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Stephen

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  1. NEWS! - New Sceneries : Three new Venezuelan Airports for X-Plane 12 by Positive Climb Design A lot of scenery developers are focused on certain areas and countries. Here you have not one but three new X-Plane 12 Simulator regional airports for South American Venezuela by Positive Climb Design in SVJC, SVST and SVVG. A brand new developer to the X-Plane Simulation platform. SVJC – Josefa Camejo Paraguana XP12 Josefa Camejo International Airport (SVJC), is an airport serving the Paraguaná Peninsula in Venezuela. The airport is named in honor of Josefa Camejo, a heroine of the Venezuelan War of Independence.On May 22, 2018, Aruba Airlines inaugurated what, according to Travel and Leisure Magazine was the world's shortest international flight. linking the airport with Aruba Airline's hub in Oranjestad, a flight that lasted approximately eight minutes each way. Features PBR textures Handmade Ground Poly Buildings faithful to the reality Exclusive models for this airport based on the Real version Friendly Frames All airport buildings and facilitiesTrue to original navigation facilities (VOR/DME) Volumetric grass and flowers Using XP12's new 3D vegetation for forests, trees and bushes for seamless integration into the environment PBR-based reflective water surfaces complement missing water bodies in the simulator (newly adapted for XP12) All objects included - runs without additional add-ons or libraries SVST – San Tome XP12 San Tomé Airport (SVST) is an airport at the town of San Tomé, in the Venezuelan state of Anzoátegui. Also known as Don Edmundo Barrios Airport (Spanish: Aeropuerto Don Edmundo Barrios), it also serves the cities of El Tigre and San José de Guanipa, located 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) southwest of San Tomé. The San Tome VOR-DME (Ident: SOM) and non-directional beacon (Ident: SOM) are located on the field. Features PBR textures Handmade Ground Poly Buildings faithful to the reality Exclusive models for this airport based on the Real version Friendly Frames All airport buildings and facilitiesTrue to original navigation facilities (VOR/DME,NDB) Volumetric grass and flowers Using XP12's new 3D vegetation for forests, trees and bushes for seamless integration into the environment PBR-based reflective water surfaces complement missing water bodies in the simulator (newly adapted for XP12) All objects included - runs without additional add-ons or libraries SVVG – Juan Pablo Perez Alfonzo El Vigia XP12 Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonzo Airport (SVVG), is an airport serving El Vigía, a city in Mérida state in Venezuela. It opened in 1991, and was named for the Venezuelan politician Juan Pablo Pérez Alfonzo (1903–1979). The runway length includes a 490 metres (1,610 ft) displaced threshold on Runway 27. The El Vigia non-directional beacon (Ident: EVG) is located on the field. Features PBR textures Handmade Ground Poly Buildings faithful to the reality Exclusive models for this airport based on the Real version Friendly Frames All airport buildings and facilitiesTrue to original navigation facilities (ILS,VOR/DME,NDB) Volumetric grass and flowers Using XP12's new 3D vegetation for forests, trees and bushes for seamless integration into the environment PBR-based reflective water surfaces complement missing water bodies in the simulator (newly adapted for XP12) All objects included - runs without additional add-ons or libraries All three sceneries are value priced at only US$12 per scenery... certainly a great S.American collection and now all available at the X-Plane.OrgStore. __________________ Yes!... SVJC, SVST and SVVG Venezuela by Positive Climb Design is now Available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : SVJC – Josefa Camejo Paraguana XP12 Price is US$12.00 Requirements X-Plane 12 Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB VRAM Minimum Version 1.0 (January 12th 2024) SVST – San Tome XP12 Price is US$12.00 Requirements X-Plane 12 Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB VRAM Minimum Version 1.0 (January 12th 2024) SVVG – Juan Pablo Perez Alfonzo El Vigia XP12 Price is US$12.00 Requirements X-Plane 12 Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB VRAM Minimum Version 1.0 (January 12th 2024) ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 13th January 2024 Copyright©2024: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  2. NEWS! - Scenery Upgraded : KONT - Ontario International Airport XP12 by VerticalSim When you think cargo and Los Angeles, naturally you would think of LAX, which of course is the biggest for the Californian state at 15 Million tons a year, but there is another major hub to the East by San Bernardino that is another major cargo gateway into the LA Basin, this is the Ontario International Airport, again not the Canadian Ontario, but the American version. This gateway still delivers the ninth biggest's cargo tonnage in the USA at 5 Million a year. The ONT airport covers 1,741 acres (705 ha) and has two parallel runways. It is the West Coast's air and truck hub for UPS Airlines and is a major distribution point for FedEx Express. As of September 2018, ONT has more than 64 daily departures and arrivals. Since Ontario's longest runway (runway 8L/26R) is longer than three of the four runways at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), it is an alternate landing site for large cargo aircraft destined for LAX. This Ontario Scenery is an upgrade from the KONT X-Plane 11 version by Vertical Simulations, upgrade means it is a paid upgrade, but previous purchasers can get a get a discount US$4.99 off the full US$15.99 price, or for just US$11. X-Plane 12 features include... Brand new XP12 weather maps Accurate cargo ramps 2023 Airport Layout HDR Lighting PBR on nearly all materials Moving vehicle traffic Traffic AI Routing SAM Jetways Usage of LOD’s for optimization Cargo haulers love dedicated Cargo scenery, and this one at KONT is exceptional. A great addition to your cargo hauler network, and a nice quality scenery at that. The free SAM plugin is required for this airport to work. You can get it here SAM3 Suite. Images are courtesy of VerticalSim __________________ Yes!... KONT - Ontario International Airport XP12, California by VerticalSim is now Available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : KONT - Ontario International Airport, California XP12 Price is US$15.99 Requirements X-Plane 12 - (not for XP11) Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Version 1.0 (January 12th 2024) People who own KONT XP11 can get KON XP12 for $4.99. Coupon code can be found in your original KONT X11 Invoice ___________________________ NEWS! by Stephen Dutton 13th January 2024 Copyright©2024: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  3. NEWS! - Scenery Released : LICD- Lampedusa Airport and Linosa Island, Italy by Cami de Bellis Where is it? It's an Italian Island, but in reality it is nowhere near the Southern Italian coastline, more adjacent to Tunisia, Africa than Europe. Lampedusa is the largest island of the Italian Pelagie Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. The Pelagie Islands from the Greek pélagos meaning "open sea", are the three small islands of Lampedusa, Lampione, and Linosa, located in the Mediterranean Sea between Malta and Tunisia, south of Sicily. To the northwest lie the island of Pantelleria and the Strait of Sicily. All three islands are part of the commune of Lampedusa. Geologically, part of the archipelago (Lampedusa and Lampione) belongs to the African continent; politically and administratively the islands fall within the Sicilian province of Agrigento and represent the southernmost part of Italy. Despite pockets of agriculture, the islands are unnaturally barren due to wanton deforestation and the disappearance of the native olive groves, juniper and carob plantations. Fifty years ago much of the landscape was farmland bounded by dry stone walls, but today, the local economy is based on sponge fishing and canning, supplemented by tourism in Lampedusa. Here is another detailed Cami de Bellis scenery with the addition of complete terrain mesh for the entire islands of Lampedusa and Linosa by Maps2XPlane, yes the same Maps2XPlane that did the excellent islands coverage of Faroe and Savlbard. So obviously you have a great combination of skills and quality scenery here. Features Highly accurate scenery for LICD- Lampedusa Airport and Linosa Island with all buildings modeled. Over 160 custom objects all with Ambient Occlusion Custom Terrain Mesh for the entire island of Lampedusa and Linosa by Maps2XPlane Custom Overlay/Autogen Scenery based on CDB assets by Maps2XPlane" Photo real textures on buildings, vehicles, trees… Photorealistic ground textures based on a satellite image 50 cm. Detailed airport objects and GSE vehicles Custom textured taxiways, runways, and apron Custom surrounding buildings Custom airport lights HD Custom Overlay High-resolution building textures – all in 2K and 4K Excellent night effects World Traffic 3 compatible Native characters and vehicles created specially Ground traffic The terrain mesh is complemented with custom overlays: dense vegetation and country-typical autogen, as well as custom road networks with dynamic traffic. Two heliports, for those fans of helicopters. One at the beautiful Linosa Island, and the other on the US Loran Station Base. This LICD scenery is X-Plane 12 only Images of LICD- Lampedusa Airport and Linosa Island are courtesy of Cami de Bellis ________________ Yes! LICD- Lampedusa Airport and Linosa Island by Cami de Bellis is Available now from the X-Plane.Org Store here : LICD- Lampedusa Airport and Linosa Island Price Is US$18.90 Requirements X-Plane 12 (not for XP 11) Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 2.7 GB Current version 1.0 (January 11th 2024) ________________ NEWS! by Stephen Dutton 12th January 2024 Copyright©2024: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  4. Aircraft Update : Robinson R44 Raven ll to X-Plane 12 by vSkyLabs The Robinson R44 is a four-seat light helicopter produced by Robinson Helicopter Company at Zamperini Field in Torrance, California since 1992. Based on the company's two-seat Robinson R22, the R44 features hydraulically assisted flight controls. It was first flown on 31 March 1990 and received FAA certification in December 1992, with the first R44 delivery in February 1993. The R44 has been the world's best-selling general aviation (GA) helicopter every year since 1999. It is one of the most-produced GA aircraft of the 21st century, with 5,941 deliveries from 2001 to 2020. "Raven" moniker comes with those hydraulically assisted controls and adjustable floor pedals. Then in July 2002, Robinson introduced the Raven II, featuring a more powerful Lycoming IO-540-AE1A5 6-cylinder air-cooled horizontally-opposed piston fuel-injected engine, 245 hp (183 kW) and the wider blades, this "ll" variant also allows for a higher gross weight and improved altitude performance. The R44 from vSkyLabs was first released in late 2020 for X-Plane 11, this is the updated v3.0 X-Plane 12 version, but the original X-Plane 11 version is still available as part of the package. It's an upgrade, so no costs are associated with these XP12 changes. This being a vSkyLabs aircraft, Then the vSkylab philosophy is that you are purchasing an ongoing project, so any aircraft you purchase is not fully completed or is usually not completed to 100%, that is the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft, and all the development is free and ongoing throughout the X-Plane 12 version. These projects are under constant development: the development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements. So this aircraft is noted as an "Early Access" project. VSkylab's always do great modeling and detail, and here it is no exception, however there isn't that what you would call ultra-realism feel, if even a more model style bland with no say of the real world wear or tear feel, so the R44 feels pristine factory new. The detailing is however very good, and realistic, and now there is that more of that X-Plane 12 depth and shine, or better PBR than the XP11 version. This is very evident of the metallic look and pearlescent feel to the skin of the aircraft. All Robinson's are very recognisable by their high tower to rotor hub arrangement, so the control rods are extremely short. The connected twin-aluminum skin blades are 198 inches long and are modeled here to droop very nicely... the Xp12 update also has Improved rotor blades simulation to the more advanced XP12 dynamics. The rotor hub is fully animated in all control movement, collective, throttle and pitch. Tailrotor Yaw is also nicely animated with clever moving parts and joints... ... notable is that the tail rotor direction of rotation on the R44 is reversed compared to the R22 for improved yaw control authority. On the R44 the advancing blade is on the bottom. All vSkyLabs aircraft only use the X-Plane "Hotspot" selection system, so no menus, and only the clickable options are available (for VR users). Click on any small catch externally or the metal loop handle internally for the door to open, or press the front door hinge to hide all the four doors. Glass is very nice, thickish and slightly tinted, but totally clear of marks or dirt. Somewhere along the updates is the change of the leather seating colour from a tan to the bright red... the new seat colour certainly helps in bringing out the cabin to the more detail... Power on and you get inserted the fully (arms and legs) animated pilot, add in weight in the X-Plane "Weight & Balance" menu for each of the three other passengers and they appear in their respective seats. ... all Robinson's use the T-Bar Cyclic, but this one is not a twin grip, but a single grip to the right, HYD switch and red side engine "Starter" button. Notable is the revolving Speed placard on the T-Bar and you can hide the T-Bar via pressing the cover lower. Landing light switch is mid-mounted on the T-Bar, and note the animated centre window pillar "Whiskey" compass (it "shakes") The main instrument panel "Classic 7" has two rows of dials, top row is (LtoR) Vertical Speed (V/S), Artificial Horizon with Slip Indicator, Speed (knts), and engine readouts RPM %. Lower row is Altimeter, Heading Dial and Engine Manifold Pressure. Very simple but effective. Note the excellent rolling turn bubble and you can adjust the Horizon bar. The instrument detailing is very, very good and of good quality. Left centre pedestal is top a large clock, and a Quartz (Hobbs) meter set below, Right pedestal is all the engine and fuel gauges with an Amp gauge and Oil Pressure top, Aux Fuel Tank (17.0 US GAL/64 Liters) and Oil Temperature centre, Another Main Fuel Tank (29.5 US GAL/112 Litres) and a CYD HD (Cylinder Head) Temperature gauge is bottom. Lower centre pedestal is the electrical panel, with Lighting, Instrument Panel (adjustable) top, Nav Lts and Strobe lighting below. Clutch (Eng/Diseng), ALT (Alternator), Master Battery, and (Pump) Prime switch. Lower centre console is a basic KX 155 NAV/COMM Radio (NAV 1/COM 1) that can be switched from Com1 to Com2. The knob above turns to open a vent. Two features are aimed directly at VR (Virtual Reality) users. There is a Handbook down right, but it is only a single page "Checklist" held right under your nose, but it is well done. Second feature is the Avitab (Aviators Tablet) plugin intergration, the iPad is a basic install, but it is here in a good set position, there is no rotation to portrait mode, a feature I grumble about every time, and you can't turn it off either, so you have to just make it disappear if you are not using it (you click the sucker mount). Single Collective is simple (the R44 here is not a dual-control), it has a twist throttle and on the end is the Governor switch (off to start, then on), and the Fuel tank (switch) is on the bulkhead behind... Internal detail overall is very good, and you have gotta love those hanging headsets and cables when the power is switched off. Note the central (operating) pull down (handle) rotor brake. The internal cabin is the same one as the X-Plane 11 version (except for the red seats), but with the transition to X-Plane 12, it creates a totally different 3D environment than the flat bland X-Plane 11 feel, everything now is so much more highly realistic in view and lighting... night and day! Flying the (updated) R44 Starting the R44 chopper is still a slightly complicated set procedure, and it is wise to understand and read the enclosed R44 manual, but the R44 needs to be mostly started via the extensive pop-up checklist. Several things to know... clutch has to be disengaged, you PRIME, then switch to BOTH, and the Fuel (Mixture) knob has to set to RICH (or in) there is a animated cover to note to "not to pull it out, or you will fall out of the sky" marker. Governor switch is on the end of the Collective (off to start, then on), and the Fuel tank (switch) is on the rear bulkhead. ... starting is via the red starter button on the right Cyclic. Throttle is controlled on the Collective, and you move it left or right (left for power which is reflected in the Twin-RPM% dials). When all correct the Heading Compass will shake to the clatter rotor rotation, which has that twin-blade Huey "chop,chop" sound at idle. Sounds are highly re-tuned for X-Plane 12, with the move to the FMOD 2+ sound system as well. They were pretty good originally, but better is still better and you feel and hear that here. Also new are the Implemented physics-based blade-slap sounds. I really like the vSkyLab nose detail with the built in twin-nose (Landing) lights, they are as we shall see are quite powerful. You have to make a decision early on of what sort of flying feel you want with the VSL R44. Last review didn't have the extra (weight) of the optional three passengers, so the R44 was slightly nervy (Not as bad as some sporty choppers), but add in the passenger weight of the three other passengers in this a small machine, and the feel and handling of the Robinson changes quite a lot, actually to the better, as the weight gives you more control. The bonus is that the extra weight is now set more central, so that gives the R44 a more balanced poise when in the hover, it is far easier to stay static and in not having to fight the machine to stay in one place. Slight touches of the T-Bar cyclic will give you your manoeuvrability, either front, backwards or slightly to either side, but the tail (yaw) needs a lot of focus to keep the nose straight, as you can't just hold a position, but have to constantly have to change your yaw slightly to counter the nose moving around. Obviously it feels rather (or slightly) different from the XP11 version with the X-Plane 12 better dynamics, tuned new in here, so yes it is far better than I remember. Sink the nose (pitch forward) and your quickly moving forward with a gradual lift of the collective. The R44 will gather speed very quickly, even with a full load on board... The R44 has a maximum speed of around 130 kn (150 mph, 240 km/h), but mostly you will cruise around 109 kn (125 mph, 202 km/h), with a range of 300 nmi (350 mi, 560 km) with no reserve. For a little chopper the R44 is quite smooth, once you get into the groove, and the Robinson does have quite a nice control feel. in 1997, a Robinson R44 was piloted by Jennifer Murray for the first helicopter circumnavigation of the world by a woman, covering a distance of 36,000 miles in 97 days. For me personally I couldn't fly that far manually, but an R44 also holds the piston speed record of 227 km/h. Tricky that, as in the VSL R44 we have no SAS or Stability Augmentation Systems to take over the flying, so it is always a physical manual flight. Untrimmed... you have the cyclic forward, but also holding the stick slightly to the right to keep the course straight. Wearing after a while with the consistent pressure to hold the said position, but feedback is very good... let us be honest, this is a basic helicopter to fly, basic all round, but it does deliver a good simulation in the dynamics of which vSkyLabs are renowned for... Notable is that the "Autorotation" has been improved in X-Plane 12, this is when you use the blades with no power and still fly via the automatic lift (like an autogyro), This is a qualification requirement to flying helicopters. I push down the collective around 70 knts and keep the power in the green band, then you use your nose high pitch to control your descent under just autorotation. Tricky is slowing down as the R44 is so light, I remember this from the earlier XP11 R44, trying to rub off the speed can be very hard, so throwing yourself towards the ground takes a lot of nerve. Then as you descend you time and return the power via the collective while balancing the yaw, smooth collective action is important. So too much collective pull, and up too quickly will balloon your landing, but get it right and you should go straight into a 5 knt forward hover. The VSL R44 is ideal to practise this manoeuvre, as by here in this video. But the R44 also has that very light tail, so it needs a fair bit of practise to learn how to control it, as you get closer to the ground, your movement on the pedals have to be varied and also super-smooth. Another change in XP12 is the skids now have more movement (animation), they move out and spring upwards when touching (or leaving the) the ground. Personally I don't like the jerky movements, better solid as this as it does not look very realistic as just some bendy skids. Lighting Lighting is okayish and upgraded here for XP12... Very nice Instrument lighting is only one knob adjustable. The overhead spot light does a fair job for map reading or for general lighting, but lighting overall feels a bit dull. External lighting is average, but far better than the earlier XP11.. I like the twin red and white strobe lights on the long beam tail, and the better navigation lights... but those twin-nose Landing lights are super-bright... There was originally only two liveries, a Black and a shiny Blue... but now six more have been added, they are all however of the same scheme of colour and with stripes lower... a bit more creativity in schemes would have been nice. Grey is default. _____________ Summary The Robinson R44 is a four-seat light helicopter produced by Robinson Helicopter Company, and based on the two-seater R22. This one is the more slightly heavier Robertson R44 Raven ll, a light helicopter that seats a pilot and three passengers with hydraulically assisted controls, it also features the more powerful Lycoming IO-540-AE1A5 6-cylinder air-cooled horizontally-opposed piston fuel-injected engine, 245 hp (183 kW) and has the wider twin-blades. Note that you are purchasing an ongoing project with any vSkyLabs aircraft and all the development is ongoing, so this is not a 100% fully developed project. Overall most vSkyLabs aircraft are all mostly basic, but they are also fully detailed to the extreme. There are also no menus or static objects or extensive features, as the focus is totally on the dynamics and flying performance, updated here to X-Plane 12 dynamics. But the R44 also delivers a very credible flying performance. Only interactions are with the few interaction zones that; lock the mixture, move the throttle, change altimeters, open the four doors (you can remove them as well), have a 3d checklist and hide the T-Bar Cyclic control column. AviTab intergration and exceptional VR-Virtual Reality is also available. X-Plane 12 update includes, Improved rotor blades simulation, Improved throttle governor, Autorotation regime tune-ups. In sounds FMOD v2.0+ and physics-based blade-slap sounds. Better PBR is now matched to the latest X-Plane 12 rendering engine and creates a better metallic look and pearlescent feel to the external, and a more realism effect internally. There are also six new/additional default liveries. Skunkcrafts Updater is also now included. Although one of the most popular helicopters built, the R44 is a bit of a challenge to fly, so yes some helicopter skills are required here, but when acquainted to the dynamics, it is also highly enjoyable. If you love the VSkyLab's philosophy, then you will love the R44. So another nice helicopter from VSkyLab's updated to X-Plane 12, you want more of course in features and details, but that is not what VSkyLab's is about... it is all about the flying pure and simple, and in that area the Robinson R44 Raven ll really delivers... recommended. Now available from the X-Plane.OrgStore or directly from vSkyLabs ___________________ Yes! the Robinson R44 Raven II Project - VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Series is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Robinson R44 Raven II Project - VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' On sale: $32.95 US$21.41 Project Main Features: Optimized for the latest X-Plane 12 Flight Model Robust and Highly Defined flight dynamics model of the Robinson R44 Raven II helicopter, built around the powerful, native X-Plane 'Experimental Flight Model' environment Highly detailed model of the Robinson R44 Raven II helicopter Autorotation capable Comprehensive systems which were designed to follow the real R44 Raven II POH, as authentically as possible within X-Plane 11 flight simulator limitations Fully functional VR (Virtual Reality) Ready: highly interactive cockpit environment including levers, switches, guards, 3D checklist viewer, modular cyclic and more Equipped with Robinson's classic 7 holes analog panel R44 Auxiliary fuel system. Removable doors Fully featured GNS530 Built-in Avitab Compatibility (Avitab plugin not included) Multi-Layer FMOD 2.0 sound pack The project is under constant development: development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements Skunkcraft Updater is included: project updates are fast and efficient! Requirements: X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Note: latest version is for X-Plane 12 . XP11 version still available Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 3.0 (January 5th 2024) AviTab Plugin is required for this aircraft Note: In order to use and enjoy VR environment in X-Plane, user hardware and system specs should meet the required specifications for OS, CPU, GPU, MB and RAM which are specified both in the given VR hardware websites and at X-Plane.com. Aircraft download is 265 Mb, and unpacked then installed in your X-Plane Aircraft folder 413 Mb Documents How to INSTALL your VSKYLABS aircraft.pdf How to UPDATE your VSKYLABS aircraft.pdf VSKYLABS Robinson R44 POH.pdf VSL R44 Essentials.pdf Designed by VSKYLABS Support forum for the Robinson R44 by VSKYLABS _____________________ Review System Specifications:  Windows - 12th Gen IS1700 Core i7 12700K 12 Core 3.60 GHz CPU - 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - PNY GeForce RTX 3080 10GB XLR8 - Samsung 970 EVO+ 2TB SSD Software: - Windows 11 Pro - X-Plane 12.09rc3 (This is a Release Candidate review). Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00 Scenery or Aircraft - KHAF - Half Moon Bay by Rising Dawn Studios (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$19.00 - KJAX - Jacksonville International Airport (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$19.99 ___________________________ Update Review by Stephen Dutton 10th January 2024 Copyright©2024: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  5. There has been three updates one substantial v1.01, then two small twiddly updates v1.2/3. Lighting is the major change, and KJAX is far better than the almost complete darkness before... still not the best though as the GA area ramps are still in darkness, but let us say better... so it's not the scenery's strongpoint. LOD's are still too short as well. That said, it's a great scenery, one I have used frequently, do I recommend, yes absolutely.
