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Stephen

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  1. Scenery Review : KCLT- Charlotte Douglas International Airport UHD by Nimbus Studios The latest Nimbus Studios scenery, was released in the Las Vegas FS Expo 2024 by it's creator Santiago Butnaru. This new scenery was the major American Airline hub of Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT), North Carolina, USA. The airport is situated approximately 6 miles west of downtown Charlotte. X-Plane users are well familiar with Nimbus Studios scenery, they can be usually large complex sceneries which are Nimbus's forte, including KORD Chicago O'Hare, KMCO Orlando International and most recently the excellent (and massive) KJFK - John F. Kennedy International XP12 in New York. Established in 1935 as Charlotte Municipal Airport, the airport was later renamed as Douglas Municipal Airport for Ben Elbert Douglas Sr., who was mayor of Charlotte when the airport was first built. In 1982 the airport was renamed again, this time to its current Charlotte Douglas International Airport moniker. After airline deregulation, passenger numbers at Chartlotte nearly doubled between 1978 and 1980, and a new 10,000-foot (3,000 m) parallel runway and control tower was opened in 1979. The airport's master plan called for a new terminal across the runway from the existing site, with ground broken in 1979. At the time, the airport only had two concourses: one used exclusively by Eastern, and one used by all the other carriers, including United, Delta, Piedmont, and several commuter airlines. There was a major expansion in 1990, as a new 80,000-square-foot (7,400 m2) international and commuter concourse (Concourse D) opened, and in 1991 further expansion of the central terminal building continued, reflective of USAir's dominating presence at the airport. Following the 2005 acquisition of US Airways by America West Airlines in a reverse takeover (a private company buys a IPO), Charlotte then became the primary domestic hub for the airline. The majority of US Airways' international routes however remained at the airline's second-largest hub, Philadelphia. Again there was another merger, this time the dominant US Airways and American Airlines in 2013, Charlotte then became the second-largest hub for the merged airline, after American's Dallas/Fort Worth. If you look at the Charlotte overview (above), some custom areas are darker than the X-Plane default surrounding landscape. It is however a bit of a illusion. The effect is caused by the X-Plane 12 3d tree angle, as looking at the scene at only an height of around 800 feet, then the trees would fill in with the correct colour match. No it shouldn't be like this, as it is only an X-Plane effect, it all looks quite normal lower. So the surrounding areas and the field are very nicely intergrated... it all looks very real. Charlotte Douglas International Airport IATA: CLT - ICAO: KCLT - FAA LID: CLT 18L/36R - 8,677ft (2,645m) Asphalt/concrete 18C/36C - 10,000ft (3,048m) Concrete 18R/36L - 9,000ft (2,743m) Concrete 05/23 - 7,502ft (2,287m) Asphalt/concrete Elevation AMSL 748 ft / 228 m KCLT has three parallel and one small cross runway in 05/23, presumably for GA and Cargo traffic. The taxiing distance to 18R/26L is a very long one, so extra fuel is required if assigned this runway, either for arrival and certainly for departure. The main terminal area is set central north between 18C/36C and 18L/36R. Charlotte Douglas has a single main terminal building, that is divided into five concourses: A, B, C, D, and E in an anti-clockwise direction. Concourse A Primarily serves domestic flights, Terminal A is divided into two parts: • Concourse A North: Newer section with additional gates (phase 1). • Concourse A: Older section. It is quite easy to differentiate between the older and newer concourses, as the newer A North zone is in blue that opened in 2018, comes also with larger windows, were as the "Older" finger section is more the standard American concrete and line of windows design. Gates are numbered A1-A13, and it serves various domestic airlines that are not part of American Airlines. The additional A gates, numbered A21-A29 hosts a variety of airlines, such as Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, and Frontier Airlines. You are immediately very impressed by the detail, it is very well done on the ramps with a huge amount of custom clutter, including ladders, bins, chocks, cones, vehicles and all the other required service equipment... items are branded, but in a more generic way, than being individually airline focused. There is some animated ground service vehicles, but it is far from being comprehensive, with just the odd vehicle shuttling around. Concrete is very hard to define, but the aged texture feel and look of the concourses here are excellent. Glass is perfect as well... Nimbus struggled with glass earlier, most notably with their Miami scenery, but have refined the idea now to perfection... you can see the detailed internal areas through the glass from the external perspective. Yes you can explore the internal detail, but it's not the focus of the idea, as the figures are very basic close up, and most look non-human. All the gates here at CLT are X-Plane default "Ground Handling", not SAM enabled. Before this aspect was to be seen as a negative. But with the Laminar refinement for X-Plane 12 and the demise of the SAM plugin (yes there is OpenSam), this original idea is now a more attractive gate tool option. Concourse A North, is really well done in detail and design... it has a dark brown brick base, with three story windows, and a blue curved roof as designed by Perkins+Will, an international architecture and design firm. A North has a bigger internal size, so it works better in detail, it is really realistic, and even internally walkable (sit-able?) Concourse B This B concourse primarily serves domestic flights for American Airlines. There is also an American Airlines Admirals Club is located within Concourse B, providing a comfortable space for eligible passengers, restaurants include Starbucks, Jamba Juice, Bojangles’ and Panera Bread. Originally opened in the early 1980s (1982). It has since undergone various renovations and updates to enhance the passenger experience... There is a small ramp tower centre concourse, and there are the numbered gates from B1 through B16 which are available here. Internally the layout is the same as Concourse A, but connected directly to the main terminal, this atrium section is well done. Terminal The main terminal building connects all the five concourses together via a large central atrium, but originally it was only Concourses B and C that were part of the initial development, as the terminal was opened at the same time as both concourses in 1982, but more expansions were done to the terminal in the 90's to handle International flights. The design is highlighted by those huge massive glass windows, with that curve at the top for maximum internal natural lighting, the concept was done by Odell Associates, a prominent architectural firm based in Charlotte, North Carolina. The modeling by Nimbus is simply exceptional here, a step forward in terminal airport design and quality, these atrium curved structures and glass must have taken ages to get right, and shows off the skills of the developer. There is a massive carpark attached directly north of the terminal and an enclosing roof structure joins the two areas together in forming the arrivals zone. There are a load of static vehicles here, as there is also a lot of static cars for detail in or on the top of the carpark and the surrounding landside areas. Internally the terminal section is detailed, but not as overly so as the concourses. Concourse C Concourse C is almost a twin of Concourse B and as it was opened at the same time. The idea is for American Airlines connecting flights to be an easy domestic connection between the two areas. There is the same Starbucks in here, but also the different other restaurant options of Smashburger, Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina and PZA (Pizza and Italian cuisine). Gates available are C2 through C19. There are two square fences on the roof, but otherwise it is the same design.... notable is the complex but extremely well done junction between the Atrium and Concourse D, is very highly realistic visually. Same concrete facade and glass blends in well. Internally it is also the same layout. Concourse D Concourse D at Charlotte Douglas International Airport serves as the primary concourse for international flights, but it also handles some domestic flights. Concourse D has gates D1 through D13, and it is connected to the main terminal and other concourses via walkways and the airport’s shuttle service. Concourse D was completed and opened in the early 1990s. Since then the concourse has undergone several renovations and expansions to accommodate the increasing number of international flights and to enhance passenger amenities. American Airlines has an Admirals Club, and The Club CLT (accessible with various lounge membership programs or day passes) is also available. American Airlines (International flights), Lufthansa and British Airways are the main users of the area. As Odell Associates again did the design, there is more better intergration with the Odell central terminal, same high curved windows and pyramid connection atriums... The eastern end is a full glass wall that creates a big open air space internally, the concourse is topped off by a complex roof structure and a nice blue roof. Fast food (Hungry Jacks) and other restaurants are also well represented. Concourse E Concourse E has 46 gates numbered E1 to E50, making it the biggest of all concourses, it is designed to efficiently handle only regional flight operations, with a layout that allows for quick turnarounds and easy access for passengers. American Eagle is the main user here. Concourse E features a mix of airbridges and ground-level boarding (walk on/off). The concourse has a 32 gates equipped with airbridges, but the majority of the gates are designed for passengers to walk directly from the terminal to their aircraft parked on the tarmac. The various gate sections are connected via round glass buildings, the central one is called "The Rotunda.” It is located in the middle of Concourse E and serves as a distinctive architectural feature of the airport. Again the concourse is an Odell Associates design and was built and opened in 2002. At the end of the arms, is the main square ground-level walkon/walkoff boarding area The complex Concourse D is extremely well done, there is a huge amount of detail to feast your eyes on, or with certainly getting your money's worth. Internally it is all well done, but really set out for only the external views. Landside is dominated by three well modeled carparks, and set dead centre is the old Control tower, the new one is set to the south and visible top. Infrastructure north is excellent, first with the multitude of large carparking spaces, most filled with static 3d vehicles, then to the northwest is the the Duke Energy Little Rock Ops Center powerplant, centre is FedEx Freight and the Charlotte (long term) Park "n" Go and Old Dominion Freight facilities. Any southern approaches into CLT are well catered for visually. NC Air National Guard CLT is main base for the NC (North Carolina) Air National Guard which is located at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, where the 145th Airlift Wing is stationed. This unit operates C-17 Globemaster III aircraft and provides airlift capabilities in support of military and humanitarian missions. The ANG Station is well represented here by Nimbus, it is set east on taxiway D. Shown are the ANG maintenance hangars and five well modeled C-17 lifters. General Aviation Next south of the ANG Station, is a very large General Aviation area. Wilson Air dominate here with two GA/BizJet facilities. Certainly worth a refuel drop in... there are also two excellent H pads set here for helicopter services. Top and tail are two more charter business aviation areas, mostly large BizJet hangars, both areas in detail are very well covered in the scenery. Sullenberger Aviation Museum Set between the thresholds of Runways 18L and 23 northeast boundary is the Sullenberger Aviation Museum, previously known as the "Carolinas Aviation Museum". The museum showcases the history of aviation, including significant events like the “Miracle on the Hudson.” In 2022, the museum was renamed to honor Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot who performed the emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River in 2009. The actual Airbus A320, registered as N106US is housed here. A bit of trivia... When US Airways swallowed America West, it then also used the America West's "CACTUS" callsign and ICAO code "AWE", as used by Flight 1549. Centre south between runways 18C/36C and 18L/36R is a joint area that covers the Cargo area, LSG Sky Chefs catering, American Airlines Maintenance and the main FAA Control Tower. The LSG Sky Chefs catering facility is well done (even if the catering trucks say "GateGourmet"?), next door is the United States Postal Service ramp and facility. Southwest Air Cargo is set here as well. To the west is the old USAir maintenance facility and it's massive hangar, now used for American Airlines maintenance. The ground detail and clutter is excellent, and there is a lot of fill detail that covers a wide area give value to the scenery. There is also a static AA A320 set in the hangar. East centre is the large Cargo area, that is split into North Cargo and South Cargo complexes. Charlotte’s central location on the East Coast of the United States makes it an ideal hub for domestic and international cargo operations. Based here presented are FedEx, Amazon Prime, UPS and DHL Aviation. The ramp includes approximately 8-10 dedicated cargo stands. CLT Control Tower As we have seen there are two towers visible at CLT, but the new FAA facility set in the south area was opened in 2007. The current control tower stands at approximately 370 feet tall, in making it one of the taller control towers in the United States. It covers Ground Control, Local Tower Control and Approach and Departure Control... unfortunately the X-Plane tower view (T) is set on the wrong tower? Nimbus modeling of the tower is good, but not detailed here as exceptional, certainly with the average roof aerials. Set in the ground image (arrowed above right), is the US Airways Flight 5481 Memorial. Shortly after takeoff from CLT in January 2003, the aircraft (a Bombardier Dash 8 Q300) experienced a loss of control and crashed, resulting in the deaths of all 21 people on board. The memorial is to highlight the importance of continual aviation safety, and the accident has led to changes in regulations and procedures to enhance flight safety. On the W 1 taxiway by the 36L threshold, the taxiway bridge is flat in the landscape, so it doesn't look very realistic, the well done rail sidings also highlight the issue. For all the excellence of this scenery, we leave a slightly low-note. Centre field is the field radar installation... it is a bit low-res for a scenery of this high quality, and worse the average red radar is not animated, but the radar and tower still highly visible when moving around Charlotte Douglas. Ground Textures Like at the Nimbus JFK, the ground textures here at CLT are excellent. Notable are the well done worn runway signage, not crisp and new, but tired and worn after years of service. Dirt and grunge on the touchdown points is also highly realistic as is the actual runway texture(s). Inner ramp areas are all mostly concrete as per most American Airports. Again the wear is excellent, and done is that the darker worn areas are set around the older terminals and service vehicle road courses, but around the new Terminal A North the wear is far less, a small but important aspect. PBR reflective (wet) active textures and burnt-in ambient occlusion are excellent here, you pretty well expect that now with any X-Plane 12 active scenery... but it is nice to see it in action. 3d Grass and spring flowers are also well done, the effect isn't over all of the field, but still does a great job in breaking up the flat surfaces. Foliage is also 3d XP12 excellent, but there are a few of the old style + cross trees mixed in there as well, but overall it is expertly done. Lighting The lighting at Charlotte Douglas is excellent... the scenery is not overly lit, but still really well detailed with a lot of different tones to make it realistic. The clear glass effect can work against you at night, making the terminals look unrealistic. It's not too bad here at Charlotte, and even what you could say is passable by the skill of Nimbus, where it works it stands out well, but the main terminal though looks a little bit too over bright and clear. All ramp and gate areas are nicely lit, and you can work nicely down there, so yes CLT is a highly workable night/darkness airport Like at JFK the maintenance hangar at CLT looks excellent at night, as does the well lit Cargo aprons. KCLT navigation signage is very clear and comprehensive, but the signs are just that in being clean, with no tired weather wear or ground reflections. Summary Charlotte Douglas International is a big airport by traffic and size, and has been a major airline hub for generations. First for Eastern, America West, then USAir and now American Airlines. It's a very popular airport as well with high ratings with the passengers. Besides the American Airlines domination, a few well connected international airlines use CLT as well, including Lufthansa, British Airways and American Airlines International. X-Plane users are well familiar with Nimbus Studios scenery, they can be usually large complex sceneries which are Nimbus's forte, including KORD Chicago O'Hare, KMCO Orlando International and most recently the excellent (and massive) KJFK - John F. Kennedy International XP12 in New York. That KJFK New York was a an major tour de force scenery for X-Plane 12, and well deserved, then this massive sprawling Charlotte Douglas is the same excellent work continued, even if in areas it is a little better again. It is certainly one of Nimbus Studios best sceneries yet, with top notch quality ground and building textures, glass and excellent modeling that captures the architectural detail and form that is distinctly CTL. All five terminal/concourses are extensive and all are set with high quality in detail, as is the excellent ground clutter and itemised aspects. Infrastructure in airport surrounds are again extensive and includes the Sullenberger Aviation Museum, NC Air National Guard and the Duke Energy Little Rock Ops. Surrounding 3d Grass and Fauna is also expertly done. It uses the older (but upgraded) "Ground Handling" tool for the animated gates, and there are some animated vehicles, but they are not overly represented here. There are a couple of oversights. The centre field Radar Tower is not in keeping of the high quality of the scenery, not animated either? the odd wrong Tower view setting? South W1 taxiway bridge is flat, not 3d? and all internal detailing like JFK is for external viewing only, but it is still very comprehensive, and it has some very weird people modeling. This CLT scenery is X-Plane 12 only. Nimbus Studios sceneries were always top notch quality and have excellent detail, but Charlotte Douglas shows a scenery developer at the very top of their game, and quality sceneries like CLT are highly usable and versatile in their use. So the KCLT scenery presented here hits every highlight with aplomb, and you can see that X-Plane 12 can deliver product as with the best of them.... Highly recommended. __________________ Yes!... KCLT- Charlotte Douglas International Airport UHD by Nimbus Design is now Available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : KCLT- Charlotte Douglas International Airport UHD Price is US$26.95 Requirements X-Plane 12 (not for XP11) Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 2.5 GB Current version: 1.0 (June 21st 2024) Installation Installation of KCLT Charlotte Douglas XP12 is done via download of 2.52 Gb... There is only one file to insert into your X-Plane Custom Scenery Folder Nimbus Simulation - KCLT - V1.0 XP12 With a total installation size of 2.93Gb. There are no documents, but installation is very straight forward ___________________________ 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 12.1.0 Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00 Scenery or Aircraft - Aircraft None - ____________________________ Scenery Review by Stephen Dutton 15th July 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! - Aircraft Released : Airbus A380 -842 XP12 by Peter Hager Peter Hager has upgraded his Airbus A380 to X-Plane 12. The biggest change is that you will now not have to buy a specific aircraft type, there are three; 380-842 variant was only sold to Qantas with Trent 900 Rolls Royce engines, and that is the type available with this release. Other variants are the A380-841 Engine Alliance GP7200 - Trent RR 970 engines and the A380-861 Rolls-Royce Trent 970 engines, which served other airlines including the biggest operator Emirates (861 & 842 variants). These other engine and type A380's will be when released soon, now be included together in the same package, In total you will get three A380 aircraft with different engines and a variety of airline liveries. The Airbus A380 is a very large wide-body airliner that was developed and produced by Airbus. It is the world's largest passenger airliner and the only full-length double-deck jet airliner. By December 2021, the global A380 fleet had carried over 300 million passengers to more than 70 destinations and completed more than 800,000 flights over 7.3 million block hours with 99 percent operational reliability and no hull-loss accidents. Over 50% of A380 capacity is from/to/within the Asia-Pacific region, of which around 15% is on regional flights within Asia. New Features New flight model, engine physics and performance set extremely close to real values. 3D-Cockpit with hi-resolution displays. Far more system depths than previous A380 for older XP versions: All System pages All Performance page tabs with optional pre-selection of SPD / MACH for CLB, CRZ and also pre-setting of MANAGED SPD / MACH for DES. Improved TAXI camera displays. Improved flight plan display and flight guidance, based on the default FMS. Exterior model with 8k textures! Dynamic view angle change for taxi. The rear pairs of the body landing gear steer at low speed. The Airbus A380 is available for only X-Plane 12, and is not available for X-Plane 11. Images are provided by Peter Hager _________________________ The Airbus A380 XP12 by Peter Hager scenery is Available now from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Airbus A380 XP12 Price Is US$59.90, You Save:$10.00(14%) Retail Price:$69.90 Requirements X-Plane 12 (not for XP11) Windows, MAC or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 172 MB Current version: 1.0 July 11th 2024) ___________________________ NEWS! by Stephen Dutton 12th July 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. Scenery Released : ESOE - Örebro Airport, Sweden by MXI Design Örebro Airport (IATA: ORB, ICAO: ESOE) is located 10 kilometers southwest of Örebro, and is Sweden's 23rd largest passenger airport and the fourth largest cargo airport in the country. MXI Design had already released a fair few sceneries for the X-Plane11 platform. But for X-Plane 12 they have created the all new scenery of ESOE - Örebro Airport in Sweden. Örebro Airport has a rich history, it was originally established as a military airbase before transitioning to a civilian airport. In the intervening period the airport has undergone several expansions and modernisations to improve its infrastructure and capacity since it's creation in 1979. In addition to passenger flights, the airport is a vital logistics hub, with significant cargo operations based here, with it being the fourth largest freight airport and one of the leading charter airports in Sweden. Örebro Airport also supports various aviation activities, including private flights, medical flights, and training flights. Features include: Accurately and high detailed modeled for best rendition of the airport Up to date ground layout Basic interior model of terminal for gives a depth PBR implemented for all models Animated Flags 3D Passengers Custom 30 cm/px aerial imagery for airport area Mission Statement MXI Design is a 3D art and game studio that has been established in 2018 and developing sceneries for flight simulators. Our only mission is develop best quality sceneries and currently we're working for X-Plane 12 and Microsoft Flight Simulators. This is an X-Plane 12 only scenery, and available at a very value low price Images are provided by MXI Design _________________________ The ESOE - Örebro Airport, Sweden by MXI Design scenery is Available now from the X-Plane.Org Store here : ESOE - Örebro Airport, Sweden Price Is US$10.50 Requirements X-Plane 12 (not for XP11) Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 2.1 GB Current Version: 1.0 (July 9th 2024) ___________________________ NEWS! by Stephen Dutton 10th July 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. NEWS! - X-Plane 12.1.0 goes final! Laminar Research has noted that the latest version release of v12.1.0 has now gone "Final", this was after 2 Release Candidates rc1&rc2. It is a big milestone in the Simulator's history as this new numbering system version was the biggest update since the release of X-Plane 12, nearly two years ago, in Sept 2022. Considering the short development period since May 15th, 2024, it has been one of the most shortest and efficient updates yet from Laminar Research. Features of X-Plane 12.1.0 include... Anti-aliasing (AA): Improved quality with better scene handling and coverage for alpha-tested surfaces (those with transparency). Depth of Field: More control with a setting for Real Camera Shake (RCAS) and a notification when textures are reduced due to memory limitations. Lighting: Bloom Effects and overall a more focused sources of lighting. Shadows: Smoother shadows overall, cloud shadows on water, and faster rendering times. Lightning: v12.1.0 features more realistic visuals with subtle color adjustments, distance variations, and bolt thickness changes via distance. Sound effects have also been improved for a more immersive experience. Particle Effects: The new system allows for particles on ground contact, easier editing with copy/paste, and datarefs for better control. Pre-built effects include jet engine afterburners (JATO), water bombing, ground scrapes, and rotor wash from helicopters. Aircraft configuration files (ACFs) let you disable these effects if desired. G1000 navigation system: including an accurate startup splash screen, a NAV page, a stormscope, datalink weather support, Terrain, a WPT page, an AUX page, and new datarefs. Water: Fixed water clarity issues, with color and transparency depending on location. Cloud shadows are now visible on water surfaces. Compatibility note: existing X-Plane 11 water scenery packs may not work perfectly due to differences in water rendering and might require updates from the creators. Autogen: Enhanced visuals for high-rise buildings in European cities and improved parking aircraft placement at airports, prioritizing larger planes for bigger spots. Supported flap systems: allowing the accurate simulation of manual flap controls such as the one in the Piper PA-28, with precise and gradual adjustments, and the dial-a-flap system, which is present in some McDonnell-Douglas aircraft. Updated landmarks for Las Vegas. Updated airport library with new objects (antennas, radars and water towers) Bug fixes You can find the full ongoing v12.1.0 details here: X-Plane 12.1.0 Release Notes To update v12.1.0, then just run the X-Plane Updater. _________________ X-Plane 12 is purchased directly from Laminar Research for US$79.95 and the download file size is 86 GB X-Plane 12 Price is US$79.95 Minimum Requirements Disk space: 25 GB CPU: Intel Core i3, i5, i7, or i9 CPU with 4 or more cores, or AMD Ryzen 3, 5, 7 or 9 Memory: 8 GB RAM Video Card: a Vulkan 1.3-capable video card from NVIDIA or AMD with at least 2 GB VRAM Note: Intel GPUs are not supported by X-Plane 12 _____________________ NEWS! by Stephen Dutton 10th July 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. NEWS! - Stick and Rudder Studios updates both X-Key Pad 1.6.0 & X-ATC Chatter v1.7.3 beta Mark Cellis of Stick and Rudder Studios has been very busy of late. Two of his excellent utilities have had updates, first X-ATC Chatter, and now with the X-Key Pad. Both these excellent utilities can fly under your radar, but both are worth exploring, certainly as both are currently 25% off on sale. X-Key Pad 1.6.0 X-KeyPad gives you the ability to create Virtual Keyboards with highly dynamic key behavior and labels that can interact with and display data in X-Plane 12/11. These virtual keyboards can be placed on a secondary monitor, touch monitor, or a tablet by using Duet Display or SpaceDesk. X-KeyPad also supports a rich integration with all the Elgato Stream Deck Devices, the X-Touch Mini Midi Controller and P.I. Engineering X-Keys keyboards as well as a graphical user interface to create and edit all your configurations. The latest v1.6.0 version has had a massive up date, the changelog is massive. Version 1.6.0 (June 3rd 2024) Changed the communication protocol between X-Plane and the Stream Deck X-KeyPad plugin to use TCP rather than a shared memory approach. This provides a much more stable connection method, particularly on OSX. Added the ability to set the virtual device background color on the virtual device layout, issue 84 Added support for single/continuous command mode in Stream Deck dial rotations, Issue #86 Added Copy and Paste buttons to X-Keys key editor, Issue #66 Added try command to the list of last used commands, Issue #81 Added a Save as Default menu item in the Stream Deck editor Added the ability to have a history of commands that were last used in the command finder Added the ability to pop out the command and dataref finder to a separate window Added the ability to edit a dataref from the finder Enhanced the