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chrstphd

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    chrstphd reacted to Stephen in Scenery Review - EBBR Brussels Airport by JustSim   
    Nope..  I'll mention it to JustSim? Pretty important really isn't it to have ATC control over Europe.
  2. Like
    chrstphd reacted to Stephen in Aircraft Update : Mcdonnell Douglas MD-88 v1.42 by Rotate   
    Aircraft Update : Mcdonnell Douglas MD-88 v1.42 by Rotate
     
    The Mcdonnell Douglas MD-88 has had another upgrade. It is a slightly different change this time around because both the main new features rely on 3rd party plugins, and so except for a few tweaks and bug fixes from Rotate the MD-88 is now just as good as ever, and even better.
     

     
    The new features are both plugins. One is WebFMC by Green Arc Studios and the second is TerrainRadar by DrGluck. Both are excellent plugins, but as we shall see in that the MD-88 certainly benefits even more so from their inclusion. We will start with the WebFMC plugin first.
     
    WebFMC by Green Arc Studios
    FlightFactor pioneered the tool of allowing a standard web browser to used as a platform to access the FMC (Flight Management Computer) for easier input of flight data. The use in this respect made the FMC or FMS as some call it a module on a tablet (iPad/Samsung Tablet) and the ease of being able to input numbers and text via your fingers instead of a using mouse or keyboard, there is also the functionality of being able to move the tablet away from the flying computer via WiFi that made it even more flexible. Mostly all FlightFactor aircraft come with this feature which was developed by Philipp Ringler. But what if wanted the same functionality in another aircraft other than a FlightFactor then that feature was not available...  welcome to WebFMC.
     
    X-PlaneReviews did a full review of the plugin here: Plugin Review : WebFMC Pro by Green Arc Studios and an update here; WebFMC Pro v1.04
     
    WebFMC is free for several aircraft including the default Boeing 737-800, but sort of look at this plugin version as a demo. The WebFMC Pro is the pay version and it is this version that is required for use in this Rotate MD-88..  and the cost is US$19.95. 
     
    In reality it was for aircraft like Rotate's MD-88 that the WebFMC plugin comes into it's own. In most earlier aircraft on the plugin list, they did have mostly all pop-up FMC units, but the Rotate MD-88 does not...  so the really awkward full front console position and the wanting to also see the panel map display made it hard to set out a route in the aircraft on the built in FMC unit.
     

     
    The WebFMC is connected to X-Plane via the browser and a WiFi connection...  the address used is http://10.0.0.2:9090/. In an instant the WebFMC will appear and with the correct MD facia FMC face plate (Supplied by Rotate) for authenticity. I use it on an iPad below, but also for convenience also on my main Mac screen.
     

     
    Here I am using SimBrief on the left and the WebFMC Pro is shown on the right. I also have it set up on the computer, but WebFMC Pro can as noted be used on any browser with WiFi, although Google Chrome is recommended.
     

     
    The route today is KSLC (Salt Lake City) to KORD (Chicago).
     

     
    The ease of use is not to be underestimated...  You are now free to set up the map display in "PLN" (Plan) mode to see your route, but you can also look at the panel display in an front on angle and not the odd angle required before with the fixed FMC.
     

     
    Route data input is simply far easier. If using a tablet then direct finger input, if on a computer screen then either a mouse or direct keyboard input is also available... the time saved just to be able to type in the route is invaluable.
     
     
     
    Performance data input can be used with the remote pop-up panel browser display...
     

     
    ...  because the WebFMC panel is that much larger and as it is easier to work with and it is easier get the data correct, as with sitting the WebFMC on a tablet or another computer also allows you that more freedom to now to set up the takeoff computer settings that much easier as well.


     

     
    Having the WebFMC open on the "Aircraft Management page" means it is always ready for instant use, so it is just a point/touch to hide the APU, and close the doors ready for departure, and so no pulling down menus or moving the view over to the cockpit FMC screen to do the job, this is excellent if you are closing up the aircraft from the external view as everything is just a click away.
     
     
     
    WebFMC is a tool, but a very good one for ease of use, more importantly it gives you a lot more functionality in setting up and getting the aircraft ready for departure. We will see a few more uses of the WebFMC Pro in flight.
     
    You can use "BetterPushBack" with the Rotate MD-88, which another great addon feature... and it has been refined for use by Rotate for the aircraft.
     
     
     
    TerrainRadar by DrGluck
    The second plugin feature is DrGluck's excellent TerrainRadar plugin. This plugin is free from the X-Plane.Org: Terrain radar + Vertical Situation Display 1.14
     
    There is nothing I don't like more than a weak or blank display in the cockpit. And so it is with the weather display that relies on weather information of any sort of activity, and even then it is pretty useless. In the MD-88 it felt like it was an item that wasn't working, as there should have been a tape across it with a "Not Operational" sign. But with DrGluck's plugin inserted you get a far more realistic display and now a working weather radar function, it looks excellent. Only comment is that is far more grainy than in other aircraft, and maybe that is the type of display it is using... 
     

     
    ...   You can test it, or select either the WX/TCAS or MAP function for a representation of the terrain around the aircraft, and vital if departing airports like KSLC - Salt Lake, with the high mountainous elevations around you.
     

     
    More than anything it looks great in operation when flying, no more blank boring panel, but now you have one with a use.
     

     
    Water and high ranges are shown and you can adjust the radar distance for advance areas.
     

     
    Four main menu selections cover; Color Scheme (Solid Colors - Grain Colors (Boeing style) - Regular Tiles (Airbus Style), Lines or Dot), Scanning Speed, Brightness and Options (Show Water - Peaks Mode - EGPWS Alerts - Range Arcs Options), and the radar install looks terrific set between the two outer FMC panels.
     
    A full X-PlaneReviews review of DrGluck's plugin is here: Plugin Review : TerrainRadar by DrGluck
     

     

     
    In flight the WebFMC for the MD-88 is very handy. Certainly for following the flight's "Progress", as it gives you very a quick visual glance...
     

     
    Approach references are easier to see as well when flying the aircraft on the final approach, as there is no need to adjust your zoom or to move your forward view away to look at the remote panel FMC position with the angled data, instead just look over and glance at the other screen, or tablet.
     

     
    As you can gather I am a big fan of WebFMC Pro, not just because it is handy and versatile, but it seriously helps in the speed to input data in getting the aircraft ready for flight.
     
    v1.42 Notes
    Other areas that have had attention is mostly corrections, tuning and a few bug fixes. The FMC now has Improved trajectory calculation with/without PERF data being entered, there was a bug in estimated speed that was seen in some waypoints and a bug in the ARRIVALS page.
     
    Systems covered are with the Stabilizer Motion alert times, that was a constant annoyance in the alarm going off has been thankfully now adjusted and feels far more realistic, another annoying bug was in Autothrottle switch logic, that is fixed as well. The LAND annunciator logic and TCAS electrical dependency have also had attention.
     
    There has been a few nips and tucks around the aircraft 3d modeling wise, but otherwise it is the nice old MD-88 we all know and love.
     
    Arrival at KORD was all very wet and showery, and why is it so wet in Chicago lately? its been like this for ages?
     

     
    The Rotate MD-88 is certainly one of my absolute favorite aircraft, and it is at a very mature situation now, my only note is the in flight wind noise? I pull the sound .wav file out because I find it a bit too annoying, it hurts my ears after a period of time as well. But that is the only comment.
     

     
    Summary
    You are noticing on how small the update list each time around is getting now, and so unless Laminar Research makes a global X-Plane change, then there is not much wrong with the aircraft. Of course there will always be updates, but you can safely say the MD-88 is at a very mature stage now.
     
    This update is focused on two new features, and both are external from Rotate and the developer themselves. The two additional features cover the plugin options of WebFMC Pro and Dr Gluck's TerrainRadar, and both plugin developers note the extensive work that Rotate has done with both of them to make sure both installations are perfect, and it certainly shows when they are both operating. The install of the WebFMC Pro is an even more useful tool as the FMC setup in the MD-88 cockpit does not have any pop-up panels, I would rate this situation and the plugin's use in this capacity as for the worth of just buying the Pro version of the WebFMC plugin alone. And Dr Gluck's Radar fills in a really blank space on the instrument panel, and in so making it more active and realistic.
     
    A great and functional update, even better if you have the required plugins already. Note if the updated plugins are not yet available on the release of this this update review, then they will be very soon.
     
    _____________________________________________________________________________________
     

     
    Yes! the v1.42 McDonnell Douglas MD-88 Pro by Rotate is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store
     
    here : McDonnell Douglas MD-88 Pro
     
    Price is US$59.95
    If you already have purchased the McDonnell Douglas MD-88 by Rotate, then go to your X-Plane.OrgStore account and download the free v1.42 update.
     