  6. NEWS! - Aircraft Update : Tensor 600X v3.1 - VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' The vSkyLabs Tensor 600X German two-seat tandem configuration autogyro prototype has been updated to v3.1. By all accounts this a very small update as there are only three items listed (X-Plane 12 conversion was done in April last year). But the changes are interesting and you gain some significant features. First is the 3D HUD visualization, or the instruments are now reflected in the screen in front of you. Secondly is the additional 'Test-Pilot' instruments cluster, that can can be turned off by disabling the said cluster. The third item is a nice graphic cleanup. Version 3.1(January 8th 2024) 3-d HUD visualization was implemented: Part of the additional 'Test-Pilot' instruments cluster (can be turned off by disabling the cluster). Minor graphics refinements. The VSKYLABS Tensor 600X is a high definition autogyro simulation of the Tensor 600X, based on development information which was provided by ‘TENSOR AG.’. However, not all of the information, specifications and data, system descriptions and flight instructions in this manual are necessarily representing the real Tensor 600X specs and data, and should not be considered as official information with regards to the Tensor 600X. The real Tensor 600X is still under development and its complete specification and performance figures will be available once ‘TENSOR AG.’ will release it in public. This being a vSkyLabs aircraft, Then the vSkylab philosophy is that you are purchasing an ongoing project, so any aircraft you purchase is not fully completed or is usually not completed to 100%, that is the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft, and all the development is free and ongoing throughout the X-Plane 12 version. These projects are under constant development: the development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements. So this aircraft is noted as an "Early Access" project. Project Main Features: Flight Model tuned to X-Plane 12 New Rotax 915iS engine Systems: G1000 autopilot is now inverter-dependent, with a safe mechanism for gound operations. New interior lighting systems for the instrument gauges. Interaction: Added option to hide the front stick (similar to 'hide-yoke'). Graphics: Extensive PBR update to fall in line with the latest XP12 lighting engine updates. Pusher prop visualization update. Liveries update. Additional 2 liveries. Enhanced windshields. Sounds: New FMOD 2.0 sounds pack. VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Project of a real world prototype Autoupdater included The project is under constant development. Images are courtesy of vSkyLabs (X-Plane 12 version) Design by VSKYLABS Support forum for the Tensor 600X ___________________________ The Tensor 600X - VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Tensor 600X - VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Your Price: US$29.00 On sale: $29.00 US$18.85 Requirements X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 3.1 (January 8th 2024) ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton' 9th January 2024 Copyright©2024: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions)
  7. Aircraft Review : JRX Design Bell 407 v1.30 for X-Plane 11 and 12 A derivative of the Bell 206L-4 LongRanger, Bell 407 is a four-blade, single-engine, civil utility helicopter that uses the four-blade, soft-in-plane design rotor with the composite hub developed for the United States Army's OH-58D Kiowa Warrior, instead of the two-blade, semi-rigid, teetering rotor of the 206L-4. So the breed line is from the famous "Jetranger", but the 407 is the far bigger and powerful relation to the family. The Bell 407's fuselage is 8 inches (20 cm) wider, increasing internal cabin space, and includes 35% larger main cabin windows. The more powerful Rolls-Royce/Allison 250-C47 turboshaft allows an increase in Maximum Takeoff Weight and improves performance at hotter temperatures and/or higher altitudes. The helicopter has standard seating for two crew and five cabin seats. In 1993, Bell began the development of the New Light Aircraft as a replacement for its Model 206 series. The program resulted in the 407, a development of Bell's LongRanger. A 206L-3 LongRanger was modified to serve as the 407 demonstrator. The demonstrator used hardware for the 407 and added molded fairings to represent the 407's wider fuselage then under development. The demonstrator was first flown in 1994, and the 407 program and was publicly announced at the Heli-Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada, in January 1995. The first 407 prototype (C-GFOS) then accomplished its maiden flight on June 29, 1995, and the second prototype (C-FORS) followed on July 13, 1995. After a short development program, the first production 407 (C-FWQY/N407BT) flew on November 10, 1995. Since then almost 1500+ aircraft have been built. In 2021, only three years ago JRX Design started in the X-Plane Simulator with the dual SA 341B and SA 342J Gazelle, then their next release was the Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm Bo 105 DBS-4, a big name, but also a lot of helicopter, which was updated only 12 months ago to X-Plane 12. All sensational and quality designs. This is JRX's latest release with the Bell 407. Notable is that the release(s) are separate for both the X-Plane 12 version or the X-Plane 11 version, as they are not packaged together here. We will of course focus on the XP12 version for the review, in details the X-Plane 11 is identical, but missing the X-Plane 12 dynamic features. This is not the first Bell 407 for X-Plane. That was the excellent Bell 407 from Dreamfoil Creations, a standard bearer for it's time with a huge feature list and flying dynamics. Currently still only X-Plane 11, but with the release of the terrific Schweizer S300CB, it noted the developer was back in a big way, and he notes that the Bell 407 (and the AS350 B3+) are now being developed for X-Plane 12, expect in a few months. So that obviously sets up a quandary, which would be the best B407 to buy? A hard one even for me, as both as we shall see are very highly quality developed machines. The B407 from JRX is available now and for X-Plane 12, but the Dreamfoil 407 will have a bigger feature list and personal familiarity... it is a very, very tough choice. Note, that since this review has been published, JRX Design has since updated the 407 to v1.30 (forget v1.10 as it was a non-starter). There were a few new additions, the biggest new feature was the CINEFLEX camera feature, and that item has now been included in the review. Design wise JRX have a superlative quality record, and to scale, and that aspect shows here. The 407 is beautifully done in modeling terms with excellent glass. Odd here though is you can't hide the glass reflections (inside or external), but it is still very well done with both front and rear doors with window (opening) hatch inserts. The huge fuel filler is excellent. Notable is that the riveting is drawn on and not modeled with highlights, same with the engine cover latches. It's well done but noticeable, but the external panel bolts are nicely 3d. The engine internals are also images, again highly realistic, so you admire them and are not as so distracted by them being only 2d Rear tail boom, horizontal stabiliser and upright tail support are well modeled, with the original orange/white tail-skid. The heart of a helicopter are the rotors and their assemblies.... The main rotor is a 35 foot diameter, soft-in-plane flex beam (flapping flexure) type yoke/hub with four interchangeable blades. Elastomeric technology is incorporated and allows for blade movement. The blades and yoke are all composite materials. The rotor is designed to rotate at 413 RPM at 100% Nr. As rotor heads go it is very, very simple design, just the tower and four pushrods. Plate construction is really good, as are the arms, but we are going to lose points because only the collective bite is animated (13 degrees of twist), shame as we know the Dreamfoil 407 is fully animated, but the movements here are good. Rear tail-rotor is intricately designed, great detail and fine work. The yaw animations are also well done and visible. All doors are animated, can be opened externally and internally, and they can also be removed, but only all and not individually. Left side also takes away the cam centre panel, for a very wide open space for the Medi-Vac. So you really do wish for more selection on which doors you want removed as you can't slide the rear doors open in flight, missing also is the long and short window door panel option. Rear cabin seats five, or four chunky seats and a tight centre child seat in the rear. Default colour is a light grey with the very nice "Bell" logo on the seat back, the trim material is all very nicely done. Seating colours change to the selected external livery, with four choices in Light Grey, Red, Green and Dark Grey. The familiar restricted cabin roof is well reproduced here, making the rear cabin feel very authentic to those familiar with a 206/406 environment. Forward pilot seats are also very chunky for a helicopter, but very well designed and created. Again the materials are of a quality nature, a feel real effect if viewed in closely of the excellent chosen materials, the above roof switch and CB-Fuse panel is also excellent. All circuit breakers are active and animated. Side doors are beautifully realistically molded, with the authentic bell 407 logos and opening slide window, same in the rear. There is the option for single or duel controls, the left side pilot's cyclic and collective are very basic, with just a throttle built in. The right side pilot has a more detailed collective head, with FLOAT activation and lights with SEARCH, LDG (landing) and Start/Disengage switch. Chunky could also describe the instrument panel, for a small helicopter the 206/407 instrument panels are massive. But the instrument arrangement is quite simple. Top left is a Radio Altmeter, Engine readouts (TRQ - Torque, MGT, NR/NP - RPM, Davtron Clock/OAT/Volt meter, Fuel PSI-AMPS, FUEL Qty and Gearbox and Engine Oil pressure/Temp). Flying instruments include Airspeed, Artificial Horizon, Altimeter. Main NR/NP Tachometer dual gauge, Bendix/king HSI (Horizontal Situation Indicator), Vertical Speed instrument. OBS (Omni-Bearing Selector) for ADF 1/2, OBS NAV 1 and Turn rate dial. Lower is the avionic stack, with a custom GNS 530, KX 155A COM/NAV 1 radio, another KX 155A COM/NAV 2 radio, Bendix/King KMA 30 radio, Bendix/King KT74 Transponder and bottom (flat) a Bendix/King KR87 ADF radio. The metal rudder pedals are also highly designed and have pretty Bell logos. Panel can be set in either a light or dark tone There are two sets of headphones, in that their cables drag across the cockpit and obscures the instrument panel, you can click (lower volume) to hide the right headset, but you can't click on the left co-pilot one to hide it? so it hangs there! and right in your view line (It can thankfully be hidden another way as we shall see later). v1.20 and the Co-Pilot headset can now be thankfully also hidden directly via a "hotspot" click. Power on and the panel is beautifully done, love the instrument contrast to the red radio readouts. Then simply glorious at night! Caution Warning Panel (CWP) is very authentic, you can also test the systems via the button right panel. CWP can be set to BRIGHT or DIM illumination. Other internal lighting includes rear bulkhead adjustable spot light, plus the same as a cabin (switch) light, rear cabin lights again look very nice in the darker light, single overhead panel switch, or the individual rear switches can be used. Overhead panel lighting is again sensational. Menu To access the menu, you press the "Tablet" button on the far right top of the instrument panel. It is in the design of the RWP GTN 750 module. The tablet is extremely well intergrated with a support arm to the instrument binnacle. There are four option tabs on the left; MENU 1, MENU 2, RXP TAB, Avi TAB and LIVERIES. MENU 1 You could call Menu 1 the options tab set into five categories (not labeled). First two, with first the Static Elements, Covers, Tiedowns and Flags, second is the external "GPU" (Ground Power Unit). Note the "Rotor Park Brake" has to be down to activate the Static Elements. Next category covers the pilots and passengers; you have "Fly With Copilot" that puts a crew member in the left seat, notable is when you do this that headset disappears from your POV. You also have "Crew Helmets" but those pesky hanging headsets then return... damn. Pressing "Crew Headsets" will hide only the Pilot's headset, but not the Co-Pilot's. Final option here is the "Passengers", which inserts two lovely ladies in the rear cabin If you adjust the X-Plane "Weight & Balance" menu, it makes no difference or adds in NO more passengers or cargo. In this area the JRX is limited in options Next category covers options; "Dual Flight Controls", and Doors ON/OFF... Under the rear there is a large "Searchlight", or you can have the "Emergency Floats" installed on the skids. There are upper and lower "Wire Cutters" and last is the "ROTOR DAMPENER" cap. New in v1.20 were some very nice rear "Bear Paws" Last category is the set of options for the (optional) Reality RXP GTN 750. There is also a "Autopilot Unit" or Stability Augmentation Systems (SAS), this panel is placed lower right on the instrument panel. Last two options here is the "AviTab" tool (Plugin required), and the selection of the Light/Dark instrument facia. Also on the right side of "Menu 1" are three "Engine Exceedances" readouts, these can also be reset in TRQ (Torque), MGT and NG RPM Listed top of the panel is the current "Version" MENU 2 In this tab you set the aircraft's configuration. Top is the "Fuel Load" in 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and 1/1 or FULL. Lower left is the changing weights as you select the (Fuel) and Weight/Payload selections right, "ALL UP WEIGHT" and "MAXIMUM TAKEOFF WEIGHT" must balance. Lower are three options with CofG (Centre of Gravity), "Vibrations" Off-x1, x2,x3... last is the selection of the FOV or "Field Of View". RXP/Avi TAB Are both quick button selections of the Reality WP GTN 750 and the Avitab tool LIVERIES You can select your livery via the tablet, and it gives you an image of the 407. There are 21 liveries, that covers a wide spectrum of services and countries, all are excellent. CINEFLEX A new feature added to the JRX B407 in the update v1.30, was the excellent CINEFLEX camera system. The Cineflex V14 is a 5-axis gyro stabilized camera system that delivers images completely free from even the smallest vibrations. It has a Sony Cinealta HDC 1500 camera integrated in the carbon-fibre housing that rotates a full 360°, and all movements are operated from within the helicopter. The first place you would look to activate the camera is the JRX Menu, but it's not located on there? The Camera system is activated by the "Camera System" switch, on the overhead panel, row below the circuit breakers/fuses, far right. Switching it on comes with a disclaimer from the developer... it will deliver a 25% FPS hit on your framerate (any internal to external X-Plane viewpoint, usually has this same negative effect). It is a significant hit, so if the CINEFLEX is not in use it is best switched off. Activated you get the camera pod assembly now visible, slung under the nose of the B407, the modeling is excellent with the detail and the quality of the camera system. On the left side of the instrument panel, there is now positioned a cowled screen and operators panel... The panel has two sets of camera operation knobs, and four buttons. Power, Overlay, Reset and Park. "Power" is to switch on the system, "Overlay" puts a frame and recording data on the screen, including REC, Timecode, Resolution, Camera Coordinates, Airspeed, Heading, Altitude, Track, (camera) Pitch & Zoom "Park" will foldup and store the camera rearwards, "Reset" will set the camera to it's forward "ready" mode. Left small knob is the "Zoom"... 0%-100% Right is the knob/joystick to adjust the camera angle, ROTATE and UP and DOWN angles. All the camera movement controls can be set as commands, for keyboard or joystick (HAT) actions, this allows easier control while flying. The CINEFLEX is expertly done, and a great addition to the 407. ___________ Flying the Bell 407 If you open the JRX 407, it will have the annoying habit of just shutting down again? even if the "Start with engines running" tickbox is active. There is a trick here... The issue is caused by the "Idle" button and throttle being set to closed, this is the shutoff point to kill the engine. To start you have to de-click the "IDLE-REL" and give the 407 a bit of throttle (80). Once running, then you can go back to the idle stop, but don't press the IDLE-REL, if not it will just shutdown the engine again... or your back to square one. The "Start" switch is on the same collective, and as long as the fuel is on, then a press and hold of the switch is all that is needed. At first you don't think it is going to fire, then at once around 50% NR rpm, the Allison 250-C47 turbio-shaft engine (813 shp (606 kW)) gets itself together and your in the flying business... its all a FADEC-controlled engine (Full Authority Digital Engine Control), as the FADEC system is designed to reduce pilot work load and increase engine reliability by fully automating the start procedure, and holding engine parameters to tighter tolerances in flight. It feels excellent in this JRX machine... .... then twisting the throttle to "FLY" will increase the NR % to 100% Does the JRX 407 sound good... brilliant in fact. The start whine is excellent, so is the throttle adjustments through the spectrum, then the full rpm chop is really, really good, I've flown on a 407 (and a 206) and it is as good as you will get. I couldn't get any noisy internal blade slap, but external blade sounds in movement when in flight manoeuvres are excellent. Whoa! off the ground with a bit of slight cyclic back, and a feel upwards movement of the collective, and you go into a perfect hover... ... "Oh I like this!" I've had my time with wiggly nervous helicopters for a fair while, "This one is smooooth". Already happy, a bit more collective and a push forward of the cyclic and you are up & away. 206/407 usually need a bit of low nose to get them moving... not too much here and the speed builds very quickly. Bell later replaced the tail rotor pedals with the taller and slightly closer-to-the-pilot versions, as many pilots complained they were too high, as they preferred the 206 pedals than the 407's. The Bell 407 has a maximum speed of 140 kn (160 mph, 260 km/h), with an economical cruise speed of 133 kn (153 mph, 246 km/h). The range is 324 nmi (373 mi, 600 km) with a service ceiling of 18,690 ft (5,700 m). There is the vibration option... OFF is no vibration, x1 is not really a lot, x2 is about perfect as x3 is very, very noticeable shaking, really it feels like your blades are coming loose! I was very impressed with the Autopilot Unit or Stability Augmentation Systems (SAS). It has had some fine tuning in v1.10, but it felt fine to me... you can LVL (Level) then hit the AP, then HDG (Heading) and ALT (Altitude) and the transition in flight is excellent, only a slight lift as you go to the auto system. V/S (Vertical Speed) changes are 5 points either way, but honestly, if your not climbing high, then unlock the ALT and add a little collective to go up, then reselect ALT at your set altitude, the same to go down with less collective. Coming out of auto is good as well, but you need to disconnect the HDG and ALT selections before you disconnect the AP itself for a smooth transition, or it bumps coming out. Heading changes under the SAS are nice and smooth, long and with not any tight jumpy turns, so excellent... yes very impressed. Really the 407 is so nice to fly manually (balanced when trimmed), you won't rely on the SAS, it is a relaxing controls machine, even distances are easy. Time