dataref finder so that it can filter on changes in a more robust way than the current dataref tool Added green text in the X-Touch editor dataref list to indicate a writable dataref Added the ability to detect if changes had not been saved when you close the editor window or load a new aircraft, issue #74 Added an ability to generate a cross reference file to easily see what commands and datarefs were used and on which keys/encoders. Added feature #67, the ability to test keys and encoders without having to map them in the Stream Deck device. Add the ability to specify a min and max on a numeric dataref when the increment mode is none Added datarefs for the numeric buffer character count and numeric buffer float value Added the ability to use expressive commands on the Stream Deck Plus encoder dial rotations Added a Teleport feature and two sample Stream Deck Plus teleporter encoders in the generic Stream Deck sample JSON. Added an optional continuous mode the to the X-Touch Mini encoders when using command mode. Added dual trigger support to expressive commands Added number buffer support to expressive commands Changed the baro key on the Stream Deck sample and the X-Keys C172 steam gauge and G1000 samples to use the new expressive command capabilities To use you will need the FlyWithLua plugin, which is needed for a number of the sample configurations, there is also a willingness to learn about X-Plane datarefs and commands, and the dataref tool plugin for X-Plane is highly recommended. _____________________________ X-ATC Chatter One of the quiet achievers, this clever plugin has built a huge amount of momentum since it its very modest introduction in late 2018. X-ATC Chatter started with only 5000 sound files, now it has 45,000 high quality ATC audio clips to it's name via using LiveATC.net. The concept has been widened as well. The result is a collection of audio files organized by geographic region and ATC controller / facility type that can be played during your flight with an intelligent player plugin for X-Plane to give background chatter to your flightdeck. Not an official release yet, but Stick and Rudder Studios have released the latest beta v1.7.3... details include; Release Notes for Beta 1 Changed the Out of Range detection to take into account your aircraft’s altitude. This also affects the range in the Nearest Facility window. Added shut down message to the log file Improved some Simple ATC Hints Fixed a bug where SimpleATC would set the radio to clearance after arrival taxi clearance confirmation when copilot handles radios was on Started using X-Plane 12 airspace center frequencies Prior to 1.7.3 center frequencies and their transmitter location accuracy were a bit mixed. Data was generally good for U.S. and to a lesser extend Canada but the rest of the world the frequencies and locations were estimated. Many ARTCC services are assigned to specific altitudes. As an example, Boston ARTCC is divided into two altitudes. Services when you are between 0 and 17,999 MSL and another when you are between 18,000 and 60,000 MSL. X-Plane 12 has better airspace information. Although we still don’t know exactly where the RCAG transmitters are located we do know the frequencies, the altitude range they service, and the location on the globe defined by a polygon that the frequencies service. Simple ATC version 1.7.3 will use this data when you are running X-Plane 12 to hand you off to different center frequencies when you cross an FIR airspace boundary or cross an altitude assignment boundary. We still don’t know the exact locations of each transmitter so X-ATC-Chatter will scatter them around the airspace polygon roughly 70 NM apart from each other. This is a very new approach to handling center frequencies so I have given you the ability to shut it off it you don’t like the way it works. That can be done on the settings dialog on the radios tab. The X-ATC Chatter latest beta is available here; Beta 5 - 1.7.3 beta release Yes highly recommended! _____________________________ Yes! X-KeyPad by Stick and Rudder Studios is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : X-KeyPad Price is US$18.00 Now on Sale, US$13.50... You Save:$4.50(25%) Requirements X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Windows, OSX, Linux Current version: 1.6.0 (July 3rd 2024) Support forum for X-KeyPad _____________________________ Yes! by Stick and Rudder Studios is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : X-ATC Chatter Price is US$18.00 Now on Sale, US$13.50... You Save:$4.50(25%) Requirements X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux Version 1.7.2 (April 27th 2023) Support forum for X-ATC Chatter ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 5th July 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
  6. Aircraft Review : PA28R Piper Arrow III XP12 by Just Flight-Thranda JustFlight arrived with the original Piper PA28R Arrow lll for X-Plane 11 nearly seven years ago. back then the Piper added in another quality General Aviation developer into the mix, with vFlyteAir, Carenado and Airfoillabs. But you could never want for more in the GA category aircraft. Jump forward those six plus years and the X-Plane world has changed from those days of when General Aviation totally dominated X-Plane for aircraft sales and choice. With Carenado now gone, it is only vFlyeAir that is carrying the GA banner, Airfoillabs do of course still present their C172, but other wise it is down Aerosphere to fill in the gaps, but they are not set in that higher category of ultra quality and features. JustFlight in co-operation with Thranda Design however have delivered some very nice General Aviation aircraft for the X-Plane Simulator in those six years, but although there was some conversions to the release of X-Plane 12, they were not what you would call to the XP12 standards, just a revamp to align the aircraft with the new Simulator version. But here now is the release of the X-Plane 12 JustFlight Arrow lll conversion, this is the full comprehensive revision and complete realignment with X-Plane 12. The Arrow is a part of the PA28 Cherokee family, but in this latest more modern reincarnation as it is a four-seater that includes a five inch fuselage extension, span increase with a semi-tapered wing, a larger horizontal tail, gross weight increase and other minor changes over the earlier Cherokee. The Series III here also introduced the retractable landing gear arrangement. It also had enhanced performance and better handling characteristics compared to earlier Arrow models. Thranda use a system to enhance the PBR (Physically Based Rendering) materials with their real-time environment reflections for superb quality and realism, 8K textures are now also used, twice the density, but highlights the detail and quality to a far better compounding degree. It shows off easily the highlights of the superb quality of the surfaces and the exquisite detailing on the PA28. But the process also creates unwanted shadows, and dull areas, if you look at the model in certain lighting conditions. It is a Thranda phenomenon, it can also create darker areas were their isn't any, so in the X-Plane 12 lighting, it can be shaded in cases were there shouldn't be any effects. But the detailing is excellent, best in class. Glass is simply exceptional, perfect in thickness, tint and reflections. The three point landing gear has had a "Hard, Hard" life, with in being worn, oxidised and painted rusted springs... this is an aircraft that has had a lot of flights in hard conditions over decades of use. Gear detail is also really well conceived and done here by JustFlight, as the landing gear system comes with an intricate retraction animation, slow/fast tyre rotation animation (blurry when rotating fast), and the precise shock absorber animation with multiple linkages are animated accurately. The "R" in the name designation means "Retractable". The performance of the Arrow lll is not what you call spell binding, not average either... Maximum Speed is 148 knots (170 mph, 274 km/h), with a Cruise Speed of around 137 knots (158 mph, 254 km/h). The range is 880 nautical miles (1,630 km) with a service ceiling of 16,200 ft (4,938 m). Rate of Climb is 1,000 ft/min (5.08 m/s), but you would usually only do around 800 ft/min. The Arrow here is powered by a Lycoming IO-360-C1C6 engine of 200 hp (149 kW), all up gross weight is 2,750 lb (1,247 kg). The realism extends to the flight dynamics, which are based on real-world performance and handling data, and input from Arrow pilots. Lets us be frank, the PA28 Cherokee series is the saloon car of the aviation world. It is a steady handling, doing the chores sort of aircraft. It is not a sporty machine (unless you go for the Turbo), or dynamic in it's flight envelope. But it is very solid, reliable and even handed machine. It's not boring to fly, as you have those X-Plane 12 dynamics, which are now very well fine tuned. So if a word summed up this aircraft, it is "Classic". The Arrow trims quite nicely, but requires re-trimming with any power changes, which you can use also to climb or descend as well. Bank and you will need a bit of back pressure to keep the nose up, also flying straight and narrow requires a fair bit of right yoke to keep it in line, to counter the asymmetric thrust (there is a rudder trim, but hard to access)... so you work in here to keep the Piper on an even keel, you trim and then keep on trimming to get it perfect. That is not to say I don't like it, as the PA28 gives you a lot of feedback... the best sort of Simulation. In a landing configuration you get a lot of drag, not only from flaps at 10º, but set 25º the Intermediate setting (used during approach and landing), and the 40º which is the Full flap setting (used for landing). The gear creates havoc with your nice clean approach, so be aware of when you drop it down. Otherwise when fully configured for landing it is all about the throttle control, in adjusting your height, a bad cross wind (12 knts) didn't help either, but otherwise it was a nice clean if easy landing. Note, the PA34 is a bit shimmy on takeoff, so fine rudder control is needed so it doesn't become a problem, overall you need careful control and slow up throttle movement to get the best clean track. I love it when things are done properly... I love the door on the Arrow, yes I love a door, you may think that is just plain weird or whatever, but I do... It takes more actions to open or close it than what they use on the Apollo capsule. There are two catches to open, one set on the roof and a big catch set forward in the door, then you can use the outside latch to open it. Other doors (and windows) include a very large baggage hatch set right rear, and the opening paper window on the pilot's side. Note the nice metal window surrounding plates. Two other ground options include, Chocks on all three wheels, and wing tie-downs... but there are no flags or inlet covers. Notable also on the exterior is the opening oil hatch top, and the excellent detailed exhaust system. The Hartzell Scimitar 74 inch Three-Blade Propeller is a variable-pitch, but not demonstrated here. Cabin materials can be divisive here... they are first and foremost excellent, but bright red. You will either love this cabin or totally hate it, myself I adore it, even if it sorts of dates the interior. It feels like that brushed velvet, and red Faux Leather trim, there is even the chrome fittings as well... the beige curtains, or window shades are really well done. The rest of the cabin and roof is beige and cream, again very 70's. The roof has a massive air ducting module, that makes the cabin tight and even claustrophobic, but again quite authentic, if even fancy... The internal textures have had the same treatment as the exterior, better PBR effects and Ambient Occlusion, so it has that X-Plane 12 highlight sheen, that gives the aircraft a big "wow" factor. Yes it is the same cabin as the X-Plane 11 version, but it now feels so very different in it's better feel and look. Instrument Panel In the X-Plane 11 Arrow version you had two panel options, as I noted "loved and cared for" and "worn" or unloved and scruffy". Here JustFlight have reverted to just one design, the older 70's padded look. Panel design is absolutely first rate, beautiful detail and with all the sheer realism you can get in simulation today, a highlight is the lovely glareshield with it's realistic stitching... you can just feel and touch it, or is that a caress for the sheer ownership of it all. The aircraft's registration still also changes with the different liveries on the panel which is a nice touch. The yokes are still really outstanding, the left different to the right with the Piper logo. The left yoke is fitted with a digital chronometer. The mode button allows you to toggle between either the clock mode or the timer mode. On top of the yoke but very hard to see is a black electric trim button with down (forward) and up (rearwards) adjustments. You can have both yokes visible, or one each side, or hide both together... very flexible. The instrument panel layout is exactly the same as the earlier X-Plane 11 in features... Instrument panel is set out with the Standard Six instruments that are centred in line of sight of the flying pilot with the Airspeed Indicator, Artificial Horizon and the Attitude Indicator on the top row and the Turn Coordinator, Heading Dial and Vertical Speed Indicators set out directly below. Left of the six pack top is the Gyro Suction dial with the Bendix/King ADF indicator set below. On the right top is a Garmin OBS VOR indicator (VOR1) and the same OBS VOR indicator (VOR2) below. I prefer the pointer VOR needle than this version as it is better for circuits and runway lineup (that is if the VOR is placed close to the runway). All the main dials are older black/white in design and not with the coloured Artificial Horizon that you could also have in this aircraft. Mid-left panel gauges are standard Cherokee with Oil Press, Oil Temp and Alt Amp on the left side and Left Fuel tank, Cyl Head Temp and Right Fuel tank on the right of the yoke. Lower-left panel has a basic Piper "AutoControl IIIB" Autopilot, which we will cover in more in detail later, the start key and a Manifold Pressure (inHG) and Fuel Flow gauge (Gallons per hour). Another gauge here is a Tachometer/RPM dial with built in Hobb's meter. Avionics in the Arrow are very old, the only modern gadget is the centre stack mounted X-Plane default Garmin GNS530, and yes of course it pops out. There is also the provision to install Reality XP's GTN 750 unit, but this is an addon extra and it costs you another $49.95. Lower right panel is an Exhaust gas temperature (EGT) indicator and you can rotate the screw to control the position of the red (maximum value) needle and left of the EGT is a comprehensive set of active circuit breakers. There is a fan switch and heating controls as well. The only instrument on the right side is a standby Altimeter and spare hobbs meter. Custom-coded electrical system comes with functional circuit breakers. Circuit breaker logic is linked to X-Plane's internal failure logic, so if the plane is set to fail a certain electrical component after a certain number of hours, the circuit breaker for that element will pop out. The audio panel is a very early model Bendix/King KMA T20 TSO which is above the GNS530, below bottom is the Benedix/King 76A transponder. The right side stack has a Bendix/King KX 175B radio for VOR in COM2 and VOR2 (COM1 and VOR1 is set via the GNS530). Then below is a Bendix/King KN 62A DME (Distance Measuring Equipment) set, the Benedix/King KR 85 ADF radio is set out below the KN 62A. There are a set of rocker switches mid lower panel for (L to R) Power (Battery & Alternator), Fuel pump, Landing Light, Anti-Collision Lights in rotating and navigation and Pitot Heat. Either end of the switch panel are two scroll wheels for Avionic brightness and Instrument brightness. The centre mini-pedestal has the familiar Throttle, Propeller and Mixture levers, but also a mixture lever lock on the side that restricts the mixture lever from moving below a 40% setting. The levers are a bit odd in that you have to move your movement upwards to move the levers down and vise-versa and in busy traffic conditions it can be annoying in the actions being the wrong way around. Also you have to use your switch gear before moving the Propeller and Mixture levers to the full forward position as they cover the avionics lighting scroll wheel, main power switches and fuel pump switch. I love the chunky T throttle handle. Below the mini-pedestal is your aileron trim wheel and park brake lever. Between the front seats is your beautiful elevator trim and flap handle, there is an emergency gravity assist gear drop lever here as well that works. Left lower wall panel is the Fuel Selector, with a Fire Extinguisher set beneath your thighs. Gotta love those filthy, worn, dirt strewn red carpets, detailing 101... metal foot plates are gorgeous. Authentic "Piper" branded rudder pedals are worth your gaze as well. Lighting The Arrow III's lighting here is quite basic, but it is very good in what it does. The panel is really very sepia and black/white in its design, but it does make for a very readable panel in the dark or in low lighting conditions. The instruments are backlit, but show the aircraft's age. Cockpit lighting is done via an overhead red lamp, it is quite bright, but the rear cabin is dark. The external lighting is the same in just being the basic lighting, with a strobe on the tail and navigation lights (or noted here as "anti-collision") There is a very strong nose landing light and the bright flashes of strobe lighting that don't strobe together which is interesting, in that you get the left wing and then the right wing in multiple flashes on each side. All external lights are very different in colour and in the more modern LED halogen bright than X-Plane dull, you get the brilliant star feel (new X-Plane 12 halo) effect as well. Sounds At this level you expect really good sounds. And the JustFlight Arrow does really deliver here with custom sounds for; switches, doors, gear warnings and far more, it features accurate location placement of sounds in the stereo spectrum, 3D audio effects, atmospheric effects, adaptive Doppler, and the exterior sounds spill in when window or door(s) are opened, there are the different sound characteristics depending on your viewing angle and distance from the sound source. It is all FMOD 2 in quality as well. Menu The JustFlight Menu system is all changed for X-Plane 12 as noted in the Duchess Model 76, that was released early March. Gone is the generally average looking dated tab menu. Here it is replaced by an iPad style tablet, stuck to the left window, or bring the tablet up in the screen by clicking the arrow tab top left (you can also popup the main tablet menu by pressing the left side of the window tablet)... But you do have other options, as the tablet can also be placed on either yoke and right side windscreen by clicking the bottom of the tablet... The pop-up tablet can also be scaled, or moved anywhere on your screen. The tablet is also adjustable (movable) via the hot-spot, top frame. But because of it's size and shape, the view-point is not ever really square or set head on, the yoke position is usually better, but now also situated far lower in your eyesight. The earlier X-Plane 11 version had eighteen tiles for selection, here it has been reduced down to twelve... Top row : Aircraft Options, Weight & Balance, Instr Options, Engine Config, and Static Liveries Middle Row : Configuration, Log Book, Checklist, Ground Handling and Dynamic Liveries Bottom row : Flight Computer and Avitab (Plugin required) Aircraft Options: Covers the two doors; CoPilot, Baggage Door and Pilot Window (Open /Close), Window and Instrument Reflections, Cockpit Lights, Swap Pilots, Altimeter (IN.HG/MB) and Ground Equipment (Left/Right Tie Downs, Nose, Right and Left Chocks). We have seen the opening doors and pilot window, also the Tie Downs and chocks. Dan Klaue and his wife turn up as your pilots, and basically they are same two fully animated pilots as in Thranda Aircraft, by this menu option, you can swap the seating position of the pilots. Weight & Balance: The weight and balance window is very good, if basic to look at (it is the original W&B window). It comes with adjustable weights for all four passengers, and baggage, fuel can be set here also as can the change from kg - lbs. There is the option to load the Aircraft "Half" or "Full" tanks. A full list of weights, CG and a large graph of your settings are all very helpful into balancing the aircraft. Press "Save Configuration" to save your preferred load setup, and "Load Configuration" to set up the aircraft. Lowering the Co-Pilot weight usually will make Him/Her disappear, but not in this aircraft.... there are there no passengers either if the weight added in the rear, or any bags if added to the baggage area, such is shrinkflation today. You can open most pages into a "Window" via the arrow logo right top. Instr Options (Instrument Options) includes two pop-ups for the GNS 430 and the Century IV (autopilot). The "AutoControl IIIB" has only two functions in holding the heading and roll L&R. You can adjust the heading (thankfully) via the Heading instrument knob, or switch off the heading on the AP and roll the aircraft to your new heading. There is a hidden function to hold your altitude (not on the real system) by pressing the "Piper" text above the coupler knob on the left part of the panel, It is hard to find and almost half-hidden but you do get a manipulator hand or finger to say it is actually there and but not when activated? It does work very well but the aircraft has to be perfectly trimmed before pressing it on... it deactivates with a kick as well when or if you adjust the trim wheel, so be ready for that. Another point is that because if you don't use the altitude hold function, you can adjust the trim without disconnecting the AP, so it is quite easy to hold an altitude by setting the trim finely. The old "Refill Menu" has been changed here to the Engine Options; this allows you to view the fuel and oil status as well as the status of spark plug fouling and Vapour Lock, and you can also recharge the battery if it goes flat, of which it does with regularity. There is also an "Imbalance" indicator for the Fuel Weight, you can do a "Refill" here of the fuel here as well. Static Liveries; You can rotate through all the six liveries with the Arrow lll via the "Static Liveries" menu. An option here (new) is that you can adjust the Dirt (dirtiness) between 0-100%. Very Thranda. Configuration: Here you can change the aircraft configuration, and there are three options; Engines Running (power up to flying mode), DynaFeel and the tablet (screen) Brightness. DynaFeel" is a system that dynamically adjusts the rate at which the controls deflect. It is based on airspeed and how much the control is deflected. This means the controls will feel light and responsive at low speeds and with small deflections, but will get progressively heavier as the airspeed increases. If you fly Thranda Aircraft, then you will be familiar with the system. Logbook: This icon brings up the X-Plane standard Logbook. Checklist: There is a 31 page checklist that you can tick off... very good, but even though there is a "End of the Checklist" tickable box, it doesn't oddly reset all the boxes to a reset... that is a return through of 31 pages, and an average of twelve boxes per page to untick, so you do the maths... Ground Handling: All JustFlight menus have odd useless tools, here is one... the X-Plane "Ground Handling" tool, for "Pushback" and "Request Ground Service"? It's a GA, not a Boeing 737. Dynamic Liveries: Here is another Thranda feature now available on the JustFlight Series. Thranda introduced a clever feature of a way to design your own livery called DYNAMIC LIVERIES. You have a menu to select on the right that can colour a certain part of the aircraft, like the Roof, Wing, Tail or Wing tips. Select which one you want and then adjust the three RGB colours for that certain area, and the selected colour (here seagrass) is shown in the square. You can also separately change the aircraft's registration number, the Piper logo can be added as well. Another option is that changes can also be made to the Metal or Rough surfaces, this can be applied to any of the liveries. When done you can "SAVE" or ADD the livery to the index and then "APPLY" it to the aircraft. The conversion takes a few minutes with some weird screen changes, but the results are excellent and now the Piper Arrow is in your own nice livery design... the results are found under the "DynamicLiveryResources" in the liveries. Flight Computer: The flight computer panel provides a wealth of information that is very handy in flight, with highlights including OAT (Outside Air Temperature), GS (Ground Speed), Endurance (time), Range (available), NMPG (Nautical Miles Per Gallon)/ SMPG (Standard Miles Per Gallon), Altitude (Density and Pressure), TAS (True Airspeed) and FF and used fuel flow, Winds (Headwind and Crosswind).... fuel burn can be reset. Units can also be changed from Metric to Imperial.. AviTab: The AviTab tool can also be used, and with Navigraph charts if you have an account. There is no tablet rotation from landscape to portrait, and to get back to the main menu, you press the right centre section of the frame. I found that for using charts, it is best setting them up in the side window, before opening up the main Pop-up, otherwise it just goes to a window setting. _____________ Liveries There are six (Painted Liveries) liveries plus the two of the system liveries are noted as "DynamicLiveryResources" and "ZZTEMPLATELIVERY", these are the currently selected "DYNAMIC LIVERIES". Summary The Arrow is a part of the PA28 Cherokee family, but in this latest more modern reincarnation it is a four-seater that includes a five inch fuselage extension, span increase with a semi-tapered wing, a larger horizontal tail, gross weight increase and other minor changes over the earlier Cherokee. The Series III here also introduced the retractable landing gear arrangement. It also had enhanced performance and better handling characteristics compared to earlier Arrow models. Here the Arrow lll has been extensively upgraded to X-Plane 12 by JustFlight/Thranda, note this is an upgrade, and earlier purchasers of the Arrow lll XP11 can get 10% discount off the new Piper X-Plane 12 aircraft. The X-Plane 11 version was an excellent aircraft. But this rejuvenated version for X-Plane 12 is far, far better again, Highlights of the changes are the new 8K textures, and the far better PBR effects, and this creates a far more quality exterior and interior. First glances say, old and tired, but on a closer inspection, it will cry out with "Classic" authenticity and it all comes to a very high quality. The Arrow comes alive in X-Plane 12, highly realistic and it gives you a very high quality PA28 for X-Plane 12. There is also a new menu system, as replacing an old tab system, and it is a quality iPad/tablet, that can be positioned in four different places. Besides a few of the original tabs and pages, there are also three new added features directly from the Thranda Design stable, with now the "PAINTED LIVERIES" function, the build your own livery feature of "DYNAMIC LIVERIES" and the "Dynafeel" tool. Performance, physics and handling have also been highly improved to X-Plane 12 standards, based on real-world performance and handling data, Sounds are totally upgraded, with a full stereo spectrum, 3D audio effects, atmospheric effects and adaptive Doppler, and the feature list is very long. But the odd quirks oddly remain? The Static Objects in being separated here are better, but there are very few of them. Lighting is basic, and you still get the very odd tab and useless elements like the X-Plane Ground Handling? and Logbook?... fillers only. The checklist is another oddity, with 31 pages of checks, that you can't uncheck in one operation. Priced in that high price range of US$40+, you expect a lot for your money. Thankfully you get that aspect here, but now even more so in the X-Plane 12 environment. It is an aircraft to spend time with to understand it's depth, the more you use it, then the more you find what you really like about it... depth in design is the words here. JustFlight/Thranda create excellent, lovely aircraft, that even the most novice pilot can fly and enjoy... overwhelmingly the main thing about the Arrow lll is that it brings back that deepness required, that seems to be lost in the more modern environment. So it's like going back ten years but still having all the mod-cons, the effects and dynamics that X-Plane 12 provides as well are part of the deal, the JustFlight Duchess had this same feeling, as does the Arrow lll here, it is a brilliant combination of the very best of both worlds.... Highly Recommended. ___________________ Yes! the PA28R Piper Arrow III XP12 by JustFlight Thranda is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : PA28R Piper Arrow III XP12 On sale: US$42.99 Requirements: X-Plane 12 (not for xp11) Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 1.0 (July 1st 2024) * Customers who own the PA-28R ARROW III XP11 by JustFlight can get 10% off this new XP12 model. Coupon code can be found in the original PA-28R ARROW III XP11 Invoice Installed in your X-Plane Aircraft folder 2.47 Gb. Installation 2.65 GB, Authorization on startup is required. AviTab Plugin is required for this aircraft Documents ChangeLog.rtf EULAstandardcommercialandacademic2024.pdf GA Fleet X-Plane 12 EFB.pdf PA-28R Arrow III ODM X-Plane 12 manual.pdf PA-28R Arrow III X-Plane 12 manual.pdf Design by JustFlight/Thranda Design Support forum: JustFlight Arrow lll _____________________ 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 12.1.0rc2 (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 - EGHI Southampton Airport by PilotPlus+ (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$19.95 ___________________________ Review by Stephen Dutton 4th July 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
  7. I noted it as a Fixed-Pitch because there is no animation on the blades, so you are flying with no Prop adjustment? If the developer changes that aspect, then that would be correct.