    Green Arc Studios WebFMC Pro plugin (US$19.95) is available here : WebFMC Pro v1.04
    Dr Gluck's TerrainRadar Plugin (Free) is available here: Terrain radar + Vertical Situation Display 1.14
     
    Developer Rotate - Rotate.Com
    Developer Support - MD80 - X-Plane.Org
    _____________________________________________________________________________________
     
    Features:
    Custom Flight Management System (FMS) and Automatic Flight Route, departures and arrivals procedures (SIDs and STARs). Custom LNAV and VNAV. Climb, cruise and descend management with altitude and speed restrictions. ARINC424 instructions support. Save and load route to/from text file. Performance management, with complete VNAV profile calculation, including T/C, T/D, and time, fuel and altitude predictions. Takeoff and approach speed management. Custom Navigation Display with curved transitions and MAG/TRU operation. DFGC, Thrust Rating management (EPR modes) and Flight Mode Annunciator. Aerosoft NavDataPro (2016) included (for updated database third party subscription is needed). DIRECT TO page. LEGS page with RTE DATA extension page. CLIMB page with CLB DIR function. DESCENT page with SPEED/PATH, DES NOW and DES DIR modes. Complete HOLD functionality with entry pattern calculation and Present POS. PROGRESS pages with pilot selectable waypoint. More accurate time and fuel predictions. PERF page with BURN SCHED, WIND/TEMP corrections and calculated remaining fuel. FIX page. Detailed simulation of systems WX/TCAS with TA/RA advisories. Power plant: accurate PW-JT8D-219 model, Fuel Distribution, Heat and Quantity Indication, Automatic Reserve Thrust. Electrical: Power Generating and Distribution, APU, Battery Charger, Emergency Power Supply. Hydraulics: Rudder and Elevator HYD/MAN operation, GPS, Reversers and Brakes accumulators. Air: Pneumatics, Air Conditioning and Distribution, Pressurization. Slat/Flap controls with Dial-a-Flap control. Takeoff Condition Computer. Complete Engine Fire Detection and Extinguishing simulation. Simulated Tests: DFGC, Altitude, Engine Fire, APU Fire, GPWS, Windshear, Flight Recorder, Voice Recorder, TCAS, Brake Temp, Stall, Anti-Skid, LED/Annunciators. Pop-up Menu Ground operations page, with GPU/GPS request, doors management, and fuel/cargo/passengers load functions. Fuel & Load page, with load stations according to Weight & Balance manual. Weight & Balance section, with accurate custom CG computing, and Weight/CG predictions for Takeoff and Landing.   Hyper-realistic visuals Highly detailed 3D cockpit, passenger cabin and exterior model. Normal and specular maps for enhanced detail. Thorough HD day and night textures. Accurate animations, including wing flex animation. All external and internal lights. Liveries: A set of ten ultra-high resolution liveries, including a paintkit. Custom sounds 3D sound engine with stereo and doppler effects. High quality multi-layered engine sounds. Wind and control surfaces sounds. Cockpit ambient and custom alerts. _____________________________________________________________________________________
     
    Requirements
    X-Plane 11 Windows Vista/7/8/10, OSX 10.9+ , Linux Ubuntu 14.04 (or compatible) and up - 64 bit operating system Processor: Multi-core Processor 3.3GHz - 8 GB RAM -Hard Disk: 3.3 GB Graphics: 2GB VRAM (4GB+ VRAM or more for best performance) Current version: 1.42r1 (last updated Oct 5th 2018) File Download is a huge 960.40mb  
    _____________________________________________________________________________________  
    Update Review by Stephen Dutton 12th October 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)  

     
  3. Like
    chrstphd reacted to Stephen in Behind the Screen : September 2018   
    Behind the Screen : September 2018
     
    Most online fliers don't really care about scenery, it is all about in the way the aircraft flies, handles and feels. To a point they are correct, but if the aspects of the way you use and fly an aircraft is not accurately represented in it's correct environment then without that reflection you are seriously missing something else in the dynamics of simulation.
     
    Almost all of the early simulators certainly followed this aspect, as scenery or the replication of the real world environment was not back then a high profile item on their feature lists, obviously detailed aircraft were not available either, but if the general view of the land (ground) and sky was represented then the focus was on the flying of the aircraft.
     
    Even when I came into X-Plane with v9 nearly nine years ago the scenery mesh was still quite primitive, you accepted it because it was the best it could be at the time, even if the mesh and objects was still basic, airports were a little better but were mostly converted early FlightSim 2004, because they were the only objects that would sorta of convert over to the X-Plane's initial OBJ8 format. If you wanted some sort of a realistic environment what you really needed was a very good if warped sense of imagination, thankfully I was equipped with such a heightened awareness.
     
    X-Plane10 came in with a focus more on the environmental aspect than the actual aircraft. the base mesh came now with complex mapping built in, which replicated better water areas and most importantly included the OSM or Open Street Map data that replicated real world traffic and street layouts, it wasn't perfect in that it relied on real data, and so if you flew to say China, it looked like the Chinese were still back in the water paddy era (it still does to be honest). With X-Plane10 also came "Autogen" which was a set of library objects built in to the simulator to replicate housing and urban infrastructure, it worked and it didn't, because at first there was too few art assets of which then basically consisted of SoCal houses (South California) and a few factories...
     
    The idea of X-Plane autogen was to not totally replicate absolutely real world objects, but to sort of create a generalisation of what a urban areas looked like, the plus is that the objects were highly refined and extremely efficient, if a little samey compared to the real world, worse was the fact that the SoCal minority objects severely restricted a worldly view and to a point even se in their own American landscape as well. Secondly is that when X-Plane 10 was released all of those 6 years ago, as then computer power or graphic card power was still quite small anyway and if you had 2K of graphic power you were in the top order of trendsetter of gamers, and even with that title then full maximum object settings were just within your reach and not in to the full capacity you really needed to create a realistic urban world around you.
     
    The last aspect of X-Plane10 that made a difference was the extension of the area tiles, from a meager 50nm outward to 100nm or . From any altitude the small tile footprint was dismal in the early X-Plane environs, but the 100nm extension did make even a horizon look plausible, but still and even today some mountainous artifacts can still creep into the visual extreme boundary.
     
    The odd thing was that X-Plane11's focus was not on the environmental areas, but in some ways X-Plane11 has had an even more larger impact on the realism factor of X-Plane. PBR (Physical Based Rendering) with reflections and it's better shadow and lighting effects now brought the objects to life, and scenery and mostly airports became a much more real place to work of fly into or out from. Then more autogen objects in the form of Germanic style housing really changed the outlook of areas, as the German feel is more representative of areas not only in Europe (including the UK) but even in Asia, Russia and even Japan than the restrictive American architecture.
     
    Other areas have changed significantly as well, mostly in graphic power. In 2018 you should have at least a 4K graphic card, a 6K is better, but in reality a 8K card is now required, with a 11K card as a target soon. The line should level off around 15K of which is still a generation of graphic cards away. the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti is the current champion of the best of the best with 11K, but even with this monster installed then you will still not get every setting slider set to maximum, as the killer here is the texture quality.
     
    So why the X-Plane history lesson? Well it is important to note that In 2018 a line was crossed, an important line on several points. One was that more European urban (meaning industrial) autogen was added now into the mix (which was covered here) and the American set of the same medium industrial autogen is coming in the 11.30 beta. Also scenery developers finally got the message that using the autogen to your advantage can create a better product, in that if the gaps between the autogen and the custom scenery was reduced it made a huge difference to the overall scenery. That aspect is also covered even in a larger picture in that if you create city sceneries with using the autogen as a major fill around your city central items.
     
    It is important to note that to get the full effect now, you do need your object slider set at full maximum, in the past this was really never possible, but autogen efficiency is getting better, but obviously there has to be a trade off, even for me. That comes with dropping down your texture quality slider to "high", and yes you lose a little quality, but not as much as you would expect in this age of high quality textures. But find the balance and you can get a high object count and still have a quality custom scenery and still mostly use or get through with the settings on a 4K graphic card.
     
    The current effects of all this is that now X-Plane11 scenery is getting mind bogglingly good, the images created for the reviews shows those aspects on how far X-Plane has really now come.
     
    There is no way even a year or so ago you could get the scenario of Florence, Italy or the mega Seattle size sceneries to deliver the sort of full visual impact that they are now delivering, in airports with ShortFinal's KLAX and Nimbus's KORD they are not now islands in the landscape, but part of the landscape in a whole. 
     
    I have always championed the use of the efficient autogen coupled with custom scenery to get the best visual representation and efficiency out of X-Plane and the current development certainly bears that out, yes I accept the Ortho4XP route is very popular, but expensive with hardware and not very efficient. But to date you can see the effects of just have one artist doing the work, as very good and talented as it is, it is just too slow a progress, ditto the excursion for city landmarks as only a few can be produced for each city, leave landmarks to the custom payware addons and add in more regional autogen for more impact, that fact has now been proven.
     
    But I am not denying that in areas the autogen model is still wanting and many blank areas do still show uncomfortably in your eyeline. And in another aspect it also now shows the limitations of the X-Plane autogen spread as being now very severely limiting. Certainly the Seattle scenery made that very obvious, with if you sit at Sea-Tec airport and turn your viewpoint to the Seattle city, then the autogen stops about halfway into the scenery, and from above it shows the spread limitations quite badly, and that is not to get started on the limitations of the traffic/road night lighting. But the x square of adjusting the autogen spread like with the earlier load of mesh tiles maybe more of a backward step at this point than a forward one.
     
    But that ultimate of nirvana is now getting extremely close as well. Views of horizon to horizon autogen and full city landmarks will soon create a full vista of reality. Helped by (hopefully) the huge efficiency of the Vulkan/Metal api's and the next generation of computer power, then the doubling of current processing power should get the deed finally done, and all should come together around the time of X-Plane12's release.
     
    This is also very prominent in that the Laminar Research road map (hint X-Plane12) will mean a major focus on efficiency, so the biggest changes will be internal and not visual, with all the expanded updates and versions over the last decade, and that is not overall a bad thing, as it is a clearing out of the dated aspects of X-Plane that are holding it back and not allowing the simulator to move forward, and obviously we will lose some very cherished areas, which is very Apple, but we know that the benefits will always highly outweigh the losses.
     
    The point is that finally X-Plane is starting a new era in realistic visual simulation, yes there is still a way to go, but finally the blocks are now falling into place, and it has been a very long difficult road to get to this point...  but we are getting there.
     
    Ground Routes
    Many new airport payware scenery releases are featuring and including WT3 - WorldTraffic3 ground routes and airport operations as part of the package. The included routes are excellent in a drop in and get instant perfect traffic activity at the airport. These provided routes have a load of advantages, mostly in saving you time in either waiting or generating the said routes and then getting on with this flying business. Get it right and it is an instant high satisfaction rating.
     
    But many if most scenery releases with this new feature now being released, is this aspect really not what it really seems at all, and in some ways it is a total backstep to the sceneries benefits.
     
    In most cases those so called provided "custom created" ground routes are just a generation of WT3 application, packed up and packaged. And in most cases they are not even tested. The issue really goes far deeper than this.
     
