights in complexity, usability and have a variety of features. We are also taking our 3D and texturing to the next level with ever more detail in and out of the cockpit. The first cockpit renders have been produced... It is the first all new aircraft from FlightFactor since the A320 Ultimate, but FlightFactor note the B787 will be closer to the B757/B767 in design than use the Chromium Embedded Framework (CEF) than on the same A320U aircraft... either way there will be a lot of expectations and a quality delivery expected on this aircraft as the CEF development was a long and testing one, but also the coming B787 at a study grade level will be a big shot in the arm for X-Plane with the MSFS onslaught. FlightFactor also noted "v2 plans for other models are simultaneously on the way, we just don't want to reveal it all at once! " that will be the v2 Boeing 777 and the v2 A350. I would expect the v2 B777 even before the end of 2020, but not the v2 A350 as the v1 just went with a serious upgrade with version Advanced v1.6 just being released, so that aircraft will certainly be a mid or late next year release, but an upgraded Boeing 777 (the current version is now seriously old) will keep the punters more than happy until the Dreamliner arrives. Overall FlightFactor has noted that with this aircraft it wants to take simulation to the next level.... exciting times. Images courtesy of FlightFactor ______________________________________________________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 15th September 2020 Copyright©2020: 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)
    4 points
  2. Behind the Screen : May 2021 Noted it is already 1st June... 5 months of the year 2021 have already passed, and where are we? Non-Covid then later this week the FlightSimExpo on the 4th June to the 6th June would have been running in San Diego, but that date has now been moved to September 24-26, 2021. The FlightSimExpo 2021 this time around after the no-go of 2020, was a huge focus on the state of play in simulation and of the whirlwind of the changes surrounding simulation, a sort of "touch base" scenario or to see where we are all relative to all the significant changes of late. But mostly the focus would have been on Laminar Research... would have they released or at least previewed X-Plane12 (or what ever XP12 would be called) this weekend? My gut says they would have certainly previewed or announced the new up and coming simulator version with a razzmatazz do-da at the Expo, right under the noses of Microsoft and their full on desire to show off their own do-da Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS). In other words a head to head battle for users for a certain specific platform or for the cash they deliver, but that extreme clash of the simulation titans will now not happen, or not yet anyway. So the obvious question is? Will Laminar Research still announce the new X-Plane version as per the old SimExpo dates (this weekend), or now wait until the rescheduled Sept SimExpo. It gives Laminar even more time to refine the details and make even more of a announcement splash further on up the road. It is a big question. Laminar has a few options, because historically the northern summer is a very quiet time in Simulation, users are more interested in the beach or fishing than sitting behind a computer, oddly I am in the Southern Winter, but the weather here is just as pleasant as the Northern Summer (If not as perfect) so you want to be outside more than inside with the glorious weather... so would an announcement now from Laminar go simply nowhere? Or if Laminar did announce the new X-Plane version, then they would still have months to refine it and get a beta release under way for the same Sept Expo date, announcing does not mean delivering, but it does start the countdown clock to a reveal or beta release. I left my calendar clear for next week either way, and why? The first five months of 2021 (Covid-19 restrictions aside) it has been in Simulation terms very quiet, they all bubble along nicely, but not certainly with the extreme vigour of the past few years. Again has the Covid aspects been a factor in that, and not in just the health aspects but the actual monetary characteristics as well, personally I don't think so, but much is so out of whack with the virus. But there are aspects that need exploring, and in reality the main players in both MSFS and X-Plane are actually still in a state of transition phase. In the case of MSFS, it has certainly lost a lot of it's release thrill. No doubt the scenery developers are still bowing to the great god for financial salvation, but look closer and the releases are still mostly well rehashed versions of the earlier released FS/P3D product, nothing new to see there, but earlier the volume was absolutely overwhelming and all or mostly it was released at bucket low prices. In X-Plane quality scenery has also gone through the floor, with very little released and mostly only the small regional or just basic airfields to purchase (the quality however is really, really good), certainly there are no mega ports or cityscapes... we are now certainly being punished heavily for our lack of investment in quality scenery... all the big boys have certainly gone, the question is will they come back, and I told you so, mostly in every monthly BtheS edition I did last year. But is the forecasted deal actually or really working out? No doubt the MSFS developers are in it for the really long haul, but will MSFS actually really deliver the bonanza they are expecting or the high returns they expect to build a long term business model on, personally I am already thinking they might already have realised, that the cash cow they were expecting is not actually going to be there or even materialize, gamers are still a very different breed than Simulation users in that they hop-in and hop-out at will, they are certainly not going to spend money to build up long term portfolios of aircraft, scenery or addons like the dedicated Simulator users do. Lately the early year's absolutely full on MSFS release stream of scenery has already dropped to down to a trickle? On aircraft MSFS is still very much in nowheresville. The release of Aerosoft's big bang and expensive CRJ 550/700, was of actually burst balloon proportions, reviews are horrible, but JustFlight have just released their (in X-Plane excellent) PA-28R Turbo Arrow III IV, so there might be finally a decent machine to fly in the MSFS Simulator, but overall the deeper MSFS architecture is just not there for deep grade simulation, as with the original Flight Simulator series it will depend on if the developers can work around this crucial aspect in a 3rd party design, rather than depending on the actual simulator itself. To a point most important X-Plane aircraft are now also independent of the core Plane Maker tools to operate and a few with CEF (Chrome) and xjet are standalone plugins from PM. But I still think the MSFS architecture is again far to different to workaround as it is again based on gaming engines, more than a flight modeling engine to achieve the required depth and dynamics. Yes I actually have MSFS, but I rarely fly it? I have also not even bought a single product in the platform, and that is not because I am being an X-Plane devotee. I am very much in wanting to experience the best in simulation, but to be honest (except for the visual aspects) it leaves me stone cold, I find the flight model very artificial (what is with the bouncing?) and the visual controls are simply impossible, and I certainly don't feel comfortable in the aircraft, but get the feeling of being set removed or distanced from the dynamics... and it has crashed in one form or the other almost every time I have used it, would that overall experience make you want to actually invest in it? I found Q1 2021 frustratingly slow in X-Plane. There was a few nice and very good helicopter releases, but at times I was actually looking for things to review which was very rare activity in the last few dynamic years, I expected the year to bounce off hard, but it never happened, it just stumbled and groaned. In Q2 2021 X-Plane suddenly felt normal again, with three exceptional aircraft releases, Aerobask with their excellent Embraer EMB-505 Phenom 300, followed by the very much anticipated JustFlight BAe 146 Pro, and finally the mind-blowing X-Trident CH47-D Chinook. The really odd thing about those last few X-Plane releases, was the actual sheer depth of their systems and the flight dynamics. Again another level of Simulation, that to be honest pushed my reviewing skills to the absolute limits. So much to learn and so much to operate in the way you fly each of these aircraft, and personally, I know and is still flying all three consistently to trying to get up to each of the aircraft's extreme level of study and skill bases. That is of course great and the aspect of the Simulator still pushing you upwards in your skill base, but it is also highly fulfilling, satisfaction wise. But here is the point. Without those extreme aircraft simulations you don't have a Simulator, and you don't even have a viable Simulator if the developers didn't develop these amazing products, and overall that is the huge chasm between MSFS and X-Plane right now, if you are a serious sim-user then where do you have to be to do deep immersion simulation, the answer is simply of course X-Plane. So the question to Laminar Research is that, can you afford to waste the time to wait till September 21 to get the next version of X-Plane out to an eager audience. Their answer maybe in that "well X-Plane11 is moving along quite nicely", but that is not the point here, push your luck too far and you could lose the overall game, and money. To those MSFS developers in the fact that if X-Plane12 (or whatever) is really, really good, then where should your talents go to. "Look the deal is guys, give us the same quality and scenery as you are giving to MSFS, and we will buy it" but don't try to screw us, were as currently you are giving MSFS better quality and diversity, and at a far cheaper price" That is not fair... if like X-Plane or not, the Simulator delivers where it really counts in Simulation, but the X-Plane12 aspect and Laminar's fancy long-winded roadmap can change the game (so to speak) significantly, because the point is if Sim users can get the realism in aircraft and plugins they require, then the only thing missing is the visuals (and the weather), that is what X-Plane12 in context should finally put right... do you see where I am going! Again I am not going into bat for just for X-Plane, but for the full overall experience of Simulation. If Laminar Research want to face off the might of Microsoft and their wonderkind product in Sept, then build up the momentum before you get to San Diego, than then just trying to overwhelm them (or announce) on the day will not work, because MSFS have a lot to lose, and work the MSFS developers to say that X-Plane IS worthy of your attention, because believe it or not, we do as users actually buy portfolios of your product. After the last August release of MSFS, we are in an interesting place, but actually it will be this coming Northern Summer that will be a setting to the future of Simulation as we know it. Yes FlightSimExpo 2021 in September will still be the epicentre to the clash titans of Simulation, but most significant battles have always been won not on the field, but before and well away from the day itself... it is your call Laminar Research. See you all again next month... Stephen Dutton 1st June 2021 Copyright©2021 X-Plane Reviews
    2 points
  3. Aircraft Review : Airbus A340-500 by JARDesign Group Airbus conceived several derivatives of the A300 Series in their first airliner, and then developed in parallel the A340 Quadjet with the A330 Twinjet. The Airbus philosophy was simple... create the basically the same aircraft, but for different roles and at the same time retain crew compatibility for airline flexibility between the two aircraft. At the time it made total sense, but technology advances in time sort of spoilt the clever idealism of the time. Large (if mega fan sizes) twin engined aircraft now dominate airline fleets, relegating the more less fuel-efficient (but safer) four-engined aircraft out of contention. Today the Boeing 747's, A340's and even the super-sized A380 are all being side-lined because of their so called efficiency rating, and were as the A340s sales stalled the sister A330s sales went through the roof (mostly because the new-generation twinjets in the Dreamliner and A350 were late in their development) as ten years ago you couldn't buy a A330 for the love or money. But four engined jets are the backbone of long haul routes, and the A340-500 is the king of long haul with a 16,670 km/9,000 nmi range, it was the longest-range airliner at the time, and is still highly effective as a trans global aircraft today. JARDesign as a developer is one of the sort of pioneers and to a point even a renegade of development for the X-Plane Simulator, they have produced aircraft for as long as I have been in simulation, and mostly all are Airbus aircraft. Their aircraft in the A320 and A330 have been the mainstay of early Airbus flying in the simulator, but also there is the addition of some very clever addons, with the Ground Handling Deluxe (GHD), FM (Follow Me) Car, X-Life (Traffic) and their latest in a fully operating Co-Pilot feature. This JARDesign Airbus A340-500 has been in development for quite a few years, to the point that if at times the project had actually been abandoned, but no... here is that A340 Quadjet to join up with the same sister aircraft in the JARDesign A330. If you own the JARDesign A330, then you would very likely easily fit in to this A340 as well, as both as in real aviation are very, very similar in mostly the same context and content. You can't avoid the fact that another A340 is also coming to X-Plane later in the year via ToLiSS who are developing a A340-600, yes a different variant, but still a A340 airframe. "when it rains"... But also remember the -500 model is the long-long range champion of long but thin routes, if you want that challenge, then this is the best airliner currently to do so... and very good long-haul/range aircraft are very thin on the ground in X-Plane. I always thought the A340 looked like a modernised Boeing 707, maybe it is the Quadjet arrangement, but in reality the A340 is an Airbus through and through and not a product of Seattle. There has always been a very definitive feel about JARDesign aircraft, maybe it is the same materials used in every design, some really love it, some not so much... but you have to admit they are really well modeled and superbly created, in that aspect JARDesign was a pioneer years ago for detail and quality, and the A340 in quality and detail delivers again on that promise... in that JARDesign sort of way. Engines are Roll Royce Trent 553s of 248.12–275.35 kN (55,780–61,902 lbf) per engine (as a note the -600 variant uses the Trent 556 engines). And here the pods and engines are very nicely modeled and recreated... ... it is not "blow your mind" spectacular in the visual aspects and grungy dirt, but it is all professionally and very complementary done and complete. The main and famous three bogie arrangement is perfectly realised here, and really well done... ... observational detail is actually excellent here, and the bogie detail is extremely good, as is the assembly detailing that is really well conceived and delivered, notable are the massive gear pins, but hollow... exceptional detail and the hub detailed wheel covers, there is some nice dirt work done as well. Nosewheel, strut and link detail is also excellent... ... and again the pin details are the highlights, with rubber inserts and bearing detailing... small stuff but it really counts in realism. Wing detail is again very, good with nice NML normal mapping, or Dot3 bump mapping, highlighting the wing and fuselage surfaces... note the drooped flying surfaces with no hydraulic pressure, a nice touch. So the modeling and detail is very good, but I will bring up the factor, that with other developers their textures have improved consistently in the last few years with the more modern texture tooling, were I think JARDesign still uses the same older process... you certainly can't tell the differences between the A320, A330 and now the A340 in feel or look, and to think that the A320 is now years old... it is their design philosophy, and that is fine, but your not seeing that expected consistent overall progress in design that other developers are developing as they go forward. Glass and windows are okay, but lack depth and even a bit of realism. The reflection detail is very high, and maybe too much, so the glass looks a little unrealistic as the front windows are very rainbowish, and the side windows, do look really very good, but have a golden look about them... it is again fine, but there is far better quality glass out there. External Features The JARDesign A340 comes with their own built-in JARDesign GHD (Ground Handling Deluxe) plugin to handle all the external elements. The (aircraft restricted) plugin is free with the aircraft, but if you already own the GHD plugin, then it works here as well, and you will get more elements active if you use the payware addon, including using the local custom liveries. And exceptional aircraft elements and vehicles they all are, including chocks and external GPU (Ground Power Unit) but only in the addon pay version. The other internal GHD menu is on the MCDU, but restricted to only these 10 items, compared to double or more than that with the Pro version addon. All the A340 doors open again via the MCDU Menu (They open automatically if you use the GHD), all six deck doors and the three cargo (including the rear Bulk door) can be activated... Cabin JARDesign also usually delivers a full cabin on their aircraft, and it does not disappoint in here either... There are three distinct classes installed, Large Economy class rear, and a shell Business class centre (the outside seating is rotated outwards towards the windows, but not in the severe Herringbone arrangement beloved by many airlines)... between the two classes are the two bar areas. First Class are Suites (or Cabins or even Open Suites, Closed suites and even just plain old First Class)... here you are cocooned in luxury, as First Class elites are won't to do. Galleys are basic, but with some nice detail... Oddly the door(s) detail is also quite basic, even the locking handles are missing? so they look plain... another surprise is the average window surrounds and plain glass... JARDesign in their A320 has those lovely authentic window surrounds, double windows, and even a realistic air hole in the base... but here it has nothing of that sort of deeper clever detail? Forward entrance area is quite big... but the focus is on the cockpit door? Oddly it does not open to reveal the cockpit... disappointing, but then the A330 door didn't open either. The A340 cockpit all looks and feels almost exactly the same as both the JARDesign A320 and certainly the A330. The seat materials and interior panel colour and texture are quite if exactly the same, and even the rear seat and dropdown jump seat are the same modeled and textured details, but there is a slight difference between the A340 and the A330, in that the Captain and First Officer (F/O) seats have sheepskin covers on the A330... the look and feel in here denotes an early model build in the early 90s, as in the Airbus blue-grey look and not the later grey-grey feel, it is all very nicely done though, but there are not many of those playable animations in here... the nicely sculptured seat armrests are static as is the mentioned locked cockpit door... however there are animated side window blinds and the front window pull down shades, which I really like and use a lot on long flights on the A330. Menus Before we get into the instrument layouts, we will look at the Start up options and Menu options. Far lower left corner is the usual JARDesign "Hot Start" selection, but added here is an option to just select the "APU" (Auxilary Power Unit) startup (added to the A330 later). The "Hot Start brings the aircraft up to a full running status and almost ready for flight (Route and Performance settings are however still required). Note if you select "Right" button mouse option, only then does the right button operate the lower left on-screen buttons. Top X-Plane banner menu shows the "JD340-500" title dropdown. This menu has two menus in "Aircraft" and "Failures" Aircraft: The Aircraft menu has two Sub-Menus in "Sound Volume" that shows the Sound 3D Panel with 0%to100% sound volume options. Second Sub-option is another selection for the quick "Hot Start" option. Failures: The "Failures" pop-out panel has five selections of failures on the aircraft; APU, ELEC (Electric), HYD (Hydraulics), FIRE and ICE/RAIN. The Failure feature is new to JARDesign, neither the A320 or A330 have this option. It is currently quite basic, as there is no timer function for failures, but it could also be a "Work in Progress" as most JARDesign aircraft are.. Cold to Hot To bring the A340-500 to life, you hit the two Battery buses A-B on the overhead panel (OHP)... a nice touch is that the displays go into a 40sec self test before activating, but not all of them... then start the APU, or connect the external GPU to give more power to the system and activate the OHP switch, finally you turn the three ADIRS (Air Data and Inertial Reference System) switches to "NAV" to align the navigation systems... this takes about 8 minutes. I really do like this cold to hot start up procedure, but if you want to not waste 10 Minutes or so, then just press the "Hot" start up and alignment "Quick" button or use the banner menu to do the same actions. In this JARDesign have done a nice job in representing the startup. Lighting adjusted and the instrument panel looks very nice, with a lot of the authentic panel lighting options correct. Instrument and panel detail is very good, but everything is far more condensed centre display wise to fit in the four engine configuration, this is highlighted on the -500 by its complex fuel tank arrangement, not only laid out on the OHP, but also on the ECAM (Electronic Centralized Aircraft Monitor) display. There are actually eleven tanks altogether, but two are surge tanks and a trim tank in the tail. So everything obviously is 4x4 in most areas... the ECAM is quite complex, in need of study, but very good. Every ECAM profile is available...ENG, BLEED, PRESS, EL/AC, EL/DC, HYD, C/B, APU, COND, DOOR, WHEEL, F/CTL, FUEL, and STS ... but oddly, the change "Please Wait" and 3 sec delay between the changing profiles is not on the A340, as like it is on the A330? A feature I really liked for realism... but it is again something I would expect to come in time. Once you get past the centre console four throttle arrangement and the four Ignition/Start switches, which by the way are extremely nice and compact... ... the rest of the instrumentation and switch layout is to the full Airbus layout philosophy standards, you will not be searching or learning anything extra than in say the A330 or to a point even in a A318, A319 or a A320... the A350 and A380 have however a slightly different layout and Airbus philosophy standard. Jardesign still uses their Push/Pull manipulator system for selecting modes on the Autopilot. A fingered hand is "Push", and a clasped hand is "Pull", it is very easy and effective... You can also through the menu use left and right mouse clicks to do the same Push/Pull actions which works really very well here (preferred), but it is annoying in that some areas (Autopilot) is all scroll, and that most of all the other switches are twist and turn, so you can get confused, or get that annoying zoom action if you get the wrong manipulator action. Also when using the optional left and right mouse clicks, then the info text will appear somewhat semi-transparent over the knob... annoying or not, it tells you which click mode you are in. The MCDU - Multi-Function Control and Display Unit (Airbus Flight Management System) is surprisingly very good and based on the Smiths Thales A 1 0 1 system... Not the first all round MCDU for X-Plane, but still one of the very early simulations of an Airbus styled Thales MCDU, the in-house JARDesign unit was very competent and has been very bug free, and right from it's early introduction... which is very rare for these complicated and troublesome systems... very true to the Airbus system and quite comprehensive in detail, yes some other MCDUs maybe slightly more deeper and detailed (Flightfactor A320 Ultimate) data, but this unit covers everything you really need for a realistic operation of the Thales MCDU unit. Both the Captain's and F/O sides (a third unit is set rear console) of the MCDU units are all connected together and are not sadly individual unit's as per all JARDesign MCDUs, but the pop-outs work from each side. WebFMC Pro currently does not work on release, but as both the JARDesign A320neo and A330 are already connected, so it shouldn't be too long before that handy addon becomes active in the A340. Another oddity is that you can not save Flightplans? You can build the route in a .txt file format, and that route file can also be collected (transferred) from a SimBrief build, and then deposited in the "FlightPlans" folder. Then it can be inserted by using the CO-RTE selection... but a built route in the MCDU can't be directly saved to the same folder. As the A340/A330 use long haul routes that can be very, very long and complex process, so it is a bit of a surprise of why by now this can't be done? Departure Runways and SID insertion and any changes to the procedures are however very good. AIRWAY insertion is also very good, again with no hicups. But to note if you use the .TXT install route then the detailed data of the individual AIRWAYS sectors are lost, so only the intermediate waypoints in the AIRWAYS are retained. So if you want all the AIRWAY data detail in the flight, then there is only one way to access it, and is to type it all in from the start manually? Both INIT pages are available here... the (right) INIT FUEL PREDICTIONS page includes the important ZFWCG/ ZFW (Zero Fuel Weight Centre of Gravity)/(Zero Fuel Weight) and BLOCK (Fuel) load, which is essential to complete the full route data on the F-PLN (FlightPlan) detail, the ZFWCG/ZFW can be set via the fuel loading. So you can see the MCDC here is quite comprehensive on the small detail stuff. Another INIT detail is that it will accept -/+ weather temperatures, of which a lot of MCDUs won't do. FUEL PRED (Fuel Prediction) page is also excellent as is the PROG (Progress) page, not as good as any Boeing PROG data, but still authentic to the Airbus shown data. All PERFORMANCE parameters in Phases; TAKEOFF, CLB (Climb), CRZ (Cruise) DES (Descend), APPR (Approach) and GO AROUND are all catered for in detail. (Only TAKEOFF and APPR are shown below). Takeoff Prefs for v1, vR, v2... THRUST REDUCTION, FLAPS THS and TO FLEX can be added in automatically if you press the corresponding key, but you can set your own TO data if you know it. Like using the INIT FUEL PREDICTIONS page, the data in the actual F-PLN pages are double (below), and filled out with all UTC, SPD/ALT, EFOB, T and WIND data in the flight, so all very to the good and as authentic as basically required. MCDU Menu The MCDU also has a built in aircraft menu. There are four selections in LOAD AND FUEL, GROUND HANDLING, DOORS and SETTINGS. The Load and Fuel menu page in reality is excellent, and a very easy (and quick) way to get the aircraft ready for flight, MAX (Maximum) conditions are set out on the right side, and your flight settings are set out on the left. You are restricted to exactly 250 passengers (all classes), but -500 variants can carry up to 270-310 passengers, so you feel a bit under loaded at that low passenger count number (Simbrief wanted 269). Any adjustments in fuel or Weight (passengers cargo) is instantly corrected, so there are no slow loads of passengers and fuel available. The Ground Handling Menu page is the restricted GHD (Ground Handling Deluxe) setup seen earlier, and as noted restricted (although free), the full GHD plugin is certainly more advisable to use. The last main menu is the DOORS selection, and open/close door position is shown on the ECAM page profile. The SETTING menu is three pages of settings, Settings include; USE COPILOT - You may turn On/OFF copilot plugin (not included) if you have it already installed. Please leave it OFF if copilot plugin not installed to avoid graphic artefacts. FPS MESSAGE - Allow you to switch OFF alert message about low framerate value RIGHT CLICK - Allow you to switch manipulators style on FCU, may be applicable for VR usage. WIND & DISP REFLECT - You may turn off, or turn on display reflection, using this option. TCA QUADRANT - If you use TCA Quadrant - for special profile for TCA Quadrant or to Reset It to the Default at Joystick Settings. LOAD WITH MCDU - MCDU widget will appear on the screen every time you load aircraft. THR LEVER AXIS - you may select how many hardware axis have your device 1, 2 or 4. SPOILERS AXIS - for users, who want to set one of joystick axis, on Ground Spoilers Control. T/D PAUSE - Simulator will paused, when your aircraft will be close to Top Of Descent. A very useful tool for long flights. THR CLB POS: If you hardware throttle lever has a "too short moving" issue. Here you can tune the percentage of your hardware throttle lever to where CLB position may be. So overall the Systems in the A340-500 are very good. Study grade? it is all done by the official Airbus documents, and certainly at a level for you to get that Airbus experience feeling, and it is also a good transitioning aircraft if you are doing a first learning on these heavier long haul Airbus style airliners. ___________________ Flying the Airbus A340 I recommend a full clean startup from the desktop, not an internal X-Plane aircraft