  8. Behind the Screen : June 2024 Can you believe it is already half way through another year? Yes the months do seem to be passing quicker, and the years too. It was only two years ago we were waiting for the X-Plane 12 (beta) release, TWO YEARS, man it's gone quickly, and here we are nearly half way through the XP12 run, yes halfway already to X-Plane 13, Laminar Research will be soon dragging out the white board again to list the next set of exciting features! But that is for another day. Those two years were also very disquieting in the process as well... don't worry I'm not going down THAT road this month. So this created a bit of nervousness as the Fight Simulator Expo in Las Vegas approached this year. Laminar Research only sent two people last year to Texas, one the PR (Public Relations) guy and Phillipp Ringlar, so basically there was really no visibility from X-Plane, except for a stand and a few demonstrations... were as Microsoft basically took over the Expo with the Flight Simulator 2024 announcement. Your always looking for a base line, and the situation of knowing where you stand. To be honest that has been hard with X-Plane 12. It had all the excellent ingredients, and in the many times the power of X-Plane 12 sort of shone through, but somehow it didn't all come together for one reason or another. Last month in BtheS I noted the level of excellence now being shown via X-Plane 12 aircraft, most notably the X-Crafts E-Jet Series, X-Trident AW-109SP, and now we can add in the FlightFactor Boeing 777v2. Levels above in about what we expect with quality Simulation. But what of the X-Plane Simulator itself? But the 2024 Expo sort of gave us a better understanding of the current Simulation situation. For one there is a lot of competition out there, but overall it still comes down to FlightSim and X-Plane. After last year and the announcement of FS 2024 (coming in Nov 2024), I was expecting this year's 24 Expo to be "nail in the coffin" sort of scenario coming from Seattle. Oddly it didn't happen, but it did sort of showed were and where the situation is going. I will be honest, and I think I mentioned this at the time last year. I thought the new features for FS 2024 were quite disappointing, no seriously. Except for the continuing focus on the 3d landscaping, it didn't really deliver anything new except for presenting "Experiences", scoff you might... but even this year's 24 Expo was really a rerun of the same as last year, adding in only the Boeing MAX as an aircraft release. The only highlights were the "Vertical Obstacles", in creating thousands of infrastructure in pylons, weather towers, power stations and the clever world shipping. I do admit that over the course of the FS 2020, Microsoft did a brilliant job in filling in the world with their consistent "World Updates", 16 in all and the last World Update XVI, focused on the Caribbean region. The huge mass of 3rd party developers did the rest, releasing tons of aircraft, and far too many sceneries that were so nondescript, that I had google a lot to find out where they actually were. New developers were coming out of the woodwork by the hour, and if you could even think of buying even fraction of all these releases, then certainly my bank balance says absolutely not? Which comes to my favorite word "Momentum", that word gets things done and builds huge audiences, 15 Million users in this case, but to be honest I don't totally subscribe to that number. X-Plane has just over a million, but the core number of users is probably only around 200,000... So what is the true number for FlightSim, say 4, maybe 5 million, still a big, big number compared to X-Plane. X-Plane 12 has a huge amount of new features, including; Photometric Rendering, Enhanced Weather System, Seasonal Effects, Dynamic Water, Improved Flight Models, ATC Improvements and a new User Interface. You could say that most are in relation to the release of FS 2020, there is some truth in that but not all of it. These features were groundbreaking, but issues in getting them refined took far too long, and some took development of nearly two years on from release, you could call it behind the "8 Ball". But the release of the Newly numbered version 12.1.0, you finally had all the components working together in harmony, and the results are really quite amazing. But in the same time as noted FS 2020 had gained a lot of users and a far bigger audience. But putting them side by side as Simulators the differences are more even handed. Again you may scoff... but I was very surprised that FlightSim, didn't even have a replay function? but are added it into 2024 via a 3rd party, and a cheap fix at that? So two major things came out of Expo 2024. The first is the obvious neglect of the scenery. First I will note that scenery requires a huge amount of processing power, and something we didn't have a decade ago. Also Microsoft processes their scenery off your processor and delivers it to you in packages, a clever way of doing it, but that aspect also puts you at the mercy of your internet connection and speeds. And the hoards over there are always complaining of the problem. For X-Plane and for processing the scenery on your own machine, means that the size or detail of the scenery is restricted to what you can personally process, that aspect also restricts on what Laminar Research can also deliver in detail. But to be honest, even with all the issues around the scenery, Laminar still missed the ball completely in leaving the changes for so long at over a decade. The release in November 2011 of X-Plane 10, is now nearly 13 years (12 years and 222 days), although great at the time, that length of time in lying dormant in a simulator is simply backward thinking. I know I go on about this aspect, year after year, but the fact remains it has caused the biggest divide between the FlightSim and X-Plane, and the way that the users have preferred one Simulator over the other, great aircraft withstanding. Laminar in not being more vigilant on this aspect in every scenery area, has put the Simulator into a precarious position, that even lesser known, mostly battlefield Simulators, leave X-Plane and Laminar in the dust in quality background scenery. It is the "glaringly obvious" of the differences between the FS and X-Plane Simulators, and also why developers are trending and are attracted to the boards in FlightSim and not X-Plane. Give Microsoft their due, they looked at X-Plane's biggest weakness and totally exploited it. Then FS pushed the knives in deeper with their excellent World Updates, on how could you still keep on missing the vital messages coming at you, but Laminar did. Somehow the mantra of, we only do aircraft, not a whole simulator was even obvious when the old school FlightSim was around, users were wanting to pay huge sums to collect scenery and city vistas, they were already world building, aircraft were diabolical and unrealistic to fly, but it still made FlightSim a huge money earner in add-ons, plus it added numbers back then that X-Plane could only dream of. The problem of processing these huge sceneries is still the biggest barrier to creating a real world X-Plane. Notably at the 2024 Expo, Laminar finally revealed that they were now looking at the scenery in question, they even said they would fix the green spaces around custom scenery... But just thickening up some tiles with more density is not the option either. X-Plane needs to become a "World" Simulator in detail, it is obvious the 3rd parties are not going to come to the party unless you are going to give them something unique or clever to want to develop for X-Plane... If you are of a certain age when X-Plane 9 rolled into X-Plane 10, you would remember the incredible transformation of the release, sadly Laminar didn't follow that aspect up. The point here is that the visual and effects in X-Plane are very, very good, but the main character of the Simulator is critically missing. If Laminar Research can and do fix this scenery aspect, then X-Plane will have better or even chance of being a premier Simulator, even then also attract back developers and scenery creators to get some momentum back into the Simulator. Going for once where the user wants them to go, and throw away the clubby atmosphere that has restrained the Simulator, what was once X-Plane's biggest strength has become it's biggest liability, in wanting a cheap Simulator (meaning free) is disintegrating it from the inside out... 15 Million users if you believe that number or not is proof of what Simulation wants out of Simulators, game quality visuals are now required to create "Experiences", not just very, very complicated aircraft. The second point that where X-Plane has also done badly is in selling itself. Again that small clubby little world didn't want anything to upset their view or take on Simulation. Microsoft sold Simulation big time, to anyone who wanted to try it... X-Plane over the last decade did absolutely nothing, not even an advert in PC Pilot. I tell everyone within earshot how great it is, and have created fellow users in the process, many having seen my set up and wanted one for themselves, but I was a small voice in the wilderness... If they don't know what you are using or selling, then how are you going to grow? X-Plane did have momentum, but at only a snails pace, Microsoft showed what Simulation was all about with the huge expansion of FlightSim 2020 and took the users with them... the money as well. Till next month, see you then Stephen Dutton 1st July 2024 Copyright©2024 X-Plane Reviews
  9. NEWS! - AirSim3D updates Citation C-560XL XP12 to version 2.0 It is always debatable on what is the "best in category". But certainly the AirSim3D Citation C-560XL is certainly at the top of the list for the X-Plane 12 Simulator. The aircraft was released in the dying months of X-Plane 11. So the release for X-Plane 12 was a complete revision of the aircraft, and that leaped this Mid-Sized Business Jet into a new higher and premier position. The Cessna Citation Excel (XL) is an American midsize business jet in the Cessna Citation family. Announced in October 1994, the Model 560XL first flew on February 29, 1996, certification was granted in April 1998, and over 1,000 have been delivered. The 2,100 nmi-range (3,900 km), 20,200 lb (9,200 kg) MTOW jet is powered by two 3,650–4,080 lbf (16.2–18.1 kN) PW545 turbofans, has the cruciform tail and unswept supercritical wing of the Citation V (560), and a slightly shortened Citation X stand-up cabin. The Excel has the roomiest cabin in its class of light corporate jets and can seat up to 10 passengers (in high-density configuration; typically the number is six to eight in a corporate configuration), while being flown by a crew of two. To power the aircraft, Cessna chose the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW500 turbofan. It is hard to believe, but the 560 Excel is still the first aircraft by AirSim3d, but the latest update is very far removed from it's initial predecessor. Comments have suggested the cockpit textures were not a reflection of the quality of the aircraft. To a point I disagree with this aspect on two counts, one, this is a first design, but also the design is created to reflect a period. However in response to the comments, v2.0 has had a very big revision of the internal aspects, in Cockpit 3D-occlusion, shading and a coloring Texture update, it also has had glass updates, in that the glass is not now brightly coloured, but clear and more realistic, the annoying rear mirror reflection has also been removed. There are also new Startup and Anti-Icing annunciations, and the Autoland has been fine-tuned and the update comes with also better FMOD2 volume tuning. The results are of an even more well-rounded and quality aircraft, so the title of "The best" goes up another notch higher. Version 2.0 (July 1st 2024) Major Cockpit 3D-occlusion, shading, coloring Texture updates Major Glass updates New Startup annunciations New AntiIcing annunciations Minor updates to RMU test, Popouts freezing, Checklists content Removed mirrors (since XP can not do that) Autoland fine-tuning FMOD volume tuning The full X-Plane 12 C-560XL review is here: Aircraft Update : Citation C-560XL X-Plane 12 by AirSim3D “My main interest is flying bizjets, and this one is an excellent addition to my ''hanger".... Also, Support responds very quickly on this forum too. Thanks for that." “Just doing a night flight, the night lighting is excellent. I do like this airplane a lot” “Engine sounds are really good inside and out. I live near an airport, and it sounds like the real Citations as they take off” “The best aircraft of my hangar .. and I have all the other more popular biz jets and Airliners!! From the XPlaneReview: “Having flown the XL a lot over the past month, I now really love it, even miss it a lot when flying other aircraft. Recommended.” “Are ya'll thinking about making other AWESOME models like this one? 5 Star (support) service!” Designed by AirSim3D Support forum for the C-560 XL ____________________ Yes! the Cessna Citation 560XL X-Plane 12 v2.0 by AirSim3d is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here: Cessna Citation 560XL XP12 Price is US$59.95 Cessna Citation 560XL XP11 Price is US$49.95 Cessna Citation 560XL XP12 + XP11 Price is US$79.95 Features: AirSim3D C-560 XL: Real-Jet authenticity Real jet visits at Boeing airfield were extensively used to inform build and design decisions 100’s of pages of real POH manuals, specs, drawings, pics used Real pilot tested and extensively beta tested Result: real-world systems, lighting, functions, modeling and procedures authenticity Requirements X-Plane 12 Only Windows, Mac or Linux 4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version : 2.0 (July 1st 2024) There are 3 purchase options for the 560 XL XP11 only Version . Get it here XP12 only Version. Get it here XP12 and XP11 Bundle . Get it here (this one) ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 1st July 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
  10. NEWS! - Aircraft Updated : Robinson R66 Turbine X-Plane 12 v3.0 by vSkyLabs In 2018, BC Helicopters team (Mischa Gelb, Ruben Dias and Diogo Dias), flew around the world in the R66 helicopter, it was an effort called 'EPIC Global Heli World Tour'. The mission lasted 97 days, in which the team covered 30,000 miles, stopping in 45 countries and flying over 5 continents. Im the process it established 2 new world records (fastest Antipode RTW on a helicopter, and longest RTW on a helicopter). That amazing feat is the basis of this vSkyLabs X-Plane 12 Simulation. The Robinson R66 Turbine is a five-seat helicopter designed and built by Robinson Helicopter Company. It features a two-bladed main rotor, a two-bladed tail rotor, and is powered by a Rolls-Royce RR300 turboshaft engine. The R66 Turbine is popular for various uses, including private transportation, law enforcement, flight training, and light utility roles. It offers a balance of performance, comfort, and cost-effectiveness, making it a versatile choice in the light helicopter market. This new v3.0 version is focused on a few areas; a new Flight Model (XP12), Graphics, Systems and a completely new sound system (FMOD 2) with an updated PaintKit.... Version 3.0 (June 29th 2024) Flight model: Deep tuning of engine power gradients, torque, throttle governor, handling characteristics in hover. Updated airfoils. Graphics: Remodeled front panel plate with high resolution instrument holes. enhanced 3-d modeling of RPM, Engine Torque, MGT and N1 gauges. Re-modeled GNS530 element with higher accuracy/resolution. Re-modeled G1000 element with higher accuracy/resolution. Added scratched windshield. Cockpit panel PBR tune-up for the latest X-Plane 12.1.0 rendering standards. Cyclic stick is now extended by default (can be shortened with the use of hide-yoke feature as before). Removed the avionics extension screen from the front/RH side of the cockpit. External liveries PBR tuneups. Systems: Integrated G1000 PFD/MFD into a single screen. Both PFD and MFD are separate pop-out windows, and it can be toggled easily using on-screen/VR interaction, or key/button assignment. New dual-system altimeter. Sounds: Sound package is now of the latest FMOD 2.02.22. Added physical/aerodynamic based blade-slap effect. Paint-Kit: Minor changes to paint-kit to comply with the latest X-Plane 12.1.0 rendering engine. Project Main Features: VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Project. Highly defined flight dynamics model of the Robinson R66 Turbine helicopter Highly detailed model of the Robinson R66 helicopter. Robust simulation of the R66 drive train and RR300 Turbo-shaft engine: Utilizes X-Plane's new and advanced free turbine simulation. Autorotation capable. Comprehensive systems: Drive system, Hydraulics flight controls, Engine Anti-ice, Starter-generator and ignition system, Fuel system, Auxiliary fuel system, Electrical system with functional CB panel, Lighting, Annunciator panel, Cabin heater, Rotor brake and more. Fully functional VR (Virtual Reality) Ready: highly interactive cockpit environment including levers, switches, fuel cut-off / shut-off guards, 3D checklist viewer, modular cyclic and more. Equipped with Robinson's 'later' advanced panel: a perfect mix of the traditional analog gauges and glass cockpit display. R66 Auxiliary fuel system. Fully featured G1000 (modified). Autopilot Built-in Avitab Compatibility (Avitab plugin not included). Multi-Layer FMOD 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 Autoupdater is included: project updates are fast and efficient! This project is part of the VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' series, designed specifically for use with X-Plane cutting edge Experimental Flight Model. This aircraft is also available for X-Plane 11 (obviously with out the dynamics and effects of X-Plane 12) Images are courtesy of vSkyLabs... The Robinson R66 Turbine v3.0 by vSkyLabs is now available from the X-Plane.OrgStore _____________________________________ Yes! - the Robinson R66 Turbine v3.0 by vSkyLabs is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Robinson R66 Turbine Price is US$34.95 (Currently on sale for only US26.36!) You Save:$8.59(25%) Requirements X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Fully Optimized for XP12 Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 3.0 (June 29th 2024) ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 30th June 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 : LFKT - Corte , Corsica by FSX3D FSX3D has released another Corsican Airport in the series, this time it is LFKT Corte. These are converted scenery from FlightSim, but tuned very highly to the X-Plane 12 platform. LFKT, is also known as Corte Airfield, is a small airport located near the town of Corte on the island of Corsica, France. It primarily serves general aviation and does not handle commercial airline traffic. The airfield has an elevation of around 1,299 feet (396 meters) above sea level with a single runway, designated 16/34, which is approximately 1,150 meters (3,773 feet) in length and has an asphalt surface. The runway is also has a slope of 1.88% (uphill on side numbered 30 (SW-NE) and downhill on side 12 (NE-SW). The airfield is used for various general aviation activities, including private flights, flight training, and aerial work. It is not equipped for regular commercial airline operations. Corte Airfield is popular among pilots for its scenic location in the mountainous region of Corsica, offering stunning views and a challenging flying environment. There are no ATC facilities at the airfield. Features Include: Ultra detailed car parks, taxiways and track PBR on all objects Ambient occlusion (Objects and ground) Wet track effects Dynamic lighting Compatibility Ortho4XP Compatibility AutoOrtho HD photorealistic ground Corsica Z17 (Ortho4XP 1.40) Also Corsica, Gap-Tallard and Hautes-Alpes are all finally getting a lot of X-Plane 12 attention via these FSX3D excellent releases... check them all out now. Images are courtesy of FSX3D _______________________________ LFKT - Corte , Corsica by FSX3D is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here: LFKT - Corte , Corsica Price is US$12.99 Requirements X-Plane 12 Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB VRAM Minimum Download Size: 392 MB Current version : 1.0 (June 28th 2024) ___________________________ News! by Stephen Dutton 29th JUne 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. NEWS! - Aerosoft Scenery Upgrades : Airport Stuttgart XP and Airport Istanbul XP to X-Plane 12 Aerosoft have released two upgrades to their Airport Stuttgart XP and Airport Istanbul XP sceneries to X-Plane 12. Both have had essentially the same upgrade listing, with focuses on Ground textures, Custom Mesh including PBR reflections and normal maps, Revised Lighting, 3d Grass & vegetation placement , Updated SAM, Weather effects for wet, snow and ice, and full support for native XP12 seasons. Airport Stuttgart XP Airport Stuttgart XP brings the international airport of the state capital of Baden-Wuerttemberg as a native add-on to the flight simulator X-Plane. This add-on represents the airport in the latest status of development of the real airport. All airport buildings, the layout of the runway and taxiways, as well as the lighting systems and all navaids have been implemented in detail and with PBR textures (Physically Based Rendering). In addition, numerous buildings were created for the area to ensure a real-life feeling of the airport. NEW - XP12 Version Features: • Standalone, fully customized XP12 version • Revised lighting • Ground textures now including PBR reflections and normal maps • Revised orthophoto, color optimized for XP12, including autumn/winter version and normal map • Reworked vegetation placement (new volumetric grass) • XP12 3D vegetation for forests, trees and bushes for seamless integration into the environment • Weather effects for wet, snow and ice • Full support for native XP12 seasons, with no other add-ons or plugins • Reworked autogen and street placement • Revised static aircrafts • New XP12 Custom Mesh from Maps2Xplane (incl. Ortho4XP-Patch) ___________________ Airport Istanbul XP Istanbul Airport is the new main international airport of the city of Istanbul. It has been in operation since 2018 and ranks 1st among airports in Turkey. Istanbul Airport is located on an area of 76.5 million square meters and is intended to be a global hub between the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe. The airport is located northwest of Istanbul on the Black Sea, approx. 40 km from the city center. NEW - XP12 Version Features: • Standalone, fully customized XP12 version • Revised lighting • Ground textures now including PBR reflections and normal maps • Revised orthophoto, color optimized for XP12, including autumn/winter version and normal map • Reworked vegetation placement (new volumetric grass) • XP12 3D vegetation for forests, trees and bushes for seamless integration into the environment • Weather effects for wet, snow and ice • Full support for native XP12 seasons, with no other add-ons or plugins • Reworked autogen and street placement • Revised parking lots with many additional static cars • New XP12 Custom Mesh from Maps2Xplane (incl. Ortho4XP-Patch) • Animated wind turbines without SAM plugin X-PlaneReviews reviewed the X-Plane 11 version on the release of the scenery from Aerosoft: Scenery Review : LTFM - Airport Istanbul XP by Aerosoft. I had a lot of comments on the ground textures, lighting and the layout of this earlier version. But a lot of the listed update revisions do cover those comments, it will be interesting to see this X-Plane 12 version in it's revised state. Notable is that you have to use the "Aerosoft One" application to install (update) on both Stuttgart and Istanbul XP12 sceneries... Installation of either airport for 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) Then 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. The earlier X-Plane 11 versions are also included in either package, but without the XP12 effects __________________________ Yes! Airport Stuttgart XP by Aerosoft is now Available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Airport Stuttgart XP Price Is US$21.99 Requirements: X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Installation via Aerosoft One necessary Current Version : 1.0 XP12 (June 26th 2024) Airport Istanbul XP Price Is US$29.99 Requirements: X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac and Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 1.2 GB via Aerosoft One Current version: 1.0. for XP12 (June26th 2024) ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 27th June 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