    Most developers understand the creation of the ATC ground route system in WED (WorldEDitor), but only on a superficial level. So yes they create the ground routes and what is done is done and expect the routes to be perfect, but the problem is that all traffic applications and certainly in the far more clever and more complex WT3 application, in that it requires the far, far more detailed and correct flow information in taxiway and runway routes, correct stand information (open stand or bay stand), and more so in the state of the stand (correct stand information). I admit is it very complex layout to understand and can take a fair bit of time to configure correctly and yes only a few brave souls have gained this specialised skill, and the very best is Brian Navy or K-Man. And to a point that is the problem.
     
    Start up a newly installed scenery with these so called provided custom routes inserted and they either work perfectly or worse horribly in they simply don't. The thing is here you are paying for them to be honestly perfect. But too many sceneries lately have been totally horrible, with traffic aircraft running around in circles, running across the grass, departing right through terminals and the list goes on, in fact they are worse than the generated versions in the first place...  the worse issue is the landing connection to the gate or stand. This is actually caused by the stand information not being the correct data wise, but the results are when even an aircraft lands correctly it will simply disappear instead of taxiing off the runway to the gate. That is fine but in over half an hour and all the ground aircraft will have then departed and then with no resupply of arriving aircraft, the airport then empties out to a complete blank or a wasted few.
     
    Worse this month was LEAL - Alicante Airport by VirtualDesign3d, followed by KORD - Chicago by Nimbus, and the list this year has been extensively long, and do you yet see any reviews on these pages for the said scenery, no, and that is because the traffic systems just don't work, and if you haven't see a review for a released scenery, you can always guarantee it is always this same issue.
     
    Thankfully Brian Navy has fixed up KORD, as he fixed up KSEA and KLAX as well and a mountain of others, so we should send him some nice fat food parcels or slabs of beer. But that does not fix the problem?
     
    The thing that really annoys me! is that to get the ground routes checked out for these mistakes is not THAT hard to do. I certainly don't want K-Man overloaded with fixup issues to save us all, but obviously he and a few others could advise on what is wrong the ground routes and where to fix them.
     
    Developers think that the scenery highlights are the 3d buildings, great animations and specialised glass and as much clutter as you can fill in there... but if the traffic activity does not work, then for everything else it is a dead airport, or a flat simulation, or worse a lot of wasted purchaser's time in getting it all fixed up to the point that it should have been done in the first place... ground routes and airport activity is the No1 feature of every scenery, not the bottom of the list feature, if the traffic does not work correctly you won't use the scenery, buy another one from the developer or worse just bin it...  and worse still I won't review it, because the punters deserve better.
     
    X-Plane11.30
    It is almost here...   The next X-Plane11 update in beta 11.30 is due imminently, and my guess at the UK Cosford FlightSim on October 6th. A note that the speaker at Cosford for Laminar Research is not Ben Supnik or the Grand Poobah himself in Austin Meyer's but Philipp Ringler. That denotes that Ben is staying back to cover the XP11.30 beta fallout, of which means the release will be the same time as the presentation and not a delayed release date....  excited, you should be.
     
    This update is full of features, but it will still be the small fixes that will have the biggest impact on your day to day flying. Obviously it will be the new particle effects that will create the most drama, and the game is on in that who will get their aircraft out first with the effect feature? Or will we get the same deal as when X-Plane11 came out in that many developers will wait until v11.30 goes final before updating? personally I don't think so, as the effects have been in development for a very long time and also they should be be very well tested by now. One thing will be for sure, there will be a lot of updating to do, and it will be very busy until at least the USA Thanksgiving day 2018 marker.
     
    The update will of be covered in detail by X-PlaneReviews as per usual, and by the time the next "Behind The Screen" comes around in November then v11.30 will have been released and all the results will be in...  so until then, just keep on downloading and updating!
     
    Stephen Dutton
    1st October 2018
    Copyright©2018: X-Plane Reviews
     

     
  4. Thanks
    chrstphd reacted to Stephen in Aircraft Review : BAe Systems Hawk T1/A Trainer by JustFlight - Thranda Design   
    Aircraft Review : BAe Systems Hawk T1/A Trainer by JustFlight - Thranda Design
     
    The Folland Gnat T.1 was the mainstay of RAF jet training onwards from 1959. The aircraft was a nimble and extremely good training aircraft for pilots moving into military jet aircraft and then moving on upwards to the heavier Hawker Hunters and English Electric Lightings. But in the early 70's the RAF realised that the next generation of jet fighters would require a more advanced trainer and a two-seater to accommodate the Sepecat Jaguar and the Panavia Tornado. The result was the Hawker Siddeley Hawk T1 (Trainer Mk1).
    In reality the relationship of the Hawk to it's predecessor the Gnat is actually very close and highly related. Hawker Siddeley had bought out Folland in 1959, as British Aerospace Systems (BAe) would also merge with Hawker Siddeley in 1977, however the Hawk was built and still assembled in Hamble at the old Folland factory where the Gnat had also been produced. The Hawk also followed the Gnat in being the mainstay of the RAF British Aerobatic Team, known as the "Red Arrows" and still holds that coveted position today.
     

     
    JustFlight - Thranda Design
    It is just under a year in that the partnership of JustFlight and Thranda Design released their first aircraft for X-Plane11, that was the PA28R Piper Arrow III and since then there has also been the PA28R Turbo Piper Arrow III/IV in February and the TB10 Tobago & TB20 Trinidad in May and finally the excellent Cessna 152 ll in June. All aircraft I thought brought far more to X-Plane in features and to the general aviation category, but more so in the highly realistic handing of the aircraft. They are not cheap aircraft and all sit on the top of the scale in price for general aviation aircraft, but they also do deliver in another level in quality as well.
     
    This is JustFlight's and Thranda's next release with the BAe Systems Hawk T1. First it is a radical change from the usual general aviation style of aircraft and it also took a long time to get released? The aircraft was initially first announced back in February earlier this year, then another promotion in the middle of the year sent our heart's a flutter again but then it all went very quiet, this time it is actually here...  so was it worth the wait? That is what reviews are for, so let us see.
     
    BAe Systems Hawk T1/A Trainer
    We have come to now expect a very high quality aircraft from JustFlight/Thranda, as it should be in this price range as that is what you are paying for, in high very high quality and for loads of features.
     
    There is no doubt the Hawk stands out there in the quality stakes, the level here is extremely high, if the best fighter/trainer now in in X-Plane11. To be fair there is not a lot of competition to compare the Hawk with as very few modern fighters have yet made the transition from X-Plane10, coming and in the same category is X-Trident's Harrier AV8B, so that aircraft will be a better benchmark.
     
    Would this aircraft pass the Airshow walkaround test? you know the one where you walkaround the aircraft noting it's details and equipment points, take a few pictures to remind you of the aircraft...  in this case yes. The quality of the detailing is phenomenal, and I am set at a lower resolution setting.
     

     
    Another level of detail again for X-Plane? If not then it is close...  aircraft modelling is absolutely first rate, perfection, not a 3d bump out of place.
     

     
    In realism you have glass and reflections that really deliver (note the explosive cord for seat ejection on the canopy glass)...  again are you looking into a real jet at an airshow? if not then you are pretty well close to it.
     

     
    It is the smaller details that create a believable realism, note the slightly worn landing light nose glass and wingtip lighting enclosures, the tail leading edge material and the correct accurate layout of rivets and paneling. As a note, the Hawk uses the Rolls-Royce/Turbomeca "Adour 151" non-afterburning turbofan with 2,360 kilograms (5,200 pounds) thrust. It is a more expensive engine, but also more economical to use; like the Specate Jaguar it also uses the "102" version of the Adour in a twin-engine installation. The engine drops down out of the Hawk's belly just behind the wings for service, and in principle can be replaced in one and a half hours. The Hawk is built with ease of serviceability in mind, and almost a third of the aircraft's surface is covered by access panels. There is a "Microturbo 047 Mark 2 Gas Turbine Starter/Auxiliary Power Unit (GTS/APU)" that is installed above the engine to permit self-starting, and to assist in relights after an in-flight flameout. If the aircraft loses power in flight, a ram-air turbine can also automatically pop up in front of the vertical tailplane to provide emergency electrical power and the RAM is featured here and works realistically on the aircraft.
     
    The Hawk has two main and one forward strut trailing link undercarriage assemblies...
     

     
    ....   detailing is the very best as you would expect in this class, but even more so. Every joint, component, hydraulic line, hydraulic piston, nut and bolt is here, even the strut labels and markings are also correctly applied. Animations in ground movement and retraction/extraction are perfect, even more so as the trailing link assembly can give the taxiing of the aircraft a feel that is quite different from normal, but perfectly authentic.
     

     
    Back to the airshow...  usually you stand in line, and usually for a long wait. But your turn does come and you have a fleeting few moments...
     

     
    ...  you can look of course but can't touch! but what would you give to sit in there? "sit in the real jet"...
     
    The aim of the ultimate in simulation is break down that barrier, and to be able to not only sit in the aircraft but to actually flying this expensive complex machine as well, to live the dream.
     
    But for to that to work in simulation then the detail must above and beyond, you thought what was excellent even a few years ago, but here with this Hawk you see the level go higher again, and in a few years it will go even higher... but for now this is the best of the best current standard.
     
    First glance inside the Hawk cockpit is the usual overwhelming complexity.
     


     
    But usually as you decipher and break the detail up and work it all out it all comes to make sense...  Panels are grouped as:
     
    Left console – throttle, engine starting, electrical and flying control systems Left main panel – weapon selection and radio Centre main panel – flight instruments and weapon sighting Right main panel – engine instruments Right console – avionics equipment  


     
    You can't expect every switch or button and knob to work in the cockpit, but I would guess the number is still very high in here at around 90%. In the rear seat that percentage is around 70%, not bad, but you still miss a few things you would like to control.
     
    Cockpit detail is to the extreme. Many fighter cockpit have been exceptional in detail, but don't convey that realism factor, but that is not the case here, it is about as real as it gets, every seat belt, material stitching, pipe, metal panel, screw, nut and bolt is visible and all have highly realistic textures...
     

     
    ...  the highlight is the instrument panel glareshields, they have that dusty, not touched since installed look about them, you just want to move your fingers in the dust to create a mark, perfection.
     