reload. JARDesign's aircraft are a bit like FlightFactor's in reloading sometimes half-way, and this makes some systems not to co-ordinate or set up correctly, a full clean start can reset this. Obviously a situation reload is not advisable at all. That does mean also a full aircraft setup for every flight is from scratch as well. The A340 has been refined to use the BetterPushBack Plugin (most developers now have given up creating custom pushback tools and now just use the BPB tool)... There are a lot of engines to start. Engines are started in sequence, preferably engine No. 1 first, in order to pressurise the blue hydraulic system, that also supplies the parking brake accumulator. APU bleed does however allow you to start two engines simultaneously. The preferred order of engine start is 1, 2, 3 then 4... easy... but get the engine start sequence wrong, as I did intentionally (Starting No.4 first) and you get a load of electronic warnings (Hydraulics) and it is not at all easy to rectify. The system depth with the new "Failure" feature has certainly improved, and it is all quite detailed it is as well on ECAM warnings, noted in the lower HYD page, but also on the STS (Status) page. They OHD Hydraulics panel is not a pretty or a flight worthy picture either. Checking the TO CONFIG button showed (deliberately) that the Take Off Trim had not been set in the MCDU TAKE OFF phase... a warning "PITCH TRIM MCDU CG DISAGREE" also came up on the ECAM? You can get the CG number from the MCDU - LOAD AND FUEL menu, THS TO SET R6 Key, then fill in the TAKE OFF PERF page R3 Key with the correct TO Trim setting, I really liked the way the trim wheels then slowly moved to the correct takeoff trim position, very slowly... very realistic. and a very good and detailed the TO CONFIG system is as well... impressed. With the engines running, the sounds now fill the cockpit and I really liked the start up procedure sounds, you are however sitting in a cockpit that is a fair distance from those Trent 633s, but they do sound nice. As noted there is a lot of sound adjustment 0% to 100% in internal and external sounds, and I really liked them to be honest... obviously not BSS (BlueSkyStar) 360º dimensional quality, but still very good for a basic sound set. As BSS have already done sound packages for the JARDesign A320neo and A330, I would expect the same package later for the A340. So you have to be impressed by the depth of the systems here, as we always really expected a JARDesign to be a bit lightweight in such areas, so they have come a long way in those aspects. The single switch between the APU and 1 and 2 electrical buses is really well done, and I loved it on the A330... but oddly the DCDU - "Data Communication Display Unit" does not work, as it does in the JARDesign A330, a really big oversight is that one. But my gut says there is an external issue for the failure. External lighting is well done and thankfully tuned (focused?). Nosewheel Taxi and Runway Turnoff lighting is perfect, as are the really nice twin-set fuselage wing lights. Tail lighting, Beacon and Navigation are all excellent. Everything set and it is time to go... Brakes off and throttles slightly forward (Plural), you have to give the A340 a fair push to roll, with a Gross weight of 274427 kgs, there is a lot of weight to move, and you feel it, and it feels very, very good, with also a nice engine whine building in the background... ... Taxi feel and sounds are really good... but you don't have the "Roll" tiller feature choice here, a new setting to turn via the roll movement, rather than the yaw movement, is fast becoming a must have feature now on larger aircraft for me. On to EDDMs (Munich) Rwy 26R and you settle ready for the takeoff, I notice the APU is taking a very long time to switch off or shutdown, but then slowly the power numbers start to fall... again great detail on the APU ECAM page, and note the Terrain display, that also works very nicely. Throttles all up to the orange marker on the ECAM, and you have four engines all powering out the thrust, the particle effects are really, really good on the A340, they are showing the right amount of density to the power output, engine sounds both external and internal are also good... You power down the runway, a long way, as the v2 marker is 202 knts, and you need another +10 knts to rotate into the air... but you can feel the bite of the aircraft starting to lift at the same time, I really loved the feel here. At a 10º pitch you climb out cleanly, storing all that complex gear takes time, but also fascinating to watch on the complex lower ECAM display. Aircraft control feel is actually very good, but two JARDesign niggles come back to haunt you... First is the Autothrust CL (Climb) position, that you have to guess to activate, it takes ages to connect (Climb) and display in the PFD (Primary Flight Display)... the second niggle has always been a long time JARDesign major annoyance... Once turned and on track, you hit the AP1 (Autoplot 1) button, and it will very quickly disconnect with a warning? But you are in the right position and on track and climbing in the right vertical speed (V/S)... so why disconnect? I set a manual speed (245 knts) for the initial climb, but the A/THR just does not see it or react either? Finally you get the AP1 to connect and the V/S is set 3800 fpm , and yet I am only holding a 10º pitch? So you get a sudden nose up pitch to match the V/S number, I have had these issues consistently from the JD A320neo to the A330, and now here again in the A340... you can work or fly around them, but after all these years why haven't they been by now dialed out or refined compared to the A320 Ultimate and ToLiSS A319/A321. Note I did another try on the takeoff later and reset the V/S AFTER in the climb-out, and it worked far better... but it needs a coding reset to realistic. The altitude climb (which I call "lift") is quite powerful as the A340 can hold an easy 2,000 fpm lift to 30,000 ft (FL300) then a reduction to 1,500 fpm to the first selected altitude of 34, 000 ft. Note that yes I have a full passenger load, but the distance is only less than half of what this aircraft can actually do at 2,347 nm (Munich to Doha), so yes I am not at full GW or that really (fuel) heavy, heavy here. The Austrian Alps beckon, and already the fuel tanks are pumping to distribute the fuel load, as it should do, but still a great detail that can be easily missed, and the tank pumping goes on intermittently right through the flight as required, impressive. FL340 and finally at a cruise altitude and .83 mach set speed. It is a nice place to be. I have done a LOT of long hauls in the JD A330-200, and they are a very nice place to be for long periods of time, yes it is only a simulation, but it has to still work at being the best simulation of realistic in flight flying... The A330/A340 aircraft are not in the faster .86 cruise speed zones as say the B787/A350, as Mach 0.86 (493 kn; 914 km/h) is the maximum speed, with a Mach 0.82 (470 kn; 871 km/h) cruise (the A330 is Mach 0.80), I found Mach 0.83 (Simbrief recommended) a good compromise depending on the winds. Range is that amazing 16,670 km / 9,000 nmi distance and the ceiling is 41,450 ft (12 634 m), but you can cruise around 38,000ft to a max of 40,000ft. The JAR is great for snuggling down, pull-out the working tray, pull down the blinds and settling in for the long haul... background sounds are very good and not annoyingly monotonous, as you really do feel as you do on a real aircraft with that feeling of movement, but also with those comforting background sounds (In other words the engines are working!) Avitab is installed (Plugin required) and well positioned for in-flight use, and on both Captain and F/O positions... Lighting The lighting set up in the A340 is absolutely perfect. Internally all the Airbus system lighting knobs works as per correct (how long have we waited for ToLiSS to do that... forever). All instrument panel lighting is as per all manual systems information, as noted the under instrument panel knobs covers the drop down lighting (each end) and Autopilot displays (inner two knobs)... Overhead adjustable lighting is for (central) console lighting (note the third working rear MCDU unit)... and there is two spot lights over the Captain and F/O seats. Overhead cockpit lighting is controlled by two switches... CTL left, turns on the overhead lighting, but once switched on you can then select with the right DOME switch three cockpit lighting settings; DIM, BRT (Bright) and STORM (really Bright)... it all works perfectly. The cabin lighting is also really good. You don't get that over bright night lighting in the cabin, but a soothing soft light that is perfect for night flying... in other words realistic. The First Class compartments are nicely inner lit, so you can easily have a break back here mid-flight and relax. External lighting is very good as well. With the soft inner cabin lighting the fuselage looks very nice in the air at night as well, with no bright passenger liner porthole feel... Lovely tail lighting, but no auto setting to come on below 5,000ft, but I don't care as I love the tail lit in flight, those twin-wing lights are also very nice and look great from the internal cabin viewpoint. Navigation, Strobe, Beacons are all nicely tuned and look perfect (no blobby lighting here), as does the nosewheel lighting (as seen) and landing lights. The changing vistas of long-haul flying, the green gives way to the desert browns... this why you do the long routes, you going to another very different place on the other side of the world. You are going to get a nasty letter from Greta Thunberg... with all four of those horrible billowing contrails ruining the atmosphere, but I love it anyway. Long haul flying is all about the numbers... taking into account the slight fuel departure difference (for running the APU on the ground), I am within a fine percentage of my required fuel burn to the SimBrief Flightplan... it is very satisfying to know on long routes that your fuel flow is close the hourly or waypoint numbers. Fuel data via the lower ECAM and MCDU is very good (below left). Exactly 4h 30m Flying and the TOD (Top of Descent) marker comes up in the flightplan, up to now it has been a bang on perfect flight (sorry simulation). Time to get out the OTHH charts, check the weather and air pressure at Doha. I have reached TOD, but I am already losing my altitude... I tend to drop about 10nm to 15nm before the TOD drop point. That gives me a more longer descent (about 1800 fpm) so you save fuel as the engines drop to mostly idle, but also be able to control my height and speed at the other end of the descent... notable that the JARDesign has no altitude target marker to set your altitude descent rate,, so you have to work out the numbers out manually, I'm okay with that, but it is an essential tool missing, and a requirement for most long haul liners. Bahrain, comes up on the right and I am right where I want to be... my target is 10,000ft before entering the STAR (Standard Terminal Arrival Route), then down to 5,000ft as I enter the BAYA2E STAR landing circuit.. again perfectly on target. The sign of a good development is in the feedback and response of the controls and the input settings you give the aircraft, turn a knob or set an action and the aircraft responds perfectly to your wishes, it makes for a good if not a perfect simulation. Finding the right speed to the right flap position, is one area of real talent, 185 knts to flap 3 feels a little slow, but it doesn't feel slow in the cockpit, but at least you don't get those nasty gaps when extending the flaps as they push the nose down as the speed is now higher than the flap position, put the speed below the orange flap markers at each flap position, and it is all very clean going forward... thank you very much. Now Hamad International Airport appears to the right in the BAYA2E STAR approach... I am already set up ready for landing at 2,500ft, as I approach MUXED, a 90º turn... a short 5 nm flight puts you then at LAGMA and into the final turn into the approach of OTHHs Rwy 34R... At LAGMA I let down that extensive rear three gear arrangement, I love dropping the gear on the last tight turn to finals, if the approach is short enough to do so... and so very dramatic! Forward lighting as noted is very good, and it is nice to see tuned lighting for once. Out of the murk appears OTHH Rwy 35R, now in the ILS cone my approach speed is 152 knts, a bit below the APPR PREF recommended 157 knts for final with the FULL flap setting down, but 157 knts gave me too much nose or pitch up? Descent into Rwy 35R is very good... then over the threshold. Call outs are also very good (remember there is that JARDesign active Co-Pilot option not shown here), and the LAND then FLARE modes are perfect. The opposite centre gear reverse tilt is well done here and the animation also well done, and a solid touch down says "Welcome to Doha"... The Four Engine thrust reversers are very effective in rubbing off the speed, reverser sounds are very good and the action can easily be seen from any rear window cabin windows (outer engines). The REV note on the ECAM is however very hard to read in being so small and with the four REV icons squashed into a tight display, you can be not sure if you have activated/deactivated the reversers or not, so you have to look closer, and not good doing so in the high workload roll out, but they do work as noted effectively... A note here is that the X-Plane Replay mode is pretty useless with the JARDesign A340, most items in the cockpit and flying surfaces, flaps and pretty well most things don't replay or are stuck at odd angles, worse in the saved "Replay mode" the aircraft won't reset itself correctly at all? My assigned stand is Concourse C - C5 and I take taxiway C to E (4to1)... On the taxi in I restarted the APU, but unlike the shutdown procedure, it restarted normally, and was running hot and powered by the time I got to the gate... APU ECAM detail is very good. ... so the engine(s) shutdown (great sounds) was able to be performed normally. The timer was stopped at 5h 15m, official is 5h 40m duration, so I am happy with that. With the engines shut down and the aircraft secure, it was time to unload the A340-500, the GHD was called and they got quickly into action... As a simulation goes I was seriously impressed and totally enjoyed the flight from Munich to Doha, it was a seriously clean and a bug free flight, and that is mostly everything you really want from any simulation, a perfect experience... and the JARDesign A340-500 certainly delivered very well that aspect. This is an addon note to the above flight... to see the differences between the A330 and this latest JARDesign A340, I flew the current JD A332 back to Munich from Doha. Surprisingly they did feel quite different... not in the actual aircraft flying or performance areas, but certainly in the features and the interaction menus and even missing the AviTab option... in these areas you could see a very substantial forward progress from the older to newer aircraft philosophy, and the A332 has had a lot of substantial updates. So there is now actually a lot of changes to be done by JARDesign to equalise up the two aircraft to get a cross-rate between the two in parallel synchronicity... saying that as a simulation, like the A340 here, it was a very, very good if perfect flight back... like mentioned in this long-range area, JARDesign aircraft are very good. Liveries There are no official liveries provided with the package (no manuals either). But JARDesign have a dedicated Simliveries site for livery downloads, a paintkit can also be downloaded. The default livery is a JARDesign A340 livery, and the current offerings are; Aeroflot, Air Canada, American Airlines, Azerbaijan, British Airways, Emirates, Etihad, Lufthansa and Qatar. ___________________ Summary JARDesign has been around X-Plane as long as I have, which means now nearly a decade, and in that time they have created not only Airbus aircraft in the form of a A320neo and a A330-200, as in also the addition of some very clever addons, with the Ground Handling Deluxe (GHD), FM (Follow Me) Car, X-Life (Traffic) and their latest in a fully operating Co-Pilot feature... Here now is their third Airbus Aircraft in the form of a A340-500 four-engined airliner, it spent a very long time in development, but finally it is here. There is certainly a certain style and feel of JARDesign aircraft, so to a point this new release and being in real life a sister design to the Twin-Engined A330, in the A340 being all very familiar from the start. You sort of know of what you are going to get, and on that aspect it delivers about perfectly as you thought it would. So the design, modeling and features are really almost an exact replica of the A330, but with four engines instead of two, but there are thankfully some significant differences that make this a more deeper simulation than it's sister aircraft. The bothering aspect of that is that in most cases you are not seeing that forward design movement that other well known developers are currently doing in X-Plane, so it all comes across like a Toyota car, safe, reliable but not at all really absolutely cutting edge.... Competent no doubt. But don't get me wrong, as a simulation in the Long Haul category it flies in, the JARDesign A340 is a great if perfect simulation experience. JARDesign is a bit like Apple, you go into that world and it delivers everything in there. The aircraft has the built-in but restricted Ground Handling Deluxe GHD (the payware GHD works with all the bells and whistles), and the Co-Pilot feature will also work. As for systems they are actually very good in delivering a rather deep Airbus experience. MCDU, FMGS and ECAM detail is very good and even excellent, but the new "Failure" system which is quite basic on the surface, but uncovers the deep system detail in operation. If you don't follow the correct procedures and you will get a difficult aircraft to use and fly. With the four-engined layout then the system detail is very good and very immersive, the modeling and aircraft detail is as noted as what you would expect from JARDesign, but I really liked the sounds, however a BSS package would certainly take the aural messages the next level above, but for a basic sound pack, it is still very good. Lighting is excellent, great cockpit and external lighting and the cabin at night is a nice place to be (for once). Oddites as usual are also in here... missing is the working A330 DCDU, The change "Please Wait" and 3 sec delay between the changing profiles is not on the A340 either like on the A330?... and that annoying A320neo/A330 autopliot activate and that bad transition from manual to auto flight (both A/THR and AP) is still in here after all these years, and has not still not been refined out. As Airbus flight procedures go, it is very good, but it is no ToLiSS deep in Airbus laws and actions. MCDUs are also duel (or triple here) and not independent of each other, as showing the original designs age. Most however should be quickly updated via a few updates, and JARDesign does a lot of updates and also gives great after purchase service. The overall aspect of an aircraft purchase, is to receive a very good simulation of an aircraft, its systems, its flight performance, its features and even more importantly a great experience in return... on all of these levels and more the JARDesign A340-500 does deliver and even exceptional well here, so you are getting great value for your money... ultimately you want a bit more in progressive ideas and quality, but the basics are very sound, of which overall is JARDesign's and their philosophy that are built on... I have done a lot of JARDesign routes (mostly in the A330-200) and they do return, certainly in long-haul simulation a great if perfect return experience, and overall that is the main if absolute case to a great simulation for your investment.... ... Highly Recommended. ___________________ Yes! the Airbus A340-500 by JARDesign is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : JARDesign 340-500 Airliner Price is US$59.95 Features Beautiful and Detailed 3D Model: External, Cockpit and Cabin 3D model based on real aircraft data Hi-Resolution External 4K PBR textures with normal maps Advanced wingflex simulation with ultra-smooth animation Highly detailed Landing Gear animation Animated cargo and passengers doors controlled via MCDU 3-class passenger cabin with automatic controlled 3D lights Virtual Cockpit Animated Switches, Knobs, Levers and Tables in the cockpit Animated wipers and windshield sun visors in the cockpit Custom plugin based Realistic cockpit and external 3D lights Advanced custom real-feeling FCU knobs control system Pilots seen in cockpit in external view mode Hi-Resolution PFD, ND, EWD and SYS displays Flight Model and FMGS: Custom FMGS system with all main features required for normal flight Common failures can be triggered SID / STARS procedures based on NavData Take off data - V1, V2, VR, DTo and THS/FLAPS calculated by helper on MCDU Perf page Multi-function MCDU for full aircraft control, optimum flight level, fuel prediction, etc. Multiple ECAM pages for review and selection Ground Handling operation via MCDU or automatically by Ground Handling plugin (by JARDesign) Easy-to-use PayLoad and fuel loading via MCDU menu Embedded Flight Plan generator based on navdata cycle Enter Flight Plan manually or read from SimBrief/PFPX text file Aircraft systems with real aircraft logic and indications Custom Fly-By-Wire system with Normal law and Flight Envelope Protections Custom terrain radar Custom DCDU Metar reading System modelled Air Conditioning, Pressurization, Ventilation, Auto Flight,Communications, Electrical, Equipment, Fire Protection, Flight Controls, Fuel,Hydraulic, Ice and Rain Protection, Indicating/Recording Systems, Landing Gear, Lights, Navigation, Oxygen, Pneumatic, Information System, APU, Doors , Power Plant Other systems Weather radar for default XP weather Custom Hot-Start function MCDU 2D pop-out widget Sound volume control 2D widget Lateral and Vertical Flightplan 2D widget Realistic 3D sound based on real aircraft sound recording CoPilot (by JARDesign) plugin compatible (not included) Ground Handling (by JARDesign) plugin compatible for free (not included) X-Life (by JARDesign) plugin compatible (not included) Better PushBack plugin compatible (not included) Integrated tablet using popular Avitab plug-in Requirements X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac (Linux NOT supported at this time) 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 415 MB Current and Review version: 1.0R1 (August 1st 2021) The AviTab Plugin is required for this aircraft Ground Handling Deluxe Plugin by JARDesign is recommended Installation and documents: Download is 721Mb. Installation size in your Aircraft folder is 1.44Gb. (with the set of original ten liveries installed) Documents All documents and liveries are downloaded separately and are not included in the package... Manual is basic but covers all the install and aircraft details (17 Pages) JARDesign recommends and supplies official Airbus system documents that are worth downloading and studying to get the best out of aircraft systems and flight capablities. Manual.pdf Smiths_Thales_A_1_0_1_FM_Pilot_Guide A340_Flight_Deck_and_Systems_Briefing_For_Pilots Updates are via the: JARDesign Group Board (registration required) : A340-500 Downloads here JD340 v.1.0 SIMLIVERIES Category Archives: 340 Liveries PaintKit download link:AFL http://jardesign.org/jd340/download/JD3 … 310721.zip Designed by JARDesign http://www.jardesign.org/ticket/support_view.php Users Support for the A340 _____________________ Aircraft Review by Stephen Dutton 4th August 2021 Copyright©2021: 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 1TB SSD - Sound : Yamaha Speakers YST-M200SP Software: - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.55 Plugins: Global SFD plugin US$30.00 : Environment Engine by xEnviro US$69.90 : RK Apps XPRealistic v2 - US$34.99 : Ground Handling Deluxe Plugin by JARDesign US$14.95 (recommended) Scenery or Aircraft - EDDM - Munich Airport by ShortFinal Designs (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$26.95 - Qatar - Doha City & Airports 1.0.0 by renair2 (X-Plane.Org Downloads) - Free! (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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  4. NEWS! - Aircraft Released : Airbus A340-500 by JARDesign After a very long development period, JARDesign have now released their Airbus A340-500 aircraft to join their already successful A320neo and A330 Airbus aircraft fleet. The A340-500 model is the long-long range champion of long but thin routes, if you want that challenge, then this is now the best airliner currently in to do so... and very good long-haul aircraft are also very thin on the ground in X-Plane and this aircraft fills in a nice niche that is missing from long-haul flying with a sensational 16,670 km / 9,000 nmi range. JARDesign as a developer is one of the sort of pioneers and to a point even a renegade of development for the X-Plane Simulator, they have produced aircraft for as long as I have been in simulation, and mostly all are Airbus aircraft. Their aircraft in the A320neo and A330-200 have been the mainstay of Airbus flying in the simulator, but also there is the addition of some very clever addons, with Ground Handling Deluxe (GHD), FM (Follow Me) Car, X-Life (Traffic) and their latest in a fully operating Co-Pilot feature. Feature list is extensive! Beautiful and Detailed 3D Model: External, Cockpit and Cabin 3D model based on real aircraft data Hi-Resolution External 4K PBR textures with normal maps Advanced wingflex simulation with ultra-smooth animation Highly detailed Landing Gear animation Animated cargo and passengers doors controlled via MCDU 3-class passenger cabin with automatic controlled 3D lights Virtual Cockpit Animated Switches, Knobs, Levers and Tables in the cockpit Animated wipers and windshield sun visors in the cockpit Custom plugin based Realistic cockpit and external 3D lights Advanced custom real-feeling FCU knobs control system Pilots seen in cockpit in external view mode Hi-Resolution PFD, ND, EWD and SYS displays Flight Model and FMGS: Custom FMGS system with all main features required for normal flight Common failures can be triggered SID / STARS procedures based on NavData Take off data - V1, V2, VR, DTo and THS/FLAPS calculated by helper on MCDU Perf page Multi-function MCDU for full aircraft control, optimum flight level, fuel prediction, etc. Multiple ECAM pages for review and selection Ground Handling operation via MCDU or automatically by Ground Handling plugin (by JARDesign) Easy-to-use PayLoad and fuel loading via MCDU menu Embedded Flight Plan generator based on navdata cycle Enter Flight Plan manually or read from SimBrief/PFPX text file Aircraft systems with real aircraft logic and indications Custom Fly-By-Wire system with Normal law and Flight Envelope Protections Custom terrain radar Custom DCDU Metar reading System modelled Air Conditioning, Pressurization, Ventilation, Auto Flight,Communications, Electrical, Equipment, Fire Protection, Flight Controls, Fuel,Hydraulic, Ice and Rain Protection, Indicating/Recording Systems, Landing Gear, Lights, Navigation, Oxygen, Pneumatic, Information System, APU, Doors , Power Plant Other systems Weather radar for default XP weather Custom Hot-Start function MCDU 2D pop-out widget Sound volume control 2D widget Lateral and Vertical Flightplan 2D widget Realistic 3D sound based on real aircraft sound recording CoPilot (by JARDesign) plugin compatible (not included) Ground Handling (by JARDesign) plugin compatible for free (not included) X-Life (by JARDesign) plugin compatible (not included) Better PushBack plugin compatible (not included) Integrated tablet using popular Avitab plug-in The long awaited JARDesign Airbus A340-500 is now available for the X-Plane Simulator from the X-Plane.OrgStore Images are courtesy of JARDesign X-PlaneReviews extended review of the new JARDesign A340-500 will follow soon... So look out for it! ______________________________________________________________________ Yes! the Airbus A340-500 by JARDesign is Available from the X-Plane.Org Store here: JARDesign 340-500 Airliner Price is US$59.95 Requirements X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac (Linux NOT supported at this time) 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 415 MB Current version: 1.0R1 (August 1st 2021) ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 1st August 2021 Copyright©2021: 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) All Rights Reserved
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  5. Thanks... I am seriously worried that the decade old textures will also get a miss, and that effect will have big repercussions on the whole simulator, and as you noted, that one aspect will overwhelm all the very good presented. The better and higher quality global textures are required for far better airport fit into the scenery, for intergrating the 3rd party city addons, and for good VRF flying, plus the overall look while flying high... they are essential for X-Plane to step forward to it's Next Gen title, we hope, or pray that they are coming in a big surprise feature....
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  6. Great analyze, If I may add, Austin did say they are ditching OpenGL, but this is just for the main world renderer and not for the plugin (confirmed with Ben Supnic). My concern is with the ground textures, although personally it is not a priority for me, I think that if they won't ramp up these textures they would be mocked although their other efforts in other areas. I guess only time will tell.
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  7. I believe that users should talk to the very available developers before shouting to the masses... I am very sure they will address your concerns, sometimes it is not the product that is the problem...