  13. X-Plane 12 : Las Vegas FlightSim Expo 2024 Every year the FlightSim Expo comes around, and it is a sort of Simulation's WWDC (Apple) in what is new and coming in Flight Simulation. This year it was a very good Expo, a solid one actually, even very interesting. Yes Microsoft and the Flight Simulator FS brigade dominated the Expo, that was to be expected, but 2024 was a more even event for X-Plane users as well. For a start Laminar Research were there, all the major people in Austin and Ben (Supnic) were also in attendance this year, Ben as we shall see did the Announcement Seminar and spoke for 9 minutes or so, and that is always a good thing. Of the 2024 Expo itself, there was a lot of interesting aspects... A.I. is big, mostly in trying to bring a real life communications to the simulator cockpit, a lot was focused on that, but the cost (US$20 a month) and on how really good it is always debatable with hype, but that fact A.I. is coming is very exciting as well. Certainly with the profusion of highly VAT noted on-line attendees, of which they promoted a lot of their building of the popular expanding on-line networked communities. Force feed joysticks, by flitesim was announced and created a lot of excitement, and these chunky rudder forces are coming soon as well in Q4. "Cyber Taurus" by WinWing was another Force Feed product, and a Haptic Feedback Joystick was another, both for X-Plane mid-July 2024. MCDU's both for Airbus and Boeing were great quality and value, as were the loads (and loads) of B737 Yokes. There was also loads of really great rigs, but a small star of the show was the excellent "Altimeter Motives" instrument panel set ups, they were amazing in detail, but look at those realistic prices. Flight Simulator and Asobo obviously dominated the Expo as noted, and their two hour Seminar was full of the details of the coming (November 2024) next edition in Flight Simulator 2024, FS 2020 will be supported until 2028. The announcement of which there are 15 Million subscribers to the platform was very overwhelming, but in this business, signing up and consistent use is another thing (core users). What it does speculate is the size of the Simulation market (if true), and again that the focus of the coming 2024 Simulator is more about "Experiences" than pure Simulation, the biggest call of the day was for the new default aircraft in the Boeing 737 MAX, I mean does it come with a faulty MCAS and door plugs that blow out... X-Plane was always a minnow compared to the FS Whale, that aspect has never, or will ever change. But it does bring up the question that in awareness, Laminar Research and even X-Plane in general could do far better in getting the message across, but overall they did very good at the 2024 Expo. Laminar Research Seminar The actual X-Plane Seminar was as noted only 14 min long, usually these things go for an hour, even longer in the past. And even then 5 min of the presentation was for the coming (controversial) Laminar X-Plane Store, of which nothing new was announced, not even a release date (noted as sometime in Q3 24). The rest of the development announcements was from Ben Supnic. First comments were on the size and benefits of the latest X-Plane Release in 12.1.0, with the most changes and updates since the initial X-Plane 12 release in September 2022. With the solid advancements in the Weather, Particles (FX), Graphics, Professional Use, Systems and Avionics. Overall there was 2,858 commits (the size of both 12.0.6 and 12.08 releases combined) 480 bugs were resolved and 326 pull requests done. Sit back and think about the changes since the release of XP12, and you will realise on of how much X-Plane has actually changed lately, and on how much better the Simulator is today... "it's come a long way folks", so for that you have to give Laminar a big accolade. Yes I'm praising them, and not throwing brickbats at the team for a change. X-Plane 12.1.0 really is very good, they even fixed the minecraft clouds (yes they did) and the lighting (almost, see below), but the important thing to remember is that this 9 min announcement is short, really short, and for once that is a good thing. As it means that Laminar have finally broken through the massive Vulkan and Metal wall, in totally rewriting from the ground up the X-Plane's Simulator's basic coding that has taken up so much of Laminar's time and resources for the last 4 years. This was noted by the current third party development. Avionics With all the focus on the big picture, the Avionics have quietly had quite a lot of attention on the X-Plane default avionics in X-Plane 12, most of that focus has been on the G1000 installation, as the G1000 is the most common instrument pack in the simulator. The announcement showed off the coming "Synthetic Vision" for the G1000, with features of Terrain/Water, Obstacles, Navigation Aids and better performance. It looks very comprehensive. Second avionics announcement was for "Airliner Weather Radar", not just ahead, but the weather radar is fully functional with terrain and "targeting" or the ability to focus the radar at different directions or altitudes. Features include; Sweep, Ground Reflections, Stabilisation and it has High Performance (meaning not chunking down your frame rate). It will also be available to Third Party developers to include the system into their own aircraft's avionics. Dark Cockpits One of biggest gripes in X-Plane 12 since it's release has been the "Dark Cockpit" controversy. Dark Cockpits are really an anomaly. The clash between the real world lighting and looking at the world in a Simulator. Yes the current X-Plane lighting model is actually correct to the real world, but it doesn't work very well on a monitor screen. So you get high exposure through the windows, and then the blackness internally in the cockpit. What you are getting here is extreme contrast and exposure. Laminar has from the start created three objectives to overcome the problem. First was to fix the colour issues, oddly it is not the darkness that is the problem here. Then to measure the real world (lighting) to match it to the lighting model. The result of a fix is "Exposure Fusion", a tool that takes the areas of lighting and automatically adjusts them to be a better description that you see on a screen, it works like that on your phone camera, here it is doing the same thing on a monitor. Ben Supnic gave six examples of the bad and good (on or off). Images shown here (Innsbruck) show the different shades of a bad lighting scene with the sun behind the mountains. The aim (second right image) far right, is to blend or Fuse the lighting to give better external lighting, but in also highlighting the different internal shading aspects of the cockpit, a sort of compromise really. Laminar notes it is still working (hard) on the "Exposure Fusion" concept, so no time for release was announced. Graphics Road Map Ben Supnic also laid out the current "Graphic Road Map", and there are some interesting ideas in here. Performance is always the root core of any Simulator, happy frame rates means happy users. But there is more going on here. We already know that Laminar want more highly detail or higher density detail on the tiles. But by looking at these details, the Tiles will be doing far more than just delivering better ground detail. "Tile-Based Lighting" will keep the processing more local, meaning in higher density areas, you will get better performance by saving GPU power, same with Static Descriptor Sets, which bind into specific “slots” on a Vulkan pipeline. When creating a pipeline, you then have to specify the layouts for each of the descriptor sets that can be bound to the pipeline. This is commonly done automatically, generated from reflection on the shader, and doing this will save you CPU power, again great for high density areas. Finally we are getting "Multi-Cores" or using multiple cores for doing the main frame rendering, look at your processor numbers, and one is in overload while running X-Plane, the rest are usually doing nothing... time to share the workload. Better ground textures means new "Terrain Rendering". It is fine to cram in more and more stuff on a tile, but the current system is a decade old, not very efficient either... so it looks like what Laminar are working on is a completely new and different approach in creating better Ground detail, so they will be soon "Streaming Friendly". The interesting aspect of this "Tile Streaming", is the "streaming" is a reference in how the data gets into the sim engine. This could come from any number of sources including also the data installed on the hard drive. But it does show that finally Laminar are going into a direction of creating better Ground and Landscape detail, and the biggest drawback currently between X-Plane and FlightSim. X-Plane will obviously never, ever be the same scale of FlightSim, but X-Plane has a talent for fighting below it's weight and succeeding. One feature that did impress me with the FS 2024 announcement was the "Vertical Obstacles", in creating thousands of infrastructure in pylons, weather towers, power stations and god knows what else. You can have the most sparse ground textures (tile) in the world, but if you fill them in with great clutter, then you can cover over the crap. Which brings us the the biggest annoyance I get when reviewing scenery. Those plain green empty bands of nothing around custom airports or scenery (cities). Yes this big X-Plane anomaly is finally being fixed! in that soon going forward developers can or will be able to "Allow overlays and custom scenery to "Correct" the mesh locally"... hallelujah! All these Graphic Updates are targeted to be released in Q3, or at the very least Q4. Q&A Austin Meyer, Ben Supnic, Thomson Meeks and Philipp Ringler, all gave a five minute Q&A at the Expo. They covered a few items, but noted that efficiency and getting more stuff out to (us the) users quicker, and being more precise was the currently top priority, obviously as a response to Microsoft's FlightSim. Notices were made for more in-house beta testers, very good beta testers are very hard to find, as it can be a frustrating repetitive job... but the problem is X-Plane is complex, and also has a very wide demographic, certainly far more than FlightSim, which is really only a single platform in being Windows based, plus the fact that users use a huge variety of setups and computer specifications. Programs running perfectly in-house, then becomes a convoluted situation when put out to community testing. It is in focusing the details down, in that you can solve the problems and issues quicker. Next noted was coming features, as we have already covered above, it is now official that Ben Supnic is working on that "NextGen" scenery, and that has huge if massive implications for the X-Plane 12 Simulator, but it will be a big project (nothing like the Vulkan/Metal project), this aspect can change the X-Plane concept into the current required (even gaming) standards. Meyers is working on Flight Modeling (his speciality) for rotorcraft in lift and vibrations, including for newer VTOL electric aircraft. There was a lot of discussion with the introductions of a API (Application Programming Interface) called "Websockets". X-Plane was created and based on user/developer interaction, or "Tinkerers" that allows you to interact with the Simulator. It works very similar to #Datarefs, but it will write the code for you, making access to the Simulator more accessible. It is a real-time, event-driven communication tool between clients and servers. Websockets are particularly useful for building software applications requiring instant updates, such as real-time chat, messaging, and multiplayer games, in X-Plane's case, interaction from a web-browser, or an external application for instructor stations or to do missions. The documentation for WebSockets is coming soon... Nimbus Studios There wasn't a lot of X-Plane developers at the show doing seminars, but there was one that did a great presentation, and that was Nimbus Studio's Santiago Butnaru. They went though their current products, both aircraft and scenery. Then Nimbus announced the next aircraft release for X-Plane 12 would be a "Classic" airliner in the Boeing 707... Boeing 707? from Nimbus Studio's, you certainly didn't see that one coming? But the quality is overwhelming, this is an X-Plane 12 aircraft, and that will be a far cry from the old XP9 Planemaker 707 versions. There was no release date as the Boeing 707 from Nimbus is still a WIP. Another announcement was for a new scenery release in KCLT- Charlotte Douglas International Airport UHD for X-Plane 12, details here Nimbus seems to be also doing other ideas, besides aircraft and sceneries. They presented two situation based products. The first was in collaboration with Bridger Aerospace, a company which provides aerial firefighting and wildfire management services in the USA. You can set up fire fighting missions from huge forest fires to small burning tree areas, and then create drop zones with both a Bombardier CL-415 and L-1011 shown, these mission scenario's were set up for Bridger in a real world simulation, but will be available for X-Plane. The quality of the trees and fire smoke is excellent. The second situation shown was the "Nimbus Pilot Challenge", again a more MSFS based "Mission" style product. Here you can create a mission or have them created for you.... You can create a new missions or jobs in nine different categories; SAR (Search & Rescue), Rescue, Search, Medical, Transport, Cargo, Tours - Jobs include Log Transport and Construction, with more coming... then you can create your own specific scenario. If on duty, the system chooses your task, when completed, you maybe then called to do another mission... It's early days here, but it is an interesting idea than in say doing just pure aircraft flying simulations. ___________________________ But the overall feeling after the Expo 2024, and for all the load of announcements coming out of Microsoft. Is the differences between the Simulators is not as ocean wide as you think they are, some like intergrating a third party add-on replay mode for FS 2024 was a surprise considering the resources of Microsoft, so was the simBrief imposter feature. so you do still get the odd add-on Microsoft/Android vs Apple intergration feeling between the Simulators. One thing the Expo did express that Laminar Research can not do, is not sitting on it's laurels anymore, go at it's own pace and just expect everything to perfectly fine. That aspect in commentary from Laminar Research was very strong, in wanting the X-Plane Simulator to be lean and mean, but very efficient in performance, but also delivering a quality experience. Quality add-ons for X-Plane 12 this year are already showing the high merits of the Simulator, and in the X-Plane 12.1.0 release it has already shown that the Simulator is now also progressing far better and further. But with all the aspects of the announcements at the 2024 Expo, it shows that we should see a lot more updates and more quickly as the year goes on, that Ben Subnic is working on the ground textures, gives the future another big step towards X-Plane becoming back into the Simulation arena as a solid alternative to just Microsoft's vision of what Simulation should be. ___________________________ Analysis by Stephen Dutton 26th June 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
  14. News! - Scenery Updated : MKJS Sangster International Airport Jamaica XP12 by Skyline Simulations Skyline Simulations have updated their Jamaican scenery of MK Sangster International to X-Plane 12. Sangster International Airport is an international airport located 3 mi (4.8 km) east of Montego Bay, Jamaica. The airport is capable of handling nine million passengers per year. It serves as the most popular airport for tourists visiting the north coast of Jamaica. The airport is named after former Jamaican Prime Minister Sir Donald Sangster. Originally named the Montego Bay Airport, a decision was made to build the runway in 1940, and the actual construction of the facility was completed on 18 February 1947. At the time of its completion, the town of Montego Bay was more like a playground for the rich and famous, and was considered then, one of the premier vacation spots within the Caribbean, just as it is today. The original terminal was built and opened on 7 July 1959, with a capacity to accommodate 500 passengers per hour, and parking for seven aircraft at a time. The new eastern concourse of the Sangster International Airport (SIA) was officially opened in December 2005. The current airport has a flow of 4,284,558 passengers a year and 41,263 aircraft movements (2017). The original v1 was a conversion of the LatinVFR scenery, to be honest the older FlightSim aspects came through more than the X-Plane feel of the area, review is here and it wasn't a great appraisal: Airport Review : MKJS Sangster International Airport (MBJ) - Montego Bay, Jamaica by LatinVFR/Skyline Simulations It will be interesting on a new X-Plane 12 review, as now only Skyline are doing the development, and the update notes cover most of the negative comments. Update X-Plane 12 changes include... Detailed Airport Designed with the latest airport updates UHD Custom Textures using the latest painting Techniques Super Detailed 3D modeling PBR Materials on every building FSEco-subsystem Detailed HD Custom Ground with PBR and decals Custom 3D vegetations blends with orthophotos 3D custom objects with amazing Night system Animated Jetways This MKJS scenery is available in both X-Plane 12 and X-Plane 11, as both versions are included in the package, and priced at only US$11.00! Images are provided by Skyline Simulations _________________________ The MKJS Sangster International Airport Jamaica XP12 by Skyline Simulations scenery is Available now from the X-Plane.Org Store here : MKJS Sangster International Airport Jamaica XP12 Price Is US$11.00 Requirements X-Plane 12 and X-Plane 11 (both versions included) Windows , Mac or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download size: 820Mb Current version: 1.1 June 24th 2024) ___________________________ NEWS! by Stephen Dutton 25th June 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
  15. NEWS! - Scenery Released : KCLT- Charlotte Douglas International Airport UHD by Nimbus Studios Charlotte Douglas International Airport is an international airport serving Charlotte, North Carolina, United States, located roughly 6 miles (9.7 km) west of the city's central business district. Charlotte Douglas is the primary airport for commercial and military use in the Charlotte metropolitan area. Operated by the city of Charlotte's aviation department, the airport covers 5,558 acres (2,249 ha) of land. Charlotte was mostly known as a major US Airways hub, until they were absorbed into American Airlines in 2013, Charlotte CLT then became the second-largest hub after Dallas/Fort Worth for the now merged American airline, Nimbus Studios don't need any introduction to X-Plane users for quality scenery, and aircraft as well. But large complex sceneries are Nimbus's forte, including KORD Chicago O'Hare, KMCO Orlando International and most recently the excellent (and massive) KJFK - John F. Kennedy International XP12 in New York. An added feature here is the The Carolinas Aviation Museum, established in 1992, and it has a collection of over 50 aircraft, including a DC-3 that is painted in Piedmont Airlines livery. In January 2011, the museum acquired N106US, the US Airways Airbus A320 ditched by captain Chesley Sullenberger as US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River on January 15, 2009. This aircraft, which was delivered on June 10, 2011, and is about 35 years younger than any other commercial airliner on display in a museum. This is the newest airport by Nimbus, and all in Ultra-High resolution! SCENERY FEATURES High-Definition Airport Terminals with 3D interiors and people The new control tower that was finished in early 2022 Lights almost everywhere so very few LIT textures (saves VRAM) 4K textures with PBR materials Night lighting Ground textures with PBR materials High quality vehicles with PBR material 3D Native XP12 trees Parking lots full of cars Ground markings all over the airport Native X-Plane ground traffic. Native XP12 jetway system with custom highly detailed jetways. Detailed tarmac textures from up close or far out. High quality vehicles and miscellaneous objects. Water and snow effects. Taxi routes for AI Traffic Please note that the Nimbus CLT is for X-Plane 12 only, and no X-Plane 11 version is available. Designed by Nimbus Studios Images are courtesy of Nimbus Designs __________________ Yes!... KCLT- Charlotte Douglas International Airport UHD by Nimbus Design is now Available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : KCLT- Charlotte Douglas International Airport UHD Price is US$26.95 Requirements X-Plane 12 (not for XP11) Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 2.5 GB Current version: 1.0 (June 21st 2024) ___________________________ NEWS! by Stephen Dutton 24th June 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
  16. NEWS! - Scenery Updated : KPNS - Pensacola International Airport v2 by FS Designs FS Designs have updated their Pensacola International Airport scenery to v2. This release is a very big revision of this Florida scenery, it also comes with a new FS Design plugin for animated & interactive hangar facilities. (Note the plugin is currently only for Windows, but Linux and Mac are coming soon). Pensacola International Airport, or formerly Pensacola Gulf Coast Regional Airport and Pensacola Regional Airport (Hagler Field), and was actually temporarily branded Pensacola Intergalactic Airport each February in recognition of the local Pensacon convention! It is a public use airport three nautical miles (6 km; 3 mi) northeast of the central business district of Pensacola, in Escambia County, Florida, United States. It is owned by the City of Pensacola. Despite its name, the airport does not offer scheduled international flights, though chartered international flights are not uncommon. This airport is one of five major airports in North Florida, and among these it is the second largest by passenger count, only behind Jacksonville. KPNS V2 features include... NEW - FSDesigns Hangar Utility Plug-In – Featuring animated hangar and t-hangar buildings with interactive doors Up-to-date custom cut high resolution orthoimagery Fully reworked terminal textures High quality 3D modeling and texturing with PBR Accurate dynamic night lighting Added more dirt, grime, details Highly optimized custom PBR ground textures Highly optimized for FPS Custom vegetation Updated airport layout Animated fans for added immersion High attention to detail with wear and tear effects using the latest texturing technology Fully reworked ground textures with added memory optimization Updated surrounding neighborhood and airport vicinity Re-modeled and re-textured hangars Added border protection facility Added more detail in curbside (terminal drop off area) Included major optimization changes Pensacola Regional Airport covers an area of 1,211 acres (490 ha) at an elevation of 121 feet (37 m) above mean sea level. It has two runways: 17/35 is 7,004 by 150 feet (2,135 x 46 m) with a concrete surface; 08/26 is 7,000 by 150 feet (2,134 x 46 m) with an asphalt surface. Runway 17 has an instrument landing system and approach lights, while the Runway 26 approach has a localizer approach. A 1,000 ft. extension to the east end of Runway 08/26 was completed in 2006. The airport hopes to extend Runway 17/35 to about 8,500 ft, and the airport's two war-era diagonal runways were decommissioned in the 1960s. Images are courtesy of FS Designs... Priced at an extremely low price at US$14.99, Customers who own Pensacola International Airport v1 can get the new v2 version for 50% off from the X-Plane.OrgStore. _____________________________________ Yes! - KPNS - Pensacola International Airport by FS Designs is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : KPNS - Pensacola International Airport Price is US$14.99 Customers who own Pensacola International Airport v1 can get the new v2 version for 50% off. Requirements X-Plane 12 Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 2.0 (June 23rd 2024) Download Size: 1.1 GB ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 24th June 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