    Menu/Features
    The menu is fully featured and positioned via the usual JustFlight left screen side arrow, scrolling on the arrow will make it transparent. This menu layout is far better than the earlier menus, as they had just a red transparency when selected and they looked very dated. This version has coloured items for selection and looks the business.
     
    There are 21 selections and features to choose from, and not in any order we will start with the pilots. There are two animated realistic pilots that you can select via the menu, you can also select if you want their visors up or down...
     

     
    ...  one note is that if you put the front seat pilot's visor down the screen image goes slightly darker, but the rear visor does not create the same effect? also the pilots selection is only external, so if you are seated in the front or rear seat, then the other seat internally is empty, which is a bit odd as you can select if you want this feature or not? (arrowed) Why not show the internal pilot if you so wish for realism?  Overall the pilots are excellent in detail.
     
    Selections include static elements like: chocks (rear wheels), tags and pitot and engine inlet/outlet covers, and a very nice work maintenance step frame...
     

     
    ...  another ingress option is the aircraft's built in steps, or pop out extensions that are well done (arrowed above).
     
    Options include the external diesel tank carried by display aircraft, or the M61A1-Vulcan 6,000 rounds per minute centre mounted cannon...
     

     
    Four armament racks allow a variety of weapons, that are selected via the X-Plane "Weapons" menu, here we have the AIM-9 Sidewinder and AIM120-AMRAAM, but bombs can be carried as well, but just watch their excessive weight are balanced! Nice detailing on the armament racks that will change to the correctly selected armament. Forward locker opens to reveal the avionic equipment racks.
     
    There are two Hawk versions to choose from in the T1 or the T1a. This is noted via the extension over the exhaust outlet...
     

     
    ...  but in reality it is a bit useless? The difference between the T1 and T1a versions is that the T1 is the trainer, and the T1a is the armed or fighter version? so why not use the selection to denote the different types by having the armament off for the T1 and the aircraft armed for the T1a version?
     
    Menu options internally include the aiming gunsight, and two left and right flip up frequency display panels...
     

     
    ...  they don't actually display any frequencies? but there is a fix by MatthewM that adds in the frequencies via an texture file. The same display fix is also in the Red Arrows display livery by Christophe, and here you also get with the livery the lovely Red (Arrows) flying suits as well!
     

     
    With the external diesel tank attached you get a double panel of a set of coloured lights on top of the glareshield (yellow arrows), but there are no notes on if they work, or why?
     
    There is a good kneeboard for checklists that pops up. It can be moved around the screen, but it is not scalable, which makes it a bit of a blocking visual distraction in the air (as you can't see anything forward!) as the menu itself is also locked to the left side of the screen and again not scalable.... joysicks front and rear can be hidden and note the "Rudder Lock" (arrowed)
     

     
    Final menu options include a "Cold and Dark" to ready (electrical on/off) and a full engine start up that starts the engines and configures hydraulic and electrical systems so that you are ready to taxi feature, you could call it a "Scramble mode!". There is a feature that configures the aircraft so that weapons are live (ready to fire) and you can select/change the livery from the menu.
     
    Instrument panels
    Power up and the Hawk comes to life. Panel lighting is excellent and adjustable for the left, right and main instrument panels. Annunciator warning panel (CWS - Central Warning System) can be tested.
     

     
    Main cluster of flying instruments covers clockwise...  Turn-and-slip indicator, Main Artificial Horizon, Backup Artificial Horizon. Main Altimeter, Vertical speed indicator (VSI), Horizontal situation indicator (HSI) or heading indicator, Directional gyro indicator (DGI),  Combined speed indicator (CSI)... top centre left is the Accelerometer.
     
    Right front panel is clockwise: Standby altimeter, Cabin Altimeter, Oxygen supply contents, Fuel gauge, TGT indicator (Turbine Gas Temperature), Engine LP shaft rotation indicator/RPM indicator. The Oxygen flow indicator will flip on and off if the oxygen is flowing correctly. lower right is the electrical switchgear and panel lighting adjustment knobs.
     
    Depending on if the Hawk is armed or not (T1a) then the firing panel is located upper left...  The Lock/Live switch is upper right (magenta arrow).
     

     
    Pylon (rack) selection and armament selection is on the Weapon Control panel, but don't for "heaven's sake" fire it off on the ground like I did...
     
         
     
    ...     as it is not pretty and I suppose that is what the "Safety" is for!
     
    The Hawk has a CCS or Communications Control System which provides overall control of the elements of the communications system. The CCS integrates the VHF transmit facilities and the audio signals from this equipment and from the ILS and TACAN receivers. It also integrates the audio tone of the tone generator in the Central Warning System. The radio below the weapons panel is the UHF radio set, but with X-Plane11 you can't access UHF, so the Hawk uses regular VHF frequencies. This radio will control the COM 1 frequencies. It is very nicely done anyway, and super easy to set and use. There are also 20 preset frequencies you can use and if you want a certain frequency, it can be set via the ‘manifest.json’ file with a text editor.
     
    Right Console
    Right panel has the other radio set and this unit is again a UHF unit, but set to the regular VHF (X-Plane) frequencies. This radio controls the COM 2 frequencies. Again the radio can be preset to frequencies and details on the correct insert order (‘manifest.json’) can be found in the manual. The radio panel layout and detail here really good and quite authentic (to a point with X-Plane restrictions).
     

     
    An ILS installation is comprised of a localiser and glideslope receiver and a marker receiver, there is no autopilot, so the ILS is a visual reference only.
     
    The Hawk is fitted with an IFF/SSR (Identification Friend or Foe/Secondary Surveillance Radar) system which provides identification facilities and IFF, and civil SSR including ‘Mode S’. The system provides facilities for an IFF or SSR ground radar station to interrogate the aircraft and for the aircraft to rapidly and automatically transmit an identifying reply. The system replies to Mode 1, 2, 3/A, 4, C and S interrogations, including civil and military emergency interrogations. The IFF/SSR control display unit (CDU) is used to control the operation of the IFF/SSR transponders. It works in this aircraft in the MODE 4 interrogations 4A and 4B and for civilian M3/A or auto selection. Note the oxygen valve (yellow arrow above right).
     

     
    Lower panel known as the "Leg" panel is on the upper panel is the AHRS (Attitude and Heading Reference System) control unit, and the lower is the ISIS control unit (Ferranti ISIS Century Series Gunsight). The AHRS is used to calibrate the artificial horizon or align, and if the balls (both main and standby) are lazy then you haven't done this before flying the aircraft.
     
    The Ferranti ISIS Century gunsight is adjusted via the left and right knobs (arrowed above right), but I can't see any brightness adjustment, so the sight is quite hard to see? Mode selections include: GA – for air-to-air firing, G – this mode is for air-to-ground gun attacks. With G selected, the aiming mark is then depressed to cater for the gravity drop of the shell, R – same as G, but drift control will adjust the horizontal position of the sight, B – when B is selected, the sight is initially depressed, but can still be moved with the depression control. S – same as B, but the sight is not initially depressed. M - air-to-air missile attack mode is not available.
     
    Left Console
    On the left the console covers the aircraft's throttle, engine starting, electrical and flying control systems. Note first the rearward and slightly hidden main fuel cock lever. Engine start and aircraft (electric) trim switches are rear panel. The lovely stubby throttle is excellent, but note the catch? (arrowed), to move the throttle and the catch needs to set in the up position, but be careful if you hit the catch in flight to click down, as then if you go back to idle the throttle will then lock, unless you release the catch again to up...  not the best idea to do if you are on an approach?
     

     
    A set of five gauges cover: No. 1 and No. 2 hydraulic system pressure, Brakes supply pressure and Left and right brake pressures.
     

     
    Left lower main panel are buttons to raise and lower the undercarriage, "UP" is retraction, and "DOWN" is extraction, very different from the usual lever...  a manual gear release for both the nosewheel and main gear is here as well.
    More unusual is a switch (arrowed above right) to lower the flaps between: Up - Mid - Down. and confusing is the flap setting of 0 -5 x10 (degrees). The battery "Volts" gauge is on this side panel as well.
     
    Rear position has a few items removed...
     

     
    ...  with the ISIS Gunsight panel which is missing and AHRS is disconnected, and the left upper armament panel (T1a) shows the weapon activity, but there is no access to the switchgear....   side consoles lose the IFF/SSR panel right and the engine startup panel left.
     
    Overall I think the aircraft finds the right balance on providing a realistic immersion in the cockpit, without that overkill of the minute of details.
     
    Flying the BAe Hawk T1a
    Back to the airshow...    you know when the air display is going to start, and everyone runs to the fence by the runway. Usually I go the other way and run to the parc fermé, as there is nothing, I mean nothing like a jet aircraft or helicopter starting up it's engine(s). (hint turn up your sound volume a little)
     

     
    Starting up the Hawk is actually quite easy. The T1 has a Microturbo 047 Mark 2 Gas Turbine Starter/Auxiliary Power Unit (GTS/APU) installed above the engine to permit ground self-starting and to assist in relights after an in-flight flameout. So there is no ground power cart (GPU). The system is comprised of a gas turbine air producer and a free turbine starter motor. The air producer (GTS) is at the top of the fuselage, forward of the ram air turbine. It supplies air via a solenoid-operated start valve, and when the dump valve is closed it supplies air to the starter motor which is fitted to the engine external gearbox and drives the HP shaft through the gearbox. It is really a bleed system, but a sort of that it builds up the pressure and then blows it into the starter motor, and that then turns the engine. The GTS also automatically supplies fuel to the nozzles in the combustion chamber containing two igniter plugs, then when you light the match..  oh, ignite the fuel it starts up the Adour jet engine.
     
    So fuel cock off, and switch on the fuel pump...   Then you press the Start/Relight button forward on the throttle, which is a sort of primer button, but it is building up the air pressure ready to flow it into the turbine starter, and priming the fuel into the engine. When ready or primed you get a green light GTS lit up ready on the right panel...    Then you just flick the start switch to "Start".
     

     
    The Adour's startup sounds and start sequence is amazing, highly realistic and the sort of a grin of ear to ear of excitement! Loud, keep it loud... bugger the neighbours sort of loud. Engine LP shaft rotation indicator and RPM indicator wizz around into action... then you get a "Rotation" light come on!
     