to head back to the Jay Stephen Hooper Memorial Heliport. The 407 has a reputation for solid control feel in flight. That, combined with plenty of power, makes the 407 a real performer. The 206 (Jetranger) feels heavier than the 407 on the controls, so most pilots prefer the 407's flight control’s hydraulic boost, it is quite heavy if you turn the assisted system off. The Bell 407 is not a low-inertia system, it is also not a high-inertia system either like the JetRanger. So the feel is set somewhere in between, in making your approach it can be quite different. Autorotating the 407 going down I found there was still a high degree of maneuverability during the glide (power off), then the transition to Effective translational lift (ETL) was okayish, as you have to be aware on the loss of speed to avoid too much sink, so it's best to transition further out than closer to the pad in case of a sudden loss of lift. The flare and touchdown also requires a different technique than in the JetRanger. Timing is more critical because less energy is stored in the lighter-weight spinning rotors and the more collective pitch is used to cushion the helicopter’s touchdown. In addition, the pilot holds the helicopter in a nose-high attitude and touches down on the heels of the skids. It’s a fairly standard procedure for a lower-inertia rotor. One warning though is the 407 in the low hover is very susceptible to the swing effect, "Mast Bumping" is only present with a 2 blades rotor ...like R22 , R44, B206, but I found here the pendulum effect was very pronounced, the wrong (too heavy) input, and the 407 will swing quite violently, with the obvious results, so keep the final inputs extremely small, even pull away and do a new approach to get the procedure right. A few hours rest and I am airborne again, now twilight... The 407's external lighting is excellent, except for in one area. There is a "Landing" light in the nose, and two amazing flashing strobes underside, rear red beacon and Navigation/Strobes on the horizontal stabiliser fences, the best though are the fantastic "Logo" spots on the side, I totally absolutely loved the lit logo look at night! It is mostly excellent, but the collective switch "Spotlight" created nasty ant lit marks all around the nose and windscreen, so you need to keep it switched off. Now darker, and I am cruising low and fast over the Freeways & Highways Los Angeles County... my favorite Heli-Pilot pastime, the 407 is simply brilliant here, easy to cruise... did I say fast. In roles (or role-play) you are restricted here by the JRX door arrangement, there are no sliding doors on the rear, and not being able to individually remove, say the rear left door, restricts your role playing. Scouting for "News" I am playing a version of the "Nightcrawler", yes the movie , as I love this livery and the cruising above the LA landscape at night. I would have loved an open door, even a cameraman shooting the streets, but there is not even a Medi-Vac version, so it all feels all a bit limited if you wanted to be part of the action. So the JRX Bell 407 is excellent to fly, even say a novice could handle the aircraft and enjoy it's abilities... too benign, no I didn't get that feeling at all, it just felt right and the 407 was a totally enjoyable dynamic experience... then what a way to end the night flying with a visit to that famous "Hollywood" sign... perfect. _____________ Summary The Bell 407 is a four-blade, single-engine, civil utility helicopter that uses the four-blade, soft-in-plane design rotor with a composite hub. So the breed line is from the famous "Jetranger", but the 407 is the far bigger and more powerful relation to the family. The release(s) of the JRX 407 here are separate for both the X-Plane 12 version or the X-Plane 11 version, as they are not packaged together. So make your choice wisely as they both cost the same. JRX Design are now very accomplished developers, the Bell 407 is their third release for the X-Plane Simulator, after the earlier dual SA 341B and SA 342J Gazelle and the Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm Bo 105 DBS-4. Notably the aircraft is created to a very high standard, beautiful modeling and lovely intricate details to scale. However rivets and engine fences are images and not 3d, but the main exterior bolts are modeled. Rotor hub is exceedingly well designed, but only has semi-animations for (twist) collective, and tail yaw. Glass is excellent (maybe the rear windows are bit dark) and there are no reflections disable for the internally or externally for the windows. Cabin and instruments are exceptionally well done, and all is very quality work in feel and look, but there are restrictions with only a singe door hide, and there are not many options for different fitout versions (Medi-Vac, lift hook) and role-playing that is mostly common with Helicopter packages. Lighting internally and externally is again excellent, but for ant whites around the frames with the spotlight feature. Although the official Bell 407 Manual and Procedures are very nice (authentic), a JRX Design manual was also required here. The updated v1.30 also comes with the sensational CINEFLEX camera system, hung on the nose, you have a full control of the camera and it's storage, v1.30 also has some other nice visual and menu tweaks as well. The JRX Bell 405 flies very well, I loved it as it was certainly not a edgy machine to fly, too benign, no I don't think so, so great for first timers and novice fliers, performance and dynamics feel also perfect. Would I like JRX Design to also do the famous 206 Jetranger? After this 407 I certainly think so, as it would be an excellent idea to do a fly off of their different capabilities, but more options overall would be nice. I love the 407, to a point now it is my current favorite helicopter to fly, I don't love niggly machines, I want to fly, hover and do things without the stress, throw in the sheer quality and X-Plane 12 realism and the JRX Bell 407 is a worthy winner... highly recommended. ________________ The Bell 407 by JRX Design v1.30 is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here : JRX Bell 407 for X-Plane 12 Priced at US$35.99 Requirements X-Plane 12 (not for XP11. If you want the XP11 version, get it here ) Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 1.4 GB Current Version: 1.30 (January 28th 2024) JRX Bell 407 for X-Plane 11 Priced at US$35.99 Requirements X-Plane 11 (not for XP12. if you want the XP12 version, get it here) Windows, Mac or Linux - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 1.4 GB Current Version: 1.30 (January 28th 2024) Installation and documents: download for the JRX Bell 407 is 1.38 Gb and the aircraft is deposited in the "Helicopters" X-Plane folder. Full Installation is 2.76Gb AviTab Plugin is required for this aircraft Documents supplied are: JRX Bell 407 - READ ME.txt Bell 407 - Operational Evaluation Board Report.pdf Bell 407 - Pilot Ground and Flight Procedures.pdf Bell 407 - Rotorcraft Flight Manual.pdf JRX BELL 407 - END-USER LICENSE AGREEMENT (EULA).txt Documentation consists of three official documents that cover the 407 Flight Manual, Pilot Ground and Flight Procedures and Operational Evaluation Board Report... but there is no JRX 407 Aircraft manual, that was badly needed and certainly required here. Designed by JRX Design Support forum for the JRX B407 Review System Specifications:  Windows - 12th Gen IS1700 Core i7 12700K 12 Core 3.60 GHz CPU - 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - PNY GeForce RTX 3080 10GB XLR8 - Samsung 970 EVO+ 2TB SSD Software: - Windows 11 Pro - X-Plane 12.09rc3 (This is a Release Candidate review). Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00 Scenery or Aircraft - Hooper Heliport (58CA) - ___________________________ Review by Stephen Dutton' 6th January 2024 Copyright©2024: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  8. NEWS! - Aircraft Update : Robinson R44 Raven II v3.0 to X-Plane 12 by vSkyLabs It has been the world’s best-selling GA helicopter for more than two decades with the Robinson R44 Raven II. The R44’s four-seater aerodynamic fuselage optimizes airspeed and fuel economy. It is powered by Lycoming IO-540 fuel injected engine and it cruises at 110 knots and can fly 300 nautical miles and up to 14,000 feet. And now the R44 by vSkyLabs is available for X-Plane 12. Note, this latest v3.0 version is for X-Plane 12, but the original R44 XP11 version is still available. Flight model - complete update to latest X-Plane 12: Improved rotor blades simulation. Improved throttle governor. Improved engine power gradient to fall in line with MP limitations more accurately. Landing skids physics tuneups. Autorotation regime tune-ups. Sounds: Implemented physics-based blade-slap sounds. FMOD pack converted to v2.0x Graphics: All-around PBR new setup to match the latest X-Plane 12 rendering engine. New/additional default liveries. Features Optimized for the latest X-Plane 12 Flight Model Robust and Highly Defined flight dynamics model of the Robinson R44 Raven II helicopter, built around the powerful, native X-Plane 'Experimental Flight Model' environment Highly detailed model of the Robinson R44 Raven II helicopter Autorotation capable Comprehensive systems which were designed to follow the real R44 Raven II POH, as authentically as possible within X-Plane 11 flight simulator limitations Fully functional VR (Virtual Reality) Ready: highly interactive cockpit environment including levers, switches, guards, 3D checklist viewer, modular cyclic and more Equipped with Robinson's classic 7 holes analog panel R44 Auxiliary fuel system. Removable doors Fully featured GNS530 Built-in Avitab Compatibility (Avitab plugin not included) Multi-Layer FMOD 2.0 sound pack The project is under constant development: development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements Skunkcraft Updater is included: project updates are fast and efficient! This being a vSkyLabs aircraft, Then the vSkylab philosophy is that you are purchasing an ongoing project, so any aircraft you purchase is not fully completed or is usually not completed to 100%, that is the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft, and all the development is free and ongoing throughout the X-Plane 12 version. These projects are under constant development: the development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements. So this aircraft is noted as an "Early Access" project. Images are courtesy of vSkyLabs (X-Plane 12 version) Design by VSKYLABS Support forum for the Robinson R44 by VSKYLABS ___________________________ The Robinson R44 Raven II v3.0 by VSkyLabs Flying Lab Project is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Robinson R44 Raven II Your Price: US$32.95 On sale: $32.95 $21.41 Requirements X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Note: latest version is for X-Plane 12 . XP11 version still available Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 3.0 (January 5th 2024) ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton' 6th January 2024 Copyright©2024: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  9. Yes Aerosoft One notes to use only SAM 3.1.10, so update when prompted. Another Aerosoft One annoyance is that if you update to a newer X-Plane 12 version, you have to redownload all the sceneries for that version, it however also keeps the older versions on file, so you have to manually throw them away (Bin).
  10. NEWS! - Scenery Released : Airport Zürich XP12 by Aerosoft Whatever... I have just commented that since the release of X-Plane 12, then Aerosoft has been extremely slow in updating/upgrading their extensive scenery catalogue to the new X-Plane 12 format, but lo and behold, the first week into the New Year 2024, here comes an upgraded scenery of one of the very best from Aerosoft.... Airport Zürich! The scenery is noted as v2? but in reality this is a complete overhaul (the third) of this excellent scenery for the X-Plane 12 Simulator. The buildings and objects in this scenery were modeled with numerous 3D details and photo realistic textures; in some parts, even high resolution 2K textures were used. A multitude of animations for the radar systems, windsocks, airport traffic and more move this airport even closer to its real counterpart. The faithful signage and lighting of all taxiways and runways round off this impression. And thanks to baked textures in combination with X-Plane’s HDR rendering, Airport Zurich will shine at night as well with excellent effects. The new changes are... New in XP12 version: - Revised custom mesh (including Ortho4xp patch) - Revised orthophoto including summer, autumn, and winter versions and normal map - XP12 3D vegetation for trees and bushes - Volumetric grass and flowers - Ground reworker including aerial photo-based dirt map - Weather effects for wetness, ice, and snow on the ground (XP12 native) - Full support for seasons (XP12 native, no additional add-ons required) - Revised lighting - Additional static cars in the parking lots - Corrected roads and autogen buildings around the airport And the original outstanding features... - Newly created buildings and objects with lots of 3D details, partly high resolution 2K textures - New transparent boarding bridges with glass sides at every gate - Updated taxiways and parking positions - Parking position E67 at Dock E with a separate, elevated boarding bridge - Static Airbus A380 of Emirates Airline, parking at Gate E67 - Enhanced Apron P with additional parking positions - Jet engine test site with new, large noise absorption hall - Detailed representation of the airport - Photo realistic ground textures based on aerial images (0,5m/pixel) - All buildings and airport facilities - Photo real textures for buildings, vehicles etc. - Complete taxiway and runway signage - "High speed taxiways", allowing for exiting the runway at high speeds - Great night effects (baked textures + XPlane HDR) - Animated radar systems and wind hoses - Animated vehicle traffic at and around the airport - Animated De-icing Trucks east of Terminal E - VFR Helper - Gates A44, A47, A48, A49, A55 with animated Jetways (installed AutoGate Version is needed) - True to original runway and taxiway lighting - Traffic routes with ground traffic signage - Custom Mesh for the Airport Area - Optimized for good performance (frame rate) The Airport Zurich (previously Zurich-Kloten) is the largest airport of Switzerland, now in a brand new version for X-Plane. This completely new scenery is full of details, including every building and the entire airport environment, De-Icing and all features you would expect from a modern X-Plane scenery. Notable is that you have to use the "Aerosoft One" application to install (update) the Zurich XP12 scenery... Installation of Zurich XP12 is done through Aerosoft one installer: Aerosoft One Universal After you have installed Aerosoft One, click on ENTER PRODUCT KEY (under the Library Tab) enter the Serial Number provided in this order. This will give you the option to download the airport. Note the different X-Plane 11 and X-Plane 12 installations. How do you know what the correct version is installed? If the XP12 install says v1.0.0 it is the XP12 version, the XP11 version noted as v2.0.8, but it could be more clearer from Aerosoft, as the manual in the XP12 version is still the older XP11 manual... Images are courtesy of Aerosoft __________________________ Yes! Airport Zürich v2 by Aerosoft is now Available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Airport Zürich v2 Price Is US$27.99 Requirements: X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB or higher is recommended Download size: 1.4 GB Current version : 2.08 (Download via Aerosoft One) ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 4th January 2024 Copyright©2024: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  11. NEWS! - Scenery Released : KGNV - Gainesville Regional Airport, Florida by Skytitude Skytitude is back after the excellent Montauk Airport, with this time it is a regional airport in Florida... KGNV - Gainesville is located in Gainesville, Florida, just minutes away from the University of Florida, GNV provides a close, convenient and competitively priced “gateway” into the Heart of Florida. The airport normally operates 16 daily hub and spoke departures on American Airlines and Delta with nonstop services to the international hubs of Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas Fort Worth and Miami, providing access to 343 destinations around the world in one stop. In July 2021 Gainesville Airport has open new Terminal Expansion to increase airport capacity and expand flight network. And the expansion is well noted in this first release for the X-Plane 12 Simulator. Features: ❯ Complete and accurate representation of Gainesville Regional Airport ❯ Actual Layout Data Including Recently Apron Expansion ❯ Highly Detailed Recently Build Terminal Expansion ❯ Custom Materials and Surfaces with Physical-Based Rendering Effect (PBR) ❯ Highly Detailed Large number of Spectacular Buildings and Objects ❯ Realistic Detailed Night Lighting ❯ High Density Hand-Placed Forests and Plants ❯ Custom 3D Grass Using New X-Plane 12 Vegetation Technology Note this scenery is X-Plane 12 only... Images are courtesy of Skytitude _____________________________________ Yes! KGNV - Gainesville Regional Airport, Florida by Skytitude is available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : KGNV - Gainesville Regional Airport, Florida Price is US$19.95 Requirements X-Plane 12 Windows, Mac or Linux Download Size: 453 MB Current version : 1.0 ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 4th January 2024 Copyright©2024: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  12. Yes definitely. System wise it is deep, only thing still missing is the AUTOLAND, which I thought it should have be resolved by now. Harder to fly as well, getting to Mach 2 is a challenge without burning off too much fuel, landing is an exact science, but rewarding if you get it right 😏