  17. Aircraft Review : PA24-250 Comanche by InDepthSimulations X-Plane can deliver very deep and complex simulations, but the scale is also very wide. In scale from those in depth "Study" style MEGA immersion aircraft, to the humble General Aviation Simulation. And so this is what we have here, the totally opposite end of the scale in a small GA, the basics, and how you fly in a very bare-bones set up. This is important, the general knowing on how to fly an aircraft at an elementary level. This PA24-250 Comanche is a first time release from the developer inDepthSimulations, so you not going to get an abundance of menus and features (just one actually), but that is not the point here.... it's all about the basic flying skills with a classic aircraft. The Piper PA-24 Comanche is an American single-engine, low-wing, all-metal monoplane of semi-monocoque construction with a tricycle retractable landing gear and has four to six seats. The Comanche was designed and built by Piper Aircraft and first flew on May 24, 1956. In 1958, Piper introduced a 250 hp (190 kW) version using a Lycoming O-540 engine, giving the PA-24-250 Comanche a top cruise speed of 160 kn (180 mph; 300 km/h). Most 250s had carburetted Lycoming O-540-AIA5 engines, but a small number were fitted out with fuel-injected versions of the same engine. Early Comanche 250s also had manually operated flaps and carried 60 US gal (230 L) of fuel. This model was originally to be known as the PA-26, but Piper decided to keep the PA-24 designation and it has the later electric flaps. First expect a few ongoing updates, as since the release on 3rd June 2024, there has been in only a few weeks already two updates. So the aircraft in question here is still in a developmental period. As we shall see a few items still need to be added, not essential at this point (well maybe one or two items?), but in the main the aircraft is ready to fly. First views are actually very good, it's a mid-50s design, and the PA24 looks and feels very much in it's designated period. The main aircraft modeling is actually very good. Lovely spinner holds three McCauley fixed-pitch props using the trade name "MET-L-PROP" (original was a twin-blade prop). Lower nose air-vent and side latches are well done here, as is the very nicely raised riveting of the fuselage, wings and tail-planes. The wing's aerofoil is very nicely done as well. Glass feels a bit thin, and too clear, a slight tint would have helped, also a more stronger reflective effect, but the windshield shaping is fine. Chunky short undercarriage, is well done and nicely detailed, and it comes with very nice (but very clean) rubber. If you want to open the (right-hand) door and look around inside... well you can't just yet as it's not completed, no door handle either? The cabin itself is basic... with two front seats and single wide bench in the rear. The front seats look very plain externally, but they are far better up close, the detail is also quite nice. Note the Trim Winder on the roof. Cabin is dressed in a cream colour that makes it feel unfinished, so I think it needs a more detailed colour to hide those flat plain sides... a grey perhaps to match the seat colours. Instrument panel is black, a worn black, but black never the less. It is a very sparse instrument panel as well, but reflects the period very well. Rudder pedals on the left (pilot) have built in toe-brakes, the right are just a set of rudder bars. Yokes are very nice in the rectangle looped style, there are no buttons on these original style yokes, but I bet they felt good to use. You can hide both (only both together) by the hotspot on the left yoke. All the instruments are grouped left, with the Standard Six central. (Airspeed, Artificial Horizon, Altitude, Rate of Turn HSI (Horizontal Situation Indicator and V/S Vertical Speed). Left is a standard clock, right are two Course Deviation Indicators (CDI) and there is no NAV/COM 2 on the aircraft. Further right is a Temperature Gauge (ºF) and below is the Flap position indicator (UP-TAKEOFF-DOWN). Bottom right are two gauges for RPM and Manifold Pressure. Left switch gear is Electrics, and lower switchgear is lighting/pitot heat. Gear switch is a tiny, tiny switch, mid-panel. Right Instrument Panel are five gauges; Fuel Quantity, Fuel Pressure, AMPS, Oil Pressure and Oil Temperature. Something missing? well yes... a Whiskey Compass, there isn't one and on a GA... please tell me why? Avionics Stack has a Garmin GNS530 top, and the GNS430 lower, Transponder is a modern GTX 327. This is X-Plane 12.1.0, and the Gamins now have a customised startup screen, and more original to the real GPS Units. And a very nice and fancy startup procedure it now is. Being the default X-Plane GNS Units, they pop-out for your convenience. There is the COMM settings in the GNS Units, but there is no radio unit installed here, please fix this... As noted there are no menus, the only feature is the nose wheel chock, and Pitot cover. They are visible/toggled via pressing the right seat cover. The lighting is sadly pathetic... Internally there is only one (adjustable) setting for an red indirect glow on the instruments with no backlighting, but it doesn't look too bad at night, and there is no internal cabin lights at all. Externally it's just terrible, in the daylight you can't see any lighting at all, either the landing/taxi lights, or even the red roof beacon? At night any lighting is still barely visible, and the navigation lights are just dull blobs.... not great. Flying the Comanche 250 The PA24-250 is a basic aircraft, so the startup is basic as well. You just give it a little Throttle, full Prop, and a lot of rich mixture (as required) and in turning the key... "boom" the O-540-AIA5 springs into life. Sounds are pretty good, in being custom made by Boris Audio Works, but the volume is slightly too low? Set at half volume in idle, I could hardly hear the engine sounds? Setting the trim for takeoff is tricky, as there is no position indicator, but setting it front forward with the winder, gives you a neutral trim setting, not perfect, but sort of better than nothing.... Move your rudder pedals and you turn the front wheel. It is old style X-Plane when the rudder is set to the steering. Most X-Plane aircraft now have the rudder pedals set using a pinched movement, or a smaller limited angle for steering, if you want more turn angle, then you use the tiller (yaw)... it's odd to have it back, but good for foot steering, the bad is that nose wheel turns more when trying to counteract the asymmetric thrust on takeoff, in so producing a squeal or smoke from the nosewheel? But the Comanche 250 is nice to taxi... so we ask the question? "Why fly this aircraft"... yes it is basic, but the fundamentals are very good. As once moving the PA24 feels great, and you like being in here. And as you have probably gathered by now, there is no pilot in the aircraft? It is highly noticeable from the external view, sadly... it feels like a "ghost plane". You have to point the PA24 slightly to the right off the line... as when you feed in the power it will pull very heavily to the left, and if you are not ready for it... you will simply slide out onto the grass? This initial asymmetric thrust is brutal, but once through the window, you get more centre-line control. Takeoff run is 1,400 ft (430 m), but the nose wants to go earlier, but then your flying. The PA24 is tricky to takeoff, note flaps are 9º, takeoff position. Rate of climb is quite high at 1,320 ft/min (6.7 m/s), but the nose trim needs taming early (Trim set right? I don't know), the great sounds of the gear retracting is very authentic. Finding the best climb rate is to your advantage, I found 900 fpm about right, nice climb with no loss of power, retract the flaps as soon as you can as well to help with the drag. This aircraft is all about getting into the groove, feel it, controlling it. There is no Autopilot to use? But you can still use the Flightplan on the GNS GPS units to follow a route cross-country. There sadly is no VOR/DME direction and range finding in here either, so you can't fly VOR to VOR. So it is either dead-reckoning or in using the GPS route. In this case the missing Whiskey Compass is a big oversight, as the bearing instrument is too low in your vision, and it is not reliable either, moving faster than your turn, then returning to the bearing heading. The Comanche has two fuel tanks in Left and Right, with 30Gal per tank (60Gal total). The Fuel selector is on the floor. But be careful as the fuel gauge is for "Both tanks", so the gauge may show as here at being over half full, but the actual amount in the (L) tank is desperately low... ... there is no warning or any indication the tank is low either, so does this PA24 need individual fuel tank gauges? The developer has noted that most Comanches have wing tanks (adds extra 30Gal), and that both will be added on later. Sounds are really excellent, you thrumm along to those great external, but better yet nice internal sounds that don't get boring... thankfully. I have never flown a real Comanche. But when finely trimmed, you can fly this version along quite nicely with a forefinger and thumb on the yoke, with only slight movements are required to keep the PA24 steady. The Comanche is very good like this thankfully, as the flying here is totally and always manual. That said, very long trips would be generally tiring as there is no respite from the controls to relax. Cruise speed is 185 mph (298 km/h, 161 kn) at 6,300 ft (1,900 m) (max. cruise is set at 75% power). Never exceed speeds are 227 mph (365 km/h, 197 kn), and the standard Range is 1,225 mi (1,971 km, 1,064 nmi) at 10,500 ft (3,200 m). Reduce the power a little and the PA24-250 will descend without any yoke or pitch input, here about 350 fpm, once lower in the white zone 110 knts then you can lower the flaps to again reduce the speed. Again notable is that the speeds shown on the Airspeed dial are outer MPH, and the KNOTS are on the inner band, so you will have to adjust your thinking to that aspect. Flaps are available in four positions 0º 9º 18º and 27º degree settings, with each selection, you easily reduce speed, but be aware of lowering the gear too early, the drag is immense, and if done at the wrong time, it could make you quickly lose height, so it is a bit of "at the right time" sort of action. (notes are that the gear here is too draggy?) Final approach speeds are 75 knts, full 27º flap and gear down, again throttle adjustments to adjust your altitude is very good, you feel totally in control. Finals are 160 knts, and 150 fpm descent, so just let the Comanche 250 just side itself down to the ground... with a lot of flare pitch, it needs a lot of flare pitch to control the speed downwards. ... touch is around 55 knts. Be aware of that big grippy tyre on the nose, so yoke inputs (and rudder pedal inputs) once it contacts has to be absolutely minute, if not the the 250 will start to squirm, if you lose it, you will not recover a good landing, so it's a skill to master. Overall it is an aircraft to tune into, but once you do it is also a lot of fun. Liveries There is one Blank, and four liveries, all USA registrations. Summary The Piper PA-24 Comanche is an American single-engine, low-wing, all-metal monoplane of semi-monocoque construction with a tricycle retractable landing gear and has four to six seats. The Comanche was designed and built by Piper Aircraft and first flew on May 24, 1956. This PA24-250 Comanche is a first time release from the developer inDepthSimulations, and by all accounts and details it is obviously not fully developed. So you may ask the question, "Why review". Our view is that if the developer puts up there product for sale, then the purchaser has the right to know what they are purchasing with their money. There is also the other aspect of another point of view of the product, in this case an aircraft. For a first development, the Piper PA24 Comanche 250 is very good in quality, so that aspect is important. So as an investment, you look at the context of the future, and not where it is now, that ongoing development progress. There are things here I am going to list the aircraft needs, some very quickly in the next few updates. A Whiskey Compass is essential, also is a pitch trim indicator, to balance the aircraft of takeoff. The completion of the cabin, and the opening of the door. A pilot would be a great addition externally in flight, and a radio set (say a Bendix/King KMA 28 TSO) on the Instrument panel. Fuel tanks need separate gauges, and a complete overhaul and refinement of the lighting. From there on you have a pretty good basis for a nice Comanche. It is a basic aircraft to fly, but that is also it's attraction. Bear-bones flying to refine your skills, as the Comanche takes away all the distractions and puts you literally in the pilot's seat, very X-Plane, but it also can be rewarding in recreating one of the great aircraft of the 50s/60"s, as this classic aircraft has four world records to it's name. _________________ Yes! - the PA24-250 Comanche by InDepthSimulations is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : PA24-250 Comanche Price is US$20.00 Requirements X-Plane 12 (not for XP11) Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB VRAM Minimum Download Size: 576 MB Current version : 1.0.2 - June 12th 2024 Download of the PA24-250 is 562MB, for a full installation of 744Mb Documents InDepthSimulations PA24-250 Manual.pdf (17 Pages) PA24-250 1962-1964 POH .pdf (Authentic Original Handbook, 68 Pages) Piper Comanche 250 Procedures.pdf (Checklists) Design by InDepthSimulation Support forum: PA-24 250 Comanche _____________________ 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 - X-Plane v12.1.0b7 (checked in X-Plane v12.0.9rc5) Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00 Scenery or Aircraft - EGGD - Bristol International Definitive by PilotPlus+ (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$25.95 - EGHI Southampton Airport by PilotPlus+ (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$19.95 ___________________________ Aircraft Review by Stephen Dutton 19th June 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
  18. NEWS! - Updated : Revolution Mini-500 Project v3.1 by vSkyLabs The Revolution Mini-500 is a 1990s American single-seat light helicopter, designed and built by Revolution Helicopter Corporation as a kit for homebuilding. Revolution Helicopter however went out of business in November 1999, and the kits are no longer available. The Mini-500 was designed as a light helicopter that resembles a scaled-down Hughes 500, powered by a Rotax 582 64 hp (48 kW) two-stroke engine. The Mini-500 has a tubular steel fuselage with a foam and glass-fibre structure cabin. It has a two-bladed semi-rigid rotor and a conventional two-blade tail rotor. The first Mini-500 flew in 1992 and the company delivered the first production factory-assembled helicopter in July 1994. Production of kits ceased in 1999 and the company claimed that more than 500 had been sold. The aircraft has had a parlous history... as Rotax warns owners of the 582 engine in the Owners Manual about its limitations: "This engine, by its design, is subject to sudden stoppage. Engine stoppage can result in crash landings, forced landings or no power landings. Such crash landings can lead to serious bodily injury or death"... the statement is supported by the 16 fatalities when operating the Mini 500. Initial intentions were that it would be powered by a Mazda Wankel engine, but this was abandoned and plans shifted to the Solar T62 turbine engine. There is no indication that new production by Stitt, has delivered any aircraft kits. The X-Plane version of the Mini-500 was released back in January 2019. There was a fully upgraded X-Plane 12 version released 12 months ago, but this update refines the aircraft to the latest X-Plane 12 dynamics and features with version 3.1. Flight dynamics: Airfoils update. Refinements for the rotor system, increasing (a very bit) of the margin for autorotation envelope. Skids physics refinements to fix the tendency for self-yawing to the left on paved runways, at 100% RPM, collective down. Sounds: fixed issue caused when removing the doors inflight (sound remained as if the doors are still connected and closed). Interaction: Stick (cyclic) manipulator sensitivity increased to follow stick actual motion. Starter keys switch interaction improved. Graphics: Minor touches for canopy and pilot appearance. VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Project - Professional-grade physics, handling and performance characteristics. Highly defined and engineered flight dynamics model of the Revolution Mini-500, built around the powerful X-Plane flight model. The Mini-500 performance was analyzed by experts. Fully functional VR (Virtual Reality). Multi-Layer FMOD sound pack, composed with actual recordings of the Mini-500 helicopter engine and rotor sounds. Unique aspects of the Mini-500 helicopter are simulated and are part of the flying experience by definition: Manual engine/rotor RPM management, low rotor-inertia aspects, in-flight nose tuck during engine-stop, rotor RPM management, retreating blade stall condition (Vne), typical Mast bumping, typical autorotation capability and more. The VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot': Revolution Mini-500 is designed as if it was a real kit-built helicopter, awaiting for it's first test-flight. Was it built exactly as instructed? Will it fly as expected? wow there is only one way to find out! You will have to get familiar with it step by step...or you might get yourself into serious trouble when mistreating it. Mastering the Mini-500 will sure make you a better helicopter pilot! The original pilot's manual and other 1st hand references contributed by the Mini-500 real-world designer were one of the core-materials during development of this project, and the VSKYLABS Mini- 500 pilot's manual includes the actual data and information of the actual Mini-500 manual. Autoupdater based on the SkunkCrafts autoupdater (XP12 only) - all updates are being pushed smoothly without the need to re-download the entire base package (base package will be updated every once in a while to minimize the gap). The project is under constant development. Highly responsive VSKYLABS support forums. This project is part of the VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' series, designed specifically for use with X-Plane cutting edge Experimental Flight Model. This aircraft is also available for X-Plane 11 (obviously with out the dynamics and effects of X-Plane 12) Images are courtesy of vSkyLabs... The Revolution Mini-500 v3.1 by vSkyLabs is now available from the X-Plane.OrgStore _____________________________________ Yes! - the Revolution Mini-500 Project v3.1 by vSkyLabs is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Revolution Mini-500 Price is US$26.50 (Currently on sale for only US13.20!) Requirements X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Current version: 3.1 (June 17th 2024) ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 18th June 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
  19. NEWS! - REP Package released : Reality Expansion Pack for Pilatus PC-6 Turbo Porter XP12 by Simcoders Add in more "Oomph" to your already highly developed PC-6 Porter from Thranda Design. We have just reviewed this excellent DGS Series aircraft as it is released in it's X-Plane 12 configuration; Aircraft Review - Pilatus PC-6 Turbo Porter - DGS Series XP12 by Thranda Design REP packages are for me, a way to bring default and sparsely developed aircraft a host of better performance and provide extra features, that brings the aircraft up to a higher and more immersive standard. But here we have (with Thranda's blessing) these excellent tools to amplify the PC-6 to a higher more logical standard. This PC-6 REP Package comes with an extremely long list of performance enhancements, and crash and damage effects. The notable feature list from Simcoders in this REP is quite impressive! Ultra Realistic Flight & Ground Dynamics Realistic stall speeds & behavior Correct climb speeds Realistic cruise speeds Realistic taxi behavior Complex Damages System Triggered by the pilot actions Based on real world data Target every system in the aircraft Meant to teach you how to correctly manage an airplane Economic System Can be enabled/disabled on the fly Earn virtual money when you fly Use virtual money to buy fuel and do maintenance/repairs Realistic fuel prices around the World Fully compatible with FSEconomy and X-CPL-Pilot More info at https://www.simcoders.com/reality-expansion-pack/economy Custom Towing System Driven by the joystick/steering wheel Realistic point of view (POV) Interacts with tie-down and brakes Interactive Walkaround Cockpit checks Lights checks Engine soft cover removal Aileron, rudder, elevator and flaps check Tire check and choks removal Tie-down removal Pitot tube check Engine cowl check Realistic PT-6 Engine Logic Uses an enhanced version of the new PT-6 model introduced with X-Plane Realistic lag Custom ITT evolution Custom throttle dynamics Custom propeller governor recreating all supported prop modes,electric, auto-feather included Custom hot-start behavior Correct fuel consumption Secondary fuel-flow Realistic startup procedure Automatic startup procedure available to help newbies Realistic engine temperatures The engine parts are damaged if not managed correctly Realistic Landing Gear The landing gear is damaged by hard landings The brakes and tires are damaged if not managed correctly The steering wheel acts like the real one. Spring loaded under 25° of turn, then free castoring. Electrical & Avionics System Native Virtual Reality Support Complete support of new X-Plane SDK 3.0 Menu visible in VR Windows visible in VR Learn with the in-flight tips A non invasive tip with a suggestion about the conduct of the flight is shown when you are not flying the airplane properly A non invasive tip with a suggestion on how to recover the problem is shown when you damage the airplane Custom simulation of Hypoxia Tunnel vision Hard breathing Popup Kneeboard Normal operations checklist Emergency operations checklist Reference tables (speed, fuel consumption etc.) May be shown/hidden with mouse gestures Simulation state saving Every single switch and lever position restores its position when you reload the aircraft The battery may discharge if you leave it on and then close X-Plane The engine restores its cylinders and oil temperature basing on the elapsed time between restarts Maintenance Hangar Engine maintenance tab Electrical systems maintenance tab Landing gear, brakes & tires tab HeadShake Integration REP drives HeadShake to simulate the correct vibrations of the Wasp Junior engine Developed with love Coded by real pilots Very easy on FPS Written in C++ with no compromise. Most of the changes and access to the unique features are done via the "Clipboard menu... This is an add-on to the Pilatus PC-6 Turbo Porter - DGS Series XP12. It will not work on the Thranda PC-6 XP11 version or any other aircraft. It is ONLY X-Plane 12 (not for XP11) Developed by Simcoders Support forums for the REP PC-6 Turbo Porter _________________________  The Reality Expansion Pack for the Pilatus PC-6 Turbo Porter XP12 by SimCoders is NOW available! from the X-Plane.Org Store here : REP Pilatus PC-6 Turbo Porter XP12 Priced at US$19.99 Requirements: This is an add-on to the PC-6 Turbo Porter XP12 by Thranda. It will not work on any other aircraft. X-Plane 12 (not for XP11) Current version: XP 12 - 4.8.5 (June 14th 2024) ________________ NEWS! by Stephen Dutton 15th June 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 Right Reserved.