     
    At this point you need to nudge the throttle slightly forward, and you get the same sort of fire up that you get in an airliner when you turn on the fuel switches at around 18-20 N2, but then the Adour powers up to full power. The CWS will show HYD and AC (1-3) warnings so you have to reset them on the upper left panel by pressing the buttons (arrows upper right). And you are good to go...  remember there is an easy start feature in the menu that does all this for you, but in reality it isn't that hard...  If you get the start sequence wrong though it is 3 min wait to retry for another engine start. Remember to turn on the oxygen (switch right middle console), if working correctly the flow is seen via a flicking on/off flow meter upper right panel... however the rear seat oxygen switch and flow meter does not work?
     
    Ready to fly...   The parkbrake lever is hard to access (or find) far right down by the seat. When moving then be aware of the front nosewheel. First it has a very long trailing link, but it can be very flickery as well (It flickers badly even when standing still?), and so it is very easy for it to go quickly at an odd angle...  it works and works fine, but you have to get used to it when taxiing, it is a bit like the A320's remote tiller feel.
     

     
    Sounds when taxiing are excellent, with all that turbine power but whistle flow aural.
     

     
    Note the mirror reflections of the explosive cord. Usually I find these internal mirrors are quite poor, but in here they are the opposite and have very good and realistic reflections. Flaps are set to "Mid" for takeoff, and required if you are carrying a lot of fuel and full armaments.
     

     
    Your forward view is quite restricted at the normal FOV setting (73º), you could make it higher, but that is not realistic either, but it is hard to look forward and read the lower instruments at the same time at this FOV...
     

     
    ...  throttle up and you give the aircraft about 80% RPM, not too much to make sure at first the front gear is tracking correctly... gradually to 90% then a third down the runway you give the Hawk the full 100% thrust.
     

     
    You want to feel that punch in the back, you certainly get the thrust but it is more slower building up speed than you would think it would be...
     

     
    ...  I found 160 knts to rotate (officially JF note 190 knts?), and you quickly need to get the flaps to zero 0º (500 ft!) and the gear up, so I flick both switches at the same time, but remember to counter the flap lift loss!
     

     
    Ground and air gear animations are excellent, aural retraction (and extraction) gear sounds are also top notch, and the aircraft's excellent FMOD 360º sound externally and in the cockpit is as expected at this level are extremely good....  and yes the hairs on you neck will stand up and get quickly prickly.
     

     
    The Hawk's feel depends on the weight, you feel the extra weight of the T1a fully loaded compared to the far lighter T1 trainer, and although you felt it a bit sluggish on the ground the aircraft will accelerate very quickly to 300 knts in the air, and even while climbing set at 90% thrust. The T1 can climb at a whopping usual 9,300 fpm and one aircraft was known to climb at 11,800 feet per minute, light of course, but that is still phenomenal. Other statistics are still overwhelming with a maximum speed of 1,040 Kph 658 Mph/572 Knts and a service ceiling of 50,000ft and a range of (with only internal fuel) 2,400 kilometers 1,490 MI/1,295 NMI.
     
    That acceleration can deceive you, if you don't watch your artificial horizon, as with a quick glance at the Vertical speed indicator it will surprise you, for when you think you are flying nice and level as but the Hawk is still actually climbing easily upwards, so you will need to be aware of the aircraft's tendency to keep on lifting even when you want level flight and the required need adjust to that flight pitch angle and thrust requirement.
     

     
    There are no helpers in here to fly the aircraft for you, so this is all stick and rudder flying. To make it a bit more easy than relaxing then adjust the trim...
     

     
    ...  the main tailplane trim is hidden under a safety cover rear left console (arrowed) and it is tricky to use as it is electric, but to be honest I have struggled with all JustFlight trims as the Arrow lll was a nightmare to trim easily. The far back position makes it hard to use as well visually (Any keyboard/joystick trim ideas are even worse), but if you do finally get the vertical trim set then the Hawk feel nicely balanced and requires only slight adjustments to it's flight path, but still watch those wide vertical speed swings with any adjustment of thrust (certainly more power). This is an aircraft to fly in the focus and fine movements as than the chucking it all around the sky, although it is a lovely almost aerobatic machine.
     

     
    If you want to fulfill your Airshow fantasies then this is the best aircraft into doing so...
     

     
    Approaching EGOV (RAF - Valley) RWY 14, you keep the Hawk at 170 knts and 200 ft off the deck, and don't forget to wave as you flypast, then
     

     
    just power up and climb away at 2000fpm, yes it is all as good as you thought it would be!
     

     
    Getting the speed down can be tricky though. You do have a two-stage airbrake far rear under the fuselage, but remember if the wheels are down, it doesn't activate? So any serious rub off of speed has to be done before you extend the gear.
     

     
    The aircraft systems included here are very comprehensive. Most of the major systems are covered including...  Fuel system, Electrical systems, Central Warning systems (CWS), Hydraulic systems, Flight Control systems, Communications Control System (CCS), Air-Conditioning systems and Oxygen systems, Engine systems (Including the comprehensive start up system) and all systems have built in failures, and in most cases more than one system can fail at a single time. Full details of each system are well detailed in the manual.
     
    Lighting
    Internal cockpit lighting is excellent, as three knobs adjust the main panel and the two side consoles front and rear...
     

     
    ...  there is "Emergy" panel dim switch, but in reality you adjust the panel lighting down anyway from the very bright full panel setting. Note the great night glass canopy reflections and to also note the reflections on the instruments and glass cannot be switched off, which may annoy a few fliers.
     

     
    External has both (the same) taxi and landing light in the nose, that X-Plane wise is highly visible, navigation lights and selectable Anti-Collision red or white strobes. The white flashing strobes at night are highly visible in the cockpit, but realistic.
     

     
    Landing
    Time to land...  fighter jets can be tricky to land, as they are built for the extremes of speed and manoeuvrability and not the basic areas of flying.
     

     
    150 knts is a nice approach speed clean, but once the flaps are down full and the gear is extended then your goal is 130 knts, but be aware of the fall in performance below the 130 knt zone as it is severe...
     

     
    ....  I have found several times at this point in the approach the aircraft will start to behave oddly, of which I call the "Wobbles", power percentage is critical in staying out of the zone, because if the aircraft starts doing the "wobble" then in over correcting, you can lose it...  more power or stopping the stall doesn't really fix it either, but helps, so the best way to get out of it is just to abandon the landing, go around and get it better and cleaner in the next approach and not in trying to fight it.
     

     
    It is groove thing in that when you get the aircraft into that fine groove of approach and then controlling the speed, then it can all come clean...
     

     
    power off to around 110knts and let the Hawk sink down, but be aware that the final stall speed is around 106 knts which is very close to the 110 knts required. Flare and touchdown has to be smooth as the gear is very supple, get it wrong or hit the tarmac to quickly or too hard and the T1 will bounce, so there is a fair bit of skill required to land the Hawk smoothly and professionally, but then again this aircraft is not for the average flier.
     

     

     
    Liveries
    There is a bonanza of liveries available. Twelve are provided with the aircraft package, and another twelve are available as a separate livery pack. Focus is totally on the RAF and RAF Valley, with a few international airforce users, but no Australian livery version, which is an odd one?
     

     
    Blank is default...  The free Christophe Red Arrows "Flag" is noted here (below right) as it is a great livery.
     

     
    _________________________________________________  
    Livery pack has some excellent RAF celebration and production factory designs...
     



     
    Summary
    X-Plane has had some very good fighters or military aircraft of this category, the best is the AMX jet, FA-18F Super Hornet, X-Trident Panavia Tornado and MiG-29. But all fall short mostly now, as in most cases they are still all X-Plane10 (or with minor X-Plane11 modifications) aircraft and in reality all are very dated, only the GR4 Tornado is really what you would call modern... also they are all not in this price range or quality class, so that leaves this Hawk T.1 all in a category on it's own.
     
    The price in the mid-40's of US Dollars is to be considered in this summary. Again no fighter has cost this much, so you are expecting a high level of quality and a load of features. Yes you get both, as the quality here is exceptional and there is a realism with the cockpit from the external and internal views that is certainly a new level of real world reflection and hence the exceptional glass. So the aircraft in design is certainly top notch, and so does the custom sounds live up to their high expectations as well, the start up engine noises are simply the best yet for a small jet engine. Features are very good as well, with the expected static elements, quick engine starts, aircraft stands, opening canopy and equipment bay and yes the animated pilots are also highly lifelike and can be inserted or not, and you can also have their visors up or down, shame you can't have one in the other seat while you are flying in the front or the rear. Also the menus are good, and better than the earlier JustFlight/Thranda menus, but are not movable or scalable.
     
    The version change from T1 to the T1a is a bit of an odd one, where as the T1 is the trainer, the T1a is the armed version, the menu option just adds on a small tail extension? So there are a few quirks with the aircraft, but all are rather minor.
     
    Aircraft dynamics are excellent, but require skill and focus, but that is what you need when flying a fast small jet, and it is all physical manual flying as well...  the aim here is to out fly yourself, and fly the aircraft to the best of your ability to do so, then the rewards will come.
     
    It would have been or even will become even more interesting when the aircraft acquires the X-Plane 11.30 new particle effects, as that was one feature that really kept on coming back to me as I reviewed the aircraft.. I hope we don't have to wait too soon for an 11.30 update for the Hawk as those dynamics would be excellent here.
     
    The development process for this Hawk was quite long, but the results have been well worth the wait, and the aircraft is certainly more highly refined for that wait, and overall JustFlight/Thranda are bringing a very much more highly refined and detailed aircraft to X-Plane, yes they cost more, but to have this level of quality and design, then that is also required in the new higher level of simulation that is now available to X-Plane, and it is a level we only dreamed of a few years ago, and more so.
    So to that person who stood looking at an aircraft and wonders what is it REALLY like to sit in that display aircraft at an airshow, and to actually fly it...  well now and here with this excellent JustFlight/Thranda Hawk Trainer you now finally have that answer...  Highly Recommended.
     