  13. Behind the Screen : Year in Review 2023 Optimism, loads of optimism. After the late release of X-Plane 12 in 2022, compiling the last Year in Review 2022, I was in an optimistic frame of mind, the worst had to be behind us after all. At that point X-Plane 12 had finished it's beta run and had gone final 16th December 2022, just clear up the few issues and by Easter we should have a very stable Simulation tool to do our flying in. I was ready for a better year and so was everyone else... then it all just as quickly fell apart. Laminar Research Within days of the New Year with a new release in v12.01r1 it was not a great start to the New Year, in hindsight, there was even a mention of it in the November Q&A, as Laminar wanted more framerate, a better smoother none dropping frames Simulator. But what we got was massive "Vulcan device loss errors", odder clouds and the high winds which were also more nastier than ever, lighting was now even darker and harder to use as well. It all felt like very backwards jump... a mess really, and costly in my case with the immediate requirement of a new graphics card. It didn't end there. GRIB Files that X-Plane 12 uses for the Simulator for downloading live global weather went wonky, .dds files also started to fail. Admittedly a lot of these spot fires were quickly fixed, but the GRIB took a few days as they were on a American national holiday weekend. So for the first time on a few occasions in the year, my X-Plane Simulator was actually non-working for a few days, the .dds files and the GRIB blackouts (yes there was two blackouts, with another later in the year) causing most of the damage. Laminar's focus however was somewhere else. It was called Zink. With the change to the Vulkan/Metal API, a lot of the original OpenGL plugins didn't work. So Zink was installed to convert (or to be a bridge) between the old OpenGL and newer Vulkan/Metal API's. I don't use Zink, mainly because I don't have a big library of plugins, but a lot of computers also needed the fix as the AMD users out there got a lot of flickering and CTD (Crash to Desktop). It was not a very good start to the year, and X-Plane 12 thoughout the next few months was a not a bundle of fun either. First relief came in 12.04b1, late in February. That release fixed a lot of the New Year problems. At the end of March 2023 came v12.05b1, and Laminar finally delivered the update for their A330-300 . Here finally it included in this release was the custom MCDU for the aircraft, which was due on the original release of XP12. v12.06/7 in Mid-August did live up thankfully to it's game-changer forecast. It fixed the weather (not completely, but far better) and came with Cirrus high level clouds and now none of those hideous pyramid shape clouds, the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford class in X-Plane now had a full complement of static aircraft, cranes, tugs and more, on deck and below in the huge deck hangar. ATC also got a huge makeover. There was another big advancement update in v12.08, this release covered Landing Gear Physics, and made aircraft easier and more realistic to land (takeoff as well). An annoying X-Plane anomaly for years was finally fixed and the flight model got improvements to the way that X-Plane simulates engine performance, projector warping/blending was also totally revised, as was networking and the “totally out of VRAM” crashes. Biggest announcement with v12.08 was that X-Plane was having an increased price of from the 1st of November 2023 to US$79.95, from US$59.95, the first in a decade, and that a new X-Plane version numbering system would be coming (after v12.08) to v12.1.0, adding in an extra digit for more frequent updates. That aspect will certainly change the way we resolve issues quicker in 2024. X-PlaneReviews started an annual new roundup review in September called "State of the Union", this was to fully detail the changes of X-Plane 12 from it's public release date, and there is a lot here to browse on the fully detailed on the X-Plane 12 changes to that yearly date. In reality 2023 ended far, far better than it started for Laminar Research. There was some magic hidden in X-Plane 12.08 that made the Simulator smoother, easier to use... finally the tool was maturing. But with X-Plane 12 already a whole year late, then another year in limbo, the Simulator per se had taken many many hits. This aspect shows below, delaying projects and keeping developers away to consume MSFS 2020, the impacts on the Simulation landscape was all to see. But X-Plane did actually and finally get there, the Simulator feeling now more better and cleaner than ever before, being more benign and thankfully usable. I have had the best six weeks flying for a long time, the relief is in my relaxed view of 2024. It might even tempt those still on X-Plane 11 to come on over? Microsoft Flight Simulator 2022 First is "Why is this here in an X-Plane site?". Because it is a reference between the Simulators, and the gap between them grew immensely wide over the year 2023. February kicked off with World Update XII New Zealand, In April Oceania, June France and Texas, July Central Eastern Europe, August Western Europe, November Nordics and Greenland, the Caribbean, and the last of the year is European Cities 1. Development updates were on average two, to three a month. Added aircraft included Antonov An-225 Mriya, Model 307 Stratoliner, Aero Vodochody Ae-45, MU-2, Dornier Do X, Saab B 17A and the Carenado 207... At the FlightSimExpo in Houston, Laminar Research was there, well sort of with just the PR Guy and Phillipp Ringlar in attendance, and they were competing with Asobo Studios/Microsoft, who arrived to announce the next installment or version of MSFS, called "Flight Simulator 2024". Austin Meyer or head developer Ben Supnic were also notably absent, as Asobo read off a load of X-Plane features including helicopters, SARS, water and fire particles, oil rig scenery and landing pad, crop dusting, wildfires and even animated skydivers... on top of that they also threw in a Ford 4-AT Trimotor for good measure. But it is the sheer gargantuan absolute volume of releases coming out on to the MS platform in 2023 that was simply gobsmacking, every person and their dog is doing something to cash in on the goldmine, but oddly they are not only mostly middle-regional scenery and odd flier classic aircraft, at really low prices. The worry as a layman with a normal income, was how could you simply buy all this? even picking the low hanging fruit, it would have a serious impact on your bank-balance... it is a marketplace that is currently creating more questions than it answers? as hundreds of brand new developers are getting in the game, they all can't survive. Trend of the year In most areas over 2023 it was divided significantly into two categories. New products of which there were few, and the main market which was the transition market of products created for X-Plane 11 being reimagined for X-Plane 12, most were upgrades (pay), but a few were also updates (free). These products dominated the year, and currently most of the quality transitioning product is now mostly all transferred to the X-Plane 12 platform. As noted last year, as a lot of product became obsolete, a majority of X-Plane 10 aircraft and even scenery that crossed over to X-Plane 11 now finally succumbed to their fate, so the results are a much more smaller scale of aircraft and scenery available for X-Plane 12, that said these products in X-Plane 12 are of a much higher quality and have far better detail than their earlier counterparts, but your hangers are certainly more than empty than a few years ago. Aircraft As major releases go, then 2023 was very, very quiet. In fact only two major releases covered the whole year, the biggest and best was the X-Crafts Family E-Jets in May. Four different variants (with the Exec still coming) it was a great vision into the X-Plane 12 dream of extreme quality and features, the ERJ Series is also coming from X-Crafts in 2024, another one to look forward to with the same high quality standards. ToLiSS was extremely busy in 2023, not only releasing an Airbus A320-271N NEO in March, but also introducing not only a new menu interface, ground vehicles, ice clearing features, many, many more circuit breakers, but then spreading the good word over each of the other ToLiSS Airbus products to the same standard. Their flag bearing certainly climbed higher in the year, consistent with brilliant features and products, they are at the top of their game at the moment. Supercritical Simulations Group (SSG) merged into Flight Procedures Simulation, and released their own version of the E-Jet. Unlike the X-Crafts, this E-195 was not totally new, but a very highly redevelopment of the earlier SSG Embraer E-Jet, it was very good, and at a much more lower price, so it was in reality an E-Jet year if you loved these regional hub-spoke busters. In reality, that was all that was new in airliners this year. For X-Plane 11 aircraft, that was transitioned to X-Plane 12 it was a bit of a feast. Early Colimata did another excellent update to the Concorde FXB v3, and the SSG Boeing 748 had loads of incremental upgrades all year. The most notable was the Rotate MD-11 with several updates and the revised Rotate MD-88 Pro was also very welcome in May. The Felis Boeing 747-200, also had many an update right throughout the year, and some quite considerable, it is a complicated Simulation but highly rewarding. The DeltaWing Simulations CRJ 1000/900/700 was always having numerous updates, and the series came to a far more better quality Simulation, as a first ever developer release it was commendable, but there is still far more refining required to be truly great. INISimulations did hold up their promise to update the A300-600, who would have thought, not a spectacular X-Plane 12 revise, but at least users were happy to see the aircraft actually available. IXEG also finally updated the Boeing 733 to XP12, and it came with a new cabin as well for your US$15, still a great Simulation, if not one of the best. FlyJSim had a very quiet year, but at the end the Boeing 732 and 727 upgrades still didn't make it into X-Plane 12, both are to be worthy additions to the Simulator, expect early 24 . FlightFactor were also nowhere to be seen in 2023. The Boeing 777 v2 was previewed a few times and a rough cut was shown at the Expo, but the promised release again never happened in Q4, but now a noted certainty for a public beta in March 2024, the still in development FF Boeing 787 Dreamliner also had a few sneak previews as well, but don't expect anything there until late 24. Notable in another release for 2024 is an ATR 72, in fact two with one noted from Deltawing, the regional prop is well overdue for the X-Plane Simulator. General Aviation Generally the trend was the same with General Aviation, a few new aircraft, but the majority were transitioning aircraft from X-Plane 11 to Twelve. Aerobask started of the the year with the Diamond DA-42 NG, to follow up their Katana DA20 late in 2022, also the Epic Victory G1000, Lancair Legacy RG and the Epic E1000 G1000 Edition all had revisions to X-Plane 12. If you like your Diamonds, the SimSolutions upgraded the DA20-C1 Eclipse and DA40NG. COWS also announced a DA-42, later to be also ported to the MSFS platform, this was August, and yet to see the light of day (a lot of promises). At the end of the year Aerobask also released the Shark UL, a genuine release for X-Plane 12, it was excellent with the custom Skyview Touch Avionics. There was the cute Van's RV-8 /8A Duo by AOA Simulations, but most of the year in GA belonged to Thranda Design. They started off early with a brand new (XP12 only) Cessna 377F Skymaster, then another new design BN-2A Islander XP12 in June. Then they upgraded in succession the Daher Kodiak 100, then weeks later the 172M Skyhawk to XP12. In October it was the turn of the XP12 upgrade of the classic DH-2 Beaver. There was also another Cessna 337G pressurised version from Skytouch of which I really liked. AirfoilLabs upgraded both the KingAir 350, and the 172SP, and later the 172SP with an Analog cockpit (again just lately). vFlyteAir only upgraded their Piper Twin Comanche PA30 to X-Plane 12, and again nothing new in 23 from these premier GA developers. Considering their backlog catalogue, JustFlight had a quiet year, the upgrades only covered the Robin DR400, and Piper PA-28-181 Archer TX/LX to X-Plane12, there seems to be a waning interest to continue to support X-Plane from this English developer. NhAdrian did the excellent cheeky Rand Robinson KR-2S, and X-Hangar updated a lot of their aircraft, mostly from as early as X-Plane 10, and finally we wrapped up the GA segement in 23 with an upgrade to the Aerostar 601P from Avio71, and a nice way to see in Christmas. Classic Aircraft Since dividing into three separate variants the DC-3. vSkylabs updated the C-47 Skytrain and the DC-3 Airliner significantly, though the analog and glass instrument versions moved them even further apart. Late in the year Khamsin and Skunkcrafts updated the P-51 Mustang to X-Plane 12. Business Aircraft This category was very quiet this year with nothing new released. Aerobask surprisingly didn't release the much vaunted Falcon 6X, it was expected, even now well overdue for release, so we will move on again to 2024 for that one. The winner of the 2020 best Bizjet the Citation C-560XL by AirSim3D was upgraded to X-Plane 12 with the serious results, really it was the only significant release of the year. The AKD Studio GulfStream 550, had almost monthly updates throughout the year, and yes the detail and quality are now showing, but it still needs that something extra to give the aircraft the polish it needs, I liked flying it though. Military This Military segment was quite busy this year. Highlight was of course the release of Colimata's supreme F-104 Starfighter, only released for X-Plane 12 later in the year, certainly a landmark release for all the right reasons. Another oddity was the He-162 Project from Vskylabs 'Test-Pilot' series. The rest were transition aircraft from X-Plane 11. MLADG revamped three aircraft for XP12 in the MiG15, Aero 29 Delfin and the Messerschmitt bf109. AoA (Angle of Attack) had three revision aircraft released, the excellent T6A Texan II, the F22 Raptor and a completely revamped T-7A Red Hawk for X-Plane 12, all great value, AoA are also releasing a V22 Tilt-rotor for 2024! There was FACO's F-15 package, and the Grumman F7F Tigercat was converted to X-Plane 12 by Virtavia. Helicopters After a few very productive years it was a quiet one with no helicopter releases in 2023 for Cowansim, he went to MSFS with his aircraft conversions, and there was no announcements if any more X-Plane 12 aircraft will be released or converted in the future. Back in full flight though was the master himself... Dreamfoil Creations, with the transition of his Schweizer S300CBi to X-Plane 12. It was a brilliant comeback, and all the rest of the Dreamfoil fleet in the AS350, B407 are all following in succession in 2024. Talking of 407's, then on the brink of Christmas Eve, JRX released their excellent Bell 407 for both X-Plane 12 and 11. Excellent also was the Eurocopter EC130 B4 for X-Plane 12 by HSF. This modern machine came with loads of options including a Medivac version, HSF also released the Alouette III as a freeware, and it is well worth the download. vSkyLabs released the Hungarocopter HC-02 in October, and it was an interesting mite of a machine. The X-Trident CH47D Chinook had a quiet update to X-Plane 12 in June. There was a few of oddities this year 23 in machines. One was the Gerry Anderson inspired Vskylab Skyscenders 76, three very different orbital bodies to master, a lot of fun as well. VSkyLabs also released the boatlike ICON A5 as well. NHAdrian produced two very different concepts in the AirCar Project, and yes it is a real flying car... the highlight though was the amazing LLTV - Lunar Landing Training Vehicle, an amazing concept to try, and fly like a Lunar Lander. Scenery I have already mentioned the colossal amount of scenery being released for MSFS 2020. It is simply mind-boggling and even overwhelming... overall even a bit silly. How much of this scenery can you actually use? Yes X-Plane scenery will never be on par with Microsoft's Flight Sim, but at least what we have released is actually usable. Sadly the cross-platform (except for a very few) pollinations between the Simulators has not emerged either, but let us see what 2024 delivers before saying the last rites. The biggest scenery story of the year was AutoOrtho or streaming ortho imagery. Some bright spark wants to recreate the Microsoft ortho steaming system in X-Plane. To a point it is very successful, but a fast internet connection and a powerful computer is required. The trick is downloading the tiles as you need them, not storing the tiles on your computer, but I'm not a fan of flat photo images, or jerky simulations. To add on top, another success this year has been SIM HEAVENS X-World scenery Series. Now far better coordinated and comes with better realism, it does start to deliver the sort of visual requirements X-Plane desperately needs. But ultimately they are both clunky additions to the simulator, requiring a lot of wasted power to work. But the enthusiasts swear by them. In the Laminar Q&A. Austin Meyer finally acknowledged that after a year or even years of consistent griping. That X-Plane does need a newer and better scenery system, and that Laminar are now evaluating ideas and theories to up the visual content. More highly (data) dense tiles are coming short term, but a complete new system to replace the DSF limitations is also finally on the white board. You would say X-Plane 13 for this, but I don't think that Laminar have that a long wait time in three years to meditate around the problem... one story to follow in 2024. There was a few gateway dumps, one in the first quarter, then another later in the year, and both were comprehensive. Suddenly we had Golf Courses everywhere, and then shipping became more realistic, but overall the promised ports and even more autogen buildings failed to materialise in 2023. They noted to be part of v12.1.0. Again like everything this year there was many conversions to X-Plane 12 from X-Plane 11, but still even quite a few good sceneries were released. Like mentioned there wasn't a lot, but the few we had were very good and highly usable. X-Codr was very, very busy. He updated his mammoth KDEN with everything you could name, it was complex but a serious statement of what X-Plane can deliver, even moving escalators and people. More importantly it was the sheer quality of the buildings that stood out. Other smaller sceneries from X-Codr also stood out, KMMH-Mammoth Yosemite, KSEZ-Sedona, Grand Canyon West - 1G4, KTEX-Telluride were all excellent. Maps2XPlane (via Aerosoft) delivered not only an (XP12) update to their sensational Faroe Islands XP, but added the even more extravagant remote Svalbard XP in July (a personal favorite). Frank Dainese and Fabio Bellini spent the year updating their earlier sceneries over to X-Plane 12, we started off with the Alps UHD package at the start of the year, Dolomites in March, Banff National Park UHD in August and finally Everest Park-Nepal 3D in late November. We left 2022 with the Taimodels EGLL-Heathrow, and we had some great experiences with Taimodel's scenery in that year, and in 2023 they didn't disappoint either. It started rather slow with KSMF-Sacramento, then VHHH-Chep Lok in Hong Kong followed in April. Another smaller scale airport with Newport News / Williamsburg, with then another biggie with Oslo Gardermoen Airport in August. Closer to home turf we had YBCS - Cairns International Airport in Australia in November. A pretty impressive output, all great value. Cami De Bellis was back after a health break to update her particular style of scenery. All projects got the X-Plane 12 treatment with both first La Tontouta Noumea and Dolpa Nepal in June, quickly followed a few weeks later by Kathmandu Tribhuvan Intl and Paro Intl Airport, Butan. New from Cami however was the excellent FHSH - St Helena Airport, the place in the South Atlantic were Napoleon ended up. HSimulators converted his FlightSim pole landscapes to X-Plane 12, with both the Grand Arctic Scenery and lower Antarctica Mega Scenery XP12 adding landmass to the X-Plane Simulator. NorthernSky Studios heavily upgraded PAJN-Juneau International and PAEN-Kenai Municipal Airport, and added in the new PAWG - Wrangell Airport, all in Alaska. His focus is now on both XP and FS Simulators, this showed in the lower release output for the year. As he broadens the mix, ShortFinals Design only up dated the magnificent EDDM-Munich to full X-Plane 12, but there are a lot of projects coming in 2024 from ShortFinal, including a completely new revolutionary bigger scale autogen system. There was two new releases from Aerosoft with Airport Marseille XP (Brilliant) and Menorca XP (not so brilliant), and Dortmund XP12 was upgraded later in the year. Sadly considering the considerable amount of Aerosoft scenery for X-Plane, very little, if any are being updated to X-Plane 12? If 2024 doesn't deliver, we could be seeing a lot quality Aerosoft scenery being abandoned in the future. Orbx did deliver a brilliant YBBN Brisbane and an addon Brisbane city scenery very early in the year... but nothing else. Other standouts included the KJAX-Jacksonville International by FS Designs, Montauk Airport by Skytitude, and two airports I used a lot in 2023 with ESGG - Göteborg Landvetter Airport by Chudoba Designs and the great effort of KPHL - Philadelphia International Airport by StarSim. So what's the summary of 2023 for scenery? Again the numbers are far better than what you expected, and a far lot of it is seriously quality scenery. X-Plane 11 turnover to X-Plane 12 is say just above the average, I expected more, so again 2024 is going to interesting to watch. Plugins I will state upfront that I am not a huge plugin connoisseur, so I only run what I call essential