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  8. Aircraft Review : PAC CT/4E Airtrainer Project by VSkyLabs Armed services around the world when revitalising their fleets, usually do what they call "Off the shelf" purchases, or take an aircraft already built, and then reconfigure the aircraft to suit their services requirements, it is supposedly to save you money, buy an already produced aircraft and not pay the development costs... but it never really seems to work out that way, and so they usually end up with a far more expensive result. Sometimes you also may need an even more specialist configuration to the aircraft to meet your specialist requirements, then even an "Off the shelf" option won't fit those requirements either, in this case you then have to build the aircraft yourself, or to meet the needs of the role the aircraft has to fulfill. This was the situation the RAAF (Royal Australian Airforce) and RNZAF (Royal New Zealand Airforce) was in, in the early 70's, as they needed a specialised trainer aircraft that was relatively cheap, but still a nice aerobatic aircraft to train RAAF/RNZAF pilots on. The solution was to take an already successfully built Australian aircraft in the Victa Aircruiser (and yes Victa is renowned in Australia for their lawnmowers!) and reconfigure the aircraft to be an all-metal-construction, single-engine, two-place with side-by-side seating (with a single rear seat), and was also to be a fully aerobatic, piston-engined, basic training aircraft, and this development and assembly work was done by the maintenance firm Aero Engine Services Ltd (AESL) in New Zealand. Externally the CT/4 differs from the Airtourer and Aircruiser designs by its larger engine and the bubble canopy of which was redesigned in to an aerofoil shape. Structurally there are changes to the skin and upgrading of the four longerons in the fuselage from sheet metal to extrusions. Earlier aircraft were powered by a 210 hp Continental piston engine and was later upgraded to a 300 hp Lycoming and with a three-bladed propeller and the wing was also moved 5 cm rearwards to compensate for the altered centre of gravity (to balance the extra weight of the Lycoming) this is this vSkyLabs version in the CT/4E . The vSkylab philosophy is in that you are purchasing an ongoing project, so any aircraft you purchase is not fully completed or is completed to 100%, that is the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft and all the development is free and ongoing. These projects are under constant development: the development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements. Second is that the aircraft is designed around the powerful, native X-Plane 11 'Experimental Flight Model' environment, so that means in the Menu/General "Use the experimental flight model" tickbox has to be selected on. Only two months on since their release of the excellent Aeroprakt A22-LS Project, VskyLabs are already back with another project, this time it is the PAC (Pacific Aerospace Corporation) CT/4E trainer aircraft. The Victa was a small but very sweet designed aircraft by the famous Henry Millicer. Then AESL's chief designer, P W C Monk redesigned the Airtourer/Aircruiser into the CT/4 for it's trainer roles that were then built in Hamilton New Zealand to a total of 155 aircraft. Initial views are that this is a nice tight little aircraft, and you knew it was going to be as sweet in the air. vSkyLabs are already well known for their really excellent modeling skills, and that aspect is certainly evident here, the CT4 is superbly done in design and detail. From front to rear the detail and mapping is first rate, all the rivets can be counted and the flying surface louver panel work is also bang on... ... I'm not really sure about the fully coloured in navigation lighting, but overall you can't fault the work here. One area that stands out is the white rear beacon tail assembly. Outwardly it looks bland, but on closer inspection it is really quite good, it is the way it looks and not actually what it is... The landing gear is extremely basic in design, but again like the earlier Aeroprakt A22, the front strut looks a little under-developed, or really basic as do the two engine exhausts that just protrude out of the cowling, with the no surrounding cowling cut-outs to accommodate them, a small but significant detail folks. The canopy is however a masterwork. Brilliant and detailed glass, surrounded by the metal frame, is exceptionally well done, no matter what angle you look at the canopy, you can see the construction and rivet work of the frame, and the glass is perfectly worn and marked. To open the canopy, there is a lever externally, and a twist handle internally (arrowed), that disconnects the latch, then you push the canopy upwards... ... the mechanism and animations are excellent and also very realistic, and when open below the canopy is a very highly detailed interior. There are three seats in the aircraft in the tight space, two front trainee pilot seats and an instructor seat in the rear, all seats are a metal can based design, with just a rear and cushion base, but all looks totally authentic here. Note the large roll-over bar centre cockpit. Nice smaller details include a large first aid kit and on the floor fire extinguisher, both bright red to stand out in an already complex cockpit... overall the detailing is masterful in here. The instrument panel facia, is also metal, but superbly nice and worn with wear scratches and whatnot... very very nice. Instrument detail is also off the charts, clear and highly legible... perfect. There are two sets of Throttle, Propeller and Mixture levers, one set for each pilot, but there is also a second flap lever built into the left hand assembly (arrowed)... There is a centre panel of where the main flying instruments are positioned... not really in a three instrument across layout as the Speed indicator is central left and not top, with a Rate of Turn indicator below. Centre instrument down line includes a ball Artificial Horizon top, with a nice adjustable setting line (orange line). Lower is the Heading Dial compass, and bottom is an OBI twin pointer compass (note the heading bug, is on on this instrument, and not on the above heading dial)... right row (top to bottom), is the Altitude Instrument, Vertical Speed (V/S) and lower a Course Deviation Indicator (CDI). Each side of the primary flight instruments are to the left, Fuel Quantity (75 lts per tank) and lower are the Trim Indicators. Right side are the RPM indicator, Manifold and Fuel Flow pressures, and bottom a combined Oil Pressure/Temperature and Cylinder Head temperature gauge. Centre panel top there is a main Temperature gauge, the Ignition Start/Off Switch, Ampere/Volt meter (push knob to activate the volt readout) and G-Meter (acceleration) bottom. Top of the panel are three lights for; Low Oil Pressure, Low Voltage and Engine Fire. The avionics stack is quite stock standard X-Plane... S-Tec Fifty Five X autopilot top, Then both a Garmin GNS 530 and a GNS 430 gps units below. The transponder is a Garmin GTX327 and bottom is an ADF Bendix/King KR87. On the right pilot's side is a simple four instrument layout of primary flight instruments. Including a Speed indicator with a Rate of Turn indicator below, then the Altitude Instrument and Vertical Speed (V/S) instrument to the right. There is a Whiskey Compass on the top of the centre panel. Lower panel has the electrical switchgear array, and on the right the fuses (Circuit breakers) that are non-workable, but note the odd switch on this panel is to power the AP - Autopilot. Below are three instrument lighting knobs. It is all a very non-fussy but a good training instrument panel, not complicated or messy to use. Center console is quite basic... top is the left side pilot's Throttle, Prop and Mixture levers. Below is the cabin heat and (right side) Flap lever in UP-HALF-DOWN selections, but in reality it is a more fluid flap selection then that you need by selecting any degree selection you want. Rear is the Fuel Tank selector and Parking Brake. The AviTab is attached to the far right side of the screen, and a bit small where positioned for the pilot to read? Selection is via selecting the point on the screen (AviTab plugin is of course required). Important to note the Trim controller is a HAT switch on the nice joystick, it moves your trim; UP-DOWN and LEFT-RIGHT via the knob, of course you can set the same HAT on your own joystick or by the keyboard commands, but it is a very authentic set up and shown on the right panel indicators. There are two nicely modeled trainee pilots, the main pilot is female and a secondary pilot is also of the fairer sex. Selection is done via the Payload Weight slider on the X-Plane IOS screen. When exceeding the 80 kg / 176.4 lbs of payload (by using the slider), the second pilot will then be visible.... the main pilot is visible all the time. The main pilot's arms are also animated to the movements of the stick. vSkyLabs don't do menus, popups (except for standard X-Plane elements (i.e. GNS units)) or static elements, so there are few extras to note, anything that is not an "Interaction zone" is not added into the aircraft. But the PAC CT4 is highly compatible for VR-Virtual Reality and it is marketed that way. As with all vSkyLab aircraft the "Experimental Flight Model Mode' must be checked on. ____________________ Flying the PAC CT4 Trainers are pretty basic aircraft, nothing more and nothing less is required not to mess with the new flyers introduction to aviation, as it is here with the PAC CT4E Airtrainer. The 300 hp Lycoming is also quite a powerful engine for such a small airframe, so you have to be aware of that factor. Starting up the Lycoming is very, very easy... mixture lever forward, fuel pump on and turn the start switch and the engine sprightly springs into life, then you just wait for the instrument readouts to settle down... Start up sounds are very good as are the running engine sounds, but the external sounds are far, far higher than the internal (yes the canopy is down, and you do have a helmet on) but you always have to turn your speakers down or adjust the external sounds lower on the X-Plane sounds panel to a more even balance. Highly notable is the amount of turn on the front nosewheel compared to the rudder movement... the CT4 has this restriction, and also the use of using the braking on the main wheels to give a wider turn (which is like in turning a taildragger)... ... it means a lot of wider turns and a lot of space in manoeuvring around the taxiways. The small nosewheel movement can also catch you out if your speed gets to fast and the aircraft will start to weave, so you need to keep your taxi speed down a little, overall though, with half a throttle the CT4 will taxi quite nicely. You also need to set your trims to neutral... you need control of your trims either by the HAT on the joystick or keyboard control (any training aircraft should be set this way anyway to learn about aircraft trims)... ... instrument backlighting with the full setting is quite average in the daytime, the instruments are actually lit, but only bleakly so... so it makes the instrument panel look darker than it actually is. The VOR Pointers on the OBI are not working either, here the VOR array is just the over the other side of the field, but the pointer is not registering it or is it an ADF pointer only? Which is pretty useless nowadays. When trying to takeoff on my earlier test flights of the CT4, I found that front nosewheel restriction a barrier to taking the aircraft off and landing cleanly, or mostly impossible to do so, as once you reach a certain speed the aircraft just weaves incredibly badly and you simply lose control... I tried the fast throttle up approach (really bad), and the slow, slow throttle input approach and both failed with a loss of control.... ... the problem is that the rudder and nosewheel are totally out of sync in angle, so when you need more rudder to counteract the powerful asymmetrical thrust, the nosewheel is at the wrong pitch or position, hence you weave and badly... my solution was to kill the tighter movement via the "nosewheel steer toggle", and that gives you back full control of the nosewheel again, but also making it again in sync with the rear rudder movements, cheating, I don't know, but at least I can takeoff and land the aircraft normally without consistently destroying the scenery. As noted that asymmetrical thrust from the 300 hp engine is quite strong, so you need a very firm hand to control it and keep the aircraft straight, 90 knts and you can slightly pull back on the stick and grab the air... ... once off the ground, you need to quickly realign the balance to the centre and get the aircraft level and straight. So the CT4 is tricky to takeoff and for the initial control of flight. Climb out or rate is 9.3 m/s (1,830 ft/min), so quite high, but watch your speed does not trail off. So a climb of around 130 knts at 1500 fpm is about ideal. Note the Vertical Speed indicator is very wide, it looks quite high, but you are only pulling 1,000 fpm. the 2,000 fpm marker is directly and right around to the right (3 o'clock), so it can be a bit disorienting. Once at your altitude, then your first job is to set your trims. You are surprised on how much trim you actually need, especially the rudder trim to get the aircraft balanced and flying straight and level and the controls back to their neutral position... but it is important you have to trim it out before doing anything else. Turns are slightly odd in that you don't nudge the CT4 in the direction and centre the stick again, but sort of hold the angle of the turn, it becomes natural quickly, but it is a more physical way to fly.... so in the air the PAC is a very physical aircraft to fly. The CT4E is a semi-aerobatic aircraft, so you can do some pretty extreme manoeuvres in the aircraft, within reason. But when pushing the aircraft to it's limits you do get great feedback and control response, that extra power really helps as well, overall the PAC is a lot of fun with it's excellent and superb flight dynamics, authentic performance and flight handling characteristics. Lighting The lighting is quite basic... In the daytime as noted the instrument panel feels quite dull, but it is not as bad in the dark. There are three knobs to adjust the overhead and overhead (red) seat lighting, but they both have no light sources, the panel lighting adjustment is the third knob. There is a switch on a light between the roll-over bar, and that activates the X-Plane white flashlight to use on the panel or wherever, not as good as say a proper animated spot light, but I suppose a clever workaround... only the background instrument lighting is okayish, but the dials are clear, so that is what matters, but overall in the cockpit I wanted more brightness everywhere. External lighting gives you Navigation, Red, Green and a White tail-light, Landing and Taxi lights are blobby, and not tuned. Strobe lights are connected to the upper beacon (also white) and all are also very blobby, but effective at night, so is the blobby bright lower red beacon. Once adjusted, overall I like the sounds, not extremely dynamic, but still quite good in realism. Maximum speed of the PAC CT4 is a fast 387 km/h (240 mph, 209 kn) at sea level and the cruise speed: 282 km/h (175 mph, 152 kn) at 2,590 m (8,500 ft) (75% power)... Range is 963 km (599 mi, 520 nmi) (max fuel, 75% power) and the Service Ceiling is 5,550 m (18,200 ft), but do the last two performance figures matter? not really. I miss the VOR pointer to find the airport... so I use the Course Deviation Indicator (CDI), to centreline the runway, and use it to turn directly into the approach path... I am not on the Autopilot or using the APP selection, but it is available if you need it, but in just using the instruments to guide me in... Flaps are as noted variable, so you find the best degree to suit your speed, but I never got under the white marker banner on the speed dial, until I had almost full flap and 90 knts. You can adjust your altitude easily with your power or throttle inputs... more power to climb and less power to descend, and the CT4 reacts very, very nicely to your inputs of power, so it is very easy to get the perfect right speed and slope into the runway... ... you have to focus, but overall the CT4 is great on the final approach and responds nicely to your inputs, once close to the threshold you let the power drop slowly and you sink nicely and gradually, Stall speed is 82 km/h (51 mph or 44 knt) flaps down. So at FULL flap the final landing speed is of 70 knts, and the CT4 feels a bit fast, not much, but I expected around 65 knts or even slightly less, but that does not say you cannot do a nice sweet touch and a no bounce landing at this speed... ... also give yourself a slight nose up flare to show off your landing skills and the CT4E will respond nicely. I have already done about eight landings in the PAC Airtrainer, and each one was absolutely checkbook perfect, so the aircraft is very, very good in this area with great feel and control. vSkyLabs uses the STMA Plugin for aircraft updates thoughout the project, the updater can be found on the left side of your screen as a pop-out... personally a loath these sort of annoying pop-out affairs, and in most cases usually remove the plugin from the aircraft folder, I up date by inserting it again, doing the update and then remove it again... it is a seriously screen hogging popping out annoying tool. Liveries Three... in a RNZAF (Royal New Zealand Airforce) "Red Checkers", RAAF (Royal Australian Airforce) and RTAF (Royal Thai Airforce) liveries, all well done and highly detailed. ______________________ Summary In only another few months since their last release with the excellent Aeroprakt A22-LS Project, VskyLabs are already back with another project, this time it is the PAC (Pacific Aerospace Corporation) CT/4E Airtrainer aircraft. A New Zealand built aircraft for both the Australian and New Zealand Airforces, The Royal Thai Airforce also bought 24 aircraft. Designed out of the Australian built civilian Victa Aircruiser, the CT4E here is a twin (with a third if required) seater trainer for a specialised single-engine trainer role. You would never fault vSkyLabs quality modeling, and very good in detail it is here as well. Nice externals, but the cockpit detail is exceptional, not crazy about the coloured navigation wingtip lights, or the poor front nosewheel assembly, but the canopy and glass quality is extremely good. Blobby external lighting and daytime instrument lighting is also a few marks down and I didn't at all relate to the restricted nosewheel movement... but overall the aircraft is first rate. There are very few extras or no menus at all... there is however AviTab intergration and exceptional VR-Virtual Reality is also available. If you have purchased or tasted before any of vSkyLabs project aircraft, then you probably know what you will get here. Great modeling, great detailing and an extraordinary flight model. They are great projects, but to note that you are purchasing an ongoing project with any vSkyLabs aircraft and that all the development is ongoing, so this is not a 100% fully developed project. Updates maybe infrequent if sometimes at all. The PAC CT4 requires the experimental setting, and as usual for vSkyLabs the aircraft delivers a very credible if brilliant flying and performance related machine, always interesting and always a very interesting aircraft to fly, then flying the PAC CT4E a lot and you will get a big rewards for your investment... simply another winner from vSkyLabs. ___________________ Yes! the PAC CT/4E Airtrainer Project by VSkyLabs is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : PAC CT/4E Airtrainer Project Price is US$32.95 Project Main Features: VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Project: designed for use with X-Plane 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, including aerobatics. Built-in Avitab Plugin Compatibility (AviTab plugin is not included). STMA Autoupdater 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 VSKYLABS support forums: 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 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current and Review version: 1.0 (July 1st 2021) The AviTab Plugin is required for this aircraft. Note: In order to use and enjoy VR environment in X-Plane, user hardware and system specs should meet the required specifications for OS, CPU, GPU, MB and RAM which are specified both in the given VR hardware websites and at X-Plane.com. Aircraft download is 217 Mb, and unpacked then installed 367 Mb Documents VSKYLABS CT4E POH.pdf Designed by VSKYLABS Support forum for the CT/4E Airtrainer _____________________ Aircraft Review by Stephen Dutton 8th July 2021 Copyright©2021: 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 1TB SSD Software: - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.55 Plugins: Global SFD plugin US$30.00 : Environment Engine by xEnviro US$69.90 : RK Apps XPRealistic v2 - US$34.99 (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. News! - Laminar Research : X-Plane12 Preview Just yesterday I did a full evaluation of the Simulation situation current to date in this year 2021, in our monthly "Behind The Screen" (May) edition. And lo and behold the next day out comes a preview video titled "X-Plane Technology Preview One"... did Laminar read our summation? I doubt it, but it does note the date, in that this weekend the original FlightSimExpo 21 was to have been held in San Diego (4th-6th June) that has now been rescheduled for September 24-26, 2021. Was this weekend originally supposed to have been an announcement on the release of X-Plane12 (or whatever it may be called). The video highlights the new existing lighting with a completely new photometric lighting mode. This is a new engine to create atmosphere and cloud light scattering and color depend on atmosphere quality, weather conditions and the time of day. I had to live with the bland current X-Plane11 lighting effects for many months until I could then reuse the xEnviro plugin in Vulkan, and it is very boring and flat. And that is the point, you can have these effects now if you use the expensive xEnivro addon, so the new effects are actually to me old news, sorry to burst your bubble Laminar. But that is not to say the new lighting mode is not welcome. In having used xEnviro, you simply cannot live without the feel and dynamic density of PBR lighting effects, the bonus is that with them coming to the default simulator, it does get around the the major xEnviro issue of recreating the weather conditions manually, which is impossible to do in xEnviro. The main advantage though is the quality sheen you will get in the simulator, the lighting conditions in xEnviro is simply overwhelming in look and feel. Users are already worried the framerate hit, they may get with the new effect engine, but the reality is, you will get that hit no matter where you go, 3rd party addons or in the default simulator, but the bonus is that the Laminar effects will be far more finely tuned to fit, so I expect the actual framerate hit to be quite low, and it depends also on if Laminar use the more dense 3rd clouds or more modern cloud effect engine. So no matter how you twist the situation, X-Plane12 will require a computer update (certainly if you are using a pre teen computer) in the context that you can't simply expect that old machine to cover the modern requirements. Basically the video is a good start, and more videos are noted as coming (soon?), but details like will X-Plane12 use Spherical buffers, or Seasons or even just realistic active weather are still to be announced. Volumetric cloud systems that uses a three-dimensional volume texture that is ray-marched to represent cloud layers in real-time is already in X-Plane, but are currently highly ineffective and limited in their effects, such as Cloud Occlusion and Shadowing, which is hopeless in X-Plane, but quite good in xEnviro. So the video shows the better quality you can get with photometric lighting, and it will be obviously interesting to see and use in the simulator. We all wait with bated breath... its a start! ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 2nd June 2021 Copyright©2021: 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) All Rights Reserved
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  10. In case anyone has forgotten, the day MSFS 2020 was released, there was absolutely NO user guide or manual of any kind. We had to search YouTube for any kind of help we could get. The release of MSFS 2020 was HUGE, and I think most of us expected some bugs, but certainly nothing like we waltzed into. So many settings, so much tweaking, and what turned out for many was so little control of the aircraft. We were given "promises" of scenery that was way beyond anything in any other flight sim. However, we were not told at that time that we would need to have a computer that would make NASA jealous! Yes, that is a bit of an exaggeration, but it makes a point. We were a bit mislead. To achieve the results we wanted....and expected...would require a video card that would cost more than our original PC!! On top of that, good luck finding one of those video cards. I have often wondered if MSFS 2020 and its graphics capability and the requirements to reach those graphics has helped create the shortage of the video cards we need. I have used X-Plane since X-Plane 9, and I will continue to use X-Plane 11. I fly the C-172 almost exclusively, since I am a licensed pilot and that is the plane I usually fly. I found the setup of X-Plane to be very easy, and my settings do not change after every update. I can't say the same for MSFS 2020. Not everyone has the same experiences, since we all don't have the exact same PC and setup. I can only relate what MY experiences have been with MSFS 2020. I like the stability of X-Plane. There are no surprises. I get frame rates in the area of 35-50fps consistently. All I can say is if X-Plane comes up with graphics close to what MSFS 2020 has out of the box, then I will delete MSFS 2020 from my PC.
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  11. Aircraft Review : Beechcraft Bonanza F33A XP11 by Carenado What makes up the criteria of your best aircraft to fly in X-Plane, or your favorite? This is not the best aircraft in X-Plane for overall features or details, but the best aircraft for you. For many user fliers it could be in a relation to a real aircraft, either in the one you own, owned or are now learning on, that particular aspect is important. But what about the rest of us... For me it is Carenado's Bonanza F33A and we go back a long, long... time. The aircraft originally was one of the first released for X-Plane by Carenado, and the fourth if I think right and that was right back in January 2012, or just over six years ago.... it was also really the first of really high-quality releases from Carenado that was certainly far ahead of its time back then and even better than that period's X-Plane10 quality. My own actual investment in the F33A was a bit odd. I bought it as a birthday present for myself, flew it twice then basically stored it for just over two years? Even looking back now I just can't work that out why? but I think that my basic flying skill's were not up to the same level of the aircraft... so what changed? Carenado did an update on my mothballed F33A and I found now how it all handled very nicely, but more importantly I also suddenly found it was the very best aircraft in X-Plane to do some serious practice on, that is the very basic flying training in circuits, touch and go's, banking techniques, speed control... then I found myself using the F33A for more advance training with VOR navigation and extensive GA flight-planning and route navigation. In every aspect the F33A was the perfect aircraft to cover all these important flying skills, and ever since year after year the F33A has been my aircraft of choice for all of these practise and training skill work. It also is used as a benchmark to X-Plane itself, because I know the F33A so very well, so if X-Plane is out or not configured correctly then it will show on this aircraft. So the point is would that make this review biased because already this Bonanza is an aircraft that I think that everyone should have in that hangar, and that is a fair point... I accept that now there are certainly far better aircraft in X-Plane than this F33A because basically even if advanced for its time then this design by Carenado is still six years old. A note here in that the livery "BlueHawk Flight Training" which I have flown the F33A under for years is not an official Carenado livery... but however it is one of the best looking for the aircraft, it also needs a few adjustments if you want to use the livery with this XP11 version, but it is well worth the effort. Carenado Beechcraft Bonanza F33A XP11 Over the years since it's original release Carenado have kept the aircraft up to date with constant updates, and that was even into X-Plane11, but that was mostly just to conform to X-Plane11's basic performance changes and for the introduction of PBR (Physical Based Rendering), and overall the bonanza flew fine in that configuration. But in time the F33A needed to completely upgraded to X-Plane11 and to take advantage of the new simulation version and add in the more modern elements we expect now in X-Plane, and here it is in the Bonanza F33A XP11. Outwardly you are surprised enough that when sitting in the F33A XP11 version for the first time in that it looks and feels almost exactly the same? In a way that is very good thing if you are like I am in being very familiar with the aircraft, and you don't want things you really like then being messed around with or changed. But there are a lot of differences and details to take in. All the aircraft for XP11 are now 4K (4096 x 4096) texture quality with the (PBR) Physically Based Rendering materials and textures that are redone throughout and this is all done with (gaming) industry-standard software for the best highest quality to the best efficiency (framerate to me and you) ratio. A note that the F33A has a lot of custom 2K freeware liveries available on the XP.Org. They do actually still work quite well, but as noted you need a file name change and a few adjustments in say photoshop to make them compatible, obviously the quality is not at the official level, but if you do have a favorite livery for the F33A you can at least save it and use it. N927CF is an official livery to see the quality and detail now in this XP11 version. You were always aware of how very good it was originally, but it needed for X-Plane to catch up to Carenado and not the other way around. Certainly X-Plane11 does that here, but the changes also reflect the fine tuning of those super realistic material shines and reflections. Now there is a lot of chrome on the aircraft, like with the beautiful spinner and foot supports. Wing lighting assemblies are absolutely perfect, and highly realistic. Note the nice small wing fences. The advancement of computer power over the years also now allows us to take advantage now of higher quality texture settings and anti-aliasing, The quality of the undercarriage is phenomenal, ultra realistic and fully animated. To note the advanced movements of the animation has been refined here to XP11 standard's and to a point they are better than that, as movements in taxiing and wheel travel shock are almost now perfect, you thought it was always reacted like that until you went back and flew the F33A from only a few years ago, but no we have come a long since then, a very long way. Glass is also better, more refined with great reflections and here comes in two versions of clear and the tinted green (far better). External detail is complete with HF and RF aerials and great detailing with control surface manipulators, lightning wicks are all animated for airflow realism. Aircraft construction riveting is very good, but does show that this is still a few years ago since it was created, nice waves and shapes in the metal paneling gives realism. Cabin Looking into the cabin and it is very well detailed, beautifully created. The F33A was the aircraft that I was in when I first saw the X-Plane11 PBR light and dark shadow feature, It was a total "wow" moment then, and it still is very dramatic now with the cream facia panel and the black instrumentation. Internally the cabin is very tight, the F33A is a very small intimate aircraft in reality. Seats are beautifully crafted. The interior has been re-textured, it is now a woven cloth grey, with a distinctive pattern. It certainly modernises the cabin and it feels fresher... ... but I did also really like the old blue interior, certainly it looks like the more older style Bonanza, but it still works for me. I goes better with the BlueHawk livery as well, so I adjusted it to be used on the same livery, again photoshop was required, but you don't lose any quality in the transition. I think it is nice to have both versions between different liveries so it is certainly worth doing. Panel is sensational, highly realistic and I should know as I have spent countless hours behind it. The aircraft comes with dual-arm yoke bar, this setup was pre-1984, with the change to the standard in the panel twin yokes setup that is post-1984. The bar hides by pressing the bar in the centre by the panel. It does obstruct a lot of the lower switchgear, lighting adjustment rotary and vertical trim wheel, but I found I could work around it with the bar in place with familiarity. Pilot's yoke has built in working electric trim, autopilot disconnect and XPDR IDENT functionality. A digital clock