    _____________________________________________________________________________________  
     
    The BAe Systems Hawk T1/A Trainer by JustFlight - Thranda Design is a new release for X-Plane11 and NOW available here at the X-Plane.OrgStore
     
    BAe Systems Hawk T1/A Trainer
     
    Price is US$44.95
     
    Hawk T1/A Advanced Trainer Livery Pack is also available...
     
    Price is US$14.99
     
    This aircraft is a noted aircraft for X-Plane11 only.
      
    The aircraft is directly available from JustFlight as well.
     
    Features Model Accurately modelled Hawk T1 and T1A, built using real-world aircraft plans Numerous animations including a storage hatch, ram air turbine (RAT), canopy and crew ladder Ground equipment including chocks, access steps and engine intake covers 4096 x 4096 textures are used to produce the highest possible texture clarity PBR (Physically Based Rendering) materials with real-time environment reflections for superb quality and realism Detailed normal mapping for down-to-the-rivet precision of aircraft features
    Cockpit A truly 3D virtual cockpit right down to accurately modelled ejector seats and screw heads - every instrument is constructed fully in 3D with smooth animations Cockpit textures feature wear and tear based on reference photos taken in the real aircraft to produce an authentic environment Interactive checklists for every stage of flight Aircraft configuration system that will allow you to choose between 'cold & dark' or 'ready for take-off' (if aircraft is stationary on the ground) Fully functional and comprehensive IFR-capable avionics fit, including AN/ARC 164 UHF radio, plus a retrofitted modern AN/ARC-232 UHF/VHF unit and TACAN/ILS radio units Authentic head-up display (HUD) Interactive logbook panel for logging your flight details (X-Plane native) GoodWay compatible Adjustable canopy mirrors with real-time reflections of the environment Animated toe brakes Radio knob animations routed through plug-in logic, for optimum movement fidelity and sound synchronisation
    Aircraft systems Custom-coded electrical system with AC and DC resets and loads Realistic landing gear with slow/fast tyre rotation animation (blurry when rotating fast), precise shock absorber animation and wheel chocks Custom-coded hydraulic systems, including functioning RAT Realistic lighting system with rheostat controls Custom external light logic with custom strobe light pattern and custom light halos for added realism Capable of loading and firing X-Plane's default weapons. The currently selected loadout is automatically saved for the next flight.  
    Requirements:
    X-Plane 11 CPU: Intel Core i5 6600K at 3.5GHz or faster 8GB RAM or more DirectX 12-capable graphics card from nVidia, AMD or Intel with at least 4GB VRAM (GeForce GTX 1070 or better or similar from AMD) Windows 10 / 7 / Vista / XP, MAC OS 10.10 (or higher) or Linux 2GB hard drive space _____________________________________________________________________________________  
    Installation:
    Download for the BAe Systems Hawk T1/A Trainer is 629.40mb and the unzipped file is deposited in the "General Aviation" X-Plane folder at 1.12gb (including all 24 liveries) Key authorisation and a restart is required.
     
    Documents:
    Highly detailed manual covers installation and all instrument notes, systems details, panel and menu guides and a basic tutorial flight.
     
    Hawk X-Plane manual (93 pages) ____________________________________________________________________________________ 
     
    Review by Stephen Dutton  29th September 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
    Environment Engine by xEnviro v1.07 US$69.90 : XPRealistic Pro v1.0.9  effects US$19.95
    Scenery or Aircraft- EGOV - RAF Valley for X-Plane 11 1.0.0 by RCMarple (X-Plane.Org) - Free! 
    

     
  5. Like
    chrstphd reacted to Stephen in Behind the Screen : August 2018   
    Behind the Screen : August 2018
     
    In many ways 2018 up to date has been a slightly frustrating one. It is X-PlaneReviews coda to checkout any new releases before publication in either "News!" or "Reviews". Other X-Plane news outlets proclaim new products, but they don't actually see them, so in reality they don't know really what sort of product it really actually is being released, but as in reality the detail is not very good.
     
    We (as in you) and I (as in X-PlaneReviews) expect and accept a certain leeway in new releases or new developers coming into X-Plane. That fact is a given because at it's heart X-Plane is quite complex. Even the very best developers have issues, bugs and items that need attention after the main release, you even expect that and understand that complexity, and usually the areas and items are corrected quickly and professionally.
     
    But in 2018 we have had a bounteous of new product and new developers coming into X-Plane, and certainly the more on board the merrier. They come in two segments with crossover products from the FlightSim world, or someone starting out as a apprentice developer. Nothing wrong with either of those approaches, but they do all have one major thing in common, in badly incompleted projects. In many cases the really "totally obvious" areas that are not covered before releasing their work for sale and to the expectation of users buying it.
     
    Downloading a lot of scenery this year I have been appalled at the so called "finished state" of the projects, some of my correction lists are quite long and detailed on why in reality this scenery shouldn't be on sale in this state... other projects are in similar positions, but are ruined more by poor installation details, and manuals (mostly plugins).
     
    The major point here is that, why not have the work checked and corrected before publication? the i's dotted and the t's crossed...  and don't get me wrong here in that I want all the time the absolutely perfect product on my download, but if a user is faced with a poor scenery with a half completed layout or a plugin they can't install or use then the developer is in trouble, and if they are new to the X-Plane system then that reputation is going to get hammered from day one. So the point is you can't save someone that isn't going to listen in fixing up even the basic requirements.
     
    Once the product is up on the store and a review is done then the excuse that the "review was hard on the product, and affected the sales" is to blame the messenger and not the developer that didn't get it checked out correctly in the first place. We are very mindful here at X-PlaneReviews on how our reviews are presented, but we still look at the released product in the context of it's release sale presentation. In many cases we have delayed a review till the v1.2 release to clear up some items, but the reality is once the review is pinned and is then now out there warts and all once we post it, and then Google will stamp it up there on their servers as well. The problem is the situation is getting worse and worse and not better as the year goes on.
     
    Three items downloaded together this week for potential reviews were all rejected in one form or the other because they were quite bad in the same one form or the other aspect...  so instead of doing reviews I am actually doing my monthly notes instead...   all were worthy reviews, but all were not worthy of attention because of the various areas that are not completed or the installation was not achieved, and X-Plane users deserve far better and more so if you are paying for it.
     
    Worse is the point that there is a little war going on at the moment in trying to get "freewarers" to open their tight financial fists and to support developers and X-Plane in creating a more quality simulator than just being a "Global Airport" simulator that seems to be doing a far better job than the so called professionals lately. And deep down the crux of the issue is poor release product, that is simply incomplete or not up to the standard that payware requires, but overall the points that get me really annoyed is the fact that most areas only needed to be looked over and corrected before release, and in most cases there was only minor fixes and changes required, and maybe only a few weeks more work required.
    A small note on the FS crossovers as their issues are slightly different from the apprentices in the fact that their products don't take advantage of X-Plane's features to promote their product. I have already mentioned about the dumping of mostly FS product in X-Plane to make a quick dollar, but this is mostly quality product that misses out on some excellent tools (i.e. animated airbridges) to make their product (even if old) far more attractive for X-Plane users, again this track record has not been very good to downright awful.
     
    But the attitude of "we will fix it up later is after release" is not going to make you like Apple a trillion dollar company even if that system works for them, they do still beta testing and try to make sure their products are in a certain quality frame before putting them up for sale.
     
    This is in the school report of "must try harder" or at least to get your work checked out by a third party (and with someone actually familiar with X-Plane), and correct the glaring mistakes or issues before publication.
     
    Environmental Products
    September or the Q3 period of 2018 is going to an an interesting and even a very exciting time for X-Plane in first the release of v11.30 (see below) and the battle for your skies with environmental products from Xenviro and Active Sky.
     
    Environmental plugin products for X-Plane have had an interesting history. The first was SkyMaxx, the plugin was a breakthrough weather engine but suffered early framerate issues, but with development and great features it is was certainly a big step above the native X-Plane weather, with crepuscular rays and lens flare for realism. xEnviro was in my mind though the real breakthrough environmental engine, expensive at US$70, however I still think it delivered that promise of realism and the excellent framerate that it promised.
     
    The product itself is very good, but the activities behind the product are going straight into the situation of on how to really stuff up your customers and your own credibility in one go with manual 101. On release there was a foray of updates till Dec 2016, that initially made the plugin really good, great performance and quality weather was a bonus that was v1.06, and it had only one itsy-bitsy issue in that if you lost the internet connection to xEnviro's servers it would simply crash, it was a small one, but a big issue in the day to day running of the simulator...  a fix, not on your life.
     
    The fix finally came in v1.7 in September last year (nine months late) and xEnviro plowed on with the more coming "great features" that finally came with v1.08 in January 2018. Only it didn't as that version had a huge amount of bugs, then came v1.09 that had even more. To put things into perspective a member of the xEnviro team was involved in a life threatening incident that required some time away to recover and hence the mess and quick release of v1.09, fair enough...  but a bug fix, again not on your life, and we are still waiting six months later. So the full bug fix list since Dec 2016 or 20 months ago is just for that Internet connection bug, as I am still running on v1.07. The really annoying thing is that the v1.09 had so much promise, it is SO very good, but you can't actually use it, and the framerate use now stinks?
     
    I will note that xEnviro are also tied in with the Laminar Research X-Plane changes, so a lot is not actually their fault, but even a few bug fixes, just to keep the customer happy after paying over US$70 dollars while you develop forward, not on your nellie. And so most users have already pulled their expensive plugin and gone back to the now more better refined but still heavy framerate Austin Meyer puffs of cloud.
     
    To be balanced is that in the last few months the xEnviro team have been more supportive with better support and forthcoming information, but like I said, I am still running v1.07 (really v1.06 with one bug fix) and so this version is still actually 20 months old. If your a Mac user you didn't have all this palaver because you never got the plugin option in the first place, like I said...  customer relationship manual 101 (look under failures).
     