  20. Scenery Review : FlyTampa Sydney Sydney Kingsford Smith SYD is an international airport serving Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. And the airport is located 8 km (5.0 mi) south of the Sydney central business district. YSSY is also known as "Mascot" for the suburb it is situated in. Situated next to Botany Bay, the airport has three runways, and Sydney Kingsford Int'l Airport covers an area of 907 hectares (2,241 acres) of land. SYD is the primary hub for Qantas, as well as a secondary hub for Virgin Australia and Jetstar, and a focus city for Rex Airlines. Being one of the most oldest and the main primary gateway into Australia, then any Sydney scenery is always going to be a main focus airport for any serious flight simmer, it is a long way by flying time to get here, so when you arrive, you want it to be worth all the effort. Sydney SYD is also part of the "Golden Triangle" a set of routes between the Eastern States of Australia in Brisbane - Sydney - Melbourne, and these crucial routes are some of the most lucrative in the world, with Sydney set as the central hub. I am a huge fan of FlyTampa's sceneries, so I will put that aspect out there early. The reason's will be noted again in this review, however they have produced classics like Las Vegas, Corfu, Athens, and my all time favorite in Copenhagen. Their last release however was "Amsterdam" not that it was a poor rendition of Schiphol airport, but the fact that Schiphol covers a really massive area with some intense autogen surrounding it. The scenery had frameweight issues, and is hard to use (all Schiphol's have the same problem). So it was not as popular as earlier FlyTampa releases. Now here released is YSSY Sydney, and certainly FlyTampa are back on form. This FlyTampa YSSY is not the most recent release of SYD. TaiModels released their version only in May 2022. As the review notes, in that I liked it immensely, but that was because there was so little good Sydney Airport scenery for the X-Plane Simulator at the time, but it also had some if a few limitations visually, the differences between them are noted in this review, and the reasons why the FlyTampa version is better, also on why FlyTampa scenery excels. Because if it's unique position sitting on the shore of Botany Bay, Sydney Airport is also in an constant consistent squabble with the area districts set around the airport. Night operational curfews are also usually always in the news, and most local residents want Mascot shutdown (They are currently building a second Sydney Airport out at "Baggerys Creek", in the Western Suburbs, due to open in 2026). But to be fair, Mascot has been here since 1911, and it is one of the first operational airports in the world, and it's position as only a short (but very slow traffic) ride from the city CBD, means SYD will always remain a major hub. Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport IATA: SYD - ICAO: YSSY - WMO: 94767 07/25 - 2,530m (8,301ft) Asphalt 16L/34R - 2,438m (7,999ft) Asphalt 16R/34L - 3,963m (13,002ft) Asphalt Elevation AMSL21 ft / 6 m Sydney Airport is split between the long 16R/34L runway, with the "International" terminal to the west, and the "Domestic" is set to the east. However there are plans to align by airlines and alliances (meaning Qantas) into one terminal and the rest into the other Terminals. The problems stem from the connection time between the separated terminal areas, but why really change something that already works very well. So the idea has gone quiet over the last few pandemic years, but does require a bus trip between the International and domestic terminals if you are transiting, there is a rail connection (5 Min), but it will cost you Aus$6.50. Terminal 1 - International Terminal 1 was opened on 3 May 1970, replacing the old Overseas Passenger Terminal (which was located where Terminal 3 stands now) and has been greatly expanded since then. Today it is known as the International Terminal, and it has 25 gates (thirteen in concourse B numbered 8–37, and twelve in concourse C numbered 50–63) served by aerobridges. Pier B is used by Qantas, all Oneworld members and all Skyteam members (except Delta Air Lines). Pier C is used by Virgin Australia and its partners (including Delta) as well as all Star Alliance members. The Terminal 1 layout is very similar to older Heathrow (now Terminal 3) in being higgledy-piggledy and an add on a pier here and there sort of development , going outwardly, and all here are hanging out from the central Y shaped main terminal. But having been there it sort of all works, like an Australian Heathrow. North is Pier A in an L shape, then Pier B and to the west the large Pier C. There are a lot of Cat 5 A380 gates here, because simply SYD accommodates more Airbus A380's than anywhere else, except for maybe Frankfurt, they are a feast for the eyes every time you come here, I counted 13 A380's once at SYD! The Taimodels terminal detail was very good, but the quality here is another significant set of levels higher in this scenery, it also comes with a more grungy feel and object detail... note excellent fire stairs in detail, and it shows you the finer and better detail of this scenery SAM (Scenery Animation Manager) has been abandoned by it's developer. But the gates here are all SAM animated? Into the saddle is OpenSAM 1.5, it's a basic tool, but at least it works, it also does not hang your computer when shutting down as SAM3 did. The only area where the interior is modeled is the International Terminal main departure hall. but very good it is with a McDonalds, the view out is first rate and very realistic as is the real view. Landside detail is again excellent, with the highlight the excellent latticework on the arrival hall awnings, again the detail is so much finer than that of TaiModels... the static car placement is excellent. It is important to note that FlyTampa's SYD also uses the newer LST (Living Scenery Technology) by xCodr, so that this plugin has to be installed. LST provides the "life" in the scenery with animated vehicles, both on the roads around and through the terminal areas, but also the movement of the service vehicles and equipment on the ramps. All ground service vehicles and equipment are branded, in fact all the branding and signage right through the airport is absolutely first rate here. Behind the arrival area is the main international carparks and Rydges Hotel, the Customs offices is also set behind. The quality of the buildings in design and feel-factor here is to be seen to be believed, they look and feel very real. Ground textures are however a bit Low-Res. There is the option included to use the Ortho4XP textures, the OSM data is in the folder provided. We are now getting into the area were FlyTampa exceeds. Further back west is the Sydney Novotel and CKS Hotel, further south is the Brighton Beach Novotel Hotel... this hotel sited on Botany Bay is a landmark when arriving at Sydney, as it is the main focus to look for on the 16L, and even the 16R approaches... it signals you are in Sydney. There are also a number of remote bays to the south which are heavily utilised during peak periods and for the parking of idle aircraft during the day. (for instance the British Airways flight BA15 arrives at SYD 6.10 a.m, but does not depart again until BA16 leaves at 3:50pm for LON). Then the "Air Services facility on the bay, both areas in detail are excellent, and really well reproduced. North of the International Terminal, but still on the western boundary is the SYD Cargo area. Qantas Freight dominates, but TOLL, a domestic cargo carrier is also well represented. Terminal 2 In reality T2 is the heart of the domestic SYD complex, and it is the main terminal that you would use in a transition on a domestic flight. Terminal 2, located in the airport's north-eastern section, it was originally the former home of Ansett Australia's domestic operations until 2001. It features 16 parking bays served by aerobridges and several remote bays for regional aircraft. It serves Jetstar, Regional Express Airlines (REX), FlyPelican and Virgin Australia. There are lounges for Regional Express Airlines and Virgin Australia. I have spent many an hour here in T2, even longer when the unions go strike, which they do often. Basically T2 has two main piers and the third area is basically stands for walkon/walkoff regional flights. Sydney Airport previously had a fourth passenger terminal, east of Terminal 2. This was formerly known as Domestic Express and was used by Regional Express Airlines, and the low-cost carriers Virgin Blue (now known as Virgin Australia) and the now-defunct Impulse Airlines, during the time LCC Terminal 2 was closed following the collapse of Ansett Australia. It is now used as an office building for Menzies. Gates (bays) are extremely good, and very lifelike to the real areas, glass is perfect in the colour and style. The grittiness of the age of the facility is all here, Sydney can be quite grubby in it's personality away from the harbour, and that feel is imprinted here. Landside is dominated by the central causeway with those four iconic support pylons. Really well done here with a perfect feel for this important separation zone. Landside T2 arrivals is well done, but a bit vacant, and just a few static vehicles would have made a huge difference, as it is an extremely busy area. Note the "Virgin Australia" lounge entrance. Unlike the TaiModels version, there are no internal T2 modeled areas by FlyTampa, one of the differences between the versions. Terminal 3 Terminal 3 is another domestic terminal, but here only serving Qantas, with QantasLink regional flights having also moved their operations from Terminal 2 to Terminal 3 on 16 August 2013. Originally, it was home for Trans Australia Airlines (later named Australian Airlines). The current terminal building is largely the result of extensions designed by Hassell that were completed in 1999. This included construction of a 60-metre roof span above a new column-free check-in hall and resulted in extending the terminal footprint to 80,000 square metres. There are 14 parking bays served by aerobridges, including two served by dual aerobridges (A330). Terminal 3 features a large Qantas Club lounge, along with a dedicated Business Class and Chairman's lounge. Modeling by FlyTampa is impeccable, detail is astounding, and your not going to better this quality anywhere, okay Copenhagen, which is just as good in the sheer detailing. FlyTampa really "flies" where it counts. T3 arrival landside is again excellent with stupendous latticework, signage and even some static vehicles to fill out your view. Landside entrance has P1, P2 and P3 carparks, all are well designed and all come with signage. Notable is the small square building set between P2 and P3 carparks, it is the efficient UBER pickup area, fair walk, but very quick and handy when you get there. Qantas Engineering The very large Qantas Engineering "Jet" base is again very well detailed and covers the iconic site with distinction. Built like a lot of old legacy airport facilities it has a large assortment of buildings and hangers to make up the massive site, and all the distinctive hangars are covered here really well. With the "191" building were Qantas do their famous arrival or announcement media. The feel is slightly different here than the brighter textures of the TaiModels version, greyish, but more realistic... The engine test stands are far better done here as well, more detail and far more realistic, also no burnt in aircraft tails. The large iconic open sided canopy is also better modeled in realism detail. The trick to the area is melding the old 50's style buildings in with the later additions. The Qantas Head Offices and support buildings are represented, but not with the newer all glass facade that was the pride and joy of former CEO Alan Joyce. SYD Control Tower The terminals are set to the north, the runways to the south, and set between them in the centre is the unique and iconic Sydney Control Tower, set off taxiway C. It is a very distinctive shape that is the image of Sydney in Australia. Design of the SYD Tower is excellent by FlyTampa, more detail than you could imagine, it has been painstakingly reproduced with the lower glass cylinders, and the operations floor set above, the spiral staircase is also excellent. Only odd thing is that radar is static? an oversight? Note the well filled out carparks. There is a realism about it that blows your mind. Shep’s Mound is represented, and was named in honor of Bruce C. Shepherd, a passionate plane spotter who frequented the area until his passing in 2005. The mound provides an excellent vantage point for observing most of the aircraft movements at Sydney Airport. Set here as well is the Dnata Catering facility, and the X-Plane Tower view (T) is set perfectly. Hidden to the east of the tower on Ross Smith Drive is an excellent Helicopter facility with two major pads H1 and H2. Working from here is Black Ops, Sydney HeliTours, Austcopters and Blue Sky Helicopters. There is a very small General Aviation area, tucked away at the threshold of Runway 25, a few hangers and parking spaces are all that are over here. But it well done for GA use. Infrastructure We had a bit of infrastructure set in the western side. But it is excellent on the important airport approach eastern side. The fusion of the X-Plane Autogen and custom objects is excellent, and all the major hotels of Stamford Hotel (CoatesHire), Ibis (twice), Holiday Inn and Manta Hotel are all included. Entrance advertising hoardings are also excellent and highly detailed, leading all the way out to the off site Long-Term carpark. There are McDonald Restaurants all hidden in the scenery, three in fact, find them all! Port Botany One of the biggest disappointments of the TaiModels SYD scenery was the missing of Port Botany. This is the biggest port in Australia, and critical to the view on departure from 16L, as you bank straight out and over the port as you climb out of YSSY. Here FlyTampa have totally recreated the port in detail... .... where there is a massive hole in the TaiModel's YSSY scenery? however here you have all of this.... just brilliant. The detail here by FlyTampa does not miss any trick? Over Botany Bay is the massive Kurnell Refinery, and yes that is presented here as well! Important as it is seen on finals into both 34L and 34R. Textures You feel the excellent textures with their built in Burnt-in ambient occlusion effects, even in the full day light sun. Hard to do, but that shows the depth of the quality of the ground textures here, in that you don't need to use certain lighting conditions to see the that deep quality of the surfaces. Again one of the main reasons I love FlyTampa's Copenhagen. TaiModels surfaces were too knobbly, but these are simply perfect, even down to the repaired, resurfaced areas with gridded runways, and the worn rubberised in landing zones are perfect.... The runway promontories are well done, the concrete walls are excellent, but to be honest I've seen better rock work. But it is more than passable here with the better X-Plane 12.1.0 water surrounding the walls. Certainly far, far better from the bad old days of a green filled in Botany Bay. Note that Runway 34R/16L is all domestic operations, 34L/16R is for mainly mixed International and the odd domestic operations. Cross runway 07/25 is rarely used, except for GA and short regional services, sometimes for just parking aircraft.. There is 3d grass, but it is that blade style, that quite doesn't work closeup, but fine at a distance. The scenery uses the X-Plane 12 trees to great effect here in hiding the Lo-Res ground textures, but they also give a very realistic look to the landside scenery aspect. The X-Plane 12 weather effects are again excellent here. You would never get snow at SYD, but the heavy wet tropical storms are quite frequent. Lighting When if you look at the scenery lighting for the first time and you get the reaction of "oh WOW", then it is something special. A lot of scenery developers put night lighting to the rear of the experience. But to arrive at your destination and it then gives you this amazing experience, then that scenery is doing it's job... more so here as most flights are after a long time in the air, or even the dark. All runway and taxiway lighting is now set to the official ICAO standards in X-Plane 12, so it's bright, but very realistic. Both terminal areas are very well lit, and look nice to the eye.... the different tones of lighting work really well here. .... however like Copenhagen the terminal window lighting is a bit dull, you have to be in complete darkness to see any illumination, Internally in side it's a bit dark as well! but the gate numbers glow perfectly in the dark as per the real signs. Entrance concourse is very nicely lit. And all the branding and signage is well lit and distinctive. BP Service Station/McDonalds and a AMG dealership... and the details go on and on. "Welcome to "Kingsford Smith" Sydney Airport, shows both old and new signs. Infrastructure lighting is excellent, with the hotels all having realistic window lighting (no grey rectangles here). Port Botany is fantastic, a bright working port at night and it looks wholly realistic. LST cleverly working gives the General Holmes Drive a perfect motion filled look around the runway and taxiway underpass, highly realistic. Noted here in both twilight and darker conditions. Navigation signage is also first rate... nice textures and also ground reflections. Summary Pivotal primary city hubs are what connects the world together. None are more decisive than the Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport or as it is more commonly known as "Mascot", in Australia. It's an essential gateway, and that means it is an important scenery to have in the X-Plane 12 Simulator. There have been a few earlier Kingsford Smith's in the past, mostly awful. But TaiModel's did a fair version a few years ago... here is FlyTampa's redition, and it is one scenery to savour. The question abounds about price. You can spend an amount on a pay scenery and it will deliver the basics, the airport and it's contents. But the question your asking, then if I spend a little more, but get a quite substantial rendition of that scenery, like not only the actual airport, but the important local environs, in this case, Port Botany, Kurnell Refinery and a load of great hotel infrastructure, a few Mcdonalds are in there as well, then is it worth that extra investment? In this case the answer is overwhelmingly yes. Not only is the actual SYD airport reproduced in quality here, but so are the important environs surrounding tha airport are also extremely well done (a FlyTampa speciality)... all the buildings and terminal design are excellent, and SAM (OpenSAM) and LST (Living Scenery Technology) also creates movement in the scenery. Textures are first rate with excellent ambient occlusion effects bringing them to life, with 3d grass and excellent trees and fauna. Lighting overall is also top rate with great tones. Negatives, I don't look at anything here in a negative light, but refinements could be brighter terminal lighting, radar not rotating on the tower, and the ground textures are quite Lo-Res, but for a framerate reason. FlyTampa create very substantial quality sceneries... this YSSY Sydney International is certainly one of their very best, and it is a very comprehensively packed scenery, in that, it is what the X-Plane 12 Simulator is looking for in maximum simulation experience. This SYD should be in your portfolio, everyone's portfolio, as it is an amazing rendition of "Kingsford Smith, to almost perfection and certainly a five star investment purchase ***** Highly recommended! ___________________________________ Yes! the FlyTampa Sydney scenery is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : FlyTampa Sydney Price is US$28.00 Currently only US$23.00 You Save:$5.00(18%) Features Fully Custom rendition of the Kingsford Smith Airport Custom mesh Custom night lighting SAM and LST integration Custom Mesh (with patch for Ortho4XP users) Airport modeled with PBR materials Sloped airport terrain Dynamic lighting, animated Jetways Requirements X-Plane 12 (not for XP11) Windows or Mac or Linux 8GB VRAM Recommended Current version : 1.0 (May 20, 2024) Installation and documents: FlyTampa SYD is download of 676Mb download that is translated into a 1.61Gb install in your Custom Scenery folder. FlyTampa_Sydney_0_Airport (1.59Gb) FlyTampa_Sydney_1_Mesh (19.2Mb) The above two install folders must be put in the order of the "mesh" below the main "airport" scenery folder. The Sydney city scenery Sydney City CBD City Scene 2020 1.3 by haydo83 is highly recommended with the FlyTampa YSSY scenery, it fills out the skyline and the approaches nicely. Documents There are no documents provided ________________________________________ Scenery Review by Stephen Dutton 14th June 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 Right Reserved  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 10 - X-Plane v12.1.0b6 (checked in X-Plane v12.0.9rc5) Addons: Saitek x52 Pro system Joystick, Throttle & Rudder Pedals : Sound - Yamaha M200SP Powered Speakers Plugins: Traffic Global - JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00 Scenery or Aircraft - None-
  21. NEWS! - Updated : Phoenix Air U15 S-LSA Project by vSkyLabs It looks like a Pilatus, a modern smooth bubble shaped aircraft with long thin wings. But this is a Czech low-wing two-seat motor glider, designed and manufactured by Phoenix Air and it is provided as a complete ready-to-fly aircraft. The Phoenix is a derivative of the Urban Air Lambada motorglider, developed by Martin Stepaneck who was formerly with Urban Air before that company's demise. The Phoenix was designed to comply with the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale microlight rules and US light-sport aircraft rules (LSA). It features a cantilever wing, a T-tail, a two-seats-in-side-by-side configuration enclosed cockpit under a bubble canopy, fixed conventional landing gear and a single engine in tractor configuration. It is powered by a Rotax 912ULS four cylinder, liquid and air-cooled, four stroke aircraft engine, 60 kW (80 hp). This v8.0 update from vSkyLabs focuses on the Flight Model, Graphics and a new FMOD sound package... It is available in X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11, as both versions included in the package at no extra cost. Version 8.0 (June 13th 2024) Flight model: Airfoils update, and tuneups for overall drag and control surface effectiveness to better demonstrate the authentic U15 handling characteristics. Engine windmilling characteristics refinements. Graphics: Complete textures/PBR overhaul for the aircraft, inside out. Various improvements for the cockpit gauges and throttle lever. Improvements for pilot/passenger visualization. Sounds: Improvements for FMOD packages. VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' Project: designed for use with X-Plane cutting edge Experimental flight model environment, featuring a superb flight dynamics with authentic performance and flight handling characteristics. Built for VR: development was tailored specifically for VR, and optimized for 2D usage. Designed for X-Plane Experimental flight model. Engineered and designed as a default X-Plane aircraft (Like all VSKYLABS projects). The VSKYLABS projects are practically show-casing X-Plane, as they are stretching X-Plane default features, systems and flight model to its limits...delivering a very robust simulation model, having maximum compatibility with the ever evolving X-Plane flight simulator. Two versions of wings included: The U15 S-LSA aircraft is featuring replaceable wing-tips: ‘Extended’, 15m and short, 11m span. These may be replaced easily in real life, allowing the U15 to be flown as a motor-glider or as a ‘cruiser’ Light Sport Aircraft (a bit faster, higher roll-rate, more maneuverable aircraft). This feature is included in the VSKYLABS U15 Project, which is having two different sets of wing flight-model. Built-in Avitab Plugin Compatibility (AviTab plugin is not included). Skunkcraft Autoupdater plugin is included - all updates are being pushed smoothly without the need to re-download the entire base package (base package will be updated every once in a while to minimize the gap). Highly responsive VSKYLABS support forums: Professional discussions which results in incorporating users feedback into the on-going scheduled development plan. Real-pilots inputs (as well as sim-pilots feedback) are always welcome, and in practice sets the the VSKYLABS projects within solid, professional margins over time This project is part of the VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' series, designed specifically for use with X-Plane cutting edge Experimental Flight Model. Images are courtesy of vSkyLabs... the Polaris AM-FIB is available for both X-Plane 12 and X-Plane 11, however the XP11 version does not have the effects and features that is available in X-Plane 12. ___________________________ Yes! the Phoenix Air U15 S-LSA Project by vSkyLabs is NOW available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : vSkyLabs Phoenix Air U15 S-LSA Project Price is US$29.00 On sale: US$29.00 US$23.20 you Save:US$5.80(20%) Requirements X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11 (both versions included at no extra cost) Windows, Mac or Linux 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended Download Size: 215 MB Current version : 8.0 (June 13th 2024) ___________________________ News by Stephen Dutton 14th June 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
  22. NEWS! - Addon Released : PW2000 Engine Add-on for FF 757 by Mango Studios I was very impressed of the engine conversion for the Rotate MD80 Series IAE V2500 Engine by Mango Studios. Here is another one, this time it is for the FlightFactor Boeing 757, in a Pratt & Whitney PW2000 Engine modification. And again, very good it is, but it doesn't come with a sound pack, just the engine mod. The PW2000 engine is completely modeled from the ground up, including all the real- vents, screws, fins, and flaps that the real engine from the real aircraft would have. The package also comes with pre-made liveries such as: Air Force 2, American Airlines, Delta, Delta Breast Cancer Awareness, DHL, Fedex, UPS, and United. It's only 6 bucks folks, but the FlightFactore Boeing 757 Series is required for this modification. __________________ Yes!... PW2000 Engine Add-on for FF 757 by Mango Studios is now Available from the X-Plane.Org Store here : PW2000 Engine Add-on for FF 757 by Mango Studios Price is US$5.99 Requirements This is a Modification. The FlightFactor Boeing 757 professional is required for this package X-Plane12 & 11 Download Size: 416 MB Current version 1.0 (June 11th 2024) ___________________________ NEWS! by Stephen Dutton 12th June 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