is also built into the front of the yoke for convenience. Panel glass reflections are all very new and highly realistic, but in some conditions they can now go a bit grey with the seat mirroring the reflection, a tone down of the reflections is noted from Carenado. Menu The menu hasn't changed from the earlier version... still the same three panels to cover the standard Carenado A, C and O menu staples. A is the Bendix/King KFC 150 autopilot pop-up. C is ten "Views" with "Field of View" and two sound adjustments. O is for "Options" including opening Co-Pilot (passenger) door and a Baggage door left rear. Static elements provided are very basic with only, wheel chocks and engine inlet/flag, wing pipit cover and there is also window and Instrument reflections and the choice of changing the liveries without going to the main X-Plane menu. The twin pilots are new and replace the younger cooler guy in the shades, but they are very well created, far more realistic and are both highly animated, they also disappear when you activate the static elements. Not on the main menus. but it is now available for use is a "Weight & Balance" menu courtesy of Thranda. It is activated by setting up an X-Plane key input via the Thranda key settings. The W&B menu is basic, but still covers all that you need in set up and you can now adjust the four passengers weights and baggage via a animated C.G (centre of Gravity) graph, Fuel can also be set and the results are set out in lbs and inches are all listed below. Flying the F33A Bonanza The F33A can be a very recalcitrant aircraft to start from cold, but once the 285 hp Continental IO-520-B engine fires it soon settles down. I always run the Continental for a few minutes to warm it all up, once the gauges are showing normal temps and pressures, then you can go. This aspect is very well done by Carenado as the gauges just don't just go straight right up to their operating points but they all take their individual routes to get there showing realism. My X-56 Rhino throttle setup works well here as I use the second throttle as the mixture lever, this gives my more control over the richness of the fuel, and only 2/3rds mixture is required for taxi and ground movements. You can feel how long a way we have come now over the years, earlier this Bonanza was a bit of a handful on the ground, but now it is just a soft pussycat more than a rampant tiger, and you have more if sublime control of your speed and direction movements, that is of course the X-Plane11's level of more diversity in this area, certainly the F33A is still a bit of a handful on taking off and landing, but that is a common problem with X-Plane's ground effects at the moment than more than the actual aircraft, but skill can overcome the worst of Laminar's theatrics. All sounds in Carenado aircraft when upgrading to X-Plane11 are now FMOD, and the Bonanza gets the same treatment. The sounds have been increased substantially right thoughout the whole range, this is highlighted at the idle point, if you adjust the mixture even minutely the sounds are really, really good in conveying on what the engine is feeling, with power, climb and the cruise sounds of the aircraft of which are all excellent. I only give the F33A about half-throttle gradually until the aircraft builds up speed, once the speed is constant and you are tracking true against the left pulling asymmetrical thrust, then go straightup to full throttle, no flap uses more runway, but I get more speed of which I like. 100knts is the right point to pull back on the yoke bar, and the F33A will nicely clear the runway... ... rate of climb to 600fpm is best to climb out and also build up more speed. The Bonanza has a unique gear sound, in a pneumatic "peeeeooow" sound, which I love and the detailed gear retraction or extension is excellent. I keep the power up and level out at 1500ft. Performance is very good for this type of aircraft. Top Speed: 182 kts with a Cruise Speed of around 172 kt and the Stall Speed (dirty) is around 51 kts. Range is an excellent 717 nm. Official Rate Of Climb is 1167 fpm and the Ceiling is noted at 17858 ft. Once the aircraft is trimmed and set at a nice cruise pace I climb again to 7500ft, Mostly I climb high easily at 800fpm, but with the W&B manager I added in a lot of weight of 3250pounds (3401 is max) so 700fpm is my base climb rate today, I drop that again at 6000ft to 300fpm to keep the momentum of the speed. Instrument Panel By all accounts the F33A instrument panel is not complicated, but the instruments that are here are set out to be extremely useful. Standard Six instruments are centred in the line of sight of the flying pilot with the Airspeed Indicator, Artificial Horizon and the Attitude Indicator on the top row and the Garmin OBS VOR pointer (VOR2), Heading Dial and Vertical Speed Indicators set out directly below. The Turn Coordinator is far left of the six pack with a radar altimeter directly below, lower left instrument panel I will come back to in a moment. Centre panel is dominated by two large dials that cover engine manifold pressure (inHg) and fuel flow (gallons per hour) and the second dial is the RPM gauge with built in hour meter. Both the gauge and the dial are highly animated to reflect the engine's performance, needles twitch and flicker to throttle or fuel flow changes that makes them highly realistic. Below is the left and right fuel gauges that are separated by a cluster of four gauges that cover Cylinder Head Temperature (CHT), Oil Temperature top and Ampreres and Oil Pressure below. Lower left is an Insight digital read out for EGT - CHT and lower right is an Instrument Air gauge (Inch-Mer). A small note here on the Instant EGT - CHT digital readout, in flight it looks like it is not working, but it is. To see any activity, then just lean the fuel mixture and the display will come alive. The avionic instrument stack is very good with a Bendix/King KR 24 radio set, X-Plane Garmin GNS 430 GPS, Bendix/king KX 165 COMM (Comm2)/NAV (VOR2) unit, Two Bendix/King KR 87 ADF units and a Garmin GTX 320 Transponder... the Bendix/King KFC 150 autopilot is far left of the instrument panel. You can also use the GTN750 payware add-on by RealityXP in this Bonanza. On the co-pilot's far right instrument panel is one flying instrument in an altimeter, and a Garmin OBS VOR indicator (VOR1). Two smaller gauges cover EGT and Prop Amp. A note on the altimeter, You have to remember to adjust both altimeters in their mb/in.hg settings, this far right second backup altimeter setting is hard to see in being so small, but it always needs to be adjusted when required, or (obviously) the altimeters will show different altitudes. Lower right panel is the circuit breaker panel (non-working). The set up of the Bendix/King KFC 150 autopilot is excellent in the Bonanza. Handy to the lower left and remember there is the pop-up feature as well (press Tab A), which is both movable and scalable. Note for the AP to work you have to press the FD (Flight-Director) button before engaging the AP button. Easy to use the KFC 150 actions are noted on the upper panel in line of your eyesight, and there is the built in V/S - ALT mode to set your altitude and rate of climb (or descent) and they all work perfectly together to ease your workload. Next to the V/S-Alt mode selector is a BendixKing VOR N1/N2 distance, speed and estimated TOA (Time Of Arrival) display. Next to the KFC 150 is a fuel flow display that (switchable) covers GAL REM (Remain) GAL USED, GAL to Destination, GAL Reserve and Endurance (HRS:MIN) to use this instrument correctly you have to have be running flightplan in the GNS 430, but if not you still get fuel remaining and that sort of fuel flow info. VOR Pointer/Course Dials To understand why this little Bonanza is a very good training tool for early fliers is to understand the use of two instruments, and their setup here in the F33A. I have always been a bit vocal in reviews if the VOR/DME instrument is not a pointer tool and it is usually the older basic VOR/DME heading instrument... in the F33A it is a pointer instrument, but better still it is positioned directly besides the heading/course instrument. Here I am approaching KRSW - SouthWest Florida International (arrowed) and the VOR pointer is set to the airports VOR (Lee County RSW 111.80). Yes I know that the RSW VOR/DME is slightly to the north of the airport, but it will still show how to use the pointers effectively. I have set the "Course" pointer to the RWY06 heading as my guide, but I will for the moment still fly southwest to clear the airport before going into the south circuit to land from the west. Set my heading to the course direction (24º) to go into the circuit and that will put the F33A parallel to KRSW and RW06/24. The VOR pointer will show your relative position to the airport and your distance from the VOR/DME and to the airport for the correct turn point (unless you are under ATC instructions), Then a 90º turn on the course to (33º) turn in ready to find the runway centre line. Again the VOR pointer is crucial on the right time to turn to the runway heading, if you rely on the ILS alignment on the course pointer, you will know that it usually activates just a little too late to get the final right 90º turn to the runway, the VOR then gives you just that little more time to get the turn rate correct. I also use the same procedure in a big jet, the VOR pointer will give you the runway alignment if set against the runway course setting a far longer way out distance from the airport than the ILS alignment does, so you can have more time to set up your approach in line with the runway... if you are correct then both the VOR and Course pointers should be aligned parallel on the final turn as they are here (below right), the runway 06 should then be in the correct position for your approach. You can see by using both pointers on how this F33A is simply great for practise flying, in circuits and for VOR point to point routes, and when you don't have this set up in other types of aircraft you really miss those pointers and the workload get a lot harder. Two points then is that yes it is just as easy to look out of the window and visually gauge your turn, that is natural, but in many conditions you just can't do that, and yes here at KRSW the VOR is slightly off the airport but it still works in context. Landing Overall the F33A is a lovely handing aircraft, just watch the trim is -0 when taking off and landing, it will be out at this point if have used the AP. The trim wheel is right there in front of you a little to the right (pilot) or on the yoke. I am finding this earlier XP11 version a little fast on approach? But I usually get the speed down to around 100knts when coming into the final approach phase. If you leave the taxi light switched on it will shut off when the gear is raised and then relight when you lower the gear for landing, it is great to watch in operation. External lighting is pretty basic, with the landing and taxi light in the nose and a huge red beacon on the roof. Navigation and strobe lights are updated for XP11 and are excellent. Gear down and you do lose a lot of speed in the drag if you don't counter for it. Flaps are 3 positions Up - 15º - 30º, 150knts is vFE but I am usually well under 100knts before I will move them down a notch. ditto to 30º flap as I will go down to 80knts before going to that position, I found you need a lot of throttle to counter the 30º flap not so less for even the 15º setting. I admit I am a little bit high here, but those trees at the end of RWY06 have a habit of catching me out in the dark. 80knts approach speed is down to just under 70knts for contact, stall is 51knts so I feel the approach speed needed is a currently a little too high from Carenado, around 60knts, should be more closer to the mark. A lot of hours in the F33A means I can put it down pretty anywhere I want to, it is not a hard aircraft to land, but you will need to feel the aircraft and get the speeds right, overall Carenado have done a class act on delivering X-Plane11 performance to this version, it feels far more alive and more intimate than the earlier versions, and yes it is totally better all round. For the limited lighting available you do get a good view in the dark to moving around on the ground from both the taxi and landing light. Internal Lighting Instrument panel lighting is basic, but very good. Most instrument lighting is indirect, and I remember it being actually a little bit brighter? You can only adjust the indirect lighting and the some of the backlight/avionic lighting individually... overall it is great for night flying. Overhead lighting is two lights forward with one large light directly above and a small one in the exit passenger door... ... in the rear are two spots and all roof lighting is controlled by the three buttons on the roof. Liveries There is one blank and four liveries with the package, all are high-quality and 4K, the highlight is the nice Lufthansa Nevada Training aircraft. Summary Six years is a long time for any aircraft in X-Plane, but we are dealing with Carenado here and the aircraft was never ever going to the one to be left on the shelf, in fact the constant updates and now this huge D-Check of a strip to the bones and rebuild of the F33A Bonanza means one of the brightest stars of Carenado's fleet is certainly going to keep on flying well into the X-Plane11 version for many, many years to come. It is a new version for X-Plane11 in its new clothes, but the Bonanza feels new and it is now certainly also quite different from its earlier versions without losing its original charm. Optimisation is high here as a lot of areas have been covered from newer materials and textures throughout, to performance and the more realistic behavior with flight physics optimized for XP11 standards and better comparison to the real airplane, better realistic weight and balance with now a even a W&B menu set up panel. The aircraft is now fully VR (Virtual Reality) compatible and has better and even more refined PBR (Superb material shines and reflections). FMOD sound is completely new and far more right across the whole range with newer added sounds that are more detailed and intimate, in other words the Continental IO-520-B engine sounds brilliant. The Bonanza F33A is one of Carenado's biggest success aircraft in X-Plane and in reality it is not hard to see why, it is priced very well for what you get as well, in that you get really a $35 deal for only $26.95 for the same quality and features as the common Carenado higher price. Yes in a few areas the F33A is still the same earlier aircraft, but it is now part of its charm more than anything else. This is my favorite personal aircraft in X-Plane, could that be a bias? but no in reality the aircraft that I reviewed has just only re-enforced of why it was so good in the first place, more so now with this excellent extensive upgrade. I just simply love flying this machine, it is also the best for any type of practise and for developing my (online) flying skills and to a point I can push them to the limit in this aircraft as I know the aircraft so well... The hard part of this review, is that I now have to move on from the F33A and can't keep on flying it around Florida anymore... "Okay just once more and then I will move on.. I Promise, I will honest... yes only once, I really, really promise... ". Highly addictive and highly recommended. ______________________________________________________________________ Yes! the Beechcraft Bonanza F33A XP11 by Carenado is available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Bonanza F33A XP11 Price is US$26.95 This XP11 is a new version of the F33A Bonanza, so a new purchase price is required, however updates are free to the aircraft for the full run of the X-Plane11 version. Special Features Version 1.1 Optimized for X-Plane 11 State-of-the-art configurable FPS-friendly logic system. Fully VR compatible Full PBR (Superb material shines and reflections) Features Specially designed engine dynamics for XP11 Flight physics optimized for XP11 standards Ground handling adapted for XP11 ground physics Physically Based Rendering materials and textures throughout PBR materials authored with industry-standard software used by the film and gaming industries X-Plane GNS430 (FPS friendly) Support for RealityXP's GTN750* (integrated into 3D cockpit, when available). Goodway Compatible. Realistic behavior compared to the real airplane. Realistic weight and balance. Tested by several pilots for maximum accuracy. *RealityXP GTN 750 is sold separately Included in the package 5 HD liveries + 1 HD blank texture F33 Normal and Emergency Procedures PDF F33 Performance tables PDF - F33 Quick reference table PDF Autopilot KFC150 Manual PDF Recommended Settings X-PLANE 11 PDF ______________________________________________________________________ Requirements : X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4GB+ VRAM - 350MB available hard disk space Version 1.1 (last updated May 18 2018) ______________________________________________________________________ Installation : Download is 281mb which is unzipped and is inserted in your General Aviation folder as a 478.40mb flie. Key authorisation is required. The review "BlueHawk Training" Livery is here: BlueHawk Carenado Bonanza F33 v2 Livery 1.0 But the livery does require some changes to work in XP11, but it does come in both 2K and 4K versions. Changes are not hard, but watch for the chrome spinner and that it is showing, make sure that the all the textures changed are not transparent, or you will get see through wings! Documentation : includes Bonanza F33 Normal _ Emergency Procedures - Performance tables.pdf Carenado Copyright.pdf Credits.pdf F33 Bonanza reference.pdf General Information.pdf KFC150 Autopilot.pdf Recommended settings XP11.pdf ______________________________________________________________________ Plugin Review by Stephen Dutton 23rd May 2018 Copyright©2018: 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) Review System Specifications: Computer System: Windows - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 16 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo 512gb SSD Software: - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.20 Addons: Saitek x56 Rhino Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose Soundlink Mini Plugins: Environment Engine by xEnviro v1.07 US$69.90 : XPRealistic Pro v1.0.9 effects US$19.95 : WorldTraffic 3.0 Plugin - US$29.95 Scenery or Aircraft - KFMY - Page Field - Fort Myers, Florida 1.0 by timbenedict3 (X-Plane.Org) - Free - KRSW - Southwest Florida International Airport by Aerosoft (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$24.95 - KDAB - Daytona Beach by Aerosoft / Stairport Sceneries (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$28.99
    1 point
  12. Yes, I would love a Trident III in this level of detail 🙂
    1 point
  13. I can not recommend this scenery highly enough. It is very good, especially, if you couple it with Ortho4Xp and Simheaven X-Europe 5.5. It is just so so good and would truly deserve to get its own review. As for the installation, when dealing with .exe installers: I can only recommend to create an empty folder and copy the Xplane11.exe into it. Point the installer to that folder, instead of your main sim-folder. Afterwards inspect the files that were dropped and manually copy them to your sims folder. I did so with EDDW and did not encounter any of the errors and debugging you described here.
    1 point
  14. No these jets can REALLY climb... 5000 fpm is normal, but most stay around 4000 fpm, the Challenger can climb to FL410 in 18 min, with a 14,330 kg (31,590 lb) weight. Weight and load is the key to getting the right climb rate, If I remember right DDenn provided the links to the data, if not then you may have to go searching for it.
    1 point
  15. Another fair review. Spent several minutes in the right pilot position fighting the collective then it dawned -left side is where the action is, why have right side controls if they don't do anything important? I agree it could stand a bit more refinement but for $25 it's not a bad deal.
    1 point
  16. Aircraft Review : Rutan Model-158 Pond Racer - Test-Pilot Project by vSkyLabs The bizarre and the unorthodox is littered with examples in aviation, more than really any other medium. Then aviation pushes the boundary on what can and even the unexpected of what has been achieved in relation to leaving the boundaries of not only above the ground but to go even beyond the planet Earth itself. The experimental aspect of flight is strewn with examples that pushed the boundaries forward, but was also the death of many a good pilot... the Model-158 Pond Racer is one such example. First is the name "Pond Racer"... it is not an aircraft designed to fly over water, but the designation is taken by the person who wanted to compete in air-races, Robert J Pond, he also created the Palm Springs Air Museum in California. Bob Pond commissioned the Model-158 design with the idea of developing a modern aircraft that could compete with the vintage warbirds in the Unlimited Class at the Reno air races. Bob Pond was concerned that each year at the Reno Air Races, valuable and historic aircraft were being crashed and destroyed, not to mention many engines being damaged or wrecked beyond repair. The Pond Racer was hoped to be an alternative to vintage aircraft like the P-51 Mustang and the Hawker Sea Fury that would be as fast and spectacular in the air as the warbirds. To do this he turned to the most avant-garde of all the aviation designers in Burt Rutan, and Scaled Composites. The Model-158 airframe was constructed of composite materials, carbon fiber and Kevlar. This resulted in a very light, strong aircraft. And to power the plane, then two Electramotive 3 liter V-6 engines were chosen. These were based on the Nissan VG30 automobile engine. The engines were originally developed for auto racing and were turbocharged to produce 1,000 hp (750 kW). However, those fitted to the Pond Racer only ever achieved a peak of around 600 hp (450 kW). The engines drove 4-bladed propellers via propeller speed reduction units. The result was something out of Star Wars or the racing machines in "The Phantom Menace" episode one of the series. Huge massive twin engines are connected to what is basically a glider cockpit, it flew, and by the results it actually flew very well, but overall it was a flying death trap. VskyLabs has taken liberty with the design, basically it is a reproduction of the original "Pond Racer", but the aircraft is powered by twin PT6A-28 propulsion free-turbine turboprop engines with around the same output (640 kW) as the V-6 original installations. Instrumentation is quite different as well, as the original aircraft quite basic, and didn't have extras like GPS or iPads and all the required complementary systems, providing the needed instrumentation of; environmental control, fuel capacity, navigation-aids and all- weather flying capabilities. The aircraft was fitted with a new type of fuel-system layout, pressurization, oxygen, pneumatic, electrical and avionics. A lot however is original as well, mostly in the aircraft's detail. The design results though are pure Rutan, a very composite aircraft with slender fine forward-swept wing in which the quarter-chord line of the wing has a forward sweep, with slight uplifts at the wingtips. It is a twin boom-fuselage that supports a central rear fine cockpit, in other words a pure racing machine, note the nice upward and downward fins that make the tail really a tri-tail configuration. Brilliantly conceived in you have to admit is in its clever design. Modeling is a mixture of textured and untextured components, and in areas the two do slightly conflict as you can see the differences... But to note first the VSkylab philosophy is that you purchase an ongoing project, so any aircraft that you purchase is not fully completed and 100%, that is the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft, all updates to the aircraft are free but the changes however can come infrequently, if sometimes slowly. The landing gear (twin front) is basic modeling, and in parts not even textured, but overall it serves it's purpose in the right links and uprights and in design it is authentic, this is also a tail-dragger aircraft with only a (very) small caster wheel at the rear. A nice touch is the names of everyone involved in the Model-150 are listed on the left and right gear doors. Cockpit is tiny and gliderish in concept, the textured and untextured sections are highly noticeable of the canopy to the tub section. Glass is simply excellent, or would it have been perspex as with the lovely graining on the cover, the canopy shaping is perfect and highly realistic. The highlight on the aircraft is that you can remove the engine covers (press on the covers directly) and then see those awesome PT6A-28 turbines in all of their glory, and they are both amazingly well done. Another nice touch is the fuel tank fillers (four) with two set in the inner connecting wing (21.3 GAL per tank), and two on each outer pod (50.7 GAL per tank), nice tank instructions are noted as well. The Pond Racer has a complex fuel system with the main tanks in the front, and the two pod feeder tanks aft. Cockpit The long thin canopy is opened by a pull rod on the left inner side, and revels a striking interior, highlighted by that padded bright red-orange cushion like seat, a seat is really not what it is, but more a padded material between yourself and the composite frame. The interior detail is both exceptional and realistic, even for an experimental aircraft such as this Pond Racer. Note the blue marks show when the canopy is open or locked. From the external view there is an exceptional pilot in a flight suit, he is also animated to move the stick, throttles and even the rudder pedals. Most of the detailing focus is certainly on the cockpit, as it is really well done. The instrument panel is really quite big for an aircraft of this size and it is also very well fitted out with instruments. I am going to be quite suspect and say the original instrument set up is nothing like this and be quite basic, because the original aircraft was only an experimental aircraft and not a production machine. Top of the panel are two GNS 430 GPS units, which do sort of stick up in your viewline with an attached Whiskey Compass. Below on the panel are the fire switches and starter switches for the left and right engines with the first of two annunciator panels that covers warnings. The Standard Six instruments including the; Airspeed Indicator, Altitude Indicator, Artificial Horizon top, Heading dial with built in VOR Pointers, Course Deviation Indicator (CDI) and V/S Vertical Speed instruments are all grouped together top left of the panel. Below the SS is the second (larger) of the two annunciator panels, this panel covers Systems. Most of the rest of the right instrument panel is taken up by the duel engine instruments and there are sixteen of them (or eight per engine)... top row is the (twin) Propeller RPM and ITT (Inter Turbine Temperature) dials. second row is a G-Meter, Ampreres/Volts and Torque dials. Note you can switch between bus volts and generator load indication via the knob on the Amp/Volt meter. Third row consists of two fuel gauges and RPM dials, and finally the fourth row has (twin) Fuel Flow and Twin Oil Temp and Oil Pressure gauges. The panel looks complicated, but overall it really isn't. There is a box panel beneath that is mostly hidden by the joystick, which can be half-hidden by pressing the base. Top panel is a Garmin GMA347 radio unit, with the external (left) lighting switches and internal Flood and Instrument lighting switches right. Note the exquisite rudder pedals. Top left panel is the parkbrake, Gear lever and twin engine Throttle (black) and Propeller (Blue). Rear panel is a sensational trim section, with nice large wheels to adjust your Yaw, Roll and Pitch trim, with the pitch and yaw noted on the dials. Canopy seal and Firewall shutoff is set mid-panel. Top right panel is the Cabin Pressure gauge, and below your Oxygen Supply (Liters). Mid-Panel top is the Oxygen Regulator, and are controlled by three big switches that cover your Emergency supply (Red), 100%/ Normal (White) and PBG -Pressure (Green). There is a PSI dial for the pressure and a flow indicator. Mid-Panel bottom switchgear that covers Pressurization, PWR (Power/Electrical) and Bleed/De-Ice Systems Rear right panel are the rest of the avionics. There is a S-Tec Forty-Five autopilot, which is odd in a pylon racing machine? but there you go... and a Garmin GTX 327 Transponder... final switches cover the fuel boost pumps. Overall the instrument and system layout is exceptional, and a full description of all the systems including the 28-VDC electric system configuration, that is powered by a 24-volt, 42-ampere hour battery and the two 250- ampere starter generators of the electrical system and the complex fuel system is also well documented in the manual. Also noted in the manual is the full settings for the X-Plane JOYSTICK/KEY ASSIGNMENTS. As the project is designed and optimized for VR (Virtual Reality) usage, therefore, all on- board equipment, switched, lever, handle, knobs and other relevant functions are all accessible through on-screen manipulators, for also use with the mouse in 2D mode, or with the touch controllers in VR mode. X-Plane 11 Experimental Flight Model environment must be ON to fly this aircraft, the checkbox is on the X-Plane/Settings/General menu The cockpit and instrument panel lighting (adjustable) is lovely, the "Flood" light is not a full on bright light, but a nice glow on the panel and underneath it... any side dial is nicely also lit up. STMA AutoUpdater The vSkyLabs aircraft also comes with the STMA AutoUpdater. This tab pops out on the top left of your screen and will update the aircraft version automatically, the same can be accessed via the X-Plane/Plugins Menu. Personally I am not a big fan of this STMA updater as it pops anytime you access this left side of the screen real estate, so (seriously) "annoying" is the word for it. Flying the Pond Racer The real aircraft did not actually taxi... it had a rear wheel puller that positioned the aircraft on the end of a runway, and so that is the best way to start. Starting the twin PT6A-28s is actually quite easy... Boost pumps on, Firewall (Fuel) Shutoff on, Prop levers to full forward, a little throttle. Then Switch up IGN#1 (or IGN#2) and then flick up the starter (START#1 or #2), then above 15% N1 you push in the Fuel cutoff handle. It takes time to wind up and power up the engines, so you have to wait until the Prop RPM is showing around 21x100 percent, before you have fully completed the start procedure. The Model-158 is not at all as noisy as you would expect it to be and even quite smooth, mainly I think it is set with you wearing a full face helmet and oxygen mask... either way it isn't what you expect, but in not being really loud, seriously noisy and rattling your brains out. The view forward is horrible, the view sideways is totally unrealistic... in reality you are flying the machine between the small gap between the font of the pods, al la a Star Wars racer. The sounds are more high buzzy than noisy, but it sounds... well interesting. With the park brake off you gingerly push up the twin throttles, and they require quite a fair amount of throttle to make the aircraft actually move... when moving the Model-158 will immediately pull heavily to the right, I found a way of keeping the racer more on the straight line was to give more power to the right (throttle) engine than the left, it gives you more straight line control... so you steer more with your throttles than with your rudder pedals... you can use the rudder toe brakes if you set them, but the throttle control is more agile in your straight line control... ... the Pond Racer takes a fair amount of time, and runway to gather enough speed for takeoff, part of the effect is caused by you, yourself as in the way you have to nudge the throttles higher and higher while remaining in control, you know with a certain feel, that with just one mistake, it will simply send you barreling off the runway to a certain death. At around 170 knts you will finally have enough grip in the air to fly. The Model-158 will climb out savagely if you let it... there are no official vertical speeds, but around 2,000fpm is pretty close to realistic, no doubt with this much power it could go right off the scale, but let us be realistic here. immediately you are aware that the view forwards is very hard to see with those GNS 430s blocking out the vision, worse is that you need to also see the instruments, and getting (some sort) of forward view and seeing the instruments together creates an odd, if weird viewpoint angle... ... I found very quickly is that the best way to fly the Pond Racer, is actually via the instruments and not so much in the visual, a more head down and level sort of approach. Surprisingly the Model-158 is very nice to fly, the controls are light and the machine is easily trimmed. And very, very fast... Maximum speed is 400.0 mph (643.8 km/h, 347.6 kn), and the real aircraft did achieve that astounding speed. The full history of the Pond Racer makes for unbelievable reading "The aircraft made its debut at the 1991 Reno air races having been flown from the Scaled Composites factory (at Mojave) under escort. Gasoline/Petrol was used as the fuel for the flight to Reno as this gave a greater range. The onboard engine control computers were replaced with equipment for metering methanol in the race configuration. Methanol was the preferred fuel because no intercoolers were needed, and so the associated drag