    So why all the above customer report... Well in September and now in beta is HiFi's Simulations Technologies ActiveSky, a Flightsim product coming over to X-Plane11. The points are that ActiveSky has a pretty good if with an excellent track record in Flightsim, its been around for ages in fact since 2002. On one side is the fact that FlightSim product ported over to X-Plane can have a pretty fickle record, but HiFi do have the numbers on the board and the product is to be priced moderately at around the USA$50 mark
     
    Are you starting to get the full picture between xEnviro and ActiveSky...
     
    If ActiveSky delivers then do you expect users to still be faithful to xEnviro? as you can only push your punters so far, and this is noted in the aspect that xEnviro is a brilliant product, and has coming some even more brilliant ideas and features...  like snow on the ground or mountainous areas, so if the METAR report says snow then you will get that without then changing to a seasonal texture, that feature alone is worth the entry cost, and deep down xEnviro has delivered some exceptional and realistic weather. My gut wants xEnviro to be the premier environmental tool for X-Plane, but the story so far means it has it's very difficult (and wholly avoidable) past to overcome before creating or pressing on with any new forthcoming features...  their past luxury development time and user patience is now very quickly running out.
     
    v11.30
    I covered a full analysis of X-Plane's immediate future in both the Expo 2018 roadmap report and the last Laminar Research Q & A session over the last few months.
     
    Overall you got a pretty excellent picture between these two sessions on where X-Plane is currently going. Certainly v11.30 is going to be an absolute blockbuster, in the fact I have nicknamed it X-Plane11 v2.0. But like I noted in my Q & A notes is the fact that these ongoing progressing features are now taking a significant toll on my system.
    Anyone one will tell you that simulation is always going to be an unending battle with hardware vs software and the hardware usually loses, as you think you have won that battle and then a new one starts, but when your framerate count is starting to run in the lower 20's you start to worry, and I have my settings set at only in moderate positions and not at full max, then the worry is more fraught than ever. My position is always that if can run this then you should be able to as well. My hardware is not the full blast power house, but not quite also the "so old" as it still uses Windows 7, and in that it is positioned very much in the middle to reflect the balance of X-Plane's current requirements. 
     
    The odd thing is that I am in the frame of mind that I am not yet in the next upgrade cycle. My graphic card is 8gb and should be powerful enough for most (yes I know that higher is better) but my board and processors are now starting to feel their three year old age, and so are due to be replaced next year. But overall I should still be in that middle ground of being able to negotiate a balance...  but I have this terrible gut feeling that v11.30 might just do me in?
     
    My savior is hopefully going to be the new APIs of Vulkan (in my case and Linux users) and Metal (for the 36.9% of you that are Apple users), but they are not due until the end of the year, if the API doesn't fulfill its promises then the board and chip upgrade is going to have to happen even sooner, but my reasoning is that Vulkan will deliver and does in the areas I require it to really deliver in and that is in processing the smaller stuff even quicker.
     
    The one major aspect of the Q & A was that Laminar are going forward in one major area and that is in efficiency. So the biggest new features coming are not now the visual showy ones but the hidden engine parts of the simulator and the fact you may not be able to twiddle with the X-Plane internals as much as you could in the past, see the Dev Blog post on shaders. And in fact I think there will be a lot of ongoing internal engine changes right up to until the end of the X-Plane11 run, and not much of the original X-Plane engine will be in there by then as you move into X-Plane12, a bit like when Apple moved over to Mac OS X from Classic MacOS.
     
    Killer Simulator users
    There was the New York Post article about the guy Richard Russell that stole a Dash Q400 and flew it around and finally crashed it in the middle of Seattle's Nisqually Reach on Ketron Island. The article notes is that yes in "you and me" as simulator users are now the biggest danger to the public since ISIS or Al-Qaeda (and yes they also used aircraft as well for terror). More to the point we are a fast rising source of danger because we have already done this threat already before as from the evidence created by that "rogue" pilot that flew with training on "a simulator" into stealing and crashing the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that flew to "god knows where" and crashed and killed so many innocent people....  you are now walking around with a "Killer" or "Terrorist" written on your back because of your association with flight simulation. So be careful folks as they are on to us!
     
    The article is poorly written, X-Plane was noted originally but that section has been deleted (maybe at the deference of Laminar Research) who were also noted in the original article for comment. But some points are quite ridiculous, notably the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’s Air Safety Institute spokesman that quoted "A pilot would also need endorsements from flight instructors for certain skills to fly a Q400"...  hello Mr AOPA, Russell stole the aircraft and didn't ask for permission?
     
    But the article did say (originally to the quality of X-Plane's simulation dynamics) that are home based simulators now getting too realistic and now almost too lifelike for their own good. Obviously this is the main goal of simulators in trying to be as realistic and as close to real world flying aircraft as possible, to note that real world pilots do brush up on their skills on home based computers before doing so in training in real world simulators, and we them call "Study" aircraft for a reason, in to replicate the real world aircraft and ground based simulators for cross training. Let us be realistic in the fact that all home simulators were all mostly created originally to help in and for real world training, not for home user histrionics.
     
    The inevitable point or discussion on if a simulator user could jump in (in this case a Dash Q400), start it up, taxi, takeoff and then do aerial aerobatics is highly debatable and certainly every simulator users ultimate dream. One thing for sure was that it wasn't the X-Plane simulator that Russell flew and learnt from (if he did anyway). X-Plane only has one graded Q400 from FlyJSIm, and very good as it is, but it is certainly not certainly deep enough of systems and avionics to be a base for starting up a real Q400. The only simulation of depth is the MJC8 Q400 from Majestic and it comes with and wait for it...  a training edition!
     
    Maybe that is why Laminar Research ask the NYP to delete their references to X-Plane. But anyway you look at it, then the guy could startup, taxi and fly the aircraft, and so could he have also landed it... I think so (Dashs are notoriously hard to land) as he didn't want to or need to as he selected (the point is he selected) a barren empty island to finish off not only the aircraft but also his own life.
     
    The debate that experienced flight simulator users could transition to the real aircraft will forever rage on, but my experience is that I transitioned to a real B737 simulator and that was from a being a behind a monitor and using a keyboard flier and flew it from YBBN to YSSY and all with the nodding approval of my right seat flying instructor. In the account of my own abilities and with that experience in mind I am quite sure I could fly the real B737.
     
    So that must make me now public enemy No.1!
     
    Stephen Dutton
    1st September 2018
    Copyright©2018: X-Plane Reviews
     

     
  6. Like
    chrstphd got a reaction from Anthony96 in Aircraft Review : 727 Series Pro V3 by FlyJSim   
    Nice review as always Stephen.
     
    It's a bit surprising that they didn't model the cabin, not that its needed for myself but a minimum is always interesting.
    I'm more a cargo hauler and I like when we can open the cargo doors to see some payloads.
     
    Anyway, the most important thing is not in the trunk by the way...
     
    I just made a first loop VOR-to-VOR Portland - Ketchikan - Juneau - Sitka - Kelowna and it's just marvelous.
    I guess I'll have to add the CIVA in short term.
     
    A lot of things to learn or habits to tweak if I want to drive the beast instead of she drives me 🙂
  7. Like
    chrstphd reacted to Stephen in Aircraft Review : 727 Series Pro V3 by FlyJSim   
    Yes I'm with you all the way on this, I am really, really disappointed there is no internal cargo option...  😢
  8. Like
    chrstphd reacted to Dionsol in Aircraft Review : Embraer EMB 110 Bandeirante XP11 by Dreamfoil Creations   
    Awesome review as always, and is most appreciated.  I really have nothing more to add other than to say it is a good airplane and I've been having a love hate relationship with it. Mainly me learning how not to burn up the engines.  I intended to use the aircraft for flight-jobs.net  and eventually FS economy.  But I have to say the fuel to payload ratio is difficult to make money with the aircraft.  Hopefully developer in time will add some additional content to the aircraft by way of having a cargo only interior, would be nice as an example.  Take advantage of that big cargo door in the back.  Overall I'm in agreement with you that the airplane is very good and I recommend it to anybody who wants to fly a low wing turboprop.  Cheers Dion
     
    Couple of Pictures Enjoy
    https://1drv.ms/u/s!AglhWNIoqRUugZY9L56vaXezGFK4Ag
    https://1drv.ms/u/s!AglhWNIoqRUugZY_Maifa_ElBpQ_Og
  9. Like
    chrstphd got a reaction from Anthony96 in News! - New Version Coming : Boeing 727 Series Pro v3 by FlyJSim   
    What a good news ! Thanks
  10. Like
    chrstphd got a reaction from rcmarple in Behind the Screen : Year in Review 2017   
    Hi Stephen,
     
    I don't know if your "Best of the year award" is dedicated to payware only: if it's open to the freeware, there is the absolute gem DC-3/C-47 from Aeroworx.
     
    I own the VSkyLab too and they provide both a slightly different view of the same airframe; really interesting to compare them.
    And they are some nice dedicated painters as well.
     
    And still about the "Best of the year award: Person of the year", they're multiple, at least regarding their activities in my scope:
    Franz Falckenhaus (dedicated to the SMS's Beaver by providing top notch liveries, custom objects and a marvelous engine sound mod and now member of SMS); some painters like Leen de Jager, "monoblau", ...; Bertrand Augras who's upgrading some of the XPFR gems; Claudio Nicolotti from SimCoders; X-Trident guys for the support they provide to their users lately; I agree with you about Beti-X Bella Coola (and Stewart!).
    The only downside, if there is any, could be the time to deliver products but, even, I still prefer a low pace in high quality than a quickly done product. 
     
    Besides:
    I'm worry about the PMDG DC-6's future. A really nice add-on in v10 but needs some love in v11. And no news from PMDG, AFAIK... tdg's sceneries are really great, I own WT3 too (as WT2) but still don't use it: with all the respect to the huge work provided by Greg Hofer, I'm still thinking that those kind of products should work by themselves without having to upgrade all the scenes. I know that the culprit is on the data side but we should have a tool generating the missing data (in the tdg's spirit: maybe not 100% accurate but 100% plausible, and fixable if we want accuracy) As always, thanks for your reviews.
     
    Have a great New Year too Stephen, all the best.
     