  23. Aircraft Review - Boeing 777-200ER v2 Ultimate by FlightFactor Aero Most airliner flights in Simulation go under the two hour rule, or a route that can be done from breakfast to lunch, lunch to dinner or after dinner and on into the night. So mostly they will also be short-haul Simulations. The market will then cater for this demand, providing B737s, A320s and the various E-Jets. But there is a club devoted to another segment of Simulation, called Long-Haul. Or services that cover not only trans-ocean, but also transcontinental routes, these flights are mostly around the 10 to 12 hour flying time mark, it is an exclusive club, because of the logistics of setting up your aircraft, and then with the long times of flying involved. These significant aspects creates a very different discipline from the two-hour quick routes. But Long-Hauling is also the ultimate challenge in Simulation for aircraft, as to get it right, it can be the most rewarding to the simulator user involved. But to do good long-hauls has always been a very mixed affair in the X-Plane Simulator, mostly because really good long-haul aircraft have not been a priority for developers.... it's a niche area, so why go there. So we have always craved any Long-Haul Airliners, and the pick of the bunch was always the Boeing 777 Series, mainly because it is the most popular long-haul aircraft used by airlines in 1687 of the type being built. The B777 was created in a reaction for the newly created ETOPS (Extended-range Twin-engine Operations Performance Standards) that allowed twin-engined aircraft to perform the same routes as only a four-engine aircraft could only be earlier regulated, but obviously two engines are much more efficient than the heavier four. As early as November 2009, XPJets announced a project for the B777, a standard setting project that brought a 3d cockpit and a quality in design unheard of in X-Plane. But in a development phase of three years, it got slower and not quicker as the project droned on, it felt at the time of a dream never to be realised. Then in September 2012 VMAX in cooperation with FlightFactor released almost out of the blue a Boeing 777 Worldliner Professional, a ground breaking design with not only a 3d cockpit, but it was also plugin based outside the X-Plane PlaneMaker environment. Within months XPJets were gone, and the project was abandoned. (If your curious the XPJet site is still available). The VMAX/FlightFactor 777 v1 aircraft went on to be one of the most successful Simulations in X-Plane, with -200ER, -200LR, -300ER, -200F (Freighter) variants added later. But by the early 2020's the design was getting very long in the tooth, eight years in X-Plane is a design lifetime, it was time for something new... and here it is in the Boeing 777-200ER v2 Ultimate. And considering the huge reputation of the earlier B777 v1, another plus is that the leading FlightFactor developer in Roman Berezin is now a Boeing 777 rated pilot, and all that personal input has gone into this new V2 version.... so X-Plane and it's devoted followers are expected a lot from this new development. First impressions of the Boeing 777 v2 are actually quite interesting? Your expecting a very highly, even evolutionary experience... but you don't actually get that. Certainly in every way the B777 v2 is totally absolutely better and different than the 12 year old v1, and certainly as presented here and as lavishly in X-Plane v12.1.0 with its better effects and even better antialiasing, it looks beyond gorgeous... However the original B777 v1 is so hugely familiar, in that it sorts of softens the change to the newer version. But that is not the point here, and of the B777 v2. X-Plane quality and detail has doubled, tripled in quality over the last few years, and our eyes are very used now to the grandiosity of the outstanding detail available, certainly since the introduction of X-Plane 12. Yes the FlightFactor B777 v2 has that "Wow" factor! But the point of this aircraft which is very important to explain very early in this review, is that it is the depth of the design, the deep "feel" factor that is the hidden unique bigger feature here as what we shall see later. Also from the start let us abate another fear... frame rate! The aircraft is hugely (code) complex and a highly extremely detailed Simulation. So it has everything in that can ruin a perfectly good Simulation by destroying your framerate. But the FlightFactor B777 v2 is very good on your framerate, yes it uses up a few frames, but FlightFactor have been very aware of making this aircraft as very efficient as it can be from the start. Yes tricks are used, but it works very well on my computer configuration, and so if you have the required requirements, then you should be fine (I get middle 40's, and a framerate that rarely drops into the high 20's). What is the thing about X-Plane users debating aircraft noses? Mostly usually A320s. Flightfactor had to redefine this B777 nose, I don't know why because it is perfect. The FlightFactor v2 comes with the GE90 high bypass turbofan engine that has been designed and developed by GE Aviation primarily for the 777 aircraft family. It outputs thrust ratings anywhere from 81,000 to 115,000 lbf. The Pratt & Whitney engine variant is planned, and notable that even later the Rolls-Royce Trent 800 engine option will also be available. The GE90-94B (94,000 lbs) on this airframe is excellent in detailing and design, it is the straight fan blade, not the curved blade version installed here. The biggest criticism of the v1 was the very poor wingflex. That has been totally changed here with a more realistic flexible animation, plus the design of the wing (curve and profile) is far better in it's design... even impressive. When we are faced with a extremely quality designed aircraft, you don't look at the big picture, but at the smaller intricate detail for your guidance on what has been presented... open up the Flap, Leading Edge and Speed Brake panels, and have a look inside, the results are beyond excellent. Notable is the really nice leading edge extension and retraction fitting, also the huge amount of detail under the speed flap panels, it is very well done... honestly, you may never give this detail a second glance, but you are still very satisfied on knowing it is all still there. The same goes for the elaborate landing gear... enjoy the incredible detail available here, all links, pins, hydraulic and pneumatics are all laid out in great detail... it is the outstanding realism shown here that you will long be talking about. Nose gear is also at the same high-quailty detail threshold, and the detail goes right up into the gear bay. Cockpit glass is also really good, with the perfect rainbow effect showing glass thickness and light reflection. Side windows are a bit blander, as is the door detail, to save Frame Weight is a consideration. APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) outlet is very good, and the APU air flap opens up as well. Externally the FlightFactor delivers what you would expect at this price range, ULTRA detail and quality work. ________________ Cabin The view we all want to see... the boarding of the aircraft. Front door is exclusive First Class, even exclusive, exclusive 1st Class... no one goes in here but the VIPs and the ultra rich. Front section of the 777 cabin is all "Suites" or cabin style. There are eight of these cabins, and they are all are styled very Emirates Airlines. Very exclusive.... Then twelve First Class seats in the section behind. Well done in the Emirati style, in gold and wooden highlights If you enter via the second door (the usual boarding door), the First Class cabin is now to your left, right is the small twelve Business class seats. The sixteen lie-flat Business seats are the same as the more forward 1st class seating. Then the two large economy cabins... coming in here you feel the huge scale of the inside of a Triple Seven, it looks and feels massive. Economy Seats are really nicely done with a pretty seat material pattern, footrests and nice armrests. All overhead cabin detail is well done with working "No Smoking" and "Seatbelt" signs. All toilets on board can be accessed, but they are extremely tight inside. Internal door detail is also really well done in perfect detail. All the (large) galley areas are expertly done and well detailed, they feel very authentic to the period of the aircraft. Your probably thinking by now "Why the hell is my computer not going to melt down". But there is a trick going on here? close your cockpit door and all these cabin sections will disappear "poof", and that will lighten your framerate load, open the door and it all comes back! FlightFactor had a feature that opened and closed the cabin window blinds, personally I didn't like it, as I like to look out of the aircraft from the cabin perspective, when looking out, and then down came the blind... It's back on the 777 v2, but you can also turn the feature off if you want to. But we are not finished with the cabin configuration yet? FlightFactor gives you the options to change the cabin configuration. There are five different cabin configuration that you can choose from... the above is EMIRATES Style, (3 Classes with Cabins), TURKISH Style (3 Classes but no Cabins), 3 Class Cabin, 2 Class Cabin and a Single Class Cabin. ________________ Cockpit Look right on entry though door 1, and there is the familiar corridor to the cockpit, the door can be opened externally by using the keypad code (just don't forget the code, or you will be locked out?). To the right is the crew sleeping area, but currently not accessible, the toilet to the left does work. Familiar? well yes, been in here before. Obviously it is not the 777 v1 cockpit, but your first glances are deceiving, it's the colour tones and cockpit arrangement that is so familiar. Then you start to decipher the detail, the HUGE amount of detail in here... it will take time to absorb it all, and you should take that time to look around in here, marvel at the all the work. The seat armrests can be folded upwards, and the seat back can also be adjusted to your personal best position, both seats are animated to move backwards and then sideways to get into the position. Seat design and quality is first rate, yes you can spend 12 hours or more in those seats with the lambswool covers. Side window blinds are animated, and you can also crank open the side window, by first pulling the lock lever back, then winding the handle lower left. Most developers have struggled to make the Boeing 777 cockpit look anything realistic, or come alive. The Brown matt colour is a problem in that it makes everything look very ordinary. But to give FlightFactor credit in having done a very good job here in doing the impossible to bring this cockpit alive, it certainly looks realistic. The central pedestal is really well done, the controls are perfect, and there is a AutoThrust disconnect switch on the end of the throttle handles. Both yokes are perfection, smooooth and worn, very nice. There are the switches on the left arm front for "Trim" and for "Autopilot Disconnect", the PTT (Push-To-Talk) switch is hidden behind the left arm, but works. Some 777 Yokes had the 3 Number Memory device from the B737, but in not here. TCAS is with TCAS full version 7 functionality and you have the classic STBY Instruments and also ISFD (Integrated Standby Flight Display). The nameplate says "Boeing 777" ________________ Power Up This section is usually in the Flying part of the review, but it is worth the discussion here in this case. First when you approach the aircraft 'Cold", there is a "Load Sheet" between the throttles, a nice touch... if you click on the paper, it will be moved to the document tray under the MCP (Mode Control Panel). Starting up the Triple Seven from cold is a long but very authentic process. Turn on the Battery and nothing happens? But you can then start the APU (Auxiliary Power Unit)... still nothing happens for a long time? then the SAI (Standby Altitude Indicator) comes partly to life... still a loooong wait, then finally the displays will flash themselves on and off, still waiting.... then suddenly the 777 systems will come to life, But you will still need to set the current position Coordinates in the FMC (Flight Management Computer) and switch on the ADIRU (Air Data Inertial Reference Unit), and a 2nd system called "Secondary Attitude Air Data Reference Unit" (SAARU). Once set the "Time to Align" is shown in the upper left side of the Navigation Display (ND). So it takes ages to power the 777 up, but there is helpers to Align the system instantly if you can't wait, there is also an optional setting to have the aircraft powered up (turnaround/ready at the gate) if you want that option. Me I love the whole process of the realistic start-up procedure, even if it does lose you twenty minutes or so every time. You can thankfully leave the B777 in the state it was after the last flight (turnaround), so you don't have to do this power-up procedure every single time you want to fly. ________________ FlightFactor do give you a screen on startup, in that you can quickly reconfigure the aircraft to the Simulation you are wanting to do, or carry on forward to the more detailed settings that are already saved in. A third startup choice is the "Situations" a save of the aircraft in the "saved" state. There is however something very familiar about it all, you have certainly been in here before, as you know this cockpit so well... but everything in here is not as it initially seems to be? Start probing, or switching things in here, and absolutely EVERYTHING works! every button, switch, lever and system is operational, or has a physical reaction to your inputs, all of the OHP (OverHead Panel) switches and buttons AND every Circuit Breaker (Fuse) works... EVERYTHING. All instrument displays will "Pop-Out" into Windows via the screw on the display's facia. These include both PFD (Primary Flight Displays), NAV/MAP (Navigation Displays), Upper EICAS ((Engine Indicating and Crew Alerting System) and Lower Secondary Engine Display. All Pop-Outs are moveable and scalable on your screen or display. Both FMCs (Flight Management Computer) also popout, plus also so does the rear central third FMC. Front FMCs (CDU1/CDU2) are both Navigation, the rear FMC (CDU3) is for the aircraft's Interaction. Notable was that only the one left side FMC display worked on the B777 v1. If you are used to the B777 v1 FMC layout and input parameters, you should really have no problems with the B777 v2 setup. Programming in the system was quite developed on the v1, and yes there has been improvements here in the details, but overall there is little change to confuse you. Note the orange "K" on the top left of the FMC, it is to allow direct data input from the keyboard into the scratchpad. a There is a sort of "Simbrief" interaction, that will load the SimBrief data into the system, but a lot of the detail (mostly weights) you will have to input yourself. It is not as cross-referenced as say a ToLiSS input loading. But fill in a few of the main details, like mentioned aircraft weights, fuel weights and C.G (Centre of Gravity), and so then the rest of the crucial data will then be filled in for you, like the TakeOff Refs and the required Trim percent setting. The Instruments and layout is very comprehensive in here, so there is a lot to learn. FlightFactor have not only provided a complete individual Instrument "Cockpit Guide" (157 Pages), but also provided is a flat cockpit poster to study the instrument layouts. Another manual which is included in the package is the full "Flight Crew Operations Manual" of 525 pages, and you will need it to work through everything that is required to use and access this complex cockpit. So it is not only a "Study" aircraft, but a "Deep Study" aircraft, as this 777 is called the "Ultimate" for a reason, but it is far more than that, this is an airline operation level Simulation. ________________ Interaction One of the big features on the FlightFactor B777 v2 is interaction. These tools can help you not only load or service the aircraft, but can also be set it up via the First Officer. Also the Captain, Cabin Crew and Ground Crew are all interactive. This is done here via voice (if annoying? then you can turn it off if you want to) and do the same actions through (Captain's) commands. Let's do the basics. First there is a "Ground Crew" to help you around the aircraft, they are called via first two selections from the menu "Ground Personal on Ramp", and "Captain Commands/Ground Crew" to make them active... the interaction is done via the CDU3 on the upper pedestal. You "Call" the Ground Crew via the intercom system, or the MIC button (MIC switch must be on), then the ground Crew will appear and interact with the crew... Then placed around the aircraft are the many Hi-Vis dressed Ground Crew that are all animated, which is really well done here. So to add or takeaway anything on the ground you communicate through the CDU3 interface, just like you would do on a real Triple Seven. Need rear door service? then contact the Ground Crew, then select the service you want (CATER SERV)... when acknowledged, the Ground Crew-Member will ask you if you want anything else? Notable down in the lower right corner, are the people (crew) that are currently active on the intercom. Although the Service Vehicle is now set by the rear (5L) door, the door is still closed? (all active Ground Equipment is shown in green) A note here, in that all the service vehicles will appear from the sky! You can turn this feature off, and it's one I'm not too sure of? it's not as very realistic as the usual "drive up" mode? So you will now have to call the Purser on the intercom... to open the the door from the Directory! And there are several pages of items you can interact with. The Purser will again acknowledge your call and then open the rear (5L) door for the Service Crew. There are also features to do Maintenance on the aircraft.... First though you have to call "Maintenance" on the Intercom, then the engineers arrive by the engine to be maintained... The Maintenance options however are all on the menu and include (Reset) Engine Cylinders, (Replace) Blades, (Refill) Engine Oil, (Replace Oil Filter) and APU Servicing. Wheel/Tyre Changing and even wheel servicing is also available, and all the Maintenance done here is noted in the aircraft's log as the "Wear&Tear" of the aircraft. The interaction system is even more advanced than this, in that you can also use real voice interaction... It should be noted that voice recognition operates on a "Push-To-Talk" principle -the key combination assigned for voice recognition should be held down while you speak and released upon completing the command. By default, a list of main commands is available for use, and they are located in the "main" section of the commands file. You can also address the first officer by saying "first officer" and all commands from the "first officer" section will become available to you. If your silence lasts for more than 40 seconds, the first officer will return to their duties, and only commands from the "main" section will be available again. You can hand over control of the MCP to the first officer by saying "your MCP" or "you have the MCP". The first officer will be pleased to set the heading, track, speed, altitude. So this is a very deep intergated system with interaction with the Boeing 777. It will take not only time to learn, but to actually learn and to immerse yourself into this complex, but very real world environment... you also have the choice to turn off the intergration system if you find it overwhelming. The full capabilities of the system are far too long or too complex to completely explain here... but it does create another level of serious Simulation experiences. ________________ EFB (Electronic Flight Bag) One of the biggest interactions with the FlightFactor Boeing 777 v2, is via the EFB, or "Electronic Flight Bag", which is a built in tablet on each side of the two pilots. You can access a page by both the outer button (as you really do in the B777), or by pressing the tab directly on the screen. Grey is active, the teal box is not-active. Again both displays "Pop-Out" via the upper right side screw. Beyond the Start up "Main Menu" page menu, there are 34 EFB pages to access, so it is a very deep and complex menu system, again time will be required to work through and work out all the EFB Menu options. This EFB is one the most complex on any X-Plane aircraft. I'm not going to cover all of the 34 menu pages in detail, but just show the highlights of what is available in here. Main Menu The "Main Menu" shows you 13 Menu options; Airport Map, Performance (blank), Briefing, Navigraph Services, Airplane, Simulation, Ident Page, Terminal Charts (Blank), Documents, Video (blank), Pilot Utilities, Simplified Loading and Shortcuts... lower is the option to Initialize Flight. Navigation in the EFB is excellent, not only a direct "M" to the "Main Menu", but you can <- go back to the last page, or use the in page "UP" or "BACK" nav tools Airport Map Just type in your ICAO Airport Code in to scratchpad and up will come a scalable map of the airport, and your current aircraft position on the Map (Navigraph Subscription Required). Briefing Here you can load into the EFB the full Simbrief flightplan Brief, the layout includes 8 different options that are segmented from the SimBrief Application. It is full of all the required data for the flight, and for the aircraft setup, including the Flightplan, Weights, Fuel and Weather/Winds enroute. Navigraph Services Here you log into your "Navigraph Services" account, you then add in your "Simbrief Username" (note important! this is your "User Name", not the usual SimBrief ID that you use here), then press "Get Data from SimBrief tab to load in your already created Flightplan/Brief. ________________ Airplane There are 14 tab options on the "Airplane" tab; Doors, Ground Service, Weight & Balance, Maintenance, Pushback, Cabin Controls, Dispatch (MEL-Minimum Equipment List), Training, Failures Control, Captain's Commands, Walk-Around, Loading Service, Ongoing Processes and Align Adiru Now. Doors There are 8 main cabin doors that you can open, plus the three Forward, Aft and Bulk Cargo doors. There are also two small access doors in ACC and E&E that also can be opened. There is an AUTO/MAN option and EMER OPS option as well. Ground Service There are two pages of 22 options on the "Ground Services" pages. Page 1 includes; GPU 1&2, Chocks, Bus, Stairs (1L), Air-Con Truck (L&R), Stairs (3L), Cater Service, Lav (Service) and Water Truck. Page 2 includes Gear Service, Pneumatic (Service), Engine Maintenance, Fuel (Tanker L&R), De-Ice and Hydraulics (Service). Other Options include the two Baggage Loaders called transport here. Like the FlightFactor v1, you have to have the Bus/Gate/Stairs visual to load Passengers, Fuel Trucks to Load Fuel, and the Baggage Loaders to load the Cargo, this is done from this page. There is a lot of ground equipment available here, stairs for 1L and 3L doors, but not for 2L, which oddly is the main loading door for Economy Class? Again the Catering Service Vehicle is on 5L, but not on 1R? The De-Ice feature is very similar to the one with ToLiSS aircraft, but be aware, it takes a lot of it's own considerable time to go around the aircraft, so if you want to fly quickly, then don't activate this feature, but very good it is with three De-Ice trucks all working together. On the "Ground Services" page left lower are two more options... Maintenance and Presets. Maintenance we will look at shortly... Ground Service State Presets Here you can use set presets, including; Preflight, Fueling, Pax (Passenger) Loading and Pushback. There are also three "Custom" presets you can "Save", and use by the "Load" Preset option. Weights & Balance This W&B section will set up the aircraft in weight and C.G. Balance. You can import the data from "Simbrief" to fill in the load factors. It is quite comprehensive, but also far more straight forward than the odd v1 layout You can adjust the weight of most things, from the passengers (also ICAO Summer Correction!), Cargo and its placement and fuel. At the end there is a full "Weight Summary". It is all very well presented and comprehensive. There is a very helpful "Fuel Planner" tool, but overall FlightFactor still also provides you with a "Simplified" system to quickly load the aircraft if you don't want to go into the minute details of absolutely everything. So you can just do a quick "Load" of the details from Simbrief and then quickly load the aircraft ready for flight (note Simbrief doesn't currently load in the FMC data as noted earlier). Maintenance You not only have failures, but you also have the life running wear and tear of the aircraft. These areas are contained in the Maintenance tab of the aircraft. Galleys&Restrooms, Hydraulics, Gear&Tires, Electrics, Engines, Oxygen all have to be maintained or repaired. Hatch Inspection will open 19 hatches or access points on the aircraft. The hatch detail around the 777 is excellent, the dome/doors open to reveal the Honeywell Radar is really well done, as is the placement of the AlliedSignal Engines 331-500 APU in the tail. You can also open the cargo doors externally via the opened small access hatch, but you have to get close to activate the switch to open and close the highly detailed cargo door. Note the loader personal inside the cargo compartments. You can "Test" (GPWS), Check the "Current" list of Maintenance Issues, and also do a "Instantaneous Full Maintenance", to rectify everything in a one button press. Pushback The FlightFactor 777 v2 has it's own dedicated Pushback tool. (BetterPushBack doesn't work on this aircraft?)