was eliminated. After the day's running had concluded the engines were again configured to burn gasoline/petrol to preclude the corrosive effects of methanol. The aircraft was entered in the Silver class and qualified at 400 mph (640 km/h), flown by experienced test pilot Rick Brickert. The aircraft sadly developed mechanical problems before the race was officially started and dropped out as a DNS. The decision was made by Pond to attend Reno with the same engines used for flight testing. In fact, a vibrator was still attached to the left vertical stabilizer to initiate flutter as part of the planned flight test program. There was no expectation of victory the first year. It was viewed as a "dress rehearsal" more than anything else. After takeoff for the final event on Sunday, the left engine threw a rod out the side of the block and created a tunnel of fire 4 feet (1.2 m) in diameter and about 15 feet (4.6 m) long. An onboard halon extinguishing system put the oil fire out and an uneventful single-engine landing was made. The engine installations were very compact and "close cowled", meaning the bodywork covering the engines had little clearance. The carbon fiber engine cowling was a structural component of the aircraft and as such had to be protected from heat-soak after shutdown. This was accomplished via two 2-stroke weed blowers immediately after the blades stopped turning, quickly followed by two air conditioner blowers attached to the air inlet "scuppers". The engine cowlings were lined with corrugated inconel of .007 thickness. Airflow was vital to structural integrity. Conversely, the powerplant units had to be preheated to nearly operating temperature before the engines were fired up. This was due to the tight tolerances of the engine main bearings. Because methanol burns much cooler than gasoline/petrol, cooling was never an issue. Actually the cold nature of the methanol gave the team a problem with oil viscosity. The thick, graphite laden oil would "puke" overboard for the majority of the time while airborne. Eventually it was determined that the oil drain holes were undersized in the rocker area of the heads as they were not intended to run at a constant high RPM in an automobile application. Fully half of the radiator inlet ducting was blocked off after the first test flight on March 22, 1991. Dick Rutan himself was the initial test pilot. Mike Melvill also flew the plane as did Steve Hinton as part of the test program. On September 14, 1993, the Pond Racer was entered again in the Reno races and once more it was piloted by Rick Brickert. During qualifying, the aircraft began leaking oil and suffered an engine failure leaving the right propeller unfeathered. Brickett pulled up, lowered the landing gear, and chose to perform a belly landing by retracting the gear again. The aircraft then overshot a smooth landing area and crashed in rough terrain, killing Rick Brickert the pilot." (wikipedea) If being cowered down behind the instrument panel is not enough, you can select down by your right seat (arrowed) an "AviTab" VR-compatible tablet, that can be positioned over the twin GNS 430s Now your forward view is completely blocked, so you certainly can't use the AviTab in visual flying. The S-Tec Autopilot is actually very good, but a note to the developer as it is needed in a pop-up panel with it's very hard far right (almost out of sight) position for a more ease of use... The AP will however give you a chance of a rest, and to finally pop your head up for a look around. If you drop the nose too quickly. You do get this weird and very loud helicopter sounding blade slap, authentic? it "scared the bejesus" out of me, so I am not so sure of that one. This machine is created in reality to do only one thing... go extremely fast around a circuit, so ultra manoeuvrability is not the Pond Racer's forte, yes it will turn, climb and go very fast, but you feel you better not push it beyond it's boundaries in case it bites you back in being nasty... just keeping it on the straight and fast is the game on here. Landing takes a lot of skill, and bravery... holding your breath for long periods helps as well. Again trusting you instruments is everything, as the horizon or your view of here the water, can be misguiding to your actual height.... and you can very easily get it all very wrong. You have no airbrake, or flaps to lower your speed? using the huge propellers set at idle can create a drag effect to lose speed, but you have to be careful in not stalling the aircraft... gear down also creates a slowing drag as well. But ultimately you are still going to come in fast... this is what killed Rick Brickert remember. I approach KHAF at 150 knts and 300 ft. The coastal wind is pushing me left as the Pond Racer is extremely lite, but I am holding it, and getting closer to the centreline of RWY 30, I like KHAF as you have a wide runway (meaning lots of space) for these sort of aerial antics. You are extremely aware of those two HUGE spinners on the front of the engine pods, plus the fact you line of view is not quite level either, this creates a sort of abstract view of the ground, in that you dare not put the nose too far down, so you approach in a sort of tail down aspect fear of being too nose down when getting close to the runway. You approach high and super fast, and it take nerves of steel and skill to get this landing right... ... you can easily panic as you feel you are too high, and want to drop the aircraft quicker, but just let it down in it's own time, but also be aware of the X-Plane downward pull, it is severe here, so you have lower your height as you control that sinking rate. Finally the wheels touch, but you are still going fast and furious... ... thankfully the tail drops quickly as does then the speed. VSkyLabs recommend a long runway, and so do I, as you can't touch those brakes heavily unless you want to cartwheel nose over end, but was able to do slight touches of the brakes to rub off a lot of the final speeds. Finally I stopped, took in a lot of oxygen and realised I had survived the landing in one piece... good "plain olde" luck, believe me was part of that landing more than anything else. Personally how could you actually race this thing... it is a deathtrap! External Lighting The Pond Racer is not really an aircraft you would fly at night. You have the three Red, Green and rear White navigation lights, two beacons in a top tail large white and underside red... a large blobby landing light is set in front of the cockpit. Liveries There are only three liveries in the original "Pond Racer" white and red, grey. A Marine Grey and a Red StormChaser livery. A paintkit is provided. ________________________ Summary The famous Model-158 "Pond Racer" was created by the more famous aircraft designer Burt Rutan of Scaled Composites fame. The "Pond" in the name is the as famous Bob Pond, who commissioned the Model-158 design with the idea of developing a modern aircraft that could compete with the vintage warbirds in the Unlimited Class at the Reno air races. It did actually fly in a few tests and in a race, but then crashed and in killing it's pilot, Rick Brickert. vSkyLabs have recreated the racer, and it looks like something out of a Star Wars film. The shape and aerodynamics are perfect, but some liberty was taken in changing the engines from the original (Gasoline/Petrol) Electramotive 3 liter V-6 engines, to a more aviation based T6A-28 propulsion turbine turboprop engines with around the same output (640 kW). The cockpit is also not really an experimental layout, but a more standard instrumentation fitout, with full avionics packs like two GNS 340s, GMA347 radio, S-Tec Autopilot, GTX 327 Transponder and even a popup AviTab tablet. The twin T6A-28 turbine engines are also viewable by removing the covers. Modeling is pure vSkyLabs, very good and not fussy. Internally the cockpit is exceptional. With great materials and instrumentation and even an animated single pilot... so the aircraft delivers a lot, in so little a package. Flying the Model-158 is an experience, even frighting to the uninitiated. View is highly restricted and you have no flaps or speed brakes to get you out of trouble. But there is a real challenge to master the machine and build your skill set on it, overall in that aspect and with it's pure high speeds (400 mph), the Pond Racer is an overall exceptional experience, and good value as well... a final note is that all vSkyLab aircraft are always development in progress (even if this aircraft is far more complete than most), and the purchaser are aware of this handshake deal when purchasing the aircraft. Fast deadly... experimental, the Rutan Model-158 "Pond Racer" has it all... Highly recommended. _______________________________ Yes! the Rutan Model-158 Pond Racer - Test-Pilot Project by vSkyLabs is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Rutan Model-158 Pond Racer - Test-Pilot Project Price is US$28.50 Project's Main Features: VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' project. Highly defined flight dynamics model of the Model-158. Highly defined PT6 turboprop engine simulation (PT6A-28) including its associated peripheral systems. Built around the powerful, native X-Plane's 'Experimental Flight Model' environment. In-depth systems simulation: Fully equipped aircraft with deep systems simulation (electrical, lighting and warning systems, comprehensive fuel system, fire protection, bleed air and pneumatic systems, ice protection systems, pressurization system, landing gears system, flight control, oxygen system, canopy system, auto-feathering and auto-ignition systems and more). VR (Virtual Reality) Ready. Multi-Layer FMOD sound pack. 50-pages, comprehensive, illustrated Pilot Operations Manual, including checklists. STMA Autoupdater is included: Project updates are fast and efficient! Included Paint-Kit. Highly responsive VSKYLABS support forums. Requirements X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current and Review version: 1.0 (March 14th 2021) ___________________________________ Installation and documents: download for the Rutan Model-158 is 285Mb and the aircraft is deposited in the Aircraft" X-Plane folder. Full Installation is 460.60Mb "AviTab" VR-compatible tablet is required, download is free, and installation is in your X-Plane/Plugins Folder. Document supplied is: VSKYLABS Rutan Model-158 POH.pdf Manual is excellent with full system references, aircraft features, and a full "Pond Racer" description and history. Support forum for the Rutan 158 by VSKYLABS ___________________________________  Aircraft Review by Stephen Dutton  18th March 2021 Copyright©2021 : X-Plane Reviews   (Disclaimer. All images and text in this preview 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 Review System Specifications:  Computer System: Windows - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo 1TB SSD Software: - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.52 Plugins: Global SFD plugin US$30.00 : Environment Engine by xEnviro US$69.90 Scenery or Aircraft - KHAF - Half Moon Bay by Rising Dawn Studios (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$19.00
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  17. News! - Aircraft Update : Airbus A350 v1.6.16 by FlightFactor There has been a really interesting updated by FlightFactor with their Airbus A350. Neglected for many years, lately the FF A350 has had a flurry of updates and all have been quite significant. The main restart update was the v1.6 update in July 2020, But there has been a few updates since then, and now another one. One thing to note is that the update is a particularly large at 1026Mb, and 1100 files, and far too many file changes for the noted changed items in the changelog? This update is focused on the PFD (Primary Flight Display) and ND (Navigation Display), which delivers better graphics and information via these vital screens. This is done by a new adaptation to the new high-fps ToLiss routines for better and quicker drawing. It may not sound or look much to the eye, but the significant update will make the aircraft respond better. Another important change is the Improvements to the drag model, engine climb performance and fuel burn. Now I had issues with my fuel burn numbers that I believed they were not correct at the time of the v1.6 release. As the aircraft's fuel burn was far higher than the numbers created by SimBrief for the route selected, to the point I had to land several times early in being out of fuel... I contested the numbers at that time but was told they were correct? I believed and still do, that they were not, however now the drag model, engine climb performance and fuel burn has been revised? I will be certainly testing that change. Another point was that I also had mysterious crashes (to desktop CTD). Landing at Malpensa (LIMC) if I took the taxiway E the aircraft would simply freeze and the framerate would go to zero, another change noted is Removed async objects loading in an attempt to fix some rare mysterious crashes , I will check that one out as well. There have also been Improvements to the management of DIRECT TO RADIAL IN and RADIAL OUT functions as well, so that will also be interesting. The full changelog is below... Changelog v1.6.16 Adaptation to the new high-fps ToLiss routines for PFD and ND drawing Addition of the SOFT GA mode when retarding thrust levers to MCT immediately after initiating GA Improvements to the management of DIRECT TO RADIAL IN and RADIAL OUT functions Improvements to the drag model, engine climb performance and fuel burn. Removed async objects loading in an attempt to fix some rare mysterious crashes Fixed a few NML textures - Fixed the TCA park brake command Fixed an issue that allowed entering a BARO and RADIO minimum simultaneously in the MFD Not noted is the change to custom liveries? The folders are now all empty? but to note that during the update the wing files were changed? Checking I found no differences with the older livery textures? You can use the built in X-Updater to update to v1.1.16... now. _____________________________________________ The Airbus A350-900 XWB Advanced v1.6.16 from FlightFactor is Available from the X-Plane.Org Store: Airbus A350 XWB Advanced Price is currently US$ 64.95 Requirements: X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 850 MB Current : 1.6.16 (March 5th 2021 - Available via the updater) ____________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 6th March 2021 Copyright©2021 : 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) All rights reserved.
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  18. I guess the flight simulation community’s heart beats differently. We perhaps view such planes differently? The MD-11 has definitely something iconic about it and is definitely on my list of icons, headed by the DC-/C-47... I never actually set foot on the -11, I only flew in the predecessor DC10-30 that NWA used on some transatlantic routes. The aircraft is known to be a handful, it has had a number of accidents, it lands fast... In the sim, it was one of the best experiences I had with the fsx version by PMDG. I must have flown over 2 thousand sim hours on it, which is a lot for me. I am really looking forward to this, and would love it in the Lufthansa Cargo clothing to go with my beloved copy of Northbound Lady. A
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  19. RJAA Narita is very good, but yes there is a very bad (you could call it a anti-MSFS) feeling in that we can do the same thing but for free. That is bad for the business, you need quality in the simulator and no matter how good the Global Airport tools are, they are still not a complete reproduction of the airport... this is damaging the simulator on many levels.
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  20. Aircraft Review : Epic E1000 - G1000 Edition by Aerobask Like a lot of developers, then Aerobask have had to rethink their range of aircraft to migrate to the dynamics of X-Plane11. In the past between the X-Plane versions the changes were large, but in most cases an update or two would cover the conversion and the overall aspect of the design would in someways not really change. But for the migration to X-Plane11 and certainly to X-Plane11.30 then that earlier transfer does not really work.. the differences are just too different and are most aspects of the design, from the modeling, the performance and the PBR effects and also the now minimum requirement of 4K textures and all... and plus on top of all these new elements it is that all have to be far more efficient and computer friendly. This has to a point made the aircraft migration of any developer's past range of aircraft a slow and tedious process and like with the new dynamics of 11.30 as you sort of go suddenly again back to the bottom of the ladder with all these newer updated dynamics. So it is all to the good of course as the product is usually far more dynamic and sensational, but the process means that even now in the two or so years since the release of X-Plane11, then it is that most developers are still ticking of their past aircraft, and spending time more so doing this than in creating new aircraft. But the above process can be used to your advantage as well. As no matter at the time in that even if you have created your best work, there was always something better you could have done, but then couldn't change because it required usually a new design from scratch. So in reality although these aircraft are the same original designs as the pre-X-Plane10, they are also completely new... and from the ground up. And so it is with Aerobask's Epic E1000 which was released originally just under four years ago (E1000 Review), and at the time the aircraft was the state of the XP10 art. This new version is the state of the XP11 art. It was back then so brilliantly created, but the four years in simulation development now shows us how much has really changed within that period, and as a yardstick the differences between the simulations. So this new Epic E1000 from Aerobask is even if it looks the same it is in reality a completely new aircraft from the original, no updates, no adjustments... but a completely brand new design, and so you know that feel straight away as it is all very new and different. The Aerobask developers themselves would admit they alone have come a long way in four years, always very good, always very innovative... you now usually buy on the Aerobask name alone without even looking at the details... and for any developer that is a very high reverence to achieve, but Aerobask do also deliver, again and again to achieve that prominence. And the new E1000 certainly also delivers on that promise. Modeling is now perfection, no bumps or 3d odd angles and that is a certain smoothness of design that captures the difficulty of creating a featureless composite aircraft. It took years to perfect it, and here it all is now in it's glory. Certainly the PBR effects go a very long way in creating the feel and reflections that bring that sleek almost dolphin shaped design to life, and no matter what the visual angle it always looks glorious. Glass and chrome are also now hyper realistic and not faked liked in the past, metal variations of materials are also beautifully represented. X-Plane users have come to expect a lot, and you are even "spoilt" for this short of hyper realism... but the developers deliver it, so why not absorb it and revel in the greatness of it all. The trailing link undercarriage looks standard from a distance, but the detail is evident when close up. Cabin Detail "Careful" and not to trip over the latch on the door while boarding... Internally in the cabin it is an odd layout, just in the rear a four club seating but with a huge space between the seats and then again a space between the passenger and pilot seats in the front... you automatically say "You could easily fit another row in here". Renowned for their cabin fit-outs and materials, then Aerobask don't disappoint in here with the E1000 either. Detailing is excellent, with modern materials and that feel of executively. The attention to detail in here can be overwhelming. The cockpit is almost the same layout, but it is in reality a very different look and feel from the original. The modeling detail is that so much smoother and the materials are light years in difference. You have to also really admire that paneling curvature and molding, and even the trim changes colour to the external livery... It is a very modern cockpit and far removed from the older Beechcrafts and Pipers.... this is all slicks and curves. There are also some significant differences between the two aircraft... the old and this new version. The biggest change is on the stub console. The original version was dominated by the aircraft's menu panel and above the MEGGiTT autopilot and Garmin GMA350 radio unit... .... now there is a "Remote Control Key Pad" for access to the G1000 avionics suite, which is very similar to what you use on the Cirrus aircraft. The MEGGiTT autopilot is also gone and replaced by a annunciator panel, but the Garmin GMA350 radio unit installation is still the same.This GMA 350 is really the only external avionics unit now in the aircraft. Note the extremely different design and feel of the yokes. Laminar Research G1000 As there was no decent G1000 glass system around four years ago. The various developers came up with a wide range of ideas to create in most cases a hybrid avionics system to replicate the Garmin suite. Aerobask tried in someways the hardest to create a functional and realistic system. Aerobask created a Garmin G900 Primary Flight display (PFD) for each pilot, and the center display (MFD) as a modified X-Plane GNS530 unit. And note these G900's were only an accurate representation of a real G900 even then. It worked, but the MFD was a bit of stretch in more ways than one. But at the time it was actually very good. Since that time Laminar Research have created as default a full G1000 avionics suite, and so the "G1000" moniker on the this aircraft reflects the install of that default system on the E1000. But a bonus here is not only is this G1000 more authentic, more powerful... but also adapted for use with the Remote Control Key Pad and also includes the GFC700 autopilot. One thing also becomes very apparent is the install of the three displays. The centre MFD is more pronounced and set more forward than the two PFD displays set either side... and yes it was the same set up on the earlier version (I checked). But here it is far more noticeable if even with a more visually perspective. The earlier version came across as just three displays in a line. It is outstandingly done, as you feel the installation of the displays are very realistic, and it is highly noticeable in flight. Primary Fight Display The Laminar G1000 is now quite extensive, but there are a few differences between this one and the older version, some good and some removed. The display can be opened in a window via pressing the small aircraft symbol in the centre of the heading rose. The main PFD has the the split horizon which is here to the darker even dreary brown and blue of the default look... of which I don't really care for, the older version was the far nicer gradient version, and this bland default background display can be adjusted as Carenado did on their Cessna 172SP G1000. Secondly is the optional Engine Information System (EIS) is only available on this version in the PFD in the Emergency mode (see below). The G1000's PFD main flight instruments that are all correct with the artificial horizon, speed and altitude tapes, bank roll scale and roll pointer and HSI (horizontal situation indicator), course and heading pointer which are all in one. The FD (Flight Director) elements are also shown. Other features include "Inset" map, alerts, REF/TIMER, NRST, XPDR, both VOR 1 and 2 pointers, DME and Wind (3 options) ... top banner includes Radio NAV (left) and COM (right) Autopilot info (centre). A feature is that you can adjust the radio frequencies directly with a mouse scroll wheel while holding the cursor over the frequency you want to adjust. Another pop-out adjuster panel can also be used on like the "Altitude" (press arrowed) and Baro pressure.... press the green band to insert the number. Multi Functional Display The centre MFD is quite different from the hybrid forebear. The pop-out selector is also quite hard to find as it is not the PFD centre aircraft symbol, but a hard to find touch spot hidden in the top banner under the GS (arrowed below left). The side panel Engine Information System (EIS) Engine readout covers TRQ (Torque), NP (low-pressure rotor RPM), ITT (Inter Turbine Temperature), NG (N1 for Turbines). If these readouts look different it is because they are. This is a custom set of engine performance readouts created by Aerobask to be more authentic to the E1000 avionics readouts. If you want the default, then can have that via the menu (below right). Lower EIS shows Fuel Flow GPH (Gal per hour), Oil Pressure and Temperature, Electrical Bus AMPS and Volts, Fuel quantity (GAL) is for both tanks (145.5 Gal per tank) in a scale. More engine readouts can be accessed via the "System" button. Fuel readouts are top with Fuel Flow GPH, Fuel Flow PPH (lbs per Hour), Fuel Pressure (PSI) and quantity left and right tanks (lbs) - Fuel Totalizer shows lbs Remaining and lbs Used. Totalizer amount can be increased, decreased or reset Lower is the Electrical Gen A (amps)and ALT A (amps) and Bus 1 Volts and Bus 2 Volts. On both EIS displays are also the Aileron position marker, Rudder position marker, Elevator position marker and Flap position UP-10º-40º Pressing the RED button upper right on the pilot's PFD will change the displays around for emergency flying and bringing the EIS onto the PFD and moving the PFD to the centre in then replacing the MFD (got that?) Flightplanning The really big advantage is using the "Remote Control Key Pad" to create route planning via the "FPL" key (arrowed). Input is easy via the keyboard even in VR (Virtual Reality) My route is from EGKK (Gatwick) to ELLX (Luxembourg) and you can easily assemble the routing data, however I chose to create the route in SimBrief and then import it directly into the planner. The bonus is that you have the options of adding in easily via the "PROC" button any Departure or Arrival routes (SID/STAR) or a certain approach that you would like. The bonus is that the added on Dep or Arr segments don't mesh up your central route planning either and it all fits in seemlessly together. You can set the display to either "Narrow" or "Wide" orientations. The days of data planning and input frustration are well and truly over. Lower Panel On the left side shoulder panel is the main switchgear. The E1000 aircraft has a unique way of switching on the various systems... the three rows of buttons are set out to be used at the various points of getting the aircraft ready for flight and in switch order. Top row is the "Pre-Start" Second row is the "Pre-Taxi" and the lower row is the "Systems". The layout although arranged by the same rows of buttons as the earlier E1000, but the sequence of activation of the items are actually arranged differently, so you will need to relearn the buttons sequence. Pre-Start includes - Batteries (Batt 1 & Batt 2), Avionics Master, Fuel Pumps (Left & Right) and Starter Gen selections Pre-Taxi Includes - Igniter, Start, Stby Alt, Fuel Autoselect and Pusher Systems Includes - Auto Pilot, Trim, Press Air, Emerg Press, Dump Valve and Emerg Oxygen On the right is the "LIGHTS" panel the lighting panel. Items include Ice (wing light) Land and Taxi lights, Strobe and Navigation lights and a Beacon (a new light). Another lower button panel is your "ICE" buttons for De-Ice Boots, Propeller Heat, Window Heat, Inertial Separator, and the Pitot Heat (Pitot Stall HT). Bottom panel are the circuit breakers and they are all active, pull a breaker and the item stops working. Right side shoulder panel are the cabins Air Cond and Cabin Oxygen controls and more active circuit breakers. Both yokes can be hidden, but only together and not independently. Left side of the Remote Control Key Pad is the gear lever and on the other the flap selector switch. Pedestal is in two layers (beautifully moulded) with the top section holding the Throttle, Propeller (feather) and Condition levers (Throttle has power "Max/Idle" settings and a "Beta" reverse thrust setting). There are four buttons above with "warnings" on them, so you don't touch them, the manual says that you NEVER touch them. Lower section has the lovely crafted Fuel Switch for OFF- LEFT- RIGHT (Tanks). On the floor there is a Manual Gear Extraction feature... and it works. Again amazing detailing and functionality. MD302 SAM The MD 302 Standby Attitude Module (SAM®) made by Mid-Continent Instruments and Avionics and the unit is placed left of the PFD. This is a set of backup instruments, but in reality an avionics suite by itself. Upper panel is an artificial horizon, turn rate and compass heading... lower panel is the Speed and Altitude (Baro centre). The single knob does all the adjusting and selection. Turn the knob to adjust (arrowed) the Baro (note the Baro on the SAM is not connected to the G1000, so you have to adjust the pressure manually here as well). Press the knob and turn to adjust the MD302 brightness. Hold the knob down for a full menu of adjustable settings. Above the MD302 SAM is the instrument and forward spot cockpit lighting knobs. Menus There are four ways to access the E1000 menu. One is from the pull down plugin menu, Two is from the 'a" tab lower left of your screen, Three is the Epic Logo centre panel and Four is via the iPad in the side storage bin. The menu is laid out in the new Laminar XP11 pop-up style and there are four tab selections with : Ground, Options, Sounds and About. Ground : Is both a menu and a basic Weights and Fuel setup in one. Fuel sliders top will set the amount of fuel required in both kgs and Gal and show the fuel weight... A side note here on refueling the E1000. You have to be really careful to balance out the fuel on the E1000, both on the ground and in flight. If you don't then you will get this, yes this is an extreme example, but it also shows how sensitive this aircraft is to the loading of the fuel and weights. Well done though. You can select passengers (pilot is free but he still counts in the aircraft weight). With a Co-Pilot, R&L Passengers, R&L Children, baggage is None, 60kg and 120 kgs... and all weights of loaded Fuel and passengers are shown in detail with full all up weight and Maximum weight allowed. There is no CoG scale or graph. All passengers are shown and the bags are shown on a luggage trolley, but they are not visible internally and only externally, which is a shame as the modeling of the people is very good. Static elements include: Chocks, Engine inlet/outlet covers, pitot covers, towbar and loads of flags... but they are all or nothing. So it makes closing up the aircraft a bit awkward with say the towbar attached or if you just want the chocks after a flight? The Ground Power Unit (GPU) is now a more heavy duty design than on the earlier E1000, it is very nice... but also extremely noisy if the door is open. Button will open the single door or via the internal handle. Options : Are mostly for selections of the G1000 and custom features, like the change of the custom to default G1000 engine display, but a few are still experimental. You can choose to keep the pop-ups inside the screen (VR) and switch on/off the instrument and window reflections. Top of the menu is the reliability of the electrical system via the circuit breakers, or you can reset them all in one push of the button. Sounds : The sound panel is just a carbon copy of the X-Plane11 sounds panel and if you adjust it here, then you adjust it there and vice-versa, with just two added buttons with the "Enable Sounds" and "Enable Speech" selections. About : The final selection is a credit page on who created the aircraft. VR iPad AviTab One of the great features is the iPad and it located in the side storage bin. Obviously created for VR interaction, it is highly useful for the 2d generation as well as It works with the Avitab (Aviators Tablet) plugin. It works quite well in a basic form with mostly for access to stored pdf files and note taking, but internet access would be a nice feature. My use here was with the Navigraph Chart access that is now available (make sure you have AviTab v0.3.14). You login and create access to your Navigraph account, it is all seemless and works extremely well... You can bring up all your charts and airport information to have it all by your fingertips. My only wish is for the tablet to be in both landscape and Portrait modes because most charts are in the portrait orientation. But it is highly usable as you can (in 2d mode) move the tablet out of view (it goes smaller) or keep it in eyesight when taxiing or flying. As noted the aircraft's menu can be accessed on the tablet as well. Flying the Epic E1000-G1000 Starting the 1200 HP Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67A engine is a simple as following the keys in order... Pre Start row done, fuel on, mixture lever to idle... then follow the Pre-Taxi row of buttons until you get to START... easy peasy. Marvel at the propeller as it moves ready from it's feathered position to half way, then that familiar PT6A whine comes in from the forward engine compartment, it does take a fair while to start, run and then settle into that smooth turbine idle speed and sound. The E1000 does come with all the latest fine-tuning from Laminar of this turbine engine, which has been a focus project for most of X-Plane11. This includes the newer 11.30 performance