plugins in my simulator, running the VRAM profiler (Menu/Developer) can give you the horrors of how much these little monstrous tools can gobble up your framerate and their overall efficiency, I take out as many of these laggards as possible. Again there were a a lot of tools to adjust your skies, but the best was VisualXP Extreme, it is well worth the money. The biggest noise of the year was the new Skunkcrafts Standalone Updater Client v3.0. Moved from your plugins folder to your desktop, it was an excellent highly fast new tool. There was the Scenery Enhancement tool X-Oil Rigs Vol 1, Vol 2, and X-OilShips Vol 1, that filled up the oceans, and it gave a little more activity to your water views. Navigraph was again the king of the tools, now they added in Weather Layers to Charts 8, plus later also added Flight Telemetry, ATIS, OFP. The companion SimBrief also had a major layout overhaul, and was present directly now in a lot of the most advanced aircraft simulations. WebFMC Pro, WorldTraffic 3 and Traffic Global all had updates throughout the year. But I found major conflicts with the JustFlight tool in 2023, with time and replays that went past annoying and creating desktop crashes. X-PlaneReviews X-PlaneReviews as a site in August passed the decade busting 10th Anniversary of providing quality and detailed reviews for the X-Plane Simulator. Yes we have been here for ten and half years and in this year 2023 have delivered even more consistent reviews than any year before. The team has grown as well... besides the dynamic Dominic Smith, who also contributes immensely to the X-Plane.Org Weekly Roundups and Developer Interviews, is a major contributor in X-PlaneReviews as well, plus the extra talented reviewers of Alan Ashforth (alpeggio), Peter Allnutt, Dennis Powell, Nick Garlick, Stéphane Tolédo-Paul (Tieman68), David York (datadave), Stuart McGregor (Scottish Wings), DrishalMAC2, Michael Hayward and Joshua Moore, all genuine talented and contributors to not only X-PlaneReviews, but to X-Plane in general. Passing a major Anniversary always makes you look back, but also forward. Certainly we have met our goals in providing invaluable information and details on the X-Plane Simulator. Again this review site cannot function without all the great and exciting work by the tireless developers that give us all this exciting and incredible product to fly and use, as they and X-Plane has come a long way and created leaps in quality and complexity in the last few years, certainly in the jump to X-Plane 12, and to a point I was very proud of the work they have produced, it is world class if not the very best in simulation product ever produced, and they are all top notch and very clever. To the X-Plane.OrgStore who supports this site with review products, service and updates, a really big thanks to Nicolas Taureau, as this site just also would not function without that outstanding support. _________________________ We will finish off with the X-PlaneReviews famous best of the year awards… So I will now list my Best of the Year 2023🏅 (note the awards are given to only products I have seen and tested and so the only ones I can vouch for) Overall Best of the Year : E-Jets Family Series by X-Crafts 🏅 🏅🏅 Best Aircraft : E-Jets Family Series by X-Crafts.🏅 A look into the future of X-Plane 12 quality and design, it jumped off the screen at you in the incredible detail. Honorable Mention : Any ToLiSS aircraft, just delivers on any level. Best General Aviation Aircraft : Aerobask Diamond DA-42 NG Aerobask were very consistent with quality aircraft and interiors, almost every release was perfection, but the DA-42 NG just nudged above Honorable Mentions : All Thranda Design output was excellent with clever ideas, but lately they have become incessantly dark, externally and internally. Best Classic Aircraft : A tie here, Felis Boeing 747-200 and Colimata Concorde FXB v3 Both the B742 and Concorde FXB are not new, but seriously improved over the year with X-Plane 12, both seriously complex as well. Honorable Mention : P-51 Mustang from Khamsin and Skunkworks, glad to see new fresh blood in the water. Best Business Aircraft : Cessna Citation 560XL XP12 by AirSim3d We said it would be great in X-Plane 12, and it is, but the category overall was below par this year. Aerobask Falcon 6X anyone. Best Military : F-104 Starfighter by Colimata 🏅 Insanely clever and insane to fly, it is X-Plane at it's Skunkworks best. Honorable Mention : AoA T-7A Red Hawk, certainly the most improved of the year. Best Helicopter : Eurocopter EC130 B4 by HSF 🏅 The talented Frenchmen made a big impact on Helicopters this year with the EC130, and with the freeware Alouette III Honorable Mentions : Dreamfoil Creations, with the XP12 transition of his Schweizer S300CBi, the master was back! Best Landscape Scenery : Svalbard XP by Aerosoft Maps2XPlane🏅 Sublime and distant, all the Svalbard Islands were covered in detailed landscapes, just make sure to see them in the Summer. Honorable Mention : Dainese and Bellini condensed all their packages to make better products, brilliant in X-Plane 12, but nothing new on the shelves. Best Airport Scenery : KDEN - Denver International by X-Codr 🏅🏅 Not a new scenery, but KDEN was a totally revamped project that had everything, it was spellbinding in detail and clever animations. Honorable Mention : Taimodels delivered the most and detailed sceneries consistently, filling in areas that have been wanting for years. Best Plugin(s) : Skunkcrafts Standalone Updater Client 🏅 A plugin... it was, but still the biggest standout tool of the year, it's so fast! Special Mention(s) : Navigraph for their excellent navigation tools, and seriously clever new additions. Person(s) of the Year : ToLiSS The developer that just consistently delivers outstanding authentic ideas and systems, yes my vote goes to person that saves me days by reviving crashed or loading aircraft back to life perfectly, with the SAVE feature Best Moment of the year 2023 : Nothing really stood out, but the first viewing of X-Crafts E-Jet was mind-blowing. Worst Moment(s) of the Year 2023 : Not the worst, but the most embarrassing moment was the Asobo Studios/Microsoft reeling off the new features for FS 2024, they were almost gloating. Personally, when my Graphic Card expired because of an overloading X-Plane 12 vulkan device error, it was expensive to replace. Biggest distractions of 2023 : ... It was very dark in there.... pitchblack! Biggest overall feeling of 2023 : Tough hard year, but the outlook towards 2024 felt far better towards the end of 2023, X-Plane 12 was finally starting to shine, but it took a long time to get there. Personal Favorites of 2023 : Any ToLiSS (the save system allows ultimate flexibility) and they got the most hourly flying time, Q4XP (Dash) brilliant, Rotate MD-80 still awesome, MD-11 bigger awesome, Thranda C206G, IXEG 737 Classic returned with a cabin. Routes... Copenhagen, Copenhagen and Copenhagen, Dublin, Dusseldorf, Edinburgh, Vienna, Brussels, Barcelona, Roma, Helsinki, Oslo, Munich, Tel Aviv, London Heathrow and Dulles and Sydney. Notable is that with the newer scenery, Brisbane, Amsterdam finally came on-line in 2023. That is X-PlaneReviews for 2023, and we will be back after a very much needed recovery and the review site returns again early into the New Year on the 3rd January 2024. So Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year 2024 Stephen Dutton 23rd December 2023 Copyright:X-PlaneReviews 2023 (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)
  14. NEWS! - Aircraft Released : JRX Bell 407 for X-Plane 11 and 12 Just in time for Christmas, JRX have released their version of the Bell 407 for the X-Plane 12 Simulator. Both X-Plane versions are actually catered for here, but purchase price is the same for either of the X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 versions, there is no deal for both. Obviously the X-Plane 12 version comes with better effects, dynamics and lighting. The Bell 407 is a four-blade, single-engine, civil utility helicopter. A derivative of the Bell 206L-4 LongRanger, the 407 uses the four-blade, soft-in-plane design rotor with composite hub developed for the United States Army's OH-58D Kiowa Warrior instead of the two-blade, semi-rigid, teetering rotor of the 206L-4. The Bell 407's fuselage is 8 inches (20 cm) wider, increasing internal cabin space, and includes 35% larger main cabin windows. The more powerful Rolls-Royce/Allison 250-C47 turboshaft allows an increase in Maximum Takeoff Weight and improves performance at hotter temperatures and/or higher altitudes. The helicopter has standard seating for two crew and five cabin seats. Features Include, but not limited to: High detail, fully animated 3D-model with PBR textures up to 4k resolution. Fully VR compatible. Accurate flight model. Complete and accurate start up and shut down functionality. Dynamic weights for optional fuel and load configuration. Bespoke custom made and accurate instrumentation. Optional autopilot unit and a full IFR navigation instrumentation suite. Custom instrument HDR spill lighting. HDR internal and external lighting. Dynamic vibration model with speed increase / decrease. RXP GTN integrated on a custom tablet. AviTab with custom tablet. Highly detailed pilot and co-pilot, with optional dual controls. Optional body decals. Complete FMOD sound package. Headset attenuation, with optional ATC radio chatter. Particle system for heat blur animations. 20 liveries including civil, service and military variants. Included paint kit for body, seats, ID plates, interior trims and pilots’ uniforms. Flight configuration and options, all done in cockpit either in 2D or VR. Full lifetime support at the forum, product updates and development as required: Windows, Mac and Linux compatible. JRX Design have already built up an impressive portfolio of Helicopters, so this Bell will also reek of quality and flying performance. Designed by JRX Design Support forum for the JRX B407 ______________________________ The Bell 407 by JRX Design is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here : JRX Bell 407 for X-Plane 12 Priced at US$35.99 Requirements X-Plane 12 (not for XP11. If you want the XP11 version, get it here ) Windows, Mac or Linux - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 1.4 GB Current Version: 1.0 (December 22nd 2023) JRX Bell 407 for X-Plane 11 Priced at US$35.99 Requirements X-Plane 11 (not for XP12. if you want the XP12 version, get it here) Windows, Mac or Linux - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 1.4 GB Current Version: 1.0 (December 22nd 2023) ___________________________ News! by Stephen Dutton' 23rd December 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  15. NEWS! - Aircraft Release : Mustang P-51 XP12 HD by Khamsin Studio and Skunkcrafts Khamsin Studios have again teamed up with Skunkcrafts to upgrade the World War ll sensation the P-51 Mustang for X-Plane 12. It comes with a newly refined XP12 flight model, reworked 3D and cockpit, updated XP12 logic, new Option Panel and Avitab Support. Both X-Aerodynamics (Cameron Garner) have again revised the aerodynamics and Daniela Rodriguez Careri has also improved the soundscape. This is an X-Plane 12 only aircraft. The North American Aviation P-51 Mustang is an American long-range, single-seat fighter and fighter-bomber used during World War II and the Korean War, amongst other conflicts.The prototype NA-73X airframe was rolled out on 9 September 1940, 102 days after the contract was signed, and first flew on 26 October. Prewar doctrine was based on the idea "the bomber will always get through". Despite RAF and Luftwaffe experience with daylight bombing, the USAAF still incorrectly believed in 1942 that tightly packed formations of bombers would have so much firepower that they could fend off fighters on their own.] Fighter escort was a low priority, but when the concept was discussed in 1941, the idea was soon reversed, as the P-51 Mustang was a solution to the need for an effective bomber escort. It used a common, reliable engine and had internal space for a larger-than-average fuel load. With external fuel tanks, it could accompany the bombers in giving protection from England to Germany and in so then creating a legend. Features New X-Plane 12 Model Refined XP12 flight Model Reworded 3D and cockpit Updated logic New Option Panel Avitab Support Superb Modeling and texturing New and fully optimized 3D model by Khamsin New and improved UV layout with additional textures New set of 4K PBR textures optimized for XP11 New Normal and specular maps (for reflections) Fully detailed and animated 3D cockpit with 3D gauges Full VR-ready manipulators technology Bare Metal 4K livery for painters Extra 4K liveries: Blondie, Big Beautiful Doll, Geraldine, Glamorous Glenn III Professionally tuned Flight and Engine models Flight model by X-Aerodynamics (Cameron Garner) Code-driven engine model Dual speed supercharger simulated Accurate flight behavior and performance Superior sound system FMOD sound pack by Daniela Rodriguez Careri Roars and whistles like the real thing All buttons, switches, gyros, levers, etc, have their own sounds Extra features Functional guns Functional K14 gunsight with HUD Gun camera can take pictures Functional AN/APS13 'Monica' rear threat radar Optional 75 and 108 gallons external tanks Choice between WW2 and modern pilot Vintage trolley accumulator (GPU) xVRbox VR-friendly interface for options Change aircraft configuration Manage modern radios Controls a basic Autopilot This P-51 is displayed in the markings of the 351st Fighter Squadron, 353rd Fighter Group, Eighth Air Force. (source: Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum) Original X-Plane 11 purchasers can get $12.50 off this new XP12 version, just see the coupon on your X-Plane.OrgStore account. ______________________________ The North American P-51D Mustang XP12 HD by Skunkcrafts is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here : P-51D Mustang XP12 HD Priced at US$34.95 Requirements X-Plane 12 (not for XP11) Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version : 1.0.(December 21st 2023) Customers who own the Skuncraft P51 XP11 can get $12.50 off this new XP12 version. Coupon code can be found in the original P51 XP11 Invoice. ___________________________ News! by Stephen Dutton' 22nd December 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  16. Aircraft Review : T-7A Red Hawk X-Plane 12 by Angle of Attack In March 2024, Angle of Attack Simulations released for the X-Plane 11 Simulator the T-7A Red Hawk. The Boeing/SAAB T-7A Red Hawk is the US Air Force’s newest fast jet training aircraft. It was designed to replace the more than 50 year old Northrup T-38 Talon, and to better prepare new military pilots for the future advanced aircraft they will fly later. The first T-X aircraft flew on 20 December 2016 via the T-X program. The Boeing-Saab team then submitted their entry after the Air Force opened the T-X program to bids in December 2016. In September 2018, Air Force officials announced that Boeing's design would be its new advanced jet trainer, under an up-to-US$9.2 billion (~$10.6 billion in 2022) program and would purchase 351 aircraft, 46 simulators, maintenance training and support. This contract has options for up to 475 airplanes in total. The aircraft entered series production in February 2021. In April 2021, Saab Group delivered one aft section of T-7A aircraft to the Boeing St. Louis plant. In July 2021, Saab had delivered the second aft section to the Boeing St. Louis plant. Boeing will splice Saab's aft section with the front section, fins, wings and tail assembly to become a complete test aircraft for use in the EMD's (Engineering and Manufacturing Development ) flight test program. The first production T-7 was rolled out on 28 April 2022, and the first flight of the T-7A production aircraft was conducted from St. Louis Lambert International Airport in June 2023, by Major Bryce Turner, a test pilot with the 416th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base, California, and Steve Schmidt, Boeing’s chief T-7 test pilot. On 21 September 2023, the first Red Hawk was shipped to the US Air Force. By November 2023, the USAF was now actively considering the possibility of turning the T-7 into an armed combat aircraft. Conceptually dubbed the F-7, such a jet could provide roughly the same capability as a fourth-generation fighter which could maintain force numbers as F-16s aircraft are retired, and could also replace older Northrop F-5 and Dornier Alpha Jet platforms on the export market. The single production Red Hawk was deployed at Edwards Air Force Base for advanced testing for this role. X-PlaneReviews covered the release of the AOA T-7A Red Hawk in an X-Plane 11 review: First Impression Review : T-7A Red Hawk by AOA Simulations It was an interesting review. Remember that the aircraft at the time was still really at it's experimental stage and AOA only had limited information on the aircraft performance and design capabilities, overall it was a very good representation of the new era trainer and it's features. Here is the X-Plane 12 upgrade to the aircraft, a new release version, as the number is noted at v1.0, the same as the original X-Plane 11 release version. The T-7A is again released as three versions; TX prototype, T-7A advanced trainer and the T-7N Navy version. The T-7A has a thorough modern design and feel to the aircraft, fully carbon composite in construction, as it looks to the future, and not to the past in aircraft design. The X-Plane look and feel is quite different from the bland X-Plane 11 look, with now more depth and better shadows... however look closely and the poor resolution skin is still there with very blurry text and logos, a real shame as AOA had a chance to update with X-Plane 12 in these areas to give the aircraft detail more depth, add in 4K, even 8K textures and bring out the quality to a higher standard. That said AOA aircraft (the Raptor) was the same, are brilliant at a distance, but become lo-res in detail at a close up inspection. But the Hawk here is definitely, if a massive improvement over the XP11 version with the X-Plane 12 PBR and lighting effects now active... The gear and inboard bays are the same as well. Well done but starchy white, yes this is a pre-production aircraft and clean, that said it is really well done in the excellent complex detail and design. Ditto the engine inlets, too modeled, still too noticeably bright (distracting) from the external. The rear exhaust is again well done, better here than with X-Plane 11, even though the textures are the same, same with the twin-vertical rudders, with the same modeled (not textured) joints. Canopy and glass is still as good, very nice with depth and nice curves and reflections, a requirement with a trainer aircraft. So in the transition, in modeling and texture terms the T-7A is in reality the same, but thankfully X-Plane 12 does add in a bit of flare because of it's superior lighting. and dynamics, after three years the X-Plane 12 version is far superior. The "T" is in "Trainer", so you have a twin-seat aircraft, with the rear for the instructor/observer. Both flight instrument and controls are exactly the same, so you can fly the T-7A from the front or rear (an option here). Compared to say the F-104 Starfighter, it is highly minimalistic in the cockpit, very little switch gear and everything is on the one large and two smaller instrument displays... Left side panel gives you Lights, Engines, Electrical and the chunky throttle. Right side has DOORS (Canopy, IFR, BWS), IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) or Transponder, right is also the Joystick controller. The internal mirrors now can be hidden with a click, not in the usual earlier menu option. Notable is the laptop AviTab, it can be rotated from Portrait to Landscape positions, but not hidden. There are two main instrument panels, the selection "Up-Front" Display (UFD) and the lower wide "Panoramic cockpit" Display. There is a third Engine/Fuel display that is positioned