... but it is a very good one! Set the Boeing 777 ready for pushback (brakes off), and then Select "Start Pushback". This will call a very highly detailed pushback truck to the aircraft, then you "Connect" the Pushback Truck to the nose gear of the aircraft. When connected you get a control panel that shows you the Torque of the load, and the Speed in Kmh. There are also four views you can have in four boxes top left, External, Rear view, Close rear view & cabin view. The Arrow will show you your push direction, and the drivers seat rotates into the direction you want to go. Power is by your throttle, and that is shown in the Torque dial, brake is again the usual "B" brake, shown as a T in the window... then the B777 can be pushed back... steering is Left-Right via your joystick. It is tricky to use until you practise with the controls, but very good it is in moving the big Boeing around. When correctly positioned, you can "Disconnect" or "End Process", to disconnect the truck, then press "Wave Off" which gives you a animated walking ground person, then the ground personnal shows you the connecting pin (à la BetterPushBack) It is a very good Pushback tool, one that gives you a lot of control, plus clever working animated ground staff doing their jobs, I love it. Cabin Controls Here you can set the aircraft's Climate Control, Cabin Light Control & WC (Toilets) Maintenance. All very clever on the detail of settings of the aircraft's in flight requirements. MEL - Minimum Equipment List MEL is the "Minimum Equipment List", this is a document based on the master MEL (MMEL) provided by Boeing. Each operator can modify the MMEL (making it harsher) to suit its SOPs. In this model you have the opportunity to do the same. The MEL is electronic in your EFB, however, it will not prevent you from actually dispatching the flight. There are three numbers A/R/O –available / required / operational. For example, the airplane has 3 AFDC system available, If at least one item on the list will have the O-number < R-number, the flight will not be dispatchable. It is a complex system that is still ongoing and being developed by FlightFactor. Failures - Training Two Selections in "Failures" and "Training" can be cross-referenced between each other. The "Failure" feature is very comprehensive with two pages of 14 separate categories, and in that you can also create "Failure Scenarios" There are currently 1000+ failures programmed into the system and their number will increase in the future. You can also "Reset All Failures" in a global setting. Of the failure that can be triggered. The status column will show if it's INACTIVE or FAILED, and the random failure time column shows the time in hh/mm/ss till the system will randomly fail. Failures are also categorised into three classes: Major, Regular and Minor. Within the set MTBF a major failure can occur at a random event with a probability 3 times smaller than regular and a minor 3 times larger. You can add in an "Event", Then select the category that you want to fail... The "Search" is a great option here to find the item in the hundreds of choices. Then you can select the "When/Where" Failure from a drop down tab (Immediately, In time, above/below Altitude, above/below speed, in case of failure). The "Training" page gives some of the same functionality as the "Failures Control" page but with some preset aspects. The preset failure pages (on the right) have time/location chose bar on the top, choice of side (in this example) below and then a list of possible abnormal conditions. You may choose one condition at a time. Some conditions will also trigger a single failure, some will trigger several at once. Some will initiate a scenario of abnormal behavior whose path will depend on your action. Captain's Commands If you want to do the spoken commands via a button press, then you can via the "Captain's Commands" page. The requests cover the; Ground Equipment, Hatches, De-Ice, FWS (Front Wheel Steering) and Installing pins in the gear. Walk-Around There is a Walk-Around checklist, that you can check off, and then reset. Other Airplane options include; a Loading Service, Ongoing Processes Overview and to "Align (the) ADIRU Now". ________________ Simulation Under the "Simulation" tab is all the areas to set up the aircraft to your liking; General, Avionics, Ground Operations, Situations, Graphics, Effects and Sound, Interaction, Crew Interaction and Check list options. "General Options" gives you parameters on the way you would like the aircraft set up to your personal preferences Avionics Under the "Avionics" tab, you get the usual wide and varied FlightFactor system of options in setting up the avionics of the aircraft. The "EFIS" options are excellent and give you a lot of instrument display choice, the setup system is VERY deep. Highlight here are the "Segment Display" options, as you can set the displays to; All White, All Amber, All Red, Mixed Amber, Mixed Red and Mixed Any. Situations On of the biggest strides in features in X-Plane was created by ToLiSS (other developers had variations of the idea). In that you could save a "Situation" and reload the situation back into X-Plane to recreate the place, time and aircraft setup as it was saved. If you have a Computer crash, or just want a certain aircraft set up, then you can choose and reload the original situation. The version here is as good as the ToLiSS version, as it will reload every single parameter saved. In my case here I have set up the aircraft for flight, including programming the FMC on the route. When ready to depart, I can then just LOAD in that "Situation" and I am ready to fly! You can change the save order by either "As cending" or "Descending". Notable at this point, there is currently no "Auto" save, a system that will save situations automatically every time set (5min, 10min, 15min). But FlightFactor notes this option will be done soon. Other Situation options include, Graphics, Effects and Sound, Interaction, Crew Interaction and Subtitles. The SOUND options are quite basic; Master, Exterior, Interior, CoPilot and Environment, but it is very adjustable to the volume of the sound. A clever tool is the "Pilot Utilities" set of tools for; Speed, Length, Weight, Temperature, Volume, Pressure and Time Zone Conversions. There is also a "Timer/Stopwatch" tool as well. Documents, Manuals and Images can also be used in the EFB in a "Document Library", and there are provisions for you to load in your own pdf and jpg images. What we have covered here in the EFB, is only the highlights. As noted there are 34 different pages to access and use (learn as well), so it is the biggest menu system ever in X-Plane, probably in Simulation as well. So you are not only learning the actual aircraft, but it's needs and settings as well. ________________ Checklist The "Checklist" is oddly not part of the EFB - Flight Bag. But it is set in the lower EICAS Display. You access the checklist via the button on the right "Display Access Panel" (lower far left). The checklist is very comprehensive, and has three major modes: Amplified, Supplementary and Normal. Normal (Regular) is the main checklist. Other checklist options are for different pilots and certain procedures (Ampified) and Non-Normal systems Menus You get a big magenta cross cursor to navigate and select items on the checklist.... overall the checklist is very comprehensive. ________________ Banner Menu All of above can mostly be accessed via the X-Plane banner menu "Boeing 777 200ER for quick and easy access to critical items. There are four menu options; Options, Equipment, EFB and Captain. Options covers; Avionics, Cabin, Checklists, Effects, FO, General, Ground, Interaction, Subtitles and Systems. Equipment covers; Baggage Loaders, Passenger Bus, Main Cargo Loader, Catering Truck, Chocks, De-Ice Equip, Engine Maintenance Kit, Fuel trucks (L&R), Gate, Ground Air-Con (L&R), GPU Primary/Secondary, Ground Starter (L&R), Hydraulic Replacement kit, LAVS Service, Secondary Stairs, Tyre Replacement Kit, Luggage Transporter and Water Replenishment Truck. EFB covers; Show/Hide EFB 1&2, Airplane, Situation, Shortcuts, Doors, Ground Service, Weight&Balance, Loading Service and Pushback. Captain covers; Read Briefing, Remove Ground Equipment, Request Close Hatches, Disconnect from Ground Crew, Request De-Icing and Establish Communications (shortcut). ________________ Lighting, Internal & External The lighting on the B777 v1 was actually quite good. But here you have a decade of advancement and refinement. These images here show you X-Plane v12.1.0, and the even more refined effects, including bloom lighting effects. All the Boeing 777 lighting modes are active, and adjustable. You you do actually expect this on an aircraft of this scale. One note is that you can easily "Overbright" the instruments, and with that setting they become too bloomy (there is also a setting called "Lamp Glow" that also highlights the bloom) and you lose the realism. So all the lighting settings for the instruments need to be toned down to look and be realistic. Get the tone right and the cockpit is breathtakingly realistic. The highlight is the centre console with all those the transparent knobs, it is beautiful beyond belief... .... all the lighting for the MCP and Main instruments are lovely and adjustable to your personal satisfaction, and there are MAP lights for each of the pilots (the spots are beam adjustable). The two side lighting options are CHART and WORKTABLE. There are also two main cabin lighting settings. DOME (lower left image) is the adjustable lighting, and STORM (lower right image) is a full cockpit lighting setting. There is also the "MASTER BRIGHT option as well. The down-lights are hidden behind grids on this version, but the sources are not completed yet in this pre release version, I expect them to be fixed for the release. Cabin Lighting There are three cabin lighting settings on the EFB. Main (overhead) cabin lighting, Ambient (wall) cabin lighting and Galley (Kitchen) lighting. There is also the emergency Lighting. The main cabin lighting is modern LED, and the wall lighting is the older strip lighting we know so well, and really well done here... both Seatbelt and No Smoking signs work. Galley lighting is very nice as well, it feels very authentic to the aircraft and it's 90's design. External Lighting All the external lighting is completed. Includes both taxi and nose lights, to supplement the main landing lights. Navigation, Beacon (upper/lower) and Strobe lighting is perfect, and both white and red/green navigation lights are presented. The WING lights up the engines/wing and there is a tail light, and again all very good, but a touch more brightness would be nice... but they are both still far more brighter than the images depicts here. ________________ Flying the FlightFactor Boeing 777 v2 7th June 1995 was a significant day. As it was the inaugural first flight of the Boeing 777 Series aircraft. The Route was from London Heathrow (LHR) to Washington Dulles Airport (IAD). The Boeing 777 was in response to United's requirements of an aircraft to replace the Douglas Tri-Jets, and in being able to fly three different, but significant United routes in Chicago - Hawaii, Chicago - Europe and Non-stop from Denver (a hot and high airport) and again to Hawaii, plus the bonus of having a more efficient two-engined aircraft on all long-haul routes. It is a typical London overcast grey day... If on ground power, you have to turn the battery OFF, then back on again to start the APU (Auxiliary Power Unit), it's a tricky thing to start up, but in most cases it is a "Low Oil" indication that has to be rectified. I mentioned the "Tire Pressure" warning earlier as well... another item to be rectified before flight, or the warning is a consistent annoyance once airborne. Did you set all the "Doors" to "Auto", you better, as the aircraft won't start unless you do, it's that sort of simulation. Ready for pushback... I'm still not fully competent with the Pushback tug, I am getting better at driving it, but it is not as easy as using the BetterPushback tool. That said it is very good, and very realistic, and note the ground worker with the pin. There is the option to adjust you eyesight in the seat to your real height, adjustable on the EFB, it bounces you up (or down) until it feels right. Time to start the GE90 engines. Set the bleeds for power from the APU, and turn the START switch. Number 1 Engine first then No. 2. There is the noted 25% to 30% N2 indication before moving the selected engine Fuel Control switch, that then completes the fully automatic B777 startup engine sequence. The GE90-94B has excellent startup procedure sounds, the whine, then the deeper powered fan whine when running in an 3d environment, but it is the background sounds that are very impressive in the cockpit. You hear the engines, but it is the hum in your space that you feel the authenticity of the aircraft around you. Flaps set to 15º, Trim is set to 32.8% of MAC. One thing I am very impressed with the interaction of the switchgear, is that the response is not immediate, but is slightly delayed... press a button and it will slightly hesitate before doing the action, it gives the switches or buttons a very authentic and realistic feel as you use them. Slight power to the throttles and Park-brake off, and I am moving. If this is your first time at this point, it is a very memorable moment, your now this far with a clean OHP and running engines, as its an achievement to get this far, and that is what also makes this simulation so special. The skill required to get the aircraft ready for flight as this is a very complex real aircraft, and now your in complete control and doing everything right. Taxiing is nice, actually not that different from the v1, but you are very aware that this 777 is a very different concept. It is 3494 nm to Dulles, at a 8 hours flying time. A last glance around the instruments, and you set the clock running.... brakes off and throttle up. The whine then comes in, a howl really and your feeling the combined energy of those two GE90-94Bs at 94,000 lbs each moving you now forward. Your powering down LHRs 27R runway, and with a heavy 15º flap the aircraft is quickly wanting to lift (5º is a better setting)... v2 is 148 knts, and as soon as you touch the bug you are pulling back on the yoke to easily go airborne, "Positive Climb" is the call from the right seat. You wonder how such a very large six wheeled bogie could fit into the aircraft's belly, two main bogies in fact... they do and it is worth watching the operation. Also note the excellent quality of the detail of the aircraft... it is a work of simulation art. Your flying the "Triple Seven", and a good feeling it is. I climb 2000 fpm to 12,000 ft. But the B777-200ER is quite impressive if you want to push the parameters. To 5000 ft you can use 3000 fpm, to 15,000 ft you can do 2500 fpm and in a mach climb 0.83 to altitude 1500 fpm. Sounds on the flightdeck are gorgeous and numerous, but externally the grinding whine of the GE90s is stupendous. If you thought this was my first flight in the Flightfactor B777 v2, then I'm sorry I mislead you, as it's actually my second. The first was an orientation flight from Gatwick (EGKK) to Barcelona (LEBL). But there was the quick realisation of how this "Heavy" flew, in fact it was an unnerving experience. Don't get me wrong here, the effects are the opposite of what I expected. The unnerving aspect is how really, really good the feeling and handling of this big aircraft is. it is uncanny as a simulation. In FlightFactor developer Roman Berezin as a Boeing 777 rated pilot, has dialing into the simulation the perfection of it's abilities, and it is an amazing experience to explore the aircraft under your control and within 2%-5% on the real world standard certification test. So remember everything works in this cockpit, but everything else works as well, the touch of the controls, the aural sounds, the feel of the aircraft in actual operation. Obviously I have not flown any aircraft in other Simulation platforms but X-Plane (okay I flew a little in MSFS), but could I call this out as one of the best ever of an aircraft simulation on a computer. That aspect is a very big call "The best ever", and surely someone will question my reasoning... but in a decade or so of long haul flying, I can't remember any experience as good in feel as this aircraft. Mostly it does exactly what you want it to do, but with the right inertia in movement and operation. That deep down and beyond pretty well everything else, this is the core of the depth of this Boeing 777 simulation, that real depth of feel. For all tons of features and mega menu options, this is a new depth of immersion simulation that you are now entering... another higher dimensional level, and it is a huge jump forward in flying aircraft on computers. I'm now at 37,000 ft (FL370). In most cases I usually climb up to a lower Flight Level, then step up to the final set altitude, burning off fuel for say 500 nm before the final climbing to altitude. But this aircraft is not a full Gross Weight (ARW) 222,209 kg, as the current MTOW for the -200ER is 656,000 lb (297,550 kg). So today I have to climb higher and quicker to get on top of a weather pattern off the west coast of Ireland, and the -200 did that flight level change aspect with ease. Range for the 200ER (Extended Range) is 7,065 nmi (13,080 km) as this is the first generation B777. The LR (Long Range) had an endurance of 8,555 nautical miles (15,844 km) as the -200LR features an increased MTOW and three optional auxiliary fuel tanks in the rear cargo hold. Max speed is Mach 0.87 – Mach 0.89 (499–511 kn; 924–945 km/h), with a usual Cruise Mach 0.84 (482 kn; 892 km/h). Ceiling is 43,000 ft. I haven't explored too much the crew interaction feature, with say the First Officer doing the flying. But long haul is about hours of just monitoring the instruments and doing the notes. I spent some very long hours in the B777 v1, notably in the F - Freighter -200 version, I expect that version to come soon, as also is promised a -300ER and a -200LR. From the left seat it is a very nice place to be... this is an excellent Simulation. If flying Oceanic (Atlantic or Pacific) there are "Oceanic Control Areas". these routes do use a "Airway" or North Atlantic Tracks (NAT), but they don't work here in programming the route in the FlightFactor B777 v2. The Airway here is "NATD", or four coordinated waypoints. To insert the waypoint you have to airinc shorthand the waypoint. So 55°0'0.0"N 020°0'0.0"W is shorthanded to 5520N and 5°0'0.0"N 030°0'0.0"W is converted to 5530N. There is a section 11.31.16 (766) in the DOC manual that explains it. One thing about long haul is that you have plenty of time on your hands.... so you can tend to focus on the areas around you. The quality of the eyebrow with the X-Plane 12 dynamic lighting show how exceptional the Simulation in realism is today, and just looking around the cockpit is a very satisfying experience, even with a few X-Plane 12.1.0 Field of view shots. Long haulers love their "Toys", or things to play with to pass the time. One I really love here is "Coffee". Now if your a serial coffee drinker like me, then you would consume a few cups in the air, but what if you drank the whole "FlightFactor" branded cup and it disappears? Well you go to the CDU3 "Interface" and call the purser (if active again they are shown lower right screen). Note the comms for the Purser is different from the Ground Crew comms, then ask the Purser for a fresh cup of coffee (R4), and lo and behold, you will now have a fresh cup of hot coffee (smiles). It works in the rear seats as well, and you can even order a "Crew Meal", but no food is actually delivered (well not yet!). Then the Navigation display starts to fill up with waypoints, it's Newfoundland, and we are now over the "Pond". Approach to Washington Dulles (IAD) 19L is via STAR HYPER 9, it is a straight in from the north approach. I start my descent about 160 nm out, down to 10,000 ft ( I never do TOD descents, they are too steep). Again it is that the aircraft responds so very well to your inputs, that is a sign of a very well developed aircraft. The TERRAIN radar feature is very good as well, this was on the FlightFactor B757/767, very good there, and so it is here. A note, in that the FlightFactor B777 v2 uses some custom commands, but odd ones? Like the Autopilot can be disengaged via the usual X-Plane Command, but you have to set the 1-sim AT (Autothrottle) disconnect via the FF custom command. You can choose between or both Left and Right AT buttons on the Throttle quadrant, and another note is to press the button for both the AP and AT disconnect TWICE to kill the noisy alarms.... Gear down! Final approach and soon the 19L ILS (ISGC) capture is coming up for a CAT III landing. Open the B777 v2 shows off all it's incredible innards, the detail available to you here is really quite special, even the hardest punter will marvel at all this detail. Approach speed is around 150 knts. Watching B777 landings (YouTube) I noted most pilot's disconnect the AT at about 300 feet, then let the big Boeing continue it's falling approach, to move into a nice flare when passing over the threshold, that what I did here and came into a perfect landing around 143 knts. It's all action when the main bogies touch the runway... FULL reverse power and touching on the toe-brakes to keep the Triple Seven straight, your all arms and legs in bringing this massive aircraft down to a safe taxi speed. The roar of the reverse thrust is huge, and really well done to your finely honed ears, it is all so all very realistic, that the hairs on your neck tingle with excitement of the reality of the moment. And the recreation of that 7th June 1995 inaugural first Boeing 777 flight is done... the rest is as they say is history, in creating one of the greatest aircraft in airline service to date. That aspect is now very realistic to everyone, with the chance to fly this exceptional FlightFactor Boeing 777ER ________________ B777 Liveries Provided with package are six B777 Liveries... there is a FlightFactor House, Air France, British Airways, Emirates, KLM and United UC. Quality is excellent on all the provided liveries. But your not going to miss out on your favorite livery, the painters are already churning out liveries at a rate of knots, and already there is plenty of choice, here are three; American One World, Singapore Airlines and Delta. ________________ Summary The VMAX/FlightFactor 777 v1 aircraft went on to be one of the most successful Simulations in X-Plane, with -200ER, -200LR, -300ER, -200F (Freighter) variants added later. But by the early 2020's the design was getting very long in the tooth, eight years in X-Plane is a design lifetime, it was time for something new... and here it is in the Boeing 777-200ER v2 Ultimate. And considering the huge reputation of the earlier B777 v1, and another plus is that the leading FlightFactor developer Roman Berezin is now a Boeing 777 rated pilot, and all that specialsed input has gone into this new V2 version. This v2 of the "Triple Seven" breaks boundaries in every direction you can think of for a simulation. And it is about as feature laden as you ever could wish for. Highlights include perfect mirrored systems of the real aircraft and comes with highly detailed modeling, and it is almost to the extreme in replication of a real world B777, and this all coming in the latest X-Plane 12 guise and it's effects. But it's the features that stand out. Highlights include Aircraft and Ground crew interaction (with real animated ground crew), full maintenance on the aircraft and regular servicing is also required. Failure list is a 1000+ options and the largest most comprehensive 34 page EFB (Electronic Flight Bag) in simulation. Full ground Servicing and external to internal aircraft access is also available, with five different cabin configurations that you can choose from. Sounds are extensive, and are highly realistic, from the cockpit environment to the start up procedures, and in flight external and quality internal soundscapes. All sounds in are doppler and 3d 360º aural motions. Hundreds of custom sounds are recorded from the real aircraft, with a significant 3D stereo sound system just for the engines. Notable is that the systems and set up of this aircraft is complex and complicated to mirror real world operations, so to be aware there is required a fairly large learning curve and study aspect to the aircraft, however FlightFactor do provide tools to set up and fly the aircraft in a more simplified approach, so you can access the Simulation at the level you want to, then go deeper as you learn your skill sets. But the real breakthough on the B777 v2 is the more deeper flying characteristics and handling than on any other Simulation. A ground breaking revolution in the way you approach and fly a Simulated aircraft on a computer. The FlightFactor v2 is probably the most leading aircraft simulation ever produced, and that is a big statement. The FlightFactor v2 had a huge expectation of this one of the larges and most comprehensive release for the X-Plane 12 Simulator. It does actually, and in many areas achieve, even deliver more than those high expectations... that statement alone delivers another level in the journey of Computer Simulation, it's an historic release in more ways than one and an excellent investment, but a release that delivers and exceeds in those high accolades is a moment to savour and remember, but most of all to fly.... Highly Recommended. __________________ Yes! - the Boeing 777-200ER v2 Ultimate by FlightFactor Aero is Coming Soon! from the X-Plane.Org Store here : Boeing 777-200ER v2 Ultimate Price is US$99.00 Requirements Plane 12, X-Plane 11.50+ Windows 10+, Mac OS 10.15+ (Intel or Apple Silicon) or Linux 14.04 LTS or compatible, 64 bit mode Disk Space: 5 GB X-Plane 12: Minimum Requirements: CPU: Intel Core i3, i5, i7, or i9 CPU with 4 or more cores, or AMD Ryzen 3, 5, 7 or 9, or equivalent RAM: 16 GB Video Card: a Vulkan 1.3-capable video card from NVIDIA or AMD with at least 6 GB VRAM Current version: 1.0 (June 14th 2024) Designed by Flightfactor Support forum for the Boeing 777-200ER v2 Ultimate Download The FF Boeing 777-200ER is a 432Mb download with an installation size of 5.20GB, in your X-Plane Aircraft folder, this is an X-Plane 12 aircraft only. All updates are via the built-in Skunkcrafts Updater Documentation There is excellent full coverage documentation and installation details for the B777, including; 777reqs.txt changelog777.txt cockpit.pdf (157 Pages) manual.pdf (76 Pages) poster.jpg systems.pdf (Official Crew Operations Manual) (528 Pages) terms_of_use.txt voiceCommands.txt _____________________ 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 (and a new PSU) Software: - Windows 11 Pro - X-Plane Version 12.1.0 Beta Plugins: JustFlight-Traffic (X-Plane.OrgStore) US$52.99 : Global SFD plugin US$30.00 Scenery or Aircraft - EGKK - London Gatwick Airport v2 by PilotPlus+ (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$21.00 - EGLL - London Heathrow International Airport - XP12 and 11 by Taimodels (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$28.00 - KIAD - Washington Dulles International Airport by Nimbus Simulations (X-Plane.OrgStore) - US$29.95 Note this review was covered in the latest X-Plane12 Beta release v12.1.0, but the aircraft and it's systems were also tested in the earlier X-Plane 12.05r1, with no significant issues. The FlightFactor aircraft shown in this review is also an Alpha v2.0.10 release. Review by Stephen Dutton 14th June 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