details with separate 2-stage free power turbine and 1-stage gas generator turbine internals now also available on this engine in X-Plane11 (output is now divided between both stages, were as before the output was only one stage). Of course it sounds incredible, looks incredible as the powerful exhaust flows out past and down the side of the aircraft, and courtesy of the particle effects. You wait and let the output numbers settle down, then you are good to go. With the Throttle at idle and the COND at idle, I still needed to put the PROP position half-feather to keep a decent taxi speed, if not the E1000 will run quickly away from you. Flaps have to be set at the takeoff position... ... view out of the cockpit is excellent as there are no obstacle or blind spots in your view point, but the reflections are quite strong. On the original E1000 had the stick like undercarriage that took some getting used to, that version was harder in give (hence the solid stick feel) than the far better set up here as the undercarriage has certainly more give, but it is still tricky until you get used to it... as you still sit still tall and narrow on the wheels. So forward movement needs to build very slowly until really the aerodynamic forces give you more control, then you can give the throttle more power and also still have directional control, and powerful is that PT6A on an aircraft of this size, so use it wisely. Rotate is around 85 knts and the aircraft will climb out easily under full power, 2000fpm is also easy but if you want to really go for it then the official climb rate is around 4,000 ft/min... "wow". This aircraft climbs and goes up like hell even with a fair weight aboard, so you have to be in control of the machine and not the other way around. So instead of being cocky and flying the E1000 like fighter pilot, then try to fly it as a professional and stay well within the boundaries, and there is a reason for this. I have my X-56 joystick quite well set up and refined, so like the spindly undercarriage the aircraft in the air feels the same, a little nervous, any strong wrist action will make the aircraft do sharp movements... so you have to keep everything really very intimate, slow and precise. As it is like an aircraft balanced on top a sharp stick, and it will move to any position very sharply. Like bank and you go down wing very quickly, so you tune into it but do it slowly, but you need focus and use slow movements to guide the E1000 in an easy and thoughtful way. Yes so that is very strong aspect of the flying in the E1000... focus. Just pressing AP (Autopilot) and the NAV on the G1000 MFD left panel won't activate the Autopilot? There is still another button on the "Systems" menu before it will activate... ditto the PRESS AIR that seals the aircraft for the high altitude flying. The environmental cabin controls are on the right side, and yes they really work via the 11.30 Oxygen feature. The G1000 flightplan is very comprehensive and the Laminar G1000 Manual is well worth the download and study. But if you are using the VNV function and importing a flightplan (SimBrief) then make sure ALL the waypoint altitudes are correct and filled in, instead you could get almost a straight up and then straight down climb and descent, you need to control the flightplan profile correctly. Here I am checking and adjusting my descent into ELLX and then seeing the changes in action. The Epic is a turbine propeller alternative to a small four seater private jet, so the numbers have to stack up to compete with the same performance, with cost being the major factor. Maximum speed is 325 kn (374 mph; 602 km/h) Max cruise which seriously fast for a prop aircraft and Cruise speed in Eco mode is 265 kn (305 mph; 491 km/h). Range: is 1,385–1,650 nmi (1,594–1,899 mi; 2,565–3,056 km) at either max cruise - eco cruise with a Fuel Burn of 300 kn (560 km/h), FL340: 40–60 US gal (150–230 l)/per hour and the Service ceiling of 34,000 ft (10,000 m) can be well within the reach of jet transport. Impressive. The window reflections can be quite heavy in certain lighting conditions, but overall they are very realistic. Lighting The lighting is very good to brilliant but limited in the ways you can adjust it. Those big G1000 displays put out a lot of candle power, but you need them bright to read the screens. All in the G1000 displays and switch instrument lighting can be adjusted, but only globally and say focused just on the pilot's side. Cabin is all LED lighting and two forward lights cover the cockpit... ... the cabin overhead LED's are amazing and are all adjustable, but only directly. And floor strips of LED lighting is in front of pairs of seats and the door entrance when open. External lighting is good but the standard layout... Two wing edge LED landing lights and a single nose wheel taxi light. There is a left wing Ice light, belly rear beacon and the navigation and strobe lighting. For all it's high speeds the E1000 is very good at low speeds... you can set the flap to 10º and set your speed at a low 148 knts, which is great for aligning up to a runway and the aircraft is rock solid (180 knts is the 10º max). Want to go even slower and you can, 130 knts is the limit for 40º flap (down) and you can then reduce your approach speed to an amazing 100 knts - 97 knts... not even a Cessna 172 can go that slow? Can it? You can keep this position and speed and control the descent via the throttle and the adjustment of the pitch, it is all very hands on but very controllable. Your aim is to just let the E1000 sink slowly... those stick legs can be quite stiff if you try to go in to fast or down too quickly, yes there is more give in the trailing edge gear, but you mustn't try your luck too much. You don't need a lot of flare either, just let it down via the speed throttle control. 85 knts is the touchdown speed and the stall speed is a low 61 knts. There is a built in BETA reverse, and the best way to access it is to use a key input "Toggle Beta Prop" from the X-Plane menu. It works, but I haven't used it enough to see how really effective it is. Using the brakes is your last option, and if you have runway space then use it to run off the excess speed and keep control. Overall I was very impressed with the low speed approach, it gives you time to adjust and fly the aircraft with time on your side. With most aircraft in this category (mostly price wise here) in that these are very finely tuned aircraft need time and practice to get the very best out of them, certainly brilliant for flying, but they require certain skills and professionalism to extract the full potential from their dynamics. Liveries A wide selection of twelve liveries gives you plenty of choice and use, but mostly based in Europe and USA... they are all high quality and 4K refined with the Metal skin COBALT and the magic N333AK the highlights, N410LT is the default. There is a White (for painters) and Lo-res liveries that are also available through Aerobask website. Summary It is an Aerobask aircraft... many will purchase on the name alone. That is for a quality aircraft, huge features, brilliant ideas, massive internal detail and materials. So does the E1000 - G1000 Edition live up to all that high acclaim... of course it does. This the second version of the Epic 1000 from from Aerobask, but discount the similarities right there, because this is a complete ground up redesign of the aircraft, and for not only X-Plane11 but for X-Plane11.30 as well... it is all in here, and it shows in every dynamic of its PT6A turbine performance and also real world latest certification prototype performance and in it's complete dynamics of the perfect use of PBR in glass, reflections the sheer quality and depth of its design. X-Plane11.30 boots-based wings and stabilizer de-icing system and working oxygen system (11.30 again) and functional breakers are also part of the in-depth systems. Features are clever and well thought out, including the various tools required for Virtual Reality use and even the use of AviTab. Menus are clean and well thought out, but the static elements are all grouped together with limited flexibility. The title says G1000, and that is the main feature of the E1000... the Laminar Research G1000 avionics suite and tools. And very good it is if you are willing to study the manual in depth to get the very best out of the avionics suite. There are no compromises now unlike with the earlier G900 based system, it is good and works well in here. Only point is the dark and bland default PFD Artificial Horizon screens, not a fan, and they spoil the customised side of the aircraft and a surprise they were installed here, and I have seen a better AH on the Laminar G1000. The other avionic features includes the MD302 backup instruments and GFC700 autopilot... nice. Flying dynamics are good to excellent, but the aircraft requires skill to get the really best return out of the aircraft, then the E1000 will return the favor back in full. Sounds are also fully dynamic with full FMOD spatial surround sound. A comprehensive review details a very comprehensive aircraft... that is nothing new for Aerobask, they deliver... they deliver brilliantly - Highly Recommended. _______________________________ The Epic E1000 - G1000 Edition by Aerobask is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Epic E1000 G1000 Edition Priced at US$34.95 Features : Aerobask quality 3D model Completely reworked and re-scaled exterior and interior model New 4K PBR textures 11 stunning liveries out of the box Color-matching interior based on livery White (for painters) and Lo-res liveries available through Aerobask website Smooth and VR-friendly manipulators Professional Flight model New flight model by X-Aerodynamics Tested by actual owner Gianfranco Somma of Somma Aviation Matches latest certification prototype performance High quality sounds full FMOD environment by Daniela Rodriguez Careri samples from real PT-6 engine in-game volume control without pausing the sim Enhanced Laminar G1000 Integrates new XP11.30 GFC700 autopilot Custom MFD PT-6 engine parameters (on PFD in reversion mode) Optional mouse, scrollwheel and dialpad support for easy data input Optional keyboard support for dialpad and flight plan input Custom detachable popups with fixed ratio and all optional features above Note: some of the optional features may need VR-mouse at the moment Deep system emulation Realistic engine startup procedure Implements new XP11.30 boots-based wings and stabilizer de-icing system Implements new XP11.30 oxygen system for emergencies Functional breakers, with configurable reliability Fully simulated MD302 Standby Attitude Module Special effects Rain and windshield icing using librain plugin from Saso Kiselkov Dynamic reflections custom heat blur effect on both sides custom engine twin-contrails Other Avitab tablet, with integrated options panel Detachable and VR-friendly 2D options panel Preferences, fuel and payload saved between flights Requirements X-Plane 11.30+ Windows, MAC or Linux - 64 bit Operating System 4Gb VRAM Minimum - 8Gb+ VRAM Video Card Recommended Current version and Review Version : 3.22 (Feb 12th 2019) Installation and documents: Download for the Epic E1000 - G1000 Edition is 446.70 Mb and the unzipped file is deposited in the aircraft "General Aviation" X-Plane folder at 521.40 mb. Avitab (Aviators Tablet) requires the download of the plugin and for the Navigraph charts you need a Navigraph account. Documentation: Huge amount of documentation, with full manual, (including training flight), Laminar G1000 manual, Performance, checklist and guidelines included. Documents for MD302 and AviTab are also included. A real world document (Get to) "Know your PT6A" is also part of the package. Avitab integration.pdf E1000_2019_manual.pdf Epic E1000 G1000 Edition Checklist Normal.pdf Install Recommended settings.pdf Performance Guidelines Epic E1000 G1000 Edition.pdf Quick-Doc MD302.pdf Know_your_PT6A.pdf ______________________________________________________________________ Aircraft review by Stephen Dutton 16th February 2019 Copyright©2019 : X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this preview 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 - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 16 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo 512gb SSD Software: - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.31 (v11.30 is required for this aircraft) Addons: Saitek x56 Rhino Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose Soundlink Mini Plugins: Environment Engine by xEnviro US$69.90 : WorldTraffic 3.0 Plugin - US$29.95 : Avitab (Aviators Tablet) - Free Scenery or Aircraft - EGKK - London Gatwick Airport v2 by Pilot+Plus (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$21.00 - ELLX - Luxembourg Findel Airport XP11 by JustSim (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$19.80
    1 point
  21. Ten bucks more than XPlane itself - believe I'll just struggle along.
    1 point
  22. Familiar ground. In January of 1974 I made the opening announcement "Kenai tower is now in operation". At the time I was on loan from Merrill tower in Anchorage and the new chief had been a supervisor at Merrill. It wasn't blue then and the airport was a lot less than it appears now. Here's me, spring of '74, in front of the new tower with my little Clipper.
    1 point
  23. Behind the Screen : Year in Review 2020 Even coming into the year 2020, you knew it was going to be confronting, and certainly the year did not let anyone down in that regard. But from a simulation aspect it was the introduction of the Microsoft Simulator in a completely different form and this time from game developers Asobo Studio's that was the major significant impact of the year, released on time August 18, 2020 it certainly got everyone's attention. You can argue about the new simulator's ramifications for years, but one thing was for sure was that the MSFS release was certainly not the exaggerated death-knell for X-Plane and the Laminar Research simulator, in quite a contrast it brought a lot of perspective into our coveted world, and a genuine needed perspective, of course those FlighSim devotees didn't see it that way, until they were faced with reality and then they were confronted with far more than the X-Plane context. In an odd interpretation, the X-Plane simulator had an extremely good year, not it's very best as the COVID 19 and MSFS effects certainly affected the simulator, but it was still highly productive and had some major advancements, so it wasn't all that bad in the current circumstances. Laminar Research For Laminar Research it was a particularly quiet year, more so without the exposure of the San Diego Simulation Expo which was Covid cancelled, at least that thankfully allowed Laminar not to be constantly bombarded about the coming MSFS and the "What are you going to do about MSFS" questions", in fact Laminar in Austin Meyer only appeared once in a podcast in June, in only noting a few ideas, but was still very relaxed about the mega new flightsim sitting on his doorstep. No Q&A chat from Laminar later in the year was also unusual, but expected after the messy drunken videocast of 2019 and of course the still rampant Virus in the States, the expected X-Plane12 announcement on America's Thanksgiving (almost a given event in the past), was also non-grata either. One other item to note was that Laminar also created a forum to post ideas of what you wanted in a forthcoming X-Plane release, this was an especially interesting development, because Laminar in the past rarely ever asked it's devotes what the time of the day it was, never mind what they "Actually" wanted in the X-Plane simulator... the forum could be seen in two ways, short of ideas (I doubt that), or just to confirm that what they were doing in development was this time what the hoards actually wanted. 2020 was really just about one Laminar Research X-Plane release, v11.50 or the Vulkan/Metal API update. It was a long, lengthy, and up and down release, that even in it's final incarnation in mid-September was still not a complete final solution, mostly because the Vulkan/Metal internal changes still require more development, including multi-core and multi-threading processing. But it is in it's new elements now installed of what now is left of the olde world X-Plane that will bring in the true change in the future for the simulator of the power in the Vulkan/Metal API. But there was the significant new v11.50 benefits, smoother running, higher object count, better shaders and the option to run the long forgotten reflection feature were all great steps forward, but the development process did take a very long time and at the end was even then four months overdue, this affecting the future of X-Plane in also deferring X-Plane12's longer time in development. Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 We have to address the impact of the return of "Flight Simulator" in it's new 2020 incarnation on X-Plane or overall in simulation as a whole. The problem was the huge hype surrounding the release, but earlier reports even under a strict NDA or Non-Disclosure Agreement it was noted as incomplete and was also dialed in firmly into a deadline release date. From X-PlaneReviews and note the "X-Plane" in our title is the fact that any response to the MSFS release would come across as in a "our simulator is far better than your simulator" context, or just plain resentments. One thing I am proud of is that I have never been a black or white person, but could always see the grey in the middle or that everything has two sides of every story. I was lucky I also had a few days off when the MSFS release actually happened August 18, 2020, and spent time to understand the ramifications, and I came back to do a though research and analysis of the changes, the result was I think one of the very best descriptions of current simulation and it's future in that X-PlaneReviews have ever done, I am immensely proud of that article "X-Plane and the future in the new world order" and believe the analysis is certainly correct, certainly even now looking back five months hence. But overall the results also shocked me in what could happen in the future of simulation in the context of the MSFS release. There will always be multiple platforms in simulation, but the current four will be quickly reduced to two in MSFS and X-Plane, more so was the surprise that how similar unlike before the main current popular platforms now are actually almost a mirror in design and features, more important is that product for either can be easily ported to either simulator unlike the wide gulf there was before in the FSX/P3D to X-Plane chasm, in fact most of the large (scenery) product that has already been ported to MSFS is already mostly the X-Plane versions. The truth when finally seen was that currently MSFS is really only a game, and I called it "Hollow", not out of spite but out of fact. MSFS is immensely pretty visually, but hollow in the fact that as a simulation you have in reality no aircraft of any depth of which you can currently fly in, so if you want to fly a really quality aircraft with a huge depth of systems on multiple operating systems then X-Plane currently is the only platform to do so. Yes in depth simulation will come to MSFS, but I currently see years of development before it can reach the intimate detail of X-Plane and if ever in aerodynamics and it's in-built system depth, this aspect simply can't be done overnight, as so it has been developed in X-Plane over decades. Another point is simply the quality of X-Plane developers, most on the MSFS release put their hands up and swore on oath that they had no desire to swap platforms. For the current MSFS developers they are sitting in a waiting game, some note it could take twelve months (PMDG) before releasing product worthy to fly, Aerosoft have been reduced to show images of empty content aircraft to keep the punters interested, it will be a long twelve months. For X-Plane we are in our own waiting game. That is for the release of X-Plane12, and no matter which way you want to position the release, it will always be Laminar Research's response to Microsoft's Flight Simulator 2020. Does it matter for it to be viewed in that context, certainly it does, if for the platform's survival, not that the simulator would die overnight, but would certainly start a long slow decline... strong words, maybe, so for once Laminar cannot be their usual laid-back selves, it is in a very different context this time than within the FSX/P3D era, but the details are also quite clear on what has to be delivered in X-Plane12 to compete with MSFS, surely they in Laminar couldn't mess this one up? Aircraft Overall it was a quieter year for the release in aircraft for X-Plane in 2020. v11.50 (Vulkan/Metal kept most updates or releases in limbo, so what was supposed to be released never happened in the usual Q3/Q4 quarters. The big developers were also overall very quiet anyway with FlightFactor, Rotate, FlyJSIm even SSG was quiet except for a few updates to their now exceptional Boeing 748 v2.0, the first was really the updated release of the aircraft in early January, the second update later in the year added in the exceptional cargo version, and the final act of a full passenger cabin has now also been shown. ToLiSS was really the only new release with X-Craft's ERJ Family that were the only notable releases in aircraft in the whole of 2020. The ToLiSS A321 built up on the reputation of the excellent earlier A319, before Christmas 2020 we got an early Christmas present of an NEO engine upgrade for the same aircraft. For X-Craft's the ERJ 135/140 series Family was a huge step up in quality than their earlier E-Jet 170 and 190 LR aircraft, but still had the default instruments and custom FMC, but you got a lot of variants for your money. FlightFactor did update their Airbus A350, but not to a full and complete expected v2.0, but it did finally have an excellent working MCDU, and some nice updates, not perfect but certainly far better, as noted the v2 of the A350 and expected total redesign of the Boeing 777 series never materialised, but FlightFactor did announce a coming Boeing 787 Dreamliner with the works. Again the promised MD-11 from Rotate was not released either, and information was scant, ditto FlyJSim and their coming Q4XP (Dash Q400). iniBuilds Released a A300-600R(F) with now both a passenger and cargo versions, "Expensive" it needed a mortgage to buy, it is indeed however very good, but X-PlaneReviews will never know as any review version(s) was simply "verboten" and what we can't analyse, then we can't recommend or include in our yearly lists, sadly.... Both Magknight and Colimata continued their long development time lines with the Boeing 787-9 and Concorde, both had a load of significant updates throughout the year and can be both safely said to becoming (finally) quality simulations, but the MagKnight B789 is still weighed down by it's basics in instruments and FMC, both a requirement at this level, the Concorde is forever on my list for a decent review, but I felt it just was not developed enough to warrant one, but with the latest update to finally fill in the engineers station, may finally get it past the post. IXEG did also do some very nice updates to the venerable Boeing 733 Classic, and was more visible throughout the year, still an amazing simulation, and that pretty well summed up airliners in 2020. General Aviation The biggest influence on the General Aviation market was the separation between Thranda (Dan Klaue) and Carenado in the middle of 2019, but the changes didn't come into effect until the start of 2020. Problem is Thranda is Carenado in X-Plane and the effects were all to see once that aspect was removed, and you felt the reverberations all throughout of 2020, there was only a few updates and G1000 conversions (SR22 GTSX Turbo) and for the few aircraft that was released they felt buggy and feeling old fashioned, the brand is not the scaling premier development house it once was, could Carenado withdraw from X-Plane? that is now not an impossible thought, but what about all those updates, 38+ at the last count. But the reality is Carenado feels old and tired and maybe Thranda got tired of fighting into wanting to make the brand more modern and relevant... I can see only MSFS calling. With the Carenado shackles released Thranda went full throttle on finally working on their own aircraft, with just only JustFlight as a partner. The results were the two masterpieces of the year in the Pilatus PC-6 Turbo Porter with an added in extra "Adventure Pack" released later, second was another paragon in the DHC-2 Beaver, and it was easily the best release of the year in quality and features. In the same theme of bush aircraft VflyteAir took over the development of the departing MilViz aircraft of the DHC-3T Turbo Otter, otherwise VflyteAir was also in 2020 unusually quiet after the bonanza of 2019. JustFlight only added in one GA in the year and even then it was another PA-28, this time in an Archer TX/LX with another G1000 avionic conversion. Aerobask did two releases, and again both were, yes you guessed it, both G1000 avionics, one was a prop in the Lancair Legacy RG and the other in a jet with the Epic Victory, again the high quality shone with amazing detail, but the big expected release of the year still didn't happen with their still coming Dassault Aviation Falcon 8X. The AirFoilLab's Kingair 350i had a few and even one major updates in the year, but it is an aircraft that is hard to warm to, even with it's huge feature list, the new plugin is still quite not getting the X-Plane feel right and the flying performance feels lackluster and even arcade in feel. Digital Replica's VAN's RV-10 was the only real GA revelation of the year, a small but high quality machine that was nice to chuck about the sky, Nimbus brought us (finally) a BN-2 Islander, first the aircraft on release was far too underdeveloped, but constant updates did get the aircraft back on track, but still not perfect by the end of the year. The inclusion of the "Shortest scheduled flight" scenery from Westary to Papa Westary was certainly a bonus feature, and TorqueSim also released a BN-2 not reviewed here. Military Like helicopters military aircraft are not high volume releases, but we had a few interesting ones this year, highlight just had to be JustFlight's complex and totally overwhelming Avro Vulcan B Mk.2, K.2 and MRR, and the warbird Lockheed P-38L Lightning from Flying Iron Simulation's was also very well done, the T-7A Red Hawk v1.1 by AOA Simulation's was an really interesting aircraft, and nice to fly as well. In the classic category the DC-3/C47 from VSkyLabs Flying Lab Project went to v3.0 with finally a cargo cabin, but it was a strange mix of modern and old, and a loss of that DC3 vintage feel that oddly changed the focus of the aircraft away from why you wanted it to be in the first place, i.e. a vintage classic airliner... Helicopters The vertical flight machines were kept to just three in 2020 and the two from VSkyLabs, were both lightweight machines in the Dynali H3 and Robinson R44. The only decent aircraft was the excellent SA 341B and SA 342J Gazelle by JRXDesign. We were finding the helicopters becoming quite outdated through the year, with mostly in being of Dreamfoil MIA, but at the end of the year he did update the Bell 407 to Vulkan standard, X-Trident were also very quiet, but their Chinook CH-47F is looking finished and in beta testing, certainly now ready for an early 2021 release. In decent freeware, the the Zibo B748 was quite quiet considering the barrage of updates in the past few years, the Ultimate Boeing 737-900 and other variants went discontinued, but was picked up by LevelUp 737, and promised (the word here is "promised") five variants in the -900, -900ER, -600, -700 and -800 (which is the zibo) version. The default Laminar Boeing 747-400 got picked up for the same Zibo treatment by "Sparky", and is now adding in some custom features on top of the basic vanilla B744, but it is early days yet. Like most, aircraft activity was pretty low in 2020, but there are a few gems in there. Scenery Overall scenery in X-Plane passed a threshold this year, and not in the huge number now of built in Global Airports (14,451 at last count). Finally we could fly from one quality scenery to another and not step out of that quality realm, in quality scenery it is has been a great few years... that said it was annoying that MSFS scenery developers released so much content for the new simulator in the last few months, the same content created for X-Plane would have certainly helped in making the simulator more attractive to new fliers, and certainly the city packs that we desperately needed, maybe a cross flow with X-Plane12 may eventually change that. I had a huge list of required scenery for X-Plane as long as twelve years ago, but these last few years is that many in the list that was finally being ticked off. We kicked off the year with a nice update from SFD with their excellent KSLC-Salt Lake City and SFD also updated his KLAX later in August (an EDDM update is noted as coming in the New Year), KATL-Atlanta (nimbus) and KDEN-Denver by X-Codr Designs both had a very good updates, and EBBR Brussels by JustSim also got a sensational upgrade. LFSB - EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg also by JustSim was completely mindblowing with their night textures. In February we kicked with with probably the biggest scenery project in X-Plane, maybe the biggest ever for the simulator, Frank Dainese and Fabio Bellini released five, yes l to V Dolomite sceneries that all interconnected (except the Benta Dolomites, but that was still situated close by), the scale is simply enormous, and it is a very significant area to explore. Not content with that they still had time to again visit South America and the Torres del Paine National Park, but also released the excellent K2-Karakorum scenery... my god it was all so much mountainous area to cover in one year. Seychelles XP by Maps2XPlane was another wide area scenery, that captured in the Indian Ocean feel (but not quite as good as their Faroe Islands winner last year), in the same area we had three African airports HKJK - Nairobi Airport by FSDG, FALE - Durban XP by FSDG and another African airport in the northwest in Casablanca XP by FSDG, and all three are worthy destinations, and also welcome was VNKT - Kathmandu Tribhuvan Intl Airport by Cami De Bellis which was another exotic scenery released. I was extremely excited for the release of EKCH-Copenhagen XP by FlyTampa, and it certainly didn't disappoint, the dynamics were absolutely jaw-dropping in it's metal and glass detail, then the added on Copenhagen vista and THAT bridge was also excellent. FlyTampa also released KLAS - LasVegas later in the year and again in doing a great sceneraio of the bright lights of that Nevada city.... but FlyTampa noted that for now that was that for their X-Plane sceneries as their focus was now all on MSFS, I cried... a lot on that announcement. Also was the (very heavy) CYVR - Vancouver International Airport by GloballArt, brilliantly done, but hard on your frame rate as GloballArt sceneries are, and there was a nice KTPA Tampa International Airport by VerticalSim, another airport that filled out a big hole in Florida. Then came a real feature rich scenery with even a working airshow from Rising Dawn Studio's in KRAL-Riverside Municipal, it took years to compile and detail, it was a really great scenery, that was only let down by X-Plane's very poor surrounding default textures (why are the LA basin textures so bad?), but I still love using it, if only for the flying birds. LXGB - Gibraltar International Airport by Skyline Simulations was well done but let down by the average mountain side textures (I was in the middle of doing brilliant Dainese and Bellini sceneries as a comparison) but the rest of Gibraltar was in detail very good including the extreme short landing challenges. Two sceneries by Gaya Simulations are noteable but not reviewed on this site, EGPH Edinburgh Airport, and LOWW Vienna International Airport are not cheap, but are excellent sceneries. Two sceneries in CZST Stewart and CYBD Bella Coola created originally by Beti-x were acquired by the X-Plane.Org, CZST-Stewart was updated to current standards and both are still highly realistic and not at all dated, still both are very worthy additions to any scenery folder. There was a significant drop in scenery releases after the MSFS release for a few months, then in November there was a load of really great scenery flowing again... YPPH Perth International by renamed Axonos, was simply sensational and ticked off a huge hole in my network, then came another with EFHK - Helsinki Vantaa International by JustSim, another huge hole filled, and then recently a surprise superb scenery of EGGP Liverpool John Lennon Airport by DigitalDesign, a very good quality effort that deserves attention... A side note for a freeware release from MisterX6/SFD, with a payware quality was RJCH Hakodate Airport for nothing, everyone downloaded it. With a large amount of scenery holes filled in, I certainly felt that noted difference within the simulator, I was now living in a completely object based quality world within a quality scenery to fly between, there will always be another hole to fill... that is a given, but I was very content with my lot this year, a point is you don't have to have a low-res simulator full of Global airports, as when even for a slight investment you can live in another more higher detailed and realistic world. In the scenery aspect then 2021 will be interesting in if the more bigger development houses abandon X-Plane (remember we are not profitable to