right, with both switchable numbers and percentage displays... The "Panoramic cockpit" display covers eight different choices, with three displays with the NAV/MAP central and two switchable screens left and right. But you can use the top 1 2 3 4 pre-set buttons to change the display. Left button options include; Aircraft Configuration, ADI (Attitude Direction Indicator), Flight Controls and RWS (Target mode). Right buttons include; MAP, HSI (Horizontal Situation Indicator), SYS (Systems) and NAV. The NAV/MAP range is selected by pressing the ZOOM-IN and ZOOM-OUT selections, and the Pop-Out is the XP G1000 panel display. Note on the ground On the ground, aircraft configuration is shown and a start-up checklist is provided in the left column. Once airborne only the applicable information is then displayed. Overall the "Panoramic cockpit" display is the same as the X-Plane 11 version. The "Up Front" top display is however different in X-Plane 12. In reality the UFD has been simplified, gone is the complex grid layout, to a more easier accessed display... press the NESW logo to change the UFD to a "Compass" Page. Outer knobs adjust (left); HDG (Heading), SPD (Speed), TST (Test), HUD (on/off). Right knobs include; ALT (Altitude) VVI (Vertical Velocity Indicator) RDR (terrain follow altitude) and screen Brightness. Lower options include NAV tuning and bottom COM tuning. There are 54 pre-set GPS (VOR 2) options that can be inserted (active) by pressing the D->. You can add in your own GPS frequency, but it is a messy and tricky process with a text editor, it would have been nice to have had an easy way to add in the function. Selecting VOR or GPS selection is oddly via the SRC, not the GPS, so it is hard to find. Also selecting the headphones on the COM, you can go into "Silent" mode on the radio. TST (Test) mode is very good, and TAC/VOR toggle: NAV1 is a combination VOR or TACAN radio. There is a backup ADI (Artificial Horizion), with a barometric pressure set knob. If the HUD power is OFF then airspeed, altitude, and heading are presented in the backup ADI. There is also a click spot “cheat” for the IFR door toggle in the upper right corner of the display. (IFR - In Flight Refueling) Menu The Menu system is the same X-Plane Banner placement, but the menu selection is very different, with now only two selections with; "Ground Equip" (Equipment) and "Options". Previously there were 10 options, but that has been reduced down to only these two. Ground Equipment, (Static Elements), selecting ground equipment will give you flags, pitot cover, large side stairs and engine intake covers... Newly added for XP12 are chocks (finally) and a rear exhaust outlet cover (very nice). Options: For the "Options" there is now a new Pop-Up dialog box with ten selections. First three selections are the "Auto" control of Flaps, Gear and Speed Brake systems, off is Manual control. Then Canopy Reflections on/off and Baro/Temperature switch. Left column has; TX Nose Probe, Navy Version with twin-nose wheels, tailhook and refueling probe... The External Power doesn't give you a physical GPU externally, just the internal power supply, it also oddly kills the Static Elements? "Quick Start" will set the T-7A ready to fly with the engine running, and the "Back Seat" set you in the rear instructor seat, not the forward seat. Overall the Ground Equip and Options selection is now far better coordinated and certainly easier to use than in the earlier XP11 layout. Liveries are the not same three as before with... US Air Force T-7A (Default) and TX - Prototype still present, but the US Navy Arctic Camo has been dropped to be replaced by the T-7N Navy Hawk. There are also a load of additional liveries available here: T-7 Red Hawk ______________ Flying the T-7A XP12 The Red Hawk is a trainer aircraft in a sequence of levels to acquire a full Jet Fighter certificate under the JPATS or Joint Primary Aircraft Training System. Entry level is Student on the T-6A Texan ll aircraft (propeller), that then moves to the T-1A Jayhawk in SUPT roles, then the T-38C Talon is used in the advanced pilot training role, but the T-5A category (APT T-X Program) is for the advance training to fourth and fifth generation aircraft (i.e. computer based) and multiple system based technology capability. The first thing you notice in the cockpit of the T-7A is on how so very minimalistic everything is, I will note that a lot of this new technology capability is also built into the pilot's helmet that can not be replicated here in X-Plane (well not yet anyway). AOA do however show you how to set up your joystick with XP commands that does certain actions, and the XP A.I. (AI Aircraft) is also similarly set up for hostility operations and refueling. The GpsFPLInput plugin by Gtagentman is also recommended to be installed as well. First there are a couple of settings in the T-7A to understand before takeoff. First is the "NWS" or Nosewheel steering, it's a tricky one to get right... I lost a bit of time with this one? First of all if it shows NWS in the HUD, the steering (via Nosewheel Tiller yaw) won't work? to get it to be active you have too have set (keyboard or Joystick button) the command "Nosewheel steer toggle" to activate the steering, it shows by the HUD icon changing to T-7A (or T-7N -Navy), then you can steer the Red Hawk. I will note that I also lost a considerable amount of time because the steering still didn't work with the NWS steering set correctly, even the developer couldn't work it out.... the cause was actually Laminar? I found that when X-Plane 12 loads, it loads with the "Landing gear" lever in the up position? And yes I have complained to Laminar to fix it! but that was the cause of the non-steering this time... put the lever in the correct down position and you will have steering. Second is the BWS or "Brake With Stick", which will use the Joystick to control the braking, pull back slightly to release the brakes, the use of the stick on the takeoff or landing roll, then push forward to brake, a neutral stick then releases the brakes. But it's tricky to use, and you feel initially the aircraft is locked down. To deactivate, then switch it off via the BWS switch far right on the "DOORS" panel. My advice is to turn off all these "Auto" helpers in the BWS, Flaps, Gear and Speed Brakes, and fly the T-7A manually, then turn them back on individually to see how they work, everything turned on together can be confusing to a novice, when the aircraft is doing all the actions for you, they are very good, no doubt, but also control the aircraft in an systematic way. Taxiing is a little tricky if you go too fast, the Hawk will wriggle under the stick, so keep the knots down, otherwise it is a nice ride. Full Throttle and the "afterburner" igniter kicks in, and you power off down the runway, speed at full thrust is colossal. Rotation was around 250 knts, high, but no flaps here, and the Hawk just powers into the air. Gear retraction is excellent, and very realistic. Note I set the flaps at 4% next time, and that was about perfect for a (shorter) run takeoff. I have to quickly reduce the throttle, if not would break the sound barrier at a low level... the speed numbers are just twirling up so quick. Now in a (fast) cruise I fly by St Louis City... time to feel out the aircraft. First of all the X-Plane 12 version feels very different than the XP11 release. Yes those fine touchy movements with stick are still required, but the machine feels far, far more refined, as a lot of the earlier feel was very touchy, certainly in the pitch. I'll hold my hand up and say I wasn't in liking the earlier feel, the aircraft I loved, the control I wasn't that fussy about... but this is now a revelation, this is FANTASTIC. Although a trainer aircraft, it still has to perform to a standard, a high standard if you are going to mirror a fifth generation fighter. And so the Hawk does. Back on the throttle and you climb... 33,500 ft/min (170.2 m/s) or 10, 211 m/min to a ceiling of 50,000ft... WOW! There is a bit of a trick here, keep increasing the Vertical Speed (V/S) until you match the increasing/decreasing speed and until they both slow and then hold steady together, it is a fabulous ride. Your at an altitude of 30,000ft in no time. Maximum projected speed is Mach 1.05, with a general cruise speed of 526 kn (605 mph, 974 km/h), and a range of around 990 nmi (1,140 mi, 1,830 km). Turning is unusual in the T-7A. The aircraft has no ailerons, as the tail elevator does the all work here. So if you turn into a bank, then the turn is slow and wide... no matter the bank angle? To get the turn tighter you need some rudder control to twist the Hawk into the direction you want to go... ... a touch of back-stick is also required to stop the nose dipping downwards. So it is a more physical machine to fly than before. Then there is the "Roll 2 See” or R2C feature. This is activated by the left side instrument switch... and the function is shown in the menu left bar Basically you now move with the aircraft (or roll with it)... left, right, up or down. At first it can be a bit discerning as you lose your perspective control, but it works well, certainly in following low terrain or deep in a canyon which is highly recommended. Again another to be switched off until you are familiar with the aircraft, and best experienced in flight, unless you are used to using the R2C system. It's the same with "Target Track mode" that is displayed on the icon bar. The Target Track takes command of the pilot point of view camera in order to point the camera at a selected AI plane (the target) and then follow it. Then keeping it in view at all times until you change the view to either 2D or the usual 3D. To activate the TRK mode, you need to be in the 3D cockpit view. The R2C rocker switch is switched ON, you have “Weapon select” and “Target select” completed, then “Weapon select up” once to enter “Track Mode”, then click “Target select up” once or more to your preferred target. Tricky to get right! but clever when it works. Track-IR and VR headsets do work well, but they do require complete control of the pilot POV camera. GCAS Ground Collision Avoidance System protects the airplane and the pilot by estimating time to ground impact and restoring level flight using the auto pilot. As the aircraft approaches the ground two converging arrows appear in the HUD along with a time to impact. When the arrow meet in the center then the system will enter a recovery mode (FLY UP) to avoid ground impact.... sounds like fun... not! Notable is the IFR (In Flight Refueling) the switch is on the DOORS panel, and recesses the IFR panel top of the T-7A. GPS As noted you can set any of the 54 pre-set GPS (VOR 2) options or place coordination of say a AFB or City. When selected (GPS) the aircraft will then track to those coordinates, very good it is... but what if where you want to go is not in that set list (for me St Louis KSTL). Like mentioned it is not easy to add in a new pre-set location, and the ones in there can over-ride the GPS system... so a system is required by AOA to allow you add in a new GPS coordinate into the system easily is definitely required? I found it frustrating, even useless to use, unless you only fly out of a USA AFB. Lighting Because of the dynamic views features, you do find some view tools restricted even in 3D use, so you are sort of locked into the seat, and you can look up, down and side to side, but you can't move around like forwards or backwards... so the lighting images are restricted here. It is basic anyway, the instrument lighting is good, but locked with no adjustment except for the UFD with a knob on the panel. The only adjustment is the "Overhead Light" on the ELECTRICAL panel, one for front and one for the rear. The canopy reflections are excellent and can also be turned off if to distracting. Externally the Red Hawk is basic, there are no "Formation" lights? or even a red beacon light. The T-7A's landing lights are on the undercarriage, so they only work when the gear is down... here the lighting has been tuned to XP12, and very nice it looks. As mentioned, I wasn't that in liking the T-7A earlier, we just didn't gel as a partnership. Maybe it was the total automation of the aircraft? This time around for X-Plane 12 I have turned most of the automation off, odd yes, but I found the aircraft came alive in my hands when it did, maybe it was because I felt I was in control, and not the aircraft. It is an interesting point. I only left the "Speedbrake" Auto switched on, but found you still could not drop the flaps (manually) until you had dropped the gear down. Approach is around 175 knts with full flap 56%. The flaps marker will flash, then only go solid when you are at the full flap position. This time around I found the Red Hawk so much more docile on the approach, rather than with those earlier wild erratic movements. I could sit there elevated in my position and fine tune the approach with ease, its a trainer aircraft, this is what it should be like for the novice airman. Throttle control is very nice, and you can easily adjust your height approach by slight forward and rear movements of the lever, just a smudge below 150 knts and you have the perfect slight nose up angle finals. More nose up going into a high flare, reduces the speed to 130 knts, you feel like an Eagle feathering the tips of your wings ready to land. Touch was around 128 knts, it felt faster, as the auto Speedbrakes kicked into action. Lovely, nice... perfect landing, what more do you want. Notable is that I had to reset the NWS to T-7A to get my steering working again before tuning off the runway, otherwise I was very impressed with the XP12 Red Hawk. __________________ Summary In March 2024, Angle of Attack released for the X-Plane 11 Simulator the T-7A Red Hawk. The Boeing/SAAB T-7A Red Hawk is the US Air Force’s newest fast jet training aircraft. It was designed to replace the more than 50 year old Northrup T-38 Talon, and to better prepare new military pilots for the future advanced aircraft they will fly later. This X-Plane 12 is a totally new release, on the X-Plane 11 version. As in reality it is mostly a complete rework of the aircraft. Admittedly the XP11 version was at the time lacking in any real world data on the aircraft, not even the performance had been published, and those aspects have been now fixed here. This is now a far, far more refined simulation. The T-7A comes in three versions; TX prototype, T-7A advanced trainer and T-7N Navy version. The modeling is actually very good, but more different at a distance in quality,. The Lo-Res closeup like the XP11 version is still there to a point here, but this time around in X-Plane 12 the PBR and lighting effects really bring out the quality and realism and give the aircraft far more depth in the air. Features are excellent and very modern, R2C “Roll to See” POV camera, "Target Track" which points, locks and follows AI planes with pilot camera, AGCA - Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System, "Virtual" ground and In-Flight Refueling capability and Track-IR and VR compatibility are all great features, notable are the "Auto" tools for Flaps, Gear, brakes and Speedbrakes are advanced features as on the real aircraft. Great Static Elements and probe are also nice menu additions, in that also the menu has been simplified but now more effective. So also changed is the old "Up-Front" Display from the complicated grid display, overall all are great improvements. Instrumentation and weapons are an all military style glass system, clever and well replicated here. There are some compromises with your view movements with the speciality view tools used in the features here, so forward and rear movements are restricted. Restricted GPS auto track is also limited with no edit or add position access. The biggest maturity with X-Plane 12 however is in the flight dynamics and handing for the T-7A. This is a more benign but more controllable machine, gone are sharp pitches and the sudden jerks of the Autopilot actions. The T-7A is more smooth and now handles like a trainer aircraft should, I wasn't completely convinced on the Red Hawk's earlier dynamics, but this new improved XP12 version is a revelation in this current form, and I really simply love it now, but it still requires time to learn the systems and tune into all the aspects of this aircraft. You get both the new X-Plane 12 and updated X-Plane 11 version T-7A with the package, currently there are no upgrade deals. So overall the new X-Plane 12 version of the T-7A Red Hawk is a massive step forward, it looks, feels, and handles far, far better in it's new environment, so the trainer of the future is here now, and it comes with a big YES from me. _______________________ The T-7A Red Hawk XP12 by AOA Simulations is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store: T-7A Red Hawk XP12 Priced at US$36.00 Advanced Features SASL 3.16.1 based plug-in system “Roll to See” dynamic pilot POV camera option (non-VR mode) points pilot camera based on pitch, roll and G forces "Target Track" points, locks and follows AI planes with pilot camera Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System Fly from forward or aft cockpits as student or instructor "Virtual" ground and In-Flight Refueling capability Track-IR and VR compatible AviTab tablet integration (Download AviTab plugin separately) Cockpit based on preliminary assessment of prototype T-X screen shots Head Up Display Up Front 32 points touch screen control and display panel Large format glass panel with embedded G1000 color moving map Multiple sub panel page options Dedicated engine data display Requirements X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 (both versions included) 4 GB VRAM Video Card Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 429 MB Current version: XP12 1.0 (September 29th 2023) This aircraft is noted as a new version, to date there are no upgrade deals from the X-Plane 11 version, but that may change. ________________ Installation and documents: download for the T-7A Red Hawk is 429Mb and the aircraft is deposited in the "Fighters" X-Plane folder. Full Installation is 521MBb AviTab Plugin is required for this aircraft Documents supplied are: 2019 CRS report T-7A Red Hawk program.pdf Get Me Flying, NOW!.pdf Printable Checklists Red Hawk bases.png Route around Europe.png T-7A User Guide.pdf Training Flights Documentation consists of a Quick Look overview, User guide, and the official CRS T-7A report... also provided is a Speed Chart (png), Checklists, and Red Hawk Bases and Route around Europe (png) and a "Get me Flying NOW!" tutorial Designed by Fabrice Kauffmann and David Austin of AOA Simulations Support forum for the T-7A _____________________ Update Review by Stephen Dutton 21st December 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews Review System Specifications:  Windows - 12th Gen IS1700 Core i7 12700K 12 Core 3.60 GHz CPU - 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - PNY GeForce RTX 3080 10GB XLR8 - Samsung 970 EVO+ 2TB SSD Software: - Windows 11 Pro - X-Plane 12.08rc3 (This is a Release Candidate review). Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00 Scenery or Aircraft - KSTL - St. Louis Lambert International Airport by StarSim-KSTL (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$22.00 (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  17. Aircraft Upgrade Review : Piper Aerostar 601P X-Plane 12 by Avia71 Aerostar held the speed record for fastest twin piston general aviation aircraft. It is capable of cruise speeds from 220 kn (408 km/h) for the earliest 600 models to 261 kn (483 km/h) for the later 700 models. Light construction, low drag and high powered engines also contribute to fast climb rates... The Aerostar is a goer, fast, famously fast as it did drug running and created a movie with Tom Cruise in it called "American Made". Piper Aerostar (formerly Ted Smith Aerostar) is an American twin-engined propeller-driven executive or light transport aircraft. It was designed by the famous Ted R. Smith. It was originally built by Ted Smith Aircraft Company, which after 1978 became part of the Piper Aircraft Corporation. It also has shades of the Aero Commander in the design (another Ted Smith design), but with an almost jet trainer tail section, wings are almost swept forward. But the cabin size is huge at 1.17 m (3 ft 10 in) in width and 3.81 m (12 ft 6 in) in length. The Aerostar is the sports car of the air to the utility truck like Commander. The Aerostar 601P was released in X-Plane 11 by Avia 71, in July 2018, the "P' version denotes it is the Pressurised version of the 601, it comes with an increased gross weight and 492 were built. The Avia71 601P aircraft has collected a few updates in the intervening years, and now with this the transition upgrade to X-Plane 12. Yes it is a pay upgrade, but original purchasers of the X-Plane 11 version can upgrade to the X-Plane 12 version for 50% off. X-PlaneReviews did a full XP11 release version review here... Aircraft Review : Piper Aerostar 601P by Avia71 In the review I loved the aircraft, better was the 601P update v1.4 in January 2019 that added in VR (Virtual Reality) and X-Plane's final 11.30 compatibility. So here is the X-Plane 12 conversion, if any aircraft would certainly benefit to be available in X-Plane 12 it is the Aerostar. Externally the X-Plane 12 version is very much the same, but now seriously benefits from the XP12 more better lighting effects. The XP11 version felt a bit bland in that earlier period, but that is not the case here, as the effects bring out the shape, shadows and generates the 601P of being more alive. The 601P is nicely modeled, but to understand that in this price range you are not going to get ultra realism, not in the Thranda aspect certainly... that said the details are well done and as noted seriously benefit from the XP12 lighting and PBR. Power is still provided by two Avco Lycoming TIO-540-U2A flat six counter-rotating piston engines, rated at 350 hp (261 kW) each. There are no new features with the XP12 upgrade, but a few areas have been refined, improved and updated. The lighting provides more far more depth to the instruments. Before they had a more flat(ish) feel, but the instrument panel looks far better here in the XP12 601P. The instruments do provide that earlier era feel to the aircraft, and the developer has aimed at recreating the mid-sixties design authenticity. The cabin is as noted 3ft 10ins across, as it may be, but it looks bigger inside than say almost four 12 inch rulers put end to end? Brown vinyl outer with the nice straw like matting inserts gives you the right feel, seating is for pilot+five passengers or three children across the rear bench. The famous wooden slat blinds are excellent here, really realistic. Both yokes can be hidden independently, and there is a ADF pointer dial and bottom far right is a Garmin NAV2 alignment dial. Lower panel is a Bendix/King KR 87 ADF receiver and a Bendix/King GTX 320A Transponder (don't forget to turn both ON). Avionic equipment includes a Collins AMR 350 radio top, then the X-Plane native Garmin 530 GPS unit. An early Garmin NAV2 Radio is next and this is connected to a Bendix/King N1/N2/ADF readout panel for NM, Speed (kts) and Min. Lower stack is a very authentic NARCO KWK 66 weather display, with the highlight of the ST3400, which is inspired by the SANDEL ST3400 that shows TERRAIN or TOPO and Wind direction top right.. Menus The menu tab "71" (left middle screen) is gone for X-Plane 12. Now the menu selection is positioned in the X-Plane banner menu The menu also now called "Tweaks & Stuff", consists of five tabs that cover: Checklist, Weights&Balances, Cabin Altitude (Calculator), Data&Maintenance and Magics. A welcome page pops up when you first start the aircraft. The menus are now also scalable for size, and still can be moved around the screen. Checklists is a fifteen page checklist (a hard copy is provided as well) and it is important to get the right sequence of setup of the oxygen/pressurization system (it's complicated). Clever is the use of dots lower menu, to navigate the checklist. Weights&Balances menu is a excellent... You can select five extra 3d passengers that are shown externally in the aircraft, and can also choose to hide each person at will via the red spots. You can't adjust their actual weight's but the averages are fine in lbs/kgs, Fuel is left and right wing tanks 372lbs (62 US GAL) per tank maximum and a centre (fuselage) tank 249 lbs (41.5 US GAL) maximum. There is a payload (baggage) selection to 2336 lbs/1060 kg and then you are noted as "Overloaded". Cabin Altitude Calculator is a helper to compute your cabin altitude setting and the differential pressure. Just press the required altitude to show the computation. Data&Maintenance gives you your time of board (and on ground percentage %), Engines Operating time (hours) and time to your next service. Tire health and your two battery health percentages are also shown. You can fix the Batteries, Change the tires and fix your engines via the buttons. Magics, replaces the old "Option" title. This tab has four options (Magics!) to choose from. "Spanner" is Mechanical Management, that allows you to state to keep your previous mechanical state or repair all parts at the start of each flight. "Fuel" states allows you to either keep the last fuel level recorded or set an average fuel state for each flight. The "Cone" tab can set static elements like cones and wheel chocks... the final option is a "Pill"? This will either forget all your current data (on the Data page) from previous flights or keep all your current data active for this flight, in other words you keep all the data or just the data from this current flight. New is the option to hide the passengers all internally, but not externally, which is a bit odd? Documents holder Down to the pilot's left (arrowed) is a clipboard that acts like a pop-up documents holder. The original XP11 Doc Holder was not very good and very hard to read. That has been revamped here for X-Plane 12, with now a scalable pop-up that is far more usable. Navigation is via the banner tools, BACK, DOWN, UP and SELECT... it's simple and works well. You can add in your own documents via a .png 1150X1733px 72dpi image that is placed in the aircraft's/CUSTOM DOCS/CHARTS folder. Note the title uses the Aerobask system for navigation... so the document titles have to be correct. Tricky to do, but not impossible and it is explained in the Manual. Here I inserted charts for KDAB or Daytona Beach. A needed function missing though is "Rotate" to rotate the charts from Portrait to Landscape? Other Document options include; "Cheklists" (Checklists) and "Miscellaneous". There is the Split main door which is well done, but quite a step up without still the lower step? It is opened either internally, and now externally as well. Note the nice feature of the Propeller feathering, it is also well done and looks authentic. I will note the internal boundries. I didn't like them at all this time around, as they don't give you a lot of movement in the cabin, and you always seem to bouncing off the walls and sitting slightly centre. I don't remember the boundries being this over-constricting before? _______________ In the air the quirks of the 601P soon again become apparent. First is the loud (twin) alerts for the engines RPM, when over the 25 RPM red marker, then you will get a warning light for each engine and a lot of noise... but setting the throttle below this speed makes the aircraft fly really slow, at around 170kts... So there is a bit of Merlin magic required... ... you set the Prop (Propeller) levers oddly to nearly mid-gate, same adjustment with the Mixture levers in a leaner lower setting, then the reverse happens as the Aerostar builds up speed like a Saturn 5 Second Stage ll and up goes your speed... ... get the levers postioning right and the 601P just flies along (yes, pun intended). Then there is the complicated pressurisation system. There was the pressure calculator you require on the menu tab, then you must seal the door (that switch) and make sure all the panel indicators are on and green, then set the cabin altitude, and the cabin rate to full increase. Once climbing you then have to move the cabin rate to full decrease, then reset the cabin altitude to the desired altitude and then adjust the rate of climb until you reach your altitude... once there you have to keep your eye on the DIFF PRESS as It should never exceed 4.25 PSI. and if exceeded, then an alarm knob warns you (yes another loud alarm) on the right panel. Then just do the reverse procedures to go down. If you do the pressurisation procedure correct, then you can climb, fast... or around 1,840 ft/min (9.4 m/s), to a ceiling of 25,000 ft (7,620 m), so the Aerostar is an interesting aircraft, and the details or features if you want to call them that, are really well done by Avia71, and the feel and use is as note very era authentic as well. While flying (nicely) along at 200 knts, I looked at the instrument panel... it was different, almost black? I remember a cream lighter style panel on the X-Plane 11 version? There were originally seven liveries, including the "American Made" N164HH. In this XP12 version you now get eleven liveries... ... plus four different panel colours (Cream, light Green/Blue, Dark grey and Black, depending on the choice of livery. Sounds earlier in X-Plane 11 were already FMOD, but here updated to FMOD2, and are glorious, great thrumming under load, well coordinated to the sublime cabin noise, I really love them, except when the alerts make you jump out of your skin! They are VERY loud. Lighting has also had the X-Plane 12 treatment, looks lovely inside, and the panel really shines. There are two forward overhead spotlights, and four spots in the rear cabin, all switchable and they all look very nice. External lighting is quite basic, Navigation, Strobe and Taxi/Landing in the nose... Another 601P quirk is the flaps... flip the lever down for a change of flap at UP-10º-20º-30º-FULL and it flips up again till you press it again for another drop position and you do the same flipping operation upwards to retract, it's easy but tricky at the same time, as it is hard to see what flap selection position you are in and even counting noises doesn't really work. so it is mostly a feel and guess on what speed and flap position your are actually in... and in time you will certainly get used to it, but it is not easy at the start. My steps were 130knts (guessing) for 10º, 100 knts for 20º and a nice approach speed, 30º at 90knts and then a final drop to FULL at 85knts... 77 knots (143 km/h; 89 mph) is your stall speed. Now we are low(ish) to ground, we can also look at the undercarriage, which is very nice and well detailed in wear and is worn visually. Handling is really great, the control in your hands is perfect, as the 601P responds very nicely to any inputs. My only concern is the Aerostar flies very nose (or pitch) down, at high altitude at full power, but it is also very noticeable when in the approach phase, you can adjust for it obviously, but it doesn't feel natural. As you go into the final descent, this aspect becomes far more pronounced, no matter the speed or flap position, and I couldn't dial it out, go too slow to lift the nose and you just lose height? Avio71 has overall certainly done more work on the flight model this time, took their time and got it right. The earlier original release also had a few bugs, but everything this time around felt more tighter and smoother in X-Plane 12. Over the fence at a 100 kts, I found it hard in the flare, yes to get the nose to rise, it did a little, but the landing was a bit on the three gear points together. Maybe one to practise? Yes I totally love flying the Aerostar 601P, it is a fast all-rounder, certainly far more matured in X-Plane 12, this is a really nice and well conceived transition to the upgraded X-Plane Simulator. Summary In the areas of value and features you get a lot of aircraft for your money, and a very iconic aircraft at that as well, with this Aerostar 601P from Avia71. And many of the features provided here are all very clever, very authentic to the Mid-Sixties era, to the aircraft and it's operations. Now the Aerostar 601P is upgraded and available in X-Plane 12 Features include the complex pressurisation system, active circuit breaker panel, fuel system including X-FEED, Flap system, Century X Autopilot and authentic NARCO KWK 66 Weather display and SANDEL ST3400. Systems save parameters between flights in data and maintenance or can be set for just one flight and excellent menus with checklists, weight management, cabin altitude calculator, maintenance, stats and options. Sounds have been updated to FMOD2, and overall are better and more consistent. The original modeling is more conspicuous, as there is now more depth and better PBR, so those earlier white liveries don't wash out the finer details anymore, but the animated roof blinds and the very realistic weathered undercarriage are still standouts. Feels far better in the flight dynamics as well, although the nose pitch in flight and approach is a bit worrying. Any comments are with the passengers, I feel they need a bit more work, certainly less saturation, and the internal cabin boundaries are too restrictive. A few review aircraft that X-PlaneReviews fly, become far more interesting with the more time you spend with them, and certainly the Aerostar falls well into that category, it sort of goes deeper and deeper with the complex but interesting systems and the overwhelming great ideas that are at play here. And the more I fly and tune into the aircraft, then the more you really, really like it, so interesting to very interesting is the words to sum the aircraft up. Better is this refined X-Plane 12 version, time has been taken to get it right, and In this price range then it is excellent value and it is quite different in a flying machine and in the way that you even interact with it, but then again the 601P is a Ted R Smith aircraft as well and he certainly made very different and interesting aircraft, so in that aspect the Avia71 Aerostar 601P certainly honors the legend of it's creator. Overall highly recommended. ______________________  Yes! the Piper Aerostar 601P XP12 by Avia71 is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Aerostar 601P XP12 Price is US$29.95!   Features Ultra High Definition Model 4K Textures throughout Full PBR High quality 3D model FMOD custom sounds Fully VR compatible Reality-XP's GTN 750 integrated Features Fully functional 3D cockpit Custom menu containing checklists, weight management, cabin altitude calculator, maintenance, stats, options Custom instruments Custom pressurization system Custom animations Disengageable system for saving parameters between flights Customizable documents holder (read your charts, checklists... in flight) Custom fuel feeding system Complete set of original checklists 7 liveries + paintkit Auto-Updater Keep your aircraft up-to-date with SkunkCrafts auto-updater Easy to use Requirements X-Plane 12 (not for XP11) Windows, Mac, or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 490 MB Current version : XP12 (December 17th 2023) Customers who own the Aerostar 601 for XP11 can get this new XP12 version for 50% off. Coupon code can be found in your original Aerostar Invoice ________________ Installation and documents: download for the Aerostar is 488Mb and the aircraft is deposited in the "General Aviation" X-Plane folder. Full Installation is 657MBb Authorisation is required, and a restart. Updates are via Skunkcraft Updater. AviTab Plugin is required for this aircraft Documents supplied are: Avia71_AEROSTAR_601P_Checklists.pdf Avia71_AEROSTAR_601P_Manual.pdf There is good Documentation provided here, not only for the 601P including: performance charts, reference guides, avionics and a printable checklist. All updates are via the new Skunkcrafts 3.0 Updater Designed by Avia71 Support forum for the Aerostar 601P _____________________ Aircraft Upgrade Review by Stephen Dutton 19th December 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews Review System Specifications:  Windows - 12th Gen IS1700 Core i7 12700K 12 Core 3.60 GHz CPU - 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - PNY GeForce RTX 3080 10GB XLR8 - Samsung 970 EVO+ 2TB SSD Software: - Windows 11 Pro - X-Plane 12.08rc3 (This is a Release Candidate review). Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00 Scenery or Aircraft - KRSW - Southwest Florida International Airport by Aerosoft (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$24.95 - KDAB - Daytona Beach by Aerosoft / Stairport Sceneries (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$28.99 (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  18. NEWS! - Aircraft Updated : B 747-8 Series Anniversary Edition v2.7 by SSG/VMAX This is the third significant update to the Boeing 747-8 Series (Jumbo Jet) in 2023, we can't count the v2.6rc1 (Jan 14th 2023), as there was no list notes, and v2.6 was the official update to X-Plane 12. These consistent updates have kept the SSG B748 Series very fresh and very mature, and X-PlaneReviews reviewer Michael Hayward did an overview review for that X-Plane 12 transition release: Aircraft Update: B 747-8 Series Anniversary Edition X-Plane 12 This v2.7 release is also worth noting as in this update SSG have made the aircraft now functional for Mac Silicon native plugins (M1/M2/M3 computers). If you are a Mac user, then that is very good news. Another nice update is the retirement of the old Dream Engine sound pack, to be replaced here by the more up to date and the more flexible FMOD2 sound system, changes to the general airframe, Cockpit and FMC are also included. The full v2.7 changelog is below. Changelog v2.7 General Airframe - Wing Flex improved - Landing gear improved - Weather map now work in both sides - Terrain Map improved - Flight dynamics improved to meet the nes xp 12.07 and above - Landing gear improved and updated Cockpit - MCDU Pilot , MCDU Copilot and Navigation Copilot PopUps now has a hidden command to open/close. - Copilot ND in Xplane window style - Copilot ND window works now at full screen simulator FMC - Fixed problem loading airways in Coroute - Fixed mode PLN in copilot ND - Fixed Not allow enter not identified waypoints - Fixed previous route loading - Fixed Tracks lines improved - Fixed on more oscillating tracks - ND presentation the same for both NDs - Bank angle improved for turns - Better DME ARCS - Correct landing speeds selection in route - No more jumping speeds in legs page - Correct speeds in missed approach - Change to VNAV from FLCH and vice versa works properly now - Improvement for tracks curves and curves flying - N1 up to 107.9 in takeoff - Improved AT - Better autolanding - TAS and GS now correct - Fixed during takeoff and climb, the current speed doesn’t change - Fixed descent speed was bad computed in some situations sound/FMOD - New FMOD sound package that replaces the old Dream Engine sound. These changes are also related to the included B748F (Freighter) variant as well, note the X-Plane 11 version is also still available in v2.5.1 form, both the XP12 and XP11 links are included in the package. Currently there is a 30% off the full price sale as well, so a nice little Christmas treat could be in order. Developed by SSG and VMAX Support forum for the 7474-8 ____________________________  Yes! the Boeing 747-8 Inter Anniversary Edition X-Plane 12 By Supercritical Simulations Group is available from the X-Plane.Org Store here B 747-8 Series Anniversary Edition Price is US$69.00 (currently on SALE for US$48.30, or 30% off) Officially licensed by the Boeing Corporation. Requirements -Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 - both links included Windows , Mac (including M Processors) and Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version : XP12: 2.7 (December 15th 2023) XP11: 2.5.1 (June 7th 2022) _______________ NEWS! by Stephen Dutton 16th December 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Right Reserved.