    Christophe.
  11. Like
    chrstphd reacted to Stephen in Behind the Screen : January 2017   
    Behind the Screen : January 2017
     
    Well, rested and a head full of ideas, you are ready to take on another year of X-Plane madness and an exciting one at that with X-Plane11 now becoming uber reality… well once all the bugs are finally worked out. But just days into 2017 and most of your enthusiasm has already been burnt and your are rolling your eyes around your head in pain and despair and by the end of the month you can’t believe how hard a month could have been and all that new energy is now already long exhausted.
     
    It wasn’t a bad month per se. In fact it was totally contradictory to the statement above, but it was certainly trialing and energy busting…
    ...  so welcome to 2017.
     
    I hit the boards and came back to the computer days early with the release of beti-x’s sublime Bella Coola scenery in Canada. It was just to good a scenery to not tell you about it, my feeling is that the best scenery of the year gong has already gone and in the very start of 2017 at that right now and not at the end of it, it is so brilliantly good and at that price a real bargain as well.
     
    But my best intentions was that I wanted to start out with X-Plane11 with a totally new and clear slate. With X-Plane10 it had to a point became very unwieldy and totally messy system and that was not without trying to keep some sort of organisation about the whole package. But just too much over the years had been just thrown into the “Custom Scenery” folder and there was plugins galore and a read of my log.txt then you would have banished me to a place just south of the North Pole for complete years of isolation on being able to do any messing up of anything ever again.
     
    So X-Plane11 was to become a clean sheet, a new start and a lighter log.txt of beautiful efficiency and professionalism…  well that is the general idea and to a point I have already kept to that mantra and to the time of refining my main X-Plane organisation layouts (meaning folders) to the best and clearest definition of a purest of systematic structures…  in other words “keeping it all very simple”.

    X-Plane11 in the folders already looks lovely and organised but how long will it all last, for not for very long is my guess but I will try harder this time as the need for my own efficiency and the loss of time tracing bugs.
     
    The updates came quickly and already three weeks in and we at beta 8, and it is all looking quite remarkable. I waited patiently until the New Year before starting to configure and use the new application because there was no point in doing that earlier, and that was a wise thing to do. You do want to look around your new home and settle in but reviews are required and X-Plane10 was the work horse still to get the correct results, but once the later beta’s kicked in I was drawn ever closer to the newer sexier way of flying.
     
    xEnviro
    I noted at the end of 2016 that 2017 was going to a really different look and change for X-Plane, and yes certainly the new X-Plane11 application delivers that look and you feel that in spades but it was a fate situation that at the same time that X-Plane11 came newborn into our world another seismic shift happened as well with the release of a new environmental engine in xEnviro.
     
    Let me be clear in that I have never been a great fan of addon environmental aids. I like the default system to be as basic as Austin and Ben’s newborn code. And when running xEnviro for the first time I was not completely taken with it either and almost disregarded it as another maybe also ran and a big cough at that price. But something this time just made me give it a few more tries and then you get the spine tingling feeling that this was going to be something beyond really special and in our X-Plane world it would be life changing.
     
    First let us be completely evident on somethings about xEnviro. It is in a way a backward step, in that the system is 2d and not 3d (there are 3d objects in there, but not the main cloud formations). It is still buggy as it caused a lot of stress over the last month, and restrictive in ways when you create reviews with only the current local weather available.

    It crashed a lot early on as well with JARDesign plugins causing havoc (I updated the wrong ones or simply put the same unadjusted ones straight back in again). It crashes badly if your internet is not connected or if xEnviro goes off line (I live in Australia so update midnight time in Europe is midday working time for me), and this last one brings up the question of what if xEnviro does go off line or they simply close down, we would need a backup just in case or even a connection to the current X-Plane weather data to keep it running.  You also have to set the settings panel to work for you and not against you, winds need to be adjusted and so does the cloud darkness and a lot more twiddling.
     
    But the advantages with running xEnviro and the effect it has on X-Plane and when certainly paired with X-Plane11 is simply remarkable. Personally I think Laminar Research should buy the lot and make it the standard weather engine in X-Plane and simply be done with it. And I really feel for the Mac users that can’t access it’s charms yet, I hope that situation changes soon.
     
    Once used xEnviro; it is very, very hard to go back to the basic X-Plane default clouds and weather engine even with the X-Plane11 misty soft focus look. It all feels bland and basic after the wonderful formations you have now adjusted used to, and in a bonus it turns X-Plane10 into soft focus X-Plane11 and X-Plane11 with that soft focus already in there is just another world again. Then there is the biggest salvation…  framerate as the plugin is completely separate from the X-Plane engine and there is no effect on framerate, okay a little in high-density periods but nothing that crucifies and fries your GPU until it begs for mercy like the current default cloud system does.
     
    Although the so called “mist” look of X-Plane11 made us divide into two camps, it soon became very apparent it was a very realistic look, and this effect combined with X-Enviro really lifts the look and feel to a whole new level of involvement and realism and that is the aim of the game.
     
    So yes within a very short time our X-Plane view of the world has changed quite significantly, xEnviro brings real world weather to your flying and you are also expected to to up your game in matching real weather situation, either with bad crosswind runway approaches/departures, fog (fog is really good) and changing enroute weather patterns. Because the weather is this close to real you do need another feature built in to the plugin to give you weather details for departure and arrivals. You are a bit blind of the weather conditions and can be caught out as you don’t know what those conditions are until you are faced with them.
     
    Winter Textures
    But for atmospheric flying and views then January was simply overwhelming in it’s delivery. I added in with XP10 my winter textures as well and that just added in more to the ride. Winter textures are great but there is a hole in a few sceneries that need fixing. In most payware sceneries the ground ortho textures are part of the scenery, so with Winter Textures activated you get a green patch in the middle of the whiteness. I do wish more scenery developers would provide winter textures with the scenery as an option, but they don’t so you find a fix.
     
    I created a batch action in photoshop to process the hundreds of texture files, you have to convert to png from dds, to use it in photoshop, but can’t convert it back again to dds. You can with Laminar’s Xgrinder tool, but you can’t automate it to cover the hundreds of files but only with a one on one process which takes too long (even the batch auto takes 20 minutes) but the results are worth it. Putting the adjusted winter files up on the X-Plane.Org is also a no go as it contravenes the developers copyright.
     
    I started this process last year, but this year reorganised the file structure and in the way the MOD (JSGME) tool does the replacement work of the files, and fine tuned the process to create the winter style files efficiently. It works very well but it is restricted to only the ground textures and not the buildings, but it looks and works very well. Another slight with Winter Textures is that the ground textures for the default autogen is still in full spring bloom, so you get patterns of green in the background white.
     
    In time of course X-Plane will intergrate the seasons better into the simulator with X-Plane11, but the developers will still have to provide the extra winter textures to make it work. When done like with beti-x’s remarkable Bella Coola which has replacement textures it is a winter wonderland spectacular. So it works when done well.
     
    X-Plane11
    But back to X-Plane11…   Like I mentioned my adoption of X-Plane11 was rather slow and you would think doing what I do that I would be the very first one in there to pull it apart. But the world today is a very different place than in my youth as with software the first out version is never completed, I rarely now buy any new Apple iPhone on release but a year behind as then it is all sorted and fine tuned and that most certainly is the case with X-Plane except with sceneries, and that is absolutely certainly the case with X-Plane11. This is highlighted even more because getting in first would be giving out the wrong information and the least everyone needs right now is well the latest buzzword in “Fake News”.
     
    But some impressions are worth noting. First X-Plane11 is good, and to the point of being very good. You are seeing a sort of professionalism now coming into the simulator. X-Plane was always early on a clubhouse enthusiastic experimental sort of occupation and the idea that anyone can come and build and then fly their own aircraft. And certainly don’t get me wrong as that is still the foundation and heart of the simulator as it’s name reflects that vision.
     
    But this aspect can also create a problem in that these clubby people don’t really like things to change and although they highly welcome new people you still have to conform to their old fashioned out of date ideas. Tradition is to be respected but mostly in any area of life or business is that if you have that out of date mentality you will wither and die.
     
    As a human race we hate change, we like things the way they are “thank you, very much”, and I am one of the worst one for that. But we live in a world of change and if not our world will die or in this case the one thing we love the most is in our own simulator. Could you really live with Flight Simulator or an X-Plane that stopped evolving now ten years ago, yes the fringes of FS are still very vibrant but the core is static and very, very old.
     
    Many users see X-Plane11 as the dumb down of the simulator. A flashy intro with wizz-bang graphics to select our aircraft and sceneries, and the real horror of taking away our detailed settings that kept us twiddlers happy and contented for hours. But use the new simulator and those early disquiets quickly disappear.
     
    In reality the old x-plane set up panel was a mess or just plain pre-millennium basic. In X-Plane11 you really now have a lot of choices and the quick drill down for more of the more detailed choices in the interface to quickly and speedily do the set up of what you want. The really annoying thing with the older version was that you mostly had to start the simulator to make the changes and then reset everything for what you actually wanted, were as the X-Plane11 version is a one stop shop, go then fly. There is no doubt a lot of time, money and research into how to make the very best interface for X-Plane has been done by Laminar Research and beyond those flashy graphics it is a solid system.
     
    My horror like most to the dumbing down of the graphics page menus was to simply want it all back. But again use it. My twiddling was usually to the negative and not to the positive in most cases, in other words my efficiency went backwards and not to the better with my constant to and throwing of the settings, and in most cases I kept a preference copy to get me back to the default point I should not of changed in the first place.
     
    But the totally overall point of both areas changed above is the sheer change in the speed of not only the loading and starting of X-Plane, but the efficiency of how it runs. As Ben Supnic notes, just to have one setting of the very inconsequential settings like traffic and trees is that they can be really be made to be more focused and aligned for ultimate processing and in other words better processing with your computer and that results in a far better framerate.
     
    Speed is the key here and not the dumbing down of the simulator. Speed to start up and select what you want and to get you flying more quickly and the efficiency of the simulator working for you and not fighting you is what X-Plane11 is all about.
     
    See you all next month
     
    Stephen Dutton
    1st January 2017
    Copyright©2017: X-Plane Reviews
     

     
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