them) or we double up the same scenery with MSFS. Plugins I will state upfront that I am not a huge plugin connoisseur, so I only run what I call essential plugins in my simulator, running the new VRAM profiler (Menu/Developer) can give you the horrors of how much these little monstrous tools can gobble up your framerate and overall efficiency, I took to taking out as many of these laggards as possible. If your favorite plugin is not included in this list, then there are a huge amount of choices, some very clever, but most a replica of each other. Most will note FlywithLua as indispensable, but I found it just intruded into the aircraft systems too much (crashes), but then again that is part of what FlywithLua is for, messing around where it shouldn't be, so FWL is not represented here. A side note of a wrist slap in that "please leave the shaders alone" They are not to be messed with, then complain your simulator doesn't work anymore. The most interesting and most expensive was JustFlight's release of Traffic Global in 2020, a traffic (aircraft) simulation filler. It is very good, but buggy at release and twice the price of the outstanding favorite WorldTraffic 3. But Global Traffic did have two huge advantages over WT3, for one it didn't need a refresh every time you started up the simulator, and two it's framerate footprint was or is extremely low, and in laying out traffic in airports without set layouts it is excellent, but I do hate the steep takeoff and landing angles and the very fast taxiing speeds, in reality WT3 is far better overall (and far cheaper) but not as the better background tool, stutters are still a major problem, and so is the slow setup is another, but framerate has been refined. JustFlight also released AirHauler2 for X-Plane, but time constraints didn't allow me to test it out or review the application because of it's complexity, I'll try again in a quieter time. XPRealistic Pro v2.0 by rk Apps for Realism effects (shakes and sounds) was back, but this time in new code and not using the FlywithLua as a host. I had to abandon this plugin because of it's association with FWL, but thankfully it is back and very welcome, as it does add in a very dynamic effect to your flying. Another essential tool is the WebFMC Pro, a remote FMC that uses browsers for input, plugin was updated twice in the year in adding in more aircraft and even the default Laminar FMC, dual FMCs are also now available. A clever plugin very similar to the WebFMC system was SkyScout, a web based EFIS - PFD/MFD/EICAS by XPlane Aviator, it was very clever and a very interesting tool, certainly for training, but I found the release version a little too complex and buggy, but interesting. SimBrief is of course still a valuable tool as is the Navigraph subscription, but I had a lot of issues with the Simlink app after Vulkan was released, stutters and disconnection is now very common, it needs an update. BetterPushBack had a few updates, as did AviTab, SAM added to Seasons, with WorldJetways (brings Global Airports to life), Global Trees, Airport Vehicles (payware) and Follow Me car (Payware) and everything is now controlled via the SAM2 Suite, an invaluable tool that is a requirement if you use payware airports. ApSoft Airplane Toolbox was updated to calculate either the Takeoff or Landing Performance of many aircraft, as is SimToolkitPro that brings a lot of different aspects of flying under one single tool, there is a basic freeware and Pro version, but the April 2020 update was huge in new features. XPUIPC the equivalent to FSUIPC for FSX/P3D, is for creating internal datarefs has also had a few updates and only really for the nerds. xEnviro was basically sidelined all year, first with a poor heavy application in v1.13, that I returned (again) to the only viable version in 1.07, but once I had to run Vulkan, even in beta form then xEnviro became persona non grata. Very late after again another personal event and eleven tedious months of development the application came out in v1.14 form, but still only for OpenGL, and then the announcement was "Vulkan! next", seriously, I felt like just going "awwh what, so why bother"... A brilliant concept ruined continuously by bad management and no updating, expensive and not reliable, then Dark Space is just simply becoming a lot of empty space. The odd plugin of the year was librain(rain) by skiselkov. Vulkan rendered it non-viable, but was it fixed? or what has happened to this valuable tool... an odd business. In hardware, Thrustmaster TCA Officer Pack Airbus Edition brought a credible Airbus feel without the price to your desktop, for what you get it is good value, but Covid19 made stock scarce. To sum up 2020 it was most aircraft delayed by an API release with only a few notable releases, then Covid19. With scenery in releases it was huge early in the year then collapsed after MSFS release, then recovered again at the end of the year, MSFS went global mid-year and then just whimpered along. _________________________ 2020 marked the anniversary of X-PlaneReviews 7th year in producing content for the X-Plane simulator, and it was another year even a third larger in content than the year before and X-PlaneReviews passed the 1800 milestone of published reviews and 300 posts coming in this last year alone, and that shows the sheer amount of quality add-ons that was again added to the simulator. In September we did a site refresh and added in some animated banners, you have to find the balance between not ruining a clean interface with creating a more modern look and feel, and I think we achieved that aspect. Again this review site cannot function without all the great and exciting work by the tireless developers that give us all this exciting and incredible product to fly and use, as they and X-Plane has come a long way and created leaps in quality in the last few years, and to a point I was very proud of the work they produced, it is world class if not the very best in simulation product, and they are all top notch and very clever. To the X-Plane.OrgStore who supports this site with review products, service and updates, a really big thanks, this site just would just not function without that outstanding support. To our reviewers this year in Casa and from Jude, they have both added in a different dimension to the site, and we are always looking for reviewers to show off their skills and devotion to the X-Plane simulation platform. In a tropical storm you get a lot of turbulence from the howling winds of force, then suddenly in the central eye it gets super quiet and you can even see the stars in the calm sky, but you know that soon those huge forces of the the outer swirl will return with their destructive force. To a point that it is like that right now in X-Plane, we have had a huge disruptive year in 2020, and not only in simulation but all over the world, the fallout from all that energy will be as bad as the actual event itself. For simulation it is the Microsoft Flight Simulator that has been the biggest disrupter of all, but sitting here in the middle of the eye, then 2021 will bring back those destructive forces of change, so enjoy it while you can. In 2021 Laminar Research will present their response to MSFS in the form of X-Plane12, when is a release coming is very good question? as we have already passed one thanksgiving announcement milestone, Easter, maybe, or even at the FlightSimExpo 2021 currently scheduled for early June, that event is my guess currently, unless cancelled (again)... but we should have a beta version running earlier. To a point the June Expo is going to be an interesting event not-withstanding, Asobo will certainly want to dominate the show, so Laminar has to be expected to have something to counter the onslaught. More short term then the start of 2021 should be very exciting in Q1 and Q2. There are a load of aircraft currently reaching their beta states and almost ready for release. The biggest events will be from JustFlight with two products, A Vickers VC10 and a very exciting Bae 146, Dassault Aviation Falcon 8X, Chinook CH-47F, FlyJSim Q4XP (Dash Q400) and even at a long bet the Rotate MD11, all quality aircraft and most overdue for release. _________________________ We will finish off with X-PlaneReviews famous best of the year awards… So I will now list my Best of the Year 2020🏅 (note the awards are given to only products I have seen and tested and I can only vouch for) Best Aircraft : Airbus A321 NEO by ToLiSS 🏅 Certainly the best flying Airbus in X-Plane and now in NEO form, and all from a master Airbus systems craftsman. Honorable Mention : INIDesigns A300-600R(F), debatable if it was the best of the year, but we will give it a mention of the quality of a first release. Best General Aviation Aircraft : Pilatus PC-6 Turbo Porter by Thranda Design 🏅 Simply a huge feature set, and clever tools in creating your own instrument layouts and liveries, extra "Adventure Pack" brought Floats and Skydivers! Honorable Mentions : Both Aerobask's Lancair Legacy RG and Epic Victory in both have huge detail quality and instrument features Overall a really dismal year for such an competitive category, but TorqueSim did also produce a nice SR22 and SR20 Best Classic Aircraft : DHC-2 Beaver - DGS Series v1.1 by Thranda Design 🏅 Actually a no brainer, probably the best overall aircraft released in X-Plane in 2020, again it comes with the same clever tools in creating your own instrument layouts and liveries, and a float option thrown in as well... awesome machine! Honorable Mention : Lockheed P-38L Lightning by Flying Iron Simulations, Flying Iron do these warbirds very well, and this was another stunner. Best Business Aircraft : Vacant Award Zero, nothing in particular, the Carenado Cessna 208 Grand Caravan EX XP11 was executive by nature, but a bit to lackluster for an award. Best Military : Avro Vulcan B Mk.2, K.2 and MRR by JustFlight 🏅 Easy choice, but complex and hard to fly... but highly rewarding Best Helicopter : SA 341B and SA 342J Gazelle by JRXDesign 🏅 There was the only one notable releases for Helicopters in 2020 and that was the SA 341B and SA 342J Gazelle by JRXDesign, as the only releases other were from vSkyLabs, and both were very light (and on features) helicopters. No review was done at the time of the Gazelle because it required an update (coming in August), but I did fly the machine(s) and so it can be nominated here. Best Landscape Scenery : Dolomite Series l to V by Frank Dainese and Fabio Bellini mountain group 🏅 Just a huge landscape of a significant Italian Mountain area, you can explore the valleys for months and not cover it all Honorable Mention : K2-Karakorum scenery, again by Dainese and Bellini, another extraordinary area to explore Best Airport Scenery : EKCH-Copenhagen XP by FlyTampa 🏅 We award on the technical as well as the overall vista, and the metal and glass detail in FlyTampa's EKCH is extraordinary, and of course THAT bridge, and all done very well here Honorable Mention : KLAS-LasVegas was also very good, with the Las Vegas vista lighting up the desert Special Mentions : For all the ballyhoo, there was still some outstanding new entrants in scenery, Axonos... YPPH Perth International was a brilliant debut scenery, and FSDG widened out the world with some great exotic airports Worst of the year : KOAK-Oakland International by Departure Designs, was just plain awful, a bit too much ambition and no talent. Best Plugin(s) : Stairport's SAM2 🏅 Clever ideas and great tools, the whole concept was this year now gathered together under one application. Special Mention(s) : Traffic Global, XPRealistic, WebFMC Pro and Navigraph Charts All noted applications were highly used throughout the year and in Navigraph Charts/SimBrief both are simply invaluable tools for route creation. Person(s) of the Year : Ben Supnic, Chris Serio and Tyler Young 🏅 We do forget what brings the simulator to our computers, worse this year was the shear complexity of porting the new API's to X-Plane, it was a long and drawn out project, and fraught with considerable obstacles. So you didn't hear much of any of them in 2020, but quietly the coders at Laminar are changing the face of the simulator into a new era product, now they are faced with the monumental challenge of creating X-Plane12. Best Moment of the year 2020 : First run of Vulkan, sliders went up and so did the framerate... winner, winner chicken dinner Worst Moment of the Year 2020 : FlyTampa telling me they are not going to do any more scenery for X-Plane for the foreseeable future Biggest distractions of 2020 : ... Covid19, oh and the still never ending constant updating! Personal Favorites of 2020 : Updated IXEG B737 Classic (my favorite aircraft overall this year), ToLiSS A321 NEO (Brilliant), FlightFactor Airbus Ultimate (Yes it is now the ultimate simulation), SSG B748F (SSG finally got there), Bonanza F33A (Even better in XP11)... notable was the X-Trident AB412 Helio, it was a godsend this year for all the mountain scenery reviews : Routes... Copenhagen, Dusseldorf, Barcelona, Roma, Helsinki, Munich, Malta, Perth, Atlanta and Denver That is X-PlaneReviews for 2020, and we will be back after a very much needed recovery and the review site returns again early into the New Year on the 6th January 2021. So Merry Christmas, a Happy (virus free) New Year 2021 Stephen Dutton 22nd December 2020 Copyright:X-PlaneReviews 2020 (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)
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  24. Aircraft Review : VAN's RV-10 by Digital Replica The American based Van's Aircraft RV-10 is a four-seat, single-engine, low-wing homebuilt aircraft that is sold in kit form by Van's Aircraft. It is the first four-seat airplane in the popular RV series. The RV-10 first flew on 29 May 2003, and the first kit parts were delivered to a customer in September 2003. As of October 2019, 933 RV-10s have been completed and flown so this is an immensely popular aircraft in this category. The total price of the standard-build kit is around US$46,090, which did not include an engine or any avionics. A "quick-build" option is also available at $59,530 of a fully equipped aircraft. Digital Replica released their Twin Cessna 310L last year for X-Plane11, so here is their second release in this Van's RV-10 kit aircraft, and what a surprise the aircraft is.... as of first glance it looked all of a bit ordinary. The tail shape gives you the first impression of a Mooney, in fact the RV-10 looks like a modern day Mooney if the company had survived (still debatable) and had gone into a more lighter aircraft category. Dig deep and the RV-10 has a lot of great detail as the modeling and panel detail is first rate, the pre-drilled rivet holes construction method is really well done and very authentic to the eye.... .... fuselage and wing shapes are exceptional and really well modeled, with extreme convex and concave shapes are all almost perfect, highlights are under engine air inlet (landing light) and perfect engine inlets, NACA ducts are also well done on the fuselage. Glass is extremely good as well with great shaping and reflections, only note is that the glass is a bit too newish in feel with no wear, tear or marks, or altogether a bit too thin and clear. Both doors swing open upwards, but the rear locker baggage door doesn't open? Internal cabin is really well trimmed, not up to the extreme Aerobask standards, but not far off that degree... Vinyl and cloth inserts on the seating is all really well done, the rear seats look a little square, but remember this is a home built aircraft, seatbelts are all 3d four point harnesses. Roof metal panel shaping and detailing is simply outstanding and highly realistic. Note the highly detailed headphones work if you touch them in lowering the internal noise. Fully working joystick includes CWS (Control wheel steering), AP DISC (Autopilot disconnect), GA (go Around), Trim and PPT (push to talk) buttons (via keyboard inputs)... under panel and the rudder pedals are well designed and fully functional. Instrument Panels The section heading says Panels plural, not Panel. So we need to look at the extensive Menu to see why. The menu selection is four choices lower bottom left of your screen for: Aircraft Configuration, Load Chart, Checklist and Updater. Aircraft Configuration You have a smorgasbord of options for the setup of the aircraft. First are two options for the panel are in "Analog" or "Garmin 1000" Analog gives you all dials in King KFC150 Autopilot Flight Control System with two KX155 NAV/COM and the engine management are all analog gauges. Garmin 1000 is the standard Laminar Research G1000 avionics panel with built in engine management readouts Next is the choice of :King KFC150 Autopilot Flight Control System with two KX155 NAV/COM and a EDM engine monitor system, or.... ... a King KFC150 Autopilot Flight Control System with the two GNS430 & GNS530 GPS and EDM engine control.... or G5 PFD and G5 HSI with GFC600 Autopilot, GNS430 & GNS530 and EDM engine control... ... or swap the EDM monitor system for the analog gauges? or in any combination. Also the choice of Push/Pull - Throttle/Prop/Mixture to Quadrant levers. Note the Garmin GMA 340 radio below with a matching transponder... you have to admit it is all very impressive for choice. Other panel highlights are the EDS IP system (lower left) which consists of an intelligent peripheral setup on which each of the four oxygen outlet stations has a micro-controller that constantly monitors respiratory aspects of each occupants with N - Night and D-Day modes The EDM - Digital Engine Management is a unit that monitors the engine conditions. Buttons are used to select the Lean Find mode which is used to find the exhaust gas temperature lean of peak, cycle between parameters and adjusting the brightness (more below). All contact (fuse) breakers work and shows system depth. The EDM pops-out for ease of use as does the G5 PFD and G5 HSI instruments for the cockpit builders... .... the two GNS430 & GNS530 GPS units and PFD and NAV/MAP G1000 displays also pop-out as Laminar default panels. You can also choose to have either one of two styles of panel facias.There is the Carbon or the White options, I really liked the "white" option more than the darker Carbon feel, but both are good. You have to swap the textures over for each selection in the "Objects" folder, so you can't just swap as you feel like it, so it is either one style or the other. Menu options Other menu options give you the choices of propellers with: 3 Blade Composite, 3 Blade Aluminum and 2 Blade Aluminum. Two engine choices are also available with either a Lycoming IO-540 Fuel Injected 260hp (194 kW) or the Lycoming O-540 Caburettor 235hp (175 kW) powerplants, the Lycoming engines are modeled under the cowling, but I couldn't find a way to remove the cowling. Librain Rain Effects can also be used or switched off, and they are very good internally... on the exterior however the effects can move around the fuselage, but you can ignore that aspect. Checklist There is a three page checklist, that is quite basic, but fine. I however found it hard to adjust if the window is positioned slightly off screen, but get control of the window and the checklist window can be scaled quite small for handy non-obstructed use. Load Chart The "Load Chart" is a Weight&Balance menu that allows you to place four occupants (Pilot + 3 Passengers) in different body weights that are changed randomly of Green around (60 kgs), Dark Green (70 Kgs), Brown (80 Kgs) and Red (90 Kgs), Fuel (left/Right) Max 30 Gal per tank and Baggage Max 60 Kgs.... Settings can be in Distance CM/In, Weight Kg/Lb and Fuel in Lt/GAL... Full Limits, Gross Weight, Payload and Fuel Weight are shown plus the aircraft's CofG (Centre of Gravity) position and all out of limits are shown in red. Oxygen quantity FME (Flexible Modelling Environment) is also adjusted on the Load Chart. Updater There is a built in "Updater" which is very good. It will tell you is you have a good internet connection, then you hit the red (Required) options to update, after you have completed all the updates then just re-load the aircraft. There are no static elements or aircraft covers. Flying the RV-10 Start up and the Lycoming IO-540 (Injection) sounds really good, so sounds are great from the off. Taxiing is another matter again. The RV-10 in reality has a castor loose front wheel, so you have to taxi the RV-10 like a taildragger, but with the castor at the front and not the back, in other words it is very hard to turn? You can set the left and right wheel brakes (if you have a set of toe rudders) to snap turn the aircraft in the direction you want to go, but for the rest of us it can be a bit tricky until you sort it all out via throttle inputs and big rudder swings... you get there but it needs a fair bit of practice... .... I managed to work it out and finally arrive at the runway, but the option to lock the front wheel to the rudder would be nice if maybe not authentic, but easier for those who don't have rudder pedals, note the hard over rudder to keep the aircraft going straight ahead. Because you are going in a straight line down the runway and then taking off and once with the air flowing now over the flying surfaces the aircraft is then finally giving you your directional control... so RV-10 is quite nice to power down the runway and take to the air, but you instantly feel that sensitivity of this aircraft's very light weight to power ratio, stick and rudder movements have to be fine and controlled and almost glider like in response, you'll love it of course because it feels like a real kit-made living and breathing aircraft in the lightweight class. But the Van's is so very sensitive to any trim adjustments (hard to do) and to any of your hand/feet inputs, yes it is a lovely manual aircraft to fly, but be very lithe in the air. Banking is to be taken sensibly as even any sharp stick movements can get you into serious trouble... Not just under manual control do you feel the prompt banking angle changes as for even when under Autopilot changes of direction, you still get that same sudden horizontal shift... .... but that is all in that amateur feel, and you just simply love it, because it all feels all so realistic.... in other words the RV-10 is brilliant. The 260hp version gives you a Max speed of 208 mph at sea level (332 km/h, 179 kt) and a cruise speed of 201 mph (323 km/h, 175 kt), in other words for a small aircraft of this size it is very fast, but that does depend on the weight factor of passenger and baggage as the aircraft does feel the effects any heavy weight put upon it, and that is recorded heavily in the cruise speeds, vertical speeds and the overall range which is usually around 1,000 miles at Cruise power set at 55% at 8,000 ft (1,600 km). Climb rate is 1,450 ft/min (7.4 m/s), and the Ceiling (Oxygen remember) is an excellent 20,000ft. Authentic Garmin GFC 600 is a high-performance, attitude-based, Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS) and it is very good, and is well coupled with the G5 PFD and G5 HSI displays. They are both small and quite dense with detail (certainly the G5 PFD) but it is really well done. Press the centre of the tuning knob and you get access to the PDF Menu, turn the knob to scroll the items. (note while in this mode you can't adjust the heading or other flight controls via the G5) ... there is a Setting (Configuration) Menu that is accessed in a similar way. Turn off the G5 unit and again press the knob to bring up the menu (best to do on the ground before flight) then again scroll via turning the knob. Attitude, Airspeed Configuration and Units are all accessed via the menu. Full details of the menus are listed in the manual. GFC 600 Autopilot is very good and highly detailed, but be aware that turning off the AP, as it also turns of the FD (Flight Director) and YD (Yaw Damp), and the use of an X-Plane key input to disconnect (can be custom set) as the servos don't switch off that way? The KFC 150 Autopilot does not pop-out, but it is a very effective unit in this configuration of a two-axis autopilot and flight director system partnered with a KI256 Flight Command Indicator and a KI525A Pictorial Navigation Indicator. EDM - Digital Engine Management has loads of functionality, and access to Fuel Flow data you can switch (Step) to. Used (GAL), REM (Remain), MPG (Miles Per Gal), ENDUR (Endurance HH:MM) are all switchable, and rotate in the viewer or the EGT outputs of the engine (See EGT/FF below) There is a Fine Lean mode that is used for finding the EGT peaks and when to the lean the engine for maximum efficiency and range. Notes are "the information area will start to show the EGT temperature of the highest EGT cylinder. Then start to lean the mixture about 10°/second without pausing. At this point a white box will start to flash on the hottest cylinder. When the flashing box cylinder peaks, you will see LEANEST for two seconds and the column of that cylinder will start to flash" Final right button is the EGT/FF: which will set the unit into the Automatic scan mode to ALL (showing all parameters), FUEL (showing fuel related parameters) and TEMP (showing engine temperature related parameters). Lighting Cockpit and panel lighting is excellent, Backlit instrument dials are quite bright, so you don't need the full adjustment. Better are the two each side lighting pods (arrowed) that are fully animated for adjustment... the modern colour light is excellent, the only small downside is that the lighting intensity is the same for both lights, adjust one and you adjust the other, then separate adjustments here would have been absolutely perfect. You can easily get the right feel for night flying, and the change to a lit analog dial panel is just as brilliant. Overhead cabin lighting is also excellent (love the glowing switches) with one forward cabin and one light on the rear cabin External lighting is very good, and not over bright. The Taxi/Landing light is very small, but the Navigation, Beacon and Strobes are all very good. The RV-10 is of course very nervous in wind, or weight (more weight helps, but dims performance), adjust to those factors and this is a real pilot's aircraft. Flap adjustment is continuous and not stepped between UP - 1/4 - 1/2 - 3/4 - Full, but in reality the settings are guide more than a setting. If you get the speed down into the 80 knt range there is no flap lift, and they are very effective (drag and lift) under throttle control. Approach speeds are around 80 knts (Full Flap) and your inputs have to be small as the wings have a tendency to wobble in certain conditions and wind direction, so a bit of focus is always required... but you feel the thrill of the control of the aircraft under you as you are flying like a pro and loving every minute of it. Final approach speed is around 72 knts with a nice flair around 68 knts... .... it is very important you get the softest touchdown you can achieve because the strut gear is fixed and quite hard with not much give, so a far too steep a drop and the landing can be jarring. Stall speed is set at 63 mph (101 km/h, 55 kt). The RV-10 is just a sweet aircraft all round. Liveries The liveries and Panel options (Carbon/White) are downloaded separately from the aircraft here: Digital Replica RV10 Liveries v1.13 Currently there are one white and five liveries, the Green N102DR is default with the aircraft. A few have no registration numbers and feel slightly incomplete? but the "First Flight is well done in it's shiny metal and composite panel construction. ____________________________ Summary I love to be genuinely surprised and certainly this Van's RV-10 is a huge surprise in the sheer range of configurations and personal choice you have with the aircraft, it is like pulling a rabbit out of a hat and then finding another one in there and then another, the choices are also really clever and extremely wide for all tastes, and all are also bound together into one aircraft that is a home built configuration build dream. System avionics cover really any tastes from the G1000 glass panel (Laminar) to Garmin GFC 600/G5, to the KFC 150 Autopilot with a KI256/KI525A instruments and either GNS 430/450 or KX155. More includes the choices of standard engine analog readout dials to a modern EDM - Digital Engine Management system, working Oxygen system, different injected or carburettor engine types, three types of propellers and even push/pull or quadrant controls... phew! The choices are huge, and then add that into a great kit-build light aircraft flight feel and it is a very interesting and great aircraft to fly, great lighting effects, rain effects and great all round modeling. Systems are very good with working fuses/circuit breakers, system menus (semi in areas, but still well done), great sounds and wind effects. I will note a few gripes, but we have to keep them in context to the what you do get here. The cockpit glass is a bit too clear and not overall realistic, a bit of thickness or wear&tear would make it feel more perfect (some users note the heavy reflections, but they didn't intrude too much to me). Separating the side pod lighting adjustment would make the effect perfect and the option to connect the front steering to the tail (for those without rudder pedals) would be a nice to have... the internal pilot is a bit bland, but the missing other 3d passengers would be a nice addition as you load the aircraft with weight and finally currently there is no VR (Virtual Reality) and this is an aircraft just wanting or even demading VR interaction ... all just niggles, but if updated would make the design absolutely 100% perfect. Value is excellent as well... US$40, no, US$35... no again but priced actually under US$30 at US$28.95 makes the RV-10 the bargain of 2020 or to date even of the decade. Surprised by this Van's RV-10, I was and yes it is a very interesting aircraft to use and to fly... it almost wants me to go and order a kit from Van's and start building the real aircraft itself. So overall brilliant and the RV-10 comes highly recommended. ____________________________ The VAN's RV-10 by Digital Replica is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Van's RV-10 Priced at US$28.95 Features Different Cockpit configuration from steam gauges to glass cockpit: G5 PFD and HSI with GFC600 Digital Autopilot with GNS430 and GNS430 ESP (Electronic Stability and Protection System) LVL (Return to level) Mode Auto trim Different speed and altitude units options CWS (Control wheel steering) mode GA (Go Around) mode. AP disconnect button Flight Director Yaw Damper Pitch and Roll hold mode Heading Mode NAV Mode with Radio-navigation or GPS inputs Approach Mode Back Course Mode Indicated Airspeed Reference Mode Altitude Hold Mode Working Battery behavior for the G5 HSI and PFD KC150 Autopilot with KI256 Flight Command unit, KI525A HSI and KX155 COM/NAV Radios Flight Director Auto trim Altitude Hold mode Attitude pith and roll hold mode Heading mode NAV Mode Approach mode Back Course mode Digital engine management unit EDM or analog gauges Engine monitor display Range/Endurance/Burned Fuel/Miles per Gallon/Etc. Lean Find Mode Throttle quadrant or push-pull engine command options EDS Digital Controlled oxygen System Four distribution stations Night/Normal mode Delayed mode Class-A/Fast Mask mode Different display and setting configurations Working Circuit Breakers panel Angle of attack indicator with voice warning Different engine and propeller configurations: Lycoming IO540 Fuel Injected 260HP engine Lycoming O540 235HP Carbureted Engine 3 Blade Composite Propeller 3 Blade Aluminum Propeller 2 Blade Aluminum Propeller Each of the option with their own performance and fuel consumption characteristics Outstanding 3D model High 4K PBR textures Librain rain effect by skiselkov 5 liveries and one white canvas livery for custom creations 3D cockpit light for the interior and the exterior Custom instruments and surface vibrations Particles Effects Three dimensional Sound Fmod sound engine All Custom Sounds Sound level and frequencies are modified by headset removal or doors configurations. Custom Menus and Popups Aircraft Configuration Load Chart with CG envelope, fuel and passengers configurations Checklist GFC600 Autopilot Popup EDM Popup Updater Popup Built-in Updater Requirements X-Plane 11 (Fully updated) Windows or Mac ( Linux will be available soon) 4Gb VRAM Minimum - 8Gb VRAM Recommended Download Size: 215Mb Current and Review version: 1.15 (February 5th 2020) Installation and documents: Download for the Van's RV-10 is 215.10mb and the unzipped file deposited in the aircraft "General Aviation" X-Plane folder at 543mb. No liveries and panel options are in the packaged download, but can be downloaded here: Digital Replica RV10 Liveries v1.13 Documentation: There is one comprehensive manual provided. With full system details and both IO and O Lycoming engine performance charts. Digital Replica RV10 Manual.pdf _______________________________ Review by Stephen Dutton 7th February 2020 Copyright©2020: 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) Review System Specifications: Computer System: Windows - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 16 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo 1Tbgb SSD Software: - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.41 Addons: Saitek x56 Rhino Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose Soundlink Mini Plugins: Environment Engine by xEnviro v1.13 US$69.90 Scenery or Aircraft - KHAF - Half Moon Bay by Rising Dawn Studios (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$19.00
    1 point
  25. MS2020 is rapidly turning into an airport simulator rather than a flightsim. I bought the cheapest version with low expectations on it. Maybe in a year or so it might have potential.