  19. Aircraft Review : Shark UL XP12 by Aerobask It is a versatile nimble aircraft, fast as well! this is the "The Shark" or Aero Shark, which is a conventionally laid out, single engine, low wing ultralight aircraft, light-sport aircraft which seats two in tandem. It was first flown on 19 August 2009 and it is built in both Slovakia and the Czech Republic by Shark.Aero. It has optionally fixed or retractable landing gear. You gotta have to love that tail... The fuselage of the Shark is formed with integral fin seat backs, floors and instrument panel. The fin, set forward so the rudder's trailing edge is above the elevator hinge line, is shaped like sharks dorsal fin, high and strongly swept with a curved leading edge. There is also a small ventral fin. From the fin forward the upper fuselage line rises rapidly to merge into the side hinged, single piece canopy. There is baggage space behind the cockpit. Both of the tandem seats have flight controls. Structurally, it is a mixture of carbon-fibre and a small amount of glass fibre composites, with PVC foam filled aramid honeycomb structures sandwiched between the panels. The wing main spar is a dismountable two-piece carbon fibre beam which joins under the front seat; an auxiliary spar carries the aileron and flap mountings. In plan, the leading edge is elliptical, and there is slight taper on the outer trailing edge where the ailerons are mounted. Single slotted, electrically-operated flaps occupy the rest of the trailing edge. Like the wings, the slightly swept tailplanes are also easily detached for storage or transport. You can see where the wings detach, plus the exposed gear in the bays. "UL" represents the retractable undercarriage and the variable-pitch propeller variant as delivered here. Power is by a Rotax 912ULS flat-four, air and liquid cooled engine of 73.5 kW (98.6 hp), connected to a 3-bladed Duc Hélices variable pitch composite propeller. Go into the roll and the Shark responds nicely, climb, then twist and dive, and the aircraft feels SO well balanced and super-smooth to your inputs, in the States the Shark is known as a light-sport aircraft (LSA) (as yet not yet registered) but has certainly all the correct dynamics and the feel for that "Sport" moniker. As noted the Shark is Fast... Maximum speed is 300 km/h (190 mph, 160 kn) with a cruise speed of 250 km/h (160 mph, 130 kn) economical... it will climb at a 7.4 m/s (1,460 ft/min) max, to a ceiling of 4,100 m (13,500 ft). G-limits are also high at +4/-2 Sounds are quite extensive, even excellent here with a full FMOD environment by sound pro Daniela Rodriguez Careri. It comes with accurate doppler effects, distance attenuation and flyby effects. The headset is simulated as well. The Shark also comes with the "Dynon Skyview" Avionics package. A G1000 sized display that has a lot of Garmin G1000 features but comes here with more functionality in depth. Here are a few images of the display working in the air, we will go through the Skyview details and functions later. From the rear you have basic instruments. Artificial Horizon and Speed/Altitude Tapes. The undercarriage indicator (selector) is also present, fuel selector, throttle and joystick, but no rudder pedals? I know you want to check out the goodies in the Shark, so I head back to Half Moon (KHAF)... correct altitude and speed, I approach RWY 12, but the flaps won't extend... "what the?". I have been warned about this odd foible on the Shark, so I pull up the nose to rub off the speed... Even well low in the white flap line at 72 knts, I still get no reaction from the flaps... it is noted that the flaps won't activate above 65 knts for the first extension, 60 for the second and 55 for the full flap position, so you have to run off a LOT of speed before the flaps become active? So it is a bit of a skill or game to get the speed and flaps in position and ready for landing, it takes time, you go slower, then even slower to rub the speed off.... the gear also has a "Pressure Switch", so it won't retract or extend until you reach or are below a certain speed (62 KIAS (115 km/h)... right finally both are done! You can twist this very agile aircraft on a dime to tightly turn the Shark back to the runway, the handling is so docile, so controlled, you can put the aircraft pretty well anywhere you want to, very easy to trim. Approach is interesting... the Shark is not a throttle feel aircraft, so adjusting the throttle will certainly have an effect on your altitude or descent speed, it is not everything, as you will also need some nose (pitch) angle to help you out as well. This was more apparent in descending from an altitude, say 5,000 ft to 2,000 ft, as you required a lot of down forward pitch, which was required to lose the height no matter the throttle position. Approach speed with full flap is a super-slow 45 knts, your just hanging up there, taking your time to line up the runway perfectly, again the handling here is superb.... love it! Your approach is so low, so slow... you can even do some lawnmowing at the same time, easy peasy. Super-handling... X-Plane's v12.08 new landing wheel inertia, it works wonderfully here, as you are finally in total control of the aircraft and in the landing, you want as you touch around 42 kts (ish), slight nose flare! ... and your down stall speed is a super-low 35 kts. Love it, yes I totally love it. This is the first all new aircraft from Aerobask for quite awhile, and is only for X-Plane 12 (X-Plane v12.08 is required). After spending most of the year upgrading the Aerobask fleet for X-Plane 12.... So it is nice to have something totally new and different to look at and fly. Notably the Aerobask and their quality have already a very high prestige, that upper echelon of that X-Plane users will buy on the name alone, no matter the aircraft they deliver. Aerobask also specialise in composite modern aircraft, and the Shark is a current production aircraft since 2019. So the Shark UL fits the brief perfectly. On the ground the Aerobask quality is certainly very evident. Detail is composite super-smooth, but all done to perfection. Love the Shark gills cooling. Landing gear is perfect in design and genuine detail, trailing link, but with enough give (movement) to make it totally realistic. That fin tail and fine wing are both again super-smooth and really well done, so overall there is absolutely nothing in the exterior or the modeling scale that demands attention of any criticism, the standard today in these aircraft are extremely high, so you sort of expect it at this level.... but it is still nice to admire the skilled work. Bubble canopy is also perfection, lovely glass and reflections, you can almost want to open it with your own hand, it opens sideways to the right, almost glider like. Twin-seat cockpit is tight, almost like a two-man bobsleigh, certainly tight in the rear... Frame with slim cushion seats are excellent, highlighted by the bright red seatbelts... you sorta slip into the aircraft and not get into it, as is so tight... comfy? notable is the rear (few) instruments mounted on the canopy, not the fuselage. There are controls both front and rear, if very basic in the back of throttle, joystick (but no rudder pedals) That very high quality Aerobask interior design and materials are in abundance here. Carbon-fibre weave is highly realistic and in different combinations to match the interior design, seat frames are also Carbon-fibre, molded perfectly to realism. There is a soft vinyl lower/floor material, everything is glorious to the eye and completely authentic. For an Ultra light sport aircraft, the instrumentation is quite considerable. The Dynon SkyView HDX System is the headliner here, and starts with the display being available in both 10” or 7" sizes, in the Aerobask Shark we have the larger 10" version, and it dominates the forward view. The "Skyview Touch" is the main feature of the Aerobask aircraft, the first fully mostly authentic reproduction of this popular Avionic suite for the X-Plane Simulator. Even the "Pop-Up" is set in the Dynon Avionics bezel. The pop-up can be scaled from extremely small, to excessive large, and can moved to any part of your screen. The Skyview Touch is quite complex in functionality, you will need to study the system (on the ground, and don't try to wing it!) as you can easily get lost in the myriad of menus, it took even me a fair while to work it all out, in areas they are the same as the G1000 layout, but a lot of the Dynon system is quite different in selections. The PFD is the usual wide Artificial Horizon, with the standard Speed and Altitude/VS Tapes, Roll, Bank and Pitch markers, lower is a Horizontal Situation Indicator (HSI) with NAV 1/GPS BRG (Backgrounds), Speeds, Baro, Altitude, Wind, HDG (Heading) and CRS (Course) are all shown. First option is that you can switch from a HSI to a G-Meter, which you can reset. There is the CONFIG selection. PITCH allows you to set the climb angle you want, in 10º, 20º, 30º and 45º. SYNVIS will revert the Artificial Horizon to a colour background. SIX-PACK puts just the "Standard Six" instruments on the display, plus you can also have a neutral grey background. It is all exceptionally well done by Aerobask, and very authentic to the real Dynon. Layout options are quite a few. First you have the EMS or Engine Monitoring System, this can be shown in three positions in; left, right and centre. All engine outputs, temperatures and pressures are all shown, HOBBS and electrical outputs are also available. There is the standard Skyview PFD background as well as the wide MAP, or both together, and you can even switch them around. In the CONFIG, the "POPUP" selection is here as well. Other MAP options include; GREEN, SLATE, TOPO and TERRAIN... you can also orientate the map HDG or NORTH UP. Flightplan input to the Skyview is via the Garmin GNS 430, this includes saved flightplans, building flightplans and procedures, it basically mirrors the GNS. Another big feature is the use of Navigraph charts in the Skyview. Obviously you need a Navigraph account, and to register the account before use (each time you fly actually?). In MAP, you then select the airport you want to access, this will give you the basic (X-Plane) airport data... ... then in pressing CHARTS, you will then access the Navigraph database for airport charts, then selecting the chart you need. When you have selected a chart, the system goes looking, then loads in the chart you want. CHARTS are available in day or night options (night darker is far easier to read)... ... and charts can be FILL, FIT, ZOOM (in or out) or just scroll (or moved) around the screen for the size you want. Hardware Dynon control panels are also provided. This is the "Rotary Controls" for HDG/TRK, ALT & BARO (top-left), and the secondary "Knob Control Panel" (top-right). These two panels are set above the Skyview Touch. The AP (Autopilot) can also accessed directly in the Skyview Touch, also available are FD (Flight Director), ROLL, PITCH and LEVEL selections. The Dynon Skyview Touch is all so very, very good, and a totally though system to use. There is a video made by Aerobask listing the features of the Skyview Touch avionics system... well worth looking through, and getting the general idea of all the functions. Other digital instruments include; Flybox PR1-P Propeller Regulator, Blaze EMS-2 3 1/8” universal engine monitor color display and a Flybox Oblò backup instrument. A ATR833-II 80mm radio (COM) produced by f.u.n.k.e. (manual provided) and an Aerospace Logic Chrono CO200 OAI (manual provided) are set lower, and note the row of Circuit Breakers (fuses). In the Shark the circuit breakers act also as the switches for the EFIS, Fuel Pump, Pitot Heat, and the three external lighting of Position (Nav), Strobe and nose Landing lights. Side panels are basic, Fuel Tank switch and Throttle left, and Joystick and a PS Engineering PMA4000 Audio Panel right. Notable in the cockpit is the detail, like the excellent canopy window, beautifully methodically createdl, it opens (slides) as well! Menu The Shark Menu is accessed via the banner "Plugins" menu "Shark UL Options Show/Hide". Secondary selections are via a "Hotspot" above the Shark Logo top right of the instrument panel, the Menus is also accessible via the "AviTab" tablet on the right side of the canopy. The Menu is the standard Aerobask menu layout, with four tabs; Ground, Options, Sounds and About. Ground: the first tab "Ground" gives you your FOB (Fuel on Board), and you can select kgs/Lbs and Gal in either of the two tanks, there is the option to "Balance" the fuel in both tanks, lower is your Livery selection. Right panel covers a few basic static elements (pitot cover and a single cone) and the operation of the rear pilot in; Always Visible, Installed Outside only or Not Installed. There are two very nicely modeled (meaning realistic) Female pilots, but there are no other options to swap positions or a choice of a Male pilot. Options: Covers the MAIN, in Instrument Pop-ups, Reflections, Navigraph Charts (subscription and switching to either Day or Night charts) and Breaker Reliability. All main instruments options are covered, for the SKYVIEW, CO200K, MD302, PR1P, EMS2 and ATR883 Almost all options cover the instruments PopUp options, and temperature/pressure options. Sounds: This tab covers all your sound options in eight sliders, Internal, External, Pilots, Radios Environ and User Interface. There is the global options to Enable Sounds and Enable Speech. About: Last tab is the "Credits" for the Aerobask Developer team, the aircraft version No.# is shown in the banner. The AviTab Tablet as we have shown is also available (plugin required), it is the standard AviTab layout and tools, plus the built in Menu. Just press the right side button to hide. Lighting Lighting is pretty basic. Just the instrument lights (no adjustment) in the cockpit, and external Position (Nav), strobe and a single landing light in the nose. At night the instrument reflections are very strong, stronger when darker, very authentic though. Liveries There are twelve liveries, all very colourful and several are shark themed including "Jaws". There is a base white for the painters. ____________________ Summary This is an all new aircraft release from Aerobask... "The Shark" or Aero Shark, which is a conventionally laid out, single engine, low wing ultralight aircraft, light-sport aircraft which seats two in tandem, and is built in both Slovakia and the Czech Republic by Shark.Aero. A typical Aerobask modern composite design, the Shark is a beautifully handling aircraft with the authentic first representation of the Dynon "Skyview Touch" avionics package, a sort of mega Garmin G1000 styled display. Other represented instruments are the Flybox PR1-P Propeller Regulator, Blaze EMS-2 3 1/8”, ATR833-II 80mm radio, Aerospace Logic Chrono CO200 OAI and a very nice Flybox Oblò backup instrument . Focus here is on that "Skyview Touch", this is a comprehensive version with full authentic details that replicates the real Dynon package, there is also built in Navigraph charts, full hard point Dynon switchgear (two), and the side canopy AviTab with built in menus, the four tab menu is also available via clickpoints. Exterior modeling is to perfection, and the Interior is perfectly designed with full carbon-composites and materials. It looks like a Shark and flies swimmingly with purpose (pun intended), it's a seriously nice aircraft, easy to fly and you will soon find your love to the great handling and the ease of use, tricky to note is the authentic use of the landing gear and flaps. The Shark is also X-Plane 12 only and requires the latest v12.08 X-Plane version to fly. Overall a seriously nice package that Aerobask do so well, and yes a great quality and value investment for hours of enjoyable flying with all the mod-cons.... brilliant! __________________ Yes! the Shark UL XP12 by Aerobask is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Shark UL XP12 by Aerobask Price is US$29.95 Requirements X-Plane 12 (XP12.08 minimum - will not work with 12.07 or earlier. Not for XP11) Windows, Mac (even native M1, M2 Macs) or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM recommended Current version: 12.01r1 (December 12th 2023) ________________ Installation and documents: download for the Shark UL is 529Mb and the aircraft is deposited in the "General Aviation" X-Plane folder. Full Installation is 1.36Gb Authorisation is required, and a restart. Updates are via Skunkcraft Updater. AviTab Plugin is required for this aircraft Documents supplied are: Quick-Doc ATR833.pdf Quick-Doc CO200.pdf README - XP12 aircraft installation.pdf Shark UL - Checklist Normal.pdf Shark UL Flight Manual.pdf There are a huge amount of Documentation provided here, not only for the Shark UL including: performance charts, reference guides, avionics and a printable checklist. All updates are via the new Skunkcrafts 3.0 Updater Designed by Aerobask Support forum for the Shark UL _____________________ Aircraft Review by Stephen Dutton 15th December 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews Review System Specifications:  Windows - 12th Gen IS1700 Core i7 12700K 12 Core 3.60 GHz CPU - 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - PNY GeForce RTX 3080 10GB XLR8 - Samsung 970 EVO+ 2TB SSD Software: - Windows 11 Pro - X-Plane 12.08rc3 (This is a Release Candidate review). Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00 Scenery or Aircraft - KHAF - Half Moon Bay by Rising Dawn Studios (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$19.00 (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  20. Thanks for the comment CJC We need users perspectives on how they absorb Simulation. What is they like and don't... battles thoughout the year can wear you down, and I admit that, and it came though in this BtheS edition, but I'm only relaying the journey, overall I am far more confident in the New Year 24 for X-Plane. My feelings are that if you do have a rugged year, then that should be communicated as much as a positive year, honesty is important to get things fixed and shine a light on issues, overall Laminar did a magficent job, but they can get sidetracked sometimes. This is a very critical time for X-Plane...
  21. NEWS! - Aircraft Released : SR-71-'Test-Bed' Project by VSKYLABS The Lockheed SR-71 "Blackbird" is a retired long-range, high-altitude, Mach 3+ strategic reconnaissance aircraft developed and manufactured by the American aerospace company Lockheed Corporation. The SR-71 has several nicknames, including "Blackbird" and "Habu" This is not the first "Blackbird" project for the X-Plane Simulator, as there was a default "Blackbird" for X-Plane 10/11, but discontinued in X-Plane 12. Some elements of the vSkyLabs aircraft do come from the actual SR-71 default aircraft, but obviously a lot, as absolutely this SR-71 is built from the ground up. This is a far more in depth version than that original but definitive version. Note this is an X-Plane 12 only aircraft. Fully VR compatible / comprehensive FMOD sounds / Free future updates to existing customers / Highly responsive support and knowledge base for the SR-71 aircraft. VSKYLABS SR-71 Flight Dynamic Model: Highly detailed, comprehensive SR-71 performance and handling characteristics. The simulation follows the SR-71A performance charts and climbing/cruise charts with high accuracy (speeds, power settings, time-of-climb, distance and a LOT more!). Project version v1.0 includes flight model version 'VSL-SR-71-Block-1'. This will keep on updated and tuned side by side with flight testings and X-Plane 12 future evolution. 'BLOCK-2' is expected to be released about a week after project version v1.0 will be released. To know which update block you are flying, see the included update log. Authentic SR-71 flight and handling characteristics are being simulated: Chines and delta wings lift, CG movement through flight and fuel loading, high AOA tendencies of the SR-71, takeoff and landing handling and performance and more. Authentic climb schedule. Supersonic drag profiles. Engines and Afterburner: Advanced Engines flight dynamics simulation ('VSL-SR-71-Block-1' in project version v1.0). Ram-Jet aspects of the SR-71 propulsion system are being simulated: comes into practice at high supersonic speeds and power settings (thrust, fuel consumption and so forth). Throttles: simulated 'cutoff' and 'burner' regimes, to allow 'conventional' operation where fully aft is 'cut off'. Chemical Ignition (TEB) System: Simulated authentically, including TEB counters when the throttles are advanced from 'cutoff' to 'idle' and from full dry to afterburner regime. Afterburner ignition is not possible when the TEB counter hits 'zero'. Same for ground startup. TEB ignition visualization (the green flash): simulated. Exhaust Nozzle & Ejector: Variable-are iris-type afterburner nozzles are visualized, including ENP (Exhaust Nozzle Position) indicators. External Starters: Two AG-330 starter units are simulated, visualized. Air Inlet System: Spikes: Spikes algorithm is simulated, authentically, for both automatic and manual modes (spikes ratio due mach, altitude etc..). Spikes animation included. Spikes restart switches are functioning. Engine unstart: Infrastructure for future implementation exists. Due to the 'unexpected' triggering of real engine unstart in real-life conditions (such as spikes failure and other reasons), this feature is currently partially disabled. You can unstart the engines when manually positioning the spikes in the wrong position during high-supersonic flight. But it will not occur spontaneously. This is still a WIP element. Aft Bypass: Aft bypass doors are animated according to the actual conditions. Fuel system: Authentic Fuel-tanks system layout: simulated authentically, including realistic shift in CG due fuel consumption in the various phases of flight. Fuel feeding and sequencing: In current version, all fuel management is done automatically (automatic transfer to maintain CG within limits while it shifts). Manual, full capacity fuel system simulation is scheduled to be implemented in the future. Air Refueling System: simulated, including tanker visualization and authentic SR-71 air-refueling radio recording (contributed by Mr. BC Thomas, high Time SR-71 Pilot with 1,217 hrs and 18 min). Nitrogen tanks pressurization: Simulated authentically. Fuel fumes will exceed flash-point and will be ignited in the tanks unless the inert-gas-pressurization cycle was established (by completing an air refueling session up to full-tanks). Electrical system: Version v1.0 includes an authentic yet simplified electrical system. This is scheduled to grow in the future. Hydraulic system: Version v1.0 includes an authentic yet simplified hydraulic system. This is scheduled to grow in the future. Landing Gear System: Comprehensive landing gear system. Manual Gear Release Handle: currently not functional in v1.0. Might change until release of v1.0. Will be implemented in the future. Landing gears position lights, handle, warning light and Audible warning: Simulated authentically. Nose-wheel Steering System: Simulated authentically, including engagement lights. Works as in the real SR-71, with a toggle push button located on the stick. 1st push engages the system, 2nd push disconnects it. Require authentic taxi and takeoff nose-wheel steering practices. Wheel Brake System: Simulated authentically with ANTI-SKID/Wet-Dry switch. In Wet mode, brake anti-skid sensitivity is increased. Drag Chute System: Simulated and physically-accurate, including lights etc.. (version v1.0 includes default drag chute visualization. This will be replaced in the future with an authentic one). Primary Flight Controls: Control stick throws: Simulated authentically (both visually and physically). Elevon Control System: Simulated authentically (inboard, outboard, mixer). Rudder Control System: Simulated, authentically. Surface Limiter System: Simulated authentically. Including the SURF-LIMITER T-handle operations and indication light. Authentic throws and conditions (speed dependent). Lateral (roll) control stick travel and rudder displacement are restricted by the surface limiter system. Pitch, Roll and Yaw trim: Simulated authentically, including operation and indication. SAS Control: Simulated authentically, with high accuracy in all flight regimes. Autopilot: Simulated, not the authentic SR-71 interface and modes. It includes APP/NAV/HDG/ATL/VVI modes. Automatic High Angle of Attack Warning Systems - APW shaker and pusher: Simulated authentically via the various conditions of operations and flight envelope regimes. Two separate modes are simulated authentically: Shaker and Shaker+Pusher. Aural AOA indication and warning system: Did not exist in the real SR-71, however, it was implemented in the VSKYLABS SR-71-TB aircraft, to allow better AOA monitoring during flight (which is needed when flying without 'sensing' then real aircraft and real control stick forces..g forces and so forth). Flight & Navigation Instruments: Fully functional LR CDU 739 along with a fully functional EFIS/MAP display: covering 2*com, 2*nav, 2*adf, transponder. Windshield: Deicing System: Simulated. Lighting Equipment: Exterior lighting: Simulated. Interior lighting: Simulated. Environmental Control Systems: Pressurization schedules: Current version this is simulated but with automatic mode only. Manual control will be implemented in the future. Life Support Systems: Oxygen System: Current version this is simulated but with automatic mode only. Manual control will be implemented in the future. Pressure suite support systems: Not simulated. Listed for future implementation. Emergency Warning Equipment: Master Warning System: All active-systems warning, caution and condition lights indications are operational. Indicators and warning lights test button: Simulated. This being a vSkyLabs aircraft, Then the vSkylab philosophy is that you are purchasing an ongoing project, so any aircraft you purchase is not fully completed or is usually not completed to 100%, that is the deal you sign up for to get access to the aircraft, and all the development is free and ongoing throughout the X-Plane 12 version. These projects are under constant development: the development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements. So this aircraft is noted as an "Early Access" project. The SR-71 was designed for flight at over Mach 3 with a flight crew of two in tandem cockpits, with the pilot in the forward cockpit and the reconnaissance systems officer operating the surveillance systems and equipment from the rear cockpit, and directing navigation on the mission flight path. The SR-71 was designed to minimize its radar cross-section, an early attempt at stealth design. Finished aircraft were painted a dark blue, almost black, to increase the emission of internal heat and to act as camouflage against the night sky. The dark color led to the aircraft's nickname "Blackbird". Images are courtesy of vSkyLabs (X-Plane 12 version) Design by VSKYLABS Support forum for the SR-71 TB ___________________________ The SR-71-TB by VSkyLabs Flying Lab Project is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here : SR-71-TB Project by VSKYLABS Your Price: US$37.00 Requirements X-Plane 12 (not for XP11) Windows, Mac or Linux 8GB VRAM Minimum Download Size: 424 MB Current Version : 1.0 (December 8th 2023) ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton' 9th December 2023 Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved
  22. Yeah look I really loved this, it is certainly not a one off wonder, you get back in there and give it another practise moon landing, highly addictive!
  23. Yeah it's still on, but some bigger new releases came up, if quiet before Christmas on releases, it might get up there
  24. Yes I've already booked a cruise for next year! But reviewers go far deeper than the average punter for longer, it was like working with a mangy cat.
  25. That is why I protested getting in more coders, X-Plane has grown beyond itself and a small intimate group, like bringing in Jim Keir on the ATC, it made a huge difference because it brought new resources and fresh thinking to the Simulator, the transition problems of Vulkan/Metal were huge, and it cost Laminar a lot of time in fixing it, then everything else got shifted along and X-Plane 12 suffered, so we suffered, a year okay, but an important year in maintaining users to the Simulator.
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