    1 point
  26. Considering all the ho ha, MSFS has gone extremely quiet recently... the obvious is obviously, why buy airports that you can't use? Yes the GA's are usable, but why would you spend money on a mega airport that is empty, to fly to another empty mega airport? Yes the Dev Houses are pumping them out, but to who... I did notice a few new MSFS users poking around in X-Plane, why because they can use it. In early 2021, I think the penny will drop for the Dev Houses... That MSAFS will not be the gold mine they expected, if that aspect has not already dropped... but blind faith.
    1 point
  27. You are right about having airports that form route networks, or at least provide some interesting alternatives in routes to fly. Looking at some of the airports under development or recently released for MSFS there’s a lot of niche stuff coming out. This for Xplane seems a worthwhile buy. Having said that I do wonder if developers really think about their release dates as carefully as they might. This appeared just as Steam, and to a less extent the Org store are having sales. That means you’re competing against 50% off items. There’s always a temptation to buy those items when they appear. This is well priced and I will pick it up. Your comment about the disappearing runway lighting is interesting. How did they achieve that? It’s not something I’ve noticed in other sceneries.
    1 point
  28. CX_Fan

    My best ones.

    Goodbye, we will miss you. loved your amazing reviews also some lovely photos- I see you finally bought the 767
    1 point
  29. BernardoCasa

    My best ones.

    As a goodbye from this incredible website, I am leaving my best X-Plane photos. They aren't that good but I believe they are cool. Goodbye!
    1 point
  30. Free Aircraft Release! : Concorde by Dr Gary Hunter Growing up in the sixties was a time of huge speed advances. The predictions were of New York in 3 hours and Singapore in 7 hours via Bahrain, and then we went far faster again... to the moon. Looking back now it all feels like we lost have something, yes we can afford to travel the world on a few thousand dollars... but the excitement and the sheer feeling of the momentum of advances in technology has now been reduced to smart phones. The real tragedy was that the machines that gave us our biggest breakthroughs were then never advanced forward, there was no Concorde Mk2 or Space Shuttle Mk2. And so there came no advancements on their ideas and weaknesses, like the noise and sound barrier on Concorde and the better insulation tiles for the Shuttle. Instead they were all consigned to museums and with that a negative backward feeling now exists. You know it can be better, as we lived through that now past era of huge ideas and advancement that actually came true and real. But you can still relive a little of what one machine of that era was, in the Concorde. Dr Gary Hunter created a Concorde for X-Plane9®, so yes this aircraft is old now even by X-Plane standards. It didn't fly very well either lately because of the advances of the simulator, so an update to v10.50 was carried out and the aircraft has been gratefully passed over to the X-Plane.Org to be released... yes that is right this Concorde is for free! And no matter which way you look at it this aircraft is still one of the very best looking machines ever built, The modeling is slightly old, but not enough not to make it feel totally outdated. The panel is from an era of X-Plane seasons past, and the instruments are quite blurry. But it is totally functional and does have a 3d Virtual Cockpit. There is also a great engineers station, and you need to watch those fuel gauges, they gulp down fuel like no tomorrow, but hey you are also covering the ground at a one mile every two and three quarter seconds! Full cabin as well with the all important speed Mach numbers and altitude. You are seriously moving at m2.2, you can feel the speed even over the smooth Atlantic Ocean, watching my moving map on my iPad, the aircraft is moving as you are watching it even at a high distance, the Nm counter is clicking over click, click, click fast as well... this is no sub-sonic slow ride to China or as in this ride... to New York. Distances of descent to any airport will need a bigger or longer distance with this machine as it is a long way down from 50,000ft or even 60,000ft if you are game. Liveries included: Blank or Eurowhite, BA Union, BA Landor, BA Flag, AF, AF Retro, Prototype and Singapore. New York and "Look Mum, no Flaps!" drop the nose and the speed to 195knts and you get that over familiar hawk look... The aircraft is surprisingly easy to fly on approach, but watch for a high nose in the air after landing. Concorde is back in New York! ______________________________________________________________________ There is a big thanks to the work of Dr Gary Hunter in creating this X-Plane Concorde, and now passing it over to Nicolas of the X-Plane.Org for you to download... for FREE!, yes just go to the link below (sign in first) and download this Concorde and go.... Supersonic! Yes! the My Planes (Dr Gary Hunter) Concorde is available for download here: CONCORDE Price is Free! Features: Accurate dimensions 2D and basic 3D Cockpit Object-based model, Very detailed model 8 liveries Cockpits have been totally redesigned. Go to the virtual cockpit and move to the center laterally (right arrow key) then translate backward through the aircraft (shift-pagedown key) to see the virtual cabin interior. All cabin windows are in 3D, and the cabin interior is modeled (seats etc). These differences are most obvious when using LIT textures as you can see inside the cabin more easily. Try circling the plane when flying in low level lighting conditions (sunset for example). Updated and tidied up the 3D virtual cockpit a little. The horizon is 3D now but its hard to notice so I may drop it in future versions. All fuselage doors are operable using keys 8 fuel tanks Full 3D Model Regular Concorde and Concorde 'B' included The model B was to have been the definitive airline version of Concorde, produced from airframe number 17 onwards. As production stopped at airframe number 16, the model B never actually took to the air, though much of the design work and improvements were retrofitted to existing Concordes. The most noticeable difference would have been the big wing of the model B, non-afterburning (more powerful) engines and a much greater range. This version also features an airbus style “glass” cockpit. ______________________________________________________________________ Overview by Stephen Dutton 6th October 2016 Copyright©2016: X-Plane Reviews
    1 point
  31. Aircraft Review : 690B Turbo Commander by Carenado The Aero Commander series is one of the great aircraft designs that came out of the early 50's. Like the recently reviewed Aerostar 601P, the Aero Commander is large twin and is also originally a Ted R. Smith creation. First thing to note is that this 690B Turbo Commander is not an upgrade of another Carenado Aero Commander which is the Shrike 500s of which is in fact a very different aircraft. The 690B has in differencal a new wing centre section and a completely different engine configuration with the twin Garrett AiResearch TPE331-5-251K turboprops engines moved further outboard, a changed flightdeck layout and the pressurisation system is upgraded for an altitude ceiling of 31,000ft. External Design Those Garrett's are very impressive, and very finely modeled here, they look and sound spectacular. Note the extravagant huge booming exhausts. The same high quality of Carenado design very is evident from the nose to tail of the this Commander, for some reason they just seem to get better and even more highly realistic, the trick is in the minor detail, here is it very extensive, almost every panel and rivet is accounted for with wear and the tear is also very well realised. This is because Carenado have used Physically Based Rendering materials and textures throughout and the PBR materials are authored with the same industry-standard software used by the film and gaming industries. For any new time developer wanting into the X-Plane game, the stakes now are certainly high and as with this sort of perfection you are up now up against such detailing in realism. Glass is also perfection, and all the surfaces have excellent reflection properties. Upper roof hatch style windows are heavenly, but they look even better from the inside, note the lovely window surround detail... You can of course spend ages noting every single aspect of this exterior, but it is almost perfect and again this is another new slightly higher level of quality through and through. Internal Design The cabin is just as highly detailed, but more to the earlier Carenado style than their latest aircraft, in other words it is a more very heavier look for the leather seating and trim. Detailing is in the "Oh wow!" territory, with a very custom style perfection. Layout is set out in a executive club seating arrangement, with a jump seat side right, and exit door side left, and internally it is certainly luxurious. You feel the internal thick cladding of the design, as the 690B had the extra soundproofing over the 690A. Animated tables pop-out from the side of the cabin enclosure for the each single side seating arrangement.... ... and the unusual window layout of a small, then the huge panoramic long window is amazing for the backseat fliers, and looking outside it comes with those huge powerful turbine Garrett's filling out your view, note the really beautiful reflective chrome on the spinners. This is an aircraft you want to spend a lot of time of inside, as the rear is as brilliant as the office up front. Cockpit Flightdeck instrumentation and systems are comprehensive, at first glance the layout looks very complex, and more a regional airliner setup than a large executive twin. Instrument panel is far, far more different than the 500s, the only points that are the same between the aircraft are only the position of the standard six flying instruments and again that is only on the co-pilot's panel. Yokes can be hidden, which is great as the ram style yoke covers a lot of the lower panels, but they are better for flying with in smaller spaces. Switches for map light and Ident actually do work as does the A/P disconnect (red button) Centre console is complex with just a set of throttle levers and combined propeller/mixture levers noted as RPM, note the throttle lever friction levers... ... Prop sync, taxi light switches are here with the park brake. Collins 106/107 Autopilot (A/P) is down low centre console, thankfully there is a pop-up in the menu. Overhead Panel (OHP) is just simply amazing in detail and use. Both Elevator and Rudder trim wheels are very authentic and to note those huge speakers, gotta be a great when just ferrying the aircraft, "Rock and Roll". All spot lighting in the aircraft are separately switchable and animated to focus the light, instrument brightness is separate for both pilots. Many rocker switches are three way with a clever arrow up and down and a hand finger to set the middle position. OHP switchgear is comprehensive, and even complicated as well. Areas include: Generator, Lights (Ext/Int) Ice Protection, Avionics, right and left engine starter panels, Landing lights and wipers. Ice Protection is again comprehensive and highly detailed with authentic amp switching, and there is full information on how to use the system in the provided "Systems reference guide". A note is warranted in the fact that all these sort of systems are currently being overhauled in X-Plane (see - FlightSimExpo 2018). So there is a good chance that these systems will become even more realistic and functional in the future, but this system installed here is still very well done. Personal mask oxygen panel is on the co-pilot side and as is the circuit breaker panel pilot's side, note the armrests are all animated for use. Instrument panel Flying instruments are a different setup on each side of the instrument panel. The pilot's side has the Collins semi-glass vertical mounted Artificial Horizon top and the Heading Dial lower. The co-pilot's layout is the same AH top and HD bottom, but they are standard instruments and that the Course and Heading knobs are opposite on each setup, and you sort of don't get used to the heading knob being on the left on the pilot's side. Airspeed Indicator and Turn Coordinator are left of the centre instruments and the Attitude Indicator and the Vertical Speed Indicators are on the right, both sides, but the Attitude Indicator is a different type style on each side. On the pilot's side the other dials covers a Clock, Cabin Climb Pressure and Cabin Altitude (pressure) in 100ft/1000ft, there is also a Radar Altimeter. Co-Pilot's side is again a Clock, main Fuel Quantity (all fuel tank is made up 22 individual fuel cells in the wings and fuselage that are interconnected to form a single tank of a total capacity of 384 U.S. gallons, (about 2,573 pounds of Jet-A). Suction and Reg Pressure dials and a Hobb's meter is lower center to the right. The centre of the panel with the avionics is a bit of a ergonomic design mess, so you have to note which instrument is which to find them, but there is a sort of system at work here. Top row and centre has an engine readout in a two - two arrangement, from left to right are the twin High-Pressure RPM dials then the Percent RPM 10-100 with an insert clock dial 0-9. Centre is a Fuel consumed counter (resettable in lbs) then the two large dials that covers both engines Oil temperature and Oil/Fuel Pressures. Far right is the Elevator and Rudder position indicators. Centre are the twin dials to cover engine EGT (Exhaust Gas Temperature) gauges, then lower the engine Fuel Flow (LB/HR) dials. Lower centre panel is an ADF/VOR2 pointer, far lower right are two instruments to cover Hydraulic Pressure and Flap position in Up- 1/2 - Down with markings for 1/4 and 3/4. Avionics consists left of a standard pop-up Garmin GNS 530 top, GARMEN GMA 340 Audio Panel, Bendix/King KX 165 VOR2/NAV2 radio and NAV2 Bendix/King KX 64 DME receiver stacked below. Right panel avionics are a Bendix/King KX 87 ADF unit top, Avidyne radar (functional) centre and a Garmin GTX 327 Transponder/Clock bottom. The RealityXP's GTN750 can be used as an option replacing the GNS 530. Glareshield annunciator panel is first rate, but also again a little confusing to work out at first. Warning items are mostly concerning the turbine engine warnings and lever positions. Pressing the "Test" button on the left will illuminate the panel, but there are also other warning lights around the panel including: Fuel Temperature far left, A/P settings on/off and Fuel Flow centre. Lower panels cover left... Environmental (Oxygen Pressure) and Landing gear, Left Flap lever and circuit breakers right... ... I am surprised that by now Carenado still don't do active circuits, as they would do them very well. The systems here though are all very active and covered in the said "Systems reference guide", included are the: Electrical System with buses, Ice Protection, Fuel System and HP Limiter. So there is the need in this aircraft to study the systems and understand how they work to get the very best out of the aircraft. But there is the point to be made that developers are advancing to the very limits now of X-Plane's default built in systems, as to make a lot of the systems work, there are and certainly in this 690B compromises to the X-Plane system basics, and to a point Laminar Research have not done a lot of changes in these areas for years, hopefully with Phillipp Ringler now moving into the systems areas and more as X-Plane's avionics are now pretty well complete, we will now see far more attention on these system areas in the future. Ground Details and Menu On the ground the undercarriage is a work of art, and very well animated. Struts and links are all recreated with incredible detail, internal gear bay is just as detailed. Taxi lighting is on the strut, and only comes on if the gear is lowered. I'm not sure of the crack on the upper gear support? a detail, or wear and tear... anyway I wouldn't be flying this aircraft in real life with that there! Gear animation is simply first rate, and you can watch all the twist and turning action from the cabin windows, the link between the upper support strut and wheel assembly is again very well animated, here it is at full stretch holding the the two assemblies together Menus are the standard three menu tabs lower left of your screen and all are the usual standard Carenado A, C and O menu staples. A is the Collins 106/107 autopilot pop-up panel. C is ten "Views" with "Field of View" adjustment and two sound adjustments. O is for "Options" including opening Pilot (passenger) door and a Baggage door left rear. Static elements provided are basic with, two cones and engine inlets front and rear/flag, pitot covers and there is also Window and Instrument reflections and the choice of changing the liveries without going to the main X-Plane menu. The twin pilots disappear when you activate the static elements. There is an option for the "External Power" but Carenado don't show a cart outside the aircraft, surely it can't be hard to feature a power cart? Note the lovely drop-down step, which is fully animated and detailed. The Collins 106/107 Autopilot panel is scalable (thankfully as it is rather large)... but the adjustment triangle is very small and hard to see, obviously to not having it stand out alone right in your view, but it can also be hard to find against a bright background. Flying the 690B Turbo Commander! As with understanding the aircraft's systems, then flying the 690B also requires a bit of skill and knowledge, flying the actual machine per se is not the issue here but it is a quirky aircraft that is quite deep in the way you use and fly it. I flew from KCVG - Cincinnati to KMCO - Orlando... and then just kept flying on again to KRSW - South Florida, and what was just my usual routine of understanding and dissecting the aircraft for a review, then in this case the flying just went on and on and to the point of flying this long route until it then took out a complete full day. Now that is very unusual for myself, unless it is usually an heavy grade "Study" aircraft with a zillion systems or features. But that also shows how much time and effort it required to really fully come to terms with this aircraft. The startup of the 690B is a little complicated, more so by the setup of the "beta" range. The beta range on the throttle levers is the lower part of the throttle range that puts the propellers into a reverse pitch for reverse thrust. But in X-Plane in trying to replicate the beta range zone on the throttle slider has really just messed it up, the worst instance is in the FJS Dash8 where it just doesn't work at all, or then or even when it does or doesn't work in flight or on landing. The problem is X-Plane doesn't really know if it supposed to activate the beta mode or not, so sometimes you get the action, and sometimes you don't, it's confused and so are you. This is more pronounced if you use a throttle system like I do with the Saitek x56. So if you set the throttles in the 690B like you should do in the "GND IDLE" position and above the beta zone, then the thrust is too high, so to get idle you have to set your throttles at the bottom of the range and in the reverse beta zone? To make the beta reverse thrust work then set a key or in my case the joystick trigger to the key setting "Hold thrust reverse at max" and this simulates the "beta" range reverse action. So if you set your throttle levers correctly then they won't work... but set them in the wrong position and they do? and this also causes the annunciator for the beta warnings to also always show? This is first of all highlighted at engine start up as the 690B has a propeller "Startlock" that holds the propellers in a flat pitch, to unlock you need to hold them in a reverse pitch? above 60% RPM, and the same again to lock them at engine shutdown. Starting the TPE331-5-251K turboprops is automatic, but you do have to do it a sequence. Main switch is first to fuel pump ON, and the IGN OVRD switch has to be ON (Fuel/Hydr on as well). There are two engine start positions with the AIR and GND, with the AIR position you can start the engines only in flight as the aircraft uses the forward motion of air against the propellers to start the engine, on the GND start position it uses a Garrett air turbine starter to start the engine, so it is air turbine turning a turbine to do the starting. The whine will start and then the engine will power up on setting the GND position. At above the 60% RPM point then you use the "Hold thrust reverse at max" trigger to unlock the propeller startlock, just slight hold and you feel it change. Then start the other engine with the same process, turn off the IGN OVRD once the engine is at the correct RPM at around 78%. Taxi lights are on the gear strut, but the landing lights are inserted into the wing? You have to flip a switch to "Extend" them, so make sure you remember to do that, and to retract the lights again after takeoff. There are wing (Ice) lights built into the engine cowling. Before flight or in the climb phase you have to set your cabin pressure... this is done via the "Cabin Alt" knob and the settings are noted by the internal dial that is in altitude feet, I am flying up to 15,000ft so I set this to the inner-ring, and the cabin pressure will be shown and set on the outer-ring at 2,400ft, mode to "AUTO" so it will do the pressure changes for you in flight. With the throttles full back set the RPM levers to just below LO GROUND setting, but don't forget to put them to HI FLIGHT position before takeoff. It took me a fair while to get the sweet spot for taxiing speed, as if not there is too much power and far too much speed and you are consistently on the brakes and makes for a pretty unrealistic taxi if even infuriating in trying to rub off too much of speed all the time. Even then you use minimal throttle to move forward, once moving I pull one throttle lever back and use the other engine to control the speed, it takes a little practise to get comfortable, but once you do it right makes the Turbo Commander behave as it should. Even with a slight push up of the throttles the 690B takes off like a bucking bronco, it easily quickly passes 100 knts and with rotate is around 140 kts with a slight single setting of the flaps. Your holding on more than flying this aircraft so strength, precision and control is required as you take flight and is vital... Once clear of the field I level off around 4000ft, initial handling feel is very good, but the aircraft is powerful so you have to one make sure the throttles are kept close together as the power will side slip or yaw you, and that is until you switch on the Prop-sync. Overall in the flying I love the aircraft's handling, but it is quite different from a usual twin-engined aircraft like say a KingAir. The big -twin will climb at a max of 2849fpm, so an initial 2000fpm is fine and then after 10,000ft drop it to around 1,000fpm, that max climb rate is very different to an earlier Aero Commanders as 1,800fpm was about max. Setting the V/S (Vertical Speed) is a bit tricky, as the ALT (and panel light) has to be off to adjust the V/S, you do this via the wheel DN or UP, but you don't need a lot of movement to adjust, a few clicks will get you climbing up (or down) quite fast, so it is not very precise, keep the RPM slightly under the red and 70% on the climb. If the pressurization is working then the "Cabin Altitude dial" will show you the pressures, the long needle shows your cabin altitude and the short needle is the DIFF Pressure, which can go quite high. Sounds are in the "extremely good" category, as all are FMOD and 180º soundscapes and are simply really great, start up sequence is very and highly realistic, and through the throttle range to cruise you get all round excellent sound, and to me good sound is not boring or repetitively annoying, and you don't get either here. One thing I did notice is that the 390B simply devours fuel at an high rate... Official range is 820 nm, but I loaded in 17,000lbs and was on fumes at Orlando after 550 nm, you can max the range out to 1100 nm but that would be an aircraft empty of passengers and cargo and not pushing the higher speeds at all, and trying or aiming for the 280lbs per hour goal... so watch those gauges! Ice protection is again quite extensive, L and R windshields are heatable, rudder heating element, Engine inlet de-icing, pitot heating for tubes and vents, prop ice protection and de-icing boots that work. Lighting The lighting layout is very good, but mostly done by movable (animated) spot lighting with eight spot lights, in two over the cockpit, two with one over the door entrance and one over the jump seat... four spot lights cover the rear seats and tables. Cockpit instrument lighting has adjustment each side of the panel and those twin overhead spots. External is the already noted wing and gear taxi lighting, wing ice. A beacon on the tail, new bright strobe lighting and small navigation lights. KMCO - Orlando Awareness of the NAV2 settings between the Bendix/King KX 165 VOR2/NAV2 radio and the NAV2 Bendix/King KX 64 DME receiver in that the NAV2 frequency has to be done manually on the DME unit, even the X-Plane frequency insert will not put it on the same DME frequency? On approach to Orlando's RWY 17L and it is tricky to get the speed correct, if the gear is still up then you get a warning if you go below 140 knts, but you want to drop the flaps? so to go slower you have no choice but to extend the undercarriage, the RPM lever needs to come back into the LO position to again (to try to) lower the speed... ... your aiming for an approach speed of around 100 knts full flap, which is not a notched flap setting, but a hold down the lever to do a continuous flap movement either up or down, so with the flap indicator in a very buried position, it can be a bit of a hit and miss and even to a gut feeling of the actual flap position? And make sure the Prop Sync is also off before landing. If your cabin altitude is to zero and the cabin pressure is also low, then press the DEPRESS button to depressurize the cabin. And note the outstanding view out of the cabin windows. If you have got everything right in the balance of the speed which on finals is essential, Stall speed is 59 knots, (109 km/h) flaps, so 60 knts is your marker.. ... so your flare speed is around 85 knts. A nice flare and then reduce the power... ... once tracking correctly on the runway and with the levers in idle then trigger that reverse thrust... and the job is done. Well not quite? remember to re-trigger (reverse) the propeller startlock's on the engine wind down... and "holy hell" is there only THAT much fuel left in the tank? Liveries One blank and five US registrations and one Belgium registration covers the livery choice, all are however very high HD 4K quality. Summary This 690B Turbo Commander is a very technical aircraft, it has a lot of areas and systems that you really need to understand and in flying the aircraft really well also demand's a bit of skill and experience, so this is an aircraft that is certainly not for new flyers or for anyone that doesn't have a fair bit of simulation experience. For the pro-pilot, then it is smorgasbord of features and systems that include, a comprehensive pressurization system, Manifest.json (custom aircraft configurations), Fuel system, Ice Protection System, Electrical System with buses and HP Limiter system and there is support for both the native X-Plane GNS 530 and RealityXP's GTN750* The instrument panel is comprehensive and very authentic, but also confusing and comes with a heavy workload, beta range is catered for but tricky to use, and requires a bit of skill in using the throttle and RPM modes to their full advantages, so this is an aircraft that requires time and even study and mostly even a lot of flying to get it really if perfectly right, it took even myself three days to really get the full perspective of the full range of all the aspects of the aircraft. From a modeling and detailing perspective, then this 690B is in that upper niche area of being at the top of the top of the class, it is a quality act, with exceptional glass and chrome. Undercarriage design, detail and animations are excellent and the lighting is very good with the sounds in range and 3d spatial awareness are again top notch. You are however starting to feel the limitations of the underlying X-Plane framework with this aircraft, as developers are now out pacing the inner X-Plane systems setups, obviously Laminar Research will catch up, but it shows how far we have come in these heady days with aircraft that are as great and as excellent as this Turbo Commander, the aircraft is not for the faint-hearted either but then the rewards of this 690B are also very high and it is highly addictive and already a very popular aircraft... highly recommended. ______________________________________________________________________  Yes! the 690B Turbo Commander by Carenado is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : 690B Turbo Commander Price is US$37.95   Special Features The latest technology in X-Plane Optimized for X-Plane 11 State-of-the-art configurable FPS-friendly logic system.(details here) Fully VR compatible Full PBR (Superb material shines and reflections) Features Specially designed engine dynamics for X-Plane 11 Flight physics optimized for XP11 standards Ground handling adapted for XP11 ground physics Physically Based Rendering materials and textures throughout PBR materials authored with industry-standard software used by the film and gaming industries. X-Plane GNS530 (FPS friendly) Support for RealityXP's GTN750* (integrated into 3D cockpit, when available) Goodway Compatible Realistic behavior compared to the real airplane. Realistic weight and balance. Tested by several pilots for maximum accuracy Requirements: X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 4Gb+ VRAM Recommanded Current version : 1.0 (July 3rd 2018) Download size: 450Mb Installation Download of the 690B Turbo Commander is 428.60mb and it is installed in your General Aviation Folder as a 518mb folder. Documents Extensive, but no actual aircraft manual as per Carenado, and in this case you really needed a detailed manual. The 690B Systems Reference Guide does cover however many of the featured systems. Recommended Settings XP11 .pdf 690B Systems Reference Guide.pdf Carenado 690B_Turbo_Commader Performance tables.pdf Carenado 690B_Turbo_Commander Emergency Procedures.pdf Carenado 690B_Turbo_Commander Normal checklist.pdf Carenado 690B_Turbo_Commander References.pdf Copyrights.pdf Credits.pdf _____________________________________________________________________________________ Review by Stephen Dutton  18th July 2018 Copyright©2018: 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 - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit - 16 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo 512gb SSD Software: - Windows 10 - X-Plane 11.25 Addons: Saitek x56 Rhino Pro system Joystick and Throttle : Sound - Bose Soundlink Mini Plugins: Environment Engine by xEnviro v1.07 US$69.90 : XPRealistic Pro v1.0.9 effects US$19.95 : WorldTraffic 3.0 Plugin - US$29.95 Scenery or Aircraft - KCVG - Cincinnati International Airport by Skyline Simulations (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$27.00 - KMCO- Orlando International Airport by Nimbus Simulations (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$24.95 
    1 point
  32. I believe people (on or in) these forums and social media are promoting (Aircraft's, etc, etc.) for personal gain. I believe, (my guess)....about 10% are giving true assessments of these products. I believe social media started out with people being (honest). I believe its turning into cooperate media. (lie after lie.)
    0 points
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